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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 normal? Today, I’m going to share some of my best tips with you on how you can be prepared and not worry 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 sure, but I will try it 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 lives are going to be difficult, and some will be easier. After writing this blog for over 14 years, it seems that I’ve already written through a few times that were good times to prepare. 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 won’t get into everything happening in the world in this present moment. There are plenty of other outlets, podcasts, and websites that you can glean that info from if you 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 two things on this list. When it comes to the other issues, I find it better to be knowledgeable than prepared. Instead of having some massive stockpile that’s good for 25 years, 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 dependent on a grid system in general.
Everyone will have their own reasons for prepping; no matter what, it’s good to have an emergency plan in place.
This year is our fourth year at our homestead. In the beginning, we spent some time meeting many of our neighbors, and they all separately told us the same thing…when it comes to winter out here, we need to be prepared. We should prepare not to 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 ready 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. Whether you are preparing for a disaster like earthquakes, floods, a hurricane, job loss, blizzards, war, or anything…. 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 preparation. Because of that, there will be some generalizations in this article, or I will base ideas on our own reasons for 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? Natural disasters? 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 the long term? That will look completely different from someone who wants to be ready for something like a job loss, which may only be a 3-6 month issue.
- What do you need for peace of mind 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 about 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 think 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 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 and help us to heed alerts and warnings.
Proverbs 31 tells us to prepare and know skills.
To those who believe God will take care of them…yes he will. But afterall, Noah had to build the ark.Jerilea, Little House Living reader
Practicalities to Prepare
When I think of preparing for the things 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 specific locations.
One area that I won’t focus on here, but you should also be prepared with is to have all of your sensitive documents together in one safe place. Insurance policies, passports, ID cards, birth certificates, important documents pertaining to your kids, and other originals or copies of important documents should be in a safe, accessible place.
Now I will take a little time and dive into each 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 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 if the electricity goes out in a storm or if you are unable to pay for electricity to run it.
If you are on city or rural water… consider water storage. A good number to remember is to store 1 gallon of water per person per day. (I 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. I should also mention that we have a 750-gallon rainwater collection tank. It’s a game-changer!
If you haul water… the same as above. Consider water storage and look for alternative methods of collecting water. Consider an additional cistern. We have 2 large cisterns and are putting in a third in addition to our rainwater tanks.
Bottled water is ok to store but shouldn’t be your main source for water storage unless that’s all you have space for.
Don’t forget to store some water for your pets or livestock!
Again, how much food you store is 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 recommend you check out all the articles below.
You will also need an excellent place to store this food and water to keep it safe and protected from pests. I recommend creating a cold storage area. You can find tons of frugal cold storage ideas here.
Do you think the prices of food are going to go up soon? Here are some ideas you can use on Prepping for Higher Food Prices.
I get some of my bulk food goods from Azure Standard.
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 four walls first!” This means you must ensure 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 ensure your home is a good place of protection, and if you have a mortgage or are paying rent, be sure to put aside the money, especially in the event of a job loss.
If you are prepping for winter, use these Winter Weather Preparedness Tips to help prepare your home.
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 it’s your little safe place of sunshine, even if the world is rather dark. Getting a good night’s sleep is always important to keep yourself in the right mindset and preserve your energy in crisis mode.
Merissa: I am 83 yrs old and a widow. I started “Prepping” several years ago and am glad I did. My family laughed at my supplies (I did not hoard) but had sufficient supplies for several months. When the pandemic hit, I sat safely at home, knowing I had everything I needed including a good supply of water. I had the last laugh when my daughter came to me looking for toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc. Keep up the good work and encourage others to be sensible. We never know when we need to be prepared.Elizabeth, Little House Living reader
If you are preparing for a job loss or not being 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 be to try and pay those bills with no income coming in.
Try using some of these Extreme Frugal Tips to cut your current monthly living costs down as far as they go and put everything you can into savings. I bet you will be surprised how quickly the money adds up when cutting out all unnecessary spending!
Depending on what kind of difficulty you are preparing for, you might also want to consider eliminating specific 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 to build that emergency fund!
I think this is so SO important, and it’s so often overlooked in these prepping articles.
Honestly, storing up food, water, and money will only get you so far and last for so long. Learning skills like gardening, canning and preserving, sewing and mending, building and carpentry, and 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 refresher on canning and preserving. I also watch videos on gardening and am currently doing the Free Permaculture year-long course.
This past year, I learned more in-depth first aid from a nurse.
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. My children always ask questions about what I’m learning, and I find ways to incorporate new things into our days as they learn right with me.
We have all realized the importance of toilet paper in the past couple of years, haven’t we? A healthy stock of household supplies is as important as many other things on this list. You should have the basics, 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 list 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, our family uses 2 rolls of Scott 1000 Sheet Toilet Paper in a week. If we are sick or have company, we might use a little more, but that means if I wanted to stock up for six months, having at least 60 rolls on hand would be a reasonably safe bet.
Through observation, I also know that I use two containers of shampoo in a year and about one 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, lotion, and other similar things, you should also have stock of the supplies you need. 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 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 (including warm clothes), feminine hygiene products, diapers, cloth rags, medications, batteries, etc. Also, do not forget any supplies needed for special needs family members.
I know I didn’t include this in my list above as some may not find it necessary, but I believe a cheerful and happy heart is necessary for difficult times.
This is why 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 keep your mind busy and keep your spirits high.
I also did a little garden chat about this topic, so if you want to watch the video, you can check that out below.
I hope that now you have more clarity when 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!
More Articles on Emergency Preparedness
- How to Prepare for a Blizzard
- Practical Food Storage and Preparing For Price Increases
- 13 Ways Anyone Can Prepare for a Power Outage
- Preparing for an Extreme Heat Wave
- Creating a Winter Emergency Supply Kit
- Prepare for a Tornado and Create a Mini DIY Emergency Kit
What are you preparing for, and what things are you doing to prepare?
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This article on How to Be Prepared was originally posted on Little House Living in July 2020. It has been updated as of December 2023.