Back to Basics: How to Start Prepping Before the SHTF

by Erich

This article has been contributed by Anne Marie Duhon. Anne Marie is a wife, mother of six and a full time off-gridder. She and her husband currently live in a totally off grid 200 sq foot “tiny home” and are in search of (again) that elusive perfect spot to call home. Besides being a wife and mother she, and her family, have raised many different animals on their various homesteads and have lived and loved being off the grid and many miles from the nearest paved road. She would like to share her first hand experiences and help others to learn to live and love living off grid and being as self reliant as possible.

What is a prepper?

preppingA prepper is someone who spends their time preparing for what is commonly called “doomsday” or a SHTF situation. People from all walks of life are feeling a sense of urgency to prepare for some form of a doomsday type event that is bound to happen sooner or later. Whether it will be a catastrophic natural disaster, an economic crisis caused by hyperinflation, or some other kind of major event, one thing is certain, those who are prepared will have a much better chance of weathering the storm than those who do not take the time to prepare.

This doomsday does not have to be a large event. It could be a personal one that would be for those involved just as catastrophic. Anyone can prepare for “doomsday” even those that are living pay check to pay check.

Read on for some tips and tricks that you can use to save money while prepping but you’ll also find useful advice to help you understand the kinds of things you should be doing and the types of things you should be stockpiling.

The First Step in Prepping Is the Most Important

The single most important step to prepping is to just start doing it.

This may seem easier said than done if you are on a tight budget but it’s true. The most important and difficult thing for people to do is to just get started doing something.

Do not let yourself get overwhelmed with a huge list of things that you need. Break down that list into manageable bits and take it in small steps.

It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with all the things that need to be done to successfully prepare for doomsday. Being overwhelmed will either lead to frantic unorganized prepping or doing nothing at all to prepare. Neither of which are good paths to take.

You have already taken the first most important step by realizing the need to prep in the first place. Just by that you are ahead of many people.

Have a Good Plan in Place

Pull out a notebook or a word pad doc on your computer and make a list of stuff you want/need like you just won the lotto. This will help make sure that you’re not leaving out important stuff because you are worried about cost. Break this list down into things that you can do right now and things that will be mid-term and long term goals.

There are TONS of things that you can do to prep that will not cost a lot or any money at all. Just making a list and writing it all down will give you the boost to continue to prep. While you are feeling inspired, go out and do some of the inexpensive things right now and check them off your list.

You’re going to want to have a few different types of plans in place.

The first is the plan that includes the list of tangible items that you’ll need to collect to put back in your emergency supplies cache. The second type of plan includes the intangible things that you should be doing to prepare for doomsday. These include increasing your knowledge, skills, and physical fitness so that when you eventually find yourself having to survive in a crisis, you’ll be up for the challenge. The third plan will be a “bug out or bug in” plan.

In these plans you will also have to take into consideration the following things: how will you replace your food once your stockpiles run low, how will you get around once gas is unavailable, how will you heat or power your home without electricity/gas? How will you cook food? How will you communicate with the outside world? How will you get rid of waste both personal and household? How will you stay clean?

Once you come up with the answers for those questions mak e lists of supplies and skills you need. Having these plans in place will help you move forward and achieve your goals one by one.

Start With the Easy Things First


A great example of an easy way to get started is storing water.

As a matter of fact, one of the most important elements of any peppers’ stockpile should be their water supply. Ironically enough, storing water is one of the least expensive and easiest things a prepper can do. Take a few empty jugs or 2 liter soda bottles to your tap and fill them up. Voilà! You are actively prepping! And it does not really cost much money!

Money Saving Tip: If you already drink soda, you can switch to buying it in 2 liter bottles instead of cans and start stocking up on water by filling the empty bottles. If you don’t drink soda, you can probably find some friends or co-workers who will save their empty bottles and give them to you. This is a great way to acquire empty bottles for storing water and it won’t cost you a single penny!

Skill Development

The next inexpensive easy thing to do is to go online and find a few skills that you need to learn.

Some of those skills you should learn are making fire without matches, learning to hunt or fish, learning to store food besides in a freezer, learning first aid, and, gardening.

Get back to basics! It is so much better to learn and practice these skills long before your life or your family’s lives depend on them. There are many skills that our grandparents knew but are forgotten today. In this case practice makes for a more comfortable life!

Improve your Fitness

One vitally important thing you can start doing right away is get in shape!

Get off your butt and walk around your neighborhood! When doomsday finally does arrive, many of the tasks that we used to be able to rely on machines for will have to be done by hand or by foot. In preparation for such a time, most serious preppers feel that becoming physically fit is very important. The fitter you are, the better prepared you’ll be to cope with the manual labor that you’ll be forced to endure.

Fortunately, getting fit is something that can be done without spending a lot of money. Of course, you can get a gym membership but you can also get fit by hitting the streets and starting a walking or running regimen.

