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Thursday, August 19, 2010

An Alternative Approach to Lists For Beginning Preppers, by Margaret G.

All preppers rely on lists to a greater or lesser degree and each person’s list will be different according to the length of time they have been prepping, their location, their climate, their family needs and their financial situation.
For those who are relatively new to prepping – better late than never – the amount of “stuff” needed to survive can be daunting and it can lead to purchases or acquisitions made on an ad hoc basis and without a great deal of thought.
One way of getting rid of the feeling of being overwhelmed is to start small.
  1. Make and take the time to sit down and do an honest financial budget so that you know what funds you have spare – if any. I prefer to do my budget on a spread sheet but a planner will do the same thing. I know the dates that income is due and I know the dates that expenditure (insurance, car registration, rates etc) will be due. By planning this way, I can (a) copy and paste it for next year’s use with a bit of tweaking (b) I won’t be tempted to have a big spend up because I can see that I have car registration to pay next month (c) I can see where money can be saved by seeking alternative suppliers or deleting un-necessary services and (d) I know that the bills are covered and any other items I want will have to be bought from other monetary sources.
But more importantly, I know what I have left over to spend (or save up for) on prepping.
If this is a first attempt, the spread sheet will need to be jiggled a bit in the beginning and you may need to subsidize a few items until everything settles into order.
  1. Now that your budget is sorted out, the next step is to go through the house, cupboards, shed and yard methodically room by room, bit by bit and list every single item that you own and their quantities right down to “tooth brush – 1 – in use”. This job will probably take longer than you think it will and you may be surprised at what long lost treasures turn up. Include the “junk” at this stage too. Don’t try to sort it out, just list it.
  2. Once that massive job has been completed you can start to make sense of your preparedness situation on your master list – but still on paper. At this stage you can group things so that you can see that in reality you have “tooth brush – 1 – in use” + “tooth brushes – 3 – unopened”.
  3. Next step is to start comparing your master list with JWR’s list. Don’t succumb to despair when you see what you haven’t got because again, everyone’s situation is different and The List is a guide not a prescription. For example I don’t have guns because of the laws in Australia (so I’ve upped my security in other ways) and I’m an older woman living alone so I don’t have baby gear (although I can knit and crochet and sew – useful bartering skills).
  4. I’m assuming that you don’t have access to unlimited funds as I make suggestions for this next section.
Go back to your master list and either highlight all of the unnecessary “stuff” that has accumulated over the years or highlight the goods you want/need to keep.  Compare the highlights with The List then make arrangements to dispose of the unnecessary items preferably for cash that can be used to buy more necessary prepping items. Garage sale? Ads in the local paper? Swap it for something that you do want/need? Can you sell things on eBay? Can you baby sit in return for a couple of jars of pickles?
Have another look at the items you listed under “junk” and start sorting through them.
If it is truly rubbish, get rid of it. But while you are getting rid if things, keep an open mind about alternative uses that items may have. For example I have sheets that are too thin to use on the beds and some of them are torn. But I’ve saved them because they could be used as bandages or cut up to make all sorts of things. Up the back of the yard I have heaps of salvaged red bricks, lengths of salvaged timber, pieces of corrugated sheet steel  - all of which can be used in future projects.
  1. Preparing your home or retreat is a larger exercise than making sure that there is an extra tin of beans available. There is a lot of excellent information available in the archives and on the internet that you can make use of.
But I suggest you go back to making up a list. Do a critical appraisal of your residence or get a knowledgeable friend to help. Once you have the list with the good and bad points written down you will be able to decide which to tackle first. Don’t try to do everything at once or things will become messy (and even more expensive). Try to think ahead too. For example: If I put the water tank ‘there’, is that going to obstruct my view of intruders when by moving it three feet I can see everything?   
  1. Salvaging. We used to call this “shopping at the tip” but unfortunately our local tip (rubbish dump) has closed because council is changing to Waste Management. But if you have access to a tip or a recycling centre or a salvage yard of some sort, they are great places to buy or get materials for very little cash outlay and that chicken run will end up costing practically nothing. One of a prepper’s maxims is: “Never pay full price for anything.”
  2. You’ll have to decide where to prioritize when spending money and again everyone’s priorities will be different. I prefer to save up if necessary and buy something that will last for years rather than have to replace the item more often. As a simple example – I was cross with having to replace tomato stakes every couple of years, so last year I bought lengths of steel, had them cut to length and had chisel points put on them. Now they should last!  
  3. Shopping and food supplies loom large on everyone’s lists – and probably consume most of your disposable cash. A lot has already been written on this subject so I won’t go over it. But do try to buy at least one or two extra items each shopping trip that can go in your stash. I’m at the stage where I can start thinking, “If the shops closed for six months, what items would I run out of?”  My current answer is butter, cream and veterinary cat food. I have instructions for canning butter so I’ll have to get busy, my hips can do without cream and I’ll have to start buying more cat food. Other than that I’ll continue to buy staples each month to add to my stash.
  4. Then take a critical look at the items that you live with every day and be prepared to be ruthless. Do you really need a giant television? What about all of the gadgets in the kitchen that advertising has convinced you that you can’t live without? How much good will they be if the grid goes down or you have to bug out and leave them behind? If you sell them now, they will be worth a few dollars but in a worst case scenario, they will be worth absolutely nothing.
I strongly suggest that you start to de-clutter and simplify your life.
  1. As a last suggestion – become more aware of how you live your life each day. What items do you use regularly and do you have at least one backup? It’s no use having a pantry full of tins and one broken can opener.
Some of that cash you made at your garage sale could be used to buy non-electrical items that you find at the op shop or other people’s garage sales. Those places are exciting and you never know what you’ll find and can cross off your list. And it doesn’t matter if it is blue and your kitchen is green; the bottom line is “Does it work and do I need it?”
I hope that this article has offered some helpful information for new preppers and that you are able to progress in leaps and bounds.