Monday, August 3, 2020

100 Super Cheap Preps for the Next Disaster (76-100)

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

76.  Create/enhance your social safety net.  Build friendships and improve relationships.  Polish your social skills and be useful to other people.  Offer help when you can, seek help from others in your social circle when needed.  
77.  Be proactive.  If you could possibly end up homeless, don't wait to prepare when the sheriff shows up on your doorstep, use the internet (example here and here) to help you plan and prepare for such a possibility.
78.  Try going 24 hours with being untrackable.  This means no cell phone, no fitness watch, not driving your car, avoiding street cameras, not using the internet, paying cash for any purchases, not using loyalty cards, etc.
79.  Learn hand-to-hand combat.  Hopefully you never find yourself in such a situation, but knowing karate/MMA/krav maga/etc. is both good exercise and a last-chance survival skill.
80.  Question everything.  The regular media, social media, and all other public forms of communication are a dumpster fire these days.  Don't believe everything you see/hear/read and learn how to do your own research to find out the truth of whatever matter you are interested in.
82.  Reconsider your bug out plan.  My bug out plan included places in Europe and Asia as well as across the country.  With the pandemic, both Europe and Asia were shut down to Americans and the couple of places across the country were even more draconian than my current home state so some reconsideration is in order.  Other people figured they would flee NYC to "the country" not realizing the locals in Connecticut to Maine were less than enthusiastic about their plans.
83.  Strive to be as self-sufficient as possible.  Know ahead of time that the government isn't going to save you (as exemplified by the mass evictions that are about to happen, the lawsuits against states that are dragging their feet/refusing to pay unemployment, and the difficulty of receiving any sort of food/housing/medical coverage/etc if you are poor) and plan accordingly.
84.  Rethink your housing options.  The pandemic created some significant changes to the social structure in our country.  Extended families decided to quarantine together, adult kids moved back in with parents, grandparents moved in to help with the grandkids, etc.  If the current social structure isn't working for you, consider other options re: school/work/housing/etc.
85.  Keep an eye out for sales on items that are most likely to sell out during a disaster.  Collect up these items as funds allow, either for your own use or to share/sell/barter to others.
86.  While I wouldn't suggest panic moving, now may be a good time to move if you are so inclined.  House values are still strong in many areas so getting your equity out is possible, and if you have been planning for a while to make the move, you may have many options in the near future (depending on how the eviction moratorium shakes out, how the economy goes, etc).
87.  Stockpile necessary medications if this is possible (and if your doctor will help you).  Also consider putting in the effort to reverse certain chronic conditions so you won't even need medications.
88.  Create secret hiding places in your home for your emergency cash and other valuables.  These secure places are even more important in a SHTF situation when people become even less law-abiding than they are now.
89.  Develop multiple streams of income.  The more ways you can earn income, the better, as we saw during the pandemic shutdown.
90.  Set up your tech so you can do everything from home--banking, bill paying, working, attending school, meetings, etc.  Many of these services are free via apps, Zoom, etc.  Also, consider upgrading your tech as funds become available (better computer, better microphone, better webcam, etc).
92.  Learn from backpackers, campers, and vandwellers when it comes to things like finding and purifying water, sleeping in the rough, generating your own energy, staying clean on the trail, etc.  When the infrastructure goes down, you can use these same skills at home. Again, YouTube is a goldmine for info on how to do this.
93.  Cut your utility bills (water, electricity, gas, garbage, sewer, phone, cable, etc) as much as possible; this will immediately put more money in your pocket and teach you how to live less extravagantly. 
94.  Avoid trouble.  Whether it is "bad" neighborhoods, roving gangs, or violent protests, use the media (TV news, police scanner app, Twitter and other social media) to figure out places you should stay away from in order to avoid trouble.
95.  Know what your local gun laws are and what constitutes a "good shoot".  Shooting someone in self defense is highly subjective and the outcome will vary greatly depending on the details of the case as well as the jurisdiction the shooting happened in.  If at all possible, try to never find yourself in such a situation (avoiding law enforcement and the legal system as much as possible is always recommended!), but if you do, you want to be 100% in the right (avoiding things like this or this will save you a lot of drama and legal fees).
96.  Get rid of your addictions.  Easier said than done of course, but quitting things like drinking, smoking, drugs, etc. will not only save you money but will probably save your health as well.
97.  Work on skills such as flexibility, "going with the flow", improvising, adapting, and overcoming...basic life skills that will allow you to deal with and fix problems with a minimum of aggravation and drama.
98.  Keep all of your preps quiet.  Don't tell anyone (except for your spouse, probably less so your kids) how much money you have stashed away, how many guns you have, about your giant stockpile of food and supplies, etc.  Letting everyone know how well prepared you are will make you a target if people get desperate and even close friends and family members may try to guilt you into providing for them because they chose not to prepare and were then faced with a disaster.  Helping people should be your choice, not an expectation by others.
99.  Get your important documents in order and update them as necessary.  You don't want to be sorting out the legalities of things during a disaster that could have been taken care of with a simple document.
100.  Approach disaster prepping, and actual disasters, with a good attitude and a sense of adventure. You can't change the disaster situation but you can learn, grow, and maybe even enjoy the experience a bit (the sudden stopping of most social obligations during the pandemic was actually a welcome thing IMHO).

