I don’t know about you but I’m what the French would call “lazy”.
However, I like to think of myself as “efficient”.
By which I mean to say, I prefer to do the least amount of work for the most amount of return. Smarter people than me refer to this as the Pareto Principle a.k.a. The 80/20 Rule.
I don’t know if you read bolded words in a big, booming voice in your head but that’s how I meant it.
What is the 80/20 Rule?
The 80/20 Rule states: You should aim to achieve 80% of the results with 20% of the work but the last 20% will take 80% of the work.
For example, let’s say that building a basic shelter, like a lean-to, takes you 30 minutes to set up. But making sure that it’s level, properly insulated, fully weatherproof, has a comfy pine straw floor, etc takes you another 2 1/2 hours. What you built in half an hour was basically all you needed but making it perfect is what took up ~80% of the time. Here is a quick example:
How Can The 80/20 Rule Help Me Survive?
I know, I know. You came here to learn about bug out bags and survival skills, not principles and rules and such. But bear with me, I’m going somewhere with this.
We can apply the 80/20 Rule to bug out bags as well.
If you’re on this site, you probably already know how important bug out bags are and why you need them. But raise your hand if you actually have one.
Now look up and see if your hand is raised. If not, read on. If it is, you can jump down to the Weight section.
Let’s start with what to pack.
Try to bring the minimum you need instead of the maximum you can carry
What to Pack
For a lot of people just getting into prepping, putting together their bug out bag is kind of overwhelming. Hell, I wrote a BOB checklist that had almost 100 items on it! And that still wasn’t everything.
Yes, you can go buy a $200 pack and drop another $500 in gear. And it would be totally worth it. But did you know that you can get 80% of the way there and 1107% more prepared than you already are without spending a dime?
If you’re like most people, you’ve got most of the supplies you need to survive already lying around your house. Because you’re surviving right now.
All you’ve got to do is put all that stuff in a bag.
Here’s a very basic breakdown of how this fits the Pareto Principle:
Sure, you’ll probably need to buy some items to be fully prepared but I bet you can survive for a while just on what you can put together in 30 minutes from what you already have.
Here is an article covering this topic specifically (click here to see it), but I will summarize here to make it easy on you.
A lighter kit will let you travel further and faster before exhaustion sets in.
Why should you care about your bug out bag weight?
The weight of your pack is one of the main factors determining how far and at what speed you’re able to travel.
A heavy BOB will cause you to burn more energy and sweat more, thus requiring more food and water.
And when you’re tired and sore from lugging that thing across Kingdom Come, your morale plummets.
Click on the button now to make your bug out bag list and see how much it will weigh!
But there are some very easy tricks you can do to get rid of a lot of that weight while still keeping 80% of the functionality.
First, comfortable shoes are a must when bugging out. But they don’t do much good if they aren’t on your feet. So either put them on or toss them but don’t take up precious space and weight with a pair of “just in case” hiking boots.
Second, water is important. But you don’t need to bring a week’s worth with you. Knowing how to find and purify water is an essential skill you should know anyways. If you want to learn how, just Click HERE Now.
A bottle (16 ounces) of water clocks in at 1.05 pounds. So if you’re able to get rid of a spare bottle, you’ve just shaved a significant amount of weight off.
Keep a bottle or two with you (unless you don’t plan on being around a water source for a while) and ditch the rest.
Water is HEAVY! Bring a little and plan on foraging on the way.
Image credit Lisa Risager on flickr.
Third, while food is important, unless you’ve already gone through your original supplies and are forced to scavenge, stay away from cans.
The goal isn’t to have as much food as possible, it’s to have as many calories as possible.
Basically the opposite of your diet.
So focus on small foods that keep well and are high in calories (and protein, if possible). Things like:
Protein bars – I like these, they taste awesome and are long lasting. I usually keep one in my EDC bag for a snack when I am on the run but they are well suited for a bug out bag also.
Coast Guard Survival Rations – These ones taste good and are very filling
MREs – Stands for “Meals Ready To Eat”, basically Army rations
MREs are light and provide plenty of energy when on the move
Fourth is shelter. If you plan on bugging out in a non-urban environment, shelter is pretty important.
There are two categories to focus on when cutting your shelter weight; what you’ve got and what it’s made out of. And what you can change or leave behind will be based very heavily (pun intended) on your specific situation.
For example, I live in a very hot, humid area. If I had to bug out, chances are low that I’d need a thick sleeping bag but they’re pretty high that I’d need something to keep the rain away.
So in my instance, I decided to ditch the typical tent and sleeping bag and instead went with a lightweight hammock and rainfly.
I’ve got a comfortable place to sleep and something to keep me dry (plus the hammock has mosquito netting which is essential in my region). And it all weighs less than 3 pounds.
