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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Pantry packed with canned goodsMost of our friends haven’t bought into this prepping thing. Phil and I have discussed the objections people have to prepping and have found that they break down into a few basic categories. We thought we’d share them with you along with our responses.

Objection #1: I don’t believe in the zombie apocalypse

My response: Neither do I. But I look at the world and I see a very fragile place. There are so many things that could go wrong – wars, natural disasters, economic uncertainty, nasty diseases… the list could go on. These are all plausible things that could directly impact my life. When I consider those things, it only makes sense to me to prepare for the eventuality that something will go haywire at some time in my life. Phil boiled it down to a single reason in this blog: Why Bother to Prep? For a bit more detail on the kinds of things that some people are prepping for, check out this blog: What Kind of Event Are You Prepping For?

Objection #2 – Sacred Version: I trust God to take care of me. The Bible promises that He will provide for all my needs. Why should I prep?

My response: I trust God to take care of me, too. However, the Bible also says that if we’ve been warned about something, we’re responsible to take action. I can’t do everything one might need to do to be prepared for every potential emergency. I trust God to cover those things. He will provide for my needs. But prepping is not a whole lot different from buying house or car insurance. I trust God, but I also spend a lot of money on insurance for my car, home, and health. Through the money I spend on prepping, I am preparing to improve my circumstances in a future that might be very different from my present. Beyond that, though, is a much greater reason for being a prepper. I am prepping so that I can show God’s love to those around me during times of upheaval and stress. Because I’ve bought extra food and extra Bibles, I can share tangible support and spiritual comfort with others. God uses His Church to bless others. I want to be a vehicle for God’s blessings to others. If you aren’t able to meet your own needs, you can’t be in a position to help others.

Objection #2 – Secular Version: I trust the government to take care of me. They won’t let anything bad happen, or if it does, they will fix it quickly and take care of me in the meantime.

My response: I’ll go against the grain of many other preppers here and say that I believe that our government has our best interests at heart. At least, I believe that their intentions are good. But there are two major problems with this. First, the government’s vision of “my best interests” doesn’t always line up very well with mine. The government increasingly wants to take by force of law from those who have earned and saved, and give it to those who haven’t earned or haven’t saved. Obviously, from my answer to the “sacred” version of this objection, I want to do this, too. But I want to be the one who gets to decide how, when, and where my stuff gets distributed, and who it goes to. I trust myself to do this more efficiently and effectively than the government. Second, the government increasingly wants to disarm its citizens. More good intentions, but with disastrous results. Every person has the God-given right to defend themselves (see this excellent article). Too often, the good intentions of government produce the exact opposite results. When things get bad, I want to be able to defend myself, not wait for a cop to show up. When things get really bad, the cops won’t be able to get to you anytime soon.

Objection #3: I can’t afford to be a prepper

My response to this is four-fold:

  • First, remember that any prepping you do is better than no prepping. Don’t feel like you have to go all out or it’s not worth it. If I had that perspective, I’d be in tears most of the time. There are so many areas to prep in and we sure don’t have enough hours in the day or money in our pockets to be as prepared as we’d like to be. But I know two things: Doing something is better than doing nothing, and God is faithful. I trust Him to cover what I can’t do.
  • Prepping is about more than spending money. I appreciate that finances are quite lean for many people – being self-employed, our income fluctuates significantly. Or as Phil puts it, we go flat broke every couple of years. During our “broke” years, we spend more time learning and practicing than buying. During our “not so broke” years, we do more buying and storing. The things we buy and store help get us through the lean times. We’re prepped for it. You can do many prepping things that cost little or nothing. Learning to consume less and make the most of what you have is prime prepper training.
  • A lot of prepping can be done for not nearly as much money as you think. Every week at the grocery store, buy two or three of something that you would typically buy one of. Store the extras away from your “every day” supplies so that they don’t get used immediately. Those extra purchases won’t add much to your total bill, but you’ll slowly begin to develop a “convenience store” in your own home. When items go on sale, buy five or six of them instead of two or three. If a disaster strikes six months from now you may not have a month’s worth of food, but you’ll have enough for several days, and several days is better than no days. Several days buys you a little time to figure out what’s next. It reduces your stress in a stressful situation. Those are good things.
  • Add prepping to your budget. Find ways to save money for prepping. Prepping is like saving. You save a little each month and it adds up. You save first and budget around it. Phil and I sometimes make a game out of saving for prepping. What can we do (or not do) this week to save money? That saved money goes in the prepper money jar.

