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Financial Advice for Preppers

No matter what type of specific doomsday disaster you may be preparing for, a nearly identical scenario of domino effects will ultimately occur during any long-term nationwide event.

Financial collapse and hyper-inflation planning must be factored into any apocalyptic scenario you are prepping yourself and your loved ones to survive – and hopefully thrive in during the post-SHTF rebuilding stage.

Become A Frugal Prepper

The more you can prepare your family financially now, the better your chances of survival during a long-term disaster. In a post-doomsday society you will face world that is functioning on a startling and highly volatile mix of panic, general chaos, fear, and violence.

Over time, and the amount of time depending upon the type of SHTF event, surviving Americans will adjust to the new reality and begin creating a new type of society out of the rubble – both figuratively and literally.

Do not buy into the fantasy that our monetary system will survive an apocalyptic disaster of any origin. If our government is still functioning, flawed attempts to make the dollar a viable method of currency will prompt printing presses to be working on overtime. This will cause hyperinflation of epic proportions – realistically driving the price of a loaf of bread to $10 a bag.

The dollars in your wallet will be worth a nickel, or maybe a penny before our monetary system finally collapses. The bank will still demand your mortgage payment, the electric and water companies will shut you off if you don’t pay, and all the while your children are begging to be fed. The government will most definitely attempt to collect property and income taxes – and will likely increase them in an effort to remain solvent.

The food stockpiles you have invested so much money in over the years could become depleted far quicker that you anticipated. If the SHTF event is either a financial collapse or slow burn event, like a pandemic, it will leave our government and society functioning just long enough to burn a hole through your pocket before bill paying, mortgages, and rents have become a thing of the past.

Simplify Your Finances

Begin living and spending as if a financial collapse is right around the corner, because it just might be. I do not mean to ban Christmas and birthdays, but to live as frugally as possible, celebrating every dime saved and resource used wisely in order to beef up your bank accounts, and your commodity stockpiles.

Increase your spending and reduce both household and major debt to the furthest extent possible to increase your survival buying power. Live debt free or as close to it as you can manage to decrease the amount of bills you’ll have to pay during a financial crisis or when hyperinflation emerges as one of the domino effects of a doomsday disaster.

Debt Reduction Tips

• Pay off your mortgage, or save enough money to buy even a small place to live instead of renting. Even if you can only manage to pay an extra $100 a month on your house payment or save the same amount back towards a down payment on a place you will own and not rent, you are making worthy progress towards your overall goal.

• Eliminate all debt that is assessed at an adjustable rate. When hyperinflation hits, you could lose your home in just two or three months if the struggling bank calls in your note to help cover their own financial losses.

• Become as self-sufficient and energy efficient as possible. Reducing or eliminating your reliance on utility companies for heat, cooling, cooking, light, washing, etc. will save money on monthly bills that can be used to pay down other debt and/or to stockpile more necessary survival gear and bartering commodities.

• Spend your available money wisely – always a good rule of thumb. All of your saving and stockpiling will be pointless if you do not invest in home or survival homesteading defense fortifications. Think of your bugin location as a vault and guard it accordingly, with weapons, low-tech or off grid high-tech surveillance systems, and enough trained bodies to protect it.

• Invest your time and money into a home-based business that uses and likely will enhance your survival skills. See the Prepper Home Business section below for more guidance.

• You and your family will be far more prepared to live with and on, less, because of your pre-SHTF frugality. The mental and emotional shock that will paralyze tens of thousands of other Americans, especially teenagers and millennials, after modern society collapses, will not thwart your prepared family to a debilitating degree because they have already learned to live without things that will not be readily available during a doomsday disaster.

Buy What You Need/Want Without Wasting A Dime

Best Places To Shop For Preps And Everyday Items At A Discount:

1. Yard sales
2. Thrift stores
3. Warehouse clubs
4. Flea markets
5. Auctions
6. Facebook online trading posts, for sale groups, and auctions for your community
7. Second hand stores
8. Shop for clothing, shoes, and other essentials out of season to save. This will involve guessing on children’s sizes, but most moms do that anyway when they come across a good deal. Anything that winds up being too small can be sold at a yard sale or become a bartering item.
9. Clip coupons and shot at grocery stores when they have double or triple coupon days, this usually happens on a monthly or quarterly basis. If you get good at the extreme coupon clipping, you might end up not having to fork over any money to the cashier during checkout.