Click On The Image to learn how to choose the right hammock for bugging out
So to lighten your load, you either need to switch out what you’re carrying, like trading a tent for a tarp or sleeping bag for a yoga mat, or buy lighter equipment.
There are “ultralight” tents and sleeping bags that weigh next to nothing but perform just as well, if not better, than their portly cousins.
If you go this route, make sure you choose your gear carefully, ultralight equipment can cost upwards of ten times the price of regular gear!
Click on the picture to see how to choose the right ultralight tent
No, not the final frontier, I’m talking about room in your bag.
If you followed all the rules from the weight section, you should have quite a bit more room for other essential items.
Take a look at the largest items in your bug out bag and ask yourself if you really need them or if there is a smaller alternative.
Here are a few quick tips:
Wrap duct tape around a pencil or your water bottle so you don’t have to carry a whole roll.
Remove items from packaging, if possible.
Attach your flashlight and knife to the outside of your bag (especially if your backpack has MOLLE webbing). This will free up space and make them easier to deploy in a hurry.
Now that you’ve cleaned out the excess, don’t go throwing more crap in there just because you can.
Leaving a bit of space might be a good idea, especially if you plan on scavenging along the way.
Personally, I would use that extra room for more socks and underwear.
You may laugh at that but let me tell you from experience, you do not want to walk numerous miles a day, for multiple days, without a change of socks. Or undies.
Plus they’re light, have a number of uses, and disposable if you find a cute snow globe at the gift shop.
So that’s the 80/20 rule and some ways you can use it to improve your preparedness. Once you get used to thinking this way, you will see you will be able to apply it to nearly any aspect of life to get the maximum results with the minimum effort!
Did you learn anything new? Were you able to apply any of these to your bug out bag? Got some more tips to add on optimizing your prepping?
Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!
About the Author
Evan Michaels is the chief editor at Know Prepare Survive. When he’s not rambling about survival skills and bug out bags, he can be found hiking (or, as it’s called in Florida, walking), fishing, and just generally being a cool dude.
Water is one of the essential elements of life. Without water, there is no survival. Ensuring you and your family have access to clean, drinkable water in the case of emergency or disaster should be at the top of your survival planning list. There are many ways to ensure access to clean drinking water in an emergency, one being long-term water storage. The most ideal situations for emergency long-term water storage are when you are planning on bugging-in or sheltering in-place and need to stock up or when trying to decide what supplies are needed for the bug-out location you’ll be evacuating to.
In this article, we’ll discuss the basics for storing water long-term and examine the three options for long-term water storage.
In a crisis situation, having access to clean, drinkable water – and enough of it for your entire bug-out crew – will be key to surviving. Whether you plan on bugging-out or sheltering in-place, here are the key fundamentals you will need to know to ensure you’re storing water properly for the long-term and will have enough to last you through the crisis.
How Much Water To Store
According to the U.S. government, the ideal amount of water to have stored is one gallon per person, per day, for at least three days. The average person needs ¾ gallons of fluids for drinking each day and up to ¼ gallons for hygiene and sanitary purposes. If you’re located in a hot environment or have children, nursing mothers, or people that are ill in your bug-out crew, you will need to store more water. Following those guidelines, a family of four would need to store twelve gallons of water to ensure survival over three days. If you consider the amount you would need for any amount of time beyond that, you can see how quickly your water needs can add up.
Your long-term water storage should allow for at least 1 gallon per day for each member of the family.
Ultimately, the decision of how many days worth of water you decide to store for survival will be based on the type of emergency you are planning for. For instance, long-term water storage for an emergency expected to last a few days is quite simple, whereas planning for an extended period or stockpiling for a large group can get quite complicated. Before beginning to prepare your long-term water supply, take some time to consider how much you will need, for how many people, and for how long before getting started.
Storing Survival Water
The best place to keep your emergency water is in a cool, dry place. Basements are a great choice, although it is prudent to split your supplies up in different areas of your home in case one area becomes flooded, damaged, or otherwise unaccessible. A good practice is to ensure there is water stored in every closet of your home, or at least in one closet on each floor.
If you live in an area where flooding is a high risk, storing the majority of your water supply above ground is prudent.
Conversely, the basement is a safer place to store water in areas at high risk for tornadoes.
How Long Can Survival Water Be Stored
As long as the containers have been properly sanitized, water that has not been commercially bottled should be safe to drink for up to six months. Commercially bottled water will typically have a ‘use by date’ printed on the bottle that will provide guidance on how long it will be safe to drink.
Things To Be Aware Of
When choosing containers, avoid any plastic containers that are not safe for food or anything that contains BPA. Containers that have had fruit juice or milk in them should be avoided as fruit sugars and milk proteins can’t be fully cleaned out and create an ideal environment for bacteria growth when used for water storage. Plastic is a much preferable choice to glass as glass is heavy and can break. Water is also very heavy, make sure to use proper lifting technique, such as lifting at the knees, when transporting it.
