Most of the time, we must build our savings, food storage, 72 hours kits, water storage and other preparedness supplies little by little by setting aside a small portion of our regular income for such priorities.
But, occasionally we are blessed with a little extra cash….a bonus at work, a great commission check, a gift, an inheritance etc. Many people get an extra chunk of cash this time of year since it is tax refund time. Because of that, now seems a timely opportunity to answer a question I get every so often:
I have a large amount of money to spend and I want to get better prepared. Where should I spend it?
The answer….it depends! It depends on where you are at in your overall preparedness goals. It depends on how much money you are looking to spend. It depends on how balanced you’d like things to be. It depends on your diet and health needs. It depends on what sort of sales are going on right now. It depends……
So, there won’t be one answer that fits everyone, but I’d like to give you six smart ideas. Hopefully by the time you are done with this (rather long) post you will have a good idea of what would be best for you to spend your extra money on!
Even if you aren’t getting a tax refund this year, you can bookmark this page (I’d love it if you saved it on pinterest) and refer back to it the next year or anytime you get that bonus, extra commission check, or gift!
Now, here are 6 smart ways for spending a larger chunk of money of preparedness:
1. Pay Down Debt and Increase Savings:
One great place to put any extra money you have is into paying off debt or increasing your savings. Doing so will allow you more financial freedom in the future and a better ability to take advantage of great sales and really stock up when the opportunity arises. If you have a large amount of consumer debt and / or a very small savings account, I would strongly suggest you consider not spending your money, but instead paying off your debt or increasing your savings.
2. Take Advantage of a Sale
A good sale is a wonderful time to stock up when you have a little extra cash. I’ve found that many approach sales as a time to “try a variety of things” instead of a time to truly stock up on things you know you need and want. But a sale will benefit you much more if you stock up on those things that are the most deeply discounted.
I’m not suggesting you spend money on things you don’t want / need. But I am suggesting you might consider changing up the order in which you buy things. You may want peaches first, but cornmeal is on sale right now. Stock up on the cornmeal now and wait for the peaches until they are on sale. When you see anything you know you want in your home store on sale for a truly good price, stock up! Next time, something else that you want will be one sale. But for now, focus on what is on sale today because those items likely won’t be on sale again for a while.
Spending an “extra” supply of money on sale items instead of just random items will make it stretch much further!
If you have paid off debt, have a reasonable savings and there isn’t a sale going on that you’d like to take advantage of, I suggest considering the following options in the following order:
You can survive without everything else (even food for a short time), but you will not survive without water. And your water supply can be cut off for many reasons: frozen pipes, contamination, shortage, or natural disaster are just a few. You want water.
If you don’t yet have water stored for your family, do it now. Use your “extra” money to get your water storage all in once shot. It is important! You can read every post I’ve done on emergency water here: Emergency Water Tips, but the most popular post I’ve done on the subject is this one: Living Without Running Water, A Practical Guide.
Consider investing in water in 2 ways:
- Storage containers: I recommend having a variety. Start with regular water bottles for drinking, 5 gallon containers or water bricks for use at the sink and then add larger 55 gallon or 135 gallon tankers for longer term needs. At a minimum, store 14 gallons per person for a 2 week supply, though during my water experiment, I found 32 gallons per person for a 2 week supply to be a better number to shoot for.
- Filters / Purifiers: You want the water you use to be clean. Your own water supply may become contaminated and / or you may have an alternate water source such as a lake or river, but need to make it safe to drink. There are a variety of options on the market. I recommend having something portable (like this water bottle or this mini filtration system) as well as a way to filter and pump from a large barrel at the same time (like this pump or this system), and a way to filter your tap water if necessary.
Food is also necessary for survival (though not as essential as water). If you have a good water supply, I suggest you take a look at your food supply next. Depending on the amount of your “extra” funds, shoot for a one, two or six month supply for your family all in one shot. Try to stock up in a well rounded way and purchase things you can make actual meals out of. Start with basics such as grains (low cost calories), low cost proteins (like beans), highly nutritious freeze dried fruits and vegetables, basic baking supplies, and real milk to begin with.