What Is Money?

When factoring financial preparedness into your survival plan, you first must accurately define what money is and let that realization sink in for a few moments. Money is merely a government-based form of currency that has value and exists only as long as the government system itself is fully functional – or even exists at all.

Any nationwide long-term disaster you can think of WILL lead to a devaluation of our currency, the rebirth of bartering as the mutually agreed upon alternative to the American dollar, and of course, civil unrest caused by the breakdown of our society and the rule of law.

What Will Replace Money?

Precious Metals and Gems

Gold, silver, and precious gems will be the first “new” form of currency to emerge after a SHTF disaster. We have all seen those, “Invest in gold…” commercials. Investing in gold bars (not certificates) and jewelry will always be a wise choice, but it is not the only precious metal you should be spending your hard-earned money on.

Gold, and diamonds for that matter, are more valuable than silver. You can buy or barter for large or in high demand items with gold – which can include a single can of food or a jug of clean water if you are desperate because you were not fully prepared or were stripped of your stockpile by either nature or man.

What you will not want to purchase or barter for with gold or precious metals are less valuable items.

Since you cannot bite a gold bar in half or expect a trader to have “change” during a barter, invest in both small amounts of gold (like necklace charms) and silver, as well. You can buy silver bars, pure silver coins, and yes all manner of small amounts of silver jewerly to break down your buying power even more.

Commodities

A fellow survivor may have exactly what you need and be more than willing to trade, but he or she may have absolutely no use for a piece of gold, silver, or an exquisite diamond and emerald ring. What the survivor wants are useful commodities that will buy his family another day on a planet that has been thrust into chaos.

You can likely stockpile gently used versions of most of the top bartering commodities on the list below by hitting yard sales, rummage sales, flea markets, and estate auctions. A couple of years ago I stopped at a church rummage sale just an hour before it closed, knowing most of the cool stuff would be picked over but what was left on the many tables would be sold dirt cheap.

I got a “fill a bag for .25” deal. In the past when I have stockpiled preps in the same manner I often scored a stuff a bag for $1 deal and was thrilled, but a quarter a bag was the biggest cheap prep shopping trip ever! I spend a grand total of $25 and walked away with 15 coats, multiple sets of shoes and boots, sweatshirts, and blankets.

I did not walk away with the most stylish of garments, but all were in really good repair and in a vast array of sizes that will fit the members of our tribe, including the always growing children, and still leave me with ample to barter when necessary.

Commodities that are incredibly affordable to buy and stockpile now will be in high demand on a daily basis after the SHTF.

Top Commodities For Barter

• First Aid
• Footwear
• Outerwear
Solar Lights
• Batteries
Handheld Radios
• Canning Supplies
• Fire Starters
• Hand Tools
• Livestock Feed
Personal Hygiene
• Salt
• Sugar
• Blankets
• Fishing Gear
Comfort Items
and more

Develop A Necessary Skill For Post-SHTF Bartering

Use your survival skills and hobbies to launch a doomsday disaster career that will be in high demand. Make a pros and cons list of all the skills you and the members of your family or tribe (my favorite word for mutual assistance group) possess.

Discuss each item on the list and then determine how they could be useful during and after the SHTF. Review the list again to figure out what vital bartering services are missing that you or others could learn now to enhance your bartering efforts later.

You can likely turn many of these skills into a part-time income or a home-based business right now. More on that in the next section of this financial guide.

Top 25 Survival Skills to Barter With

1. Gardening
2. Farming
3. Ranching
4. Alternative Energy and Biodiesel Fuel Produce and Repair Technician
5. Livestock Breeding
6. Aquaponics
7. Worm Farming
8. Butchering
9. Herbalist
10. Seamstress
11. Beekeeper
12. Candlemaker
13. Soapmaker
14. Food Preservation – dehydrating, canning, and smoking
15. Firewood – gathering, cutting, splitting, and hauling
16. Farrier
17. Hunter
18. Angler
19. Wild foraging
20. Hide tanner and leatherworker
21. Engineer
22. Construction worker
23. Mechanic
24. Woodworker
25. Welder

Once the rebuilding phase starts after the apocalypse, it will not be the man or woman who HAD the most money in the bank or the most largest corner office who is wealthy, but the individuals with skills that are in demand.

