What Preps for $900?
Today a friend asked me what preps I would buy if I had $900 free and clear. Since I know his exact situation, what he already has, and what he needs, that wouldn't be of much interest to readers I don't think. But what if a novice asked me the same thing?
How about these folks? A couple, he's early 40's, she's mid 30's. They have a 10 year old son, and live in a subdivision on a small lot in a town of about 7,000 permanent residents, another 1,200 at the private liberal arts college in town. They have a typical pantry of a few canned goods, some baking ingredients, and stuff in the refrigerator. They are on municipal water, but there is a small creek about 1/4 mile away. They own no firearms. He commutes about 12 miles each way to work; she is a stay-at-home mom, and volunteers in the son's school, which is within walking distance. The area is subject to ice storms, hurricanes and tornadoes. Blackouts are common. Crime is not a major problem now, but there is a fair amount of government subsidised housing in the town that could lead to problems if services ended. If they asked how to spend $900 to prepare, what would I suggest to them?
For their beginning on the road to preparedness, I'd suggest they look at shelter, water, food and defense.
Shelter: First, I'd suggest a small generator. A 4,000 watt genny will run about $375. Three 5 gallon gas cans would be another $45, plus a bottle of Star Tron gas treatment is $8. That's $428 so far, but that will give them lights, and they can run the refrigerator a little bit so as not to lose the food in it. I'd then suggest a Mr. Heater Little Buddy ($59) and 6 1 lb cans of propane ($18). $505 so far.
Water: A Travel Berkey Filter System with three Sport Berkey bottles from The Berkey Guy ($220). This gives them clean water in the house - they can fill it with creek water if need be - plus each family member gets a bottle to have clean water on the move. $725 so far.
Food: A Cansolidator Pantry from Shelf Reliance ($45) and $50 spent at the grocery store using coupons and sales to get enough canned and dry foods for the family for three days. A propane single burner camp stove, they'll have to shop around yard sales and thrift stores to find one for about $10 or less. It will use the same propane as the heater. $830 so far.
Defense: A $50 used 12 gauge shotgun, a 25 round box of #7.5 bird shot ($6) and a 5 round box of #1 buck shot ($5) That leaves just enough money to get a book like Rawles' How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It.
That is a pretty slim start, but it's enough to get them through 90% of what they are likely to experience with minimal discomfort or inconvenience. If they could come up with another $350 ($1,250 total), I'd upgrade the shotgun to a used pump action with an 18-20 inch barrel, more food, a small everyday carry kit for the wife and a decent get home kit for the husband. I still wouldn't steer them to long term storage food, but could get them up to about 2 weeks of regular grocery store food. They'd then have to get into rotation. A budget of $50 a month to add to their preps would get them up to speed pretty quick.
I think this is a reasonable plan for someone starting from zero, and in the particular situation described. If a friend or relative asks for your advice, everyone is going to have different suggestions for the different situations and concerns. There can be no blanket answer.