Yard Sale Survival

by Erich

With Spring now in full swing here in the Northeast, it’s the beginning of the yard-sale season again. Each weekend throughout the nation, you can go into most suburban neighborhoods and find several homeowners offering up their old “junk” for sale at fire-sale prices. But don’t let the “junk” in the word junk fool you. You can often find brand-new items for sale that people don’t have a use for, but for the budding “preparation/self-reliance specialist” (that would be you), it’s a gold mine.

So what do yard sales have to do with emergency preparedness and self-reliance? Well, if your budget is small and you’re looking to build your supply of emergency essentials, then yard sales are one of the best resources for building your supply at the cheapest costs available.

The first thing you’ll need to do is a make a list of the items you need. This way, as you purchase those things on your list, you can check them off keeping you from duplicating items and wasting money. Here’s a simple list of items that can be found at yard sales that should get you started:

  • Chainsaws
  • Generators
  • Gas Cans
  • Wood Stoves
  • Emergency Radios
  • Flashlights
  • Campstoves
  • Sewing Materials and Supplies
  • Clothes
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Tents
  • Tools
  • Pellet Rifles
  • Kerosene Lamps
  • Batteries
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Knives etc…

In no way is this list all-inclusive. Most of the items in the above list are general to all locations, however you’ll also want to find what would be necessary for your area. From a survivalist’s standpoint, I also like to keep an eye out for antique items. If there were ever a major disruption in the utilities for an extended period of time, you’ll eventually run out of batteries or stored fuel. Most antique tools (clothes washing board and dryer, sewing machine, apple cider press etc) don’t require electricity to function and are a great addition to your stored items. Just don’t forget to practice using them!

For me, I keep a running list on my iPhone. This way as I’m out and about and see a yard sale, I’ll always have the list ready. Having the list always on hand also allows me to add to it when an item pops in my mind.

While this article is dedicated to yard sales, don’t forget the classifieds — both online (Craigslist etc.) and offline (in your local newspapers). The key is to get the items before disaster hits. Even if they are in stock during a disaster, you’ll be most likely paying top-dollar. For example, during a recent ice-storm that knocked the power out for a week where I live, generators were marked up on average of 50%.

Preparedness can cost lots of money, but if you plan right, taking advantage of yard sales and other sources — before the pain hits — you can find great deals.

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Comment by Morris
2010-03-27 21:00:45

Also, I buy up bags of old candles. Later I melt them all down and pour in old used glass candle jars with a new wick.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2010-04-06 23:54:40

That’s good advice Morris. I do something similar where I melt bulk loads of candles and mix them with saw dust and pour them into ice cube trees. After hardening they make incredible fire starters that stay lit even during heavy rains.

Comment by CXI
2010-12-11 21:01:14

Is there an advantage to getting old candles rather than getting blocks of paraffin for $3 at a canning supply place?

2010-12-12 15:35:16


No not really. Just that sometimes you can get a huge amounts of candles for pennies which makes it a bit cheaper than paraffin.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Joe
2013-01-19 10:40:46

Great idea. What ratio of sawdust to wax? Do you use a particular type of sawdust, ie hardwood, or what ever you are cutting?

I use dryer lint to start fires but it burns fast and does not do well in wind.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-01-21 16:09:57

Hi Joe,

I use just enough wax to completely saturate the sawdust (the sawdust I get from whatever I recently cut).

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