Objection #4: I don’t have time for prepping!

My response: I feel your pain. But you gotta make time. As with money, start small, but start. Making a decision to be a prepper is the place to start, then develop a plan – a written plan – of what you want to buy, learn, and do. I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating here — we haven’t done nearly as many things as we’d like to, but because we’ve made the decision to be preppers, we’ve done a lot more than we would have otherwise. And everything you do puts you ahead of the game.

Objection #5: There’s too much to do. I’m too overwhelmed by it all, so I do nothing.

My response: Noooo! Don’t let the overwhelmed monster get to you! Seriously, I totally understand. Phil became interested in prepping first. (Speaking more truthfully, I would say that Phil felt God’s prompting to seriously step into prepping.) One day he told me there was something he wanted to talk to me about. We sat at our dining room table and he started talking. I quickly agreed with him about the need to prepare for a future that could look very different, but I’m a practical person. “So what do we do?” I asked. He started talking and I started outlining. I’m a planner by nature so outlining things to do helped me get my arms around it. But we had only started our discussion on things to do when I became quite overwhelmed and fearful. That was our signal to end the conversation. We prayed and set the discussion aside for a day or two. Then I was able to come back to it without being afraid or overwhelmed. Start in one area – water or food. Look for blogs on that subject. We gear The Approaching Day Prepper toward beginning preppers (because we still consider ourselves beginners). Our Getting Started blog links you to many of our beginner blogs. Or check out other blogs listed on our “How to Begin” page.

Objection #6: My spouse doesn’t agree with my desire to prep

My response: This is a tough one, but not something that can’t be overcome. I would start by going back to Objection #3 and using the approach of buying multiples of food and household products that you use on a regular basis when you see them on sale. Food prices are escalating. Stocking up on stuff that you already use when it goes on sale is something that even an anti-prepper can see the wisdom in. Use opportunities to show your spouse how nice it was to have something that you needed on hand. For example, it’s a holiday and all the grocery stores are closed. Wasn’t it good that we had an extra jar of pasta sauce in our home “convenience store”? Find things that plug into your spouse’s interests and encourage them to accumulate more things along those lines that could be useful in prepping. For a non-prepping wife, it could be food or sewing or some hobby that could be adapted for prepping. For husbands it could be tools or building supplies or sports equipment that might have a prepping value.

Prepping is rarely convenient. Even if you’re on fully board with it, there will be times when you have objections of your own for doing what needs to be done. Keep your focus, lead a balanced life, ask God for wisdom, and do something. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but do something that will make you better prepared than you were yesterday. You can’t steer a parked car.

Emergency ChecklistIn my previous National Preparedness Month blog, I encouraged you to review what preps you’ve made in the past year and consider strategic purchases to improve your preparedness position. Some of you know off the top of the head what your highest prepping priorities are, but for most of us, I’m guessing a more directed approach to evaluating your preps would be helpful. We’re here to help. Use the Preparedness Check and Challenge checklist below to evaluate where you are now and where you want to be.

There are more areas in which we need to prepare – communications, transportation, and medical, to name just a few. But our readers tend to be beginners in prepping, so we’ll stick with these basic topics for today’s blog.

