Smart Spending for Preppers Looking for Financial Freedom

by Jerry M

Using your money wisely can pay many dividends for you over time. Learning to spend your money wisely is a habit most people must learn through discipline, it is usually not inbred into a person’s lifestyle (please read: The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness). All, or at least most, of today’s advertising is focused on emotional appeal for your money, not logic and common sense. If we can think logically instead of emotionally we will be far better off in almost every situation we find ourselves in, especially financial ones.

We got serious about a self-reliant lifestyle several years ago and this article is designed to give the reader some food for thought, some direction, and glimpses of things that worked for us.

One of the first things we had to adapt to was determining a “want” from a “need”, it took a while to develop that mindset, It was not easy and it took discipline, lots of discipline.

The ability to purchase things you need is governed by your own personal cash flow. Remember that cash flows both ways, in and out just like the tide. Our goal was to plug the money leaks in our cash flow pot. We are retired, so we are on a fixed income. Increasing inflation over time has eroded the buying power of everyone’s dollars. This really hits home when you are on a fixed income.

Let’s look at food purchase of a few items that just about everyone uses. We buy larger quantities of food where and when we can. We buy 5-gallon food grade buckets and gamma lids for daily use and buckets and solid lids for long-term storage. Don’t forget at least one lid wrench for the solid lids. A bucket and gamma lid cost us $ 11.00 and a bucket with a solid lid about $6.50.

If you stack buckets, put a 15”x15” piece of plywood between the buckets to avoid cracking the bottom lid because of weight. We don’t stack them more than 3 buckets high.

We recently bought table salt in a 50# bag for $12.50 which is $.25 a pound and it fills 2 buckets. Buying salt in the convenient 1# containers at $.85 each is far more convenient but cost considerably more money. Another example is white flour in a 50# bag for $11.97 or $.24 per pound. Buying flour in a 5# bag for $3.19makes it $.64 per pound.
We buy a 50# bag of sugar for$27.61 or $.55 a pound or a 32 oz. bag for $2.29 which is $1.14 per pound.

Learn to look at your cost per pound or per ounce when buying food and also know the storage life of the food. We shop at WINCO and Cash & Carry in our area for large quantity items in bulk.
We also cruise through the thrift stores and find lots of “bargains” on a variety of things. We are seniors and a veteran so we receive a 20% discount at our Good Will thrift store.

Most of us carry insurance of some type. Our experience has shown that we get the best coverage and the best price by dealing with an independent insurance agent. The independent agent will have several companies to choose from, they are not locked into one company. We stay away from “company” agents such as State Farm, Safeco, Farmers, etc. and have always done better.

We will never purchase a new car again. The purchase of a new vehicle is probably the worst investment that you can make. As soon as you drive off the lot you have lost at least 10% of the value of what you just paid for the vehicle. We will purchase a vehicle about 2 years old and preferably one from a rental car agency. They will have had a regular service schedule and not a lot of miles on them. We have had good experiences doing this over the years.

We think having a cash stash in a safe place is of paramount importance. Unexpected emergencies will happen from time to time. A safe deposit box is not a safe place, the banks are closed weekends and holidays and every evening too, giving you limited access to your cash. Even though there is lots of talk of eliminating cash in favor of a totally digital system, we think and hope that is a far-off future thing. Our goal is to have enough cash to pay 1 year’s taxes, utilities, and make small purchases for a while.

Beyond that, if things get that bad, who knows? We keep a cash stash in a small fireproof box that is easily hidden as well as transportable. You can find these at Walmart and other retailers. We also keep another fireproof box with our important papers in it.

Some folks are in favor of having precious metals stashed away. We feel that is fine if you have everything else that you need in place. Keep in mind however that in the 1930’s gold was confiscated by the federal government. The use of gold and silver may also be made illegal under a martial law situation.

You can save money by eliminating cable TV, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, dining out, unnecessary car trips, cigarettes, and perhaps other areas as well. Grow as much of your own food as possible and learn to preserve it. Getting out of debt and staying out is one of the first steps toward financial freedom.

Financial freedom is a big stepping stone to self-reliance. Reevaluate your finances from time to time to help you keep on a sound financial pathway.

