Being Prepared On a Budget

Being Prepared On a Budget

I have seen a lot of comments and spoken to a lot of people about being prepared for emergencies. There are a lot of reasons that people give for why they do not do it but the one that I have heard the most is that it is too expensive. 

If you go by what you see on television, movies, social media, and other platforms, then sure, being prepared looks expensive, especially if you are investing in unnecessary items. 

I think that we can all understand and relate to financial stress and having to maintain a budget, but we also tend to make a lot of excuses where money is concerned. Saying “I don’t have the money,” is a very easy way of getting out of having to do something or change something in our lives. Even during trying times, most of us do have some expendable income that could be put towards emergency supplies or survival kits

People invest in home insurance, vehicle insurance, life insurance, for those just in case times. Why not invest in tools and supplies that can also help you and your loved ones out during a “just in case moment?”

It almost seems to make more sense to invest in emergency or survival supplies because they will help you out during a time when outside help is limited or nonexistent. This reminds me of a saying that goes something like, “it’s better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

Having an emergency or survival kit sounds great if it weren’t so expensive…but is it?

Let’s take a look at three basic, but important, items that are a part of every emergency kit and see how expensive they really are. 


Clean water is obviously an important resource to have access to during an emergency or survival situation. Generally, people focus on expensive filters that are supposed to take everything bad out of the water but don’t always deliver what they promise. 

When the concern of unsafe water is microorganisms, one of the best methods for making the water safe drink, is to simply boil it. And all you need to boil water in is a container and a heat source. 

Most people already have pots that can be used on a stove when an indoor heat source is still available, so that is basically free. When boiling water outside, all you really need is a metal water bottle or cup that can be found for under $10, and a small area to start a fire that will be used as a heat source. Throw in a box of matches for let’s say $5 and for a total of $15 you can make potable water. 


Creating a store of emergency food is where people really get caught up in cost because they think they need to purchase manufactured “survival” food. 

I am not saying that emergency food options are bad, but they are expensive. If you can’t afford that then put your money towards canned goods. 

The average cost of canned goods is between $1-$3. Let’s run the numbers using the high end of $3 per can. If you bought one extra can of food per day for a week, then you would have seven extra cans of food for $21. Living on just one can of food per day isn’t going to be glamourous but it will give you sustenance for a week for roughly twenty bucks.  


A simple fire can do a lot of things. It can boil water, cook food, signal for help, keep insects and predators away, be used as a light source, keep you warm, and help in the creation of tools. 

If you want to go the primitive method route then the cost will be nothing as you can source all your fire-making materials from the environment. However, every kit should have a way of instantly creating a flame or spark. A regular lighter runs for about $2 and will last a long time. If you can spend a bit more, the Survival Torch offered by Prepared4X is a good ferrocerium rod and just one of them will last you many years. 





In closing, let’s add up the three examples from above. 

  • Approximately $15 for potable water preps
  • Roughly $21 for a week's worth of canned goods 
  • Roughly $2 for a fire starting tool

This gives a grand total of $38 worth of preps which actually could be less if you swap out the box of matches for a lighter and don’t double down on having two fire starters although having multiple ways to create fire is a good idea.

Most of this cost will be a “one-time” cost as the container for boiling will last almost indefinitely, and a fire starter will also last a long time. Of course, the food will have to be replaced once it is used. 

If you have expendable income, think about what you spend $40 on in a week or a month. To me, it doesn’t seem like a lot to spend $40 on supplies that could be critical for those just in case moments. For less than $40 you can get a good start on being prepared with just a few basic items. 

Thanks for reading and even on a budget, you can stay prepared.

P.S. I would like to add that if you are on an extremely tight budget, knowledge costs nothing. It goes with us everywhere, and it can never be taken away. 



Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. Bryan is a published author with Fox Chapel Publishing. In 2019, Bryan authored the book, Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. In March 2021, he released his second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival.

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