Are you ready for more difficult times? Do you know how to prepare your home and your family for things that might look different from the normal? Today I’m going to share some of my best tips with you on how you can be prepared and not worried about the future.
How to Prepare for Difficult Times
As I sat down to write this article I was thinking…how do I talk about preparedness and being prepared without being a total “doom and gloomer” or going into what may seem like a super prepper mode? I’m not totally sure, but I will give it a try today!
Whether you believe everything that is going on in the news, the media, and the world right now, it’s a fact that times are changing. Some times in our life are going to be difficult and some will be easier. After writing this blog for over 11 years, it seems that I’ve written through a few times already that were good times to be prepared. Those times inspired many of the articles that I will be linking to in this article today.
What I always think about when I start thinking about preparedness is that it doesn’t hurt anything to be prepared. Sure, we may have a little extra if we buy a little extra, but then we just use it up over time if we don’t need it during a difficult time. No big deal.
Why Should You Be Prepared
I’m not going to get into everything that’s going on in the world right now. There are plenty of other outlets that you can glean that info from if you really want to. Personally I don’t follow the news, but my husband keeps me mostly up to date on things that I should know or might find interesting.
No matter what is going on in the world, here are some good reasons why you can prepare:
- Unexpected Job Loss
- Winter Weather
- National Shortages or Supply Issues
- An Unknown Difficult Situation (ie: pandemic panic)
Personally, most of our prepping is for the first 2 things on this list. When it comes to the other issues, I find it better to be knowledgable, rather than prepared. Instead of having some massive stockpile, I’d prefer to know how to create alternatives with what we have, how to be self sufficient, how to garden, and how to just not be dependant on a grid system in general.
Everyone will have their own reasons for prepping.
This year is our first year at our new home. Or at least, we plan on having some kind of enclosed home before winter even though it’s still in process right now! We’ve spent some time meeting many of our neighbors and they all have separately told us the same thing…when it comes to winter out here, we need to be prepared. We should prepare to not be able to get to town (which is an hour and a half away anyway) and should prepare to deal with more wildlife than we are used to (mountain lions, elk, etc), and we should be prepared to have periods with no electricity. As I mentioned above, your reasons for wanting to be prepared are probably quite different from mine (I hope you don’t have the mountain lion issue!), and that’s totally fine. You can still use these ideas.
How to Decide What You Need to Prepare
Each of us is different, we lead different lives, and live in different places so what we need to prepare will be based on that and also your reasons behind the prepping. Because of that, there will be some generalizations in this article, or I will based ideas off our own reason behind preparing for difficult times.
- Consider where you live and what might be a factor in the coming year. Are you in an area prone to drought? Severe weather? Blizzards? All of this will help you determine what you might need and what might be a good idea to have or a skill to know.
- Decide how long you’d like to be prepared for. Are you preparing for long term? That will look completely different than someone who wants to be prepared for something like a job loss which may only be a 3-6 month issue.
- What do you need based on your location? For this I don’t mean your geographical location, but rather if you live in a town, in the country, or in a very rural area. Each location may have access to things the other doesn’t and will also have challenges the other doesn’t.
- Do you have livestock or pets? What will you need to prepare for them?
- In your mind, does being prepared include learning new skills? If so, how can you accomplish this?
Check Your Emotions
Preparedness and thinking about difficult times can really play on your emotions no matter what is the reasoning behind your prepping. I want to remind you that we have no need to live in a spirit of fear or worry of what may or may not come.
I’ve heard from fellow Christians that we shouldn’t have to be prepared, after all, God takes care of the sparrows, right? We believe that we can trust God to supply our needs but I also believe that God gave us knowledge and skills and I will use that knowledge to let God help to supply our needs before a crisis comes. God created seasons of life and seasons on the earth and the most abundant season is in the summer and fall. It would be prudent of us to use of God-given talents and abilities to preserve this abundance for the next season of life.
I know that some will disagree with me and that’s totally fine. I just wanted you to understand the thoughts and emotions behind our being prepared for a difficult time. We do not fear whatever time is to come, but we let God direct our actions.
One quick thing to keep in mind as a Christian is that this isn’t about “doomsday prepping”. (There is no need for that. We won’t be here!)
Practicalities to Prepare
When I think of preparing for any of the things that I listed above, these are the practicalities needed should those events occur.
- Stored Water
- Stored Food
- Bill Pay
- Practical Skills
- Household Supplies
You might be able to add a few things to that. But I think it’s best to stick with the basics and almost everything should fall under those categories. You need to make sure you have a roof over your head, money to pay bills to keep the family warm and safe, food and water to stay nourished, and practical skills to perform any tasks that might be necessary if you are not able to purchase certain things or travel to certain locations.
Now I’m going to take a little time and dive into each one of these areas….
Water is the most important thing we need to survive physically so it’s number 1 on my list. Water preparedness can come in many different forms, depending on what you are preparing for, how long, and what your current water setup is.
For fresh drinking water no matter what the condition… I highly recommend having a Berkey. We actually have 2, one for each floor in our new home (a Crown and a Big Berkey). I have filtered some of the nastiest water I’ve ever seen (and smelled!) with my Berkey and I’d never be without it. You can read my review of the Berkey Water Systems here.
If you have well water…you may want to consider some kind of pump replacement or a non-electric pump for if the electricity went out or if you are unable to pay for electricity to run it.
If you are on city or rural water…definitely consider water storage. A good number to remember is to store 1 gallon of water per person per day. (I would recommend 3-7 days of water storage if possible.) I have 5 of these Aqua-tainers which hold 7 gallons of water each. That’s enough for 1 week for our entire family. I store them in the root cellar so they don’t take up space in my house. Beyond that, consider an alternative source to collect water such as rain or snowmelt.