We’re still working on every area (of course), but we’re making progress. My personal challenge for September is to complete a 3-day and a 1-month food plan with recipes. As I was writing this blog and explaining my alternate approach to evaluating my stored food, I realized that I can easily look at my pantry and evaluate if I have the necessary food to meet my immediate and short-term needs. Today, that is. That wouldn’t be the case in an emergency. You see, cooking is a weakness for me. Phil can grab ingredients and make good food. I can’t. I used to become paralyzed in video rental stores – there were just too many options. I also become paralyzed when faced with an immediate need to make food if I don’t have a plan.

So, by the end of September, I hope to have several written menus for the first three day s and first month of an emergency, and make sure that we keep all the ingredients on hand to make those meals. If we don’t have the ingredients in stock, the menu plan isn’t worth anything.

Let me urge you – spend a few minutes reading this brief checklist, then challenge yourself in one area. Set a specific goal of what you want to accomplish before the end of September (National Preparedness Month). That’s only two weeks away, so be reasonable about what you might be able to do, but don’t be too easy on yourself. The harder you work now, the easier you’ll have it when you need it.

Water

  • Recommendation: The government recommends 1 gallon per person (and pet) per day for drinking and cooking. We say more is better, but 1 gallon is a minimum place to start. Oh, and if you want to keep yourself and your things clean, plan on needing more water.
  • How much water do you need/want to store:
    ____ (Number of people/pets) x ____ (number of days) x 1 gallon
  • How much water do you have stored: ________
  • What are you going to do to upgrade your water storage and/or purification capabilities?

Food

  • Recommendation: The average adult intake is about 2000 calories/day under normal conditions. In an emergency, you’re likely to be burning more calories than that, so if you can plan for 3000 calories/day, that’s a good thing.
  • How much food do you want/need to store:
    ____ (Number of people) x ____ (number of days) x _____ (number of calories)
  • How much food do you have stored: ________
  • Don’t forget pets. If you have pets, how much do they eat each day? Multiply that by the number of days and you know how much pet food you need to have stored.

An Alternate Approach — Having just given you the formula, let me tell you that I don’t use the formula any more. I did at first, as I was developing my plan and understanding of long-term food storage. Now I take a different approach. I consider my preps in three stages: immediate, short-term and long-term. I approach my evaluation according to these three stages:

  • Immediate: How many meals can I make with little or no preparation in the first 72 hours? My goal is 3 meals per day for 6 people. I can easily look at my pantry and determine if I am at that goal.
  • Short-Term: How many meals can I make from my pantry with minimal dipping into my long-term storage food during the first month? My goal is 3 meals per day for 8 people, with some desserts added to help keep up morale. Again, I’m going to visually inspect my pantry to determine if my goal is met.
  • Long-Term: How much long-term food do I have? Phil and I met our one-year plan for the two of us last year, so now we look at how many other people can we help.

Cooking

  • If the power grid is down, do you have the capability to cook the food you have? What key purchase would allow you to say “yes” in response to that question? Consider a propane camping stove (don’t forget to store some propane), an outdoor fire pit with grill, a rocket stove and/or a solar oven. (I have plans for a DIY solar oven that I can’t wait to try. Oh if there were just enough hours in the day!)
  • Do you know how to cook the food you have with the cooking method(s) available?

Shelter/Heat

  • If for any reason your current shelter is no longer available, do you have a backup plan? Where will you go and how will you get there? What kind of challenges are you likely to face in getting there? What will you take with you? What do you need to be able to make the trip? How quickly can you be on the road?
  • In a no-power-grid situation (whether it’s from a snow storm, a tornado, a hurricane, or a power-grid failure) do you have a plan to keep you family warm? Start with buying extra clothes and blankets. Add to it by developing an alternate heat source.

Security

  • Is your home an easy target for being broken into? What can you do to “harden” your home? (Think about things like upgrading your entry doors or planting thorny bushes under first floor windows.)
  • Are you prepared to protect your family? What do you need to do to become more prepared and better trained?