Water purification tablets kill bacteria and viruses, and are especially important when harvesting water in nature. Click the image to view Aquamira Water Purifier Tablets on Amazon.
Three Options for Long-Term Water Storage
There are three options for proper long-term storage of water: buy pre-bottled water; collect and sterilize containers and fill them up; buy purpose-made containers and fill them up.
Buying Your Water Supply
Purchasing cases of bottled water is by far the easiest solution for building an emergency water supply, but also one of the most expensive. However, when employing this option, money can be saved by buying large, water-cooler sized jugs (although these can be quite heavy to carry around).
In terms of purchase options, they’re abundant. You can buy cases of bottled water at almost any local grocery store, Costco, or even HERE on Amazon. While simply purchasing bottled water is the easiest option, it’s also the most expensive and takes up the most space. If you need to buy a large supply, you’ll need to buy shelving to properly store your emergency water. If you stack bottled water too high, the lower cases can get crushed.
Bare Bones DIY Solution
Jugs like these can be sanitized and used as long-term water storage containers. Image credit Lisa Risager on flickr.
For this long-term water storage solution, you will need to collect plastic bottles, such as those used for soda. You will need to sanitize the bottles and fill them on your own, so this is the most time consuming of all the options, but also the most cost-effective. If you have some extra time and need to save money, this is the best option. Review the following instructions for properly sanitizing and filling your own long-term water storage containers:
1. Clean out your containers using soapy water, ensuring they are well-rinsed and all soap is removed.
2. Add one teaspoon of unscented household chlorine bleach to one quart of water.
3. Pour the solution into your containers and shake the bottles until the solution has touched all surfaces (make sure the cap is on while you’re doing this so that it gets sanitized as well).
4. Rinse out the sanitizing solution.
5. Fill your containers with tap water (only if the tap water has been commercially treated, such as a city’s water supply).
6. If you’re using non-treated or well water, add two drops of unscented household chlorine bleach to the water and let it stand 30 minutes before drinking.
7. Screw the caps tightly on your containers, being careful not to contaminate the insides with your fingers when closing.
8. Your emergency water storage containers should be able to store water for at least six months after being treated this way.
The Happy Compromise Solution
For someone needing a large volume of water and not wanting to deal with the hassles of sanitizing or storing dozens (maybe hundreds) of soda bottles, this is the ideal option. The happy compromise is the best option for storage with the least hassle. It involves buying purpose-made, food safe, water storage containers (check out the Water Brick, our personal favorite) and filling them with water yourself. While this option costs a bit more than the DIY solution, it costs much less than buying water bottles from the store.
The Water Brick is our preferred option for the following reasons:
● Holds 3.5 gallons, which is a large volume but not so much as to make them too heavy to carry
● There is a handle which makes them easy to carry
● Water Bricks are stackable and take up as little space as possible, making shelving unnecessary
● There is a large opening, making them much easier to clean than soda bottles
● The large opening also makes these containers viable for storing dry food, documents, or even ammo (try doing that with a soda bottle!)
● They are food grade and BPA-free
The time-saving features of this option come from the ease and speed of the sanitization process. Basically, you will purchase the appropriate amount of containers (Water Brick or otherwise), sanitize as above, fill them up, and forget about them! To illustrate the convenience of the sanitization process, consider that it would take seven standard two liter soda bottles to make up the same quantity as one Water Brick. Which process do you think is faster?
The interlocking design allows for greater stability when stacking multiple Water Bricks.
To make the process even easier on yourself or to avoid handling bleach, simply purchase water purification tablets or drops (such as these). However, the container will still need to be properly sanitized.
More Resources for Successful Long-Term Water Storage
If you’d like to learn more about preparing your long-term water supply for an emergency or disaster, check out these helpful resources:
Having access to clean, drinkable water (and lots of it) is something many of us living in first world countries take for granted. But in a crisis or emergency situation, finding safe drinking water will become a priority for everyone. When water stops running and stores sell out of water bottles, having a prepared supply of water on-hand at your bug-out or bug-in location will be an invaluable asset.
Whether you choose to buy your water ready-bottled or bottle your own, always remember that the most important factor is to ensure you have enough. Think carefully through how many people will potentially need to access the water (including pets, if applicable) and how long your supply will need to last. A little planning and forethought ahead of time can save much aggravation, and maybe even lives, down the line and ensure you have an effective long-term water storage solution.
Don’t forget to include pets in your long-term water storage plan, about 1 ounce of water per pound of your pet’s weight.
Do you have a water storage solution that you like, or know of an innovative way to purify your water supply? Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!
Note: This article was contributed by Dan F. Sullivan of SurvivalSullivan.com. To learn more about Dan you can see the About the Author section at the end of the post.
