One of the biggest things that hold people back from starting with disaster preparedness is that prepping is too expensive…
Yes, stockpiling an entire year’s worth of disaster supplies can take a big toll on your budget if you try to buy everything at once. However, I truly believe that creative thinking is one of the most essential prepping skills.
When you think outside the box while prepping, you realize that you don’t have to spend much money on supplies. For example, you could stockpile cheap items and use them to barter for necessities like food and water.
None of us knows what will happen when the SHTF during a disaster situation. We can only do our best to imagine possible outcomes and prepare for the worst.
The following 19 cheap items will likely be in high demand in a SHTF situation. So you should consider stockpiling them with your everyday preps, so you are prepared to barter for anything you need during a SHTF disaster.
1. Checklists To Get Organized
Getting prepared for disasters is a multi-step process. With so many different things to think about and gear to get, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Our checklists break down everything you need to do and stockpile to be prepared for major emergencies.
2. Fish Antibiotics
As I talk about in this post about emergency hygiene, disasters almost always lead to disease outbreaks due to crowded, unsanitary conditions. Antibiotics will be needed to combat diseases.
Most doctors won’t prescribe for “just in case” antibiotics. However, you can legally buy fish antibiotics and keep them as part of your disaster preps.
Read more about the safety of fish antibiotics here.
3. Lighters and Matches
With the grid down, people will need to heat their homes and cook with fire. And what do you need to start a fire? I couldn’t find any stats on how many people have matches and lighters at home, but I’m guessing that most people are severely under-prepared.
Lighters and matches are cheap and take up little space, thus making them one of the best cheap prepping items to stockpile.
Read more about the different types of lighters available.
4. Female Hygiene Items
My wife started using a menstrual cup long ago, so we don’t have to stockpile female hygiene items. Most women don’t use one of these, so they will need lots of pads and tampons—more on feminine hygiene.
Disasters cause disgusting, unhygienic conditions. Disinfectants will be in high demand. I’d recommend stockpiling bleach because it is cheap and can be used for disinfecting water. See How to Disinfect Water with Bleach here.
Batteries are a bit pricier but worth stockpiling because they will be valuable. Note that batteries will be virtually worthless if an EMP disaster strikes because all electronic devices will be fried. Consider using a Faraday cage for your essential survival electronics.
For other disasters, consider getting rechargeable batteries and adding a rugged solar charger to your preps.
7. Cooking Oil
As someone who goes backpacking frequently, I can tell you how much difference a bit of oil makes to meals. I carry a small squeeze bottle of oil to add to my meals. It makes them taste better, prevents food from sticking to the bottom of the pan, and also adds essential dietary fats.
8. Face Masks
Remember 911? People are still dying from the attack because they inhaled asbestos and other hazardous materials. A simple face mask (respirator) would have prevented many of these deaths. N95 face masks are very cheap, take up little space, and will be very valuable when SHTF. Put some in your bug out bag and keep extras stockpiled at home. Read about N95 respirators for disaster prepping here.
9. Pain Killers
Don’t forget about tooth pain! I’ve talked to many war and disaster survivors, and one thing they mention is that dental hygiene usually goes to hell in SHTF situations. Tooth pain is hellish.
I’m betting that people would trade you buckets of food for some cheap tooth pain relief! (Amazon Link)
Recommended reading – Preppers Emergency Dental Kit
10. GI Medicines
All first aid items will be in high demand after a disaster. However, GI problems are the most common ailment after disasters (from unhygienic conditions and drinking untreated water). If you are going to focus on one first aid item to stockpile for bartering, make it GI meds.
Recommended reading – Homemade Diarrhea Remedies
11. Plastic Tarps
12. Vinyl Gloves
You’ll need heavy-duty gloves for sorting through rubble and debris. But those super cheap nylon gloves will also be necessary for treating wounds, changing bucket toilets, and much more. You can buy entire boxes of gloves for just a few dollars.
For bonus points, stockpile string for candle wicks and make your own candles out of used wax.
14. Sewing Kits
You can get mini sewing kits at the Dollar Store. These will be important for fixing clothes, backpacks, tarps, and sleeping bags. The needles in the kits can be used for all sorts of things, from removing splinters to sewing up a wound (in extreme cases). I use dental floss instead of thread for sewing because it is waterproof and stronger. But those cheap sewing kits are still great for bartering.
15. Toilet paper
This one should be obvious. Oh, but in case you run out, here are some toilet paper alternatives you can use.
16. Water Purification Tablets
In addition to stockpiling bullets, you might want to learn to make your own ammo. For more on that, read How to Find Ammo when SHTF.
18. Sterile Bandages
This is a commonly overlooked survival item. I’ve talked to some people working with refugees, and they say that everyone is in desperate need of socks and shoes from walking so much. Stockpiling shoes is a bit more complicated, but you can buy cheap socks and barter them when SHTF.
This isn’t exactly an “item,” but don’t underestimate how valuable knowledge is!
When you know how to make your own bandages or candles, brew your own alcohol, grow your own food, or fix a generator, you can barter your skills for whatever you need.
More importantly, survival knowledge allows you to become a valued, indispensable community member. Learning survival skills costs nothing, and your skills go with you everywhere.
So start now before it is too late!