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Prepping Budget: How to Make Every Dollar Count

Prepping Budget: How to Make Every Dollar Count post image

You can’t put a price on the security of your family… but you can put a price on all of the prepping supplies you need to get secure! Getting started with prepping can seem really expensive.  And, I’m not going to lie, you will have to shell out some cash to get prepared for disasters.  But there is no reason that prepping has to be expensive.  Here’s how to go about prepping on a budget so every dollar counts.

Start with a Prepping List

Don’t buy any prepping supplies or gear until you’ve made a complete list of everything you will need. Otherwise, you will end up buying duplicates of some items (like that prepper I know with 10lbs of dried tomatoes but no grains) and missing crucial items.

All of the prepping supplies can be broken down into categories:

  • Food supplies
  • Water supplies
  • Hygiene supplies
  • First aid supplies
  • Lighting supplies
  • Cooking and heating supplies
  • Personal and home protection supplies
  • Evacuation supplies

Break Your List Down by Priority

prepping supplies

Now that you’ve got your prepping supplies list, you need to identify the core items you need.  Identify which items you need for your 72 hour kit (read why the first 72 hours are critical) and for your Bug Out Bag (see a Bug Out Bag packing list here).

These are the items you should get ASAP.  Then work your way up to a 30 day supply.  From there, you can focus on long-term prepper supplies, like food buckets.

Set Your Prepping Budget

If you want to make every single dollar count to the maximum, you’ve got to set a prepping budget.  You might be thinking, “But I don’t have a prepping budget!”

EVERYONE has a prepping budget.

If you have no money to spend, then your prepping budget is zero.  Zero is still a budget (and, yes, you can still prep with zero dollars to spare).

  • IF you have a large prepping budget: Resist the urge to rush out and buy a lot of fancy gear and pricy security systems. Identify the core items you need and get these first.  Do your research and invest in quality.
  • IF you have a small prepping budget: Divide your list into expensive and cheap items. Buy some of the cheap items every week.  Set aside a certain amount of money each week to go towards buying pricier items.
  • IF you have zero in your prepping budget: Learn how to make your own supplies out of cheap and recycled items. For example, you can make a solar panel out of aluminum cans which have been painted black.

Tips for Stretching Your Prepping Budget

Again, I need to emphasize that the most important thing you can do when prepping on a budget is prep with a plan.  If you don’t have a plan of what items to buy, you will end up spending too much money on certain items or wasting money when you end up throwing things away.  Here’s some tips for how to prep on a budget.

Rotate Your Stockpile

Let’s say you’ve built up a year’s supply of non-perishable foods like canned soups and pastas.  Well, even “non-perishable” foods go bad!

Throwing away food is the same as throwing away money!!!

Once you surpass the 30 day food stockpile, you will need to come up with a food rotation system.  There are a lot of ways to rotate your food preps – such as can rotating systems.

Rotating Tip: Only buy prep foods that you normally eat (if you don’t usually eat rice and beans, don’t buy them as your prep foods!).  Otherwise, it will be harder for your to rotate them.

Here's a simple can rotator you can buy. You can also make one yourself.

Here’s a simple can rotator you can buy. You can also make one yourself.


Don’t Buy Bottled Water

Bottled water is one of the biggest scams in our country.  These is absolutely no reason that you should be buying water for prepping.  Instead, save old plastic bottles and jugs.  Wash them out very thoroughly and fill them with tap water.

Note that YOU MUST ROTATE WATER STOCKPILES TOO.  You’ll need to rotate your water supply about every 6 months.

Do It Right the First Time

When we first started with long-term food storage for prepping, my wife and I made a bunch of mistakes.  We ended up with moths in our food preps and had to throw them away.   This could have been avoided if we’d just taken more time to learn food storage methods.

Before you start a project, do your research.  It will take more time but you’ll save money on your prepping budget when you do it right the first time around!  Read the most common prepping mistakes here.

Make Prepping Gear Yourself

Some prepping gear can be really expensive to buy, but you may be able to make it yourself.

Instead of buying an emergency stove, make your own emergency stove.

Instead of buying candles, make your own candles.

Instead of buying MREs, make your own MREs.

Instead of buying a survival belt, make your own out of paracord.

If you get creative, you’ll find that there is no limit to what you can do even with a small prepping budget.

Focus on Skills, Not Supplies

We hate to admit it, but no amount of supplies is going to make your fully prepared for a disaster.  History shows us that, after large-scale disasters, looting occurs by the second or third day.

Even if you secure your home, you could still have all your prepping supplies stolen!

For this reason, it is important that you learn prepping skills in addition to stockpiling supplies.  I’d go as far as saying that people who know survival skills are more prepared for disaster then those who have years’ of supplies stockpiled.

The great thing is that prepping skills are usually free to learn, so prepping on a budget doesn’t have to be a problem.

Focus On Sustainable Prepping Solutions

Even though prepping and homesteading are completely different things, there is a strong link between them.  Homesteading is all about self-sufficiency and sustainable solutions.  Well, preppers live on those principles too!

Start thinking like a homesteader.

Instead of just having a year’s worth of food stockpiled, why not grow your own food?

Instead of relying on your flashlights and batteries, why not get a solar system started?

Instead of stockpiling medicines, why not plant a medicinal survival garden….?

Yes, some of these projects do require an initial investment of time and money.  However, the investment will quickly pay off.  Your energy costs will go down.  You will spend less on groceries and medicines.  And you will probably improve your health in the process, thus reducing all those medical costs (and improving your preparedness level!).

Take It Slow!

Finally, remember to take things slow.

It is great that you are taking the first steps in getting prepared for disasters.  But there is no need to rush out and do it all at once.  You’ll end up making mistakes and wasting money.  So make your plan and do what you can.

You’d be surprised how far an extra few cans and jugs of water per week can make!

Are you prepping on a budget? How do you make every dollar count?

Image credits: “Day 3/365 – Ride in the Shopping Cart..” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by  Caden Crawford 
#6 supplies” (CC BY 2.0) by  susie.c