Let’s face it: if we were to buy every survival item we read about online or in books, we’d have to spend dozens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on preps. That’s a lot of money!
Prepping and living frugally go hand in hand and it was only a matter of time after I started prepping myself that I started to look for ways to minimize my expenses. In what follows I want to give you nothing but ways to save money prepping, starting with the obvious ones (that you may already know) and finishing with the ones that may surprise you.
What a shocker, right? Everybody knows about coupons but, the fact of the matter is, you can only buy certain categories of products that are also relevant to survival. Look for:
Ziploc bags (these will be very hard to find post-collapse, by the way)
batteries (for your flashlights etc.)
Couponing is an art and it has its own tips and tricks that are out of the scope of this article. Here is one that delves a little deeper into couponing for preppers.
Buy in Bulk
Another obvious tip but here’s the not-so-obvious part. Start your bulk buying efforts with things you know you’ll consume anyway in a reasonable amount of time. What I mean is, it makes more sense to buy a lot of floss instead of a one year supply of beans because you can start using it instead of just looking at it. This is a great way to get your feet wet with bulk buying.
Rotate Your Stockpile
The subtitle should actually read: make survival food part of your daily diet. That way you’ll never throw away a single ounce of food that could expire if you don’t eat it in time. In fact, a lot of survival foods do expire before you expect them to, particularly if they’re not stored right.
This, of course, has the side benefit of you and your family getting used to survival food, trying out different brands, comparing prices, taste and so on.
Buy Raw Ingredients Instead of Whole Foods
There are numerous advantages to that and the downside is obvious: you need more time to get all of them and more time to cook. Other than that, buying ingredients is great because:
you save money (you don’t get charged for the actual making of the product)
it’s healthier because you don’t get many of the preservatives and additives found in most foods
and, most of all, raw ingredients have a much longer shelf life than the actual cooked foods
Raw ingredients also allow for versatile cooking. You can change the seasoning and add new ingredients to a dish to pack in more nutrients and cater to your family’s tastes.
Monitoring Your Food Supply
When investing in stockpile of food, you will want to protect your investment. Take into consideration the shelf life of your preps and start collecting those that will last the longest. The most common are rice and beans and for good reasons. They are inexpensive, have long shelf lives, and are relatively easy to store. Here are general guidelines for basic foods and how to store them in order to make them last as long as possible.
Average Shelf-Life Beyond "Best Buy" Date
To Increase Shelf Life
(instant and regular)
4-5 years for best nutritional value
Indefinitely if kept dry and cool
Keep temperature low
8-12 months if refrigerated
Because it is a whole grain, the extra nutrients and fats cause it to spoil more quickly than white rice
Keep temperature low
2-3 years before vitamins begin to degrade
After 5 years, vitamins are completely gone, though protein and minerals are still present
Indefinitely ok to consume if kept dry and cool
Store in vacuum sealed mylar or #10 cans
Keep temperature low
Keep temperature low
The higher the fat content, the sooner jerky will go rancid
Store in original packaging in the freezer
Must be stored below 75 degrees Fahrenheit
Keep temperature low
1-2 years if refrigerated
Indefinite in the freezer
Keep temperature low
Keep temperature low
Keep temperature low
Store in original packaging
Presence of dried fruit may decrease shelf life
Store in cool, dark place
Cereal (steel cut oats)
Store at a steady cool temperature
Because of the broad range for most foods, it’s important to also know what to look for to make sure the food is safe to consume. Watch out for cans that appear bloated or rounded on top. This is caused by gases released during decomposition and means that the food is spoiled. Also avoid cans that are rusted or leaking because once the seal is lost, the food will spoil.
In dried foods, like grains and beans, check for insects, mold, and fungus. Color and smell are also good indicators- if you open a can and see brown spots or catch a whiff of an ammonia-like smell, do not consume the contents. Spoiled food should be discarded immediately and the container cleaned thoroughly to prevent spreading to other parts of your food supply.
Save Money Prepping With Brand Research
Just because a brand is reliable and has lots of reviews, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a better deal somewhere else. There are always small brands that offer competitive prices as a way to get a slice of the marketplace. All you have to do is find them, do your due diligence and get the one with the best price / quality ratio.
Research can take a lot of time but, hey, if you don’t have the money, you have to compensate for that with time. Fortunately, you can do most of this online.
Focus On Your Skills
If you already have your 3 week emergency food supply, maybe it’s time to consider upgrading your skills or fitness level instead of going for a 3 months’ supply. These will be extremely important when disaster strikes and it’ll give you a chance to “delay” spending more money.
Honing your camping skills, like fire-making, shelter building, and outdoor cooking can all be done in your backyard at little to no cost. Put down the matches and try different ways of starting a fire from natural materials. For six fire-building methods to practice, CLICK HERE.
