10 Smart Ways to Prep Without Spending Money

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

Are you convinced that you can’t prep unless you have a whole lot of money to spend? That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are all sorts of ways you can become better prepared without spending a dime. The thing to remember is that there is a lot more to prepping than just feverishly filling mylar bags with food or stacking ammo to the ceiling. You need to think outside of the consumer mindset.

Here are ten ideas to get your wheels turning.

#1) Fill containers with water

If you haven’t taken out the recycling yet this week, don’t!  You can use those empty two-liter soda pop bottles and gallon water bottles to stock up on a drinking water supply. Count on a gallon a day per human and pet. (Two 2-liter bottles are approximately a gallon).

But don’t stop there. If you have other containers that shouldn’t be used for drinking water, you can fill them with water for other uses, like sanitation, flushing the toilet, and keeping clean.

Add to your supply each week, and soon you’ll have a month supply, quietly sitting there in your basement. Here’s an infographic to get you started on safely storing water. If you want to be more serious about your water supply, I have a book about it that you can get on Amazon.

#2) Do a drill

The absolute best way to know what you need during an emergency is to simulate a crisis.  Get your family on board and spend a weekend without power and running water. Keep a list going for the entire weekend so that you can note what needs arose. (Leave the breakers on for the refrigerator and freezer – you don’t want to potentially have your food spoil.)

Can you make coffee and food? Can you keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer? Can you keep the kids entertained without the internet or phone service?

#3) Learn what edibles are wild in your area

Go to the library and grab a book on foraging. Then begin to explore your local area to find out what food grows wild there, formerly unbeknownst to you. Go on a nature walk and come home with goodies!

The fun doesn’t stop with just bringing the food home. Next, research how to best prepare the wild edibles you’ve acquired. You may find this at the library or you may be able to search for recipes online.  Be sure to jot down in a notebook what you found and how you prepared it.

#4) Put together important information

Organize your essential papers and documents into a folder so that you can grab it quickly if you ever have to bug out. Include things like medical records, veterinary records, deeds, mortgage papers, insurance policies, social security numbers, and identification.

Don’t stop at just putting it in a folder. You should also scan these documents and save them in the cloud. Here is a preparedness based article on the topic and another article on whether or not this is a safe action.

#5) Prep for an evacuation

Now you need to pack a bug-out bag. If budget is a concern, use bags you already have along with supplies that you already have. The important thing is to have this stuff organized and be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Have a list of last minute items so that you know what you need. It’s better to think this through when you’re calm, not when the clock is ticking towards disaster.

You’ll want things like personal documents, extra medication, comfort items for children, and survival supplies that could get you through 3 days away from home.  To take a look at the ultimate prepper’s bug out bag, look at this one from Graywolf Survival. Don’t forget sentimental items. They are truly the only things that could never be replaced.

Figure out where you’ll go. Is there a friend or family member in another area who would welcome you? Is there a pet-friendly hotel (if you have pets?) Where is the usual shelter in your area during natural disasters? Knowing all this ahead of time and mapping routes will help you to evacuate faster.

#6) Bookmark some websites

The internet is a wonderful place, and best of all, this knowledge can be found for FREE! The more you know about crisis situations, the more ready you will be to face them. Some sites are friendlier to beginners than others, so if you stumble upon a forum where people seem less than enthusiastic about helping people who are just starting out, don’t let it get you down. Move on and find a site that makes you feel comfortable. Following are some of my favorites, and the link will take you to a good starting point on these sites. In no particular order:

#7) Learn a skill

A huge part of prepping is your skills. In a big enough disaster or one that lasts much longer than expected, there’s every possibility your supplies will be destroyed or run out. Knowing what to do then is vital to your survival.

Your public library and the internet are great resources. I learned to run a homestead with videos from YouTube. Seriously, there’s nothing you can’t learn to do if you have access to these things.

So think about a skill you’d like to acquire that doesn’t require expensive equipment. I already mentioned foraging but there are loads of other things to learn. A few suggestions:

  • sewing by hand
  • mending things
  • repairing things that are broken
  • building a shelter using found items
  • cooking over a campfire
  • grow food from scraps
  • trapping with a snare
  • cooking from scratch
  • research first aid and basic medical information
  • learn to upcycle the things you’d generally throw away into something useful
  • take free classes

You get the idea. Anything that is an old-fashioned skill would come in handy during a survival situation.

#8) Map out your local area

It’s a good idea to locate important resources in your area well before you need them. Here are a few reasons why:

  • You may plan to travel or may unexpectedly be required to travel to another location during a disaster, which may require you to use alternate routes. You can use maps to determine these routes for yourself rather than just following the crowd
  • You may want to determine the location of dangerous weather (tornados, hurricanes, winter storms, etc,) in relation to where you are
  • Determine the location of resources that you might want to travel to and alternate routes to get there (Part 4 will provide more information on this topic)
  • Determine locations and direction of travel of mobs, crowds, or potential enemy forces that you might hear about on the radio or TV
  • Locate military intelligence type information about potential or actual threats to your location that you might discover talking to fellow travelers (source)

There are many free maps available for download. You can find a list here.

