How to be a Prepper without Breaking the Bank

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How to be a Prepper without breaking the bank...

In this guide we are going to talk about being a prepper without breaking the bank.  I can not tell you how many times we get emails from our readers who are on a fixed income, don’t make enough money, or are retired, and can’t afford buying some of the prepper gear, food, and supplies we suggest.  The emails we receive are truly heartfelt, from people who are really concerned about their survival, and I can’t help feeling their pain.  There was a time when I too was on a ‘restrictive budget’ while supporting a wife, and two daughters.  You can’t help feeling helpless with a tiny worry growing into a grave concern as the world burns around you.  This guide is for all of you who need some tips on prepping without breaking the bank…

Prepping water on the cheap…

Rainwater collection systems for preppers..One of the most important things you need to prep is water.  The average human being can only survive three days before lethargy, irritability, vomiting, diarrhea, and eventually death kicks in.  Fortunately of all the things you can prep, water is the least expensive.  If your budget allows it you can get a Rain-Water Diversion Kit for around $25.  Now all you need is a barrel.  Instead of blowing money on a brand new water barrel that costs a minimum of a hundred bucks, go to your local beverage factories (almost every city I’ve ever lived in has one), and find out where they put their discarded barrels.  They’ll either give them to you for free or extremely cheap.  Now all you have to do is clean the hell out of that barrel with dish-washing detergent and bleach.

Prepping food on the cheap…

prepping-canned-goodsFood is pretty damn important for any living being on this planet.  The average person can survive without food for about three weeks, but I’m sure Calista Flockhart will say otherwise.  Either way after three weeks without food your organs will be permanently damaged, and eventually you’ll die.  Normally we suggest freeze dried food with a thirty year shelf life as a surefire means to food prepping, but that can cost hundreds of dollars, and a lot of people can’t afford it!  Luckily, there are a few ways you can stockpile food without blowing your wad.  The easiest and fairly inexpensive method to stockpiling food is buying canned goods.  People don’t buy canned goods as much as they use to, which has grocery stores pushing some pretty amazing deals like ten cans of tomato soup for five bucks.  Each time you go to the store look out for deals and buy a little extra each visit.  If you’re going to stock up on canned goods be sure to properly rotate your food since canned goods typically last anywhere between two to five years.  

When people think of prepping food they almost always think of having some glorious banquet of food, but the reality is much less elegant because you are stockpiling food for survival not comfort.  This means you should focus on essential food like beans, rice, nuts, peanut butter, super greens, and etc.. All of which are very inexpensive to buy and can be used during normal day to day routines allowing for rotation of stock.  I’ve spent many weekday afternoons in my childhood clipping coupons with my Mom at the kitchen table in preparation for our weekend grocery store trip, and I suggest you get clipping too!  If you have a garden obviously you want to start canning, luckily we wrote a guide on how to can your food.

Prepper gear…

Used prepper gear...Life after doomsday will be rough, and this country will undoubtedly be a war-zone.  You’ll want some gear to help you hump miles on end, stay hydrated, be protected, and prepared for any threat.  Sure, we’d all love to shell out three hundred bucks for a Crye Precision Plate Carrier, but not that many people can afford it.  Took me a month to save up for it, and it hurt my pocketbook for a few weeks after.  If you’re on a fixed income it’s going to be hard fitting something like that into your budget.  Save yourself some money and learn to buy secondhand.  I was raised on yard sales and swap meets, and to this day I still frequent them every weekend.  Believe it or not you can find some amazing gear at these places, and more often than not they’re usually genuine U.S. Military Gear.

Another useful resource is, which is one of my favorite sites to buy tactical gear, and rifles.  You can see what their asking price is, check out photos, followed by some shameless wheeling and dealing.  Just be sure to ask its’ current condition (poor, fair, like new) and verify before you hand over any cash.  One of my favorite Backpage techniques is to post bartering offers.  For example I once offered up a Nikon Coolpix (valued at about $75) for any shotgun.  Within a day I had traded the camera for an H & R Pardner Pump, which I then pieced together a couple parts I had laying around (folding stock, shell attachment), and ended up reselling it for $165.  Point being is Backpage is an excellent resource for the shrewd.

