I give Mr. Jones a lot of credit for trying his best to become
self-sufficient, and we’ve applauded some of his wiser decisions
(installing a wood cookstove, for example); but it’s painful to
watch him and his wife go deeply into debt to acquire tools and
solutions that are not dependable or repairable.
I use Mr. Jones as an extreme (though sadly, real-life) example
of someone who went into debt for prepping. TEOT WAWKI¹
may never happen, but those relentless bills come due monthly,
and the Joneses now have what amounts to a second mortgage
to pay off—and still have a long, long way to go before they can
consider themselves prepared.
In short, the Joneses have not gotten the best bang for their
buck, and they have made irreversible expenditures which have
shackled them with payments for the next few decades. Should
they, God forbid, suffer from a personal economic downturn
such as a job loss, they could be in big trouble because of the
extra debt they took on.
On the bright side, the Joneses have impressive community ties. They’re active in church and civic groups, are always
willing to lend a hand, and have helped endless people with
projects. They’re well-liked and highly regarded in our area.
These kinds of community ties, which take time to cultivate, are
an important part of prepping.
Consider the Experts
Now I’ll state up front I’m a housewife, not a financial expert.
But I have a horror of debt for the simple reason that we spent
many years struggling to climb out of a financial hole we dug
ourselves into. It’s painful to watch friends dig a hole far deeper
than we ever had.
So let’s consider the advice of a true financial expert: Dave
Ramsey, “America’s trusted voice on money.” How would Mr.
Ramsey view funding preparedness?
Ramsey advocates starting one’s financial journey by putting
$1,000 into an emergency fund, then paying off all debt except
the mortgage (that comes later). What do you think Mr. Ramsey would say about someone putting himself $100,000 in the
hole for prepping supplies? He would have a conniption fit.
Mr. Ramsey differentiates between what he calls good debt and
bad debt. “Good” debt is pretty much limited to an affordable
fifteen-year mortgage. Bad debt includes car loans, student
loans, and credit cards. Our friend presumably considered high-tech prepping equipment and projects to be “good debt,” but
I think Mr. Ramsey would disagree since the costs will never,
ever be recouped (even the technicians who installed his solar
array admitted this).
So What’s a Prepper (with Modest
Income) to Do?
Our friend’s focus on prepping has been based on fear, notably
a frantic anxiety about losing his modern comforts powered
by electricity. He is unwilling to “power down” and embrace
low-tech solutions, and instead considers expensive equipment
as the only option.
If you find your prepping efforts driven by fear as well, you
need to stop, take a deep breath, and focus.
I recommend modifying one of Dave Ramsey’s steps for your
prepping journey by putting aside a month’s worth of supplies
in the Seven Core Areas (food, water, heat/shelter, lighting,
sanitation, medical, protection). Canned food, bottled water
(or a water filter), a few oil lamps, hygiene items, any prescription medications, a means to stay warm in the winter, and
whatever protective measures are in sync with your beliefs (I’m
a big believer in the Second Amendment, for example).
After this, as your prepping journey continues, it’s time to make