#9) Meet like-minded people

Now, when I say you should meet like-minded people, I’m not necessarily talking about preppers. There’s a broad array of folks that could be the makings of a fantastic survival community.

  • Get to know folks in your area who garden.
  • Meet your local farmers.
  • Make friends at the shooting range.
  • Members of local homesteading groups are already independent thinkers
  • Community watch members on social media
  • Attend free county extension office classes on canning, gardening, and food preservation

As I’ve written before, you are shortchanging yourself if you think only preppers will be likeminded. Here’s an article on finding a community.

#10) Get fit.

One thing preppers often overlook is the importance of their physical abilities. Even if you are disabled, there are things you can do to improve your fitness and stamina.

Search for exercises online that you can do whatever shape you are in or limitations you have. And, if you DO have disabilities, you need to figure out smart ways to work around your limitations. (Find more info for disabled preppers or those with a chronic illness here.)

The easiest way to start your journey to fitness is by lacing up your most comfortable and supportive shoes and going for a walk. You can begin to challenge yourself to lift and carry heavier things. You can stretch using an online yoga video. The big goal is to just get started. And, if you are carrying around too much weight, you may want to work on losing a few pounds to make things easier on your joints during a crisis situation. (If you are really serious about getting fit, here’s a great book on the topic, written just for preppers.)

Don’t let your budget get you down.

Of course, we’d all love to be able to grab a 5 year supply of freeze-dried foods, load up on guns and ammo, and move to our fully-stocked bug-out retreats in our Hummers, but for most folks, that isn’t at all feasible. What IS feasible is focusing on the things we CAN do. (If you have a little bit of money to spend, check out this article on $1 preps.)

The most important ways to prep are to keep learning, keep organizing, and be alert. If you do those three things, even without spending a lot of money on supplies, you’ll be far, far ahead of the unprepared masses.


Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • An interesting article. I see edibles along city streets and country lanes, and weeds in peoples flower beds. If you are truly hungry food is all around us.
    My mother and I used to forage for our dinner once or twice a week. It really created an interest in wIld foods and medicines . I see edibles all around me now and don’t kill those things on my property. If they come up in my garden I feed them to my chickens , ducks, or rabbits.
    I do have Bug out bags, one of which has sticks of pictures and important form to back up actual documents and pictures. One is full on surgical medical that happens to be our go to for first aid so supplies are rotated in and out and kept restocked and fresh. Then winter and summer bags then all dry foods in a bag to help supplement all other bags if we go by car with room to take more. At home I have a 230 gal rain barrel, 5 gal containers of water and my second well is totally manual or solar while the other is on grid power. My home is off grid solar. I have a barrel root cellar with a planned dug out room planned for next year so I’ll have a better place for m y canned goods and garden produce and fruit. I have a new apple tree and grapes added to my older bearing trees. I just moved back to my country property but materials are here to build a new pit greenhouse and a lean to greenhouse. I’m buying panels and parts to put solar power into my out buildings and working toward getting totally off grid. Two more residences to go…
    Is it expensive? Only the solar stuff is costing much. Everything else is cheap or free from yard sales, Craigslist, et. I dry home grown veggies and fruits in screens in the sun or shade depending on what I’m working on. I buy dry, flavored mixes that take water to prepare and keep canned meats with some mixes in a pack as well as on pantry shelves. I have water bath and pressure canners and know how to use them. I raise chickens, ducks, and rabbits for eggs, meat, and fur.
    We live ready for emergencies, wild fires, and unexpected company. When I was growing up it not called prepping. It was just how folks had always done things. You grew a garden and gathered or bought fruit and canned for the following seasons till harvesting could begin again. We made our own breads, sewed and mended our clothing. Learning to do those things was expected of us. Everyone did chores so no one thought about the wealth of information we were storing away. It was just life. Now I specifically have to teach those every day skills to my grandson and other young people. They aren’t part of peoples lives any more. Doing things as they always used to be done is called homesteading or prepping. We never had titles for ordinarily life before. I set my broken arm with help from my stepson holding my wrist as I grabbed onto a porch railing and my husband helped me pull till it settled back in place. My daughter was born at home. Husband helped deliver her. She was born breach with the cord wrapped around her neck. He figured out how to save her life and just did it. A neighboring nurse arrived in time to clean us up and cut the cord. We were prepared with a basket of things ready just in case we didn’t make it to the hospital.
    When asked about normal childbirth preparations “just in case”, My doctor was glad to help make a list of things to have on hand. He also made sure we knew how to safely cut the cord. A generation or two before me most folks were born at home with other women or midwives helping out.
    Life has changed in many ways but learning all of the old ways you can could be life saving.
    I’m 71 and trying to pass the things I have learned on to others. Guns and equipment are nice.. But I can’t wear or eat them. They won’t mend me or my clothing. They won’t cook me a meal. For those things you need knowledge.

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