The guest posts I’ve featured so far this year have so far all been sustainability and zero waste focused, which has been my intent since Budget Epicurean pitched me the idea for the first one. Today’s post, on the other hand, is about a topic that often overlaps with those but is really its own category: preparedness. Often, when people are interested in sustainability, zero waste, gardening, urban homesteading, and other more “old fashioned ” ways of living, they’re almost guaranteed to stumble into reading a bit about preparedness, because those interests overlap well, and for good reason.
My husband and I wouldn’t call ourselves preppers by any stretch, but we do attempt to be reasonably prepared for disasters that we are most likely to face in the Pacific Northwest. As far as preparedness is concerned, I would give us a solid B-, though much of that comes from the way we live naturally.
We have a ton of camping supplies and food on hand, have ways to purify water (and have some stored), and generally have preserved food and the ability to do so on hand. We have a generator, a wood fireplace, and basic first aid gear. My husband is a former Marine, and our home is filled with what you would expect from that. We know our neighbors – well – another perk of a close community. If The Big One knocks out power and all services for the 3+ weeks that’s expected, we would be fine “sheltering in place.” But again, most of our preparedness comes from the way we’ve set up our lives in general and less about purposeful steps to be more prepared.
In writing this intro to this post, I’m considering perhaps writing my own post on our laid back preparedness style, if there’s enough interest. If nothing else, it may encourage me to be more intentional about what we’re doing.
Today though, I’m going to turn it over to That Frugal Pharmacist and let her go over in detail her family’s preparedness plans and actions, because they are light years ahead of us. I hope you enjoy reading this through as much as I did. I’m seriously impressed (and encouraged to do more on my end).
What kind of future are you prepping for?
There is an interesting subset of people in financial independence movement and I guess I’m one of them. I’m going to call them the financial independence PREPPERS.
You’ve heard of preppers. You’ve probably seen some tv shows. They probably seem a little cooky at times.
I would sum up the group as people who are trying to prepare for the scary unknowns and a potentially problematic societal future. They might be prepping for a single major disaster event (or major localized disaster event). Or maybe their prepping for an unwelcome future due to socio-political changes that makes us entirely rethink what our lives and society look like.
Most preppers are likely planning for any potential. Many have a “pet disaster” scenario that they are most concerned about.
For my family, being mindful of prepping has had a cool side effect: Aside from a couple major expenses along the way, preparing for the worst makes us more financially fit too! And it makes us better prepared to weather financial storms.
If you aren’t a prepper yet, maybe you should think about becoming one!
It doesn’t really matter what you’re prepping for or why you’re prepping. Being prepared is being prepared, and that’s a good thing!
In the personal finance world we often talk about the future and our money. But, how many of us are thinking about what it might mean if say, our money didn’t mean anything anymore?
These financial preppers might be ones more inclined to invest in precious metals like gold and silver. Speaking of which.. my husband keeps mentioning he wants to buy gold.
But I don’t mean invest in the market, I mean gold bars in your lock box, because, in a TRUE prepper scenario, you want that gold in your hand. You want to be able to barter.
But let’s back up a bit before I start sounding too paranoid!
Most of the financial preppers that I’ve encountered are pretty logical people.
We’re equally concerned about future environmental stresses on humanity as we are with politics and the global economic situation.
I think most of us have a fair amount of trust in the markets, at least for the time being. Maybe you’d call it hedging your bets? Hope for the best but plan for the worst?
When people mention HUGE market downturns, I’m rarely concerned about the thought of losing money. For me, if the global economic system were to collapse, I’m concerned about war, looting, starvation…
I’m thinking MAD MAX.
Or, A Boy and His Dog
Or Tank Girl, to be a little more fun with our dystopia
The fact is, populations are increasing and tensions are rising. Ocean levels are rising. Bacteria are building resistance to our antibiotics. We’re due for another pandemic. We’re hugely reliant on technology. There are any number of things that can, that WILL happen. Those things will make us rethink what society looks like. The question is simply when?
So what have I done about it?
Well, I’ve tried to go about my life in a normal way, while balancing, in hopefully the most logical, sane way, thoughts of how we can best set ourselves up in the event society shattering circumstances.
Check out my About Me section to learn a little bit more about me in brief.
Planned Location of Forever Home
When we sought to settle down and buy a home we wanted to make sure that we got out of a “big” city. We weren’t in a huge metro area, but we were in a rapidly growing location centered on two major highways. There were also various military installations close enough that our area could have been a potential military target.
We wanted to go somewhere that was off the beaten paths, and also not on any escape route/mass exit path. In the event of disaster, we didn’t want people traveling directly towards us or blocking the highways.
We bought property that is isolated by geographical barriers. There is abundant national forest nearby, which means reduced human populations and lots of natural resources. We’re also fairly close to the ocean, another geographical barrier and natural resource.