It will be the farmer, the rancher, the medical professional, the mechanic, the farrier, and the gardener who will be treated like royalty and not the celebrities and lawyers and tech gurus of the world.

Do you and your tribe have enough skills and commodities to start a trading post when it becomes safe enough to do so? Now that, my prepping friends, is one sure route to riches in a post-doomsday world. Such an endeavor will require skills, goods, and a robust amount of security to keep it all safe.

Survival-Based Home Businesses

The family’s self-reliance plan should include not only hands-on cross training to help increase their chances of survival, but also to use their emerging and mastered skill sets as a pre-SHTF money maker.

Sadly, a significant number of preppers think they cannot live on their survival homesteading retreat, or are chained to small towns and the suburbs so they can earn a paycheck. Working online from home and/or starting a home-based business opens up a plethora of money-making opportunities which should allow most frugal preppers to live where they have the best chances of survival.

The items on the list of prepper home businesses was created with individuals who had at least a backyard and unrestrictive government control over their lives via permits, zoning laws, or homeowner association dictates. Some of the prepper-based businesses could work in any environment. Never let where you live deter your from learning new survival skills, honing existing ones, or trying to use your knowledge to turn a buck.

Selling locally from a home-based shop, online, and at flea markets and community events will give you multiple potential money streams while promoting awareness about your business. ETSY is one of, if not the best, places to sell handmade, repurposed, and vintage items online. You can also sell supplies and materials on the website, like old barn wood, rusty tin from a barn roof, and bargain fabrics and thread you buy and resell via an online storefront you create on the website.

Top 10 Survival Home-Based Business Opportunities

1. Blacksmith – Bladesmith – You can make beautiful knives, indoor and outdoor decorations to sell, decorative and functional hardware fittings, and so much more to earn extra money that could potentially become your sole source of income.

2. Farrier – Learning how to shoe horses and trim the hooves of both medium and large livestock can earn hundreds of extra dollars, at least, in many rural areas right now. After the SHTF happens and horses once again become a primary mode of transportation, the demand for farrier services will be even higher. Buy a van or enclosed work truck and make it your office on wheels so you can travel to the customer – a service that is not always offered in many areas.

3. Leathercraft – Invest only a couple hundred dollars into leatherworking tools and supplies and launch a repair and handmade goods business. If you own livestock and tan your own hides, that will drastically keep down your materials costs. Not every community is lucky enough to include an Amish population like ours, making the chances of going to a leathercrafters for repairs and beautiful homemade gifts very slim. Leathercrafters can make or repair many useful and decorative goods, such as: wallets, purses, holsters, knife sheaths, saddles, saddle bags, bridles, reins, boots, shoes, and rifle scabbards.

4. Potter – Turn an enclosed porch on your home or a section of the garage into your pottery studio. You can make not only decorative items to sell now, but useful daily cookware, bakeware, and water storage containers for survival use.

5. Beekeeper – Raise bees not only to pollinate your own garden crops and fruit grove, but to rent out to other growers, to sell raw honey, and to sell beeswax, aslo.

6. Seamstress – Sewing is quickly becoming a lost art just like canning. Seamstress shops have disappeared from our American landscape just like print newspapers. You only need to dedicate a small space in your home to open a repair and tailoring service to make adorable baby and child outfits, quilts, to engage in custom machine embroidery, etc.

Upcycling old fabric into something new is a great selling niche to consider. Not so long ago I used two vintage handkerchiefs and a bit of scrap lace to make a toddler dress. It was such a hit I bought hankies 2 for a $1 at a local discount store and make more of the dresses for sale – each sold for $25 each. I often use tablecloths, bed linens, and curtains from yard sales and clearance racks as fabric for patterns, saving me a bundle on supplies.

Craftsy is a superb website to visit for hundreds of free patterns. I have sewn a few thousand different creations and have only once paid any money for the pattern I used.

7. Toy Making – This is a great prepper home-based business the whole family can enjoy doing together. Making simple toys from natural wood and fabrics are still in high demand, even in our cheap plastic toys from China world.

