Author Topic: low income prepping  (Read 14170 times)

Offline womule

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low income prepping
« on: February 11, 2010, 06:57:06 PM »
im starting this thread to discuss things i do to prep with a VERY low income, and to get some advice from everyone else as well.  I know there are several of us here that dont have much money to spend on preps because the day to day life gobbles up our money.  My wife and I onlu gross 38K so prepping is tight. we cant afford things like generators, solar panels, BOL, BOV, ect.  So what I've done is determine what are the most important threats to prep for, forget SHTF, and cross that with the cheapest things i can do. 

Let me explain.  Knowledge is cheap, and with the internet and TSP it is free. Everything I cant afford to prep for, i suppliment with knowledge.  Example: i cant afford a generator so i understand what i will be forced to do without (i.e. lights, heat, a/c) and found cheap or free ways to make do. i bought a camp stove, propane heater and some small propane canisters from walmart.  sure its not the best, but i can have heat and cooked food. i also have a charcoal grill

I also can afford to prep food, not long term stuff like mountain house, but STORE WHAT YOU EAT AND EAT WHAT YOU STORE items.  we save money in the long run this way, and we never have to make stops to the store for anything, and its something we are going to buy anyway, so this works.


i have also learned to do things, and am learning more bushcrafting skills to suppliment other things i cant afford to buy.

my prepps arent the best, certainly not the most sexy of prepps, but because im so poor, i have to make do.  if SHTF then i wont be much better off than a grasshopper except that i have a boatload of knowledge beforehand.  that should give me the edge in comparison to most grasshoppers.

let me know if yougained anything from this, have questions, or have something to teach me.  thanks

Offline fratermus

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2010, 08:42:06 PM »
This is a topic that many can probably relate to but few talk about.

I'm prepping on a massively reduced income.  Just got all my tax docs and my income in 2009 is 80% less than in 2008.  Ouch.  I'm in no frills survival mode.  I had paid off my debt during 2005-2008 and started to transition to teaching RIGHT before the economy tanked and the teaching scene in my area froze solid.  Treading water by subbing in two districts and selling my excess on eBay/craigslist, but it's scary for now.

"Store what I eat" is already paying off, allowing me to wait for signficant sale prices.  And canning/drying allows me to buy cheap food on sale and preserve it for later.  Cooking everything at home, brown bagging lunch every day, baking my own bread from flour/salt/yeast/sugar stores.

I hope others chime in with their minimalist prep stories.  You are not alone.

Offline texican

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2010, 09:06:27 PM »
After I semi retired myself from the rat race, for many many years (actually up until 2008) I rarely grossed more than 8K, sometimes as little as 4K.  On this I bought land, built a home, acquired everything a prepper could dream of.  This included expensive things like vehicles, tools, weapons, lakes, tractors, and other necessities.  I have friends that spent more than I made in a year on cigarettes and beer.  Eating out is a treat for me... I have to be pretty dang hungry and an hour away from home, to break down and get something to eat away from home.

I've eaten freeze dried food before... it's ok, but way overpriced for storage food.  I keep food that I eat regularly in rotation/storage.

My business is such that I might get paid six months worth of wages all at one time, with a big drought in the meantime... so I have to stretttttcccchhhhhh my dollars.  I'd love to just buy that fancy shovel at the hardware store and have it in the barn... but I don't.  My last years tax statement is going to be 80% less than the year before, but I know I'm going to get a massive payday in probably 30 to 45 days.  I will unless society disintegrates completely and people no longer want natural gas in their homes.

Offline Morgan96

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2010, 09:22:55 PM »
Being tighter than bark on a tree, our household makes it a practice to live well below our means.  Garage sales, country auctions, flea markets, shopping at ALDIs (cheaper than Walmart), garage sales, and haggling like bazaari shopkeepers.  Did I mention garage sales? All the emergency back packs and bug out bags for the family came from yard sales, at $1 or $2 apiece.  Same for a lot of the tools in the garage, and the the kids' clothes.  By the way, estate sales are a great place to pick up canning supplies, as the older generation passes away or moves to assisted care, and the kids who settle/dispose of the estate have no interest in Grammy's "junk" jars.  I remember seeing them in the past, long before I took food storage seriously.  Now I kick myself for passing them up.

