Prepping on the cheap

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Yard Dart, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator


    There has been a fundamental shift of mindset in America over the last several decades when it comes to consumer behaviors. What was once considered smart, or at least a good idea, may now be frowned upon (like preparing for a natural disaster or downturn in the economy). Purchasing an item used instead of brand new has become one such area.

    Modern America often looks down on the behavior of obtaining used goods and might now be considered something that only “poor people” do. One of the greatest problems that I see with this thought process is that it is not the, uh, “financially challenged” who are making used purchases.

    I was a car salesman for GM at an earlier point in my life and it was not uncommon to see someone purchase a brand new vehicle that had a payment that was larger than their rent. Just to be clear, it was not because they were only financing the vehicle for 12 months. It seems as though 84 month financing was common in these situations. For a little further perspective, this was when a new car cost about 75-80% of the cost of a new car today.

    When making a purchase decision, there are a couple of exceptions to the requirement to always buy brand new that come to mind: buying a house or a car are the two big ones. Overall, even that is still considered inferior to a person that is able to purchase everything brand new. It has become a status symbol to have a shiny new car and brand new house.

    Looking at purchasing behaviors in America today, one statement keeps coming to mind, “retail is for suckers.” This is truer than it has ever been before. The products manufactured today are usually from outside of the country, made with the cheapest materials (even if they have to be created first), and to top it off, they are usually engineered to fail at a certain point so that you have to continue to purchase that product over and over again. And it will continue to work that way as long as the mindset of buyers stays the same.

    When it comes to preparing for an unfortunate event like a natural disaster, loss of a job, economic collapse, or even a terrorist attack, there are many things that make a whole lot of sense to purchase used. This is especially true when considering that some of these items may only sit on a shelf to only be used in the event that the SHTF.

    While there are many advantages to purchasing an item used over new; when making a determination of which route would be best for you, consider:

    What Are Your Needs? – I bring this up because cost cannot be everything. It may behoove you to get a new product that better fits your needs than an older product that will probably get the job done. This is a good opportunity to also do some research and see what others in a similar situation have done to solve their problem and also see what you might need to ensure that you avoid.

    Quality – Is the new product of a higher quality than the used alternative? As time goes by, this answer has increasingly become no. It is understood that the cost is higher for a quality product. You get what you pay for, right? Not always! Make sure to evaluate the quality of used versus new when looking to make a purchase. In many cases, the older product will prevail but there have also been significant improvements in materials and processes that may make a new product better for you.

    Cost – Always keep your budget in mind and stick to it. By doing your research and determining what the market is like, you can set a price range for your purchase. This is one of the areas where the difference between new and used can be rather large.

    Depreciation – New items will lose their value must faster than a used item will. The ability to save money on not only the purchase price, but the minimized losses from depreciation make used product purchases extremely appealing.

    Maintenance – Before making your purchase it is important to consider the maintenance aspects of the product and how they may differ between an older product and a new one. This can go either way and will can vary greatly based on what the item is.

    Additional Required Items – There is always a possibility when buying a used product that it may not be complete and require additional items to be purchased. On the other side of the coin however, companies today are trying to make as much money as they can so it may be possible to acquire a complete item used that, if purchased new, might require additional items to be purchased to make it complete.

    What Are Your Needs? – This one is simple. If it is not a priority, take care of something else first. If one feature is more important than another, spend the money in the right place. Lastly, go with the best option available, even if it means saving your money and waiting for a while.

    I am sure that I missed a point or two. Hopefully I can be forgiven for that.

    What should a used item cost?
    FREE!!! That is the perfect answer and while that isn’t usually possible, I did bring it up for a reason. In my local area I am able to regularly find some very usable items in the “free” section of the online classifieds. Yep, the same website you are thinking of. Items that I see all the time include appliances, building materials, firewood, furniture, hay, rocks (awesome for setting up a defensive perimeter), tires (use these to build a shelter or as part of your defensive perimeter), fill dirt, and even rabbits and chickens.

    This can also turn out to be a source of income for those who are interested in doing the work. If you were willing to recycle scrap metal, sell firewood, or make pallet furniture, you might not get rich, but you can live more comfortably than you would without the extra disposable income. This additional income could also provide a means to make additional preparations.

    There is not a universal price list for used products. Because of this, one of the most important pieces of research that can be conducted about a new versus used item is what the local market is like and what the right price is for something.

    With the many items that can be purchased used, it does not mean that a used product should be the automatic choice. Every choice will have to be evaluated as an individual item.