Spending a day in the backyard building a shelter is a fun way to teach your kids this important skill. There are many types of shelters that are simple and provide protection from wind and rain. Top off the day with cooking dinner over an open fire and you will have practiced three major survival skills without spending a penny.
Make Things Instead of Buying Them
I’m talking about things around the house such as chicken coops, solar panels, fences, safe rooms, nightstands, furniture – you name it! This can be really fun, particularly if you involve your children.
The same goes for home repairs. Learn the basics of carpentry, plumbing, and electric work through hands on experience in your own home or helping out friends and family. Take advantage of opportunities to acquire new skills by volunteering in your community.
You should also keep in mind these DIY skills are going to be golden post-collapse when everyone’s going to want to fix their homes.
Barter With Other Preppers
Well, as long as everyone’s buying in bulk, why not trade stuff so you can all be more prepared? You can increase the variety of your preps while still taking advantage of bulk prices. This will also be a very good lesson about how bartering works.
Trading skills can also help you become more prepared. Maybe your neighbor is great at canning vegetables and you’ve mastered building a Dutch oven. You can both benefit from each other’s knowledge. Learning from someone with experience can shorten the time it takes to acquire a new skill.
Do It Right the First Time
If you’re afraid to make mistakes or if you want to be prepared for a 3 day emergency ASAP, you’d have to make a lot of compromises: buying MREs, getting a backpack with a non-metallic frame and on and on. When you avoid buying overpriced stuff, you save money long term because you’d eventually have to buy the real deal sooner or later (not to mention a quality tool can last you a lifetime).
Do Your Shopping Without Your Car
This will obviously save you money on gas, it will help you lose weight as well as tone up. Tip: instead of carrying your groceries home in bags, put them in a backpack. This will be excellent practice for when you’ll be bugging out with your BOB.
Be Realistic (And Creative)
Don’t lose sight of the goal: to prepare your family for survival during a crisis situation. That may mean making substitutions for expensive items or repurposing items you already own. Garage sales can be a gold mine of camping gear and other useful preps. Keep an eye out for businesses that may be getting rid of unwanted items that you can repurpose. A little creativity can go a long way.
Well, those were it. Can you think of more ways to save money prepping? Let us know in the Comments section below so we can build the biggest money saving list pertaining to survival there is! And if you’re looking for something a little more structured, I strongly suggest your read my article on the basics of prepping right here.
About the Author
Dan F. Sullivan runs SurvivalSullivan.com. He describes himself as:
My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don’t take orders from anyone. I’m taking matters into my own hands so I’m not just preparing, I’m going to friggin’ war!
Now that you’ve read all of our articles on gathering preps (And learned to save money while you do it!), it’s time to find a good place to stash your stuff. We aren’t all fortunate enough to have a multi-acre compound with a series of concrete bunkers to store our hard-earned gear and preps.
With 80% of the United States population residing in urban areas, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re in an apartment or smaller house without a bunch of property or storage space. Let us show you how to store all of your preps effectively without cluttering up your entire living area.
How It Works
Think about packing up your BOB. When you spread everything out on the living room floor, the equipment seems to take up the whole room. Somehow, though, it all fits into that 35L pack. The same Tetris skills that make this little miracle possible can be utilized for large-scale storage all over your home. It’s all about considering the space and finding the most effective way to utilize it. Put away the Gameboy; this is for real.
Special Notes On Apartment Prepping
When storing food and water, make sure to consider any concerns related to spoiling. Water stored in plastic containers shouldn’t be left near heaters or in sunlight, so as to reduce leaching of the plastic into the water. Food should always be boxed in pest-proof containers. The last surprise you need when hiding from the roving hordes of zombies is to break out your Pasta Sides and find them full of little worms or mice. Protein’s a good thing, but emotional distress far outweighs it.
Consideration should be given to storing firearms, medical preps, and edged tools. Think about local laws and the likelihood of underage visitors getting their mitts on these items when you’re squirreling them away.
Think about how much stuff you have that you never use. Getting rid of those extras not only frees up space for preps, but gives you an appreciation for what you can live without. If it comes time to break out those preps, that ability to survive without every possible amenity may just come in handy.
Make It Happen
Take steps to get all your stuff squared away in your little space. Pay attention to these quick tips, and you’ll be well on your way.
On this site we’ve covered go bags, BOBs, INCH options, and bug-in preps. While these all have their applications, they don’t all need to be stored in the same place. For instance, you may want your go bag or BOB to be pretty handy in case of some quick emergency: A fire, tornado, or local riot. Bug-in food or medical preps, on the other hand, can be tucked away in a spot that doesn’t require quick and easy access.
Consider the convenient dead space in your place. Most BOBs will easily fit under a rack of hanging clothes or next to the vacuum in a closet. Since you see it every day, you’ll know exactly where your bag is in the event of a “get out quick” emergency.
