Since January 2021 overall inflation has risen 22%! According to government and private research the average family is now paying $1,200 more each month than in January 2021.

I know you are all feeling that. With the threat of war looming in several places and the increase in disasters, having a General Store, including emergency kits, in your home has never been more important.

With the advent of many stores that sell items for a dollar or two or three, assembling your own Emergency Kit has never been easier or less expensive. I decided to make a trip to our local store where nothing sells for more than a $1.25 just to see for myself what I could find. I was pleasantly surprised.

Bandanas, 2/$1.25: A while back I wrote an article and advised that you put a “uniform” for each family member in all your emergency kits. This could be matching bandannas which you tie around your neck, use as a headband, or tie around your arm. This will help you find a family member if you have been separated – people are more likely to remember someone with a bandanna than just another cute little boy with blond hair and blue eyes or brown hair and brown eyes.

Baseball caps $1.25: Again, these would be great “uniforms” for family Five Day kits, and would provide shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. You can further brand your uniform by decorating the caps – which are solid colors – with a stencil, or splatter paint, making them unique and easy for people who have seen them to remember.

Crayons, coloring books, puzzles, playing cards, beach balls and crossword puzzles: All of these can be found for a dollar and can provide hours of distraction time when you are confined to a car in a traffic jam as you evacuate, or in a shelter or hotel room later. During Katrina and other disasters, many evacuated and still found themselves without power 50 miles of more away from the disaster area.

Pencils, 12/$1.25 and Notepads 3/$1.25: Together these are a communication line as you leave messages for rescue workers and family and friends. They also provide another form of entertainment for drawing and playing games.

LED push light and or flashlight $1.25: LED lights make great night lights when the power goes out and they are small and easy to stash in an emergency kit, car kit or office kit. Inexpensive flashlights are perfect for a child’s kit. They are also amazingly bright.

70-foot rope, $1.25: This may not be the strongest rope in the world but it is great for a clothes line and perfect for making a lean-to or sun shade when combined with a tarp.

Clothes pins, $1.25: A rope and clothes pins are not only important for the obvious but also after a flood or other disaster that causes water problems in your home. Hanging wet documents and photos to dry on a line can prevent them from being lost forever. Drying out clothing and bedding prevents mold which destroys fabric.

Pet dishes, $1.25: I found a set of two good size heavy plastic bowls that would be perfect for a water and food dish for a pet. Pets are family members too.

Work gloves, $1.25: These are a must in every adult kit, the kits of older children, auto kits and workplace kits. The $1.25 variety may not be the most durable but they will provide protection during the early hours of clean up and can provide warmth if you are ever stranded in a cold environment.

Pack of three Bungee cords, $1.25: Pull yourself together. Need I say more?

Tools, $1.25: Utility knife, screwdriver sets, mini screwdriver set for fixing glasses and other items with tiny screws, and a set of hex keys. All great additions to all of your kits.

Toothbrushes with cap 3/$1.25 and a family size toothpaste also a dollar and of course dental floss: Dental floss has lots of uses during an emergency when supplies may be limited.

Hygiene items, $1.25 each: Deodorant, shampoo, shaving cream, 6 combs, or 3 large bars of soap. All these large sizes perfect for lasting a minimum of five days.

Medical needs, $1.25 each: antibacterial cream, cortisone cream, bandages, and 2 pack hand sanitizers.  Teething gel is available and a great addition to kits even if you don’t have a child; adults get toothaches too and a dentist may not be an option for a day or two. There was also a first aid kit perfect for children with basic supplies but no medications. These are not just good for kits but for everyday use.

Five glow bracelets or 2 glow sticks, your choice $1.25: Glow bracelets are the perfect way to provide a little light at night for children and a great way to keep track of them in a crowd. Glow sticks can provide light that is safe without running down precious batteries. With more power outages predicted for this summer having glow sticks to use as night lights is perfect and inexpensive.

Baby wipes, $1.25: Great for cleaning up after working or eating as well as for use with a baby. Following a disaster when water may be contaminated wipes are essential for good hygiene.

Two child ponchos, $1.25: These ponchos are good for a single use and come in a 2-pack. You may want to put two in each backpack if you are in an area where a weather emergency such as flooding, heavy rains and snow may be your disaster.

Magnifier reading glasses, $1.25: When you can’t afford a second pair of prescription glasses or you just need a little help for reading, these are a real money saver. Also valuable for any good first aid kit – ever try to remove a splinter without a good pair of glasses? Add a pair to all your kits and the car and around the house if you need just a little help but don’t want the expense of a prescription pair. You could buy over 100 pair for the cost of a prescription.

Sun glasses for children and adults, $1.25: Sun glasses are vital in a kit to help not only in sunny weather but also if stranded in the snow. They will help to prevent snow blindness which can be a very serious hazard. Add a few pair to your General Store for when the kids lose theirs or guests forget them or leave them on the counter at the store. Yes, I’ve done that.

Drink mixes, $1.25: The individual mixes you add to a bottle or glass of water come in many varieties. I have a grandson who hates carbonation but loves the mix that is A&W root beer added to water. You can get lemonade, pineapple, limeade, punch, so many to meet everyone’s taste preferences. These are also perfect for summer when the kids don’t want more water to drink but sodas and other drinks are expensive.

We have not even begun to list all the items you can purchase for the self-reliance General Store in your home. Don’t forget food. Our favorite maple cookies are purchased at a dollar store where they sell for $1.25. The grocery store variety is over $3.00. As always, when purchasing a new item or brand, take it home and test it with your family before you purchase several. Even at a dollar it’s not a bargain if you throw them away, but you can find some real deals if you are willing to experiment.

I purchase my favorite cleaning supplies at the dollar store. Cleaning supplies are so expensive at the grocery store.

You do not have to spend a large sum of money to assemble a great Emergency kit for each family member to carry in their car or to keep at work. Begin by gathering items from around your home and then hop in the car and check out your local dollar store. Stop putting it off or making excuses. Begin today.

Think General Store as well and stock up on soap, hygiene items, cleaning supplies, medications, etc. While there, think Christmas. For several years I was involved in providing Christmas stocking to a local food bank to pass out to families. We stuffed them full and many of the items we added were for a dollar store. Summer is the time to find bubble wands, beach balls, sidewalk chalk, outdoor games, kites, and much more that is only available in summer. Buy now and fill your Christmas stocking with fun while being budget friendly.

Prices are going up, and in a few months even these stores may have to adjust their selection or raise prices. Just as one day not long ago there were still stores called “The Five and Dime”, I am sad to say that soon there may be new interest in the old $2 bill for such stores as these.

For help in meeting all your self-reliance goals join Carolyn at or her blog at Help with weekly challenges for preparing and storing food and disaster preparation are available on both sites. Carolyn’s Totally Ready Emergency Binder is available to purchase and download at and can be purchased complete or one section at a time. Message Carolyn at the Totally Ready or Operation Ornaments Facebook page.