Friday, October 2, 2009

Fulfilling Your Survival Wish List

I imagine that most of us have wish lists full of survival-related items that we have yet to acquire for whatever reason, but would like to get in the future. My family’s list includes things like a solar oven; more food in storage (that’s a constant, though, because we keep extending the goal when we reach the current one); and a solar-powered battery charger for the cell phones and rechargeable batteries.

One way to go about completing your list is to follow my family’s “One for now, one for later” rule, which applies to most of the groceries and other essentials that we buy. It doesn’t take long to get into the habit of adding two to the cart or splitting up the one item when you get home.

If you buy a six-pack of tighty whities, throw three pairs into the stockpile so that you’ll have them later. Of course, it helps to keep an eye on your size as you go – it would suck if you lost twenty pounds between now and the end of society as we know it and, therefore, couldn’t wear your nice, new underoos.

When we need a container of salt or pepper, we buy two and put away the extras. If we can afford only one bag of beans or rice, we halve it and use the Food Saver to seal the portion that goes into the stash. Right now, my family and I are cutting back on how much sugar we use because we really can’t afford to buy a bunch of it – but still want to put half in the stockpile.

Should we find a fantastic sale on something – a grocery item or some other essential – we buy as much as we can possibly afford. Closeout sales are great ways to get these great deals: stores will put perfectly-good stuff on clearance because the package design changed; the stuff is on the verge of expiring; or next year’s version is about to hit the shelves. I recently bought the mother lode of canned pinto beans because of such a sale, for example.

Some big-ticket items are exceptions to the “One now, one for later” rule. I’m not going to go buy two computers, for example – obviously. However, nothing says that I can’t acquire some extra parts so that, should my PC crap out, I have a good chance of fixing it. I can’t afford to buy two handguns, but I CAN keep mine in good working order and accumulate spare parts so that I might be able to fix it if something goes wrong. There isn’t an extra car sitting in the driveway, I’m sorry to say, but we can repair the ones that we do have, right? Right.

You can offset the extra cost of stockpiling and buying extras by shopping sales. Supermarkets, hardware stores, and pretty much every other retail outlet have “loss leaders,” or heavily-discounted sale items that are designed to lure you into their stores. They can afford to take a hit on this merchandise because they know that a good number of shoppers are going to stick around and buy regularly-priced stuff as well. If, however, you go in and buy just the loss-leader merchandise, you end up saving a big chunk of cash.

Also, take a look at weekly store circulars. In many areas, these show up in your mailbox, or with the Sunday paper. You can also check them out online at, of course. My family and I use these ads to find out what’s on sale and plan the weekly menu around that. There have been a few nice surprises some weeks – like pork chops being half off at one store. Oh, man, was that Monday’s dinner awesome. And the pork-chop sandwiches the next day? Fantastic.

Of course, with the economy sucking like it is at the moment, all sorts of stores are closing all over the place. Earlier this year, I grabbed several memory cards for a fraction of the retail price because the Circuit City near my university was having a closing sale. Just last week, a popular chain of grocery stores closed one location: they sold off all of their store-brand groceries for at least fifty percent off, which presented a fantastic opportunity to go spend some serious money on everything from canned goods to paper towels.

So: Save money, buy more than what you need right now, and be happy knowing that the work you’re putting into this will pay off. Even if nothing ever goes wrong as long as you’re alive, you’re going to eventually eat the food and use the other stuff that you’re accumulating. If nothing else, the stuff that you’re buying today is cheaper than it will be in six months when you rotate your stockpiled food.

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“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm