TOTM for July 2015 - Be a thrifty prepper

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by ghrit, Jun 30, 2015.

  1. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    With a nod to @Motomom34:
    You can spend money, or you can spend time, or you can do both when preparing for your selected whatever hits the fan. Please tell us all how you save money and/or time getting ready. Everything is fair game to save something, from dumpster diving to hiring help.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  2. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    Well... I think mine are more making money than saving but here goes....

    I raise guinea pigs for the pet trade. I know some people eat them and I guess I could in a pinch but with a two month gestation, small litters, and unique dietary requirements I can't see any value to raising them for meat. Anyway, guinea pigs don't do well on wire flooring, gives them bumblefoot. They can't have shavings or straw because the dust irritates their respiratory system. The wood pulp and pulverized paper bedding is freaking EXPENSIVE. SO. I go to the local bank a few times a week and pick up 55 gallon bags full of shredded paper. I shove it in a barrel and soak it with water, and add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Let it soak for a few hours or an afternoon. Then take a drill with a paint mixer attachment and get to mixing. Once it's a pulpy mess I pack it into a little gadget that compresses it into bricks, and then crush as much water as I can out of them. I originally got it to make paper/sawdust bricks for a woodburner stove. Then I take the bricks and bust them apart and toss them in the bottom of a big empty tote outside in the sun to dry. Once it's dry I bag it. Some I keep for my own wheekers, the rest I sell to a pet shop in a nearby town to resell as locally produced, recycled, eco-friendly small animal bedding. It sounds horribly time consuming but the entire process takes less than an hour of actual labor. I have actually considered getting a cargo trailer and some heavy duty shredders and setting up a mobile document shredding business, charging the companies a small fee to shred their documents and then using the paper for firebricks and small animal bedding. I make more selling the bedding than the wheekers, actually, and it goes to buying preps.

    I also run a CL ad offering to take in unwanted rabbits, chickens, etc. You would not believe how many people call me to come get the pet their child no longer wants. Along with the free rabbits I get lots of free cages, feed, water bottles, etc. I resell the cages, keep the water bottles and feed. The rabbits usually get resold as well, though I have kept a few of the larger does to make meat mutts with. Any money I earn selling them is put into stocking feed for my own animals. I've put back a year's worth of hay from what I made off one month's "donations".

    I have a friend who is one of those guys who can get you anything you want, from lawn mowers to pickup trucks to day laborers. He's also a raging (but somehow functional) alcoholic. Eight pounds of sugar and a packet of turbo yeast gets me $150 worth of manual labor or equipment from him.

    I have a small business on the side doing product reviews. Vendors actually pay me to take a free sample of their product and write a review for it. I've gotten manual can openers, digital read thermometers, all kinds of cooking equipment, clothing, vitamins, etc. The useful stuff I add to my stash, the rest I resell through a For Sale In (mytown) on Facebook. The money goes to buying preps.... though not manual can openers. Got a dozen of those by now :D

    I'm at the point now where I only go grocery shopping for perishables and if something is on sale. Every so often the grocery store puts 10# bags of chicken quarters on sale for .39, .45 cents a pound. When they do I buy 50-100 pounds to freeze or can. I usually get a half dozen turkeys when they're on sale over the holidays (maybe not THIS year tho), break them down to breasts, drumsticks, and assorted bits and freeze or can. It used to be this huge annoyance but I've kinda got a rhythm to it now and can process them all out pretty quickly. We have a big chest freezer full of nothing but chicken and turkey now... another for pork, a third for beef... all from hitting the big sales and loading up for a fraction of what it usually costs.