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

100 Super Cheap Preps for the Next Disaster (51-75)

Part 1.  Part 2.

51.  Take your cell phone and video tape all of your possessions.  Be sure to video everything in the house, garage, and outbuildings as well as any possessions in the yard.  Back up these videos with your regular files to use in the event of an insurance claim.
52.  Develop some hobbies.  As we saw during the pandemic lockdown, people had a lot of time that they didn't know what to do with.  Other than bingeing Netflix or YouTube, it is a good idea to develop non-internet-related hobbies to entertain yourself and your family when you have free time.
53.  Pre-prepare and pre-stage your disaster gear.  If you live in a flood-prone area, put your survival gear in the attic along with the tools to extricate yourself from said attic if this becomes necessary.  If you live in tornado alley, stage your emergency gear in the basement.  If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, put your gear where you can access it even if the house falls down.
54.  Make a list of every bill you pay (monthly, biannually, annually, etc) and look for ways to reduce these bills.  This can be as simple as changing cell plans to checking with you local assessors office to see if they offer any type of property tax exemptions that you qualify for.
55.  Slowly build up your food stockpile.  Buy a few extra things (bag of beans, canned food, etc) each time you go to the grocery store in order to build up your stockpile.  Be sure to keep this food organized and rotate it in with your regular food so it doesn't go bad.
56.  Consider buying an Instapot when you find one on sale.  These do-everything crockpots/pressure cookers are a great way to cook everything from beans to meats quickly and easily.
57.  Spend a week or two this summer camping or backpacking with the family.  This is a great way to practicing wilderness survival skills when the weather is good.
58.  Take a walk around your neighborhood and find resources that could be useful in a disaster: water sources, dumpsters, fruit/nuts growing wild, etc.
59.  Take a walk around your home and neighborhood at night at see what you can find.  This will be a good reminder to close the blinds at night otherwise you can see everything in people's homes and they won't be able to see you standing outside.  You will also get a feel for who is home and who is gone at night, as well as what other activities are happening in your neighborhood at night.
60.  Practice using alternate forms of transportation besides your vehicle.  Walk or ride a bike to do errands, ride the city bus, take a train or Flix bus to a more distant place for the day or weekend.
61.  Improve the security of your home by doing free or cheap tasks that will make your home safer.
62.  Review, update, and improve all of your medical kits.  Check your EDC first aid kit, vehicle first and kit, and home first aid kit and make sure the supplies aren't expired, and that you aren't missing any critical items (many of which can be bought cheaply at the Dollar Store or local pharmacy).
63.  If you live in an area prone to tornadoes or hurricanes, buy a NOAA weather alert radio.  Your safety is well worth the $30 cost of one of these valuable radios.
64.  Spend the weekend doing a "Swedish Death Cleaning" of your home.  Getting rid of stuff you no longer need can both open up more space in your home and make you some extra cash if you decide to sell the stuff you don't need at a garage sale or online.
65.  Put all of your emergency supplies in one place where they are organized and easily accessible.  You don't want to have to run all through your house to find candles and matches when the power goes out, hunt down a flashlight in one place and batteries in another place, or gather stuff from all over the house when you only have minutes to evacuate your home.
66.  Do some research and find out what the most likely disasters are in your area.  This is especially important to do when you move to a new area.  Do you live in an earthquake or flood-prone area?  Do you live where a dam could break or where winter storms are common.  After you find out what disasters are most likely to happen, use this knowledge to prioritize where you spend your disaster preparedness time and money.
67.  Invest in items that you can use everyday that will help save you money.  If you have lots of trees on your property, a wood stove may be a good investment to provide heat as well as a place to cook.  Lehman's Store will give you lots of ideas for useful, old fashioned items you might find useful (don't forget to look for these items at your local thrift stores and garage sales to find them even cheaper!).
68.  Pick up a hobby that will both save you money as well as give you options for earning money.  Computer repair, building computers, solar tech, building furniture, etc. are all fun hobbies, can save you money, and are usually in demand for paying gigs as well.
69.  Look into gig-type jobs if you need to build up your savings quickly.  Driving for Uber or Lyft, delivering pizza, short-term contract work, etc. are all quick ways to make some extra cash.
70.  Do a bit of searching to see if there is unclaimed money waiting for you (add this money to your savings or buy more emergency preparedness supplies with it!).
71.  Speaking of free, did you know that there are still places that will give you free land?  If you are looking to get away from the crowds, this may be an interesting opportunity to look into.
72.  Spend quality time with your kids (sans electronics and internet).  Play chess, play Monopoly, play tag, play hide and seek, set up an archery range if you have room on your property, play games together, have fun, and the kids won't even know they are learning useful survival skills.
73.  Work on big projects.  You can start with a cheap, broken down bicycle you find at the thrift store and fix it up to usable condition.  Maybe move on to motorcycles and cars.  This way you learn valuable skills and end up with items you can either use or sell.
74.  When you do decide to splurge on higher priced items, check discount sites first like Steep and Cheap, several online discount ammo stores, Tech Bargains, etc.
75.  See if paying an annual fee will net you a bigger discount than paying the regular individual price.  You can save big on car insurance by paying six months at a time, a cell phone plan by paying a year at a time, buying a lifetime National Parks Pass or an annual state park pass will save a lot over paying the daily entry fee, etc.

