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How to budget, save money & establish financial health

I see great forum discussions emphasizing that physical health and financial health are two of the key foundations to a good prep. Practicing survival skills and acquiring gadgets are really fun, but I’d argue that they’re the grill lines on the steak.

John Ramey gives solid notes on how to create a simple budget in the article, “Why personal finance is critical for preppers and tips on money management.” I am such an enormous nerd about that topic, though! To me, budgeting is inherently prepping — they’re one in the same. But how? And where can you get started?

So, here’s deep dive about:

how do you actually make a budget that reflects your individual values, needs, and priorities? And once you’ve drafted that budget, how do you stick to it?

I’ve found success (at last, after lots of failures and self-doubt) with an app called You Need A Budget, or YNAB (“why-nab”) for short.

I like YNAB because it’s a values-neutral system. Want to spend $10 a day on Starbucks, get a dog, pay off your debt, and plan to live off-the-grid on a homestead in 5 years? Yeah, cool! You can do that. Or anything else that’s important to you, because you’re the boss of your money, not a set of arbitrary rules.

The system helps you be the boss of your money by helping you to discern your financial priorities and achieve clarity about what’s most important for your money to do next before more money arrives. You do this by writing down your priorities, then choosing the most important ones to fund, and assigning your money jobs (e.g., “pay for groceries this week,” “sit there and look pretty in my car emergency fund”) until all your money has been assigned jobs.

There are four rules in YNAB’s system to help you make that happen:

Give every dollar a job. Whenever money arrives, you prioritize what jobs need to happen first before more money arrives. Do you need to pay the electric bill, buy groceries this week, or make sure to have some money set aside for beers with your friends? YNAB helps you discern that choice proactively, then helps you follow the plan that you create. Embrace your true expenses. True expenses are reoccurring, less frequent expenses. Sometimes, they’re things that we know are coming up on a particular future date, like buying Christmas presents or paying for the kids’ summer camp. Other times, you don’t know when they’ll strike, but you can safely assume that someday, you will need money to pay for car repairs. Rule 2 helps you identify what your true expenses are, plan for them, and start setting money aside for them before you need to have it available to spend. Roll with the punches. Did you dine out one too many times? Or maybe you actually need to replace your cell phone after it went for a dip in the lake, but you don’t have money set aside for that? No problem; that’s normal, not a reason to feel guilty or quit budgeting. Circumstances change and your plans change with them. Your budget is no different. If you overspend in one category, Rule 3 tells you to cover that spending with money from another category and keep on trucking. Age your money. Slowly begin setting aside money to spend on next month’s expenses. In time, you’ll reach a point at which you’re spending money today that entered your bank account for the first time last month. (You’ll be able to cover May’s mortgage with dollars from April.) The app helps you to be purposeful in your spending and consistently spend less than you earn. This allows you to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, establish emergency savings, and build a more secure foundation for your prep.

Here are a few free places to get started:

Get Started Video Get Started Guide You Need A Budget book by Jesse Mecham — available free on Kindle through my public library, and maybe through yours? Live, Weekly Workshops YNAB Reddit YNAB Podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc. Free 34-Day Trial — you do not have to enter payment info when you create your account to get started

I’m not a YNAB employee, and this isn’t a sponsored post. I really am just a huge fan of this system. I see how much it helps others, and it’s helped me tons. It’s okay if it’s not for you; no budgeting tool is a one-size-fits-all solution. I share this in case someone else reads this who, like me, feels totally underwater and unable to start.

Budgeting, like physical fitness, sounds simple on the surface. When I started to get into it, I learned that it’s actually deeply personal. It often requires education, access to tools, and peer support for people to be successful at it. It’s hard to establish the habit of it, and easy to fall off the wagon. I hope that this post helps others for whom budgeting is a big challenge in your prep.

Drop a note in the comments if you’ve got questions, or if you’ve used other tools that work well for you. I’d love to read more about anything that helps people succeed in the threads below, even if it’s not related to YNAB.

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Share YOUR social media page/account on prepping/homesteading

Shameless plug, my wife relatively recently started a homestead TikTok page. She covers topics from things we do around the homestead/rural property to the unschooling we do with our kids, and of course prepping. She’s skilled at social media and puts out good information.


Not only did I want to share hers but I wanted others to share their prepping/homesteading social media pages/accounts. Do you write a blog, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, or have a FaceBook page? Share them so we can support each other and see through a small window into our fellow preppers lives. Even if you know it all, there’s still some things that can be learned!

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Dog owners, do you pack poop bags in your BOB?

My BOB has gotten really heavy. Looking for a way to lighten the load I noticed that the roll of doggie bags I have in there is actually pretty heavy. I’m wondering whether I really need to pack it all. I don’t entirely have a good picture of whether my dog would even be staying with me if I have to bug out or whether I would need to have her boarded. On the other hand, if I do have her with me, picking up poop seems like an important part of emergency hygiene.

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Tech security question, having critical docs online safely

So, in reading some interesting posts regarding forced evacuations, etc., mention was made of uploading critical docs, insurance info, and so on to a secure online source. I’m paranoid about online security due to some nightmare stories from friends & coworkers, and don’t want to entrust my info to yet another new source. 
Asking techies out there; would saving those kind of things in an attachment to a draft email at a secure email address (like TP’s recommended Proton Mail) be a safe, reasonable spot for such things to be stored? Seems to me that would be easily sourced by me from any browser without having to remember/bring an extra thumb drive, password or other complication during a stressful event, since that’s a product I use daily already. I realize paper copies still have their place, but limitations too (easily lost, damaged or stolen, for starters.)

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Prepping for the End of the World (as we knew it)

The title wasn’t meant as click-bait. Sorry. But I do have a question for folks with respect to the mindset one has about…prepping.

Much of this site (and others), are rightly devoted to advising about how one endures an accute disaster. Whether it’s weather (hurricanes, floods), social (economic/societal collapse), or something else, like, a pandemic! And, then there are the outlier scenarios… like zombies.

But, I find myself starting to think about the future not in terms of how my “normal” life may be disrupted by an accute event. Rather, it’s about how we aren’t going back to that normalcy. More importantly, how whatever replaces the old “normal” could be far different and require some new thinking. Indeed, I’m almost convinced this is already the case.

So, a few general articles flew by my feed recently about the billionaire class. These were more specific to individual billionaires, but the theme fits with a lot of other general stories about the [new] state of the world. One article discussed how the conspicuously wealthy (Bezos, Gates, et al) have been investing heavily in residential real estate. Whether it’s REITs, or some new tech-AI that helps investors find/buy property… the fact is residential sector is being squeezed by large investor holding corps. And, to be fair, Warren Buffets made a huge push after the 2008 tanking (note: Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate, is now the largest US real estate firm). So, like many things, it’s been happening.

The other article was about how the same class of firms and individuals were not buying up farms.  And, on the one hand, you can say that just like buying real estate, farms may be a “good investment”.  But, the cynic in me wonders… is it good to have so few people be in charge of everything, including HOUSING and FOOD PRODUCTION??

All of this is to say, my prepping mindset is a bit different.  Less about surviving 72 hours after a flood, more about being self-reliant in a world where food/housing security is dwindling.

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Dealing with documents/important info when SHTF

New here to the website and forum, and things look fantastic here!

Relatively new in preparedness, in the process of becoming better prepared for scenarios that are more likely for me in the shorter term (inclement weather, live on the Prairies in Canada, am way better prepared than in the past for winter issues eg: short power outags, a car kit for driving, but am working on getting better prepped for such things as increasing severe winds and summer storms we have had the last number of years and increased risk of tornadoes I sense happening, or for more longer power outages).

Have at least 2 months of food in the house (normal for us anyways), working on more expansive water supply (currently have almost a week’s worth for family of 4), have some battery packs for devices and such, but longer goal is a generator, have first aid supplies/medical supplies, some alternate cooking methods eg: propane campstove, etc and the main things now I am in the process of dealing with getting better set up “grab and go/or OMG-got-a-tornado-warning-get-in-the-basement bags”

*****What is everyone’s approach to dealing with personal documents for bags or for getting out of dodge as they say?  *****

I am talking about things like a list of emergency phone contacts both local to you or distant family (just in case), info as to where our bank accounts and wills are, copies of drivers liscence, house insurance, access to things/copies of like birth certificates, Social Insurance numbers, etc.  Even things like your safety deposit box key at the bank.  I have some things I am wondering about in these regards:

-Where to keep it (we have a “main bag” with things like supplies for the dog, maps, tarp, etc and are working on smaller bags for each family member).  Do you duplicate things and then in each bag?  Have two very late teen/early young adult in the house who unfortuntely don’t drive yet, as far as getting away (they are working on it).  Goal (such as in the case of inclement weather-getting into the basement as an example–is for them to grab the main bag at least, and each of theirs and just leave mom and dad’s alone (such as in a case we are not home with them).  Duplicate documents in every single bag?

-some of this info is sensitive eg: birth certificates, SIN number etc.  I have seen everything from scanning everything on paper, and keeping in ziplocks bags in your pack, to having on a USB stick, or both.  How to keep info like this safe?  I think it is fairly unlikely someone would come break in and steal such stuff, (and that may be naive of me perhaps but anyhow), but what do people do to keep that sort of info secure?  You can’t just grab a fireproof safe when running out of the house. And what about scenarios of massive natural disaster like no access to a working computer for your USB stick anyways or your cellphone does not work and your battery pack is now dead?  Can you encrypt them with a password, but what if you forget it?

-I also am lamenting the fact here that there is such a COMPLEXITY aspect to this nowadays (the paperwork and household affairs).  I am an old fart early Gen X’er, who remembers life pretty much completely on paper, no online banking and you logged your info in a chequing ledger for example, and just everything on paper/in the mail.  I have never been through any sort of natural disaster, the most I have endured is a 10hr power outage in the winter.  What do people do in those circumstances.  For example, I may have documentation of everything like where my bank is, but do I indicate account number in my saved info, but then there is the whole issue of a password for example, I do not want others to access that, but then what if I cannot even remember that info myself like my password!  How do people who survive massive things like tornadoes flattening a city even do to get on thier feet in regards to stuff like that? I had been thinking lately of all this documentation even in light of prepping my husband for my future demise (have seen the agony my sis in law is going through recently with sorting the household affairs she was clueless about when B-I-L died), but have been thinking of this in line of disaster prep too.

Sorry for the essay!  Would love to hear some words of wisdom from you all.  Once again very happy to find this place….!

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Outdoor target shooting can lead to wildfires

Target shooting outdoors can be a fun hobby, family activity, sport, and prep. It is important to get out and be comfortable with your weapons and test the reliability of your gear. But shooting a small piece of metal thousands of feet per second can not only be dangerous if it hits someone by accident (another forum post for another day), but can also cause a wildfire.

It may seem very unlikely, but it does happen and you don’t want to be shooting, cause a fire, not know how to handle it, and cause millions of dollars in damages and have people lose their homes because you were unprepared.

With the climate changing, wildfire numbers are increasing. 58,985 wildfires occurred in 2021, 90% were human-caused, burning 7.1 million acres. No bueno…

Here are some tips:

Avoid shooting when the fire danger risk is high. When traveling to the area, you may see charts on the side of the road informing people of the fire danger risk that day. If you see that there is a fire ban in place, the risk is high, it is a hot and windy day, or there hasn’t been rain in a while, go somewhere else. Bullet shards are hot and you can’t control where they land.

Don’t shoot into the weeds. Place targets on dirt or gravel and away from vegetation. Just like when you build a fire pit at the camp site and clear stuff around you, do the same for where the bullets will be going.

Shoot paper targets, steel targets or hitting rocks can throw sparks. Exploding or flammable targets are cool, or you may have an old printer you want to shoot, but these all can cause fires. 

Stick with lead core bullets, they are less likely to cause fires than steel core or solid copper ammo. Also avoid shooting tracer or incendiary rounds where they could ignite nearby brush.

Always bring a shovel and fire extinguisher with you to quickly put out any fire that may start. Without these tools, you will be just kicking dirt onto a growing fire and that won’t do much.

Call 911 immediately if a fire starts. Sure you will probably get in trouble, get a fine, and may have criminal charges put on you, but it’s a small price to pay to own up to your mistake and quickly get the help out to the scene as soon as possible to stop as much destruction as possible. Again, you will feel pretty bad about yourself if you see families displaced on the news because of your negligence. Many of the locations where you will be shooting will not have reception to call emergency services, so be aware on the way to the shooting range where you lose service and where you will need to drive back to to get it again. When calling 911, report where it started, what type of material is burning, how fast is it moving, how tall the flames are, and what is in the path of the fire.

Park your vehicle in a safe place. Hot exhausts systems parked over some dried material can ignite and start a fire before you even start shooting.

When cleaning up after a fun day of shooting (yes, you need to do this and don’t just leave all your junk out there because the 50 people before you did as well), look closely for any smoke, embers, or signs of fire. Do a final sweep of the location and leave it better than when you got there.

This topic just came to mind and I’ve been thinking about it for a while.  I have been guilty of violating many of the above rules in the past, but I want to move forward and improve myself and decrease my likelihood of causing a fire.

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Where’s the ammo!!!!!

I’m seriously getting annoyed with the lack of availability in Ammo. I love to shoot on the weekends and I’m cutting back more and more because I can’t replace Ammo and when I can it’s ridiculously overpriced!! Last year there were tons of Black Friday Federal Black Pack deals and this year you have to sell your kidney to buy a 1000 rounds of 5.56! Ugh!

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Non-contact and very cheap way to keep bees

Many members of this forum recently voted to support The Bee Conservancy as part of The Prepared’s annual environment donation. In the spirit of continuing to support Team Bee I want to share a neat project that I came across.

The following video shares a person’s experience breeding and raising bees in plastic bottles for practically nothing. He builds many variations of this project in a bottle as small as 1L all the way up to very large plastic keg sized bottles. The video is 30 minutes long, but is well worth it.

This video is just an introduction to this concept of bee keeping in plastic bottles and he will later release an in-depth tutorial on how exactly to build these bottles and more of the tips behind bee keeping in them.

He hopes that this non-contact, safer, cheaper, and interesting way to raise bees will bring more people into the hobby, reduce our dependence on store bought honey, and add more pollinators to our environment.

I like one of the quotes from the video:

“Humans can live without honey but would starve without bees.”

His YouTube channel also covers various creative projects, bushcraft, and outdoor cooking.

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Has anybody blood tested the Oroweat keto tortillas?

Anybody monitoring blood glucose actively? They have the modified/resistant starch as a primary ingredient. Research around the web suggests pretty dramatic blood glucose elevation, though not as sharp a spike as normal starch. Would love to hear from people directly.

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Cost-of-living crisis changes Brits’ shopping habits: Hard-pressed shoppers are bulk buying

Ala Prepping style:)

British shoppers are bulk-buying groceries to save money amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, a new report has suggested.

The Barclaycard consumer survey found that 35 per cent of card users were stocking up on everyday items such as tea and coffee, tinned tuna and hygiene products such as shampoo and hand soap.

Buying in bulk can equal less trips to the supermarket – meaning less money spent on increasingly expensive fuel – while there are often savings to be had in buying products at wholesale. 

According to the report, gathered using data from March, 13 per cent of shoppers are stocking up on canned tomatoes, baked beans, tuna, pasta, flour, rice and grains. 

Meanwhile, 11 per cent are bulk-buying household supplies such as toilet roll, while 10 per cent are stocking up on laundry detergent and shampoo. 

At least 10 per cent are also getting extra supplies of tea and coffee.  

Shoppers also admitted to bulk buying over-the-counter painkillers (8 per cent), pet food (7 per cent), fizzy drinks (6 per cent), alcohol (5 per cent), Easter eggs and chocolate (5 per cent) and baby supplies (3 per cent).      

José Carvalho, Head of Consumer Products at Barclaycard, said: ‘Many sectors saw strong growth in March compared to the same period in 2019, as sunnier weather encouraged Brits to socialise at pubs and bars, book staycations and update their wardrobes for spring and summer.

‘However, rising fuel prices and household bills are clearly starting to influence consumer behaviour, with many Brits changing their travel and shopping habits to save money. 

While this may dampen growth in the months ahead, we shouldn’t overlook the expected heatwave later in April, and the fast-approaching Easter holidays, both of which are likely to boost non-essential spending.’  

The data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, revealed that spending on essential items grew 18.1 per cent in March, the highest uplift since September 2021. 

However this was largely driven by spend on fuel, which soared 26.1 per cent as prices at the pump continued to climb.  

Card spending in general grew 17.7 per cent last month compared to the same period in 2019, as Brits took advantage of the sunnier weather and lifting of all remaining Covid restrictions to visit pubs, dine out, and update their wardrobes in preparation for the months ahead. 

However, the cost of living is causing increasing concern for most UK adults, with travel plans and shopping preferences changing in response to rising fuel and food prices.

Some two fifths of drivers (41 per cent) said they are changing the way they travel. 

Of these, over half (54 per cent) are walking more often, almost two-fifths (38 per cent) are cutting back on long car journeys, and 22 per cent are opting to cycle instead.

Supermarkets saw a 16.9 per cent jump in card spendings – higher than the growth recorded in both January (15.5 per cent) and February (16.0 per cent) this year – but much of this was likely due to inflation and rising food prices. 

Spending on essentials was also boosted by a demand for convenience and the popularity of local shopping, with food and drink specialist stores (butchers, bakeries and online meal-kit providers) up by 76.9 per cent compared with three years ago.  

Barclaycard made comparisons with three years ago because consumer spending was so heavily affected by the lockdowns in March 2020 and March 2021. 

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UK only. Martin Lewis warns of likely Civil Unrest

OT Martin Lewis fears “civil unrest” due to the ongoing cost of living crisis and spoke of feeling “sick” about having to advise households on how to keep warm without heating. 

The MoneySavingExpert founder told the Sunday Telegraph he is “scared for people” as inflation rises. He said: “We need to keep people fed. We need to keep them warm.

I actually 100% agree with this chaps warnings.

Martin Lewis is a very popular British financial adviser who appears on most UK media channels and has his own money saving blog. If folks like him are picking up on rising dissent and tension as are many preppers  then I think its time to revisit our (UK) Opsec.

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Another article on UK preppers

In the “prepping goes mainstream” series… 

Everyone should prep’: the Britons stocking up for hard times

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How to get rid of noxious weeds

Help!I am overwhelmed by plantains and Queen Anne’s lace following a compost delivery last spring.

None of the weeds went to seed. I don’t know how to get rid of these pests, and would be grateful for any advice.

Thank you

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Chicken Pot Pie

On a lighter note, does anyone here love chicken pot pie too?  I grew up eating the ones we bought in the frozen section.   Lately, I make my own, mostly following a recipe I got online.

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chicken 1

How can I extend the shelf life of the yeast in my food storage?

During covid, yeast for baking bread was non-existent for months and months. When it finally came back in stock, I bought a couple small jars not knowing if I would ever see it on the shelf again.

I am nearing the expiration date on them and don’t want to have them go to waste. I’ll try and bake more bread and use it how I can, but is there anything I can do to make them last longer? They are in a sealed glass jar in a dark and cool cupboard, maybe moving them to the fridge or freezer would help?

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Can we as a forum bust a survival TV show myth? – Cooking an egg in toilet paper

On the Bear Grylls TV show Running Wild, actor Terry Crews tags along with Bear in the Icelandic Highlands of Season 6 Episode 2 (available on Disney+ for streaming). One of the main points of this episode is that Terry has to carry an egg around with him and on the second day of their adventure they eat it. Bear introduces Terry to a cooking technique where they wrap the egg in toilet paper and light it on fire. With magic of editing, the egg is perfectly hardboiled in 2 minutes. 

Ever since seeing this scene, I wanted to test that out for myself. I tried to look online for anybody else attempting this and could not see a single mention of this technique. So going back to the original episode, I analyzed it to see if I could pick up on any tips or tricks. 

Terry rolls up the egg in toilet paper and seems to do it moderately tight Bear says that to prevent the egg from exploding, you need to poke a small hole in it. It seems like they may have used another tinder source behind the wad of toilet paper because it takes off very forcefully, there is a loud hissing sound from the flame, the toilet paper doesn’t seem to be on fire and charring enough to equal the amount of flames coming off of the wad, the flames look an unnatural red color, and personally I haven’t been able to easily light toilet paper like that with a ferro rod before. They do cook a gull egg, but it doesn’t look to be too different in size than a medium chicken egg.

Here’s the clip in case you want to look at it as well. 

On my first attempt, I took a free range chicken egg from my neighbor’s chickens and wrapped it tightly in over six feet of toilet paper.

Taking it outside, I doused it with lighter fluid (for extra help) and set it on fire. The lighter fluid gives off big orange flames for a few seconds and then the wad of toilet paper is extinguished and it smolders. I let it do that for a few minutes thinking that it would still give off heat and cook the egg. But when even the smoldering started to die down, I drenched it in lighter fluid twice more and waited for it to die down again.

All of the toilet paper didn’t burn off because I wrapped the egg tightly and the toilet paper wasn’t able to get enough oxygen.

When I cracked the egg open after 13 minutes, only a very small sliver of the egg white was cooked.

I attempted the experiment again with a very small chicken egg that is much smaller than the gull egg used in the episode. I wrapped it in the same six feet of toilet paper, but very loosely and lightly this time to have it burn more completely. I also stayed away from using lighter fluid this time to see if that was causing it to burn too quickly last time. After 13 minutes, the toilet paper was more thoroughly consumed, but the egg wasn’t any more cooked.

My guess is that the egg used in the TV show had been hardboiled the entire time and this toilet paper technique was just to show off for the audience.

I know that many survival shows are staged and edited to show various techniques, but if this is a hoax and you can’t actually cook an egg from raw to hardboiled with toilet paper like is shown, then it needs to be known that this is not a real survival technique. I am not dogging Bear at all, he is a great and genuine guy and I look up to him as a person in many ways.

So here’s where the challenge comes in. Can we as a community prove or disprove that this works? Try it on your own with your family and see if you can figure out what steps need to be taken to hardboil an egg using toilet paper. 

Want more Bear Grylls? Drinking your own pee for survival: does the science bear it out? 

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How to balance community and independence (City vs Rural living)

Let me ask my “simple” question first and provide more context afterwards:

How do you balance the need/desire for community with the space/cost restrictions required for higher independence with regards to long term prepping and where you choose to live?

The general consensus is that urban centers are not ideal or potentially even sustainable/viable in a long term or extreme crisis (i.e food, water, and security scarcity during an infrastructure breakdown).  The converse is that (up until recently, at least) urban centers are/were also educational, cultural, economic, and sometimes technological hubs enabling increased wealth generation and oppertunity.  Basically the very thing that makes urban areas desireable (dense populations of individuals enabling proximity based network effects to propagate) also puts them at risk of collapse under conditions of scarcity (a lack of carrying capacity when economic or infrastructure links degrade).  Modern telework enables a broader range of “commute” options/ranges but good old fashioned human connection requires proximity to other humans.

Obviously you can (try to) integrate into new, smaller communities in less densely populated areas.  Church, family, or cultural connections might help with such integration if these options are open to you.  When you lack these built-in connections (lower friction network effects) – are there other options?

The closest I can think of is something along the lines of scouting out retirement communities or searching for enclaves of whatever [tribe(s)?] you are already a part of that happen to have already ‘colonized’ a less densely populated area.  Part of my mental struggle is the somewhat modern day norm where your ability to connect with [like minded] people implies that you might not know most of your neighbors but might have dozens if not hundreds of friends within a 45 minute commute range.

I suspect there aren’t easy/cost effective answers but I’m really curious to hear the opinions of others, especially if built in connections to “community” in more rural areas were not already present.  If money were not a factor the answer would be a vacation home that was well stocked, alas money is a consideration for most so owning more than one home seems unlikely.

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Computer Fraud and Abuse Act News

I migrated this from the news blog discussion because I thought it was a little tangential.

I thought the following news could potentially be of interest to preppers, especially if you take OpSec very seriously and don’t always like saying who you are.

The Department of Justice made revisions to its Computer Fraud and Abuse Act policy (see also here, though I want to clarify that I don’t consider myself a libertarian and I don’t necessarily agree with everything on the Reason Magazine Web site):

The DOJ will not prosecute “good faith security research” or “White Hat hacking.” In most circumstances, companies won’t be able to arbitrarily make it a felony to violate terms of service. In severe cases (maybe “stalking-like” behavior that doesn’t rise to the level of being illegal, like a guy writes about a woman without directly harassing her) the violator must discontinue the behavior after receiving and reading a cease and desist letter.

Of course, social media companies will know who you are if we end up with a left-wing dictatorship, right-wing dictatorship, or some other form of authoritarian government. Prep accordingly.

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How to make a “well bucket” in case electricity goes down and you’re on well water

I have a 500 foot deep well. The pump is normally powered by solar, and if needed, a generator. But in case those power methods fail or SHTF and we run out of fuel, how would I get water?

I made this manual “well bucket” backup out of scrap pieces of PVC pipe, wood, cordage, a pulley and crank, some nuts and bolts, and a foot valve. It’s all available from a local hardware store or Amazon. I only needed simple hand tools and a power drill. Depending on how you put it together, it might be $25-$100.

It’s essentially like any bucket you’d drop into well for water, but this one is designed for modern, narrow, and deep wells. (This picture shows everything except for the foot valve on the bottom of the bucket/pipe:)

Although you can piece this together with random stuff, here’s a kit of essentially what I used and prices:

Step 1: Build a tripod or similar foundation that can hold a pulley directly over the wellhead. There’s no magic to the design, it just needs to be strong enough to handle 50-100 pounds of hanging force. In my case, the tripod is about 9 feet high and I can fold in the legs to make it easier to store.

But that might be overkill for your needs. If you’re really tight on storage space, you technically could skip the tripod and pulley/crank parts altogether and just have the PVC bucket and line.

Step 2: Attach a simple pulley wheel so it hangs down in the center.

Step 3: You can attach a hand crank to make drawing the bucket up easier. Or you can decide to skip this and just use your hands to pull the rope up. Keep in mind, though, that you might be pulling 20+ pounds up over hundreds of feet. It’s also possible to use an ATV, vehicle, or animal to pull the load up.

If you don’t attach the loose / non-bucket end of your line to a crank, as added safety against the whole thing dropping into your well, you can tie a big knot, attach some random nuts and washers, or some other idea to the end of the line. Whatever works so that if, while raising water by hand you accidentally let go, the whole thing won’t go down and you can’t reach the line anymore.

Step 4: Build the PVC bucket body. You need to know what the diameter of your well pipe is so that you can buy/use a PVC pipe that will fit inside but isn’t too narrow to require lots of round trips. It’s okay to leave a little bit of wiggle room between the PVC bucket and the well wall.

In my case, I used a 4 inch wide pipe that’s 4 feet long. If I did my math right, that pipe/bucket will carry about 2.5 gallons of water.

Step 5: Create the attachment point between the top of the bucket and your pulley line. The simplest way is to drill two holes directly across from each other, 1-2 inches below the top of the pipe, and then just thread your line through.

You can see how I used metal hardware in the picture above to create more of a pivot point that will let the bucket move and spare abrasion on the line. You could do something in between where you run one bolt through the two drilled holes, put a nut on one end to keep the bolt in place, and tie the line to the cross bolt.

Step 6: Making the bottom of the bucket. You have multiple options here, but in any case, you’ll need to put a PVC end cap on the bottom of the main bucket pipe to create the “floor” of the bucket. The end cap will be in the hardware store next to the PVC pipes, as will the glue you might need to secure it to the main body (remember, this bottom cap will hold all of the water weight). Just ask for help.

The simplest version is just a plain ‘ol bucket – the PVC pipe is the body, the bottom end cap is the floor, and there’s no top cap. So you dip the bucket fully underwater until it fills from the top, then pull it up.

There’s a potential problem with filling the bucket from the top, though. Your well might not have enough water in it for the whole bucket to submerge to the point water fills from the top. Or the bucket might be too light to naturally sink below the water line. If that happens, add some weight to the bottom of the bucket to help it sink.

I took an extra step to avoid those problems and have the water fill the bucket from the bottom, using a special (but only ~$20) device called a foot valve. The foot valve lets water come in from the bottom, but not back out as you pull up the bucket.

The white is the bottom PVC end cap. I drilled a hole in the center of that cap to match the foot valve and threaded it together. How you attach the foot valve (such as using washers/gaskets and a threaded nut) will depend on the foot valve, but again, your hardware store can help.

Another option is to buy or build a “check valve.” Some of the links below show this.

Practice: You’ll need to know how to remove the daily-life cap from your wellhead, or whatever else you’ll need to do in case power goes out and you need to swap in this manual method. Don’t wait until you actually need water to try this out!

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My second hand experience with the Ontario / Quebec Derecho storm on May 21, 2022

Hello everybody, I wanted to share my (second hand) experience with what happened on Saturday afternoon in my part of the world.

For context here is a news article about it, as well as a video from Ottawa

It’s a little bit passed Hurricane week for our friends in the States, but this sort of event is new for me. There are sometimes tornado.s about an hour north of Toronto, but that’s like 6.5 hours from Montreal, an island, which ends up having much different weather patterns.

I was home in Montreal, my partner was at a LARP game in a campground in eastern Ontario (1.5 hours away). They play in an unused area of the campground which is forested. The parking lot is on a road cut through the forest for power lines to pass through.

This is her story.

They got a Weather Alert on their phones that a storm was coming, and to seek shelter. So they did, mostly in their tents, or somewhat sturdier car canopies. It was less than a minute before trees started falling and they ran out to the road (a highway) and hid on a side of a truck to block some of the wind. The rain started after the dust. The person across the street allowed them into their garage to take shelter.

No one got really hurt, there were a few cuts and bruises, but no concussions. But people had dirt all over their faces and clothes and in their mouth. My partner said, it didn’t really rain, it felt like dust and dirt was going through the air before the hail came. She’s glad she wears glasses and many people complained of having stuff in their eyes after.

The aftermath was that trees had been totally uprooted, branches flew around. Tents were destroyed, cars totalled, branches were sticking out of the ground from having been propelled so hard into it. Trees fell on the road and took down the powerlines, which created a fire where they touched the ground. My partner couldn’t leave as the road was blocked, and couldn’t get to the car because of the live wires near by. She only made it back on Sunday night (more than 24 hours after the event) once the road was cleared by the work crews, and the electrical wired were moved.

