[Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Carmela Tyrell. After she introduced her site to me, I asked if she’d be willing to write a guest post and here it is! (Obviously!) Carmela is an experienced prepper that enjoys spending time working in her garden and exploring new ways to generate off-grid electricity and water for her family’s home. She prides herself in working hard to cut reliance on all things “municipal” and transition to a more self-sustainable living. She is also very knowledgeable about herbal remedies, surviving a nuclear disaster and bugging in. You can read more of Carmela’s work on Survivor’s Fortress.]
As someone dedicated to both frugal living and prepping for short and long term disasters, I can tell you that it is possible to achieve both goals. In fact, my experiences lead me to conclude that frugal living is one of the most important things you can do to be ready for any emergency. Sadly, I’ve seen more than a few of my fellow penny pinchers run to the stores to buy all sorts of useless stuff before an emergency hits because they completely lose sight of what frugal living has already made available to them. Have a look at how your frugal lifestyle may make surviving an emergency easier (and less expensive) than expected.
Your Priorities Will Always Be Clear
I don’t know about you, but when I’m focused on saving money for a new computer or paying down a debt, Kim Kardashian’s antics are the last thing on my mind. When you have a set of priorities, few things can steal your valuable attention and cause you to waste energy and money on less important matters.
From Frugal Guru to Survivalist: The ability to remain focused on tangible objectives is also very important in an emergency. No matter whether it takes hours to prepare potable drinking water or days to reach a safe location, keeping to your financial priorities is an excellent practice that will translate to other situations even if no money is involved.
Your Goals Will be Tangible and Practical
If you are as frugal as I am, there is also a very good chance that everything you buy must:
- be something you can use to make more money than you spend on it
- have a tangible purpose that advances some basic necessity of life
- be cheaper to operate and last longer than comparable items on the market
- must be on sale, or marked well below the average cost.
- Must never make you get that naggy feeling that you are spending too much.
From Frugal Guru to Survivalist: During an emergency, the most important thing you can do is start off by understanding what must be done and what isn’t as essential. When you are careful with your money, then it is very easy to measure everything you do in terms of what will best advance your goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Become Immune to Marketing Ploys Many people are surprised when I reveal that I have a smartphone that cost well under $200.00, yet it has a better camera, a faster processor, and overall better performance than some of the most expensive phones on the market. Now, frugal living isn’t always about choosing an “off brand”, nor is it about doing without things that are important for achieving your goals. It is, however, about taking the time to shop around and actually have clear ideas about similar products that are available. Why buy a “premier” smartphone scandalized by exploding batteries or an expensive cell phone plan when the most frugal among you already know that:
- there are unlocked phones with stellar features and safety ratings
- a phone with WIFI can work right off your home router, or a public hotspot for calling, texting and getting online without spending an extra dime on a cell phone plan.
From Frugal Guru to Survivalist: Frugal minded people that also want to be ready for any emergency must also always keep in mind that a fool and his/her money are soon parted. You can prepare for most emergencies with relatively cheap, multi-purpose items if you do your research carefully and learn how to master some basic skills. Remember, there is a world of difference between the hype used to sell the newest model knife and your ability to actually use it to build a shelter. When pressed to prepare for an emergency, your frugal mindset can keep you focused on what you need as opposed to what a marketing specialist wants to sell you.
Practical Improvisation Saves Money
Being frugal doesn’t mean you must put up with dirty clothes because the washing machine died or your home must be a mess because furniture
and home care products are so expensive. On the other hand, you don’t need to spend $10.00 or more on the Laundromat when you can make a reusable bucket washer (complete with wringer) for a fraction of the cost. By the same token, many frugal people are well acquainted with making soap from scratch as well as many other things required for daily living. If you rarely go to the store for routine living needs, then rest assured you already have a number of valuable skills that will help you get through a number of emergencies.
From Frugal Guru to Survivalist: Now, if you still buy soap, food, and other “necessities”, this is a perfectly good time to learn how to make your own goods, grow your own food, and collect your own water. Aside from being fun, you will be taking your frugal lifestyle to a whole new level and be ready for both large and small scale disasters.