Learn to will and deal…

Willing and dealing preppers...As you can see from my story above, knowing how to will and deal will not only save you money, but it will get you some pretty useful items.  The first rule when it comes to negotiating is you never pay asking price.  Cash in hand means buying power, and I’ve never walked away empty handed.  If you’re at a garage sale and the guy is asking fifty bucks for an item you can find online for forty bucks, let him know that and be able to back it up.  If there’s imperfections like scuffs, stains, etc. point it out, cosmetic stuff can always be fixed after the purchase.  Don’t be an asshole because I’d turn you down on principle alone.  Be polite, confident, and firm.

Bartering is a timeless method of commerce that has been around long before you or I got here, and will be here long after we are dead because it’s an easy way for two people to both get what they want without forking over any cash.  Got a TV you never use, or a car that just sits in the barn?  Research your items’ current market value, and find something that has the same value as your item and offer up a trade.  One rule I have to stress to all of you.  Never accept checks, money orders, or cashier’s cheques for any reason whatsoever.  You could get burned, or worse…you could land in jail when you try to cash a fake check!

Medical supplies on the cheap…

Cheap first aid for preppers...When the shit hits the fan you’re going to need a medical kit, and again you may not be able to afford a Fully Stocked First Responders Kit.  Instead what you can do is buy the necessary items little by little.  Don’t be afraid to go to the Dollar Store!  At the end of the day, gauze is gauze, and bandages are bandages.  You can either use one your old backpacks, or buy one from a thrift store for less than five bucks.  Stock it up with all the essentials; scissors, latex gloves, belt for tourniquet, gauze rolls, bandages, ibuprofen, cloth tape, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, burn gel, and etc.  You can find all the essentials at your local dollar store for a dollar each saving you a pretty fair amount of money.

Now this might sound a little bit morbid, but keep an eye on your local newspaper’s classified ads for estate sells.  These usually happen when a soul has moved onto a better place, leaving their estate up for auction.  It is at these estate sales where I’ve found specialized medical equipment like oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, gurneys, and etc. for an incredibly low amount of money.

Repurposing items…

Wood pallet garden for preppers...People throw away useful stuff all the time and as the old adage goes ‘One man’s is another man’s treasure..’.  Thanks to apps like Pinterest you can get some pretty useful tips on repurposing.  In just five minutes on Pinterest you’ll learn a thousand ways you can turn wood pallets into a vertical garden, patio furniture, and even a bed.  Moral of the story is there is a wealth of information out there on repurposing other people’s junk into something you can use in your life as a prepper saving you hundreds of dollars and maybe even making you a little extra cash.  Not only can you repurpose old items, but if you’re able bodied and have a truck you can drive around your neighborhoods at night picking up recyclable items to pay for your prepper addiction.  Before you scoff, think about this…you can get $1.30+/- a pound for aluminum cans, $3 a pound for scrap metal, so if for each ton you recycle you’ll make over five hundred bucks!

In closing…

I specifically didn’t go into ammunition and weapons because both require a good amount of money, which is why I brought up bartering.  We really do care about our readers and will do anything to help you and your family survive.  This article was written with the idea of making it possible to be a prepper while having a tight budget, but we might not have gotten everything, and we encourage our readers to comment below with their money saving tips.  We as preppers are a small community of like minded people and was founded to bring us together, and help each other out!  When everyone else fades away from the harsh cruelties of a post-apocalyptic world, we will only have each other…


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About Administrator Ryan

Administrator Ryan has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Administration and Management from the University of Kentucky, and has been the primary handler for since it's founding. Professional background includes over a decade's experience in survival and preparedness, graphic design, computer programming, website coding, and asset management. Personal background in mountaineering, climbing, rappelling, combat training, and big game hunting.

