Most articles about how to start prepping will cover what you need. You need this much food, this bug-out bag; you must be prepared for this or that.
While all of that is important, there is a whole lot you still need to include if you start from that point. In this article, I want to share some advice from community members about what they would change if they had to start over.
I’ll also elaborate on some of these tips and give my thoughts on how my idea of prepping or preparedness has changed. Over the years, my concept of prepping or preparedness has evolved and taken on new meanings.
While some basic principles of being prepared have remained the same, such as having emergency kits and knowing basic survival skills, the emphasis on preparedness has shifted towards a more holistic approach to being ready for any situation.
Additionally, being prepared is not just about being ready for disasters or emergencies but also about adapting to unexpected changes and challenges in daily life.
WHAT IS PREPPING
The first thing I want to get out of the way before we get into these tips is that preparedness is different for everyone.
The stigma about preppers from society is that you need to be prepared for the end of the world or you’re not doing it right. Or that preppers will be hiding in their bunkers, ready to blast anything that moves in a disaster.
While I’m sure those people are out there, they are far and few between. Over the years, I have met and talked to many different preppers. Some wouldn’t label themselves a “prepper” but rather just a person who wants to be prepared.
While we all start on the same path by storing a little extra food, storing some water, and getting some supplies, it changes as we begin to individualize our preparedness plans. Prepping means many different things to many different people.
In short, the term prepping or preparedness is just a way to describe what we do, but it doesn’t define who we are.
ARE PREPPERS CRAZY OR SMART?
The truth is, no matter how prepared you are, none of us are doing it wrong, nor are we doing it right. We are doing what we can with the resources available to us. If wanting to have contingency plans in place just in case something happens makes you crazy, then I guess we are.
In today’s world, we are taught that everything we need is only a click away, and if you don’t have the money right now, just put it on the card. Having a pantry full of food is unnecessary because the grocery store has everything you need.
What happens when they don’t? What happens when the grid goes down, and everything we take for granted is gone? Will the store shelves still be stocked, will the gas station still have fuel, and will we still have a job to go to in the first place?
Even if it is something smaller like a personal doomsday or a short-term power outage, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little tucked away to make life easier as you weather the storm?
Considering all the insanity worldwide today and throughout history, I have to chuckle a little when people say that preppers are crazy. You have economies that rise and fall, we are in a perpetual state of war, and disasters are happening all around us, yet the preppers are crazy for having the foresight to plan for these events.
If prepping is crazy, then isn’t having auto insurance crazy, and having a savings account is crazy too?
IS PREPPING POINTLESS?
Whether or not someone believes prepping is pointless is a matter of perspective. Preparing is often motivated by the feeling that real risks and potential disasters could disrupt daily life. If someone isn’t motivated by this, they probably think preparedness is pointless.
The perceived level of risk is also a factor. Some people prepare for more extreme scenarios, while others focus on more common disruptions like power outages or natural disasters. Preparing for nuclear war might seem pointless for those concentrating on smaller-scale disasters.
Prepping and preparedness are worthwhile, even if nothing happens at all. Contrary to popular belief about preppers, I’d be happy to live my life without a major disaster disrupting it; I’m just not holding my breath.
It’s crucial to balance preparedness and maintaining a fulfilling and enjoyable life in the present. This means different things for different people, but prepping can be beneficial for many reasons that have nothing to do with large-scale disasters.
Personal Peace of Mind: For many preppers, becoming more prepared provides a sense of security and peace of mind. Knowing they have the necessary supplies and skills to weather difficult times can reduce anxiety and stress.
Personal Doomsdays: Being prepared can be especially valuable in emergencies closer to home. Having essential supplies, such as food, water, and extra money tucked away can help you through disruptions to your daily life. A job loss, medical emergency, or car accident are examples of personal doomsdays.
Self-Reliance: Prepping emphasizes self-reliance and the ability to care for oneself and one’s family. This skill set can be helpful in various situations, not just doomsday scenarios.
Community Building: Individuals interested in emergency preparedness can actively engage in their communities by participating in community emergency response teams, sharing knowledge, and supporting neighbors. Preppers understand the importance of having support groups and that going the “lone wolf” route is a tough row to hoe.
