Preparedness discussions often seem to devolve into what another preparedness writer describes as “beans, bullets & bandaids”…the ‘stuff’ of preparedness. However, your most important preparedness resources are the knowledge, skills, readiness and the confidence you develop as you become more self-reliant. You can enhance and develop these traits without spending any money if you are a little creative and put your mind to it.
The Top 10 Free Steps to Preparedness are:
- Leverage training you receive or can volunteer for at work. For example: as a soldier I’m fortunate enough to receive regular training in first aid; my father attended Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training as a Naval Aviator; Abigail (daughter #2) received Cardiopulmonary Respiration (CPR) training as part of her training for an after school job at a daycare; Sparky (daughter #3) received trained in food safety by her summer job at a restaurant; and a good friend received training from his police department in order to assist homeowners with improving household security. Not only is this training that’s free (to you), but it may make you more valuable to your employer.
- Leverage training you receive through your volunteer activities. For example: a friend from church received training in how to respond to active shooter situations; a ham (amateur radio operator) friend participated in a disaster preparedness exercise supplying emergency communication; a number of friends and relatives have become volunteer firemen and received training in first aid (including EMT training), equipment operation, extractions, and of course…firefighting. Seek ways to give back to your community and connect with like-minded people while developing your knowledge and skills.
- Couponing. Using coupons to build your preparedness supplies isn’t just free…it pays you in the money you saved (assuming you were going to prepare anyway). For those of you who don’t think this is a skill…trust me…when Rachel (my better half) gets into her couponing groove she can reduce the cost of a cart of groceries by 30%-50%…and I’ve seen her walk out of Walgreen and CVS stores with sacks of goods and money in her pocket. A note of couponing food…it’s almost always for heavily processed foodstuffs…not the healthy stuff but it keeps.
- Exercise. You don’t have to join a gym or buy fancy home workout gear. Start with going for a walk, doing that yard work yourself instead of paying someone to do it (see more money in your pocket) or helping a friend move. At one of my old military units the junior officers were all into Crossfit. Crossfit replicates a lot of the types of exercise human beings used to do as a part of daily living like chopping wood…or you could just go chop wood. A side benefit of regular exercise is that it enables you to deal more effectively with stressful events.
- Rediscover a preparedness related hobby. I used to enjoy fishing but haven’t done it in years. I already have all the gear and plenty of places to fish…all I’ve got to do is get started again. Yes, you may need…a fishing license (maybe not if you’re military or a senior citizen) or bait if you don’t use flies and lures… but you can recover that in the fish you put on the dinner table. There are other benefits of hobbies as well…they’ll connect you with like-minded folks if you put a little effort into it. Think about what you used to enjoy and make time for it again.
- Gardening would be a good hobby to take up as well… forget all the fancy trappings and just ask a friend for some cuttings or to save some seeds for you. It will help you with #4 and put food on the table as well.
- Foraging. I’m anxious to try this out but do feel I need some training to do it safely. The wife is great at plant identification and I hope to interest her in learning it together. There’s a great YouTube site dedicated to foraging called Eat the Weeds. Another item with the side benefit of food on the table.
- Organize your home. If you can lay your hands on the right tool or the right supply it’s not just free, it also saves you money. Before I organized my tools I often found myself buying a second (sometimes third) tool that I already owned in order to get a job done…I just couldn’t find the one I needed. Organization takes on even more importance as you move into food preparedness. If you elect to store what you eat (stockpile the same type of food you eat day-to-day) than you must rotate your stock in order to keep your food from expiring. If you’re a business type thing ‘First In First Out’ (FIFO).
- Read. There’s no substitute for hands on experience but there is a wealth of knowledge available for free on the internet (like this site) or from your local library. Just remember to add the hands on experience to turn helpful knowledge into useful skills.
- Connect with like-minded people. OK, depending on where/how you connect there may be some costs involved, but not necessarily. By connecting with like-minded people you can exchange knowledge, work on joint projects and build new skills. A word of caution though…remember that you’re a Stealth Prepper…share skills, share knowledge, but don’t put your family’s preparedness in jeopardy.