One of the hard realities about emergency preparedness is that essentially everyone is on a budget. That budget has to cover everything, not just cool stuff.
Many non-fiction preparedness books and nearly all prepping novels are written by wannabes who have no clue about this fundamental requirement. For example, imagine that you’re concerned about social unrest, so you want your preparations to include some means of self-defense in case you’re forced to fend off rioters and looters.
Most non-fiction preparedness books that cover this topic go way overboard on stuff they suggest you buy to prepare for this eventuality. If you believe them, you’ll think you’re hopelessly under-prepared unless every adult in your family or group is equipped with a high-end tactical rifle, a dozen spare magazines, a night-vision sight, and thousands of rounds of ammunition, at a cost of $4,000 or more per person. Call it $25,000 for a family/group of six people. Which is great, if you can afford that much without noticing the cost.
The reality for most people is far different. They need to budget to cover food and other essentials. For the many who have trouble keeping up with routine expenses, spending even $25 on defense means they’ll have $25 less to spend on food or other essential items.
The trick is to do what you can reasonably do without putting yourself in a financial hole, even if that means your total spending on defenses is a used baseball bat that you pick up at a yard sale. And that applies not just to spending money on weapons, but on everything else. The trick is to maintain balance.
We know people who’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on weapons, but have only a week’s supply of food and no stored water. They worry us more than a little. If there is a sudden emergency, are they planning to use all those guns to take food and other necessities from other people at gunpoint?
Conversely, we know more than a few families who have a year’s supply of long-term food storage or more, but absolutely no way to defend themselves. Perhaps they think they’ll make friends with the well-armed first group and feed them in exchange for providing security. Good luck with that.
As always, the key is to strike a balance. If you can’t afford everything you need or want all at once, buy some in each category. Don’t buy that year’s supply of food and nothing else, and don’t buy the infantry squad’s worth of tactical rifles and ammunition to the exclusion of all else.
Start as small as you need to to keep within budget. If you can’t afford more, buy one rifle or shotgun and 100 rounds of ammunition for it. If you can afford more, buy two or three, and then keep adding to your arsenal and ammunition supply as you can, without shorting yourself elsewhere. If that means buying .22 rimfire rifles, fine. If you ever need to defend yourselves and your property, you’re far better off having every adult armed with a .22 rifle than having only one of your group armed with a tactical rifle. Half a dozen .22 rifles beats one tactical rifle every time.
And the same thing goes for other categories. Rather than buy one $70 Streamlight or Surefire flashlight, you’re far better off equipping your whole group with six or eight $4 flashlights and spending the rest of that $70 on other priorities.
The reality of preparedness is that you need checklists, not wishlists.