Economic Considerations: Economic instability and job loss can lead people to prepare for financial hardships. While some people invest in stocks or bonds, preppers invest in tangible assets such as food storage, gold, silver, and other essential preparedness supplies.
Sustainable Living: The definition of a prepper is someone who wants to be able to live without the help of outside resources as much as possible. Prepping can align with a desire for more self-reliant living, including growing their food, having alternative energy means, and minimizing dependence on consumerism.
Ultimately, whether prepping is considered pointless or valuable depends on individual circumstances and beliefs. It’s a personal choice; for many, it’s about finding a reasonable level of preparedness that provides peace of mind without consuming their lives. The key is approaching it with a balanced perspective and not letting fear or paranoia drive the process.
TIPS FOR BEGINNING PREPPERS
Here are some responses from the Survivalist Prepper Community. Below each of these responses, I added my thoughts on the prepping advice given.
Rick: Start small, and don’t try to get the newest gadgets being sold. Figure out what you really want to get out of prepping. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
White Rabbit responded to Rick’s comment saying, “Agreed Rick, Too easy to buy the glitzy or gadgety stuff. I started with all that and threw nearly most of it out. Started with a clean slate after meeting the people on here and finding out what really is needed/wanted.”
The Other Brandon: As far as advice, start with food, water, household supplies, medication, etc (the stuff that you use every day, week, month) until you have months extra, then allow yourself a “Prepper” type item. Include training and knowledge. Then go for two months worth and a second type of item and training. The bottom line is don’t get caught up in the hype and know how to use the gadgets that you buy.
The Prepping Fundamentals
The most effective way to start your preparedness journey is to prioritize fundamental skills and essential items over gadgets. This approach ensures a strong foundation in basic survival skills, such as first aid, fire-making, and navigation, which are timeless and applicable across various scenarios. It also offers a practical and budget-friendly entry point into the world of preparedness, avoiding the financial strain often accompanying the purchase of high-tech or gimmicky gadgets.
Preppers can gradually invest in their preparedness without feeling overwhelmed by starting small. Basic skills not only serve as building blocks for more advanced techniques but also find practical application in everyday life. Learning to purify water, cook without electricity, or administer basic first aid are valuable skills that enhance self-sufficiency and resilience.
Moreover, beginning with modest tools allows preppers to understand their unique needs and circumstances before investing in specialized gadgets. This personalized approach ensures that preparedness efforts align closely with individual requirements, promoting a more effective and tailored strategy.
Carla: Be organized! It takes discipline and can be frustrating, but you will appreciate it later. You want to use the FIFO method (first in – first out) for your food. Keep a spreadsheet of what food you have in stock so you know what you have. Deduct the items you use from your stored goods so you know what to buy on your next shopping trip.
This also helps you keep on your budget. You won’t be buying items you don’t need. Start small if you are on a strict budget. Shop sales and use coupons. Buy a couple of extra cans of food each time you go shopping. Those few cans will add up fast!
Everything else will fall into place given time. Don’t fret about doing everything at once. You will drive yourself insane. Any steps made to go in the direction you dream of is a positive move. Keep the faith.
Prepping & Budgeting
Maintaining organization and adhering to a prepping budget are crucial aspects of an effective preparedness plan. Organization & rotation ensures that preppers can readily access their supplies, information, and tools when needed. A well-organized inventory allows for quick assessments of available resources and identifies gaps that need to be filled.
Sticking to a prepping budget is equally vital, preventing overspending and promoting financial sustainability. Creating a budget encourages preppers to prioritize their needs, allocate resources judiciously, and avoid unnecessary expenses on items that may not contribute significantly to their overall preparedness.
This financial mindfulness safeguards against economic strain and allows for a more strategic and focused approach to building a comprehensive preparedness plan. Going into debt to become better prepared makes you less prepared in the grand scheme.