Having your BOB easily accessible can also encourage you to think about your preps more often and trigger you to remember to replace those old batteries, toss in some zip-ties, or check the expiration dates on food packs.
For long term preps, find all that real hidden storage. While it’s a fine idea to break up your preps into small caches, be sure to keep each cache complete enough to hold you for a day or two. For instance, don’t store a couple cans of food alone in a desk drawer. If you have an entire desk drawer that can be utilized, instead use it to store a large FAK, flashlight and batteries, and a radio.
Get Some Vertical
If you don’t have any shelving or other storage options above shoulder height, you’re missing out on about half of your storage space; but you’re sure not paying half the price! Tall, narrow shelving units are the bee’s knees for storing preps in small spaces. Most closets have space on either end that isn’t quite right for clothing, but is certainly wide enough to stack preps in narrow shelving units.
If you’re not opposed to the appearance, don’t forget about those hard-to-reach spots on top of your cabinets either. First ensure that there’s a good solid board or two for everything to rest on up there, then pull out your stepstool and start stacking. The amount of canned food and bottled water that can fit in the two feet between a cabinet and the ceiling will astound you.
Inside the Box
Boxes and bins are easily stackable, move and slide around with minimal effort, and are a great way to organize preps and gear. Check out your local big box store; for less than a Benjamin you can bring home all the storage options you could ask for. Look for the skinny plastic storage bins designed to fit under a bed; these are great organizers.
If you’ve already thought of this for storing winter clothes and Christmas presents, try pulling your bed out from the wall 8-12 inches. The gap to the wall provides a huge amount of storage space for stackable goods without detracting much from the overall room layout. The same thing goes for couches, chairs, or entertainment centers.
Alternatively, fill up some decorative baskets or trunks and hide your stuff in plain sight. That idea crosses over to filling up empty suitcases, shoe boxes, or dresser drawers.
Get the most bang for your storage buck. For food preps, think high-calorie, nutrient-dense food. Soups are cheap and tasty, but don’t have the caloric density of canned meat or protein bars. Noodles are a great idea, but rice has just as many cooking options and is wildly more calorically dense and easy to store.
Anything that can be made smaller should be. Putting clothes in vacuum-sealed bags can reduce their bulk by three-quarters, while at the same time making them more manageable to stack or stand vertically. Rolls of paper towels or toilet paper can be squished flat. Many new items come in bulky and difficult-to-arrange packaging. If it’s not going to spoil, pull it out of the packaging; just remember to save any necessary directions!
Keep It Close
Storage facilities, family farms, and other off-site storage facilities can be pretty tempting options for apartment prepping. Before committing to these, consider the reality of your situation. For one, do your preps really require that much space? Are you sure there’s not some more room at home? Also take into account the difficulty of getting to your storage location in an emergency. If it’s not an easy walk, it might not be a good solution.
If your apartment comes with a separate storage area, use it. Just don’t use it for preps! Keep in mind that even if it’s tough to see into, these storage areas are rarely particularly secure. In the case of an emergency where you’ll be using your preps, you’ll likely be quite vulnerable while you’re making trips back and forth with all your stuff. Consider using that storage space to hold other excess from your apartment, thus making room inside for your valuable preps. For more info on bug-in supplies, CLICK HERE.
For Those with More Space
Even if you’re in a small house with limited property, you likely have a lot more options. Attics, crawl spaces, under-stairs spaces, and garages all present a multitude of storage options. Stick with the rules above; they’re still applicable. It can’t be stressed enough to go with lots of shelving.
Also think about the hidden storage in guest or spare rooms. Before you get too excited about your attic or basement, do be wary of the heat that can build up in attics and the moisture that can accumulate in basements or crawl spaces. An attic fan or a dehumidifier or silica desiccant cartridge is a great investment for keeping unwanted heat or moisture away from your preps.
Take It Outside
If you have a yard or private outdoor space, don’t dismiss the idea of outdoor storage. While leaving things piled under a tarp probably isn’t a very good scenario, small storage bins or outbuildings are relatively inexpensive and can be tremendous space multipliers. As with apartment storage units, consider moving yard tools and excess house junk into these spaces and leaving the preps safe inside.
Like we do with everything else we’re unsure of in this day and age; just use Google. Images and ideas abound for storage solutions of every possible kind. Some of them will be perfect for you to copy, while others might just give you the right kind of inspiration to delve into a project of your own. If you come up with a good one, make sure you’re fair to the other preppers in small spaces and remember to upload photos of your own ingenuity. Here are a few videos that make good use of space for preps:
Hopefully this has given you a few ideas and some inspiration to get cracking on storing your preps properly. Do you know of any good spots we’ve left out? What do you do to maximize your small space? Let us know in the Comments section below.