Offline Dawgus

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2010, 04:57:01 AM »
I've been layed off for just over a year, so even with unemployment benefits, I'm still well below half of my normal income. Though prepping has slowed down, it hasn't stopped.
 Like Morgan96 said, watch yard sales and such. I stop at a local Goodwill generally once a week and have gotten some great deals there on camping gear, camp stoves, cookware, oil lamps, and LOTS of canning jars.
 We just set aside $20 a week to get preps right now, that's all. Even though we can a lot of our own vegetables and others, $20 a week will buy a lot of canned goods or other inexpensive preps. I'd prefer better quality, but dollar store goods are better than no goods at all. We toss change and small bills in a gallon jar, and every other month use that for bulk items like flour and sugar. Rolled change has more than once bought us 50lb bags for storage.
 Having low income in a way helps you to prep because you are't used to having unnecessary things or something frivolous just because it looks cool. You already know how to survive on little to nothing, and that alone is a valuable skill. You can already live on the bare necessities and don't have to prep for the time when you would if you were used to a larger income and more "stuff".
 I grew up extremely poor. There were many times that we had to hunt for a meal,but we never went hungry. We were used to living that way and did just fine. We had no worries about toilet flushing water since we didn't have a toilet. There were no worries about heat since we heated the small basement home with a woodburner. We had no concern about losing power because the house was so small, two oil lamps would light the place up just fine. We were poor, we knew it, and we accepted it. We never went without anything, simply because we were accustomed to having nothing. Though when in my late teens and early 20's, I hated living that way, I know now that being poor and having nothing taught me a lot of things about being prepared. I could go back to living that way anytime and not skip a beat, and we sort of hav with this layoff. It's been easy since both of us grew up very similar.

Offline grog

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2010, 07:01:44 AM »
Work slow and think things through. Food storage can be done, it takes time. If you can make your own foods rather than by them and can the remainder safely , you are a head of the game.  On a note of economic how tos, your local county extension office can provide good free information on things like gardening and the like.

Use this information and of course the good old public library. Work to reduce your debt. When buying items not so food related, think about what you are buying an item for. I have seen very nice hand tools and thought "Hey I could use one of those" and followed it up with "Can I use it for more than one thing?" If I can not get more than one use out if, I tend to not buy it. However somethings like first aid equipment you understand the dressings can only be used once, but can be useful in other situations. Cotton pads coated with petroleum jelly make a great fire starter and the like.

When buying food , remember to think how many meals can I make with this, and keep it nutritious. Canning and drying are both good ways to extend food storage. Again be safe about it. Canning of vegetables and fruits are easier than canning meats. Becareful about canning tomatoes and some other foods. Again your local county extension agent or State University has good information on line.

Get to know your vehicle. The more maintenance you can do the better. The thrift shops and the like can be a huge help.
Garage sales as well. You might want to consider food co ops if there are any in your area. With a discrete bit of social networking you may be able to get a group buy for some supplies and if not get all that you want, at least get some of what you need at a better price.

Hand tools in good shape and an old fishing box can be a tool box. No need to buy the latest and greatest.

Using two quart soda bottles well rinsed can be used to store water. There is some argument that gallon milk jugs can not be sterilized properly, so be careful. You can make solar dehydrators for drying foods for storage.  Same for drying racks for other foods and if you can find old sheets can use those on sticks to cover the racks and reduce issues with bugs landing on your drying foods.

If you can find out used a vacuum sealer may be useful. The bags can be in rolls so you can measure out something, seal one end, put in your stuff and vac seal the rest.

Having knowledge and skills are a great survival and life investment.

If you want some historical information on low incoming prepping, look not just to the Great Depression of the 1930's, but how folks like the American Indians did things prior to the western expansion of the United States. Be careful as the hunting techniques are not always legal in your region, under the current circumstances.

Work on being self reliant first. Can you repair a window in your home, and do basic plumbing?

