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Author Topic: Just starting out-$200 to spend  (Read 1934 times)

Offline ATXguy

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Just starting out-$200 to spend
« on: December 05, 2012, 03:12:21 PM »
Hey All, i'm a newbie prepper in Austin, TX and I'm just starting out.  I really don't even know where I need to begin.  I've got $200 to start with, so i'm not sure what to spend it on.  I want to see if I can get some suggestions on where to begin and what are some good resources I can purchase that will help me to be more organized and have some kind of game plan.  I guess I would say I want to be prepared for anything that could happen in general, but I really do feel that the most imminent thing that is the most realistic thing to be ready for in the near future is an economic collapse.  I am married and we have a 2 yr. old, and I just want to be wise and discern the times and be prepared to take care of my family in case something like this did happen. 

I know I will need to start getting together a BOB, looking at storing food/water, and increasing my firepower (I only have 2 Glocks & my CHL as of now), but I just don't know where I need to start.  We live in the city in a subdivision, so I know the BOB and establishing a bug-out location will be important.  What do you all think?  Any help is greatly appreciated.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 03:25:33 PM »
Think a little smaller than financial collapse.  Are you more likely to be out of a job than the U.S. financial system collapsing?  Or not be able to work because of injury or illness.  What do you need to do to ensure that you and your family remain with shelter, food and water?

It isn't glamorous, but take a look at your own financial situation.  Do you have savings?  Enough for a small emergency?  What happens if your transmission goes out?  Can you avoid using the credit card to pay for it?  How is your debt?  If there's any consumer debt, pay it down. 

Most new preppers get overwhelmed with everything they could need to do.  Sit back and figure out what would help in the most mundane personal emergency.


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Offline Crazy Fox

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 03:42:54 PM »
Hey welcome!

First of all, check out Episode 28: http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/documention-of-survival-and-evacuation-plans

This will help you organize and prioritize your needs and capabilities so you don't rush out to buy thing a $200 in macho survival dodads and then suffer buyer's remorse later. Everybody feels like prepping is a daunting task at first, but writing things down in a calm and logical way will keep you from getting overwhelmed and giving up.

I agree with fritz_monroe; becoming financially independent and secure is your top priority.

I'd say that right off the bat you could use maybe $5.00 (for ink and paper costs) of that money this weekend to put together a nice emergency document package for your BOB. Copies of your ID(s), a list of phone numbers for family/friends, maps and contact numbers for nearby hotels, and numbers for local emergency services. It's not a sexy prep, but it's cheap and easy and could help in common emergencies.

If you're like me, you probably have spare or older versions of stuff lying around that you don't really use, but don't want to throw out. I'd take a trip to your attic/basement/closets and pick out some of the stuff (spare clothing, flashlights, knife, lighters, hats, compass, jacket) you don't really use and turn it into preps simply by shoving it into a cheap and temporary bug out bag. This is completely free and allows you to build/upgrade a bag as you learn. Then take $10 to the dollar store and fill out the missing stuff (a bottle of water, nuts, batteries, rubbing alcohol, etc.). Presto! You've got a very inexpensive BOB that, though limited and not top shelf, gets you moving in the right direction without wiping out your budget.

Offline ATXguy

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 03:47:43 PM »
Hi Fritz, I hear what you're saying.  We have no debt besides what we owe on our home and my wife's vehicle (which isn't much).  As far as savings, we have enough to be ok for probably a year to year and a half if we lost our income.  At this point, I just want to start taking steps right now and have a good direction for being prepared if there were some kind of economic disturbance and things did get bad for a time. 

As i'm sure is the case with some of you, I have a wife who is supportive to start doing something, but she is not really at the point yet where she thinks of it as much of a priority as I do (hence the starting off with only $200).  We have enough savings where I could technically probably buy enough food, water, ammo, guns, etc. for us to be ok for quite some time, but she would really have a problem with letting go a significant chunk of our savings to do that.  As a result, I just want to start taking some small steps now and start doing things a little at a time.

Offline endurance

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 04:38:21 PM »
My first priority would be to get to two weeks of self-sufficiency and in Austin that's a lot easier than in climates further north where staying warm is a lot tougher.  However, it would be wise to put up two weeks of water (could go the bottled route for that duration, but another option would be a 55 gallon drum).  Then look at deepening your pantry to two weeks of food with extended shelf lives, like canned and dry goods, that you could incorporate into your diet without skipping a beat.  Make sure you're thinking about ways to prepare that food without electricity.  That might mean buying a camping stove or buying an extra propane tank for your grill, but come up with a system for cooking without the grid.

