Being a survivalist isn't a cheap endeavor. I know. I've spent tens of thousands of dollars on supplies alone to ensure my family will never go without, no matter what. But it's also a challenge. When you're living paycheck to paycheck even dropping an extra $50 or $100 on some long-term items is a very difficult choice to make.
At least, this is how I used to think. See, I was right there with you. Until I started looking at a breakdown of what I was spending each month, I too thought that I couldn't afford to prep.
Looking at the numbers, I realized there were a number of leaks in the money I was spending, and if you're like me, and like most other Americans, there's a few places you can slash your spending without having a big impact on your quality of life.
Before I get into the details on how I afforded to build my survival stockpile, I want to do a quick exercise. Get a pen and a piece of paper, and start tallying up your monthly expenses. From your rent to your car payments, utilities, insurance, school payments, these all go down there. Then add in a new section for your random spending. Like the coffee you buy on the way to work, the takeaway you're ordering 4 nights a week, what you spend on cigarettes or beer, whatever it is, write it down. Oh, and if you're not quite sure, that's fine. Just write down everything you spend over the next two weeks, and come back to me.
Add this all up, and it may surprise you. There's probably a ton of expenses that you didn't realize how quickly they added up. Because five dollars here and there sounds small, but over the course of a year it can make a substantial difference.
Drink more water
Instead of spending a couple of dollars a day buying water, get a metal water bottle, fill it yourself, and use this instead. Plus, plastic isn't good for the environment, so you're also doing your part. For me, I also add a couple of lemon slices in the morning. It gives it a little taste, and helps reduce my cravings for sugary drinks like pop, juice and expensive sports drinks. Just drink water.
Make your own coffee
Stop buying a giant latte from Starbucks every morning. That $5 coffee equates to over $1800 a year, which is a massive amount of money you could be putting towards your stockpile. Instead, switch to brewing your own at home. I invested a few hundred dollars into my own cafe-style espresso machine, and bring a travel mug with me to work. Plus, it's actually tastier.
Cook it yourself
You should always ensure you've got the ingredients you need to cook up a nutritious and easy meal at home. Take away is expensive and not good for you, and restaurants are only getting more expensive. Save the nights out for a treat, and cook at home more. I also try to cook a little more than I need, so I've got leftovers I can heat up the following day at the office, saving me even more money. Oh and Sunday is meal prep day. I cook up a big batch of curry or spaghetti, or whatever I'm feeling like, and freeze a few portions for the week. So on those nights after a long day at work, I don't actually have to cook unless I really want to.
Cut your cable TV
So this one sucked a little at first, but after a couple of weeks I realized I hadn't missed all the bad reality television with the never-ending commercial breaks. My wife even felt the same! Though we couldn't go without TV altogether, but subscribed to Hulu and Netflix we're still saving money, every single month.
Ditch the landline
It seems weird that we no longer have a traditional telephone, but this was another outdated piece of technology I never used at home. I couldn't tell you the last person to call me at home, I think it was my grandmother, and that was months ago. We now use our cell phones for everything, and I've loaded up my Skype account with credit as it's even cheaper than my cell. So if I need to call a landline or a business that'll keep me on hold for hours, I just dial in via Skype.
The first time I went thrift shop shopping it was an eye opener. Throughout college all of my furniture and white goods were second hand, and I've continued to keep my eyes open when we need something new. Over the years we've definitely saved tens of thousands of dollars by buying secondhand furniture. If you can get it at a yard sale or on Craigslist, you'll get it for a fraction of the price of buying new.
Stop consuming bad things
I get that smoking and drinking can be a stress reliever, but a pack of smokes a day, and a six pack of beers adds up astronomically over the year. Cutting down on the amount you drink and smoke is going to give you a large increase in your disposable income, if it applies to you of course. Plus, it's good for your health. I was never a smoker, but I did enjoy a few drinks at the bar most evenings with my friends and the guys from work. These days, we get together a little less, but host at our homes where the beers are far cheaper.
Skip the movies
One of the biggest things I've been able to cut down on is the movies. With my wife, a couple of popcorns and soda, we were spending almost $50 every week or so to see the latest films. Instead, we now just watch what comes out on Netflix, and find something a little more "frugal" to do for a date, like taking our bikes and having a picnic in the park.
Now with all of these changes, something awesome starts to happen. The cumulative effect of $5 saved here, $20 saved there is like a snowball, and at the end of the year results in many thousands of dollars that are still in your pocket. This is money that can be put towards a much more practical use, and there really is no time to lose. Look at your expenses today, and decide what you want to prioritize. Do you really need to see the latest movie, or could you put that cash towards a product like our EVATAC Combat Bag to keep all your gear together when you need to bug out? I know what I'd recommend.