The bottom line is that the better shape you’re in physically before doomsday hits, the easier surviving will be for you.

You’ll be kicking yourself if one day you end up having to try to survive while you’re still overweight and out of shape. The best advice that anyone can give you regarding this matter is to start getting in shape now.

Make a plan for your animals!

Many preppers include animals as a valuable source of meat, milk and eggs in their plans for providing for their human families. Those animals need to be taken care of so that they can take care of you.

It’s very important to remember that these animals will require a lot more water per day than a person requires. If you are keeping livestock or if you have pets to care for, be sure and plan accordingly and store plenty of food and water for them as well.

Research how to feed and raise animals more naturally without depending on stores for sacks of feed. Look around your homestead and see if there is a natural source of water for the animals to drink. Storing enough water for many animals would be virtually impossible.

Stocking up on food without breaking the bank

The “One Extra” Method

Here is a useful tip. Use the “one extra” (or copy-canning) method of stocking up. This way you know you have food in your stockpile that your family likes and will eat.

Take advantage of sales or buy one get one frees and buy an extra can/bag or two while you are shopping. If you’ll get into the habit of buying one extra whenever you find the right deal, you’ll be surprised how quickly your emergency stockpile will build up.

Become a Master Couponer

You can also learn how to coupon and save a lot of money.

With the help of coupons that can be collected and printed from the Internet, it’s now possible to find coupons for just about everything you want to buy. It takes a bit of time and effort to learn how to get the best deals when using coupons but it’s definitely worth putting in the work to master this skillset.

Some of the most prolific preppers are master couponers and they are amazing at stretching their prepping dollar to get the most from their money.

Decide on how far you are willing to go to defend yourself and your family

This is a MAJOR decision for many people.

Most preppers rightly believe that the defense of their homes, families, and stockpiles will lie solely on their shoulders. In the world that we live in today, most people give very little thought to preparing to defend themselves, their family, or their property. We live in a world where you can just grab your cell phone and call 911 whenever you feel threatened. In most cases, within minutes of calling for help, the police will arrive and come to your rescue. (hopefully!)

During a major emergency that leads to the breakdown of civilized society, this won’t likely be the case. If you don’t believe this, take a minute and remember back to what became of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina caused all of the devastating flooding. We lived through Katrina and Rita. It was NOT pretty and one of the major reasons we stepped up our preps!

Weapon Acquisition and Training

As a family, it needs to be decided on now exactly what types of weapons will be used and for what reasons.

Most people who are seriously into prepping would consider their guns to be one of the most important elements of their plan to survive doomsday. Guns can provide many benefits for preppers. In the hands of a skilled outdoorsman, they can help to put food on the table. They can protect life, virtue, and property from those who would threaten to take it. They can also provide a sense of comfort during times of turmoil.

Without guns, you and all you have worked for is nothing but a sitting duck waiting for someone to just come and take it. If you have no intention of defending your stuff and yourself why even bother? Once the decision is made, acquire the weapons and learn how to use it and care for it. Your very life may depend on it one day.

Self Defense Training

The second category preppers should be concerned about when it comes to self-defense preparation is close contact hand-to-hand combat.

Getting the proper training in some kind of hand to hand style of fighting can mean the difference between life and death in certain circumstances.

When it comes to up close and personal self-defense training, this is a skill that takes years to master. Don’t think for a minute that you can attend a weekend seminar and you’ll magically have all the training you need to defend yourself in a real world struggle. No matter how good the instructors were or how comprehensive the seminar was, it takes a lot of time and practice to be able to develop the skills well enough that when you actually need to rely on them they won’t let you down.

While it’s true that it takes a lot of work to master hand to hand combat training, it’s important that you not let this overwhelm you to the point that you don’t get started right away. Remember, as with anything that has to do with prepping, you have to start somewhere and the best place to start is at the beginning.


As a prepper you’re main goal is to stock up on the items that will make it possible for you and your family to survive when things get really bad.

As a responsible adult it is your job to get started! If you do the things outlined in this article you have made a great start and are better prepared than most people.

This is just basic stuff. Get online and research prepping and step-by-step continue your adventure in prepping. There are many awesome sites like Tactical Intelligence that have tons of great information and lists of skills you could learn. It is really cool to learn how to do things the “old fashioned” way and know your family will do well in a SHTF situation.

We personally get a kick out of being looked down on most the time and then laughing at those that look down on us when the power
goes out in a winter storm and we are sitting warm, dry, fed and entertained while they go without.

Just get started and each and every thing that you do is one more thing checked off your list and one little bit more you are prepared more than mainstream America!

Editor’s Note: If you’re struggling with getting started, and would like a step-by-step process (checklists and all) that takes you by the hand through the entire prepping journey, I highly recommend you taking a look at Prepper Academy here.

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