Remember, these are things we have done that over the years have worked well for us. Your situation may differ a little, but the same principles apply: common sense over nonsense, needs vs. wants and logic over emotion.

Enjoy the journey.


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  1. I’m in the middle, I get SS but my wife started working as a nurse two years ago. So far medical costs for us have eaten most of her salary. She did buy a newer car to replace her 18 year old one. We did get a four year old used sub-compact with 30,000 miles on it.

    The cost of food depends on where you live. At Walmart sugar is always $1.54 for four pounds. Growing your own is dependent on the weather. My summer garden was a bust. Here in north Florida it has rained almost every day since the middle of May. Even my grow pots are suffering from excess water and having the fertilizer leached away. Hope springs eternal, in about a month I will start the seeds for my fall and winter garden.

    We older folks have it easier in most ways. We either now have all we need or at least have figured out how to get by with what we do have and the children are grown. I am fortunate in that I have a successful son who is single and could help me if needed. He already bought a new truck for me. Also in the future, hopefully not to soon, my wife will inherit some property and two good vehicles.

    • Daddio7,

      The cost of food depends on where you live. At Walmart sugar is always $1.54 for four pounds.

      Is it beet or cane sugar? For many things it makes no difference; but, for some candy making it can be important. We have Rural King in the area and their cane sugar is always $5.00 for 10 pounds, which is cheap enough for the amount we use.

      Growing your own is dependent on the weather. My summer garden was a bust. Here in north Florida it has rained almost every day since the middle of May.

      Our garden this year has also been a bust. It was a gentle winter; but, that meant precipitation was rain and not snow that can be pushed away. We had small lake where water had never laid before.

      Hope springs eternal, in about a month I will start the seeds for my fall and winter garden.

      We might squeeze in a fall garden; but, winter is out. This will be our first year with a greenhouse, so we will try some small scale winter crops using it. It’s currently not usable, since with the door and top vents wide open, it often gets up to 120° midday.

      We older folks have it easier in most ways. We either now have all we need or at least have figured out how to get by with what we do have and the children are grown.

      And if we’ve been diligently saving throughout our career, we have nest eggs that will provide more monthly income. I had numerous pensions and IRA’s that have all been rolled over into 3 accounts that bring in nearly $1000.00 per month on interest and dividends alone. Also, don’t ever forget to ask for the “senior discount.”

      I am fortunate in that I have a successful son who is single and could help me if needed.

      We have one who is single and one who is married and both have helped when asked; but, generally with tasks and for now at least, not cash. Our DD is out of college and on her own, so none of the kids are any longer an expense, except of course for Christmas and birthdays.

      Also in the future, hopefully not to soon, my wife will inherit some property and two good vehicles.

      We’ve already inherited property and cash, and our 1/3 share of the property returns a nice rental income. It’s farm rent for crop land, so there is generally no real maintenance involved.

      • Dadio,

        You can also plant sugar cane, or stevia. Both are natural plant sugars. Seeds are fairly cheap online only buy heirloom seeds so you can sew your own seeds. Lots of info. online. Or go to the library if you can. It costs a little to get started but when you reap the profit both health and financial from your own crop you’ll be happy you did.

        Hope this helps
        God Bless

      • If you still want to try a garden. Till your soil and put some Epson Salt in it for magnesium. Also you can get great help on gardens and all sorts of stuff from Marjory Wildcraft and Mother Earth

      • Hi Guys…

        Our garden was a bust this year also because my husband wanted to just throw seeds in the ground and expect them to grow. NOT!! I purchased some books and downloaded a lot of free articles on how to prep your soil. Needless to say the garden along with growing herbs, canning, sewing, crocheting, care of the bees, stocking our pond with fish, and pretty much everything else is under my administration. Hope our garden is fruitful this year. Our fruit trees are really growing. I am also hoping to make some extra money off of selling my homemade soaps, shampoos and conditioner, honey, and eggs. Wish me luck!!

        • Also to let you guys know.. I found a site on Utube that tells you how to make your own laundry soap for a year for $30.00 or less. Super easy and very cost effective.

