One could say the right answer is to make some good choices (how do we do it, commonalities in survivalist finances) and for folks with decent incomes that have a spending problem this has some merit. Other folks have an income problem. This is either due to life circumstances such as disabilities, etc or choices like getting married and having 6 kids when you work as a part time laborer (I’m talking the guy who picks up scraps, etc, not a skilled tradesmen) or the choice to live where you want on less income. Regardless simply saying to tighten the belt a little bit and make it work is a cop out. Also I think that approach alienates good people who want to become prepared but cannot throw tons of money at the problem.
First let us talk about some general principles that will guide this discussion:
Buying cheap stuff that doesn’t really work for what you need and is not durable is false economics. You don’t need junk but instead need affordable good stuff.
When you do not have much money it is even more important than normal to get the right stuff. Things that do not fill the role you need them to fill are a real problem here. A person in a different situation might put that item into their (it works but isn’t ideal) backup pile or gift it but that doesn’t work if cash is tight. Spending a month or two in prep money on a knife or gadget and not
having it work is a real problem even if the cost is just $ 50.
The less stuff you can afford to have the more it needs to do. A family on a tight budget might have 2 pistols, one of which is a .22 (ideally you would have one for each adult but I digress). This means you are not going to have a concealed carry gun, a pocket carry gun, a full sized house gun, a woods gun and a target/ competition gun. The family hunting rifle might be your only rifle for awhile. Having a
sniper varmit rifle, a big game rifle, a hunting rifle, an all around carbine, a CQM carbine and a couple collectibles will not work.
It is important to let go of the need to have the coolest chicks dig it Gucci kit. Be real with yourself. If you make 25k a year a Knight Armament SR-25 is not the rifle for you. Unless you want to make drastic life changes to be able to afford cool stuff then swallow your pride and deal with it.
Do your research. Sometimes a difference in price represents superior materials, better manufacturing and closer quality control. Other times it is just a brand name. Knowing the difference will let you get the best stuff you can at the most affordable prices possible.
Obviously it is worthwhile to shop sales and look for deals. This is a great example of the old time vs money trade off. In other words if you can’t afford the money put in time and if you don’t have the time be prepared to spend money. For folks who are short on time and money I suggest you make the choices to free up some of one (time or money) or seriously reconsider your goals.
That stuff being covered I have some ideas:
Military surplus can offer a real value. An old LCE you can get for under $ 20 will fill the role of a chest rig and pouch combo that costs a couple hundred bucks. Not Gucci but better than trying to stuff loaded mags into your pants pockets. Milsurp sleeping bags are not as small and light as the latest and greatest high end civilian stuff but you can get one for a lot less money. ALICE packs are not exactly comfortable but you can get a bombproof pack for about $ 30 which is less than an extra pouch to go on a high end civilian pack.
Seriously consider buying used stuff. Lots of folks will buy something, barely use it, then sell it a year or two later at a huge loss. Be the guy that buys that stuff. Used items offer a real value and once in awhile you will find a downright steal.
Commander Zero once figured out how many hours at minimum wage you would
need to work to get a Glock and an AR, really it wasn’t that many. Picking up extra shifts for a month to give things a jump start might be an option depending on your situation. I once worked Christmas Break to stash enough cash to buy my first real rifle. Those 3 weeks or so sucked at the time but years later I still have the rifle.
Anyway I hope this gives folks who are on tight budgets some ideas and maybe even helps a bit.