I also got a weather warning on my phone later in the evening, but in the end I saw and heard nothing, even if I could be considered to be in a windy street.

81 panicked LARPers 12 tents damaged (flipped / crushed) 4 people hit by trees 3 electrical fires 2 sprained ankles 1 totalled car (other cars got minor damage)

They were lucky to have been a big group. They had plenty of water, and kept a fire going. They have generators, and someone had a fire extinguisher and chainsaw is his truck, which helped to put out the fires and clear some paths. In the end my partner was lucky. Our car is unscathed, our tent is unscathed, and she remained in good spirits throughout.

Here’s some pictures.

You can see the wires touching the ground here and it’s the cross pole that’s on the ground.

What I learned. * Put a fire Extinguisher in the car * Put a saw of some sort in the car * Have something to wash yourself with in the car.

I’m adding Derecho to my risk assessment. It’s the first one I or someone close to me has lived through but with climate change, maybe there will be more.

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The Big Bubba of BOBs – I made a level 3 bag based off The Prepared’s recommendations

Living in earthquake country and not liking recent nuclear saber rattling I finally organized a “Level 3” BOB based on The Prepared’s well-researched guidelines.

I went through two other packs (Kelty Redwing 50 Tactical and the 5.11 Rush 72) before settling on the Mystery Ranch Terraframe 65 pack that could fit all this stuff AND be comfortable hauling it long distances. I do miss the many compartments of the Rush 72 but the MR pack is just so much more ergonomic, plus it’s less conspicuous (gray man). The BOB is currently 52 lbs. so I have some trimming to do and am considering switching to a mylar sleeping bag and lightweight bivy. In spite of the guidelines I opted for an inflatable sleeping pad for both comfort and reduced volume. I would have preferred to color code all my stuff sacks but getting individual bags of the right size and color was a PITA, plus I already know where everything is.

Anyway, I’d like to say “Thank You” to The Prepared staff for providing this invaluable and comprehensive resource. Although this project was more expensive than I’d anticipated, I’m glad I’ve completed it and have this tool available in case it’s needed. I hope the following pics are helpful for anyone that’s just now starting down this BOB rabbit hole 😉

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80/20 Rule for Emergency Radios

Just wondering how others apply the 80/20 rule to emergency radios (both hardware and skills), keeping in mind that what constitutes 20% preparation for 80% of scenarios can and will vary from person to person.

I would breakdown the levels of preparation as follows:

Owning a good quality one-way radio:  AM/FM/NOAA and, maybe shortwave Owning an inexpensive VHF/UHF/FM/NOAA Ham radio for purposes of receiving and monitoring emergency broadcasts but only transmitting in the case of a bona-fide emergency, meaning no ham license. All of the above + a Ham technician license.  Financially inexpensive but definitely a time commitment to study for and pass the licensing test.  Perhaps additional time invested in honing the skillset via involvement in CERT, ARES, etc. Ham general license or above + necessary equipment to use that level of licensing — sky is the limit in terms of expense, acquiring equipment, and practicing and honing the skillset.

Depending on a variety of factors, the 20% threshold could be as low as #1 for some and as high as #3 for others.  For me, personally #2 probably meets or exceeds the 20% threshold and #3 (which I’m currently working towards) definitely exceeds the 20% threshold, perhaps bringing me closer to 95/25.  Honestly, the bar for moving from #2 to #3 is pretty low for all except the most technically challenged so, I think, definitely worth pursuing.  #4 is a much bigger commitment, mainly on the financial side so clearly in the realm of advanced prepping, perhaps the inverse of 80/20.

Just my initial thoughts. 

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Need recommendations on buying an RV system sized solar setup

I’m looking into buying some solar panels, a battery, inverter, etc. that could be used to power some small appliances (not a whole house or even air conditioning or a furnace blower—basically something about the size of an RV system) in the event of a power outage.

At the very least, setting up and using a small system will give me some idea of whether we want to install a larger system down the road.

Does anyone have recommendations as to a retailer where I could buy the solar panels and other items? It would be helpful if the retailer has actual technical support available. I know some about electrical systems but am definitely not an electrician or an engineer. Of course, I have found some retailers online, but I’m very hesitant to spend that sort of money with a retailer online without knowing much about them.

In addition, if anyone has suggestions on the brands of the panels or batteries, feel free to mention those as well.

Thanks in advance!

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