YES, tsunami is a risk, but, we are not personally at risk of tsunami. Hopefully, our home is well enough prepped that we would be able to support ourselves and ride it out until services were restored if a tsunami were to hit.
This also means, we’re not at risk of rising oceans for a long time. By the time the oceans rose high enough to impact us.. well.. I’m sure Canada has enough space for all the Americans right? And that would mean it’s so damn hot that we have bigger problems than simply higher ocean levels.
Forest fires are potentially a risk, but not traditionally so in our area. As climate change progresses that could become an issue at some point.
If you’re interested in the risks to you based on future climate change, check out this awesome post by Tanja Hester at Our Next Life. There’s links to some great maps and her thoughts on many of the same things I’ve considered. She’s got some Mad Max futures in mind too.
In my forever location, we’re also in a lower risk area for say, a nuclear bombing. There aren’t any major targets nearby. If you’re interested in what could happen in your area during a nuclear attack (or an attack on the nearest likely target)… or you simply want to play Dr. Evil and go through every imaginable scenario of nuclear destruction, check out
This site can keep my husband busy for HOURS.
We bought PROPERTY
It was VERY high on our list when planning a permanent location that we have plenty of land. The more the better. Of course, one has to be practical and consider the costs of land ownership. We almost bought something three times larger than what we have, but eventually backed out due to easement issues. I’m glad, because it’s unlikely that we would have ever paid that place off!
One good thing about buying any abundance of land is that the price per acre goes down as you buy in bigger bulks. Above 5 acres seems to be the sweet spot in my area for when you begin to see much more land offered at a given price.
We opted to buy a smaller home to be able to afford more land. I wasn’t entirely happy about that at the time, but, I’m learning to live with a smaller space which has plenty of benefits that others discuss. I’d still like my own quiet office space though… Once you adapt to living in a smaller home, it does have benefits. Easier and cheaper to care for, clean, heat/cool etc. Plus if something ever happens to it, it’s cheaper to replace.
Our property is large enough and with enough wood that we will likely never need to purchase firewood. And yes, that means we heat our home in the winter with wood.
It also has enough land that if need be, we could safely have enough animals to support a small family. It also came with a VERY small, but, importantly, year round stream. In a disaster scenario, that small amount of running water could be vital to the survival of my family!
We’ve been thoughtful about where we make some large purchases
Like… we bought a tractor. A tractor that cost over $30,000 dollars with implements. But, do you have any idea how much back breaking work or need to hire people to do things that tractor has saved us? It allows my husband to work around here (and improve it dramatically) all on his own. And, if a disaster hits, we’ll be more prepared to handle problems on site or have a bargaining chip tool/skill to offer others.
Gas is going to be the problem. Husband has his eyes open for a diesel fuel storage tank. And since it’s diesel, that means there are potential alternative fuel sources.
And, we bought a generator. To be fair on the generator, we also bought this because we heard that it was quite common for the power to go out for up to days at a time during winter storms. It hasn’t happened yet for more than a couple hours a few times in the years we’ve been here, but we’re ready nonetheless. My husband even wired the house and the electrical panel so all we have to do is flip a switch to convert to generator power.
We’re prepping for a large greenhouse. In our quest to become more self sufficient and learn more skills, we’ll be putting in a greenhouse. The site is prepped, but, we’ve had other things going on so haven’t pulled the trigger on this.
We removed the forced air heating system and installed a wood stove. The ducts were rusted out anyway and we have so much wood around the property, this seemed like a no brainer. Plus, wood heats you twice.. or more! Chop it, stack it, move it to the dry storage, move next to the house in the winter. That’s a lot of exercise!
We bought a 3 month supply of dried food. We bought it on a Black Friday sale too! Three waterproof tubs. To each we added a personal water filter. They live in my overpacked office. They have a TWENTY FIVE YEAR shelf life! My son can start using them for solo camp trips once he becomes an adult if we still have them.
These are just some examples of the thoughtful purchases and upgrades!
We’re educating ourselves on self sufficiency
This is an ongoing task, and every year we’re a little bit better. Both my husband and I grew up in the city. I didn’t have a garden, I didn’t really have pets, there wasn’t a lot of home cooking. All the skills I’ve acquired are self taught.
At least in the city my husband had a large garden in the backyard. His Dad grew up POOR, like, no shoes poor in the 1930s and 1940s (not really that uncommon). Having come from a large family in a poor area and being a child during the depression, his dad kept his frugal values. My husband ate squirrel for Thanksgiving once and plenty of dandelion greens. Of course, once he could fend for himself he abandoned all this and is relearning too.
I’ve learned to pressure can foods. I’ve learned to ferment foods to preserve and extend the use of my harvest (even without good refrigeration). We’ve learned to identify many harvestable and edible local plants and mushrooms. I already sell mushrooms I pick, and this could be a valuable bartering tool. We don’t currently hunt, but, we’re prepared and capable of doing so should the need arise.
