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Two weeks ago, we reviewed how to purchase self-reliance food and supplies while sticking to a budget by holding a garage sale. In March we discussed Dollar Store shopping. Please review that: Tips For Emergency Preparedness on a Tight Budget.

Why all this emphasis on freeing up money for preparing? As those of you who follow us on Facebook know, I was in southern California and experienced the Ridgecrest earthquakes July 4th and 5th. Yes, we rocked and rolled, and we were an hour’s drive away. Since then there have been over 9,600 quakes in the area. I have posted an interview with Doctor Lucy Jones on our Facebook page in which she discusses the expected damage following “the big one” in southern California. It is very enlightening and should be watched by everyone living on the west coast, inter mountain west, near the New Madrid fault, and anyone living on the ring of fire. Similar damage from a large quake will also result in all of these areas and they are all due for a “big one”.

Let’s use southern California as an example for a minute. Millions of people will be without power and without water for weeks or months. What do you think they will do? What would you do? Think Escape! Imagine thousands of people driving to your hometown and emptying store shelves. Many will not be able to afford a hotel. Do you have friends and family who will flee to your home?

Many Stake presidents, Bishops, Stake and ward Relief Society presidents and individuals tell me they are feeling an urgency to prepare. I hope you are too.

How do you do this on a budget? Let’s look at a few ways.

  1. Drink water. A few days ago I went out to lunch and a soda was $5.00. I could buy five boxes of brownie mix or five mylar blankets or five toothbrushes from a dollar store for that. Just think all you could buy if you save $5.00 once a week by drinking water. That’s $260 a year.
  2. Take drinks with you in reusable bottles when you travel, run errands or go to the beach or amusement park. Bottled water costs twenty cents or a little more per bottle. If you buy two cases per month you will save $115 or more a year.
  3. Prepare work and school lunches at home. Elementary school lunches average $3.00. If your child eats at school even three days a week that is $336.00 per year. A high school lunch averages $6.00 or $660 a year for three meals a week. A workplace lunch averages $12.00 (if you drink water) or if you eat in with a tip that would be $15.00. Three meals per week would be $720.00 per year if you have a month’s vacation.
  4. Take sandwiches and snacks with you when you travel instead of purchasing food on the road. Take favorite cookies and candy to make the meals more fun.
  5. Wash your own car. This is a great thing to pay the kids to do. If you pay the kids, you don’t save money, but you teach your children to work. Once children earn money they should learn to pay for their own wants. Think,  $10.00 per month for one car or $120.00 per year savings if you wash your own car.
  6. Double or triple recipes. We all get busy and resort to fast food or pizza when we have had a crazy day. Freeze the extra food and on those stressful days take a meal out of the freezer and microwave it for an easy meal.
  7. Keep a stash in the car. Have you ever had the kids say, “I’m so… hungry.” as you pick them up from school?  You still have errands to run and soccer lessons, so you find a drive thru and buy snacks.  Don’t do it.  Get a small cooler or basket and stock it with snacks.  Choose items that won’t melt and the next time someone complains tell them to check the snacks.
  8. Celebrate at lunch. For special occasions take that friend or loved one out to lunch instead of dinner. Much cheaper.
  9. Share phone plans. Check with family members and go together when establishing a phone plan. You can often have several phones on one plan with each additional phone just $10.00.
  10.  Eliminate extras on your phone and internet plans.
  11.  Purchase with cash. Studies have shown consumers are willing to pay 10-40 percent more when using a credit card. College students are shown to be willing to spend even more than that. All of this is a subconscious decision so don’t get trapped.
  12.  Move your bank accounts to online banks. Brick and mortar banks pay about .2% on accounts. Online banks can pay 2.2% or more. On a thousand dollar account you can make $20.00 or more a year over what you make at a brick and mortar bank.
  13.  Limit the television you pay for. There are many free Apps for TV watching. BYU tv is free. There are many more options. Use them.
  14.  Master the ten second rule. When you pick up an item to add to your cart or take to the checkout, stop for ten seconds and ask yourself why you’re buying it and whether you actually need it.
  15.  Master the thirty day rule for more expensive purchases. When considering making an unnecessary purchase, wait thirty days and then ask yourself if you still want that item. Quite often, you’ll find that the urge to buy has passed and you’ll have saved yourself some money by simply waiting.
  16.  Sign up for customer rewards programs. You can save big on individual purchases or a percentage off every purchase.
  17.  Plan meals for the week before shopping to limit impulse buying.
  18.  Plan meals around grocery store sales for that week.
  19.  Cook from scratch. Don’t purchase premade foods or boxed meals. Cooking from scratch does not need to take lots of time or skill. If you don’t know how to prepare a meal without the use of mixes, ask for help.
  20.  If you are an impulse buyer send a friend or spouse to do the shopping.
  21.  Run dishwasher only when full.
  22.  Car Pool. With gas over $3.50 a gallon in many states, are we ready to look at carpooling yet? We can pool rides to work, to school, to Church, to PTA meetings, to dance lessons and even to soccer games. Going shopping at a discount store out of town? Invite a friend, share the cost of gas and save even more by dividing large packages of bulk goods.
  23.  Shop store brands. Try the cheaper shampoo, tissues, vegetables, etc. Purchase one, try it and stock up when you find it is as good as the more expensive brands. Most store brands are bottled or canned at the same facilities as the expensive ones. There are some brands I actually prefer over name brands.
  24.  Rent movies or only attend matinees. Rent and invite friends and have a movie night. Set up a projector and screen or sheet in the yard and enjoy an outdoor movie.
  25.  Turn up the thermostat 2 degrees during the summer and down 2 degrees during the winter.
  26.  Don’t buy any new clothes for the next three months.
  27.  Fire the gardener and mow your own lawn. Save money and get some great exercise.
  28.  Cancel the newspaper and magazines. Ask friends to save their copies for you when they are finished with them.
  29.  Cut up all credit cards except one for emergencies. Keep the one that pay you cash back on purchase.
  30.  Buy one extra can of fruit and vegetables and one pound of protein or grain every time you shop.

To purchase a three month supply of the foods you normally eat, for a family of four, is about $1,775. This amount even includes the purchase of dessert! Do you realize if you use the examples above and just drink water, take water instead of buying disposable water bottles, have one adult pack a lunch three days a week, and wash your own car you can save $1215, only $560 short of your three month supply.

Think about how easy that would be. Make a few more changes and you can not only have your food supply but also be on your way to completing your 120 hour kits. Already have these? Think about items needed for a power outage. Saving five dollars a week may seem like a drop in the bucket but add up lots of small drops and soon the bucket will be full. You can do this!

Finally, find a partner who will help you stay accountable to your new goals. This is key to a successful change in habits. 

Heavenly Father has promised he will help us in our righteous endeavors. He has asked us to prepare and become self-reliant. President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

“Let’s do these things because they are right, because they are satisfying, and because we are obedient to the counsels of the Lord. In this spirit we will be prepared for most eventualities, and the Lord will prosper and comfort us. It is true that difficult times will come—for the Lord has foretold them—and, yes, stakes of Zion are “for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm.” (D&C 115:6.) But if we live wisely and providently, we will be as safe as in the palm of His hand.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church)