One of the most commonly overlooked things is sanitation, but it deserves your full attention, because if the toilet stops flushing, you've got a problem right now!  I like the snap on toilet seats that fit on a 5-6 gallon bucket that you can get from your local camping supply store or Cabelas.  That along with a couple rolls of small kitchen garbage bags and a quart of bleach can save you a world of misery if you lose city services.

Put together or buy a decent first aid kit.  Don't go overboard unless you have more advanced training, but put training on your list of things to attain.  A basic first aid class is eight hours and well worth your investment of time.

Make sure you have a cash on hand fund.  Imagine any disaster where the credit card machines are down and cash is king (nearly any disaster where the power is interrupted) and you'll understand why it is so important to have at least a few hundred bucks on hand.

Finally, take care of your lighting needs.  Buy a couple power failure lights and a couple battery operated LED flashlights and you'll be off to a good solid start.  If you have money to spare, consider getting some battery operated motion activated LED lights.  They're a great tool for both security and convenience when the power is off and they're usually less than $15 a piece.  I have one in my garage so I don't have to fumble for the light switch and most of the time it's enough so I don't bother turning on the light.  I'm still on the original set of batteries and I've had it for almost a year now.
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Offline livinitup0

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 04:43:57 PM »
i would suggest searching back episodes of TSP for the beginners episodes.

Offline ATXguy

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 04:56:34 PM »
Thanks for the replies.  Endurance, those are some very helpful suggestions that I will certainly begin working towards. 

Do you guys know of a more efficient way of searching through all of the podcasts?  There are so many episodes that it seems like it's not easy to search through all of them to find a beginner episode.  Besides the one cTyler7 recommended, are there any particular episode numbers that you all would recommend for newbies?

Offline endurance

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 06:05:59 PM »
I think we all have our favorites and I definitely preferred his earlier shows because they were much shorter (40 minutes or less) and more focused on individual topics rather than being filled with listener call in and e-mail shows.

This is definitely a keeper:
http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/10-unspoken-priciples-driving-modern-survivalism

Here's Jack's recommended shows for new listeners:
http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/welcome-center/shows-for-new-liteners

Welcome aboard.  Take your time, don't get wrapped up in the 12/21/12 hysteria, and remember that just by having the idea of needing to be more prepared than you currently are puts you about 10 steps ahead of 85% of the population who haven't even allowed the thought that something might go wrong enter their minds. 
"There are things that you don't question when your home always smells like baking bread."  From The Hunger Games

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”   James Madison

Offline centraltx

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 08:22:32 PM »
I'm in Austin too - given the drought here that simply won't die, I would put double the priority on the water suggestions people give. Otherwise I'm on board with Endurance's suggestions. I've spent the last two summers thinking if there was a water issue here, everyone would be totally effed.

Offline 4bull

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 08:32:46 PM »
Man the dollar store would hate me . LOL

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2012, 08:34:34 AM »
start by being a hero to her.  I am assuming here that she does the grocery shopping.  unless she is a rare and strange creature, grocery shopping is NOT her favorite activity.  especially when she has to make a store run cuz she forgot one thing.
so, next time she goes grocery shopping, go with her.  Copy-can (as Jack calls it): take a second cart behind hers and put 2 of everything in your cart that she puts into hers.  Of canned or boxed items - not produce or dairy.  Meat yes, if you KNOW that there is room in the freezer.  And verify that.  I am very protective of my freezer space; if hubby came home with a grocery bag of meat to put in there, I would be a little peeved cuz I would have to be the one to find room for it.
Pay for your basket with that 200.
Which brings me to the next point - everything that you have bought, you need to put away.  find a home for it, a home that is out of her way so she doesn't trip on it every time she turns around; but accessible so that she doesn't have to run to the store for that can of whatever you have in the house.
if there is leftover from that 200, buy some small cans of dried LTS produce that she cooks with: carrots, peppers, tomatoes etc.  Augason Farms, for example, has "everyday size" cans http://www.augasonfarms.com/Vegetables?sort=p.price&order=ASC that are great for sampling a small amount.  Have that on hand for her to cook with.

she will soon be able to see the value of having a "grocery store in her house" - you will be a hero, and the next thing you suggest might not seem so crazy since you were obviously so smart about the food storage.
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Offline Cordovil

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2012, 11:46:12 AM »
Some great suggestions here already.  I have to echo what Fritz_Monroe and Endurance said. 