    Make my own bacon. Pork bellies run me between $2.28-$3.29 a pound. Decent bacon here runs $3.99 for a 12 oz packet, the better stuff closer to $9 a pound. The money I save goes into making more bacon. :D

    Sample medication! My doctor will always load me up with free samples if I just ask. I have half a year's worth of free Advair thanks to him. With my history of back problems he never hesitates to hand over a lot of samples for new anti-inflammatory and pain meds as well... I don't use them any more but hey, no sense in telling him that! :D

    Make my own laundry detergent. I can make enough to last a couple of years for under $20. Saves money and ensures I gots plenty on hand. :) I tried DIY dishwasher tabs but they sucked, didn't clean and left a nasty film behind.

    Make my own cage and house cleaner. White vinegar, orange peels, cinnamon sticks (bulk from WAY cheaper than grocery store). I make my own chai tea concentrate and throw the used cinnamon sticks in the gallon vinegar jug when I'm done so I get double use from them. Smells great, cleans great, all natural. Bugs hate it so it's great in the coop and cages. And unlike bleach, the longer it sits the stronger it gets.

    Canning... who doesn't. I can turn $28 worth of pintos into a few hundred dollars worth of canned pintos, ranch style beans, and overdone pintos perfect for refried beans. An itty bitty 5 oz can of chunk chicken is $1 or I can get 10 pounds for $4.50, debone and can it all up. HUGE PITA. But financially worth it. Or so I think until it comes time to clean up the aftermath...

    Probably got other things I do too but can't think of them now. Clearly I don't save ANY time, but I do save a lot of $$ :)
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2015
  3. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    Roughly twice a year the Mrs & I take advantage of free (30 to 60 day) memberships to the big box stores and we bring several coolers and every cardboard box we can scrounge and hit the butcher shops in them. Mostly for beef but also pork and chicken. What doesn't fit in the coolers goes in the boxes (lined with garbage bags and topped with ice).

    Beef is custom cut (no additional charge) and steaks get vacuum sealed for the freezer. Hamburg meat is portioned into 1lb vacuum bags and rolled flat for stacking on the freezer shelves. Pork chops; again bagged and frozen, Pork loins sectioned into roasts & cutlets. We usually can about two dozen jars each of cut up pork, chicken and turkey per trip.

    This is when we stock up on dry goods too; several varieties of pasta, bulk rice, peanut butter, preserves and other items. Not quite like the deals DW gets but still good for our area.
    The garden is going full bore and we expect a good harvest. I reload and get extra brass from the range I shoot at. We buy things like clothes and shoes / boots on sale before we need to. We live beneath our means, hold on to extra FRN's and plan on moving next year and rolling our paid-for home into something similar but without the HOA we currently have but with moar land for serious gardening and rabbits / chickens at a minimum.
  4. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I love @ditch witch's cleaning solution. I use grapefruit instead of orange peels but it is a great cleaner for pennies and what prepper doesn't have gallons of vinegar. I get mine at Costco so it is super cheap. In regards to vinegar learn all the uses. Vinegar, baking soda, coconut oil- these all have multiple purposes, learn them it saves money rather then buying a product that is good for one task only.

    I shop yard sales. Never be afraid to dicker about the price. The people are selling to get rid of their junk so usually they will knock $$ off the price. I do have a rule- I never buy electronics or a questionable item at yard sale. If they say we don't have batteries but it works- I say walk away.

    Hail sale! Sorry but I do love hail. When the local garden center gets hit, I show up a few days later. People will not buy plants that do not look perfect. Berry bushes, fruit trees and food bearing plants are often 50-75% off.

    Dollar store and coupons are great for savings. Spend time getting to know your local supermarket and watch the sale cycles. Certain products go on super sale every year. I am a shopper so I know when things hit their lowest price. Chunky soup every December will go down to $1 a can. Stock up and use coupons. Canned veggies go to .49 in the Fall. Buy cases when this happens. Most stores have coupons. is a great place to go or if there is a certain store you want to shop at, go on-line and see if there are savings available.