Monday, June 22, 2020

100 Super Cheap Preps for the Next Disaster (26-50)

You can check out part 1 here.  Moving right along...

26.  Make sure your vehicle is in good working order.  There are a lot of simple, inexpensive things you can do to make sure your vehicle is ready to bug out at the last minute.  Buying vehicle air filters on Amazon and changing them yourself can save around $50 over the cost of the dealership doing this for you.
27.  Review and update your car BOB.  Make sure the clothing is appropriate for the season, batteries are changed out or charged, food and water is rotated, etc.
28.  Get a HAM radio (and get licensed to use it).  The licensing process is simple and inexpensive, and you can get an inexpensive BaoFeng radio for around $25.  This is an excellent emergency communication system if the cell/landline systems go down.
29.  Get your concealed carry license.  There were so many people, mid pandemic, wanting to buy guns but unable to carry them concealed because the CCW classes and licensing agencies were shut down.  If you want to be able to carry concealed, get licensed now and not in the middle of a disaster.  You will also have a wider selection of classes (and prices for classes) available to you this way.
30.  Buy guns and ammo now.  Ditto the above.  A month before the pandemic, you could walk into a gun store and buy a gun within minutes.  Mid-pandemic and now with the riots, lines at guns stores are wrapped around the block and ammo is pretty scarce.  It seems like the price of firearms and ammo has increased as well with all of the shortages so buying these items when there isn't a disaster happening can be a good cost-saving move.
31.  Buy supplies now and not at the top of the market.  Whenever there is panic buying of an item, the price of that item--when you can even find it in the stores--usually shoots up.  Before the pandemic you could buy a bottle of rubbing alcohol for $1, during the pandemic, I saw a store selling the stuff for $5 a bottle!  ditto hand sanitizer, face masks, wipes, etc.  This can be price-gouging or it can be suppliers increasing the price to align with costs, but either way, it's best to buy the things you need at a time that everyone and their brother isn't panic buying said item.
32.  Do major projects now, not during a disaster.  Like buying survival gear, you don't want to get a major service done when everyone is having the same issue.  If your AC system is on its last leg, it's better to replace the system in the winter and not wait until it dies, mid summer, when AC service providers are backed up and charging premium prices.
33.  Take care of medical/dental/vision/etc services ASAP.  Firstly, you don't want to have to hunt down a tetanus shot during a disaster, you don't want to have a dental emergency when the vast majority of dentists have been closed down as was the case during the pandemic, and if you time all of these services right, one annual deductible can be met and the insurance can pick up the rest of the costs for all of the medical/dental/vision/hearing services you need.
34.  Look into minimalism, zero-waste, anti-consumption, buy it for life, and similarly related consumer lifestyles.  These people generally practice reduce/reuse/recycle skills that can stretch--or even eliminate the need for--many consumer items that the average person wastes money on.
35.  Live below your means.  This is kind of a no-brainer, but the more you can live below your means, the more money you can save for an emergency.