10 thoughts on “How to be a Prepper without Breaking the Bank

  1. Excellent advice,especially the part about buying say a few extra cans of food when shopping,as I love to say”The smalls add up”.I would say a fair/decent backpack from a yard sale and say a month of ration bars good insurance,won’t break bank and if on the road or need to leave due to bad circumstances gives one a chance,bugging in with say wood stove to heat/cook excellent but circumstances may require mobility even on foot and pack always in car,well,always ready even on the road.I would say also read/print any useful articles/books ect. while one can,things like military field aid manuals and such,though best knowledge storage is the brain pan,best of luck to all and the country!

    • We makes donations to and buy from the Sally (salvation army). A few weeks ago, they offered us 10 dozen canning jars, free, because no one wanted to buy them. Quarts, some half-pint jelly jars. No matter what, they have a lot of uses. Yes, we preserve food by the case and the bushel. Same with appliances and so on.

      • Nice gift Red,canning is one thing have not gotten into,will if time/world holds together permits.I make a fair amount of side money fixing got for free lawnmowers and other power equipment and sell at fair prices,win/win all the time and keeps useful items going.I would say there is a large part of thrifty yankee in me,that said,have no qualms about spending a lot on excellent quality such as bows/firearms/tools/clothing ect. for my trade ect.

        • Canning is easy if you know how 🙂 Sauerkraut is frozen, from crock to freezer. Anything acid, juices jelly and so on, waterbath can. yard sales are not boring when you’re looking. a Subscription to Countryside Small Livestock Journal (waterloo, WI) is cheap, and always filled with down to earth information. One of my brothers spends fall and winter buying and restoring junked lawnmowers. He makes a mint on it. A cousin of my grandmother used to buy ponies in the fall for a song, gaze them all winter (his farm was picturesque and should have been named Rocky bottom) then sold them in the spring for a hundred a head. Carter Depression killed that, but his grandson bought goats to keep the brush down, then wound up with several hundred meat goats, selling to Hispanics. I do manuscript editing and did well till the BO Depression 🙂 But, I also eat wild ( and discover new things all the time. We were raised in poverty and raised to survive in style. Peace to you.

  2. I bought 3 of those 250 gallon storage tanks that are square and have an aluminum rack around them, can link them together. Got the food grade kind for $35.00 each. Store rain water or make a septic system with it. There everywhere

  3. Very good advice. If you have a garden, practice hidden gardening. A lot of good food looks like ornamental weeds. Canning, if at all possible, anything contained in metal should be kept in low-humidity places and rotate! Most important medical supplies are vitamins. Pills should be crushed before taking. Whole multis are called bedpan bullets by nurses. Much of them is passed thru the system. Zinc is vital! It kills viral infections. Copper–in reason–will take out most bugs. Note that the incidents of amoeba deaths is rising. America replaced copper tubing with plastic, and no well in the country can be considered safe. copper is easy to rework for many a good thing. coffee and tobacco will be platinum trade goods. As non-food items, there’s no reason the government would _legally_ confiscate them. any one can work small things into a budget. Buy food by the case rather than a can or two, or a bottle at a time. Once case a week when shopping is nothing. Many do that, so it’s not noticed. In fact, some stores will only allow people to purchase two cases of one item at a time. Glass keeps better than metal. But, always, rotate stocks. food value declines after months in the can or bottle. And always, always remember, this is an adventure! You need to see it as one, not as some grim beaver prepping for winter, but as investment of something good. That’s prime advice from psychologists!

  4. Good info here. I’ve been following Crow articles and their info for a long time. Pay heed to this stuff as it could save your life one day and your family.

  5. The link for the Rainwater Diversion Kit is a duplicate link to the water barrel on Amazon. Other than that, I enjoyed the article!!

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