    • Hi Dadio!

      My husband and I used to live in Florida around Naples/Cape Coral. So we know what you are going through. We are also on Disability. We have since moved to Georgia and have purchased 8 acres through a Investment Company. But we still have some of the similar weather problems. Never put all of your seeds in the same basket… lol You should do a couple of different things that will also be easier for you to manage. 1) Do a cheap visqueen green house. You can control temp., and water. You can also plant some miniature fruit trees.
      2) Plant medicinal and culinary herbs inside on shelves in the kitchen.
      3) If you can here and there buy bulk rice, sugar, and flour at walmarts and Dry Can them with or without oxygen absorbers. Dry Can instr. are on Utube.
      Hope this helps.
      God Bless

      • Marie Carroll – What part of South GA? SW or SE? My mom was born in Waycross but grew up in Shellman (not Shellman Bluff). I still have family in the area.

    • Dadio,

      here are 2 of the best people to learn from. Linda’s Pantry is the best.

      You can sometimes get canning jars free on craigslist, or pick some up cheap at fleamarkets and yard sales.

  2. I stopped buying in bulk a few years ago I just opened a 25 pound of sugar I had in my storage for 2 years, thats how much we have cut back on sugar. Most spices, or flours, I buy on sale and dry can flour not spices and I keep a bucket of fresh flour , to make breads, and pancakes. I stopped all magazines, no cable, either. Growing food some foods are super easy others can be a hit or miss I don’t think Ill get any tomaotes, this year it’s my miss on most vegetables, this year. My potatoes, so far seem the best growing veggy, I have in the garden and herbs always do great for me. We need to get rid os Big Boy toys, I keep telling my husband they are fun but everything takes money, from repairs, to gas, to insurance, it’s hard to sometimes get him to see reason on the toys. I know it’s because I grew up with depression eara babies, both born at the very end of the 30’s they both know how to pinch pennies, and taught us kids that too.

    • Mom of three,

      I also have kids and have cut everything from cable on out. But I only buy bulk and dry can most everything even pinto beans. I have learned so much from two site for free and The Grow Network with Marjory Wildcraft
      And we’ve got 12 hens, 4 roosters (2 are going to be broilers soon), and 4 turkeys 1 male. The were very inexpensive to start as chicks. We put them in our garden bathtub to start out but a dog cage works too. They are just starting to lay but we get 4-6 eggs a day for now.

  3. Prepared Grammy

    When I make a purchase, I first ask if it’s a want or a need. Next, I’ve always (Yes, ever since I was a child.) looked at cost as time. I look at how long it takes me to make the purchase price of the item. If it’s worth that much time, I get it. If not, I pass. Some things are worth the time taken to earn the money and others are not.

  4. I am missing the Saturday “what did you do to prep this week”. Has this site been stopped for a reason? I loved seeing what people have done each. Week. Keeps me on the ball.

    • You aren’t alone. I’ve heard a rumor it’s being dropped. If it is, I’ll go with whoever picks it up. It was the BEST feature of this blog! I can get info anywhere- it’s the community I miss!

      • I’m with you. It was the highlight of all that MD posted. I enjoyed checking in to see what my prepping neighbors were doing.

        • I sent u a msg but it was, apparently, deleted. Go to the previous to see that feature.

      • go to old site name. …TSB,new owner has started a similar thread..

      • Garden Girl…
        You Mis-stated…. YOU missed the POINT ! this whole WEBSITE is NEW! It had a very good start., Host said so himself!
        My advise, you can take or leave is. Take a chill pill, step back, and calm down. Think carefully before you choose to attack others. I’m just sayin’ ..It has not turned out well from my experience .
        Our Host changed to the Homestead community. Many followed him because that did reasonate. it fits with being able to provide for our families long term…
        .. No need in bashing anyone because they choose to read this site AND /OR 10 others
        .. Exclusive -ness in MY OPINION humble or not : might not be a good way to be going…Limitation of audience might not be a way to go when site traffic- determines pay?
        I think there were others who did try that? I do not remember who or when/how it turned out? some who have been around longer than I might be aware of those.???.
        ??? Maybe we should be very careful how we bash the writings of others, it could hurt feelings of those who apply the words to themselves either Appropriately or Inappropriately.. Just thinkin’.