    One question I have for you monkeys is storing rice. At first I learned you need buckets, mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. Then I learned you need gas to suck the air out. Yet I saw some guy on Dooms Day preppers that had his rice in old soda bottles. I wonder if this works and if your rice ends up tasting like Dr. Pepper. I still haven't figured if I am doing food storage in the most cost effective way.
  5. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    Personally I wouldn't use any soft drink bottles (or plastic milk bottles) for food or water storage. They seem convenient at first but remember these containers are by design, disposable. They are made as cheaply as possible and will break down fairly quickly. Fluids will leak and dry goods will become contaminated.

    IIRC there's a thread here about someone who had several hundred milk bottles which used to hold their emergency water supply. Best to use sturdy containers
    Brokor and Motomom34 like this.
  6. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    I don't remember that thread, but I learned the hard way that storing gallon water jugs doesn't always work. I had 8 gallon jugs in one cabinet, 8 in another. These were new, still sealed, water jugs from Walmart. I got to pulling everything out of one cabinet to see what I had in there, and I pulled out 2 empty jugs. Still sealed. ??? I got to looking and both had pinprick holes in the bottoms. They'd been under there for about 9 months to a year. The floor of the cabinet wasn't wet either so the leak must have been insanely slow over time. I checked in a closet where I kept 8 more gallon jugs and found one of those half empty. I never found a hole on that one. They weren't leaking when I put them in there and there was nothing that could have punctured them either. Weirdest thing, but I don't store water jugs like that any more.
  7. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    for coms go to swap meets, some hams will help newbies out with communication equipment and set up... I also have several friends who are vets that I meet with at DAV or the American Legion meetings who when that start to do "Spring cleaning" will offer some need items to anyone who wants them... and my Favorite spot to get great Items is here on the Monkey check out the Pay it Forward thread...
  8. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Those swap meets by hams are called "hamfests." Not apt to be advertised in the local fish wrapper, they are of limited interest to non hams. BUT google is your friend, and if you happen to know a ham, it's an odds on bet he can line you up.
    Witch Doctor 01 likes this.
  9. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    My wife and I call it " Frugal is the new cool" We were frugal before it was cool :) Some things we do. I store used deep fryer oil in one gallon cans that it comes in. Great barter item for diesel engines and for chainsaw blade lube. Lots of uses for old strained fryer oil. We recycle old candles. My wife has a candle maker and several totes full of old candles and wax chunks. We save all our food boxes and flip them inside out and use them to ship fishing lures. A breakfast bar box ships 4 of my 6.75 inch Pike lures. W e no longer poison our dandelions but have our grand kids pick them for rabbit food. We recycle old clothes into new clothes. My wife is getting good with her sewing machine. We save our saw dust from the wood shop for baby chicks in the brooder. Use dog poop from the dog pen to grow great fishbait. and more.
  10. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    We really don't throw things away. Alot of it we probably should. We recycle more than we throw away. We've got chickens for eggs and fertilizer, and we let them roam the yard during the day in warm weather. They don't eat much layer feed then, so saves us money that way. Except it's hard finding where they lay their eggs. When we find a spot, they don't use it again. Wouldn't be so bad right now but it's been so hot, if we don't find the eggs that day, we consider them no good. We let most of our cats out during the day as well, which doesn't save us money, but it means the litterbox is not so bad when I have to clean it 3 times a week, and the house is a bit less crowded, which helps our mental state. Family friend grows food to sell at farmer's market, mainly salad greens, and we usually try and go visit them the day after market, because we can usually score a few unsold bags that will go bad if not taken. Neighbor brings their horse over to mow our lawn, so not only does that save us work, we get free fertilizer as well. I just have to shovel it to our manure pile. Got my pressure canner last year, haven't used it as much as I want, but that will change. There's also a free shuttle into Klamath Falls every Thursday, PU/DO is around 10 miles from here, so that's helpful. Also frequent yard sales(like when I got my spinning wheel for only $20!!!) and thrift stores. And the library has bi-weekly book sales at the main branch, we've gotten good stuff there. Also gotten some good homesteading books for free from our local library when people bring a bunch in and some aren't in good condition for the library to keep, like Small Scale Grain Raising and a book on blacksmithing which had been through a fire. The weekly congregate meal we go to, usually there are goodies from the food bank for the eaters to take home. Wasn't any this week, but someone brought homegrown salad mixes and peas, so that was nice. When neighbors moved a few years ago, they gave us a bunch of stuff, including a pair of actual military issue combat boots, brand new, still in the box, that just happened to be in my size :) Unfortunately, they're still in decent shape, but I have discovered they may be waterproof, but NOT kitten proof. I don't think anything is kitten proof...
  11. Brokor