36.  Be debt free.  The only thing worse than suffering through a disaster, is suffering through a disaster with creditors hounding you at the same time.  Get out of debt--including the car and house--and stay out of debt.
37.  Put together an emergency fund of six to twelve month's worth of living expenses.  No one could have predicted that the entire world would shut down for months on end but the people who had fat and fluffy emergency funds weathered this disaster much better than those who were living paycheck to paycheck.
38.  Practice going without important needs/services for a weekend.  Obviously don't go without your insulin or pull the plug on granddad's CPAP, but challenge yourself and the family to go without electricity for a weekend, go without toilet paper for a weekend, only eat dried stored foods for a weekend (nothing from the fridge or freezer), go without the internet for the weekend...basically any challenge that would help you develop your resiliency and survival skills (without putting yourself and your family in actual peril!).
39.  Develop friendships/relationships with family/neighbors/acquaintances.  You don't have to be buddy-buddy with the neighbor but having short conversations with them when you see them outside is a good way to build a community safety net which can be useful during a disaster.  Likewise, strengthening relationships with friends and family can pay dividends when TSHTF.
40.  Recall any issues you had during the pandemic shut down and work on preparing for similar circumstances in the future.  We needed an electric hair trimmer which were sold out during the pandemic (FWIW a beard and mustache trimmer did a pretty good hair cutting job, just took a bit longer).  Eventually they were restocked at Target for $40 but I ended up picking up a complete hair trimmer kit at Ross for only $14.  Similarly, people were panicking about not being able to find yeast during the pandemic.  While I was well supplied with yeast, I did make up some sourdough starter just for the experience.
41.  Summer is a great time to prepare your yard for a disaster.  This means getting your yard ready for wildfire season, preparing your yard for hurricane season, and making your yard more secure overall.
42.  There are also a hundred small tasks you can do to make your home safer overall.
43.  Take some time to fill out a family disaster plan then make copies of this plan available to each family member.  Examples here, here, and here.
44.  Gather all of your important documents, digitally back them up (scanning or photos), then put them together in a secure location.
45.  Consider volunteering at a community organization that will teach you disaster preparedness skills (search and rescue, Red Cross, volunteer EMT, etc).
46.  Every time your insurance--car, home, life, etc--comes up for renewal, call around to other insurance companies for quotes; you may be able to secure insurance at a lower price this way (also ask about bundling insurance coverages together for an even greater discount).
47.  Put some free disaster apps on your cell phone.  Ditto for the family's cell phones.
48.  Dump out your EDC (everyday carry) bag, review the items you have, change out batteries, determine if there are items you need to add or delete from the bag, then repack it.
49.  Dump out your BOB (bug out bag), review the items you have, change out batteries/food.water, determine if there are items you need to add or delete from the bag, then repack it.
50.  Slowly stockpile emergency water supplies.  You can buy bottled water when it is on sale, buy an extra 5 gallon jug of water each week, store tap water in appropriate containers, etc.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

