There are lots of articles out there about how and why you should be a prepper and homesteader, but one area I have not seen as much information is how being a prepper or homesteader can save money, if done correctly.
There are lots of photos of people that have huge stockpiles of food and other items out there on the internet. Most people see that and thing that a huge amount of money was spent to get that stockpile. Some people did spend a lot of money and just ran out and bought everything. Below I will give tips on how to get that stockpile of food and items without spending your life savings, you just have to be patient.
Tip #1 Buy in Bulk/on Sale.
The best way to save money while growing your stockpile is to buy in bulk and on sale. If you are going to start a stockpile of food first you need a proper place to keep it. An organized shelf unit in a cool dry dark place is best. When you do start buying food don’t rush, take your time and look at what you and your family eats and make a list. You will also want to make a list of non food items that you and your family use. Once you have your lists look for those things on sale or in bulk packages. Some times you can find bulk packs on sale, increasing your savings. Dont forget to use your coupons!
If an item is on a really good sale don’t just buy 1 or 2 for your stockpile, get as much as you can afford to spend on those items and have a place to store them. This will not work with items like milk that have a short shelf life, unless you are going to freeze it. But keeping it frozen cost electric, depending how long it was frozen you may not save any money.
It is best recommended that when buying bulk food to buy raw ingredients and re package them so they last longer. Processed foods sometimes have shortened shelf lives, or they are full preservatives that I personally don’t want to eat.
Also be mindful of how and where you store your items. Do not store water above paper products. If there is a leak in a water container it will ruin your paper products. Do not store paper products next to a heat source like a furnace, water heater, or electrical box. Never make a dangerous situation.
There are stores like Sam’s Club and Costco where you can buy things in bulk, but they have a yearly fee. If you do not buy enough in a years time it is not worth the fee. I recommend finding family, friends, or start a local group to share the cost of the fee’s and have the person with the membership go buy the items for the group.
Tip #2 Only buy what you use.
Many people buy the premade emergency food buckets. If you want to go that direction I recommend getting one and try the food that is in it first before investing more money into them. You are wasting money if you don’t like the food that comes in them. If you do not like rice it is a waste to buy a 50 lb bag of it and think you will live on it if there is an emergency. There are many things that I don’t like to eat, but if it’s all I have I will eat it. But why make an emergency situation worse by only having food you don’t like around. By only buying the food and items that you use you will not waste as much.
Tip #3 Plant a Garden.
Most Homesteaders already have gardens or fields, but I believe that preppers should also grow their own food. If you have the time and space planting a garden will save a lot of money. Seed packs are cheap. Even if you live in a small apartment you can still have a few plants in pots. A seed pack may cost $0.99, but you can get multiple plants out of that seed pack. How many pounds of tomato’s can you get for $0.99? If you only get one health plant out of a $0.99 pack of seeds you can easily get five pounds of tomato’s from that one plant. To increase the amount of money you save learn to save seeds for the next season. If you find local people that also save seeds you can buy and trade seeds potentially reducing the cost of seed investment.
There are also other benefits to planting your own garden. You can grow things that you like that may not be available to find in your local stores. If you have more produce than you want find a local farmers market and sell it, or trade it. Because you are choosing what is being planted you can select non-GMO seeds, or heirloom seeds, and plant as much as you desire. You will also know everything that is being put into the soil to feed your plants. Start out with a plant that is easy to grow, something like a tomato or bell pepper plant.
Tip #4 Repackage
I said something above about re packaging food to make it last longer. There are a few options to repackage food. There is an upfront cost to purchase supplies to re package your food, but all ways have there benefits.
The cheapest way is to use resealable bags, like Ziplock, to make smaller packages out of a large package of food. This way will work for dry goods, but its not the best. This may be fine for short term storage, but is not recommended for long term. If things are going to be stored in a freezer use the freezer rated bags.
Vacuum sealing works well for many things. Dry goods can last a long time in vacuum sealed bags, some people also add oxygen absorbent packages to increase shelf life. Some people say that vacuum bags can be re used, that is your decision to make. Vacuum sealing can also be done to some containers, not just vacuum bags.
Freezing is another good way to make your food last longer. I dont recommend freezing anything longer than a year because it can get “freezer burnt”. This is probably the most common way of wasting money in food storage because food gets lost in the freezer. Eating freezer burnt food may not hurt you, but many times it does not taste the best. Whats the point of saving money when buying a steak only to let it get freezer burnt and then throw it away because it taste bad.