Making little dolls from pipe cleaners, simply painted faces on wood beads for heads, embroidery floss, and a little bit of felt for clothing typically sell for $12 to $25 on ETSY.

Little wood cars that wood peg people blanks you can buy cheaply and sell after painting them with simple faces and clothing, are also great money makers that require darn little artistic skill. Learn how to make Waldorf style dolls and make your way into the high-end homemade toy market where the delightful dolls frequently sell for at minimum of $100 each.

8. Carpentry – Use your handyman or handywoman skills to open up a home based shopped selling furniture, cabinets, tables, etc. You can also advertise your services for small repair jobs in your community.

9. Rope Maker – You might not be able to garner enough money making rope to quit your day job, but you can bring extra money into the family making and selling handmade quality rope and weaving paracord bracelets and accessories. Like with most of the survival home-based jobs on this list, consider creating instructional videos that can be posted online to generate ad revenue and hosting workshops to train others who also want to learn a valuable skill.

10. Gunsmith – Knowing how to repair and build guns, as well as how to reload your own ammunition gives you the potential for a highly lucrative home-based business. There are some drawbacks with this prepper work-from-home job, though. Once the SHTF, everyone will know you have a stockpile of guns, gun parts, and ammo and you might not want to risk that information becoming public or helping to keep others well-armed during and after a SHTF disaster.

11. Weaver – Got sheep? Learn how to weave and make the most of the wool you have sheared. A growing online demand for natural fabric by fabric artisans should make this home-based job worth the effort and money to get it up and running. You could combine a weaving business with a sheep breeding business to increase the frugal prepping family’s finances even further.

12. Basket Weaver – Make baskets to sell now that are both useful and beautiful while spending off time between orders making an array of functional baskets, including flat-backed type that can be hung from a horse, ATV, or motorcycle.

13. Cooper – Open a cooperage and turn the wood cut from your property into handmade buckets, barrels, etc. Those items can fetch a high price for decorative purposes now will be essential for food storage and water toting during a long-term disaster.

14. Wood Cutter – Hire out your services as a tree cutter, wood splitter, sawmill planer, and firewood hauler. A home portable sawmill, a small one, roughly costs about $5,000 to $7,000.

15. Greenhouse – Start a small or large scale greenhouse and grow heirloom seeds, medicinal plants, and dwarf non-native fruit trees. All of these items are great sellers both at farmer’s markets and online.

16. Livestock Breeding – Help your herds, flocks, colonies, and sounders learn how to pay for their keep by breeding them and selling the offspring – and eggs. Find a niche to fill a void in your region to increase the potential for profit as much as possible.

Every farmer, homesteader, and prepper I know wants guineas on their land but have to order them from a far away hatchery – which only ships a couple of times a year, or get super lucky and buy a few at Rural King during their once a year sale.

Guineas protect your chickens and ducks from predators and alerts you to predators lurking around the barnyard eager to dine on your larger livestock. Due to their watchdog nature, guineas tend to disappear frequently when they sacrifice themselves to save their charges.

17. Livestock Guardian and Herd Dog Breeder/Trainer – Breeding and training dogs of this type if you live in an agriculture community could prove a steady extra income stream that when combined with boarding and grooming services, could allow a prepper to work from home all the time.

18. Herbalist – There is no special certificate to work as an herbalist, but the advertising of such services and allowable activities varies by state. In most states, you can make and sell your own natural homemade salves, tinctures, supplements if you follow specific state guidelines when proclaiming what the item will do for the consumer.

19. Baker – Learn how to be an expert bread, roll, pie, etc baker to sell your delicious homemade good and to teach others how to make healthy bread from scratch. To sell commercially, you will likely need to have a kitchen inspection from your county health department.

20. Survival Instructor – Become the hero of other preppers in your region and probably some weekend warriors too, by offering on-site training, primitive camping, tree identification, forager, hunting lease weekends, fishing your stocked pond, and by teaching a series of other small-scale but essential outdoor skills to both children and adults. Create your own gun range and become a certified gun trainer and offer concealed carry permit classes, etc.

Wrap-Up

Becoming a frugal prepper and developing a home based business that will allow you to quit your day job and even more onto your survival homesteading retreat are tasks that are typically accomplished in stages.