100 Super Cheap Preps for the Next Disaster (1-25)

The next disaster may happen tomorrow for all we know (and with the way 2020 is going, that wouldn't surprise me at all).  When the pandemic was starting and people were running out to stores and panic buying everything in sight, you could tell just how many people were not prepared for a disaster.  On the one hand, people can get lazy and complacent and think that nothing really bad will happen and/or the government will take care of them (LOL), on the other hand, there are many people who simply think they can't afford to prepare so don't even try.  While being rich is certainly helpful when it comes to preparedness, there are a lot of things people can do to prepare for a disaster that cost little to no money.  Here are the first 25 of 100 things to do, on the cheap, to get prepared for the next disaster:

  1. Exercise.  This is free and is of the utmost importance during and after a disaster.  Walk, jog, do exercise opportunities can be found everywhere.
  2. Practice dumpster diving.  Also, know the laws about dumpster diving in your area so you don't get fined for doing this, thus defeating the "cheap" part of dumpster diving.
  3. Buy the stuff you need (clothes, tools, outdoor gear, etc) at the Goodwill or other thrift stores.  Of course, shop sale days at these places to save even more money.
  4. Use other shopping skills (shopping sales, using coupons, etc) to save money on the things you need (first aid supplies, food to stockpile, etc).
  5. Write out a shopping list of all of the prep supplies you need, keep this list with you, and buy the items on your list as they come on sale.  This can save a lot of money over buying everything at once at top price, also this will help keep you from buying unnecessary duplicate items.
  6. Take a Community Emergency Response Team training course.  This class is free, teaches valuable disaster prep skills, and at the end of the course they give you a big backpack of free disaster gear (at least this was the case when I took the course).
  7. Download all of the free disaster preparedness documents and books you can find.  There are a multitude of sources for these free educational sources online.
  8. Consider making your own outdoor/survival gear.  This can be a cheaper way to acquire gear than paying full retail price.
  9. Let friends and family know that you would be happy to take anything they don't want off their hands.  This could include clothing, produce from the garden, old fishing gear, etc.
  10. Learn survival skills from YouTube.  There are a bajillion videos on every possible survival topic under the sun.  Watch, learn, and practice these skills.
  11. Hit up the Dollar Tree and other dollar type stores for useful survival supplies.  You can buy matches, canned goods, bandannas, bungee cords, blue tarps, and a multitude of other items that would be useful in a disaster for only a dollar at these places.
  12. Stockpile multiples of necessary items so that you won't need to restock for a while.  Instead of buying one toothbrush at the Dollar Tree, buy 12 and you will not need to buy more toothbrushes for a year.
  13. When you stockpile food, be sure to rotate it through your regular food supply often so you don't spend a lot of money on food which then spoils because it wasn't eaten in a timely manner.
  14. Learn how to can, freeze, pickle, dry, and otherwise preserve food so that when you have an abundant garden or get a great deal at the grocery store, you can preserve the food for later use.
  15. Grow your own food.  If you have the space and start plants from seed, you can save a lot of money over the cost of grocery store produce.
  16. Take advantage of any free things offered in your community.  Free CPR classes, free smoke detectors, free Master Gardeners classes, etc.
  17. Join your local Buy Nothing group and receive items you want or need for free.  There are similar "freebie" pages on Craigslist, on local Facebook pages, etc.
  18. Ask at local businesses for useful, free survival items like 5 gallon buckets at restaurants, leftover Tyvek at building sites, free wooden pallets, etc.
  19. Learn how to barter.  This is yet another way to get useful survival items for free/free-ish.
  20. Regularly do microadventures to practice your survival skills.  These can range from camping to hiking to picnicking, etc.
  21. Consider buying items that have multiple survival uses.  This saves money, saves space, and gives you multiple options for using an item.
  22. Buy a cheap cell phone (with cash) and get a prepaid sim/plan (with cash) to keep with your survival gear.  There are multiple reasons you may need to use this phone in a disaster.
  23. Shop around for the best price to get your concealed carry license (permit fees are fixed but the required class fee can vary a great deal in many areas), HAM radio license (again, the license fee is usually set but class fees can vary), EMT license (some people pay full price for these classes while others can get free training if they volunteer at the local fire department), etc.
  24. Learn how to cook from scratch.  Learn how to cook food from many cultures.  Learn how to cook/bake a wide range of foods.  These are the best ways to utilize whatever food is on sale, save money over eating out everyday, and make yourself healthier.
  25. Take advantage of every free service you qualify for.  Free or reduced price kid's school lunches, food stamps if you are laid off from work, free vaccinations at the health district, free clinic for physical or mental health issues...if you qualify, sign up!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