It sounds like your financial situation is pretty good based on your response to Fritz's post, but let me raise a few more ideas.  Do you have term life insurance that would take care of your wife and child in the (unlikely but not impossible) event of your untimely death?  Do you have disability insurance that would provide you with some monthly income in the (not likely, but more likely than an early death) event you became seriously disabled?  You probably can't tackle either of these things with your $200, but please consider them as part of one of the first things to get a handle on when it comes to being prepared.

Setting that aside, the specifics that Endurance mentioned are good areas to focus on.  Getting two weeks worth of canned/dried food (stuff you normally use, ideally) set aside is a good start (and Morning Sunshine's recommendation is one way to do it, although in my case, my wife wasn't so much on board at first, so I would just take note of what she brought home from the supermarket, and then I'd make my own trip out to buy a second of anything that was canned/dried).

You can get a bunch of cheap LED flashlights to have on hand, stored around the house, so that you are not tripping over yourself in a power outage.  I found this basic headlamp to be invaluable during our two-week power outage: http://www.amazon.com/Petzl-E91-PE-Headlamp-Electric/dp/B0027GVIOW/

This thing was a great "room light": http://www.amazon.com/Rayovac-Sportsman-LED-Lantern-SE3DLN/dp/B0018S4XIS

It also sounds like you are in good shape with your firearm defense, so I wouldn't worry about adding to that right now, other than making sure you have a good stock of ammo.

Picking up a few cases of cheap bottled water would be a low-cost first step that you could take, and then you could probably use them up in your everyday living after you have come up with a longer-term plan for water storage.  But definitely make sure you have some water on-hand.

Phone numbers, photocopies, etc. of all your important documents/papers -- great idea.  Also, organize your utility bills (so you have the phone numbers / account numbers available to call during an outage).

Make sure you have battery-powered and/or crank-powered radio -- it can be an important news source in an emergency.

Offline idelphic

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2012, 11:56:25 AM »
start by being a hero to her.  <...>
Copy canning..  one of the simplest things you can do, and will pay off down the road.  There have been a time or two that this has really paid off for us. It's really nice to go to the pantry and get something you need and not have to run to the store for one can of this or that.

But one of the biggest things you can do is get what you eat already.. Don't just buy stuff..  Unless it's on a lets see what we can do with this for dinner tomorrow...  Nothing wrong with experimentation..  Couscous isn't really all that bad as a replacement for rice..  Neither is Quinoa for that matter...  and the quinoa is high in protein.  Don't forget that even the simple Bean is good too..

If you don't have one, maybe get a pressure cooker, nothing fancy, just something that you can learn with cut down on cooking time.

Biggest thing is to not panic buy - look it over,.. don't think I HAVE GOT TO HAVE THIS NOW - or you will quickly overload yourself and fall out on it. Start with a list..  build on the list,.. look at the ads for the week and go from there. 

As for lights,.. you may have a few things around the house that could be used as lights now..  Glass jar, old jeans, little olive oil?...  simple quick lamp.  I've recycled several salsa jars to do this...

Best of luck... Welcome - and don't be afraid to ask.. Remember we are all still learning here too..
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Offline ATXguy

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2012, 05:41:56 PM »
Thank you all so much for the responses.  I really do appreciate your thoughtful comments.  I especially appreciate Morning Sunshine's comments to help me to see things more from my wife's point of view.  I will certainly be taking these things to heart.

Offline suzysurvivor

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2012, 10:22:02 AM »
i guess i'm a little different in that i view financial stability and prepping as two different animals.  frankly, if the shtf, i won't give a damn about my credit score...i'll be worried about my dried bean score! 

I think the copy canning is a great idea.  Buy shelf stable items on sale whenever you can.  Water is, of course, the first priority as well as purification means (plain old unscented Clorox will do that trick and it's pretty affordable).  then food.  Beans, flour, rice, oats.  Canned veg and meat.  I stock basics like that but i also put up 'junk food' that i know my kids will eat...ramen noodles-yeah, not the best food but if we're starving, i won't give a damn as long as its edible- ravioli, tuna, mac and cheese boxes.  Sometimes you will need things to eat that can be eaten right out of the can if need be.   

If you have a home with a yard, i'd put a few dollars into plant seeds.  Let the dandelions grow in your yard...they're edible as long as you haven't used pesticides on the yard. 

IMO, first and foremost are the staples of life-water and food. 

