Prepping on a budget is a skill that many people don’t have, or can’t imagine. They think that the only way to stock up and be prepared is to spend a bunch of money.
But that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
In fact, learning how to start prepping on a budget is something that anyone can do with a little bit of guidance. It’s all about having the right mindset.
In this article, we’re going to break down the fundamentals of prepping on a budget and how to get cheap prepper supplies. Once you see how easy and financially approachable this process can be, there’ll be nothing to hold you back!
Table of Contents
1. Start With Food And Water
Trying to prep while keeping costs low is all about effectively prioritizing what you buy. There are a million things you can get that will make your life a little easier but aren’t essential.
Food and water don’t fall into this category.
No matter how elaborate your setup is or what fancy survival gear you have, none of that matters if you don’t have food or water. Dying due to dehydration or starvation will end your journey pretty darn quick.
That’s why it’s so important to prioritize food and water when prepping on a budget. This isn’t an area where you want to sacrifice quality or efficiency for the sake of saving a few bucks. It’s better to save money in other areas.
With that being said, it’s actually not that expensive to start stocking up on food and water. A good prepper food storage plan can be customized to fit your short and long term needs without breaking the bank.
For example, you can purchase canned or dehydrated foods in bulk for a very reasonable price. Depending on your budget, these can last you a significant amount of time and give you the flexibility to start exploring more sustainable long term options.
Water can be purchased in bulk and stored at a relatively low cost too, though it shouldn’t be your only option. Having water filtration equipment on hand is worth its weight in gold and will keep you alive if you run out, or need to deviate from your initial plan (more on this later).
At the end of the day, if you don’t eat or drink water it doesn’t matter what else you do. Make sure you have enough to get you by before moving on to the other stuff.
2. Stick With Essential Supplies
As we’ve already established, learning how to start prepping on a budget is all about prioritizing. Once you have food and water all taken care of, it’s time to think about the rest of your gear.
With so many neat gadgets and options on the table, it’s easy to get distracted. That’s why we recommend hitting the essentials first if you have a limited budget.
The kind of equipment and supplies that fall into this category have at least one of the following traits:
- It’s absolutely essential (like a first aid kit)
- The versatility makes it a no-brainer to include
If something doesn’t have one of the two characteristics above, it’s not essential. This is a good rule to follow when prepping on a budget or acquiring supplies in a SHTF scenario.
Below are some examples of cheap supplies that make the cut. It’s by no means all-inclusive (we’ll create a full list another time) but it will get you heading in the right direction.
- First aid gear – kits and SAM splints are a must
- Paracord – the king of versatility
- Tarp – extremely versatile as well
- Mylar blanket – the ultimate lifesaver
- A good multitool
- Survival hatchet
- Duct tape – will always be useful
Pulling from this list and making sure any new equipment passes the value test will make sure that you continue prepping on a budget. It will also lead to you owning the most impactful gear that gives you the most bang for your buck.
3. Find A Cheap (Or Free) Bug Out Location
One of the most intimidating parts of prepping from a financial aspect is the notion of buying and picking the perfect bug out location.
First, you have every prepping and survival expert telling you that you need to get your own piece of land in the event of a catastrophe (us included). It’s one of the most reliable ways to ensure the safety of you and your family, and give you hope for long-term survival.
But buying land can be expensive. Depending on where you live or your current financial situation, purchasing property can completely destroy the budget you set aside for prepping.
So what can you do?
Fortunately, you can easily look for undervalued land to buy if you use a website like LandWatch.
There is a TON of land that most people don’t want to buy because they’re looking at it from the opposite perspective you are. They want to be close to a mall, grocery store, movie theater, etc.
But you want the opposite.
All that stuff is pointless in a SHTF situation, and it puts you too close to other people. So the land others are willing to get into bidding wars over is the same land you shouldn’t even be considering.
Instead, look for the cheap stuff. Filter and search by location to find a place that’s far enough away to provide a good buffer distance, but not so far that you need to travel for days to reach it.
There’s a bunch of remote property up for grabs on these sites that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It might still be out of your price range right now, but note the average cost and start to save up for the future (more on that later).
Your other option is to look for public land you can hide away in. This is obviously a lot more budget-friendly but requires a different approach.
A lot of the same principles apply when it comes to finding the perfect spot. Good buffer distance and access to water being the main two. We recommend scouting out the location first so you’re ready in the event of a disaster.
Having this in the back pocket can be great if you can’t get to your intended bug out location, or if things take a turn for the worse before you’re able to buy your own land.
It’s highly recommended that you have some experience building a long-term survival shelter if you plan on relying on this. You can’t construct something permanent on public land ahead of time.
4. Don’t Skrimp On Your Exit Strategy
One of the places you don’t want to be stingy on is the equipment you’ll need to get you out of a crisis. This means your bug out bag and any sort of transportation you’ll be using to ensure that you and your family are away from danger.
