When you first get started with prepping, it can be a little bit overwhelming. The following rules should help you get started and to ensure that prepping doesn’t consume your regular life.
1. Have a solid financial base
The very first rule of prepping is to make sure that you are financially stable, there is no point spending a ton of money to make sure you will survive a nuclear war (which probably won’t happen) if that will result in you not being able to pay your bills on time.
So here is what you need to do
1. Put your credit card in a cupboard.
Notice I didn’t tell you to chop it up. That’s because a credit card can be good for emergencies so don’t get rid of it just make sure it’s out of reach, put it in a cupboard and forget that you have it unless the time comes where you’d literally be screwed without it.
2. Pay off all your debt
This is hard but stop using the spare cash in your account to buy stuff that you don’t truly need, use the extra money to get your credit card and any other debt down to zero.
Having said that, still budget a bit of money each month for some fun otherwise, you’ll go bonkers.
3. Build up savings
When – and only when – your debt is gone, then it’s time to start saving. Don’t go straight into investment savings as it’s important to have some savings you have instant access too – remember that we’re planning for potential emergencies here, it’s no good having money in a portfolio that will take several days to access – put some in a good ISA, your bank will be able to advise on a good one for you.
Once you’ve saved enough money to last you for three months with no income, then it’s time to look into investing. I would recommend an 80/20 split between regular investments and an asset investment of your choice.
For example I put 80% of my investment savings into a mutual fund ISA (there are higher risk/higher reward savings out there but beware as if you don’t know what you’re doing – which I don’t – then you could end up losing more than you save.
I also put 20% into two different asset pots.
Commodities – I like to buy precious metals (gold, silver and even copper) so that if anything goes wrong with the financial markets, I’ve got that to hopefully fall back on.
Land/property – I am still saving for a deposit on this but in a month or two I plan to buy some woodland not far from my house, not only will this be a good bug-out location but it is also land that can make me even more money.
If you live in the UK, I would highly recommend considering woodland as an investment, obviously do your research and if possible, speak to an independent financial advisor but from the research I’ve done, it appears to be quite a lucrative investment (bear in mind though that it’s very rare that you’ll get planning permission to build a residence, so don’t get ideas about living there).
If you live in another country, don’t rule woodland out but find out for yourself if it is still a good investment.
As a side note: (and thanks to reddit user /u/PanAmericanHwy for pointing this out), getting yourself financially ready doesn’t mean you can’t start doing some smaller preps immediately, for example adding a few items of long life food to each shop you do or taking advantage of multi-buy offers and discounts in your local supermarket – these preps can actually save you money in the long term too!
2. Plan one scenario at a time
Believe me when I tel you that it’s easy to get carried away. Especially as the more you prep, the more it becomes sort of fun (at least that’s my experience).
So here is what you need to do.
When you start to prep, consider a single scenario and prep for that, once you feel prepared for that one, move on to the next scenario.
Let me give you an example from my own prepping:
First scenario: Nuclear War.
I’ve been petrified about nuclear war since I read ‘Children of the Dust’ at school way back in the mid-90’s. So when I first started to seriously prep. It was to increase my chances of surviving that.
- I got myself financially stable – this took YEARS but I got there in the end.
- I wrote disaster plans for each possible outcome (all out war, dirty bomb, attack whilst I’m at home with my girlfriend, attack whilst she’s at home without me, attack whilst I’m at home without her).
- I moved to a part of the country where I felt I was the safest from attack.
- I started to fill my pantry with food and water.
- I started to buy equipment that I thought I’d need in order of priority. Each time I bought something that had the potential to alter the disaster plan, I’d make the required changes.
Second Scenario: Pandemic
Twelve Monkeys was to blame for my fear of a pandemic first forming and now I feel I’m almost done with prepping for nuclear war. I’m about to start my preps for a pandemic. Thankfully, nuclear war is pretty much the worst thing I can think of happening so most of what I need to do for a pandemic is already covered. In fact, most of what I need to do just comes down to writing my disaster plans.
3. Consider Opsec (but don’t fret over it)
Speak to the majority of American Preppers and one of the first things they will tell you about is their guns.
OpSec (Operational Security) IS important but it’s not as important as many would have you think. Actually being prepared for a disaster is more important than working out how to defend yourself from other humans so focus on that first.
So here is what you need to do
1) Limit the number of people you tell about your prepping.
That’s not to say don’t tell anyone, I clearly don’t follow that rule as I have a blog and am about to launch a YouTube channel (I don’t give out my real name but I doubt it would be hard to find that out).