Those are examples.
http://www.ready.alaska.gov/ look for the DHS&EM 7-Day Survival Kit,  That link will take you to a pdf that lines out how to get together a weeks worth of supplies over the course of 12 months. Slow , maybe, but you will not break the bank that way either.


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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2010, 12:59:02 PM »
I'm also trying to prep on a restricted budget.  I recently bought a used dehydrator and have been using it to dry all sorts of fruits and veggies.  The neat thing is I am not restricted anymore on how much produce I can buy.  When I find a really good deal on something, I can stock up and not have to worry about it spoiling before I use it.  It will really be nice this summer when I grow a garden too because I won't have to watch any of my garden go to waste. 

Offline Komodo

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2010, 05:02:31 PM »
No income in my household for four months.  While living on savings, I've been hitting the closeout and marked down items at the dollar store, the grocery store and using the stuff I froze/dried/canned over last summer.  I'm looking forward to yard sale season soon, to see what turns up that I can use.  Gardening allows me to take more control of what I eat and what I spend, and I'm cranking up the efforts this year with all the seeds I saved.  Learn new skills and make or build instead of buying things.  I've found that having less trash is a sign I'm using and reusing my resources better.  I think the best thing I could suggest is to just take control of as much as you can. I question every expense.  If it's just something I can't do myself, then I find a way to do it cheaper, or at least make it worthwhile for more than one use. Small steps will free up the bucks.  You're not alone in prepping on a budget. 

Offline PositiveForce

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2010, 07:04:12 PM »
There are a lot of cheap prepping items that you can actually find in a dollar store, seriously!
I found those Sham WOW shamee towels at a dollar store, those are great for swiping dew off the grass and ringing out water, they are also ultra obsorbant so they can be used in your BOB as an all porpose towel.

Two weeks ago I spent $10 (+tax) at a local dollar store and picked up the following items for my BOB: A roll of duct tape, three pack of super-glue (a great wound closer for your first aid kit), box of band-aids, two rolls of ace bandages, LED flash light, hand sanitizer, bug repellent (it's off season for that so they were unloading a bunch of it), sewing kit, magnifying glass (for fire starting)

I wouldn't want to buy everything at a dollar store, but some of this stuff is just as good as anything else, and the price is right!

Take your time and walk around the local dollar store, you'd be surprised what you can find!

Offline Mel

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2010, 08:17:10 PM »
My wife and I had a baby last November and we couldn't stand to put him in daycare.  Since my wife has a personality where she just has to be out doing stuff, we decided that I would go on hiatus from my teaching job so I could stay home with the boy.  It's been some of the best times I've had, but we too are on a reduced budget.  We rented out our 2300 sq ft house and moved to a 1400 sq ft house to save on housing costs.  Luckily we had no debt other than the house.  You're not alone.  Our income dropped by about half.

Buy in bulk, trade with neighbors, freecycle, garden, hit your local farmer's markets, learn to do it yourself.  Every time money is about to leave your pocket, ask if there is a cheaper way to do it.  Buy generic or store brand, but only when its BOGO.  I know Jack would not support this idea, but we use our credit card points to get restaurant gift cards, so we can even still eat out for cheap.  We are VERY conscientious about our credit expenses.  They're mostly gas and baby products.

We've still managed to put $10k in the bank in the last 6 months, even on our reduced income, so it can be done.  I'm getting an online teaching job, so we'll be back to our previous income and I'll still be able to stay home, so there's light at the end of the tunnel for us.  We still plan to live at our present expense level and sock away all the surplus toward buying a homestead on some acres.

My hope is that our current economic trend is a long, slow deterioration, instead of a big crash to end all crashes.  It things deteriorate slowly, we the people might be able to take matters back into our own hands before it is too late.

Mel

Offline ridge rover

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2010, 08:40:16 PM »
Let me hit on some intangibles here, like how your so damn much better than so many uninformed people!



And another thing, you see you are not alone. Even the people who have, always want more! Your attitude seems to be where it should be, but still I gotta say this to the folks! Don't put yourself down. It can be easy to do. By feeling in the dumps, you will lose focus. Do what you can, when you can. Set priorites and use good judgment.