Home canning is a great way to preserve food. Once the food is canned it does not need any refrigeration or freezing until the jar is opened. I love canning my own food because I know all the ingredients that are in that jar and where they came from (my garden), and I can adjust my recipes to my liking. Canned food last for years as long as the seal is not broken. Fruits, Vegetables, Meats, Fish, and premade foods can all be canned. There is an upfront cost to buy all the jars you need, the lids and rings, and the water bath or pressure canner pots. The up keep is low, as long as the jars and rings are in good shape they can be used for years, only the lid needs replaced. Never use a lid more than once.
Drying food is another way to preserve it. Even when its been dried I still recommend using other methods above to make it last longer. I like to dry fruit and then vacuum seal it for longer storage.
Tip #5 Trade or Barter.
You dont have to buy everything in your stockpile. If you have extra produce from your garden you could always trade it for honey from a local bee keeper. Maybe you know a local farmer that needs help on there farm, you could make a deal to trade your time working for the farmer in exchange for food. Maybe you have skills that you can trade. If you have skills as a carpenter offer those skills in exchange for something you are not skilled in, such as computer maintenance. Another example would be a woman that cans home made jelly can use her jelly to pay a mechanic for his labor time to fix her car. Many times labor cost more than the parts to fix an item, this is a great way to reduce the cost of repairs. There is no limit to what can be traded as long as both parties agree to the trade. This is an area that can be the most fun, you may be surprised what you can get through trade or bartering.
Tip #6 Raise your own animals or hunt.
This tip comes with some caution, you need to have the time and skills to take care of animals or hunt. Many people keep a few animals on their homestead because it can be greatly cheaper to raise and butcher your own meat, collect eggs, or collect milk. But to raise your own animals you need to feed them. If you live in an area that has enough food for them to graze you can save money. If you do not live in an area that can support grazing you will have to buy feed. Some feeds are expensive, so you need to do the math before you purchase any animals or equipment for animals. Also research what medical care the animals will need. There are cost to hunting too; such as a licence to hunt in your state, hunting equipment, and butchering equipment. Butchering an animal may not be something you want to do so you need to know the cost to have your animals butchered and processed.
For me raising my own animals would not save money. I have found local people that raise animals by the heard. I can not raise one or two animals and save money over getting my meats from these people. It is more cost effective for me to buy or trade the beef farmer for his meat then me to raise, butcher, and package my own beef. It is also cheaper to buy it from the farmer than from a store, the meat also taste better too!!
Tip #7 Make it yourself.
My family makes most of our food ourselves. Raw ingredients are cheaper than processed foods. It does take some time to make it ourselves, but we can make it how we want. Making it ourselves also makes us healthier because we are not putting in preservatives and dyes that we are consuming. We still go out to eat, and sometimes get junk food, but most of what we eat we make.
Have you ever seen a product that cost $20 and had the thought “I can make that for $5”, try it. You may be surprised at what you can make. How about you see a dress in a magazine or store, if you do not know how to sew maybe someone you know does. There are many people out there that can make that dress for you for a lot less than what the store wants, then you can have it customized to fit you. This is another time when trading or bartering can save you a lot of money.
Tip #8 Do without.
What better way to save money then to not spend it at all. We all have things we would like to have, but do you really need it. I see lots of things I would like to have in my Bug Out Bag, but it is not something that is necessary and would just add unneeded weight.
Everyone wants the newest version of things, but is it worth the money? Keeping what you have most times is much more cost effective than getting the latest and greatest version.
Tip # 9 Dont waste.
The best way to save money is to not waste it. Dont cook enough food for 10 people when there are only 5 eating. If the left over food is going to be eaten later that’s fine, but if it is going to be thrown away you are wasting money.
Can an item be reused or recycled? Why though something in the trash if you can recycle it and get some of your money back. Can an item be used for another purpose in place of buying more items? Getting creative with what you have may keep you from buying more things.
Tip #10 Get family and friends involved.
It is always good to have a network of people to help you, your family and friends may be your greatest network. If you have a large homestead and need the help to get the work done try getting family and friends to help. Most times family and friends will work for much less than hiring some one you don’t know. Family and friends may also care more about the work that needs to be done then hired help. Maybe you have a brother that helps take care of the garden and keeps your equipment operating, and in payment he gets a share of what you harvest from that garden. How much would it cost you to pay a stranger for that same work? This again may fall into the trading and bartering category, but you can normally get better deals with the people around you that care about you.
These are just 10 tips, there are so many more out there if you look long enough. These 10 in my opinion are the best ones to use and will save you the most money when trying to build your stockpiles, and also your community around you. Not all 10 of these tips may work for you in your quest to build your homestead or be more prepared, but I believe that is at least one tip here for everyone.
I would love to hear from you, if you have more tips please let me know in the comments. Give me enough information that I can make another article for the next 10 tips!!
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