The Bunker

Prepping really is a journey and as the title states we’re sharing ours with you. We’ve now reached the stage where we’re officially out of storage or at least proper storage in the house for all our prepper goodies. We’ve been talking about it for awhile but now it’s time for action – time to turn that dark junk filled basement into usable storage. Time to haul off the junk; time to sweep, clean, bleach and paint. Time to convert that old unused basement into a 1600 square foot prepper bunker that would make the doomsday folks jealous (not really). Aside from the furnace, water heater, washer and dryer the space has gone mostly unused except for junk we moved from a previous home – time to change all that. Time to get busy:

prepper-closet

Action list:

  • Haul off the junk
  • Sweep, clean and bleach EVERYTHING
  • Paint it all top to bottom with easy to clean high gloss paint
  • Replace old florescent lights with high efficiency LEDs
  • Install dehumidifiers to keep it dry and prevent mold
  • Add shelving and racks for storage
  • Add additional ventilation
  • Replace interior access door with steel
  • Add window bars to exterior entrance

bunker-2

bunker-1

Can never have enough charcoal!

bunker-4

Making some progress on section 1.

bunker10

bunker11

bunker13

Expansion continues…

Recently added a new dehumidifier to help keep everything cool and dry.

Will keep you posted as our project continues.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

Advertisements

Prepping for the Rich and Famous

Prepping for the Rich and Famous

Ironic how the Hollywood elite that mock the preparedness movement are secretly building massive underground bunkers for themselves. Yes, it’s the typical do as I say not as I do. Politicians, actors, pro athletes and even Bill Gates who help drive the economic and social policies that have gotten us into this mess, are spending millions to make sure they survive the fallout of what they helped create. (Read the article here: PANIC, ANXIETY SPARK RUSH TO BUILD LUXURY BUNKERS FOR L.A.’S SUPERRICH) Preppers are portrayed in the media as that weird uncle with too many guns mumbling about conspiracy theories and aliens – this by the very same people spending millions to build their own bunkers. Don’t allow the ‘we know what’s best for you’ crowd to frustrate your efforts to become prepared and less reliant on a faltering society.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

How much is enough?

How much water, how much food? How much do you really need to put away to feel at least somewhat secure? I think we probably all ask ourselves that from time to time, and we probably all come up with different answers. The amount we actually need primarily depends on the length of time you are trying to prepare for, what type of event (see my previous blog  What type of event or events are you preparing for? ) and how long you think it will last. Another major factor is will you still have access to other supplies or will you be hunkered down living on only what you’ve saved? A good rule of thumb is buy what you eat, so what is it you eat most that you can save and how often do you eat it? Personally I’ve been trying to lose a few pounds and tone up a bit so I’ve been eating more (canned) fruit in the mornings before work, probably 4 times a week,  so 4 cans a week of either pears, peaches, mandarin oranges, or fruit cocktail. So if you do the math, that’s about 208 cans of fruit a year or 52 for just a 3 month supply – and that’s just for me. Yikes, that’s just one item. So what do you eat? For the sake of argument let’s say you eat 1 can of soup (insert your favorite here) a week now, which might turn out to be more like 3 cans a week in a SHTF incident, so just a 3 month supply would be roughly 39 cans, or a 156 cans a year; that’s a lot of soup! And that’s just one item in your prepper stash. Multiply that time how many different items you would need to survive through a week and the numbers get pretty staggering. (See our The Prepper List for more storage items to consider.) A gallon of water per person per day for a family of four is roughly 180 gallons for just a 3 month supply and that doesn’t include washing, cleaning or flushing the toilet!  OK, take a deep breath, baby steps.

Beans and rice, rice and beans

buckets-full-of-rice

Two of the most common prepper items are of course rice and dried beans because of their long shelf life, but how often do you actually eat these items? Are you just packing away 5 gallon buckets of dried goods that you hope you’ll never need or are you planning how you will actually eat, drink and live in a SHTF event? Commercially prepared long term food storage may or may not be right for you depending on your situation. Take inventory of what you use every week/month and decide what the best items are for you to save and based on usage how many of each you need. And keep in mind living and just surviving are two very different things. There are no experts on the future; each of us has to make our own SHTF plan based on our view of the world as we know it.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

Financial Prepping

A closet full of food and a desk covered in credit card bills isn’t exactly a match made in heaven. Having stockpiles of food, water and other preps is great, but if you’re swimming in debt, are you really prepared for anything? Emergencies take many forms and a financial emergency can turn your world upside down in a very short period of time. What if you lost your job today? What if you or someone in your family has a major health crisis, could you continue to pay the bills and care for your family? Granted, your food preps will keep you from starving, but that doesn’t necessarily keep a roof over your head. If your income stopped today, how long could you survive? Even if you feel pretty financially secure, chances are you could still improve your situation with a little bit of work.

The average American has 2.6 credit cards in their wallet and owes an average of $7,879. Ouch! Add on car payments, mortgages and other revolving debt and that number grows to $225,236 in debt with most people having less than $500 in savings. Ok, enough with the stats, let’s get on with how to fix it. If you are already financially sound or at least killing off that debt feel free to skip down the page a bit.

Debt is not the issue, it’s the symptom.

I was always told to never talk about politics, religion or money – you’re bound to make someone feel uncomfortable. People are often intimidated by things they don’t understand and money is often one of those things. Just to be clear, I’m speaking from experience here as we made just about every imaginable mistake with money and usually twice.  In our younger years we loaded up on a ton of debt, it’s just what you did – buy it now, pay for it later. You know – ‘easy financing!’ At one point we had 3 mortgages, 2 car loans, motorcycle loan, and a slew of credit cards – and we didn’t lose a wink of sleep, this was just ‘normal.’ We were making great money and somehow were always able to out earn our stupidity. We were very lucky to have escaped that situation without disaster, but many folks just aren’t that lucky. Just take a look back at 2008 – enough said? Time to clean up those finances!

Analyze, Identify, Execute

I often hear employees complaining that they don’t have enough/make enough money, but in the same breath they talk about the new video game they just bought while sipping their Starbucks and playing on their $600 cell phone. Madness!

Analyze:

Make a journal of every dollar you spend for a month. I use my debit card to pay for everything then use Quicken to track it – you may find something that works better for you, doesn’t matter as long as you do it. Track every dollar; track not just your monthly bills but every candy bar, cup of coffee, and cheese burger from the drive thru; you will be surprised how fast your list grows.

Identify

Even if you cheated and only kept the journal for a week you will likely have noticed a few things jumping off the pages at you. Spending $5 a day at Starbucks gets expensive really quick or even that $1 cup of coffee from McDonald’s isn’t really a bargain if you do it everyday. For example: instead of stopping for coffee on your way to work buy a decent coffee maker and a can of coffee and make your own at home. Coffee maker – $40, can of coffee – $8; the 36 oz can I bought at Wal-Mart claims it makes 288 6 oz cups – do the math. 288 divided by $48 = about $.17 a cup or 85 cents a week vs. $5 at McDonald’s not to mention Starbucks. Your results may vary, but you get the idea. Now analyze everything you spend money on: do you really need 12 gigs of data for your cell phone, 200 cable channels you don’t watch, or that $20 bucket of popcorn at the movies? If you make $2000 a month and your car payment is $500, you bought too much car!

Execute

Now that you have identified some opportunities it’s time to start cutting all that fat. Depending on how close to the edge you are at every month you may only be able to change a few things at a time, but you have to start somewhere. Create a game plan, also known as a budget! Yuck, that’s a nasty word right; who wants to have their choices limited by bunch of stupid numbers on a page, ‘I work my butt off and I deserve to have nice things!’ Yes, we all feel that way sometimes, but that’s what got you here in the first place. You deserve those nice things when you can afford to actually pay for them. Here’s a basic downloadable budget form to get you started (I created my own in excel). I would recommend you buy Dave Ramsey’s ‘Total Money Makeover’ or ‘Financial Peace University’ book for some excellent budgeting tools as well as some great investing advice. Note: you may find a Financial University class near you, check DaveRamsey.com. Now, lay out a battle plan and stick to it; cut back the cable by using Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime instead. Do comparison shopping for your car insurance, cell phone, even look for a better rate on that credit card. Cut the fat and use the savings to pay down that debt. Warning: you will slip, mess up, screw up and fail; but success will come if you keep getting up and getting back on track.

Step back from the edge

So now that you’ve sliced and diced through your monthly budget, what’s next? First you need a bit of breathing room; you need to build a small buffer between you and disaster. Before you go after all that debt, build yourself a small emergency fund, $1000 is usually a good place to start regardless of how long it takes you to get there. Even if you only manage to start with a few dollars a week, at least you’re making progress! You’ll be amazed how much better you feel when you have some actual savings.

The debt snowball

You’re probably heard the term before; it’s no mystery it’s just a common sense method for paying down you debt. Now that you’ve cut your costs and saved up your $1000 emergency fund, take the money you’ve been saving weekly/monthly and apply it to your debt. Take on your smallest debt, maybe that pesky Department Store credit card at 28% interest, and hit it first. Pay just the minimums on everything else till the first one’s gone then take that payment and attack the next one. Simple right?

Investing

I know some people are closing out their 401ks and buying long term storage food, I get it, but what if the markets don’t collapse just yet? What if you find yourself at retirement age and all you have saved is food and water? Walk into any fast food or retail outlet and chances are you’ll see a few senior citizens working there and not because they want to. To me prepping is preparing for any and all situations including the possibility of actually retiring. Yes, I am worried about the financial state our country is in. Yes, I am worried about our country’s $19.5 Trillion in debt. I am very doubtful that the economy will continue as it is without some sort of major disruption, but what if it does? What if somehow, some way, the economy just continues limping along for awhile? If you’ve been reading some of my other posts you know that I am an ‘all of the above’ prepper and I apply that to our finances as well. We save cash on hand, cash in the bank, employer provided 401k and stock purchase plan, as well as mutual funds with a major brokerage firm – all of the above. That being said, I watch the financials very closely, I took a beating in 2008 that I would prefer not to experience again. The choice of whether or not to invest is yours; maybe your crystal ball is better than mine. We all make choices based on what we think will happen, but the fact is we’re all just guessing.

A few random little tips:

  • Open a separate bank account with a debit card for online shopping; transfer only enough each time for your purchase. If the account gets hacked they get little or nothing, and it helps prevent you from running that credit card back up.
  • Buy the best quality products you can afford, it’s not a bargain if you keep having to replace it every few months/years.
  • Regardless of how tempting that 15% off or 90 days same as cash deal might be, never use department store credit cards as they have the highest rates of interest. And never, never, never use payday loans, title loans etc.
  • Comparison shop for EVERYTHING! Car insurance, cell phone plan, cable, clothing, music, movies, food, everything! I love Amazon, but I check prices on everything I can.
  • Kill the cable/satellite: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others all offer great entertainment choices for $10 a month or less.
  • Buy in bulk. Not that I need to tell you folks, but it’s almost always cheaper to buy the big jar of pickles vs. the smaller one.
  • For many folks their cell phone is their best friend and constant companion, but do you really need the latest and greatest? Do you really need to rush out and drop $700 on a new phone that you can get for half the price next year? Do you really need to spend an extra $100 a month on data to play Angry Birds or chase Pokeman? Think about it.
  • Cut your heating bills by getting a couple of infrared heaters. We have cut our winter fuel costs in half by using 4 of these Lifesmart Infrared Heaters in various locations around the house.
  • These days a lot of retailers have a $5-$10 minimum credit/debit card purchase. Carry a few extra dollars in your pocket for when you just need a pack of gum.
  • Bring it from home. Similar to the coffee example used earlier, if you drink 2 diet Cokes a day, bring them to work with you instead of hitting the convenience store or vending machine. You might even consider packing a lunch (gasp) instead of visiting the McDonald’s drive thru.
  • Plant a garden if at all possible or at least hit the farmers market. It’s a great way to save money and eat better at the same time.
  • Opportunity buying is being able to take advantage of an unexpected deal because you can afford to. Getting your finances in shape and actually having money allows you to take advantage of those 50% off Red Tag sales and such without straining your budget.