Another place has a thread going about someone who had a car wreck and has lost nearly everything. He lost his preps and his health. One thing he has not lost is his faith. Faith can mean far more than religion. Faith is attitude.



In a heartbeat, anyone can lose everything and be much, much lower than your situation. You are fortunate SHTF has not occured yet. If SHTF and all your stuff is stolen or burnt up, and your mind is not right. You will be in for a bad day!

Offline fndrbndr

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2010, 11:29:30 AM »
Having knowledge and skills are a great survival and life investment.

I could not agree more...my primary prepping focus right now is gaining knowledge and skills. They are both free and priceless.

Offline Truik

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2010, 11:41:41 AM »
we cant afford things like generators, solar panels...

I just wanted to interject: A small solar panel ($50 to $90) that can be hooked up to a small tractor or marine battery with a charge controller ($15 to $25) is not completely out of reach and can provide silent energy that doesn't generate smoke and doesn't show up on a thermal scan.

With cigarette plug-style fittings, it can be used to power lights, fans, chargers, and any number of small appliances for limited usage.

The addition of an AC-inverter ($30 to $100) can give you a couple of "wall" outlets that are portable and provide pure-sine wave AC power for use with laptops and other "sensitive" equipment.

Another neat thing, solar panels are "modular" in that you can just tie them together and, as long as the voltages match, you can buy one tomorrow and hook it in line with the one you bought ten years ago and it will just add to the amperage going to your battery.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

I have an article about simple solar in tomorrow's issue of TSP Hams in case you want to check it out.

Subscribe in the link in my forum sig for anyone interested.

 :)

« Last Edit: February 14, 2010, 11:44:22 AM by Truik »

Offline Rookinde

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2010, 01:28:14 PM »
To help get started with this years garden, I have been saving toliet paper cycinders to start the seed in. Then I can just transplant them directly into the next step. I also was able to pick up some potting soil 8lb. bag at the dollar store. I believe this is a great thread and glad it was started.

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Offline Hraz

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2010, 09:00:13 PM »
Eat and store wild foods.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2010, 10:05:41 PM »
Perhaps the biggest thing I've learned in the last year is to focus on being a minimalist. While I still allow myself some luxuries, I'm living on only half of what I make (I rent a room, shop sales, etc).

Offline CyborgX

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2010, 07:22:22 AM »
My income is pretty limited. I was surprised to see that I made slightly more than 5K for 2009. Combined with my girlfriend's income, the only luxury item we can really afford is slow internet. So, what we do to prep is one small step at a time. This year I'm working on amassing a growing stock or rotating food supply. By fall of 2010 I hope to have a six month supply. My plans for a garden this summer will help me reach that goal.

I'm hoping that this summer with my two additional summer jobs, I'll be able to afford to create a stronger buffer/cache/store of supplies and food. Most of our prepping is in food, but I'm saving for a nice propane heater, a small generator, and extra parts for the boiler. I'm hoping someday I'll be able to make more than minimum wage, and be able to actually pay off this house before I'm old and gray. I'm also hoping to develop some skilled trades that will make me more valuable, like advanced welding, HVAC, and maybe small engine repair.

But, with her job up in the air, we may have to drop everything and leave either this May or next May. She's a contract worker, and she makes most of the household income. Not sure where we'll go, but we may ditch Michigan like a bad habit. As much as I love the land and it's features (one mile in any direction, and there's water), it's job economy bites worse than an ugly inbred pitbull.

Offline Uncle Bob (he ain’t right)

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2010, 07:39:28 AM »
Thrift stores are your friends as well as yard sales. By thrift stores I mean charity based ones, Good will, Salvation Army and local church run stores. Church run stores are especially good for canning supplies.
I picked up a large Cabelas stainless steel vacuum sealer like new for $10 at a Goodwill store.
Angel food ministries may be helpfull to save dollars in the food budget.
Aldi's is a good source for canned goods.
And yes food preps will save you dollars because you can make as Jack calls it  "opportunity buys" because as a consumer you are no longer in buy ASAP mode.
Gardening will help with the food budget and you may provide some trades that also help.
Learn to fish and hunt. Also learn to smoke, freeze and can your take. Butchering your own deer is a great money saver as well. You can pick up a meat grinder dirt cheap at about any antique store.