WTF 2020?

So this year just keeps heading in a downward spiral...  If the pandemic quarantine and the resulting  economic fallout weren't enough, now we have violent protests and looting happening in many cities.  In all cases, no matter the disaster you are facing--pandemic, protests, hurricanes, tornadoes--being prepared and proactive is much better than being reactive.

There are plenty of preparedness folks proclaiming it's the end of the world and still other folks calling for a full-on revolution.  Then there is social media which is a dumpster fire by all accounts.  The conspiracy theorists are in full affect, the regular media is's hard to know what to believe and who is pulling the strings.  Again, be proactive, no matter what is happening.  Some random thoughts on the current situation:

  • Avoid the protests.  These are very volatile situations which can easily turn from quietly carrying your sign to all hell breaking loose.  I am happy to help make positive changes in my community but screaming on a corner is probably the least effective way to make lasting change.
  • Bringing a firearm to a protest is a bad idea.  The cops have no idea what side you are on and perceive everyone not in uniform as a threat.  Defending your life with lethal force in the midst of a protest is a guarantee that you will hit not only the aggressor but other innocent people.
  • Be aware of what is happening and where it is happening in whatever area you are in or will be going to.  Many people have inadvertently walked or driven into areas where they suddenly found themselves in the middle of protests that have turned violent; this doesn't work out well for anyone.
  • For the most part, dial down on all media, both social media and regular media.  Listening to that crap 24/7 will make you crazy.  Obviously using these types of media to ascertain the developing situation in your neighborhood is a good idea.
  • Be prepared to defend yourself.  Your home should be your castle and it should be secure and defensible.  Gun sales to first time gun buyers has surged which is not a way to be proactive.  Responsible gun owners will already own firearms, already have their CCW, already have several sessions of practice under their belt...not panic buying a weapon they have no idea what to do with.
  • Stockpile enough food, water, and supplies to see you through a month or more of not leaving your home.  We all got this lesson at the beginning of the pandemic and now in some cities, local stores that people rely on for food and supplies have been burned to the ground.  Also in these cities public transit may not be running so for those who depend on local stores and/or public transit to buy the food and supplies they need, they may be totally out of luck until things return to normal.
  • Know who you can depend on during a disaster.  We have reached out to help several people during the pandemic. and while my house is far away from where the protests are taking place, I know several neighbors that can be counted on if the looters were to come to our neighborhood.
  • Be prepared if things go from bad to worse.  A pandemic was bad.  A pandemic plus violent protests is worse.  A pandemic plus violent protests plus power outage/water shut off/cell towers going down/hurricane/etc. is practically a nightmare situation.  Have plans to address all of these possibilities.  How would you bug in?  How would you bug out?  Can you survive without power?  Can you survive without water coming out of the tap?  How will you communicate without cell phones working?  How can you do all of these things in a stealthy manner so you won't draw unwanted attention to yourself?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Digital Life or Digital Nightmare?

Most people know they are being tracked in a multitude of ways every day and I guess, like the frog in the boiling pot of water, the tracking systems have been developed so incrementally that most people don't even think twice about how much everything they do can be reviewed, analyzed, and even reached out and "grabbed" at the whim of the powers that be.  Here are some things to consider: