Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Excuse #1 - Preparing is Expensive

Last week I blogged about the reasons I hate being prepared, and today we are going to talk about reason/excuse #1...preparing is expensive. Each week I will add another excuse to our list, until we either run out of excuses or you beg me to stop.

Many people think that getting prepared is expensive, and I think it is all relative.  If you are struggling to put food on the table and make rent...well, now may not be the right time to invest in an estate plan, but you can become aware of your medical histories and gather personal documents.

I also think preparation is a matter of priority.  If you spend $6 a day getting coffee, you are putting about $1440 a year into tasty caffeine.  That money could easily pay for a will/trust, extra food supplies, camping gear, training classes, or organization supplies.

In many cases it is not that we don't have the money, it is that we would rather spend it on something else.

An important thing to remember is we don't need fabulous designer supplies to get prepared. There is no need for matching sleeping bags, coordinated emergency backpacks, or cutesy organizing bins.  Using what you have and building from there is just fine.

Here are a few ideas of how to get prepared in an economical fashion:

Food Preparation - Every time you go to the grocery store add a few extra cans of frequently used food to your cart.  Wait for sales and stock up.  Mark the tops of the cans with the date you purchased it, and set it aside.  Closets and under bed space make for wonderful storage areas. A few cans a week will add up, and you will increase your food supplies quickly.  Aim for a 3 month supply to begin with.  Look at what you already eat to decide what to buy.  Don't forget to store all the ingredients for the recipe, for example, store pasta if you get spaghetti sauce.

Paperwork Preparation - Paperwork can be overwhelming, but start slow.  Identify a place to put papers.  It could be a large envelope, a dedicated drawer, a file folder, whatever works for you.  Over the course of a month, pay your bills and put the receipts in your pile.  If you get online notifications, save them to a single folder. Collect statements from utilities, banks, service companies, mortgage companies, and wherever else you pay money to. This generates a quick and dirty list of contacts and account numbers.

Medical Preparation - Start keeping a copy of medical records.  Ask you doctor to have a copy made when you do lab work, or have other tests run.  Organize this information in a folder, labeled by person. Write down a list of current medications, the prescribing doctor and the pharmacy you use.

Survival Equipment - I think this scares people as the big expense.  You do not need to be outfitted for an expedition to Mt Everest to consider yourself prepared.  Also, it will do you no good to buy things you don't know how to use and don't need.  Start with the basics, like sleeping bags and back packs. Make sure you are comfortable using them. Then add shelter, usually a tent.  Learn how to set it up and practice sleeping in it. Add items as you learn how to use them.  Older household items are great for camping purposes and can be dual purposed if needs be.

I know there are many other ways to get prepared and tons of economical ways to do that.  Please add you comments and suggestions below.  Next week we will go onto the next be ready!

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