We all have this idea prepping can just be done in any way possible. We try to do many things and quickly realize we might not have a direction or a plan to help guide us. In the beginning, many people just started prepping without rhyme or reason. All they know is that they need to get prepared and they need to do it now. They start by going to the grocery store and stocking up on goods without understanding what they truly need to do.
Most people who start this way give up prepping because they feel overwhelmed and somewhat foolish. Then they become overwhelmed very quickly. They have purchased many things without knowing where to put them or what to do with them. They most likely panicked and bought things they didn’t need and now have some buyer’s remorse. They just knew they needed stuff now and didn’t think through what they really needed.
Prepping is much like life. You quickly lose focus without a plan and a purpose. When you are prepping, you need to have a plan. To have a plan, you need to decide what you are preparing for. Right now, there are many new preppers (which is fantastic!). Many people do not want to call themselves preppers, but they are still preparing for something. Quite frankly, there is a lot to be preparing for, but you have to decide that personally.
So the first question you need to ask yourself is what are you preparing for. For most new preppers, this will be a no-brainer, especially in these times. Many new preppers are preparing for the potential of food shortages and supply disruptions. Those are great things to prepare for. When I first started preparing I was preparing for a potential job loss or something that could happen to me financially. After not being able to afford groceries and relying on the generosity of others, I was scared of my kids going hungry. I focused on food storage and having enough food to get us through at least one month.
As time went on, I added more things to the list of what I was preparing for. I never got as far as planning for something catastrophic like an EMP or a CME or something similar to that. It’s not that I thought those things couldn’t happen because they can. The possibilities of what could happen in the universe are mind-boggling. However, I am very practical and thought I needed to prepare for things that would directly impact me in my life. I was more concerned about what could happen in the here and now versus some theory that might happen in the future.
I actually still prepare for the same things, but I do it on a bigger scale. Instead of being prepared for one month, I prepare for longer periods of time, like six to twelve months. I prepare for blizzards, ice storms, and power outages. I prepare for lockdowns and shutdowns. I prepare for food shortages and supply disruptions. Life changes and your circumstances change. You have to adapt and keep moving forward.
On a side note, please be realistic and practical. Some people watch too many Doomsday Preppers shows and think they need to prepare for a global collapse. I’m not saying that couldn’t happen, but you should think about what will directly impact you the hardest in your life. Also, you don’t realize that most of those people are preparing for everyday things on that show.
You now know what you are preparing for on a practical level and can start planning to prepare. This step can seem daunting because you have to make a plan. Those plans can take some time and they will always need readjusting. In this step, you need to give yourself time and grace. There will be things you will overlook. You will make mistakes and you will buy things you might not need. Life does go on and you will be able to adjust as needed.
I am a big believer in baby steps. I think it is truly overwhelming to do everything at once and be prepared in thirty days. I’m not saying you can’t do that, but again without a plan, that can become frustrating very quickly.
Planning before you really start prepping has one huge advantage: you learn before you do. Knowledge is the most important prep when you are starting to get prepared. In fact, the knowledge you have will save you more than the preps you build up. I am not saying that physical goods and skills are not important. They are essential! However, you need the knowledge to get started.
You should take some time to research what you are preparing for and start making lists. I had a dedicated notebook with information and lists when I really got serious about prepping. I would also print out information and put it into a binder to keep as a reference. Because I started out learning about food storage to weather a month of no income or money being tight, I had a lot of information about food storage. From there, I made lists of what we would need and started stocking my pantry accordingly.
If you are looking for a good way to plan and prepare slowly over the course of a year, please check out my book, The Prepper’s Yearbook. I have it broken down into five monthly tasks that you can do in twelve months with bonus tasks. You can print out this book and use it as a guide as well as a workbook to help you get it all done.
You have decided what you are preparing for initially and have a plan for how you want to do it. You are ready to start preparing.
There is really not a right way or a wrong way to start prepping. However, your budget and your situation will determine how far you can go once you get started. Many people can not afford to buy everything all at once. You may have to budget some money every week or every month to start making building up your storage and supplies.
While money is not everything in preparedness, you do need money to purchase supplies. You can do a lot of prepping for free, but eventually, you will have to invest in some supplies as well as purchase food for your storage. I have purchased many of my supplies secondhand from thrift stores and garage sales as well as taken things from family members who no longer wanted them. You can do it on a budget, but prepping will not be completely free.
Prepping is also not all about the supplies and stockpiles. You should plan to learn skills along the way. Depending on what you are preparing for, you can learn many skills. I believe in learning a wide variety of skills to be more adaptable depending on what may happen. You can learn to cook from scratch, can, and sew while also learning how to hunt, blacksmith, build fires, and set up a temporary shelter. Being versatile and adaptable is very good in SHTF situations. You may find yourself away from home and having to survive in primitive conditions. You just never know.
Also, please do not neglect medical preparations and training. That will be just as important as your food/water storage and your home. You need basic medical knowledge to perform CPR or to bandage a wound. You need to be able to assess the situation quickly and decide if medical help is needed. We still are in a time when medical professionals are available within a reasonable distance, but you may not have that advantage in a natural disaster.
One last thing, you can purchase all the supplies and goods in the world. If you don’t use them and don’t know how they work, those things are worthless to you. You can learn on the fly, but in a crisis, why would you want to? You need to learn how to use your things in an SHTF situation if you plan to use them.
My hope is to help you get started prepping in a practical way that will not seem overwhelming. While the pandemic scared many people into at least having some food storage in their homes, the coming supply shortages and inflation have more people thinking about what they need to survive and thrive. I would encourage you to sit down today and think about what you and your family really need for a month or even three months.
Even if you are an experienced prepper, you should go over your plans and preparations to see what you are at in your preps. You may find that you also need to readjust your plans in light of the national and global situations. Your plan may be from ten years ago and now you are older. You may need to think about what you can and can not reasonably do. Your kids may have flown the coop and you will be doing more by yourself. You may even need fewer things in your preps.
Do what you can with what you have. However, you need to decide what you are preparing for, make a plan for it, and start preparing.
Thanks for reading,