Denise: After prepping the obvious like water, food, shelter, etc, the best that your income allows…
I like what so many have tried: just turning off your electricity and seeing where you suffer the most. Nobody knows better than you where you need improvement. Of course, power loss is just one scenario to prep for, but it’s the one I have encountered so many times you would think I would have it down pat. You would think!
Planning & Practice
This is an excellent piece of advice. Engaging in a simulated power outage by intentionally turning off electricity is a practical and insightful approach to understanding personal vulnerabilities and refining your preparedness efforts. This hands-on exercise provides a real-world scenario for preppers to assess their readiness and identify areas for improvement. By experiencing a controlled disruption, individuals learn firsthand where potential weaknesses lie and which aspects of their preparedness plans need attention.
Turning off electricity allows you to test your preparedness supplies, such as lighting, heating, and cooking, and evaluates the effectiveness of alternative power sources, such as generators or solar solutions.
It serves as a valuable learning experience, helping preppers to recognize the importance of energy conservation and efficiency in their daily routines.
Intentionally turning off electricity is a proactive and self-directed method for preppers to fine-tune their readiness. It transforms theoretical preparedness plans into practical, actionable insights, fostering a more robust and personalized approach to facing the uncertainties of power disruptions and other emergencies.
Scott: I’m not sure where I would be on the prepping scale, but one of the biggest challenges for me was shifting my critical thinking to a preparedness mindset. Prepping will open your eyes to many of the boxes and labels society places on people and groups.
I have chosen to step away from the group think and focus on what is important to me and my family. When you have that light bulb moment followed shortly after with anxiety to get prepping, don’t forget to live your present life too.
It’s easy to get consumed in the “doomsday” mentality. Having something that grounds you in reality and brings your mind back on track is important. A hobby, workout, or just listening to Survivalist Preppers can be good to realize you are on your way and can do this. Whatever you do, find a balance that works for you.
Maintaining a balanced perspective in prepping is paramount for mental well-being and practical preparedness. Focusing solely on doomsday scenarios or large-scale disasters can lead to heightened stress and anxiety, negatively impacting mental health. Effective prepping involves balancing and acknowledging potential risks while considering more likely and manageable challenges.
A realistic approach to preparedness means practical planning that addresses a range of scenarios. Overemphasis on doomsday scenarios may lead to extreme and unsustainable preparations, diverting attention from more probable threats such as power outages or natural disasters.
Prepping is not solely about rare catastrophic events; it encompasses everyday emergencies. A more balanced approach ensures readiness for various challenges. Making preparedness a practical and integrated part of daily life is really what it’s all about. Sustainability is vital; prepping should be a lifestyle choice that is manageable over the long term, avoiding burnout and financial strain.
MamaBear Prepper: My toughest area to tackle has been what do I do first? My brain says, “Start your food storage in case something happens.”
Then it says, “Wait, start the garden because if something happens while you are stocking your pantry, you will have food to rely on because the shelves will be empty.”
Then the brain says, “Oh yeah, well, what are you gonna do with all that food you grow if you don’t know how to can?
Maybe you should learn this first and get your supplies”. Next thought, “Just order your chickens and build the coop; at least they will produce food for you.”
And so on and so on, we can all see the pattern here right?
Focusing on learning one part of preparedness at a time holds strategic significance in building a good foundation. I call this “Just in Time Learning,” delving deeply into a specific preparedness subject allows a comprehensive understanding of that information.
Concentrating on a singular subject aids in the retention of information. Attempting to absorb too much simultaneously can lead to information overload. By centering efforts on one subject, you can enhance your capacity to internalize and recall critical details.
Skill development is another key advantage of focusing on one area at a time. Preparedness often involves acquiring practical skills and honing in on a specific subject enables individuals to master these skills before branching out. This approach contributes to higher proficiency and competence in the chosen area.
I have found that concentrating on one part of preparedness at a time is the most strategic and effective approach. It builds a strong foundation, aids information retention, and supports incremental progress. By doing this, you create a comprehensive and sustainable preparedness strategy and maintain your sanity at the same time.
Prepping is different for everyone. How you decide to do it is less important than doing it in the first place. Don’t worry about what other people say, and don’t worry about what other people are doing. You know what your needs are better than anyone.