Keep us posted...I'm intersted..and good luck. :)

Offline endurance

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2012, 11:08:21 AM »
i guess i'm a little different in that i view financial stability and prepping as two different animals.  frankly, if the shtf, i won't give a damn about my credit score...i'll be worried about my dried bean score! 
...
It's not an uncommon approach, but what if we don't see a complete end of the rule of law?  What if law enforcement response times go from 15 minutes to 30 minutes to an hour or more, but they'll still send a SWAT team to evict you if your home goes into foreclosure?  What if the disaster is 25% unemployment in your city and you happen to be one of those unemployed and still have to pay the rent or mortgage, utility bills, phone bill, and for groceries,  not for weeks or months, but for several years?  How will debt help you survive?  What if your potential new employer requires a credit check (as many are doing now)?

IMHO, neither takes precedent over the other.  Both must be factored into decisions.  As our cities and counties can afford to offer fewer and fewer services, allowing snowplows and road maintenance equipment to fall into disrepair, what may have been an inconvenient winter storm may mean being stuck in your home for three or four days before you see a plow.  What may have been a survivable car accident with a quick response time may become one where you bleed to death because the district you live in only has two ambulances instead of five like they used to and both of them are already busy with other calls.

Prepping for the risks we face now has never been more challenging, but it's also never been more important.
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Offline suzysurvivor

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2012, 11:19:40 AM »
endurance, i will have to agree that you are correct.  for me 'shtf' means a catastrophic event-huge natural disaster, huge financial collapse, pandemic, terrorist attack on a big scale.  I am fortunate in that we work for ourselves in healthcare and our jobs are about as 'secure' as any can be.  We do pay our bills, don't get me wrong.  I just don't see prepping as a financial activity, altho it can certainly run into $$ if you let it.

A df of mine is hoarding silver in case of collapse...and i keep saying 'dude, you better hoard some pinto beans...THOSE will be valuable when silver isn't'.  IF i came to a point where I could stock silver...I still think I wouldn't, in my mind it has no practical use.  I prefer to spend my 'silver' on supplies that nobody will be willing to sell if the shtf. 

Instead of spending lots of money, i think it's wiser to learn or re-learn skills--learn to make bread or tortillas at home from the food we have stored, learn to make cheese from powdered milk, learn to can/dehydrate, learn to garden, learn medical skills.    The second thing I would do after procuring water and food is scour the internet and make a 'survival bible' of knowledge...that would be invaluable in a shtf.


Offline osubuckeye4

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2012, 11:48:03 AM »
Before you go out and spend your $200, I would recommend taking an afternoon or a weekend and taking inventory.


I'm not saying you need to tear your house apart from floorboards to roof, but definitely go through your medicine cabinets, go through your fridge/freezer, and go through your pantries and storage areas.

Throw out all the expiered stuff and make notes of what you will need if power goes out for a few days or a week.

Make sure you have flashlights (and batteries), make sure you have at least a basic first aid kit with things like bandages and disinfectants, make sure that you have blankets and spare clothing for any kinds of weather situation, make sure that you have some canned goods and water (or a good filter), make sure that you have something for home defense.


If you have all of that covered then definitely move on to investing in something like a good BOB to store your supplies.


If you have all of that, then I would look into investing in projects around your house. Maybe starting up a garden, or insullating your windows to save on energy costs, or purchasing a generator, or remodeling a cabinet or room so that it can store materials more efficiently.



Just some suggestions, you sound like you're way ahead of the game from a financial resources standpoint. Take things one step at a time and just do a little each day and down the road you'll be amazed at how far you have progressed.


Last thing I'll say is... you said that you "only" have 2 glocks? No offense, but you only have two hands so I don't understand how having more guns is really going to benefit you? Having drinking water and canned goods are much more important than assault riles and bullets.

I mean, if you are talking about investing in a rifle for hunting then I understand, but, assuming you have proper training 2 handguns should get you through most situations.

I dunno, a lot of people on this forum probably disagree with me, but having an aresenal of guns is one of the last things on my survival checklist. (though I will say that having one gun and proper training was one of the first things, and having a backup firearm is definitely a reasonable prepping item)
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 11:54:25 AM by osubuckeye4 »

Offline Erigorn

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2012, 01:55:50 PM »
Without reading other replies:
Prepare for the small but more likely event. I would say lack of utilities or ability to get to the store for 3 days.
With that in mind think what do you need for 3 days.
Water, food, shelter, first aid, etc. Start with water. For $20-30 you can get quite a bit of bottled water. Stock up on some food. Just stuff you would normally eat anywa (or easy to prepare stuff is stove/oven/microwave are unavailible). Then at least a $10 first aid kit from walmart or something. More if if you can. Add soem fo the basics for your child. Diapers, formula, etc. Make sure you have some extra blankets/sleeping bags/etc to keep warm if you can't heat the house. 
Once you have 3 days covered think what you need for a week or 2 or a month. (more of all those listed plus new stuff)
Think maybe adding a propane stove or heaters, water purification methods, etc.
I wouldn't worry about more firearms until you have a month+ of everything else covered.
Depending on you location/situation a BOB can be optional. Sounds like you don't have much to put in it anyway so you may want to hold off on that or perhaps just start with any backpack/suitcase that you can find on hand or cheap.