    Here are some of the many preparedness related items that I think are worth looking for on the used market:

    There a variety of shelters that can be obtained used with plenty of life left. A traditional house aside, tents, trailers, shipping containers, and RV’s are all examples of shelters that can be great for prepping and are easily found used.

    The “free” section of those local online classifieds I spoke of earlier can be a great place to locate building materials if you are building a shelter of your own.

    Whether a plane, train, or automobile, almost any vehicle can be obtained at significant savings when purchased used when compared to new. The difficult thing that I often struggle with is determining how good the condition of a used vehicle is. The most important part of the car is the engine (assuming you want to go somewhere) and there is no telling what is going on inside of that big chunk of metal. Find a reputable mechanic who can assist you with making a determination as to the reliability of a vehicle.

    Reference Materials
    Books, magazines, and DVD’s can all be sources of valuable survival and preparedness information. These materials can be found used for pennies on the dollar. Think about all the different areas of knowledge that might be beneficial for you to have. Aside from the standard survival subjects like camping, cooking, and gardening, look for materials that cover other subjects that could be beneficial like construction, gunsmithing, communications, and alternative energy sources to name a few.

    Homestead/Farm Equipment
    This is a broad area of course but many items that may fall into the area of homestead or farm equipment can be very expensive, making a used alternative to be very viable. Some of the big items that come to mind here include:

    Tools – For woodworking, maintenance, welding, and gardening.

    Tractors/Farm Implements, ATV’s or UTV’s, or Saw Mills.

    Firearms/Defensive Equipment
    Depending on where you live and what you are comfortable, the type of firearms and defensive equipment that you can have will vary greatly. The big opportunities here I think are firearms, reloading equipment, and miscellaneous items like barbed wire or barrels for barriers.

    Camping/Survival Equipment
    Knives, tents, cots, stoves, and backpacks military surplus fishing hunting radios/antennas generators are easy finds at local garage sales and thrift stores.

    Seasonal Clothing
    Clothing items that are not used continuously can be some of the most expensive clothing articles because of their specialty uses. Look for items that are specific to the winter and summer, are used seasonally for recreation like life jackets and hunting clothes, boots and specialty footwear, and rainwear.

    Items for the kitchen can fall into the category of things that are not made like they used to. Appliances, food preservation materials like canning and dehydration goods, hand-operated tools, and cast iron cookware are all good options to skip out on buying new.

    This is the catchall section right here but I couldn’t think of a ton of specific examples here. When I think of miscellaneous items to buy used for survival purposes, I do think of household items that could be needed to set up a secondary location like a cabin that you plan to bug out to if things go bad. Miscellaneous items could also include storage solutions like plastic totes, footlockers, and wall lockers.

    Where To Look
    All that said, I suppose you are interested in where one might look for used items, especially if you are a reformed thinker who is new to the world of best instead of new.

    Auctions – This is a great option if the items you need are being offered. From my auction experiences, you have to know what things are worth and make sure that you don’t get caught up in the excitement and overspend. My thought is that storage auctions are not great options for this purpose because often you are buying a unit based on only a few things that you can see. This is not a very viable option.

    Barter – Don’t overlook the opportunity to take something that you no longer need or use to trade for an item that you could use more.

    Other good locations to search for the holy grail of used survival items might be the online classifieds/auction sites, thrift stores, garage sales, and estate sales.

    A few final considerations when purchasing used equipment and supplies:

    • Always inspect any item that you may purchase.
    • Don’t get carried away in the moment and buy items that you don’t need or spend too much on the things you do need.
    • What types of payment are accepted where you are shopping? You don’t want to end up not paying for the things you want.
    While used goods are awesome solutions, I always try to remember that the used goods factory does not make items for custom orders; sometimes it is take what you can get or get nothing at all. It is good to have the opportunity to make smart decisions that will likely save you a good chunk of change and perhaps even net you a higher quality product in the end.

