No matter what trashy daytime and evening television would have you believe, prepping is not easy. That is mostly because the vast majority of preppers (this readership included) are not independently wealthy retired eccentrics.
Face it: the most precious thing we have, the thing we are going through all of this for, our lives and the lives of our families, are full of mundane everyday obstacles that must be overcome if we are going to make progress toward our objective.
Some of these snags are avoidable, others are not. Some are inherent to your living conditions or family situation. All of these reasons have, at one time or another, been show stoppers for someone.
Well, to be totally honest, I heard it said once long ago that reasons are just excuses with fancy fenders, and should be treated accordingly.
In this article, I am going to dismantle the worst and most common offenders, and hopefully bring a little hope to the folks who feel like they are running away from disaster on a treadmill.
Over and Onward
If you are alive, there is something you can do to improve your situation. A big part of doing this is mindset. Focus on performance, on improvement, not on arbitrary standards of readiness.
A year’s worth of food, water, medicine and ammo on a 50 acre plot with hidden underground fully off-grid shelter with triple redundant everything might as well be complete fantasy to a person living in a small apartment on a budget in the middle of Cleveland.
A better solution is to focus on growing your capability, and expanding your readiness. Only have two meals worth of food in the fridge and a battered Nalgene bottle’s worth of water? No problem, let’s get to 3 days worth of both. Just 3 days. Then after that 5 days. Then a week’s worth. Then a month’s. See where I am going?
Similar obstacles have similarly gradual solutions. You won’t turn into a salty, seasoned, well-equipped prepper overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Things take time. But if you sit in a huff believing more in your “but” than your mission, you’ll stay right where you are.
So stop speaking to yourself in the language of excuses. Take ownership, take control of the situation and approach it critically. No matter what, no matter what, there is always something you can do to make progress.
The Obstacles, and their Solutions
Below in no particular order you’ll find the list of objections, excuses and obstacles that preppers bring up regularly when the conversation turns toward the “why not?” You may claim one or several. Your hangup may not even be on this list. That’s alright. Read on and learn what you can from my examples.
In a small flat or spacious condo, apartment prepping comes with a few challenges, some of which may seem insurmountable. For one, you won’t have any land of your own at your home, and what public green spaces exist are not suitable for practicing a majority of the outdoor skills a prepper should know.
Another issue could be moving large quantities of goods or bulky equipment from your vehicle to your home discreetly.
While space for storing a modest stash of provision and equipment will not truly be an issue for all but the most cramped apartments or those who are something of a packrat, having stockpiles of goods set clumsily about can upset partners and family members who want a tidy home.
Considering that apartment dwellers also likely live in built-up urban and suburban areas instead of away from population centers, they often feel so far behind the eight ball that somehow trying to prep is a waste of time, as it will not make much difference in the scheme of things.
This is patently untrue on both counts. First, by way of a little clever rearranging of cabinets and perhaps the takeover of one closet you can keep all of your preps organized and out of sight. You can save even more room by paying attention to choosing items with a small form factor.
Regarding practicing your skills, take your show on the road! You may or may not afforded the choice to bug-in or shelter in place, so in light of that you can grab your packed BOB with all its accoutrement and go for a hike to do some route planning and get some outdoor time.
Choose an area that is a wide open public nature area or park and you should be able to practice anything from fire starting to archery and shelter creation.
By combining your practice with your recreation time, you can get more done in a day and will not feel so penned up in your apartment.
Lack of Land
Similarly to our apartment-dwelling brothers and sisters, homeowners don’t always have all the space they would like or need on their property.
Whatever you have in mind to do, you’ll need space to achieve it, from planting a garden, installing rain catchment systems or simply having enough leg room to dig in an underground shelter. So what if you own the land? You are still prevented from doing what you need to do!
Or are you? Like our friends above, the problem often dictates the solution. If your property is not large enough to support a garden of any size, what could you do to address it? You probably cannot buy more land (at least land adjacent to your home) but you could make better use of it with plants and produce that make less room.
Alternately consider the desired outcome itself: a sustainable source of produce, or food. Would a small flock of chickens make a better investment, one that will not need so much space and also one that will keep insect pests to a minimum around your home?
Say you wanted to put in rain catchment systems mentioned above, but simply do not have the space to make it worthwhile. Have you thought of routing rain water from your gutters to barrels? You would need to be a little more diligent about filtering out sediment and grit from your roof, but these concerns are easily overcome.
Regarding installing the shelter, you might not have the real estate to dig and sink a large prefab module, but you could install a compact unit that will shelter you and your family with some supplies for a few days. Alternately you may be able to extend or reinforce a section of your basement if you have one to serve as a reinforced secure location.
Don’t let you wants and preferences dictate your solutions. Sometimes a viable solution is not your favorite, but it is workable. Let the problem show you the way.
This is overwhelmingly the most common complaint I hear when it comes to prepping “buts”. People say they don’t have the time.
There is some teeth to this excuse, in that almost all of us have work obligations, spousal responsibilities, kid chauffeuring, day-to-day tasks and a hundred and one other things on our checklists that gobble up time and willpower.
After all that, plenty of would-be preppers cry in their beer that they just don’t have the time.
