Even though the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket, that is no reason to stop prepping for current or future disasters. Many of the people who are just now getting into the prepping game are doing so because they are just reaching adulthood and need to start prepping for their own needs and/or have considered themselves too poor to prep in the past and are now realizing they need to do something to help mitigate the circumstances everyone is finding themselves in now. If you think you are too poor to prep, think again.
- Focus on your health and fitness. This can be as simple as walking everyday and doing calisthenics in your home. These things are simple, free, and easy to accomplish. Also, focus on your food. You have to eat so you might as well eat healthy food instead of unhealthy crap. Bags of lentils and beans are $1 at the Dollar Store and can easily make several (healthy) meals out of one bag.
- Learn to cook, it's easier than you think thanks to YouTube. Since you need to eat and you need to save money, cooking your own food can save big bucks over eating out, eating prepared/processed food, and hitting up the fast food dollar menu.
- Spend just $5 stockpiling food every week. Again, you can hit up the dollar store or shop sales/coupons/use the store's app to buy cheap yet filling food you could eat in an emergency. This week I picked up a few bags of beans (black, pinto, Great Northern) and two cans of Chunky soup (97 cents a can on sale) to add to our stockpile. Over time this can add up to a massive amount of stockpiled food to use in an emergency (or better yet, to rotate into your normal food supplies).
- Sign up for your neighborhood CERT class. I took this class when I moved to a new city and even though it was very basic prepping info, it was worth the time spent because at the end of the two-day class, all attendees received a big backpack full of free emergency supplies (flashlight, work gloves, goggles, first aid kit, utility shut-off wrench, and lots more stuff).
- See what else is available for free/cheap in your community. Some fire departments offer free smoke detectors for your home, utility companies often give away things like free home weatherization kits, gas shut-off wrenches, low flow faucets, etc.
- Get all of the free/cheap training you can get. This can range from becoming a volunteer EMT (usually the training is provided for free if you agree to volunteer for a certain period of time) to volunteering with your community search and rescue organization. Events like community health fairs may offer free CPR and basic first aid classes, health departments may offer free basic vaccinations, and I've volunteered at prepper-related conferences which allowed me to attend many of the training sessions free of charge.
- Learn skills online then go practice these skills. YouTube has an unlimited number of videos to teach you every survival skill you can think of. How to start a fire, how to camp outside over night, how to can and preserve food, how to use a HAM radio, etc. First learn, then practice.
- Check out local clubs to learn prepper skills. HAM radio clubs, orienteering clubs, hiking clubs, gardening clubs...there are dozens and dozens on community organizations and clubs to both teach you useful skills as well as connect you to the local community where you can grow and improve your skills.
- If you need gear, go about acquiring it for free or cheap. Ask friends and family if they have gear (camping, backpacking, canning, shooting, etc) that they no longer want. You can also find used gear for free or cheap on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Offer Up, etc. Check out thrift stores, shop discounters online (like www.steepandcheap.com) and shop sales (both online and at brick and mortar places) to find the gear and supplies you need at super low prices. Dumpster diving may also yield some cool and useful finds.
- Make a bug out bag. It doesn't need to be expensive or fancy but putting together a gear bag that you can grab and go in an emergency is a great way to start prepping. Get a daypack (I've seen these sell for a couple dollars at the Goodwill), add a couple granola bars, an empty water bottle than can be filled when needed, include a complete change of clothing, maybe a cheap Mylar blanket, a large garbage bag...and these inexpensive items.
- Have an emergency fund. Things like a short-term temporary job, mowing lawns or shoveling snow, selling blood, or doing a few odd jobs will get you some fast cash that you can squirrel away until you need it for an actual emergency.
With more effort than money, you can make significant strides towards being better prepared for a disaster.