Questions to Ask When Gearing Up and Purchasing Prepper Supplies
By Robert Alexander
First a disclaimer: I am not an expert in prepping; I don’t even play an expert on TV. What follows are just my thoughts on a topic I have not yet heard discussed.
If you are new to prepping, you may feel overwhelmed by everything you may have heard that you need, such as supplies of food and water for a century, tools to start fires, enough first aid supplies for an army, a mountain of gold and silver, a tricked-out bugout vehicle and a bugout location that is simultaneously nearby and also in paradise.
OK, I may have exaggerated slightly in the previous paragraph, but the point is that in addition to acquiring skills (which you can do for free), you also want to acquire gear and that costs money.
Prepper Supplies and Cost Reality
Unless you happen to be named “Bill Gates” or “Jeff Bezos,” you probably can’t afford to buy immediately everything you wish to get. And you may have heard the saying, “Two is one, one is none.” (In case you haven’t heard it before, it is used to explain that because things get broken, lost, etc., it is better to have a backup of anything that is important.)
This brings up a quandary: Do you first try to buy one of everything that you have determined that you need (however long that takes), and only then start buying the seconds, do you buy two of each item as your money permits? (That is, do you buy two flashlights, then two generators, then two… Well, you get the idea.)
Questions to Ask When Purchasing Prepper Supplies
My approach is somewhere between those two extremes. Here are the questions that I ask myself when deciding what to buy next:
- How vital is the item? I’m going to make sure I have enough supplies related to food and water before I start thinking about adding any nice-but-not-necessary items.
- Do I already own anything that would do the job? Even before you decided to start prepping officially, you may have bought items that could serve you here: For example, camping and first aid supplies, or lighters that you bought for your kids’ birthday candles. Just because you bought the items without having prepping in mind doesn’t mean they don’t also double as prepper supplies.
- How expensive is the item? Fire starting supplies are very inexpensive; buying a second one would not require having to give up the chance to buy many other supplies. At the other extreme, for the price of one bugout location, I could more than get all of the other prepper supplies that I need (except possibly a bugout vehicle).
- Is there a sale that I don’t want to pass up? This one is tricky; there are many sites that impose a fake sense of urgency: “Limited time only,” and “Limited supplies!” are two examples of meaningless hype: The earth as we know it has a limited lifespan, so all offers are limited time ones. Similarly, it is impossible to have an infinite amount of any item; therefore, supplies of everything are limited. Before I purchase an item on sale, I do my due diligence by determining the following:
- Is the item high quality or is it schlock? Check the ratings. Even if the offer is on a site other than amazon.com, it still doesn’t hurt to go to Amazon to see what others say about the product. I can already hear the replies of, “Fake reviews!” Two sites that help one determine how likely the reviews are to be fake are https://reviewmeta.com/ and https://www.fakespot.com/.
- Is this a true sale or is it a discount from a price that no one actually pays? Once again, I seek out Amazon. Once I see the item on that site, I then make use of the camelcamelcamel browser extension to determine what the price for the item has been. The extension can also be used to create alerts that will e-mail you to let you know that the item is currently selling at or below a target price which you set.
- Is this item on sale frequently, or is this truly a once-in-a-square-moon sale?
- Can I afford the item right now? I don’t care how good the sale is, I will not waste money on credit card interest fees. Note that I did not say that I will not use a credit card. I routinely make purchases using credit cards that award back a percentage of the amount spent. I just make sure to pay the balance in full every month and to buy on credit only items that I would otherwise have bought with cash. In this way, I am getting some free money.
These are some of the things that go through my mind when deciding what to purchase next. I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on the topic. What algorithm do you use to determine what to buy next?
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