Offline CyborgX

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2010, 07:43:50 AM »
Thrift stores are your friends as well as yard sales. By thrift stores I mean charity based ones, Good will, Salvation Army and local church run stores. Church run stores are especially good for canning supplies.
I picked up a large Cabelas stainless steel vacuum sealer like new for $10 at a Goodwill store.
Angel food ministries may be helpfull to save dollars in the food budget.
Aldi's is a good source for canned goods.
And yes food preps will save you dollars because you can make as Jack calls it  "opportunity buys" because as a consumer you are no longer in buy ASAP mode.
Gardening will help with the food budget and you may provide some trades that also help.
Learn to fish and hunt. Also learn to smoke, freeze and can your take. Butchering your own deer is a great money saver as well. You can pick up a meat grinder dirt cheap at about any antique store.




I totally forgot to mention thrift stores. Those save us tons of money! Well, more like ounces of money. We don't make enough to save tons. There's a lot of good stuff with plenty of life to it still. Clothes especially. Got myself a nice wool flannel jacket recently. Now I can become a lumberjack.

Offline minimalist

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2010, 09:41:27 AM »
Right now Lowes/Home Depot and other big box stores have all sorts of bare-root fruiting plants in stock. For less than the cost of a Silver Eagle, you could pick up several blackberry/raspberry/grape/kiwi plants. When they start to bear, the return in terms of food will be worth the initial investment. I plan on deploying several towards the back of my yard.

Offline craftsman

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2010, 10:26:40 AM »
I'd be willing to bet very few people have alot of extra cash these days but still prep. We're not poor, but can't afford a lot of luxuries either. Most of the preps are squeaked out of the meager extras we can find. Plus we get alot of stuff second hand or I fix up someting that is almost perfectly good that some grasshopper with more money than brains put at the curb.

Can't stop prepping because we supposedly can't afford it. The time may come that we're all sitting on gold mines compared to those who are going to suffer when the tings they take for granted become luxuries!

Do what you can. Anything is better than nothing.

Offline fndrbndr

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2010, 10:46:09 AM »
Here's another money saving tip I just learned about...Habitat For Humanity ReStores:

http://www.habitat.org/cd/env/restore.aspx

Like a "Goodwill" for building supplies. There's one in my area and I never knew about it.

Offline minimalist

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2010, 11:20:30 AM »
There is a reStore in my neighborhood too. A lot of what they have is junk, but you never know if you might find something handy.

Offline grog

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2010, 11:33:45 AM »
I  found something that may be of help to you. the original document is in pdf format and from the State of Alaska Emergency Preparedness page.

It is a pdf of how to get one weeks worth of supplies in a kit, over the course of almost 24 weeks.

Look for http://www.ready.alaska.gov/ and click on DHS&EM 7-Day Survival Kit, the link is a bit wonky to post directly.

Remember that it takes time getting to your goal and stick with your plan. Slow and Steady will work better than rushing and forgetting something (eg. a back up manual can opener, or that half case of baby food..)

Organize your stuff and do it in such a way that you or your family members can lift it. A good reason for this is what if something happens to you and they need to get that stuff? Not Death, but say you are on crutches due to a twisted knee or something?

Same thing for your home. get a few items that you may need over time, Be it plastic sheeting kits for windows, or caulk and a caulking gun.

Again take your time, remember to breathe. You can do this, it is NOT impossible. Again learn what you can, and practice, practice, practice.


Offline Cool Blue

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2010, 04:13:56 PM »
Every time I do groceries I buy one or two more of something that we always go through in the house.  For example, Kraft Mac n Cheese.

If something that we use regularily is on sale, I may buy up to 5 of that item.

This way I'm slowly building up my preps while only spending an extra $5 or so.

Offline Castle6

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2010, 01:39:37 PM »
My wife came home from picking up our bi-weekly fruit and veggies from bountifulbaskets.org, which gives you a LOT of fruits and veggies (and you can also add bread and tortillas and other specials depending upon the time of year) for $16.50 for conventional or $26.50 for organic.   She ordered an organic box and a "mexican pack" and since she volunteers to help pack the boxes she gets a share of the leftovers.  So, this is a little more than "normal"  boxes have, but she came home w/ 12 pounds of apples, 24 12" tortillas, 36 6" tortillas, cucumbers, 2 pints of strawberries, 1 pint of blueberries, onions, avocados, 3 heads of lettuce, 2 acorn squash, 5 kiwis, bananas, limes, peppers and more for $33.  That will last us (family of 4) almost all month.   Try that at your local Fry's, Safeway or Piggly Wiggly!! 

She also learned about another site www.thetreasurebox.org which is similar to www.angelfoodministries.com but seems to offer a little more bang for the buck or, if you do both, some variety of foods.  They're both here in the Phoenix area, but the treasure box (TTB for brevity) is not in Tucson, but angel food ministries is.  I haven't tried TTB, but it looks like a viable option for adding to your food supplies ($30 a box just like angel food ministries).  If anyone has experience with TTB, please do share.

Happy Prepping!

Offline dabucnut

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2010, 04:41:44 PM »
Got six 5 gallon buckets from local grocery this week for free. Amazingly, or not  ;), the bakery supervisor said to me: "you must have been the fourth or fifth person this week to ask, strange." Hmmm...

Offline Cryptozoic

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2010, 09:52:25 AM »
1.  It is easier to reduce overhead than to increase income. = larger surplus.

2.  It is useful to change the starting point of ones thinking from what TV says it should be to what humans have lived with for many thousands of years.  TV says you need walls, vehicle, electricity, and of course many chemicals.  I say make the backpack the default setting.  One may always add more stuff, which means more places to put the stuff, which means more expense, etc etc.  But if you maintain the backpack philosophy, it is easy to remain flexible; instantly downsize.  On a simple level, adding a motel room to backpack greatly enhances the situation, but you can always hoist the pack and do without it.  Same applies to a big house, big vehicles, big bank account, etc.  It is nice to have a washer/dryer in the basement but when your pack contains large brass safety pins, the world is your clothesline.

Offline Choch

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2010, 12:33:10 AM »
Low Income Food

Coupons! Coupons! Coupons! When my wife came to me with the idea about coupons I'll admit I kinda rolled my eyes. But if you primarily coupon shop, and only buy what's on sale, you'll end up amassing a huge amount of storable goods that were dirt cheap. The only problem here is canned goods aren't on sale that often, so jump on them when you can. However, tin foil, toilet paper, hamburger helper, noodles, that kind of stuff is almost always on sale. Keep your receipts, go home, and see how much you saved, that will inspire you on your next trip.


Low Income Water Storage

Fill all empty 2 liter bottles with water after they have been sufficiently cleaned. To clean just use dish soap and hot water, be sure to rinse thoroughly. For us these are free after we have drank the soda, if you're not a soda drinker ask your neighbors, offer to pay them the deposit for them if you live in an applicable state. I don't know anyone who would rather lug the empties to the grocery store to recycle them than have you pick them up for the same price. Cost-Free or Close to Free.

Almost any grocery store in the country will have extra 2 liter bottle holders around. The plastic kind that hold 8 from the pepsi or coke distributors. Cost - Free.

The 2 liter holders are stackable, toss these in back of a closet with the filled 2 liters and presto! Free water! Will it taste as good as the Ozarka/Dasani/Aquafina? It depends on how you like your tap water. Another thing we do is run our tap water through our Brita filter before filling the 2 liters.

Hope this helps.

Offline OKGranny

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Re: low income prepping
« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2010, 01:01:12 AM »
Ya know, I'm surprised more ladies didn't chime in on this one. Try and learn to cook everything for yourself. It saves a lot of money to start from scratch and you usually have a better tasting dish. I'll be honest here and just say I hate Hamburger Helper but I've always got rice and pastas and stuff to make sauces with so I can make a casserole that I like much better. Same with scalloped or au gratin potatos. If you own a dehydrator you are probably already dehydrating potatoes, cook your dehydrated potatoes, make your sauce, all done for pennies.