        • Anonamo Also,

          I apologize if I have offended you. My intent was to get a message passed the screening procedure and reach folks. We are friends, both here and on the old site.

    • Jesse Mathewson

      Interesting, and sad. Have written over 150 reviews never charging and rarely getting product…why are you all acting like this is your site?

      While I do not always agree with, and am clear both publicly and non, with MD about my agreements or disagreements I feel a bit like you are all being ungrateful – the vast majority of the articles and more have been and were free.

      I havent sold out promoting advertisers that are not that great like so many others.

      MD makes his living from this site, maybe using the amazon link when making purchases which literally costs nothing extra to do…would help. Instead some people publicly stated they would never do so.

      Am I defending, yes, a bit. I am on a fixed very very limited income- WHAT I DO IS FREE TO YOU – and I chose to write for MD Creekmore-

      Sullivan/ T Dodrill and others have written rehashed outdated material inducing scaretactics to get you to read their drivel and sell advertisements.

      People with integrity use their real names, and use evidence.

      Regardless, acting like petulant children is never a beneficial approach. Certainly it feels good, however, It is not beneficial and definitely shows a weakness overall in the “community”

      It is important to understand I am personally saddened to see this approach versus simply asking MD- underhanded backdoor is how gov/lawyers works, why stoop that low?

      • I enjoy your reviews and appreciate what MD is doing. Could you tell me where he hid the Amazon link?

        • Daddio7,

          The way that I was posting the Amazon link was against Amazon policy for affiliates, however, I didn’t know that at the time that I was doing. I just found out a few weeks ago and removed the banner because of that. However, you can go to my this page and click through to Amazon and then buy whatever you need and I’ll get a small commission while you pay nothing extra. Thank you so very much.

          • M.D,
            Could your clarify the Amazon Link? Do I click on your books which brings up the Amazon listing and then shop?

        • I would like that amazon information also. I shop there quite a bit. I also appreciate everything MD does for all of us. However I think that in his promoting sites forgets that some of us are on very low incomes just getting by. However we much search for the most cheapest way of obtaining and doing things. We need to help each other, and can not expect him to help us with everything. Also this squabbling…. magnify if by billions and you still won’t have an idea of what people will be like when SHTF.

      • Jesse Mathewson,

        I’m going to be starting an open forum every Saturday starting next week. However, the ones who were coming here and posting comments asking other to leave this site and go to another aren’t invited… because, well that just wasn’t cool.

        • Jesse,
          There were people who SAID they tried to get answer from MD. I understand those same people reached out to the new owner, and requested a trial… to start and similar thread..on prepping weeksly….. It was not me., this is just my understanding..
          . I DO understand that open type of forum takes a lot of time and our Host on t his site has a lot of Irons in the fire… job, homestead, family. He has been tied up with web site very tightly for several years. To want to have time fro somethng a blog and live life, is to be expected..
          .. I appreciate everythng MD has done for the Prepping community, in providing a forum for some of us to write that have never written… and for s to share our experiences and seek knowledge from others who are like mided, but not “near neighbors”
          Also It is his right and privilege to change the direction he wishes to go, to write about and post articles on. I have found some fo the.m useful…
          It is my privilege to have internet access and give audience where ever I need to go, to find information.
          I am still coming , but not as often.. I usually check for reviews or any item I might have a use for. > have not been able to buy one single of those items yet……but the prep week posting was what kept me coming back several times a day sometimes and often 5 days a week. Not everyone wants to stay on the interstate… some people take the backroads… In some manner this is what MD has done, changed roads… some will follow , some will take the crossover and read articles on as many as 4-5 different blogs….and yes comment if something is pertitent.
          The prep /Homestead articles are what I came for, what drew me to the site was the open forum and questions with ansers… and if they are not provided I will seek the info where I find it.
          When a site is SOLD, what would be expected. with a well known name for the buyer to sit and not post or recieve anything but accidental traffic? This is what should have been EXpected when a directional change was made… a change in audience and readership…
          Good you are doing an open forum.. there is a lot of room for forums and current information. Blessings to you..
          . I have little money to spend on things not critical.. I have not traveled in more than 5 years. posting of knife laws of the 50 states , I have ZERO interest in..

