I recently received an email asking how to become better prepared when you are poor. This person is interested to do more to be better prepared, but apparently has no funds to do so. Admittedly, this is difficult, but the situation can be turned around by going about preparedness in a different way…

The initial actions of someone who has decided to take more responsibility for themselves and to become better prepared for emergency, disaster, or worse… is to go out and buy ‘stuff’. Preps. The things they think they will need to survive. The thing is, although these things may be of help, believe it or not it is not the most important aspect of being prepared. Here’s why…

Let me back up a little… having certain survival items, preps, can indeed be the most important thing to your survival under some circumstances that you find yourself in. But from a broader perspective and a more general ability to survive longer term, you need the right mind set, adaptability, and know-how. These do not cost money. They take practice.

I suspect that many of those who are, or have been poor, will already posses a certain ability to get by without having lots of ‘stuff’. I’ll bet they have developed an ability to get what they need, however that may be. After all, if you’re alive, you’re surviving…

Having said that, my first advice would be to have a look inward at yourself. Look at what it is that has kept you alive, kept food in your belly. How have you managed so far? Not only should you hone those skills, but expand on them. Look for even more creative ways to feather your nest. You may have to change your ways somewhat, but there’s always a way.

Here’s an example… If you’re poor, then why not discover local food pantries or charitable organizations that donate food. Visit regularly and build up some kind of inventory. Don’t be too proud to visit these places if you are truly in need. You may even donate some of your time there in exchange for more food to take home.

Another example… If you’re poor, scavenge. Take a look at the things that people throw away. It’s amazing the throw-away society that we live in. Lots of the things that are tossed out can be adapted for value by those who are creative and are willing to pick this stuff up. Look online. There is an amazing amount of stuff that people are giving away for free on Craigslist for example. Go pick it up! Then later, have a yard sale. Or if you have the room to store this stuff, then keep it until such time that some of it may become useful in some way. Be a pack rat. During the great depression, NO ONE threw anything away.

Another example… If you’re poor and on government assistance, then be very smart with the assistance that you do get. Spend your money wisely. Buy foods that are cheap versus the calories they provide. Eat Ramen (for example). DO NOT spend on useless or expensive items. Don’t buy brand names. I’ve seen my share of ‘poor’ people in the supermarket checkout line who in my opinion are purchasing some extravagant items with their gov’t handout. It’s a free country, but if you are interested to stretch that money such that you can be better prepared, then be smart about it.

Unfortunately many of the poor depend entirely on the government, which leads to a mindset of complacency and expectation, both of which are not favorable towards a mindset of preparedness and self reliance. They are contradictory.

Examine your interests, BEFORE you examine your present skills. Are you doing the things that you are interested in doing? Doing those things will lead to skills that you thrive at. If you are poor and you do have a job, think about whether or not you like your job. Could you express interest in doing something else at work? Show initiative to your boss… maybe you can become cross-trained elsewhere.

At home, spend more time learning practical things. Shut off the TV for awhile. Spend some time educating yourself by either the internet or reading. One of the most beneficial things you can learn is how to garden and grow some of your own food. Seeds are cheap. Dirt is free. Water is abundant. There are no excuses not to try gardening.

Being prepared while you’re poor is a matter of knowing how to survive if things get even worse… In a bizarre sense, some of those who are poor may be better off after TSHTF than some of those who are rich with all their goodies. The caveat being that ‘the poor’ are those who are not of a government-dependent mindset, and are capable of scrapping for what they need to survive. The rich people have never ‘scrapped’ for what they need. It will be new for them… at least it will be after their ‘stuff’ runs out.

The short answer is to do your best at bettering your position in life. If that means finding a better paying job, then figure out how to do that (go after your interests). If it means changing your purchasing habits with the little money that you do have, then change it. If it means asking for help, then ask. Just remember that although we all need some amount of food and shelter to survive, we don’t need nearly as much ‘stuff’ as some may have you believe in order to survive a collapse. It’s about your ability to adapt to the situation in order to get what you need. It’s about creativity, street smarts, practical skills, the people you know, your frugality, your ability to trade your skills for things you need, your value in a post-SHTF world, your ability to live off the land, the ability to successfully live with what you have. I hope you get the idea…

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