Documentation

  • How’s your prepper notebook coming? Read more about it here. People tend to put off gathering important documents and creating a prepper notebook. If this is the one thing you do during National Preparedness Month, you will have done a good thing.

What’s your Preparedness Check and Challenge goal for this National Preparedness Month?

BudgetingToday’s article is by Gale Newell, a young woman who is taking positive steps toward becoming self-sufficient. Gale has written for a number of prepper blogs and submitted the following article to us to help us get control of one of our most important resources — our money. This may become the first installment in an ongoing series on financial issues from a prepper perspective. I’ll turn this over to Gale now, and chime in with my own comments below hers.

Budgeting for Prepping

Paper currency will always be a major factor in your life, unless you plan on disappearing into the mountains to live the rest of your life in a cave. Some of us (including me) hope to do this someday, and live a self-sufficient life. Even then, someone will probably find you and want money for something. Until TEOTWAWKI comes and the foundation of our society crumbles, paper currency will continue to hold value in our world. So, what can you do now, as a prepper?

Step 1: Keep track of all of your expenses. There is still a lot of value in balancing your checking account. In addition, recording all your transactions in your checkbook’s register allows you to double check everything your bank does, without relying on an internet connection. A bank has thousands of transactions every day and mistakes, while rare, do happen.

I personally don’t carry my checkbook on me. While this means I can’t record my expenditures as I make them, I keep the receipts from all my transactions in my wallet and then add them to my checkbook’s register at the end of the day. It only takes few minutes and it provides me with an organized record of all my expenditures. Furthermore, it provides me with an accurate, up-to-date balance. Online banking is great, but it can take a day or two for transactions to clear.

I personally like to sit down and compare my checkbook’s register to the information available at my online banking. It’s a quick way to double check my work and the bank’s numbers. This could be seen as an optional step, and it is, but I highly recommend doing it. If everything is accounted for and looks good, it’s time to create categories to sort your finances into.

Step 2: Budget. After about a month of recording transactions, the process of creating a budget can begin. Here are some very useful budgeting forms from www.DaveRamsey.com, which can help you divide your overall budget into meaningful categories. If you are looking to cut certain expenses out of your life you could label a category “unnecessary expenses.” Once you have sorted your various expenses into their proper category, add them up. The totals in each category should give you a good idea of where your money is going.

Step 3: Evaluate. Now that you have a good picture of what you are actually spending your money on, you can decide which areas require some cutbacks. If you created an Unnecessary Expenses category, you could immediately use that money somewhere else. The Unnecessary category could be very handy if you need to save up money to put towards outstanding debts, or if all your debts are paid off, put that money towards additional preps. All you would have to do is set aside the amount you would normally spend on expenses you deemed unnecessary into something like a savings account. Any money sitting in a savings account should not be touched for any purpose other than putting a down payment on a house or getting out of debt.

Hopefully this will help readers see how staying organized and planning ahead can reduce the stress of living within the current times. Budgeting is not something over the head of a prepper. In fact, it becomes doubly important for reducing your financial footprint and making strides to getting off the grid. In a capitalist economy in which everything revolves around money, remember there are things much more important than material goods and extra stuff. Use saving money as a chance to reconnect with friends and family, not spending so many nights out or making impulse purchases.

Gale Newell is continually working on being a self-sufficient human being. She finds herself spending her summer days outdoors, whether raising food in her organic garden or playing cards with friends and family. She enjoys grilling meals on her old-school charcoal grill and has overcome an addiction to multiple television series. Gale feels freer than ever and is truly happy. She is prepared for the future and ready for whatever happens next.

Phil’s Two Cents Worth on Budgeting for Prepping (pun intended)

Gale brings up some excellent points. The late, great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar was known for saying, “Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen.” Next to tithing and providing for the needs of your family, budgeting for prepping may be the most important thing you do with your money.

