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.

Lots of camping = lots of preparedness stuff naturally

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.

Mad Max

Or, A Boy and His Dog

A Boy and His Dog, 1975

Or Tank Girl, to be a little more fun with our dystopia

Tank Girl (How I hope I look during the apocalypse)

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

NukeMaps

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.

Happy prepping!

That Frugal Pharmacist

48 thoughts on “PrepperFI: Guest Post By That Frugal Pharmacist

    1. The overlap makes so much sense though; if you’re focused on setting yourself up financially, it makes sense to pay attention to the rest as well.

  1. Well, color me impressed. I’d give you an A. That’s way more prepared than anyone I know online or IRL.
    We’d like to get there someday, but it’s way in the back burner. Life is too hectic right now. I just hope the big one doesn’t hit in the next 10 years. We’ll prepare more after our kid goes off to college.
    He is so urban. I want him to try scouting, but he’s resisting it. Kids…

    1. That’s the tricky part about the big one – we have no idea if or when we’ll see it in our lifetimes. I hear you on the life is too hectic bit, but having at least a stockpile of food and water is pretty low hanging fruit.

  2. Interesting article , I have never thought about being prepared to this extent. That being said I should be way more prepared than we are. We live in the PNW right in high risk earthquake territory, something we ought to be ready fore.

    1. Yeah, this post has definitely made me think we need to revisit what we have and get serious about being fully in order. I’d expect we would be okay in a bad earthquake scenario, but I’m not confident enough depending on length of time before services are fully restored.

    1. I hope to establish a shed like dwelling for visitors someday. Can I call it an AirBnB if there’s no toilet? I’m sure I’ll have a post about it if ever gets done!

  3. it was good to grow up a country bumpkin for these kind of skills. i don’t want to go back to that now but the knowledge is there even if a little rusty. scenarios don’t intimidate you if you have the background.

    oh, and lori petty is really something.

    1. Ha, I guess so! Not a country bumpkin here, but the nature side of me learned quite a bit even in a (smaller) city 🙂

  4. I am HERE for this post. Thanks for the wealth of information! Self-sufficiency is a good thing for any number of reasons. Sounds like TFP has an amazing setup, I wonder if they do any permaculture?

    1. Hi! Thanks for reading! My husband is more of the garden guy. I have more interest in permaculture than he does at this point-mostly because I’m a “learner and researcher” and he’s more of a learn by doing type guy. That being said, we’ve been pretty focused on getting the property to more of a maintenance level before we get into the nitty gritty of production methods.

      There are some permaculture principles at works. We take things slowly and observe what works best for our environment through various seasons (what floods, where natural swales are, for example), trying to make the best use of the environment as is, but really, that means less work and money for us too! Permaculture fits in with the path of least resistance, semi lazy gardening style we have. We’re preparing for rain catchment systems off our pole barn to use in the summer, taking advantage of the winter plenty, as another example. So, yes, we do follow some permaculture principles, but we’re not intentionally doing so. It’s quite practical! We also focus on on renewable resources, such as lumber, and strive for as little waste as possible (we’ve recycled things 10 times around there!).

      Hope that answers your question a bit!

      1. “Path of least resistance, semi lazy gardening.” I couldn’t put my own gardening practices better 😂😂

      2. This seems to be how lots of our life goes. You can spin your lazy ways towards the frugal, or the expensive. Much of our efficiencies (and sustainable practices) are really the result of trying to help us be more lazy! 😂

      3. (Waking up after a long winter’s nap…. err, work project….) This is really terrific. I’m in the reading/pondering/observing phase myself. There’s really a lot to permaculture that I don’t want to rush, and I love the reference below to financial and economic aspects of permaculture. Hadn’t even thought of those angles. Hoping to do more reading into this over the holiday break!

  5. I love, love, love this post. I’m filled with all sorts of envy, but the good kind where I just wish I had a life like that as well. We’ll get there someday!

  6. Great article! A few years ago I attended a zombie survival camp. One day they taught survival skills, the next day a zombie outbreak erupted at the tail end of breakfast. It lasted all day where you used all the survival skills learned while a story unfolded around you. It was tons of fun! A fun way to teach those skills.

    Most prepping scenarios revolve around someone living in the country. And I get why. But more and more we’ll need to live more densely to preserve environment. I’ve often thought of escaping to family land should that happen. But there isn’t enough land for everyone to do that. And often you need community to be more resilient. This leaves me wondering what would prepping look like for city?

    1. Okay, that sounds like so much fun. And yeah, prepping is a lot harder in the City in some ways, though in others, as long as it’s a disaster that can be righted within a month or so, you’re set to be helped faster, right?

      1. Me too! I’m not very familiar with urban prepping. I suppose it would involve things like determining if/where old fallout shelters are. Determining future areas for finding food and water. I don’t know. I assume urban areas will be very mad max and survival of the fittest/smartest in major disaster scenarios. Does your sewer offer escape routes? I’m reaching here!