Practice Using Time Wisely When I tell people that it only takes a few hours to make enough soap for one year, they laugh because they think it is wasted time. These very same people never mention the fact that the average trip to the supermarket takes well over an hour between getting there, shopping, standing in line, getting home, and unpacking. Even if you only buy soap products once a month, you will spend a minimum of 12 hours on this task, plus you will spend well over $1,000 dollars a year just on dish detergent, bar soap, laundry soap, and shampoo. Compare that to my measly afternoon making soap and around $70.00 in cost for a year’s worth of the above mentioned soap types.
From Frugal Guru to Survivalist: Time is incredibly valuable regardless of the situation. Invariably, when you spend your money carefully and know how to make do with what you have, you will also find that your time is also spent wisely. Perhaps if you don’t have enough time to pursue a cherished hobby, you should try making soap as a starting point for saving money, saving time, and also being ready for any emergency.
Useless Clutter Will Never be an Issue
To be honest, when I visit my friends and family members, I can always tell which ones are sensible, frugal people and which ones are “wannabes”. Nothing says “wannabe penny pincher” like a spotlessly clean house filled to the gills with knick knacks and other assorted … well… to my eye… junk. People that are legitimately frugal and know how to manage their money don’t need to be surrounded by useless stuff. Rather, when you walk into their home, you will see clean rooms free of clutter.
From Frugal Guru to Survivalist: There is always plenty of counter space for cooking, canning, or making all kinds of daily living needs. A frugal survivalist is likely to have old, but well-maintained tools and equipment and there will be plenty of signs that everything has a purpose and a place. When you can only take one bag of items along with you to a place of safety, being able to pick the most important items is truly critical. Practice this skill by decluttering your own home.
Fewer Pieces to Pick Up Makes Rebuilding Easier
Some of the most frugal people I know can literally pack their belongings in a matter of minutes and be ready to move hundreds of miles with very little difficulty. These people know exactly what is important and they never worry about what they left behind. Not only have these people saved thousands of dollars over the years, starting over in a new location is much easier.
From Frugal Guru to Survivalist: In an emergency, the less you have around that can be broken or ruined, the easier it will be to move on and make a new life for yourself. In fact, if you put the money away that you would squander on things that are likely to be lost or ruined in a hurricane or other disaster, you will be amazed at how much easier it will be to start over if needed.
You Will Focus More on People Instead of Useless Junk
One of the things I love most about frugal living is the strong connections with friends and family members that legitimately care. When you live a frugal lifestyle, you aren’t tempted to base your associations on outdoing each other in the spending department. There is truly more joy and tangible satisfaction in spending an afternoon fishing or helping with a building raising than spending a small fortune on a new evening dress so that everyone will be jealous.
From Frugal Guru to Survivalist: Never forget that possessions are possessions. They can do nothing without you. On the other hand, good friends that aren’t bound by money can work together to meet any emergency and come out ahead of the situation.
Less Debt Equals More Options to Succeed
To be fair, far too many people (including frugal ones) wind up using credit cards to make it from one paycheck to the next. Chances are, you may also be in search of ways to save money because you have a mortgage, car loan, and other debts to pay off. Now, as in any emergency situation, the less you owe, the better off you will be.
From Frugal Guru to Survivalist: Even something as simple as cooking your own meals in bulk can reduce your debt and make it easier to manage an emergency. The options are truly endless and span every area of daily living.
Gives You a Chance to Save for a Rainy Day
Within a very short period of time, frugal living can lead to saving money. Even though money will become useless at some point in both large and small-scale emergencies, having some extra on hand is never a bad idea.
From Frugal Guru to Survivalist: Expand your savings methods to include foreign or alternative currency options. Make sure that you know when it is best to use barter and when it is best to use cash.
Are you surprised at how similar frugal living is to prepping for emergencies? If so, you may not have realized that some of your most prized money saving habits translate directly to skills needed to manage an emergency. Please feel free to share in the comments below about some of your frugal living methods and how you think they can be translated into meeting emergency situations more easily.