One of the first things that hit most preppers starting out is fear. I’m not talking about fear of some disaster, although there are many who start out in prepping just because of such a fear; but rather, fear that they won’t be able to pay for it all. Granted, prepping looks pretty expensive when you first start figuring out what you’re going to need to do, especially if you’ve read some book that starts talking about alternative heat and energy, as well as building a survival retreat, over and above the cost of stockpiling supplies.
Before you get carried away in those plans, stop and think for a minute. Your prepping has to fit into your family’s budget, as well as your lifestyle. Oh sure, pretty much everyone has to make budgetary adjustments to pay for prepping, as well as some lifestyle changes to make themselves more self-sufficient. But that’s not the same as throwing your whole life away to focus purely on prepping.
There are a number of things you can do to save yourself a lot of money. Maybe they won’t be the ideal solution to a particular problem, but they are realistic solutions which will allow you to do your prepping, without breaking the bank. We’re talking survival here, so ideal isn’t really necessary. Nobody is awarding you style points for how your bug out bag looks or whether you have the latest and greatest gear. The only points to be awarded are for how well your family manages to survive a crisis.
With that in mind, start thinking about how to save money, before you start thinking about how to spend it. There are a lot of things you can do, which will ultimately save you a bundle, but still give you what you need, so that your family can survive.
Start out by looking at what you have and how you can repurpose it. Maybe you need a wheelbarrow for your garden, but don’t have the money for it right now. Okay, look around at what you have. What’s that? Is that a kid’s wagon and a pile of paint buckets? Looks to me like it’ll work for a wheelbarrow.
People in third-world and emerging countries have learned to do without a lot of things that you and I consider necessities. Part of this is that they use what they have, even if it’s not the right tool for the job. As I’ve traveled in Mexico and South America, I’ve been amazed by some of the ingenious uses I’ve seen for items. The old saw about “necessity is the mother of invention” is true, whether you believe so or not.
Ever hear that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Well, if you’re a prepper, start looking for that treasure. We live in a disposable society and people throw good things away all the time. Figure out the trash man’s schedule and drive around the neighborhoods before he can get there. Look to see what people have set out and think about how you can use it.
Scavenging works real well with repurposing. Take an old ice chest for example. Someone might throw it away, simply because the handle is broken. That doesn’t mean that the ice chest isn’t any good. You can fill it with food and bury it in your backyard as a survival stash. For that matter, if it’s big enough, you can use it as a root cellar. Find a door that someone is throwing away from a remodeling project and you can take your root cellar to the next level.
Garage Sales & Flea Markets
Some people are smart enough (or industrious enough) to try and get a few bucks out of their old stuff, instead of just throwing it away. That leads to the great American pastime of the garage sale and it’s big brother, the flea market. You’d be amazed at what you can find at these two events. I’ve found motors for making wind generators, lots and lots of canning jars, candles which I could melt down to turn into survival candles (putting them in the canning jars) and old aluminum windows which I’ve used in making my solar panels.
One of my favorite things to find at garage sales is bug out equipment. Think about it a moment; all you need for most of your bug out equipment is camping equipment. Well, that just happens to be something that makes it into a lot of garage sales. So, keep your eyes open and pick up a tent, some sleeping bags and all the other gear for a pittance, rather than spending a small fortune on it.
Learn to Shop Smart
Most of us don’t really pay attention to how much we spend on our groceries. Oh, we pay lip service to buying cheap, picking a cheaper brand out once in a while; but we don’t really take the effort to make sure we’re getting the best deal possible. But, you know, when you’re trying to buy a year’s worth of food, a few cents on each item can really add up.
There are a lot of things you can do to save money on food, personal hygiene products and other household products. Start clipping coupons, look for sales, buy in bulk; there are many different strategies. The point is to save money, regardless of how you do it.
Build it Yourself
Some things you might need for prepping are just plain expensive, and you can’t find them at garage sales. In all my years of attending garage sales, I have yet to see a solar oven, a solar panel or a wind generator. However, those are all things that you can make for yourself, rather than spending a fortune buying them commercial.
If you look at the cost of solar panels, you can save about half by making them yourself. They’re really not all that hard to do, if you know how to solder and have basic handyman skills. The hardest part is soldering the cells together, so if you know that, the rest is a piece of cake.
Let’s Talk Scavenging Some More
Scavenging is a great way to get things, and it doesn’t have to be limited just to picking through people’s garbage. Many people and businesses have things sitting around which aren’t doing them a bit of good. If you’ve got a sharp eye for these things and are willing to invest a little elbow grease, you can find a lot of useful stuff that is just taking up space.
You want to be careful here, because you don’t want to start stealing things. When some people talk about scavenging, they don’t worry about little details like locks on doors and fences. I’m not advocating that, although in a disaster situation it may be warranted, especially on abandoned properties. No, I’m talking strictly about legitimate scavenging, so that you can get useful survival supplies without having to pay for them.