      2. I think a lot is more about community resiliency and being prepared for more “natural” kinds of disasters. The zombies come, and the cities are probably screwed lol. Bug out bag and a long range vehicle then 😉

    1. It was an offline discussion / a little bit on Twitter, but I am totally game for more discussion there!

  7. I am delighted to see this discussion going on in the FI community. What I’d like to see even more coverage of is how these resiliency practices can in and of themselves be a path to financial independence. It’s also great to see permaculture mentioned in the comments in relation to FI. And while the gardening/natural environment aspects of permaculture are most well known, there are actually seven domains of permaculture activity including finances and economics. I started a blog because I couldn’t find anybody else thinking along these lines (i.e. accumulating wealth outside of the extractive economy/NYSE & NASDAQ, instead investing in regenerative practices). If anybody reading this comment knows of others thinking along those lines I’d greatly appreciate it if you could let me know. I would love to learn from them and share the resources I’ve collected.

    Like Melissa I am more focused on urban vs. rural resilience because I live in a city of about 250,000 people. My love of frequent interaction with a wide variety of people is one of the major factors keeping me in a city. That defensive, prepper, protect myself and my family, hoarding mentality is not attractive to me. I want to be resilient and thrive in community. What’s missing for me in this blog post is any reference to what Vicki Robin refers to as financial interdependence and I call social capital. Connections with our neighbors and other people are valuable now in these pre-disaster days and will be even more vital when we find ourselves-post disaster. Plus they usually add so much joy to our lives. On her Frugalwoods blog and in her book, Liz emphasized what a significant role their relations with neighbors and other community members has made in their new life in rural Vermont. I don’t presume that the Frugal Pharmacist doesn’t have a strong community around her. I just think it’s another asset that could be included in this post.

    For urban settings focusing on strengthening the local foodshed is also super important. Ideally grow and preserve some of your own food in your yard or a community garden. Develop relations with local gardeners and farmers. Consider investing in a local farm or small food business instead of McDonald’s stock. Encourage local zoning and funding that supports the growing and processing of food in your city. My city is working on a resiliency plan and seeking local input. I imagine other cities are doing the same thing. If you are concerned get involved with this planning.

    And I very much second the suggestion of a compost toilet for the accessory dwelling unit. It may be a turn off to some, but it will be a draw to many others and provide you with a valuable resource.

    1. Social capital is indeed important! And where I do give us personally an A+ within our neighborhood.

      Your comment cut off – now I’m really curious what you had to say!

      Also, if you have any interest in writing up a guest post here covering what you mention here, I’d love to have it 🙂

      1. Angela, thank you for offering. I would be delighted to draft a guest post for your blog sometime in the first quarter of the new year if that works for you. Feel free to email me any guidelines, etc. you have for guest bloggers.

      2. Excellent!! No specific guidelines, just take a look at the ones in this series so far to get an idea. Really looking forward to your perspective because you have such a deep understanding of the environmental side of things 🙂

    2. Wow! There’s a lot in that comment. Glad to see someone else actively thinking about how resiliency can put you on the financial independence path. I tried to address it in the post, but very much for me I find that they totally support each other and I become more focused on one as I get better with the other.

      I will admit that we are lacking in social capital. It’s not that it wasn’t left out, I don’t have much to add on the matter. We’ve made some relationships with our neighbors and have a handful of people who we could turn to and could help us (interestingly, also others who are interested in gardening or skilled trades). Perhaps I underestimate what we do have in this area. My neighbor is watching our 30+ chickens while we’re on vacation for 3 weeks. 🤷‍♀️

      We’ve also got some friends in the area who are very active in permaculture practices, avid hunters and outdoorsmen, tradesmen. Not sure how practical they’d be to get in touch with as not exactly neighbors, but, they would be part of the local community if we were to revert to an 1800s interaction level!

      For various reasons, such as introvert leaning tendencies and having been let down in the past, we’ve become very focused on relying on ourselves. I’d like to have more sense of community, but it’s very hard to let people in and put trust in them, or at least, a very slow process for my family.

      1. Yeah, building a strong community when you’re really spread out and introverted makes it a lot harder I’m sure.

      2. I think you are right. If you have a neighbor watching 30+ chickens while you are away for 3 weeks you probably have more social capital than you realize — which is a good thing!!!!

  8. Great guest post on your blog, thanks for hosting it. It actually made me want to comment. I am a closeted prepper and aspiring Dyi-er and FIRE movement follower. This post made me realize that I have been slacking lately on the prepping front. I had several goals at the beginning of the year but life got in the way. Life should not get in the way, is my takeaway from this post.
    Also, thank you for blogging, I love your blog’s content, though it was a let add to my list of blogs read.

    1. Thank you for commenting! I’m finding out that the prepper / FI communities have a bigger overlap than I’d realized. This post (and a new study out about how bad things will be at the point we get that big earthquake around here) had me talking through more preparedness stuff with my husband this past weekend as well.

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