We’ve grown our flock of chickens to about 30 birds. This is enough to keep our family in eggs throughout the year. In the summer, we have enough to sell (or barter). If need be, this should also be enough bird to keep our flock going indefinitely. If we were to choose to eat the chickens, we would likely let the flock grow larger and cull the roosters for eating. That’s an important self sustaining food source in a disaster situation.
My husband has expanded his “handy” skills. He has learned how to manage our forests for firewood. He can safely chop down a large tree on his own and has learned various wood storage and curing techniques. He’s learned more about building things on his own.
We aim to be less technology dependent than your average family
We do stuff the hard way a lot. There is something to be said about the satisfaction of doing it yourself. Mostly, we’re really just doing it to be cheap or frugal. But, so many of those times we have learned a new skill along the way.
By me, I mostly mean my husband, just to give credit where credit is due. He does most of the heavy lifting around here.
My husband doesn’t even use a cell phone. He currently has one, but he keeps it in the glovebox of the truck he drives a few times a month at most.
We plan to teach our child to be self sufficient and not heavily reliant on technology as well.
The funny thing about our lifestyle is, the World COULD be blowing up outside and we would have no idea. We’re just happy taking it easy at home.
We don’t get over the air television out here. We have no visible neighbors. Like Mr. Money Mustache, I have a “Low Information Diet” because it’s better for our mental health.
This low information diet, along with the two deep freezers and an amply stocked pantry mean that we regularly go over a week without leaving the property or getting any “info” (other than what we pickup online without trying). We would probably get the idea that “something” was going on if the internet went down… but, some major shit could be going on and we’d be blissfully ignorant.
Ok- aside story here. I *may* have watched too many apocalyptic movies because when I hear a really weird loud noise outside or we get military doing ridiculously loud and fast jet maneuvers in the area every now and then, I think… “Is this it? Did they drop the bomb?”
How has this made us more financially fit?
Well, for one, we’re “easily entertained” or maybe it’s just we have plenty to keep us busy at home. We don’t need to leave home often which means there aren’t a lot of things that we need to spend money on.
Many of the things that we DO spend money on serve to educate us and help us save even more money in the future as we become more self sufficient.
Some of those self sufficiency skills, like identifying and foraging wild edibles and mushrooms have netted me about $200 in sales this year!
The more we practice these skills, the more we’re happy with less. It’s a nice cycle of increasing self sufficiency and increasing frugality. That’s an important point.
The future… doesn’t look bright.
I hate to say it folks, but, the times they are a changin’ and there’s not much we can do to stop it.
I really don’t know if we’ll see major change in my lifetime, but, personally, I brought a child into this world. Just one mind you, because I AM concerned about our rapidly exploding population. More than my future, I’m really concerned about his.
I think there is a pretty good chance that at some point in my son’s lifetime, there are going to be some big changes. Likely they will come slowly, but it could involve world governments making an effort to ensure that we don’t destroy ourselves.
Curious to see what’s going on in this area right now? Check out the United Nations Agenda 2030. They have a specific global action plan for ensuring we survive as a species, but as individuals we’re probably not going to like what this looks like. I know I don’t like it. It scares me. The scariest part is, if some actions like this aren’t taken eventually, can we survive, let alone thrive as a species? There is a reason I’m not in politics. I don’t want to make those calls.
I’m hoping that our individual life choices will insulate us from some of the potential ill effects humans and the future could bring. Hopefully we’d be better equipped to suffer the mental strain that could come with wide reaching global environmental austerity measures.
Our self sufficiency measures often make us more aware of our environmental impact. Sufficiency sure sounds a lot like efficiency doesn’t it? The two really do go hand in hand. We’ve become much more aware of our impact on the environment living in a more natural environment every day.
Simple measures like controlling the amount of trash we produce so that we only have to go to the dump a couple times a year have made us keenly aware of the amount of packaging and what a “throw away” culture we have. Our society’s interest in single use items (and perhaps even minimalism at times) are at odds with a proactive approach to our worsening environment.
Time to become a prepper?
In my opinion, changes are likely to come slowly. The best thing you can do is keep enjoying your life and don’t stress it. But DO be aware.
Increase your self sufficiency skills. Waste less. Cook more. Try to become a more intentional and thoughtful consumer. DON’T go out and buy a whole bunch of “prepper” supplies. Supplies won’t do anything for you if you don’t know how to use them!
And keep aiming for financial independence. In the early stages of any profound change, being beholden to others due to your financial constraints could be the biggest factor that holds you and your family back from taking actions that ensure the best possible outcomes.
PS Regina and I (Angela) are leading a coffee chat next month (9/10/2021) on an introduction to PrepperFI. If you’re interested in a copy of the recording (or to attend live, if you identify as female or non-binary), you can sign up here.