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

    Daily living expenses can be kept low by shopping wisely and canning/storing what you eat regularly. I keep my "at-ready" food stores much lower than before I switched to dehydrated food for long term, and I use what I keep on hand regularly now. Let's be idealistic, as a single working guy, I just don't have the luxury time provides.

    As far as long term storage goes, I switched to dehydrated foods a few years back and never could be happier. Yes, there's the initial investment, but over the years I save huge money from not having to constantly replace the food stores or have food go bad. You can store only what you eat, but that also takes time and energy, and again you risk losing some food. With a 25 year to infinite shelf life, Mountain House #10 cans of dehydrated food and also a healthy supply of Spam serve me well.

    Water storage is essential. I got into quality containers for the same reasons as most, the cheaply made gallon jugs do not work for long term storage. I invested in reusable gallon jugs, which ran me about $2 each, and larger containers obtained throughout the years. I have a local water vendor which charges .35 cents per gallon and it is reverse osmosis, charcoal filtered and UV treated. This water tests out at .06 ppm on my TDS meter, which is near distilled water quality. Just as an example, my local tap water registers 200+ ppm, and I stay clear of it. If you are going to store water, do it right.
  12. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Like these types of jugs? EZ-Pour F-Style Jugs - 1 Gallon S-20045 - Uline Or do you have a certain brand/type you prefer?
  13. Brokor

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

    Tully Mars and Motomom34 like this.
  14. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    So soda bottles seems to be a no. I have two very large bags of rice in the freezer that need to be put way this weekend. I am tempted to just put them in a food safe bucket and throw in a few hand warmers.
  15. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    Hand warmer packs would be good for eliminating oxygen and now that you've mentioned them, I'd think they are cheaper than a comparably sized O2 eliminator pack. Personally, I would use desiccant packs also.
    Got to keep rice dry.[tongue]
    Motomom34 likes this.
  16. vonslob

    vonslob Monkey++

    I love garage sales, have found some really great items. An icom 7000-rc with antenna 45.00. Wool blankets for 5.00. Fishing tackle boxes full for 8.00-15.00, the list goes on and on. If I know of a friend that needs something I look for it. My boss build a palatial outhouse using free lumber that we got from jobs that was on its way to the landfill. I am drowning in coleman stoves and lanterns not one of them cost more than 10.00, dietz lanterns 3.00. Ridgid pipe threader with dies for 25.00. And books, tons of books not one costing more than a dollar. A small bucket full of alice clips for 3.00.

    If you are willing to put in some time there are bargains galore just waiting to be got. It is to the point now that I hate paying retail for anything.
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  17. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    Hey buddy old friend how's it going? :D
    Seriously all I ever find at garage sales are worn out clothes that reek of cig smoke, 10 gallon aquariums, and mismatched dishes.
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  18. vonslob

    vonslob Monkey++

    DW what are looking for, eventually I will find it. I know you are into shoes. :)
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  19. kellory

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

    I would not use hand warmers with food. What makes the hot is high speed rust. All they are is iron filings, catalyst, moisture, and no oxygen. The oxygen in the bucket WILL cause it to get hot, and it WILL introduce moisture. I would expect mold as a result.
  20. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    LOL nothing I can afford the shipping on. :D
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