Creating a realistic budget can be terribly difficult because it forces us to be deadly honest with ourselves. The things that will really kill your budgeting process are the dreaded occasional expenses. We all have WAY more of them than we are aware of. I read recently that the Back To School season is the second biggest shopping period of the year, second only to Christmas. The average family spends $600 per child on back to school expenses. Did that annual expense make its way  into your monthly budget? I just had my roof replaced a couple of years ago. It cost thousands, and it’s something that typically has to be done about once every 15 years where I live. Is that in my budget? How about medical expenses, insurance, car maintenance, saving for my next vehicle, replacing my aging water heater, or the need to travel across the country to visit a sick or dying relative? How do you budget for these kinds of things? I’m going to need to replace virtually everything that I own at some point. Do I have that in my budget? Do you?

I recommend making the most realistic budget you can possibly conceive of, then adding about 30% to it, which you stick in the bank or your private vault, and guard it against foolishness and dissipation until you really need to tap into it. Great advice, Phil. [ Note to self: Maybe I really need to start doing this myself, instead of continually being taken by surprise and driven into debt. ]

An obvious way to squeeze the most out of your prepping budget is to buy items when they’re on sale. September is National Preparedness Month. (Who says our friends at FEMA aren’t looking out for us?) You’ll find some deep discounts on prepping supplies from all of the following vendors. We’ve bought from them and are able to recommend them to our readers.:

Once again, our thanks to Gale Newell, who saw a need and stepped up to address it. I look forward to more thought-provoking articles from her in the future.

In case you haven’t seen the emails or heard the news, allow me to let you in on a secret — September is National Preparedness Month. That brings several questions to my mind:

  • Am I more prepared today than I was at this time last year? In the light of the very long list of things I could (and want to) be doing to be better prepared, it’s often easy for me to be discouraged by this question. That’s when I say “STOP! Take a deep breath and let’s get specific.” When I made a specific list of things I have done this year to become more prepared, it turned my discouragement around. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Stop. Take a deep breath and encourage yourself before you move on. (Having trouble identifying what you’ve done to improve your preps this year? Maybe reading our list will help. It’s at the end of this article. We’re providing it just to help you jumpstart your list of things you’ve done.)
  • How can I take advantage of National Preparedness Month? One obvious answer is to take advantage of the sales that most preparedness vendors are having this month. It’s a great time to make some very strategic purchases. The definition of “strategic purchases” will be different for everyone, so before you make those purchases, now is a great time to evaluate your preparedness – otherwise, how can the purchases you make be strategic? While we generally have the perspective that buying more food is always a good thing, our cash available for purchases isn’t unlimited (not even close to it). That means that we have to balance our spending and fill in some of the gaps in our preparedness plan. So, as good as the food sales might be, perhaps the most strategic purchase would be a sun oven or a rocket stove to help you cook some of that food if your normal energy sources aren’t available. Maybe it will be a solar energy kit. We can’t know that until we take a step back and evaluate where we are. Don’t let your “wants” leave you with a long list of “needs.”
  • How can we help our readers take advantage of National Preparedness Month? We are all at different places in our preparedness. Those of you who have been prepping for a while undoubtedly have a list of “next steps” or “wish list” items, many of which will require making some purchases. Later in this article we’re including a list of some of our favorite vendors. You’ll also find ads from some of them in the sidebars of the various pages of our site. Let me offer a bit of help to those who are new to prepping. The question we get asked most often is “How do I get started?” If you’re in that category, stick around! In a month or two, we’ll be starting a “Prepper 101 Club” (or something like that). It will help you get started in prepping with a logical and easy to follow approach. In the meantime, what can you do this month? A great place to start is by reading our article, Getting Started with Prepping. After that, start with the most basic stuff – water and food. Below you’ll find some links to other articles that will help you get started.

Water comes first. How adequate is your water supply? (Hint: You need more than you think.) How do you go about collecting and storing water? Check out these blogs:

Storing Water – How Much is Enough?

