Emergency Preparedness on a Budget, Part II


Emily Kerby

I recently shared my list of ways anyone can start preparing for an emergency without spending much money.  Although these steps are important, of course, not all preparation is going to be free.  (After all, the reason we’re preparing to begin with is so that we can take care of ourselves, and that isn’t free outside of an emergency either!)

Still, there are a lot of sensible ways to increase our preparedness while sticking to a budget.  Below, you’ll find  some ways to spend less or increase the amount of money you have to spend on preparation.

Spend Less on Emergency Preparedness:

* Request emergency preparation items as gifts. For birthdays, holidays, graduations, weddings, or any other special occasions.  (eg, “Happy Mother’s Day!  I bought you a first aid kit!”)

* Buy enough for a smaller period of time. If you’re trying to purchase a year supply of food, the best option may be to start with three months worth of food.  You can always add more in the future, and then you won’t be caught totally unprepared if you end up needing it.

* Purchase in bulk with other people. Sometimes you can save some money buy purchasing items as a group—you and your coworkers (or buddies, or neighbors, or family, etc) can buy a bulk package of hand warmers (or many other things) from a bulk discount store like Costco, or Sam’s Club.  Sometimes stores specializing in emergency preparedness items have group specials for those who order at least a certain number of an item.

* Buy online. Sometimes you can find free shipping, you may not have to pay sales tax, and often, online retailers are able to offer discounts since they don’t have the same expenses as a regular store has.

Find Money to Spend on Emergency Preparedness:

* Use bonus money, your tax return, and other “windfalls”.

* Find new ways to save. Buy store brand items, try making laundry soap or using coupons.

* Give up something you don’t care much about. Do you have the extra-extra sports super-premium package of TV channels?  Maybe cut back to just regular cable or satellite.  Or drop it altogether!  Maybe you still have actual newspapers delivered and you don’t read them (or you wouldn’t mind reading news online for free).

* Get cash back. When you go to the grocery store,(or other places that offer you cash back from your debit card), ask for $5 back.  (Or $3, or $1.)  It’s little enough money that you won’t miss it, and you can tuck the bill into an envelope for savings.  I did this when I was first trying to save money.  It surprised me how quickly and painlessly I was able to save.  If you use cash, try saving your change.

* Set up automatic savings. If you have Auto-Deposit for checks from work, set a small percentage of your money to be automatically deposited into a savings account.

* Work some overtime. If you are able to, work overtime and commit to apply overtime money to emergency preparedness.

* Pay off debt! If you have debt, pay it off so that you’re not paying interest on it, and then you can use that money towards preparedness.

Remember, the more we prepare, the better we will be able to handle different types of problems that may occur.  Getting started with emergency preparedness does take a little bit of time and effort now, but it is a small investment compared to the freedom we are preserving for ourselves and for our families.


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