Stockpiling on a Budget is easier than you think, it just takes some practice
Building up a large food storage system from scratch can be extremely expensive and financially demanding, but if you’re serious about prepping, it’s a financial burden that you’ll simply have to face. Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do to make the process less harsh on your pocketbook, even if you’re on a tight budget.
How to Stockpile on a Budget
Think of your Stockpile like Investments
When stockpiling, buy items that you would like to eat, drink, or use, and don’t be afraid to start going through your stockpile as you add to it. Don’t like eating beans? Don’t buy them! Prefer rice over ramen? Buy more of the rice. Only like one type of soap? Don’t waste your time and money buying any other kind. Rotating items in your stockpile is also good. Eating through older food and replacing it continually with new food keeps your supplies fresh and helps you keep track of any potential expiration dates.
A stockpile should be a regularly used thing, accessed and utilized daily or weekly – not just a dusty shelf with cans that you may need some day. A stockpile shouldn’t just be there only in case of Armageddon. It should be a back up in case you just can’t go to the grocery store this week, in case you want to try saving gas money by taking less trips to the mall, or even, heaven forbid, in case you have some sort of emergency or have financially difficult times and can’t afford to pay for expensive grocery bills. A stockpile ensures you’re okay and well fed even if you hit your own personal disaster like a loss of job, auto breakdown or a major snow storm. This supply of goods ensures you peace of mind – that even if all else goes wrong, at least you’ll never starve. You’ll always have food on the table, some medicine in case you get sick, and of course some extra toilet paper.
So don’t think about your stockpile as though it’s an expensive tool you bought and stuffed in the back of the garage to gather dust simply because it “might come in handy one day.” Think of it as your own personal grocery store, combined with a emergency insurance plan.
Slow but steady wins the race
There’s no rule that says you have to build your stockpile overnight. If you’re on a budget and can’t afford to spend a lot on food storage and emergency supplies, or even if you would rather not spend all that cash at the moment, don’t hesitate to take small steps instead of big ones toward building up your stockpile.
For building your own non-perishable food storage system, I’d recommend trying to cover one type of food or household item per week. For example, try buying an extra bag or two of rice per person the first week, an extra 3 or 5 bags of dried beans the next week. Try to balance the food groups as much as possible, that way you don’t end up with too many carbs and not enough proteins or vice versa. Remember that a balanced diet is a healthy diet.
Clip Coupons and Watch for Sales
This is by far the best way to make sure you get the most for your money when working on your building a stockpile of goods. Each week, look over the newspaper ads, mail flyers and discount sites for any deals the stores around you may be having. If one or more items looks good to you, get a reasonable supply of those items. Wait for other products you may be interested in to go on sale, that way your not wasting your money in a rush to buy everything you want.
For household goods like soap, cleaning products, hair care products, tissue paper, paper towels, and toilet paper, buy in huge bulk when there is a major sale, so that you don’t have to worry about purchasing these again and again when they are priced far higher. Try keeping at least 2 months to a year or more’s worth of household products in stock at your home. Also, check your inventory at least once a month to make sure it isn’t disappearing faster than you expected. Buying in large bulk when an item is on sale not only reduces cost, but it also gives you time to wait for another good sale, in case sales are more spaced out with the product you want to buy.
Don’t Always Purchase the Brand Name Goods
Brand names don’t always mean a better quality product. Often times we will like a certain brand of food better than another, or find that a certain type of medicine is much more effective than the generic alternative, but this isn’t always the case. Next time you’re at Walmart, Kroger or your local Mom & Pop grocery, try a cheaper brand, or a no-name alternative. If you end up not liking it better, you can always cut your losses and continue buying the brand name you know and love. Otherwise, you’ve made a decision that will make your regular trips to the store much, much cheaper.
If you go through the crappy (pun intended) one-ply toilet paper at triple the rate than two-ply toilet paper, you should really spend the extra dollar to buy two-ply. This also rings true for quality medical supplies and clothing. If you have to replace your Band-Aid once a day, but buying Elastoplast will keep your cut covered up until it’s healed, you might as well spend a bit more to get the box of Elastoplast. If your cotton socks are getting worn after two weeks of wear, but the expensive wool socks you bought have lasted a year and a half, splurge just the once and get the expensive wool socks. Saving money in the short run isn’t exactly the smart play when you can have bigger savings in the long run.
Prioritize Stockpile Purchases
If you’re just getting started in this process, you’re going to need to look at prioritizing these purchases. When it comes to items like food, medicine, household goods, trade-able items etc, food should probably be the highest on the list. Household items, because they are relatively inexpensive and go on sale quite frequently, should probably be stockpiled at the same time as food items are but not chosen over food if your budget won’t allow both.
Once you have a good amount of household items stockpiled, you will likely be able to neglect this category for extended periods of time (months or even years), as these items never expire and so can be stored without any consideration unlike most long expiry date food. After having acquired roughly a one month supply of food and household items for your stockpile, you should then look into buying medicine and healthcare items.
Medicine will need to be replenished much less often, however keep in mind – it expires much more quickly. You might find it better to begin to stockpile medicine as you need it. This will make sure that the expiry date is the latest it can possibly be. That being said, not all medicines should be thrown out as soon as they expire. Most medicines are fine to take after their expiry date, and simply get weaker (rather than more dangerous to take) with age. See my previous article on RX expiration dates here.
The last thing you will want to stockpile are trade-able goods. Sure, you might feel like you’re investing if you buy a brick of gold once a month, but if you’re on a tight budget, that money would be better kept in a separate savings account as an emergency fund. What happens if the roof leaks and you need to fix it?
That brick of gold is going to take a while to sell and trying to sell in a hurry will likely mean you’ll get less for it than you otherwise would have. Thus, until you’re completely happy with all of your other stockpiles (you have enough food, household items, and medicine to last you however long you want your stockpile to allow you to last), you should probably veer away from working on your trade-able goods stockpile.