Water Storage – a Primer

Our Three-Layered Approach to Prepping – This blog is a good intro about to our approach to prepping in general (short term, medium term, and longer term), and we use water storage as our example, so it gives you an idea about how to plan for your water storage needs.

Food is next. We recommend starting with our two-part Food Storage 101 series:

Food Storage 101: What Types of Food Can I Store for an Emergency?

Food Storage 101: What Types of Food Should I Store for an Emergency?

Once you’re past that pre-school stage, browse our site for other articles on food storage, preservation, gardening, and more.

Now food and water are just the beginning, but everyone has to start somewhere and we don’t want to overwhelm anyone. Wandering around our site will help you understand prepping more and will help you identify where you should spend your money and time this month.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite vendors:

Emergency Essentials
TheReadyStore.com
Both of these vendors are preparedness superstores. They’re best known for their food products, but they both offer a wide range of preparedness products. Both of them have frequent sales.

AugasonFarms.com
Augason Farms is almost exclusively a food vendor. They also run great sales, especially on their large pails of staples. When they put stuff on sale, their prices generally can’t be beat.

Amazon.com
We buy a lot of stuff from Amazon. So much so that we have a membership to Amazon Prime, which gives us free 2nd-day shipping on most items.

SpicesForLess.com
One of the most overlooked area of food storage is spices. All of those buckets of beans, rice, and wheat are going to taste pretty bland without a good supply of spices. Spices For Less sells a wide range of spices and seasonings in any quantity you want, with good discounts applied to larger quantities.

Biblica.com
It’s no secret that The Approaching Day Prepper is a site that has Christian beliefs and values at its core. We believe that God sometimes gives warnings of approaching calamities and that when He does, He expects people to prepare themselves for those events. We also believe that if a prolong period of hardship were to come upon our nation, people who have never given much thought to spiritual matters will seek God. Part of our preps is a stockpile of inexpensive Bibles and New Testaments that we’ve purchased from Biblica.com. We want to be ready to lead a network of home Bible studies and we recognize that in today’s culture, not every home has a Bible. Ours now has dozens of very affordable Bibles that can be given out freely to anyone who will use one.

Here’s what we’ve done to improve our preparedness this year. We still have LOTS more to do. But perhaps reading our list will help you identify your own progress since last September.

  • We’ve started making and storing meals in jars. (Watch for a future blog on this topic!).
  • We expanded our garden by 50% this year and we learned tons more about gardening that we didn’t have time to implement this year. That’s OK. Learning comes before doing, then doing enhances the learning. We’re making plans for next year’s garden right now, applying some of our “lessons learned” during this growing season, so that we’ll be able to increase the size of our garden next year.
  • We rotated our water and increased our water reserves. This included buying a food-grade water barrel, a rain barrel for the garden, and a Katadyn water filter that can process thousands of gallons of water.
  • We’ve bought an ammo reloading press, dies, components, and supplies.
  • Bought a new rifle that could be used for both hunting and home defense.
  • We’ve picked out a pellet stove that we’ll be buying next week. Watch for an article on that purchase decision to come soon. We know buying a pellet stove doesn’t make sense to many people from a true preparedness point of view, but we decided that it was our best option.
  • We’ve added storage racks and begun to reorganize our long-term food storage.
  • We increased our inventory of long shelf-life food.
  • We’ve purchased many non-food survival items – paper products (at last count we have about 300 rolls of toilet paper, enough facial tissue to last a year, and plenty of paper towels) and miscellaneous supplies like tarps and tape.
  • I learned a lot about essential oils and use them regularly.

We’re making progress. It’s a continual process – one that sometimes gets interrupted by the necessities of work and family, but is never abandoned. We hope that you will take advantage of the sales offered by some of the vendors represented on this site during National Preparedness Month, and that you will become more prepared tomorrow than you are today. Also, watch our Facebook page as we’ll put notices there about sales we find interesting.