        • Prepared Grammy

          I enjoyed reading what everyone accomplished each week. It gave me reminders and motivated me, but I’m not going anywhere. This site has MANY useful articles. I don’t always comment and sometimes it takes me a few days to have the time to read them, but I always appreciate the work you do on here. Thank you.

        • M.D.
          So glad you are reopening the thread again. I think it helps us all learn something new from each other.

          • I’ll be around to see the latest iteration. I don’t always comment on every article and I don’t always read every article, but I do look to see if it’s something of interest to me. I am also more apt to read the shorter articles, as long articles tend to lose my interest quickly.

            • Prepared Grammy

              I don’t read the long comments either. If it can’t be said simply, it’s probably wasting my time.

        • M.D., communicating with people would be helpful. Rather than just saying that you are drooping a feature, you could have let folks know you had a future plan.

          You have no reason to be angry with anyone. Some of these people have given you years of their time and talents ,- FREE. For you to simply drop the one feature that kept the community together with no explanation and no indication of a future plan might not have been such a good decision, albeit yours to make. Just don’t be angry with others – look inside.

          Jesse, name-calling? Really? It has been said that name-calling is the last bastion of the defenseless argument.

  5. I was raised in a family that didn’t do without much as long as my dad had credit, Just about everything in our house came from Sears & Roebucks. He also liked new cars because he always seemed to get taken with used cars so we bought new.
    I must have been an ‘old soul’ because even at an early age, I never wanted obliged to others for my possessions, so I managed to save and put away for a rainy day.
    Now, I am in a better place for having had good spending sense (which my parents didn’t have). My biggest expense has been my cable / Satilite TV. I want to cut the cable, but not quite ready.

    • Jean,
      My parents were also of the mindset to buy new cars not used. My DH and I only buy used. I really hate making payments but DH was taught to use the banks money. That was fine if you had $$ in the bank and interest rates were a lot higher then. When he became disabled and I was laid off my full time job both in 2009, he began to see my way of thinking.

      Even though our income is a good bit less now we are much better off. House, cars, and big boy toys are all paid for. Some of those toys are for sale. We still have cable but that is only because my DH loves to watch Nascar! It was hard at first to change our habits but the peace of mind knowing your belongings are paid for is so worth it.

      • Brenda – the DH used to watch NASCAR all the time. Since we cut cable and most races have been moved to cable only, he’s decided that NASCAR has decided that their fans just aren’t that important.

        • Most households have two or more occupants and they all have their favorite programs. My wife works long weeks with a two hour commute each day. The programs she watches are not available on broadcast TV. Being disabled myself I live my life in front of a screen. I like my realty and nature shows that are mostly on cable and I have to have my college football fix. The best games are usually not on network TV either.

          Those of you with cable internet can get much of what you want with that. I have to use satellite internet that limits me to an hour a day of streaming video.

          • Daddio7,
            I am glad you have something that works for you. Everyone should be able to have some kind of entertainment. , and relaxaion…
            We were blessed to be in an area where we can get wi fi internet.. cost is cheaper than cable/or sat.. we do not watch any sports/movies, tv series regularly-none of he new stuff at all….. maybe the winter olympics, every 4 years… with all the participants being loud on political views ..we just turned it all off. Did not watch them this year. If they can protest I can as well . there are a few programs i like and when i go to my DD’s, we catch up on missed episodes…( every 4-5 months). Her DH is homebound so we visit , talk and laugh while we can.

  6. FYI Guys:

    School supply sales are starting. This is when I stock up on those type of items, including milk creates, for the year.

  7. We live in NE Georgia. Just about a block away from the S.C. border. It’s beautiful here and centrally located only an hour and a half from Atlanta.
    We are out in the middle of nowhere at the end of a dirt road with 8 acres. Already have fish in the pond, chickens and turkeys. By February we will have 1 Guernsey cow, 1 beef cow, rabbits for their fur, and bees.
    We will be completely self sufficient.