    Prepping on the cheap: How to purchase good used survival items - Personal Liberty®
    GrayGhost, GOG, Mountainman and 9 others like this.
  2. zombierspndr

    zombierspndr Monkey

    I hate to give this one up, but it's for a good reason, so I suppose I will. Check your local scrapyards if they will sell to you. I have no idea why, but people junk perfectly serviceable stuff. I paid $75 for a 18hp/46" cut riding mower at one a couple years ago. It needed a new battery and a deck belt. Dad bought a pretty nice John Deere rider for $100 from the same yard. It needed a battery, fuel line, and a short rubber vacuum/pressure hose for the fuel pump. I've also picked up a blacksmith's rivet forge and blower(cost me $43 IIRC), hand tools(including Snap On), bench vises, old Jerry cans, sewing machine treadle bases, generators, engine drive Lincoln welders, and a ton of other stuff for pennies on the dollar(or less) than what it would cost new. Frankly speaking, I could make a decent living from buying, fixing if needed, and selling a lot of what I see in the yards. People in general have no idea whatsoever about how to fix things anymore, so they throw it away or scrap it and buy a new one. Some of them undoubtedly just don't have any idea of the value of what they're throwing away either. :rolleyes: One of you got a significant other or relative that is dying for an old cast iron clawfoot tub? Yep, I've seen those too. Mom now has a pristine one I found.

    Another source for free stuff is on the curb when towns have a large item collection day.

    I call dibs on any blacksmiths anvils you folks find via either of these two suggestions. :D
  3. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    I think the biggest item on the list already covered is a vehicle. You can buy a used vehicle and fix it up as needed. If you do not have the skill to work on vehicles, it really isn't a difficult skill to learn and it just takes a little time and effort. For example, you could buy a code reader and guide/manual to see what is wrong by running a diagnostic test. This would only cost you between $30 - $200 depending on your vehicle model, the newest cars will be more expensive. If you stick with an older vehicle, you will have the benefit of not having all the electronic gadgetry, too. In summary, an older, used vehicle can save you money if you look for the good buys and don't pick up a lemon.

    Routinely, a new set of tires, brakes, rotors, fuel lines, brake lines, and engine fluids will be the standard upkeep. Sometimes, a used car will need a new alternator, battery, or some minor wiring and hose replacement. Maybe it's in need of new spark plugs, plug wires, distributor kit, or an electronic switch. All of these can be replaced by yourself and shouldn't need a qualified mechanic, with exception to the tires, which require a bit more effort and skill. You could still do fine if the only major repair you need to be carried out is to have new tires put on your vehicle by a garage and have them balanced and your steering aligned. I see folks "buying" new cars all the time and they think they are better off. It might make you feel good, but unless you paid cash in full, you didn't "buy" anything, you only created another hefty bill.

    The most prevalent benefits to a used car:
    You "own" it, free and clear (the State owns all our property but that's besides the point)
    You can maintain it easily with some experience
    No monthly payments (besides insurance + excise tax if you live in Massachusetts)
    No large investment

    If you do buy used, make certain the frame is in good shape, meaning it's solid and not rusted too badly. Check the vehicle out by driving it and take notice to any clunking of the transmission. Of all the repairs you could need, you do not want to have work done on your tranny. The engine is very important, but if it starts fine and idles fine, you can most likely call it a win if it doesn't have 150,000 miles on it or more. Even then, if it didn't have multiple owners and wasn't beat to hell, it can still be in good shape. You should check the air cleaner/filter, all fluids, hoses, brake/fuel lines and fittings closely. An exhaust isn't difficult to replace, but getting under the vehicle to work on it may prove to be challenging. At most you will need basic tools: wrenches, hack saw, pliers. If you are doing a custom exhaust, a little welding experience will be required in some cases. Seriously, most parts on a vehicle can be relatively easy to replace on your own or with some help from a friend. There's plenty of resources to be found online for guidance, too.
  4. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Hardest part of working on cars, is usually figuring out what is wrong. My son's recently purchased used car, was just towed to a shop last night.
    Some sort of electrical issue has shut him down hard twice now, and the shop thought it was fixed now. It left him and his lady, and my wife on the side of the road again.
    Once we know what the real problem is, we will have an idea of the repair costs. My son is talking about selling now, rather than spend any more money on it, even at a loss.
    Sometimes, peace of mind, and reliability, is worth paying a little more.
  5. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Not to derail but I bought my car new. After years of buying other people's used cars I said enough. I was putting about $2,000 into fixing junk. People do not take care of their stuff now. I decided that a vehicle is one item that I need dependable. I decided to buy new, maintain properly and drive it for years. I bought quality and am hoping for 10-15 years of use.

    As for the rest, I buy most stuff used. Weapons, gear and clothing, most is purchased second hand. I have learned that footwear is best bought new. Shoes conform to ones foot and walking pattern. Footwear is too important to take chances on.
    arleigh, GrayGhost, Ganado and 5 others like this.
  6. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    Another good source of useful stuff is businesses that are closing down or remodeling.