Set some spending, saving, and extra money earning goals and diligently work toward them on a daily basis. Once you start seeing the results of your labor and sacrifices, set new goals to achieve while resting assured that the family’s overall chances of survival increase with every goal reached.

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About Tara Dodrill

Tara Dodrill
Tara Dodrill is a homesteading and survival journalist and author. She lives on a small ranch with her family in Appalachia. She has been both a host and frequent guest on preparedness radio shows. In addition to the publication of her first book, 'Power Grid Down: How to Prepare, Survive, and Thrive after the Lights go Out', Dodrill also travels to offer prepping tips and hands-on training and survival camps and expos.

12 comments

  1. I suppose I have some real issues with the suggestions for gold and diamonds. How many people know a diamond from a piece of glass? I sure wouldn’t know a Grade AAA diamond from a CCC type. Nor would I have the faintest idea about the size of the stone. I’ve read many articles through the years about how the diamond market is totally rigged, and people with “investment-grade” diamonds are usually SOL when they try to cash in.

    Gold: In this day and age I there are lots of reasons for the buyer to beware. Fake gold is the first problem. The Chinese are expert at substituting gold-coated tungsten for gold. One has a density of 19.25 grams per cubic centimeter, and the other 19.3. Central Banks have been caught up in this scam. Again bringing up the “quality” issue, how many people can tell the difference between .999 gold and .9 if the colors have been made to match?

    Finally, the US government confiscated gold held by citizens back in the Thirties of the last century. Given the way they monitor every single large transaction, how on earth are you going to collect a supply of gold without somebody knowing all about it? And the ‘takers’ needn’t be the Feds – a tip by anybody involved in the sales transaction could give a ‘tip’ to a regional professional burglar about a person known to have several kilograms of gold.

    I believe I’d try to accumulate “junk silver” US coins (pre-1964) in small cash purchases at gun shows and flea markets.

  2. Thank your for your article. I have your booked saved in my watch list on eBay. If things stop breaking I own then I’ll get your book next.

  3. I don’t get the “pay off everything” thought system. Why? Everything is gone to shit. Millions are killed, trading bits of metal for things we need (as if I could afford gold), we are bartering, no transportation, no phones, computers, banks, ATM’s, electricity, jobs, etc. What difference does it make if I pay my house and credit card off?

  4. Grace, at first glance I’d agree with what you say – who cares about an old debt or two if things are truly FUBAR. Consider though the preliminary stages to a disaster. Say, about where we are at the present moment. Having extra money to buy future necessities would be nice, and that would result from not continuing to hand the bank piles of “interest” money on top of the original debt.

    A disaster might not proceed to the point you describe, and outstanding debts could be used as a lever to finish “cleaning out” folks. A few years ago when Obama The Great was president, the banks organized a massive heist. A neigbor family had been living in their house for nigh on 18 years, and had built up some equity. The mother and wife told me their mortgage had been sold 7 times, and each time their mortgage payments had gone up a little bit. There came a point where they could no longer meet those payments, and lost everything. Not only the house, but the family was shattered by the experience and disintegrated.

    I’m reading stories these days about the return of “debtor’s prisons”. A bank-friendly judge will toss a person into the clink for missing a small payment or fine, and things go to hell in a handbasket in a hurry.

    So trying to keep the “debt” lever out of the hands of the banksters seems a good idea to me. A saying I’ve known for years goes something like this: “If you owe the bank $1,000 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $1,000 million, that’s the bank’s problem.”

    During a hyperinflation disaster Rich People will do just fine – they’ll watch their debts evaporate. Poor people aren’t likely to do nearly as well.

    • Agree with most of your comments, except the bit about mortgage payments going up when the loan is sold. That simply doesn’t happen. Your mortgage is a contract between you and the bank. If they sell it, all the original terms still apply. Ours has been sold about a dozen times in the past 10 years and nothing has ever changed except the address to which we mail our check.

  5. Mark,

    I question the utility of storing much gold. In my town of 300,000 people the only people who deal with direct physical gold purchases are the Pawn shops and a few coin stores. I understand they don’t have to pay spot price for any metal they buy. Today I hear that many of the local pawn shops only offer 50% or less of spot price for gold items. If they don’t have a secondary market to unload their accumulations to at a good profit then the prices they will offer will drop even further. Even then they can generally only offer the local inflated currency for exchange.