We won’t go into the details of putting together a bug out bag here (that’s for another post) but we will say that it’s one of the most important components of your survival plan. You could have a fantastic getaway spot picked out, but if you don’t have what you need to get there it won’t matter.
Fortunately, a lot of these materials have been mentioned earlier in this article. Things like water, food, first aid, clothes, fire-starting materials, and shelter can be picked up for an affordable price. This will keep your budget intact, but also help you get away from the danger.
It’s also important to think about your transportation too. Assuming you’ll need your car at some point, it’s important to maintain your vehicle. You don’t want to realize your battery is garbage when your safety depends on it.
Spend what it takes to maintain your vehicle and keep it stocked with the essentials. If your destination is more than one tank of gas away then store what gas you need and replace it periodically (you can just put the “old” gas in your car so this shouldn’t lead to any extra cost).
5. Understand How To Tap The Area
This is not only incredibly important for prepping on a budget, but for general survival as well. No matter how much money you have, if society isn’t firing on all cylinders by the time you run out of food and water, you’ll need to fend for yourself.
Being able to live off the land is obviously a skill that will get you far in a scary survival situation. It makes you less dependant on what you’ve stocked up and might be the ultimate difference-maker.
However, this skill can also help you prep on a budget. If you know the area and don’t want to spend a ton of money stocking up, you’ll be able to fuel yourself and your family.
A big part of this means having an understanding of where the water sources are so you can easily access and treat/filter it to keep yourself going.
There are ways you can do this with food as well. If you know the kind of vegetation in the area you’ll be able to identify edible plants, nuts, and berries that can really add up when it comes to calories.
Knowledge of the kind of wildlife in the area will allow you to place effective traps or fish as well. This will give you valuable protein and energy without having to spend a bunch of money on a motherload of dehydrated food.
Also, farming is a smart way to go. Seeds are super cheap and if you have access to farmable land this is a great sustainable way to grow crops.
These are all things you should be thinking about anyway when putting together your plan, it just so happens that they’re great for prepping on a budget too.
6. Keep Your Eyes Out For A Good Deal
If you want to find cheap supplies, make it a habit to keep your eyes out for a good deal. Finding cheap prepping supplies when they’re needed most is going to be impossible, but when the world is running like normal it’s not that hard.
Swing by some garage sales or your local thrift store to see if there’s anything you might find useful. It could be some tarp, clothing, fishing gear, you name it.
Even if you don’t find anything absolutely essential, this can be a way to round out your list of supplies while saving some money. A lot of “nice to haves” can be found by just keeping a lookout.
Craigslist is another great place to find cheap prepping supplies and stick within your budget. It’s incredibly easy to search for various items you might want to pick up, or simply browse and to find something that looks useful.
7. Come Up With A Saving Strategy
This might seem a little obvious at first, but it’s one of the most effective ways to start prepping on a budget. Due to the urgent nature of survivalism and the way information is conveyed, it’s easy to think that you need to get everything RIGHT NOW.
This leads people to think that if they don’t have enough money they should abandon capital-heavy survival solutions and stick to the cheapest options possible.
But that’s not the right approach.
While you should do what you can to have your immediate needs and safety ensured (using the tips above), that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t employ some of the more expensive solutions at some point.
There’s no situation where having some extra money available to purchase more suitable land, additional gear, or extra food to stock is a bad thing. If that’s not your financial situation right now, it could be in the future.
This is where a smart saving plan comes into play.
While you should never ditch your traditional savings and retirement accounts, it’s worth taking a piece of your disposable income and tucking it away for prepping too.
This is when you need to be disciplined. Everyone else will be running around spending their money on trips, cars, you name it. If you get caught keeping up with the Joneses it will eat away at your prepping budget.
If you’re truly committed to living a prepared life, that might mean you have to take one less trip a year. It’s the tradeoff for being safe while everyone else flounders.
Only you will know what the right number is for you. Even if the most you can put in is a few bucks each month, it’s better than nothing. That will add up over time and allow you to be a little more prepared!
Now It’s Time To Get Started
By now you should have a good understanding of how to start prepping on a budget. This process doesn’t have to be expensive or intimidating, and if you stick to the principles we listed above you’ll be just fine.
Take some time to think about what you already have, and what you need. If you’re starting from scratch then you’ll need to focus on the essentials. If you’ve already started to acquire some supplies, it’s time to think about what you else you need.
Once you’ve done this it becomes a whole lot simpler to figure out a budget that works for you. Cheap prepping supplies can be found all around you if you know where to look, and staying focused on the most impactful pieces of gear will help keep costs low as well.
If you have any questions about how to approach this process feel free to get in touch with us. Sometimes the choice between two different types of supplies can be difficult, and we’re more than happy to help you make the right choice.
The more people who are prepared the better.