Mostly, what I’m talking about is trading your labor for something that you can use. If you can save the people who have the item some money, they are likely to let you have it. But you’ll have to show them how you are saving them money, because they may not think of it themselves.
You really shouldn’t ever have to pay for firewood, if you have a chain saw and a pickup truck (or trailer). There are always people who have trees that they need cut down or trimmed. All you need to do is keep your eyes open for these situations and be ready to go to work.
You might put up a flyer on your grocery store’s bulletin board, offering free tree removal. Specifically, you want to be offering this service for dead trees, but you can do live ones as well. The deal is that you remove their tree, cutting it down and hauling it off, which gives you the free firewood and saves them the cost of having to pay a specialist to do it.
It’s easy to take that idea a step further, by keeping your eyes open for trees with dead limbs. Those dead limbs can be a safety hazard to the family, especially in a storm. Knock on the door and offer to cut down and haul off the dead limbs. Just be sure not to drop it on their house or car.
Scavenging Other Wood
Wood is useful for other things than just making fires. There are 1,000 projects or more on the Internet for making things out of pallet wood. Big companies often have a deal with someone to haul their pallets off, but smaller companies probably don’t. hook up your trailer and go around to a bunch of small warehouse type businesses and see if they have any old pallets that they want hauled off. They’ll be happiest about getting rid of the broken ones, which is fine for your needs.
Keep your eyes open for construction, especially remodeling projects that require a fair amount of demolition. Most contractors don’t want to spend the money to pay one of their workers to pull nails out of boards so that they can reuse them. Offer to haul them off for free. You might even be able to get windows this way, especially if they are replacing the house’s aluminum windows with wood ones.
Some contractors sell those windows, so you may have to offer him something extra to get him to go alone with letting you have them. Just remember, those will save you a lot of money when you make your solar panels, so it’s worth buying him a bottle of whiskey or even slipping him a $20 bill.
Speaking of Contractors
Another useful thing I’ve gotten from construction sites is rebar (reinforcing bar for concrete). When rebar gets bent wrong, they usually toss it aside and start with a new piece. Sometimes those bad pieces get cut up, but most of the time they get tossed out as they are.
Let me tell you a secret about rebar, it doesn’t have to be straight. For that matter, it doesn’t have to be new. As long as it can fit in the mold for pouring your concrete, it will work. For that matter, you can also cut off the ends of rebar from concrete that is being busted up, like when they are replacing a bridge. Those pieces of rebar may only be two to three feet long, but they will still do the job.
Televisions and Antennas
A neighbor a couple of blocks away just put a big screen television on their curb with a “free” sign on it. This was one of the old big screen TVs, that take up the whole corner of the living room. I didn’t want to watch TV on it, but I hauled it off anyway. Behind the screen of those units is a big Fresnel lens, which is great for making a solar cooker.
As I was picking it up, I noticed that they had an old satellite TV antenna in their backyard. You know, one of those big monsters that they used to have before they came out with the new ones. I knocked on his door and asked him if he’d like to get rid of it. He said “Yes, but it was mounted into cement and he didn’t have anything to cut it off with.” So, in addition to the Fresnel lens, I got a parabolic dish, which I can turn into a parabolic solar cooker.
Restaurants and bakeries have one thing in common, they buy their ingredients in bulk. That means that some ingredients, such as vegetable shortening, come in food-grade five gallon buckets. They have to dispose of those buckets, which of course costs money. You can easily talk them out of the buckets, just to save them the hassle. Cleaned up, they work great for your long-term food storage.
Speaking of restaurants, another great thing you can get from them is cooking oil; especially from fast-food restaurants. If you have a diesel car or truck, you can convert that used cooking oil into bio-diesel and save yourself the cost of buying fuel all the time.
More About Oil
I’ve got a buddy that goes to the local auto parts store and talks them out of used motor oil. Most auto parts stores accept oil back for recycling. It’s nothing but a hassle for them, and they don’t make any money off of it. My buddy takes a 55 gallon drum in there and puts it beside their normal collection point. When it’s getting filled, he replaces it.
That oil is what heats his cabin up in the mountains. He has a oil-fired heater that he installed, rather than a wood-burning stove. Since it was built before current EPA regulations, it’s grandfathered in. So, he’s able to heat his cabin and has about 500 gallons stored for an emergency; a great, inexpensive heat source that he’s scavenged.
You know, there are a lot of ways that you can save money by scavenging, shopping smart and repurposing items you already have, amongst other methods. Few people take advantage of these ways of cutting their prepping costs; but that’s because few people know how to do it. When prepping always remember to be resourceful and that improvisation is your best friend. Good luck prepping!
Do you have any tips for saving money while prepping? Share them in the Comments Section below!