Then, if your funds allow, add meat, additional dairy (such as cheese), vitamin packed drink mixes, sauces and seasonings, and treats. You can use the Thrive Planner to help you build a well rounded (based on the food pyramid) food storage plan. Or, better yet, plan a few shelf stable recipes and buy all the ingredients for a 1 month or 3 month or even 12 month supply of those!
If you would like help planning a custom (discounted) package for your family, shoot me an email. I know of “unadvertised” specials being offered and can help you structure or order in such a way to earn free and discounted product to help bring the overall cost down as well.
A few things to avoid purchasing:
- Avoid purchasing a large supply of items low in nutritional value (canned produce), or high in additives, artificial colors, salt, msg, other preservatives etc (pre-made meals). While fine for “short” emergencies, those items would do more damage than good if you have to eat them for an extended period of time.
- Also avoid food items you do not know how to use and are unwilling to learn how to use. When investing a large amount of “extra” money, you want to be sure to spend it on foods you know how to eat and WILL eat. Eventually, you may make the effort to learn how to use more foods (want to learn about wheat?), but until you do, spend your money on things you know how to use.
If you have no debt, a reasonable savings, as well a a good water and food supply, you will be much more likely to survive and emergency. Now, you may consider spending your cash things that will make “surviving” a bit easier / more pleasant.
5. Power Out Supplies
I would highly recommend “power out supplies.” One of the most common “emergencies” is a power outage. And a power outage can happen for all sorts of reasons and can last from a few hours to a few weeks. Living without power can be quite a shock for most of us used to relying on it without a second thought. You can read about some of my experiences here: Living Without Electricity. Store simple things such as flameless cookers, battery / device chargers, flashlights and candles. But when blessed with an extra, larger chunk of cash, you may consider spending it on one or more of the following:
- Powerless Cooking. Cooking without power can be tough. But you can use a Sun Oven to cook anything you can cook in your regular oven and you don’t have to store fuel. Or, use cast iron dutch ovens and coals or a camp stove and propane. The Volcano stove is another good option as it can use many different types of fuels.
- Solar Generator. Generators are a great way to keep a fridge going in an emergency or charge your electronics. They can also run space heaters if needed. Other generators are LOUD and require you to purchase and store fuel, but solar generators, though more costly upfront, allow you to use the power of the sun indefinitely. I recommend purchasing at least two solar generators and two solar panels. One to use and one that can be charging.
- Light Sources. Yes, store flashlights and candles. But longer term, you’ll want better light sources. Consider solar lanterns and high powered lights that can run off your solar generator.
6. Food Storage Tools
In addition to the above, there are some tools that will make using your food storage a bit easier or make creating your own food storage simpler. If you have savings, water, food, and power out supplies, you may consider investing in one of the following:
- Food Rotation Systems. Rotating your food is very important. If you don’t rotate it properly, chances are you will waste it. Rotation can be done by hand, but rotation systems make it so much easier!
- Electric Grain Mills. Grain mills allow you to turn most any grain into cereal or flour. You can then make your own breads, cracker and tortillas. Not only is this healthier, but it is a less expensive way to live as well. My favorite electric grinder is the Wondermill.
- Dehydrators. Dehydrators allow you to dry and store your own garden produce. While not as nutritious as freeze dried produce (b/c of nutrients lost during the heating process), this is a great inexpensive way to add tasty fruits and veggies to your stores. And food you preserve on your own is much healthier and contains far fewer preservatives than dehydrated food from the store.
- Electric Pressure Cookers. If you have a lot of dry beans (especially if they are older), you need a pressure cooker! These amazing appliances can help you cook your dry beans in minutes instead of hours or even days! I also use mine to make an amazingly tender Sunday Roast!
- Pressure Canners. Just like dehydrators, pressure canners offer a great way to store and use your own garden produce.
So, there you have it! Six smart ways to spend a large amount of money on preparedness! Do you have any other smart ideas? I (as well as other readers) would love to hear them!