    Trading gold to individuals is going to be tricky as well. I have taken gold Krugerrands to the local gun show and see if I could get spot value for them. Out of 150 tables not one person was willing to make a trade. They had no idea what the coin was worth and didn’t want to hassle with converting it to cash at a later time. The general population has not exchanged gold for almost 100 years and I doubt they will make a sudden transition in times of stress.

    Gold will only have value during a period of high inflation while there are dealers willing to pay spot price for it. As we all agree when things really go bad gold may become nearly worthless. How long will the transition from massive inflation to complete chaos last? 12 months? 24 months? The time window is limited.

    One strategy is to sell your gold stash and pay off your house, car, college loan, or buy propane during a time of peak gold price, but timing and the availability of a buyer is critical. If you wait to long during a financial collapse potential buyers may disappear.

    I also agree that gold jewelry is going to be almost impossible to value. The only way a buyer can come out on the deal, without and X-ray analyzer, is to offer a very low exchange value.

  6. What about all the people on food stamps and medicaid. . MOst if not all of them know nothing about gardening, canning, preserving and live hand to mouth/ I know of people that can;t eat lunch if the paychecks are late a few hours. they spend their money on ta-toes and spray tans. Their vehicles are poorly maintained . I could go on but you get the idea. they don;t have anything to sell but themselves in a pinch. they would resort to stealing first and after that was exhausted they would become more violent because their baby is hungry or they haven;t had their medication. or a cigarette . I know a lot of these people they could tell you about the latest thing the Kardashians are doing but feeding themselves with out food stamps you get a blank stare.
    If SHTF ever does happen you will have to deal with these hungry people before you worry about getting a garden planted.

  7. I would add ammo to the list of best barter items. 22 long rifle, 12 ga shotgun are my favorites, but here is the list of the most popular calibers in the US. http://knowledgeglue.com/what-are-the-most-popular-calibers-in-the-us/

    I would also consider basic fishing equipment as barter items if one is near a river, lake or ocean. Modern hooks and monofiliment line can’t be beat and can’t be duplicated at home. All the rest of one’s fishing gear can easily be hand crafted. I’ve seen people catch 80 lb tuna from a sailing canoe with just a hand-line and a lure.

    I also think that community defense against banditry is more likely to be successful than using an individual ‘bunker’ system. It all depends on quick communication with neighbors, so the suggested radios are essential.

    But nothing can be done about warlords with military grade weaponry except be able to buy their cooperation with regular sharing of food or some other necessity. Survivors of collapse may welcome being part of a feudal system that provides physical protection in return for a share of the crop. Of course one has to be able to grow food to participate (unless one wants the excitement and short lifespan of a warrior).

  8. Invest in your community, create resilience and build strong relationships. That will give you far greater security than anything else.

    • @ Ann Owen. I fully agree that good relationships with neighbors, community, and family are high on the list in presurvival preparations.
      3 years ago I moved my family from a 40 acre ranch to a town of around 20,000. There were more than one occasion where my neighbors and I needed each other and a quick call brought as many as were able running to the side of whoever had need. Our shared proximity and relative isolation required we support each other and had each other’s backs. I don’t see that much has changed since moving into town except now I can see and hear my neighbors because we are living so close to each other.
      I recently hosted the first get acquainted social at my home for my neighbors on all sides of our fence and across the street. That social gathering is being followed up with two more comments to do the same. No one wants to be an island. Everyone feels somewhat vulnerable and a sense of community empowers each of us. My suggestion is that this important area of prepping is not overlooked.

  9. Raymond D. Hammond

    Silver coins make the most sense for everyday exchange followed by gold for larger purchases. Do not agree with author on gems of any kind nor jewelry. Too ambiguous. Real one ounce silver or gold coins are the undisputed leader in known value. I also like Real 90% silver US coins as they are well known by most people. Another good barter item is ammunition. But be careful who you trade with. We have extensive gardens, greenhouse and chickens. Veggies and eggs are always good.

  10. Buying gold today is risky, is it not? I have read that China makes coins that are being sold for real gold, but they aren’t real gold. Any ideas or suggestions? Is that information real or fake?
    Thanks.

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