I look at the prepping lifestyle as getting your preps with as little cash outlay as possible. I spend enough of my cash just trying to get by in the world and don’t have a lot of extra left over for prepping.
I have found several ways to get many of my preps for little or no money. I’m pretty sure no matter your situation you can use one or more of these ideas to help you save money on your own gear and supplies.
I’ll start with the free stuff, because that is where you should start as well. I have found just about everything under the sun while dumpster diving.
If you want food, check out grocery stores. They throw away literal tons of produce. Much of this can still be used. You will find bread, rolls, bagels, pies, cakes, frozen entrées that are expired, dented cans and much more. You can eat it yourself, feed it to your livestock, cut it up and dehydrate it for storage food or even trade it to others.
Diving construction sites should supply you with all the building material you will ever need…Sure, you won’t find too many full-size sheets of plywood or full length dimensional lumber but you should be able to scrounge up enough for most prepper building projects. Be sure to ask the foreman for permission to go through the “Scrap”.
Business dumpsters are usually full of cardboard; if you have a use for that, you can get all you want for free. Sometimes you will come across store returns that have been tossed in the dumpster. Sometimes these are repairable or may not even have anything wrong with them in the first place.
Apartment dumpsters around the end of the month are usually pretty good to hit. They have everything that the tenants moving out didn’t feel like moving. Lots of times I have found boxes full of food where someone had emptied their pantry and set the box beside the dumpster.
You might get real lucky and have a friend who happens to work at the dump, and allows you to wander around looking for things during working hours.
In all this just keep an eye out for things you can use or sell. Aluminum, brass and copper still bring decent money and dumpsters are full of the stuff.
Dumpsters are a gold mine of free prepping supplies, or things you can sell to buy those supplies. I have even found ammunition, money, tools and military items.
There are several YouTube videos out there featuring the dollar store challenge. You get $10 and have to buy enough to get you through a night out in the wild, start a fire, and provide three meals.
After watching a couple of these I had my own ideas and headed to my local nothing over a dollar store.
I found your basic lighters and matches but also came across a 10×12 drop cloth used for painting which is compact and perfect for a bug-out bag.
If you were taking the challenge or had very little money, one of the chef’s knives for a dollar would make a serviceable survival knife.
But what really surprised me about the dollar store is mine has shelf stable milk for a dollar a quart. Most of it is dated at least six months out. There are also several other food items you might want to check out if you are keen on packing your own MRE type meals.
I have found thrift stores to be hit or miss. When they hit they really pay off and when they miss they tend to be kind of boring.
In the cooking section look for cast iron pots, Dutch ovens and skillets along with knives or other utensils that you may not have that would help you butcher, store or otherwise prepare storage food. I have seen many dehydrators over the years; if you get one, be sure it is one that has a fan to move the air. The still air ones do not work well (that is why they are in thrift stores).
If they have a camping section, look it over well.. I have seen lots of Coleman stuff there. I picked up my current two burner stove for $5.
In the clothing section, look for good work boots. I picked up a pair of almost new Chippewa insulated work boots for $0.45, yes that is cents. Camo and used BDU’s can be had if you look hard enough.
The last thing is to look at the books. I have seen where it looks like someone’s crazy prepper uncle died and the relatives donated all his books.