Being a prepper or at least prepping for an emergency takes a lot of time and planning because to be truly ready for everything you can’t wait for the last minute. Perhaps now is probably the best time to start when there is so much information available through books and the internet. You also have time on your side although how much time you’ll have in a couple of months or even a year is anyone’s guess.
There are certain things that every prepper must do before they start to assemble their supplies and could determine how prepared they’ll really be once an emergency hits. Sure you may have enough supplies, but having enough supplies is only half the battle.
Some of these things have already been covered briefly in previous articles, but a refresher course never hurts. Let’s start with the very first thing you must do:
Get yourself out of debt as much as you can. If you’ve just purchased a new car or home you may not be able to pay it off entirely before an emergency hits, but try to get the amount owed down as much as possible. Pay off all the credit cards and charge accounts you have. To avoid further temptation you may want to cut them up or close the accounts.
Some experts feel that by closing accounts this may hurt your credit score, but if you have a difficult time avoiding the desire to splurge or going to Wal-Mart where you proceed to lose your mind you may want to close the account. Also ask yourself how much is my credit score really going to matter if I’m faced with living in the dark?
So why should you get out of debt?
Well because once the world starts to recover just a little these lenders will come after you because they got hit pretty hard by the disaster and need to recoup their losses. If you don’t have the money to pay them back they may use other means to get their money. If the world becomes devoid of certain laws or consumer rights things could get downright ugly.
It also makes you more self-reliant which is one of the purposes of being a prepper; to be less dependent on big businesses and the government. You also won’t have to worry about having enough money to cover your living expenses because whatever money you make that doesn’t go into everyday living necessities can be saved. Having money on hand will be critical to you and your family’s survival once the world begins to recover.
As it was stated previously it takes money to prep. You may be tempted to put everything on your credit cards, but what happens when you need more supplies and don’t have the money to get them? During an emergency you may be able to barter or trade for what you need, but you’ll always have someone who just wants money. Having to put everything you make towards paying off credit card balances is not being self-reliant and in the prepper world it’s really foolish.
So how should you get out of debt?
Sometimes when you owe so much it’s hard to figure out the first step, but there is a very good first step. What makes it a good first step is that it makes paying off debts easier and it’ll make you better organized to figure how much you owe as well as how much you were able to pay off prior to an emergency. Knowing this will prove to be very important.
On a piece of paper (or two or three) list every bill you owe according to how much you owe starting with the least amount. Underneath the amount put the account number, bill’s name (MasterCard, mortgage company, student loan company, etc.), and the mailing address. Don’t take it for granted that you’ll have the actual bill on hand when you want to pay on it. If you have two bills that are the same amount put the one with a lower interest rate first. Beneath that information leave room to keep track of how much you paid and when. Once you have paid off the bill cross it off using a red Sharpie.
For the bills that you owe large amounts on try to pay as much as you can. If you can only afford to pay the minimum do that as soon as you can and before the due date also pay whatever amount of interest they’re charging you for that month as well as an extra $20.
The reason for paying off your debts in this manner is that you won’t feel so overwhelmed at the thought of getting out of debt and you’ll actually be able to see your debt reduced every month. Seeing the actual progress will make you feel good about what you’re doing.
You’ll also want to get rid of any bills that you don’t think much about such as your memberships to places like the gym and Netflix. Although these may not seem like much they’re still an extra burden that you won’t need in an emergency.
As a prepper you’ll want to have a safe place to store your list and receipts just in case the bill collectors decide to come calling after things start to return to normal. In cases of emergencies bill collectors often use unethical methods to get money such as claiming not to have any record of your payment. If you can’t prove you paid something they’ll still count the bill as unpaid and you won’t be able to prove otherwise.
Purchase a container that’s both waterproof as well as fireproof. Keep your list, receipts, stamps and envelopes in the container. You may also want to keep the red Sharpie in there as well.
As you slowly get out of debt don’t spend anything except what you’ll need to survive. All the little luxuries you may be used to such as your daily trip to Starbucks, ordering takeout, trips to the nail salon for your manicures and pedicures, cell phone packages that have all the bells and whistles (and the high monthly bills that come a long with it), and having every channel that your cable provider offers will vanish once an emergency hits so now may be the perfect time to start weaning yourself off them. It may be difficult to do that now, but not as difficult as it will be to go cold turkey.
Another plus for getting out of debt is that you're getting a teachable moment with your kids. By watching you pay off your bills and not accumulate more debt they're learning about saving as well as being financially responsible. Kids who experience something like this are less likely to go into debt.
The less money you pay out every month is the more money you’ll be able to have on hand. Having money stocked away or having bills that haven’t been paid will determine your survival both during and after an emergency.