 

Just imagine if our politicians thought this way.

 

Some recommended reading:

The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

More than Enough: The Ten Keys to Changing Your Financial Destiny

Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey Financial Peace

The Motley Fool: You Have More Than You Think – The Foolish Guide to Personal Finance

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

The Big Incomplete List of Prepper Items

It seems there are literally hundreds of excellent prepper lists out there and as part of our journey we have started our own. We hope to use this as an inventory/wish list to help us stay on track as well as (hopefully) helping others develop their own.

Happy prepping!

Cash

  • We keep extra cash ($20-$25) in each vehicle as well as some loose change
  • $20 stashed behind our cell phone covers
  • $200 in the prepper closet (stuffed inside an old can of peanuts)

Water

  • Cases of water
  • Large treated water storage ( stackable cubesor 55 gallon barrels)
  • Water filter
  • Drink mixes (Kool-Aid, lemonade, Tang, etc)
  • Coffee
  • Tea Bags we store black, green and a variety of herbal teas
  • Powdered milk
  • We also reuse milk jugs, 2 liters to store water for cleaning and flushing the toilet

Food

  • Canned Fruits – peaches, pears, apples, applesauce, fruit cocktail
  • Canned Veggies – green beans, corn,
  • Canned Beans – baked, vegetarian, chili beans, black-eyed peas, etc
  • Soups & Chili
  • Dried Beans
  • Rice
  • Flour
  • Corn meal
  • Honey – lasts forever
  • Raisins – lasts forever
  • Dehydrated fruit
  • Canned meats (yuck)
  • Canned pickles, olives, peppers
  • Condiments – mustard, ketchup, salsa, taco sauce
  • Molasses
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes
  • Mac and cheese and other box meals
  • Peanuts – my personal addiction, walnuts, almonds, etc – freeze or vacuum seal is best
  • Jerky
  • Trail mix
  • Popcorn
  • Pancake mix
  • Peanut butter
  • Jams, jellies, preserves
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Cooking oil
  • Yeast
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Garden seeds! We also save as many as we can from the garden.

Freezer

Some think the freezer is a bad idea and granted in an extended power outage the freezer will become useless when your generator runs out of fuel. However, a large freezer full of goodies can help get you and your family through a financial hit (job loss, large unexpected bill, etc) while allowing you to stock up on items when they are least expensive. Picking up those pizzas at 4 for $10 or freezing corn from the farm stand when they’re $4 a dozen can save you loads of cash in the long run. If you’re like us, the freezer gives us another option for saving produce from our garden. Our main freezer is now fully stocked for the winter and we are considering purchasing another. Note: the bottom of our freezer is also lined with 2 liter bottles of water – can never have enough water!

  • Frozen veggies – corn, green beans, peas, peppers, tomatoes, stir fry, carrots
  • Frozen fruits – apples, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries
  • Burgers, hot dogs, steaks
  • Waffles
  • Sausage, bacon
  • Frozen juices
  • Pizza!
  • Popsicle’s –we make our own using these and real fruit juice

Cleaning Supplies

  • Bleach – lots and lots of bleach
  • Bar Soap
  • Soft Soap
  • Dish soap
  • Ammonia
  • Window cleaner
  • Mr. Clean or similar
  • Laundry soap

Medical/First Aide

  • Prescription Medications
  • Baby Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen, Tylenol, etc
  • Band-Aids
  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • Triple Antibiotic creme
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Cold medicine
  • Allergy medicine
  • Antacids
  • Cough drops
  • Orajel for tooth pain
  • Charcoal capsules
  • Q-tips
  • Cotton balls
  • Latex gloves
  • Vitamins
  • Cold packs
  • you may consider a First Aid Kit

Personal Care

  • Toothbrushes/toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Mouthwash
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dental floss
  • Sunscreen
  • Chap-stick

