The Power of Paper
I’m a big fan of lists for two reasons. One, they provide a great
deal of clarity; and two—they’re free!
When we first moved onto our rural Idaho homestead in 2003,
we were over whelmed by the number of things we wanted to
do, and underwhelmed by the amount of money we had to
do them. We hit upon the idea of making, then prioritizing, a
We got a large sheet of paper and wrote down everything and
anything we wanted to do, purchase, make, grow, raise, or otherwise accomplish. Nothing was too big or too small. The list
included both short-term and long-term goals.
After several days of jotting down our thoughts, we got a
clean piece of paper and divided it into A, B, and C categories,
then we went through each item on the list and categorized it
accordingly. The “A” category had the highest priority, either
because it was easy, or cheap, or both (fruit trees were on the
“A” list since they take a long time to mature); the “C” had the
lowest priority due to cost, complexity, or other factors.
We were astonished how much this list helped us through the
years. If we had a bit of extra money, we looked at the “A” list
to see what we might be able to check off. When the A’s were
nearly gone, we looked more attentively at the “B” list, while
saving up for some items on the “C” list. The list was fluid;
sometimes we would add things, or shift an item to a different
category, or drop it as unnecessary. This master list allowed us
to accomplish a great deal on our homestead over the years,
and only two things required going into debt: building a barn,
and buying a tractor (both of which are now paid off).
I strongly urge you to do something similar with your prepping
efforts. When you make the initial list, the sky’s the limit. Let
your imagination soar. You could even include one of those
multi-million dollar underground bunkers if you want. Remember, lists are free! Then you can prioritize your lists into
categories, in accordance with your time and income.
This wish list doesn’t just have to be just things you want to buy.
You can make a separate list for skills you want to acquire or
projects you want to complete. Want to sew/weld/milk a cow/
fix an engine/knit socks/fence a garden/get chickens? Put it
on the list, and be sure to include what tools or materials you’ll
need to accomplish the task; then prioritize these in order of
importance or do-ability.
Touching once again on the subject of “good debt/bad debt,”
the biggest potential “prepping” debt anyone can incur is
purchasing a rural home where greater food self-sufficiency
is possible. If you are considering this move (and can make
a living in your new location), then Dave Ramsey’s advice
for a fifteen-year mortgage would fall under the “good debt”
If you can’t move, or don’t want to, then don’t fight it. Just do
the best you can where you are. As the old saying goes, you go
to war with what you have.
But meanwhile, make (and prioritize) that wish list. The secret to
prepping without going into debt is to know what you want …
and lists are free.
I just wish Mr. Jones had done that.
Patrice Lewis is a wife, mother, homesteader, homeschooler, author, blogger, columnist, and speaker. An
advocate of simple living and self-sufficiency, she and
her husband, Don, operate a home-based woodcraft
business and farm twenty acres in rural north Idaho.
Patrice and her husband have been married twenty-four years and
have two daughters, 16 and 20. Follow her blog at www.rural-revo-lution.com.
¹The end of the world as we know it.