Far too many people (and companies) put off preparedness on the basis that it costs too much. That idea is 180 degrees off from the way you should be looking at it.
Instead, you need to be asking yourself what is the cost of not being prepared? An acquaintance has joked in the past that it depends on how fancy a casket you want for your funeral. As harsh as it may seem, the cost of not being prepared could literally be your life, and the lives of those you love.
What is the cost to you or your business if your computer/computer systems go down and you have not made backups? What is the cost to you if the power/water/etc. go out, even for a few hours, when you have to get to work and to miss work is to miss a day’s pay or even lose your job? What is the cost to you if you are stranded on the side of the road for hours, and don’t get a choice of where your vehicle is repaired? If a large disaster hits, what is the cost of not being prepared?
The costs of not being prepared are far higher than the cost of being prepared, especially if you make it a part of your day-to-day life. If you wait until a disaster looms, you will find critical items in short supply, or gone, and prices going up. That is truly expensive, and sadly what most people mistakenly use as the cost of preparedness.
Keep in mind that being prepared not only protects from the large disasters, but the small as well. If an ice storm or other event takes out the power, you may be mildly inconvenienced, but can press on with life. Water goes out, the same. Can’t get out of the house or neighborhood? You already have plenty of food, water, and the necessities of life on hand. Being prepared has a price, but it is also an investment that can pay huge dividends with events large and small.
Building up stocks of the things you use day-to-day can be done gradually. You don’t have to go out and buy everything at once. Buy one or two stock items each paycheck, and take full advantage of two-for-one and other offers. It literally is as simple as buying two bars of soap instead of one.
Also, know when to buy larger items. For example, heaters usually can be obtained for a better price in the summer. A generator (one of the few big-ticket items on my list) seem to have better prices in the spring/summer, and when the weather is good. Winter and/or when storms are coming the prices tend to go up. While not an item on my list, it is far cheaper to buy a snowblower in the summer, though your best bet is the spring when people who panic-bought one the fall before often sell them off for ridiculously low prices. If you buy used via local want ads and such, you can get new/almost new items for a fraction of the cost of the actual new item.
The real key to keeping the expense down is to plan. Your plan should analyze what you need for each of the three major categories (people, places, things), then look into the details for each of the three sub-categories for each. If you have a family, make it a family affair. In all your planning, don’t forget any pets!
One part of planning is to look at the longest possible duration of a major disaster. For example, if you live in an area subject to hurricanes, look at the longest time people in the area have gone without power, water, etc. Add a few days to it to be safe, and you have a good idea of the reserves you will need.
Personally, I plan for a month. If that’s too much for you, plan for two weeks. If that’s still too much, plan for one. Once you start building up your supplies, you can then expand them as finances and space permit. Yes, I do have plans for longer than a month, but those are advanced plans for later discussion. For most day-to-day preparation, I use a month.
Once you have a plan, work up a priorities list for what you need. This allows you to save up what you need for any major expenses, and to start buying those extra things each week so you can build up your reserves for critical items and then move to the nice-to-haves. You do want to have those nice-to-haves: survival is great; but, surviving disaster large and small with comfort and ease is the way to go.
Keep in mind that many items may be able to do double or even triple duty. For example, if you camp, you already have an emergency shelter that can be set up inside or outside. Backpacks can be kept ready as bug-out bags. Camp stoves provide a means to heat water and cook food. Your grill also is a back-up stove at need. You just need to be sure to have sufficient fuel to meet the needs of the situation. Depending on your hobbies and where you live, you may already have a good bit of preparation already in place.
To wrap up for today: the cost of not preparing is high, potentially astronomically high; the cost of waiting until the last minute is also extremely high and likely to leave you without critical items; and, the cost of preparing and buying things along can be done within almost any budget. Do not let cost keep you from getting started.
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