However the more people who know that you are prepared for a disaster, the greater the likelihood of them coming to you for help.
Desperate people are dangerous people and you can’t guarantee that people who are your friends and family in the normal world, won’t resort to violence to keep themselves and their loved ones alive.
A balance needs to be drawn here though, personally my pantry is next to my basement, which is also my man cave, so most of my close friends have seen it.
I also keep my bug out bags in there so most people who I let into my basement have at least some idea that I’m a Prepper.
However it’s not something I broadcast and I do make it clear that I don’t have the resources to accommodate other people so if the SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan) they shouldn’t bother coming to me for help.
2) Arm yourself but don’t go nuts
If you’re in America then I actually do recommend getting yourself a gun. Mainly because of the number of guns that will be out there in a WROL (Without Rule of Law) scenario will make it dangerous to be the one who brings a knife to a gun fight. Just remember though that a gun is only useful while it has ammo, so don’t rely on it. Go get yourself a knife or a machete as well.
If you’re not in a gun-toting country (like me, in the UK for example) then I’d recommend taking a few classes, like archery and MMA. Then once you’ve been trained on how to use a bow and a knife, go out and get yourself one.
In fact get yourself a knife anyway as they are useful for a number of things, in fact I have 4 knives and most of them actually get used for things other than prepping.
The trick here is to consider OpSec but not go nuts over it. If your choice is between buying a gun or buying food for your pantry, choose the food every time. Admittedly a knife is a tougher call as that one has multiple uses. The point here is to use your own judgement.
4. Remember the rule of threes.
A person in good health can survive for:
- 3 minutes without oxygen
- 3 hours without shelter (being warm and dry)
- 3 days without water
- 3 weeks without food
Oxygen is pretty abundant in most scenarios so don’t fret about that one, however you need to make sure that you are prepared for the other three.
So here is what you need to do
This is a blog post in it’s own right but in a nutshell, make sure you have provisions set aside to keep you warm, dry, hydrated and fed and prioritise them in that order.
5. If you’re a fat Prepper, you’re kidding yourself.
I put this one last as guess what, I’m a fat Prepper. However you can get around this one in a pretty straightforward way – stop being fat.
It’s not easy losing weight, anyone can tell you that but if you are serious about prepping then it’s something you need to prioritise.
So here is what you need to do
1. Cut back on the crap
When I started prepping I gave up fizzy drinks entirely (which was hard as I probably drank fizzy drinks on a daily basis). I now only drink tea, sugarless coffee and water.
I also cut back on my sugar intake a lot as this is where most of my excess calories came from. I still have it from time-to-time but now it’s a treat instead of a regular part of my diet.
It’s ok to be naughty occasionally, when Trump won I went to the store and got a big bag of toffee popcorn and a giant Cadbury’s caramel to console myself and scarfed them all down within the hour but then I spent the next two days eating extra healthily – mainly out of guilt.
One of the most effective ways of cutting the crap out of your diet is learning to cook, once you get reasonably good at it, it’s actually quite fun. I’d recommend starting out with slow-cooker meals as they are super easy to make, freeze well and taste absolutely amazing.
2. Pack on the nutrients
There is no denying it, you need to start eating healthy food. However it’s not as hard as it sounds, take it from someone who was raised without much in the way of veg (carrots, potatoes and peas where pretty much the only veg we had in our house, growing up).
It wasn’t until I met my vegetable-obsessed girlfriend that I really started to make an effort to eat better and do you know what I was really surprised at? Introducing green veg slowly to your diet eventually makes you love them. I started by adding greens to meals like chilli and spaghetti bolognese, it turns out that spinach and sprouts pretty much disintegrate when slow-cooked into a chilli and they actually improve the taste quite a lot.
Eventually I reached a point where I started adding greens to other meals too, now I have them with pretty much everything.
3. Get moving
Even though exercise isn’t actually essential to weight loss, it IS essential to fitness and that’s what we are going for here. In fact, if you really want, you can ignore point one here provided that you have a nutrient rich diet and are physically fit. There are plenty of physically fit people who are still quite fat.
The best way to do this – at least this is what i’m finding – is to start some skills training which will help you with prepping. My girlfriend and I have taken an archery class and are about to start a self-defence class which will help us both increase our fitness whilst at the same time, teaching us valuable skills for the future.
Bonus round: Focus on skills more than things
It’s a lot more important for long term survival to make sure you have some basic skills like cooking, financial management, basic mechanics, at least one method of self defence and some nature survival skills (bushcraft, hunting etc…) than it is to have all the fancy equipment.