    I once scored a Dollar General full of commercial shelving for free, which I carted off and eventually sold for $1500.00.

    Just last week, I bought six 8-ft 1X12s (already painted to match my interior decor), two 16-ft 1X8s, and all the shelf supports they were on for a grand total of $20.00.

    What I missed was the commercial leather sewing machine that sold for $100.00 (instead of the usual $1200.00) and the huge leather stamping press (with a couple hundred dies) for $300.00. Jeez--the press alone was easily worth $6,000.00.

    But, no tears were required: I didn't have room for it anyway. Or any way to move it or to store it until I could have resold it. Them's the breaks.

    So--always keep your eyes open and have a little cash handy so you can spot the good deals and jump on them before they get away.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
    Ganado, Gator 45/70, Aeason and 2 others like this.
  7. AD1

    AD1 Monkey+++

    For used and pvt sale firearms & equipment here in AZ we have great laws(pvt sale allowed) and our own Craigslist type website where you can find anything check it out.

    There are some commerical sellers but the majority are pvt sale.

    This is the Sporting Goods section [LMAO][touchdown]ohno

    Take a look and see the shear number of goodies available. Everytime I have a boating accident I go looking here.
    Arizona - guns for sale: firearms, handguns, rifles -
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
  8. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Just a suggestion, but your son could buy a code reader and find the problem on his own. If it's not on the diagnostics, it's purely mechanical and can be sorted out with the right knowledge. But, for folks who do not have this ability and have absolutely no desire to work on their own vehicles, I guess their options are rather limited. Therefore, my entire reason for posting what I did was for people who do wish to be more self sufficient.

    It's true that you can spend more to have a brand new car and have peace of mind, but that's not always the case. There are recalls and problems all across the market. It may be fully warrantied, but you're still out of a ride until you can get a rental. Same hassle. Not to mention the fact that all modern cars come with GPS and other electronics, and are being manufactured to make it harder for the owner to work on them. My point was, buy an older vehicle, a reliable used vehicle --and this is all framed around you actually having the knowledge of what you are looking for. We can each go in circles about either preference, and I can cite just as many cases of success with older vehicles and a little know-how. I own a Ford Bronco which was bought, new in 1990. It's still running great, no problems. Why? Because I maintain it and I know how to fix it.

    No monthly bills to the bank, no expensive trips to the garage, no breaking down beside the road. Now, is this for everybody? Absolutely not. But, I would like to inspire others to at least try, and offer this option to them as a means to help lessen their debts.
  9. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Agreed, in most cases, but not in this one. The codes were read last shop service. (Less than 2 weeks ago), and for that matter, save your money and go to orily's or napa, and ask, they will read the codes foe you at no cost.
    Whatever this problem is, escaped the code reader, and the shop.
    Most of the time, you do come out ahead, but once in a while, you lose that bet and just get someone else's cast off problem.
    We should have more info shortly, and he can decide what path he will pursue.
    Personally, I prefer older, simpler cars. Much easier to work on, as long as you can still get the parts.
    GrayGhost and UncleMorgan like this.
  10. oldawg

    oldawg Monkey+++

    New or used car a code reader is a good tool to have around. Even if you're not going to repair it your self it's nice to know what section of the car is a problem. The vehicle may have an intermittent problem and the shop can replace the "WAG" part and still miss the problem. Warranty repair you may hear "we can't do anything unless it's broken now". Usually leaving the reader plugged in you'll at least get the general codes to narrow it down. And as Broker said online help is abundant. Join a forum for your vehicle. Most of the time you aren't the first to have a particular problem.
  11. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Reminds me of a time when I first got the Bronco from my old man. He had gone and wired all kinds of things over the years. He first put in the alarm system and automatic starter. Then, he hooked up fog lights and tied them in directly to the battery with a toggle switch on the dash. One day, I tried to start the truck and the starter kept turning over. I turned off the ignition, the starter kept turning over. I jumped out and disconnected the battery terminal. Okay, so I got to work and asked a friend and he seemed puzzled for a minute and then said, "it sounds like it could be a short in the wiring some place." What do ya know? I traced all the wires, found the fog lights were rigged incorrectly (bless his heart) and the wire was rubbed raw and shorting out on the bumper. Ripped all the wiring out, tested the solenoid, replaced it and the starter for good measure because, why not? It was $50 and a couple more new parts on the truck that I may need to replace anyway. Everything was good.