If you haul water…same as above. Consider water storage and look for alternative methods of collecting water. Consider an additional cistern.
Don’t forget to store some water for your pets or livestock!
Again, how much food you store is really based on what difficult time you are preparing for. For sure, I would have no less than 1 month’s worth of food to feed my entire family on stock at all times. As we are prepping for a bad winter, my food storage is much larger than that considering I may have limited access to a grocery store and plus…food is expensive in the winter where we live!
I’ve written many articles on stocking a good solid pantry so for further reading on this topic, I would recommend you check out all the articles below.
Think the prices of food are going to go up soon? Here are some ideas you can use on Prepping for Higher Food Prices.
Don’t forget that this applies to your pets and livestock as well! Know how much food they need for however long you are prepping for and be sure and store that in a good place as well.
As Dave Ramsey says, “Always cover your 4 walls first!” This means you need to make sure that your family has shelter no matter the situation.
This does NOT mean you need to move to a remote location and build a bunker! It just means that you should make sure your home is a good place of protection and if you have a mortgage or are paying rent, be sure and have the money put aside to pay it, especially in the event of a job loss.
If you are prepping for winter, be sure and use these Winter Weather Preparedness Tips to help get your home ready.
If you are preparing for something unexpected, one thing to keep in mind is that your home should be your haven. Prepare it as such! Make sure that it’s your little safe place of sunshine, even if the world is rather dark for a time.
If you are preparing for a job loss or to not be able to get to work, you need to be preparing in advance for paying bills even with no income coming in. Dave Ramsey recommends you set aside 3 to 6 months’ worth of cash to pay your bills in a savings account just in case something should happen and I agree. If this is a difficult task to do, consider how difficult it would to be to try and pay those bills with no income coming in.
Trying using some of these Extreme Frugal Tips to cut your current monthly living costs down as far as they will go and put everything you can into savings. I bet you will be surprised how quickly the money adds up when you are cutting out all unnecessary spending!
Depending on what kind of difficulty you are preparing for, you might also want to consider trying to eliminate certain bills instead of just saving up the money to pay for them. Use off-grid devices when you can, cut down your water usage (if you are paying for it), use these extreme ways to save on electricity, start growing a garden and stop paying for food. The sky is the limit when it comes to ways that you can dramatically cut those monthly expenses!
I think this is so SO important and it’s so often overlooked in these prepping articles.
Honestly, storing up food and water and money is only going to get you so far and last for so long. Learning skills like gardening, canning and preserving, sewing and mending, building and carpentry, even bartering…these skills will last a lifetime and will benefit you greatly…no matter what happens!
I’m always learning new things and I love it! Right now I’m taking the Master Preserver classes from my local Extension office and it’s been great to get a refreshing on canning and preserving. I also am always watching videos on gardening and am currently doing the Free Permaculture year-long course.
Pick something you love and start learning a new skill. If you have children, the best part is that they will likely be interested in what you are learning and want to learn alongside you as well. My children always ask questions about the things I’m learning and I find ways to incorporate new things into our days as they learn right with me.
I think in the past couple of months we have all realized the importance of toilet paper, haven’t we? Having a healthy stock of household supplies is just as important as many other things on this list. You should have the basics, things like toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, dish soap, etc. Things that you use every single day.
The best way to know how to stock up on these items is to simply make a list of them as you go about your day. It will be easy to see which things you use. Then you’ll need to know how fast you go through those items to know how much you should have on hand. You can do this by guessing or by observation.
For example, I know that our family uses 1 roll of Scott 1000 Sheet Toilet Paper in a week. If we are sick or if we have company we might use a little more but that means if I wanted to stock up for 6 months, having at least 30 rolls on hand would be a fairly safe bet. Through observation, I also know that I use 2 containers of shampoo in a year and about 1 container of dish soap every other month. Knowing these things makes it incredibly easy to stock up without overbuying.
If you prefer to make your household supplies like deodorant and lotion and things like that, you should also have stock of the supplies you need to make them. Just know how much you can make with what you have and how long that will last you. Having the supplies to make the items is sometimes a better option, just because there are so many different things that you can make with the same few supplies. It may open up your possibilities a bit if you run out of things. Find my big list of all the stuff you can make yourself here.
Don’t forget about things like necessary clothing for the seasons, feminine hygiene products, diapers, cloth rags, and things like that as well.
I know I didn’t include this in my list above as some may not find it absolutely necessary, but I believe that a cheerful and happy heart is necessary for difficult times.
This is the reason that I like to have fun things on hand when I prepare for the winter!
For us, this could be a variety of things. Here’s some of the stuff I’m gathering up for this year:
- Puzzles (I like the ones with the Buffalo pieces)
- Books (Mostly from Thriftbooks)
- Games (Here are some of our favorites.)
- Baking Treats (Things like candy pieces and other goodies I don’t buy often from Vitacost)
- More things from this article
- Garden seeds for Winter Gardening (Both for practicality and for just seeing something green. I ordered them from Azure.)
No matter what difficult time you are preparing for, having a good stock of fun things for you and your family will help to keep your mind busy and to keep spirits high.
I also did a little garden chat about this very topic so if you want to watch the video, you can check that out below.
I hope that now you have more clarity when it comes to preparing for whatever difficult time you believe lies ahead for you or your family. Remember, there are plenty of things that you can do to prepare and there is no reason to worry about your future!
What are you preparing for and what things are you doing to prepare?
This article was originally posted on Little House Living in July 2020. It has been updated as of January 2022.