Fuel

  • Gasoline – 5 gallon cans
  • Kerosene – 5 gallon cans
  • Propane – 20 gallon tanks
  • Charcoal and lighter fluid
  • Firewood if appropriate
  • Fuel stabilizer
  • Siphon for transferring fuel
  • Keep your car’s tank full
  • Extra fuel for vehicles

Other

  • Paper goods – toilet paper! Paper towels, napkins, paper plates
  • Plastic knives forks spoons
  • Plastic cups
  • Plastic storage bags
  • Aluminum foil
  • Bug repellent
  • Wasp/Hornet killer

Light/Power

  • LED lanterns
  • Flashlights
  • Headlamps
  • Emergency candles
  • Solar lights
  • Batteries– lots of batteries
  • Gas/Propane generator depending on your situation
  • Oil lamps/oil
  • Solar charger for cell phone/batteries
  • Power inverter – charge or run small items from your car’s electrical system
  • We are currently looking into larger solar and wind options – suggestions welcome

For our furry friends (if you have some)

  • Food and water for them
  • Medications they may take
  • Flea and tick protection
  • Grooming tools
  • Treats (they get stressed too)

Optional (not completely sold on this yet)

  • Alcohol, cigarettes, other barter goods
  • Silver or other precious metals

 Equipment and tools

Last but not least – firearms and ammo – lots of ammo!

Finally, be sure to rotate your supplies; first in, first out.

Hope you find this useful; please feel free to suggest other items for the list!

Happy prepping!

When prepping pays off unexpectedly

Drivers in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolina’s went into panic mode Friday afternoon when the news of a gas pipeline break began to hit social media. Gas stations were soon jammed with commuters looking to fill their tanks and inevitably the pumps began to run dry from the excessive demand. I heard several reports of fights breaking out (in the metro areas of course) as frustration levels began to rise, these days, it doesn’t take much. Of course there were people on social media saying it was a scam to drive up prices and all the usual things you hear from the uninformed masses, but the break was real and there was indeed an interruption in the regular supply of gasoline to these areas. Interestingly enough, some people, now 2 days after the story hit and 9 days after the leak was initially discovered, are apparently just now getting the word – how is that even possible? But I digress. Like others who got the news early, I topped off the tank and proceeded on to work like normal; no lines, no gouging, no worries. Later that same day as the news began to leak out – the mad rush was on.

So what the heck does this have to do with prepping?

Prepping is being prepared for whatever might happen. Now, my lovely wife has always been guilty (and me too at times) of running around on a 1/8 of a tank of gas, waiting till the very last minute to get fuel. However, as we began our prepper journey we agreed that we would try to keep the cars relatively full in case the power goes out and stations can’t pump or the banking system is down and the debit cards become useless. Now, with others panicking over supply and prices rising quickly, we find ourselves in pretty good shape. With full tanks and a supply of gas at home (originally intended for our portable generator) our prepping had paid off unexpectedly. Not only that, but having a good supply of basically everything, we find ourselves able to avoid any and all unnecessary trips to the store. With the fuel we have on hand we figure I can still commute to work for about 3 weeks without having to buy gas – stress avoided. Not only was I not sitting in line at some gas station or worse yet driving around trying to find one that still had gas, I could go on about my normal routine as if nothing had happened. It was Friday so as usual I hit a couple of stores to add to my prepper supply; loading up on bottled water, canned fruit, soups, chili, rice, dried beans, tea, coffee, powdered drinks, bleach, paper goods, etc, etc, etc. Though this definitely doesn’t qualify as a SHTF incident, it does indeed demonstrate how fragile our infrastructure really is and how quickly even a minor interruption in services can change our situation literally overnight. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

Great article re-blogged from The Armed Christian

My weekly “What Did You Prep This Week” posts frequently contain information about what I am doing to have an appropriate amount of food on hand in case of a disaster. I thought it might be a good idea to share some information on the basics of food storage so everyone would have a common […]

via The Basics Of Food Storage Part 1: Why? — The Armed Christian