    One day, I tried to shift the Bronco and it wouldn't go into gear. A quick trip onto the Bronco forums online and I found that this era of Ford is prone to the upper ignition actuator breaking. I had never taken a steering column for this type of vehicle apart before, and I felt a little unsure. But, from my own investigation, the entire repair would cost me a whopping $12.00 --that's it. Just for the heck of it, I went to a local garage and asked them what they thought. I managed to get it into reverse and get there (shhh!) but they told me I needed an entire new steering column and if I wanted to save money, I could get one from a junk yard. Well, so much for expert opinions. I got my $12 part and watched a similar video on YouTube on how to do it. Easy-peasy. I replaced the actuator and it worked beautifully. No problems, everything was good.

    Used cars take time, effort and knowledge to maintain. You can't buy any of those things.
    Oddcaliber, GrayGhost, AD1 and 4 others like this.
  12. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Good thing we will have online forums when the grid goes down for tracking down these obscure problems and model specific flaws. :rolleyes:[sarc1]
    I'm no gearhead, and I don't enjoy working on a daily driver. (A fun car or toy is different ) .
    Once you know what is right and wrong with it, and can judge it's value, then it makes sense to buy the model specific tools, manuals, and code reader, and all the back up parts. But before that point, it is throwing good money after bad.
    I have rebuilt engines, installed them, removed and reinstalled trannies, and built drivelines for a living in a machine shop. (I used to work for cannon engineering in California )where I worked as a welder.
    I wasn't trying to save money, I had none to save. It was the only way I could do it.
    I work hard to economize, that is why I say, sometimes it makes more sense to cut and run than spend more to repair, again. A car with multiple problems can nickel and dime you to death.
    Once you have a car worth keeping, learn everything you can about it, so you understand it fully, and can maintain it properly, but until then, it can get pricey.
    oldawg likes this.
  13. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Nickle and dime you to death.
    Brokor and Ganado like this.
  14. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Alternator dead shorted, internally. With major current draw. They are looking for other damage now.
  15. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    This spring will be a great time of year to score winter gear, jackets, clothing and so on. Many folks get rid of the old stuff during their yard sales so they can get new stuff for the coming winter season.....

    Scoring some cheap jackets, scarves, hats and so on.....and putting them in tubs for storage will create a nice barter supply.
    Brokor likes this.
  16. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    I love yard sale season!
    On my list of favorites --cast iron, small engines, tools, and books.
    Yard Dart likes this.
  17. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    You can usually save money buying clothing just out of season as the closeout sales happen. The only downside is often finding clothes which are odd sizes, which is typical since that is usually what is left.
  18. zombierspndr

    zombierspndr Monkey

    How many of what do you need? I have a pile of them here bought for $0.25-$0.35 per pound from the local scrapyards, most of 'em run. LOL. Think I paid ~$35 for a running GX390 not too long ago. Missed a couple small diesels from industrial equipment though. :cry:
    oldman11, oldawg and Brokor like this.
  19. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I love clearance racks.I know where they are located in my favorite stores and always hit those first. After Valentines day, I hit the sale aisle. I got some bags of hard candies to refresh the stuff I had in our go bags. Plus they had all the Valentine paper products on clearance. I scores plates and cups at 75% off. I will be using the cups to start plants in this year.
    Yard Dart likes this.
  20. zombierspndr

    zombierspndr Monkey

    I posted earlier in the thread about going to scrapyards for stuff. I picked up a few things today and thought I would share.

    I have $20 in these two buckets. One is lots of hex wrenches + a few drills and the other is a bunch of drill bits. The drill bit bucket had twice as much in it, but dad needed some so he got half.

    Less than $10 in the rest of this. Sawchain on the left is brand new. The rest of the sawchain is near new. I guess people don't know how to sharpen them? That's a Sears branded Granberg chain filing jig on the other pile of chains(found with the drill bits). The pulley is a 6 groove poly V pulley for a 12v generator project. The hand winch has a broken cable, but is a heavy duty unit. I bought it along with a Yanmar L100 air cooled diesel for $10 last weekend. The chinese clones of these engines sell for $850ish new.

    And one of the real gems of the day. ~$6 for this. Missing some parts, but runs and has monster compression. It was a rental company unit....why toss it????? Their loss, my gain. :D Under the Stihl you can see a two man crosscut saw I picked up at a flea market today for $15. Needs a new set of handles, but the irons are there and all the teeth/rakers are in fine shape. There were a ton of old american made hand tools at the flea market for just a few bucks each.

    Not pictured.... A very ugly but complete(good motor too) Kawasaki Mule UTV for $200. It's damn ugly though.
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