What a bunch of malarkey! Here’s the bottom line: you do have time, at least some time to spare, but you just chose something else to do. How’s your favorite show treating you? Good? Well, enjoy it; that’s 30 minutes or an hour you could be dedicating to working skills or planning.
You have any dead time in your day? Maybe you carpool or take mass transit on your commute. What do you do with that time? Zone out? Watch YouTube or check your social media accounts? Use that time productively instead.
You can do some studying on a topic you would like to bone up on or even practice a simple skill like knot tying. Try trying the same knot over and over until it is so ingrained in your memory it essentially ties itself even in the dark.
Things like kids and family make things a little trickier but there is always a way to carve out time for yourself. Not for nothing, and this is bound to ruffle feathers, but your life should not be so consumed with running kids to and fro that you exist as a taxi service and nothing else. There is more to life and more to preparation than that. Time to trim some fat.
If you can come up with just 30 minutes of open time a day, 5 days a week, that is 130 hours a year. If you are serious, you’ll find the time.
Another common excuse, and one that has the most provenance. Only a fortunate few of us are financially free enough to embark on massive shopping trips to completely outfit our homes, land and stockpiles with all of the provision and equipment we need in one fell swoop. Furthermore some prepper grails like owning remote land to use as a bug-out location is all but a pipe-dream for many.
With all the demands life has to level against our very real financial limitations, how are you supposed to free up the capital to purchase the multitudinous items you need for SHTF readiness?
While this can be a very real limitation for some, once again there is always something you can do. In this case, prioritize your purchases and either save for the things you truly must have or build a supply incrementally.
For instance, let’s say you want to outfit yourself with a standard-issue disaster readiness stockpile: food, water, batteries, medicine, etc. Buying even an extra week’s supply when you are budgeting your grocery allotment for 5 days is tricky or impossible.
What you can do instead is grow your stash incrementally. Buy an extra case of water your next grocery trip. Then a few more cans or pouches of food. The time after that, grab a bottle or two of medication to stash. By doing this diligently and being disciplined you will have a goodly stockpile in no time.
You can do something similar with larger-ticket purchases, only you will save the money in a fund just for that item; don’t get derailed and cash in your coin on something that is not for preparation, and no; a new TV does not count as a situational awareness aid.
Another strategy you should consider if you are on a budget is that of barter. You have skills and things you don’t need that others in your community or prepping group could have use for and be willing to trade accordingly.
This is an excellent way to get the things you need with little to no outlay of cash. Check on social media, Craigslist, and prepper forums for swap meets and other barter boards.
This is the ultimate obstacle for a few unfortunate preppers. For whatever reason, your significant other, partner, or better half is not on board the prepping train and is holding it hostage at the station.
Maybe it is over perceived expense, lack of interest or concern or social embarrassment. Whatever the case, they are nagging you over your activities and acquisitions.
Dealing with this is sensitive: if you have a spouse, you have serious moral and practical obligation to them, and you probably should not throw their concerns under the bus without at least attempting to address their issues.
A boyfriend or girlfriend will afford you more leeway if you want to go nuclear option and overrule them, though you should not throw any relationship away casually. So what is a prepper to do about this tough nut?
Well, you have a handful of options: placate, convert or overrule/sneak. Placating your significant other will involve a sincere, no-kidding talk. Listen to their gripes without mocking or belittling them and see if you cannot explain your position in a way that emphasizes the less-scary and important aspects of prepping.
Perception is reality for most people, and your SO may just be suffering from the wrong preconceptions, backing up from the concept of prepping at the mention of it.
Converting your partner may involve more work, but perhaps not. This is a great strategy for married couples as well as unmarried couples that have plenty of time in country with each other, as having someone on the same sheet of music as you are when it comes to survival is always a major benefit.
This will often take considerable finesse when addressing someone resistant to the idea, so take your time and ease them into the concept with camping, hiking and things of that nature.
Take care to show them how well-adjusted and reasonable your concerns are (unless they are like you, leave off any TEOTWAWKI scenarios and other such ideas) and work hard to dispel common myths and stereotypes that swirl around prepping and the people who adhere to the lifestyle.
With a little luck, they will come to embrace it all on their own and your troubles will vanish.
The last option, overruling them or sneaking your preps around their notice is only a last resort. It takes a lot of conviction and backbone to fly in the face of your partner’s wishes and weather their barrage of passive-aggressive retaliation against your insolence.
Be prepared to spend some time in the doghouse in service of your sincerely held beliefs, but be comforted that you truly have your family’s best interests in first place.
If you are of meek disposition or utterly henpecked, being sneaky is probably more your style. Practicing your survival skills under cover of other activities and bringing in supplies and equipment for your truly secret stash surreptitiously to avoid scrutiny and an ass-chewing.
Hey, it isn’t glamorous or even particularly honorable, but the ends justify the means. You can enjoy their adulation when disaster arrives and your supplies laid in secret and planning made in private spring into action to save the day.
No More Excuses!
What most preppers dub reasons for their lack of progress or positive action on prepping are really just fancy excuses. Where there is a will there is a way, and the obstacle itself usually points to the solution.
Take my advice from the above situations and use them to overcome any hang-ups and problems you may be dealing with.
Charles Yor is an advocate of low-profile preparation, readiness as a virtue and avoiding trouble before it starts. He has enjoyed a long career in personal security implementation throughout the lower 48 of the United States.