How do you prep without spending money? Is that even possible? If you’ve ever watched television and seen Doomsday Preppers, you would expect the answer to be no. They always seem to have an endless supply of money to devote to prepping.
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But there are some pretty significant things you can do to prep without spending any money, and I am here to tell you that these will be the things that actually save you if that time ever comes. Lately I have been on a mission to prepare without spending money, and have been looking at ways to do so. These things aren’t for global disasters or anything big. They are for things that can affect me and my family or household on a big but personal level.
In terms of an emergency, I’ll use a house fire as an example. The house catches on fire and everything is lost. How do you start over? No identification, money, credit cards, clothes. Hopefully you have homeowners insurance to start with. But, they want to know what you had in your home and prove what was lost. We can all claim we had some priceless rare thing or a giant expensive TV we lost, or thousands of dollars in diamonds. But they want proof before the payout arrives.
How do you give them proof? An inventory list and pictures. That is the easiest way. Receipts are a great thing too. I always forget to keep receipts for many things. Those are a terrible option for me, and I would stick with the inventory list and pictures.
Where do you keep these? I would suggest in a fireproof safe. Keep pictures on a USB flash drive, which are cheap, and then print an inventory list on paper and put it all in the safe. I use paper brown envelopes that are easily be labelled with a sharpie and put in the safe. This is a great way to keep tax documents or bank records as well. Organization is free, it just takes time.
I also suggest keeping a copy of your pet’s medical records. You may need to show that your cat or dog have their shots and have been evaluated. This also helps if you are going to see a veterinary you’ve never seen before. If your pet has any medical issues, please make sure that someone is aware of it. If your dog bites someone, you have the records right there to show that they’ve had their shots, and that can save you some time too. This is free as well, you just need to pick up a copy of the records from the vet.
I would take an inventory list of appliances (especially if you’ve upgraded or bought new ones recently), any electronics, video games, firearms if you own them. Anything of value, really. Jewelry. We can all replace little things, but it is the big stuff that will be what matters. It all really does add up quickly, and there’s no way to prove any of it was there when it is turned into a giant pile of black ashes. Creating an inventory list is free. It is fairly simple to do, it just may take some time to complete. The great thing is that once it is done, it is super easy to add to if needed.
I would also go through vital documents. Identification, birth certificates, marriage license, social security cards, passports, a will, car titles, deeds to a home, and all that fun stuff we need to have but never really think about.
I personally forget about these things because we don’t use them often. The next time I’ll need my birth certificate is probably when I go renew my driver’s license at the DMV. That is still a year or two away. These are still important things to have, but they need to be in a safe place.
My husband recently asked me why we needed a copy of our marriage license. One of the reasons a couple gets married is to have the legal right to speak for each other. If that is ever questioned, there is documentation. It seems morbid to plan for things like that, but I would rather make it easier on either of us if it ever has to be used.
Birth certificates are pretty much a necessity if you are going to the DMV these days, and especially if you’re planning on changing the classification on your license. They won’t do anything without seeing a birth certificate for that. Be prepared. If you are having to order a new birth certificate for whatever reason, it can take up to a month for it to be sent.
I mentioned a will earlier when talking about vital documents. Do you have one made up with your last wishes? As we get older, we should all be thinking about this. Death is inevitable, and not really pleasant to think about. But it is going to happen to all of us. That and taxes are the only absolute things in life. It could be a good idea to start thinking about this and what you want your last wishes to be, and then tell people through a will.
In case of a fire, do you have a plan of escape? A place for all of your household to go? Escape routes? Are there special things to consider, like small children and pets? How would you get them all out safely? A plan should be something that should be written down and practiced. Think about alternative plans.
Like the first and ideal way to get out would be the front door. What if the front door is in flames? Where do you go? Keep going through scenarios, write them down and practice them. This will keep you from panicking in an emergency. Planning doesn’t cost money. You can also read my post about fire safety for more information.
Do you have important pictures in a safe place? Another thing to think about. Pictures can be a vital comfort to us in the event of an emergency.
Go through all of the documents. Make a list of the ones you do have, and what you still need to obtain. Do you have these items for all family members in your household? If not, make a list of that too. Think of it like a grocery list, only it is a vital document list. That way it is easy to keep track of what is needed and then obtain these.
Organization is really important for everyone, but especially preppers. If you have multiple people in your household, make an envelope for each one of them. Put all vital documents relating to each person in a single envelope and label it. For me, it is just my husband and me so I don’t need to spend as much time in this category. But your list of people may increase pretty significantly.
After that, I would start taking pictures of your home and the contents. Make a detailed list of these items, and have pictures to correspond with that list, and even receipts if you still have them. I would then transfer the documents and pictures to a flash drive, as well as printing the list and keeping it all in the safe.
The last thing I would be doing is formulating a plan to put in place for a disaster, if you haven’t already. Write it down, put it in a binder, and then practice the plan you have. It may need to be adjusted. Do this until you’ve adjusted it to work for your family. No two plans will be alike because every home, family, and circumstances will be different. Then practice once a week or once a month. No less than once a month though. These practices will become a habit, and that is a great thing. That means your family may be just a bit safer because they already know what to do.
Are any of these things fun? Not remotely. They are tedious and time consuming. Believe me, I’m working on my inventory list right now. Once you have it all done and survived the initial hurdle, it will be incredibly easy to keep updated and add new things to it if needed.
Being prepared is so much more than just buying and hoarding a bunch of stuff. It is looking into things like what I listed. Being ready for those kind of events, and staying organized. Organization will improve the ability to respond to a crisis as well.
I personally always hope I never need these things, but if I do and I haven’t taken the time to do it, well I’m screwed and not in the fun happy way. If I have them and don’t need them, the only real thing it cost me was my time. I don’t mind spending my time on something that will help me in the long run if I ever need it. Do you? I call it an investment into my home and my family.
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