By the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and the online course Build a Better Pantry on a Budget
If you’re like most folks, getting a good deal on your preps is of the utmost importance right now. With the economy collapsing around our ears, many of us are working to make ends meet and don’t have a lot left over for prepping.
So where can you get preps without spending a fortune? Keep in mind that shopping for preps specifically or in kits is probably the most expensive way to buy. But if you can assemble your prepping kits and essential tools from individual purchases, you can probably spend far less.
This list contains some ideas that may work for you. Some of them are ideas taken straight from the comments section, so shout-out to our awesome readers! Do your due diligence with any of these sources and make sure not to buy something there that might be less expensive elsewhere. Just because it says it’s a sale doesn’t mean it’s a bargain.
Surplus and liquidation stores
There are many different kinds of surplus and liquidation stores, and if you are lucky enough to live or work near one, make it a regular stop when you’re out and about. The thing about surplus stores is that they get new inventory all the time, and you just never know what you’ll find.
Military surplus stores can be a great place to get sturdy gear that will hold up to the workout you put it through. Don’t stop with just army surplus stores, though.
There are some chain stores that often have incredible deals.
- Big Lots
- Ocean State Job Lots
- Liquidation World
- Discount groceries
- Harbor Freight
You may find some other liquidation or surplus stores local to your specific area. I’ve bought everything from food to hardware to camping gear at these kinds of stores.
Right now, the last-day-of-sale meat markdowns are saving my bacon. (No pun intended.) I hit the store that is just down the road from me regularly to purchase meat that is marked down dramatically. I’ve gotten stuff like grass-fed beef and meatloaf mix for as low as $2 a pound recently, which is a steal given the current outlook at the store.
I also sometimes get marked-down fruits and veggies if I have time to process them immediately. The thing with the last-day-of-sale merchandise is that it has to be dealt with immediately. You need to either freeze it, cook it, or preserve it, but if you can do that, you can save an absolute fortune. Of course, when shopping in the last-day area, you have to be willing to be flexible with your menu and make what you can from what you get.
(Want cheap food? Then learn how to can what you grow! Read our free QUICKSTART Guide to home canning to get the how-to information you need.)
You don’t want to buy junk for your preps, but there are deals to be had at the dollar store. Check out these articles for products we recommend.
- 50+ Prepper Supplies You Can Get at The Dollar Store
- How to Build a Dollar Store Dental Kit for Your Bug Out Bag
- 100+ Preps You Can Get for $1
I could write rapturous poetry about the many finds I’ve gotten from yard sales and estate sales. I find that going on the first day and then returning on the last day can be a good way to get the best stuff and the best price.
Some of the things I’ve gotten this way:
- Mason jars
- Kitchen tools
- A canning pot
- Garden supplies
- Sewing supplies
A lot of folks pick up a hobby and then get bored with it, leaving them to unload it to you at a bargain price.
Craigslist does indeed have some sketchy characters, so it’s important to be smart about buying or selling this way. Here are some tips for staying safe when doing business with someone with whom you connected online.
You can find anything from cheap goods (like Mason jars) to larger items online (like treadle sewing machines). Depending on your situation, you can browse Craigslist for things you could use for prepping, or you can do searches to find specific items you need.
See the safety tips involved with Craigslist – these also apply to Facebook Marketplace.
If you’re on Facebook, check out Marketplace. I’ve gotten some fantastic deals there. I’ve purchased storage furniture, shelving, jars, and bulk lots of cleaning supplies on Marketplace. This is also where I located my 65-gallon food-safe water barrel.
Like Craigslist, you can browse or search for specific things.
Freecycle.org is a really cool website. People list on it things that they no longer have a use for, and you can make arrangements to pick the item up. You can also use it to get rid of your own unwanted things.
I’ve gotten everything from jars to cardboard for my garden to empty planters. When my girls were younger, I got a free swing set from a person who listed it on there – I just had to go and get it.
Freecycle can be a great resource if your finances are limited.
What are your favorite places to get cheap preps?
Do you have any particular places that you like to use to get cheap preps that I didn’t list here? Have you had some major prepping scores from any of these less expensive sources? Or have you been disappointed in some things you’ve gotten inexpensively? Let’s talk about cheap places to get preps in the comments.
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