Just my 2 cents.

Offline endurance

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2012, 03:28:30 PM »
endurance, i will have to agree that you are correct.  for me 'shtf' means a catastrophic event-huge natural disaster, huge financial collapse, pandemic, terrorist attack on a big scale.  I am fortunate in that we work for ourselves in healthcare and our jobs are about as 'secure' as any can be.  We do pay our bills, don't get me wrong.  I just don't see prepping as a financial activity, altho it can certainly run into $$ if you let it.

A df of mine is hoarding silver in case of collapse...and i keep saying 'dude, you better hoard some pinto beans...THOSE will be valuable when silver isn't'.  IF i came to a point where I could stock silver...I still think I wouldn't, in my mind it has no practical use.  I prefer to spend my 'silver' on supplies that nobody will be willing to sell if the shtf. 

Instead of spending lots of money, i think it's wiser to learn or re-learn skills--learn to make bread or tortillas at home from the food we have stored, learn to make cheese from powdered milk, learn to can/dehydrate, learn to garden, learn medical skills.    The second thing I would do after procuring water and food is scour the internet and make a 'survival bible' of knowledge...that would be invaluable in a shtf.
We're definitely on the same page.  It is a two way street with prepping being a wise financial move and being wise with finances is a good prepping move.  Last winter we had one week where my wife broke three ribs while sledding and couldn't work (and as an agency nurse at the time, had no paid sick time) and then I had to have gallbladder surgery.  Rather than spending money on credit cards for food and other expenses, we tapped into our preps and didn't need to go shopping except for produce and fresh milk for two months while we recovered financially from the loss of income and medical bills.  Over the summer we resumed our food storage and managed to stay debt-free throughout the whole thing.

Now picture that same situation with a non-prepper who didn't have health insurance, didn't have savings, and didn't have food stored.  They'd be looking at bankruptcy right about now with $35k in medical bills (our out of pocket was $3200 with insurance), a month's worth of groceries on credit cards, and interest payments, too.  If they were already behind in their credit card payments it would be very ugly.
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Offline chrisdfw

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2012, 03:39:40 PM »
Think about a few of the following to spend your money

Water filter - you need water and you can get started in a decent one for 20-40 dollars, get a small one that you can carry and keep it with you

Good Multitool - I prefer the leatherman surge, or the wave if you want to go a little smaller

Decent flashlight - I like the both surefire and streamlight, but you might start with streamlights that use AA batteries since they are so common

Food - a bag of rice and beans, pintos and rice are cheap

First Aid kit - the basics, plus start refilling any prescriptions a little early and stock up

Now... something more important, prepare your mind and body. Read, study, get some books from the library, start doing things, get in shape. A long hike can cost nothing.

Offline Mountain State Prepper

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2012, 08:34:39 PM »
start by being a hero to her.....


This works!   Without going into the embarrassing details, let's just say I had, on my own, bought some feminine hygiene products as I was buying preps for the bathroom  (toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, etc.).    Lo and behold she needed to run out late one night and I said "wait!", producing said products from my growing stockpile of stuff.   I don't know if she was more thankful or surprised :).

I haven't ever really had to do this "under the radar", but I was doing it on my own.  She's warming up to the prepping thing more and more, mentioning freeze dried food deals she's seen online and other things here and there.  We are getting food pantry items more organized together.  The initial money well spent is paying off for me.
--Montani Semper Liberi

Offline endurance

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2012, 08:34:35 AM »
Yep, and Red Feather canned butter has won the same appreciation here.  We're 20 minutes to the nearest grocery store, which means 45 minutes to pick up a gallon of milk or a pound of butter.  Having a well stocked pantry really makes life better all around.
"There are things that you don't question when your home always smells like baking bread."  From The Hunger Games

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”   James Madison

Offline ATXguy

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Re: Just starting out-$200 to spend
« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2012, 05:14:59 PM »
Thanks All.  I'm already taking some of the good advice on here and doing an inventory of the house so I can see what I already have on hand and what I will need.  I think I am going to focus on stocking canned foods and water to begin with, and also see if I can get some decent lighting.  My wife woke up to a reorganizing project going on in our pantry...LOL, so i'm ready to start adding some more stuff to it now.