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There’s no doubt about it, prepping can be expensive. That’s one of the things that keeps people from starting in the first place. Those of us who have been at it a while have found ways of cutting those costs, making prepping at least a little less expensive. Depending on one’s ability to use their imagination and the disasters they’re prepping for, it’s possible to save quite a bit of money on prepping.
One of the keys to saving money is having the imagination to repurpose items. Many things which have been designed and manufactured for one purpose will work just as well for another. A wooden children’s play wagon works just as well as a yard cart as the ones made specifically for the purpose, once the kids get too old to enjoy it. Then there are five-gallon paint buckets, which can be used for a myriad of purposes besides just holding unused paint.
Getting those items used at the Salvation Army is even better, allowing you to save money. There’s no sense buying things for full price if you don’t have to. Better to save the money so it can be used for other things. That will help your prepping efforts to go faster.
The Salvation Army is a great source for a wide variety of things, for those who have the patience to go there regularly to see what comes in. A lot of the best stuff goes quickly, so unless you check back regularly, there’s a good chance that the things you need will disappear before you can buy them.
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So what sorts of things should you be looking for at your local Salvation Army?
One of the best things to look for in any second-hand store or even a garage sale is canning jars. If you are gardening and canning your own food as part of your prepping, you probably need lots of canning supplies. But what you’re using now is nothing compared to what you’ll be using when you’re growing all your food. Canning in a post-disaster world will become a way of life.
Candles are another thing to be constantly keeping an eye out for. People buy decorative candles all the time, then get rid of them when they start getting beat up. I’ve seen such candles go for as little as a quarter a piece. They’re great for melting down and making into survival candles; putting them in a spaghetti sauce jar with four wicks per candle. The jar keeps the wicks dry and the multiple wicks allow for more light, when it is needed.
Some of those candles might be tapers. While I’m not a big fan of using tapers for survival, they’ll work, if you’ve got candlesticks to put them in. As candlesticks aren’t all that popular nowadays, it’s easy to find second-hand candlesticks that can be used for them.
One of the best means of local transportation, when there is no fuel available, is a bicycle. But if you’re not going to use it regularly, that bicycle could be an expensive decoration sitting in the garage. Better to buy a used one and spend a bit on fixing it up to be your backup transportation, rather than spending a couple of hundred on buying a new one. Don’t forget to add luggage carriers to it so you can use it for supply runs and scavenging; maybe even a trailer hitch for pulling a wagon behind.
You might not have a baby, but that doesn’t mean a stroller can’t be a useful thing to have. Most strollers are built to carry a whole lot more weight than the average baby has. Some are also designed for the parents to use while jogging, making them extremely easy to push, even over rough terrain. With those characteristics, a stroller could be an ideal cart to use in a bug out or even for getting water from the local creek or river. A little modification might even make it better.
Heavy Work Clothing
Most people today don’t have enough rugged clothing for a post-disaster world. Even our blue jeans have become wimpy, unable to hold up under rough work. Of course, when they come from the store with holes already in them, they aren’t going to last as long. But it’s the ones without factory-made holes that end up in the Salvation Army, along with old coats, hats, gloves, and work shirts.
Speaking of clothing, the Salvation Army seems to be one of the best places around for buying camouflage clothing. Not sure how they end up with so much of it, but I have a few different styles, all purchased second-hand for a whole lot less than buying it at an Army surplus or sporting goods store.
This is one that tends to go quickly; but if you keep your eyes open, you can find good camping supplies at the Salvation Army. I’m specifically talking about sleeping bags and tents; but I’ve also seen backpacks there as well. While the tents and sleeping bags might not be the kind you’d use for backpacking or a bug out bag, they could still be useful when bugging out in a vehicle.
It’s amazing how many used gardening tools I see for sale. For some reason, it seems like a lot of people don’t like buying those used. But the truth of the matter is, if they’re good tools, it doesn’t matter how old they are. My maul, for splitting wood, it a good 100 years old, on its third or fourth handle and still works just fine.
Speaking of garden tools, I’ve seen a lot of lawnmowers and rototillers in places like the Salvation Army. Most don’t work; but that’s usually just because they need the carburetor cleaned out. If you’re any good at small engine repair, that’s a bargain waiting for you.
Speaking of tools, that’s another thing that shows up at the Salvation Army at times. Power tools don’t last, unless they need repair, but hand tools tend to sit around. Considering that we probably won’t have much in the way of electricity after a disaster, hand tools will be more valuable than power tools.
You might not need any furniture, but take a look at it anyway. You’ll be surprised how many cabinets you can find that are being sold cheap and would work for storing survival gear or supplies. Those can help you keep things organized in your basement or garage, while at the same time hiding your stockpile from friends and family.
Just like with those old cabinets, vintage luggage can be useful for storing prepping supplies and survival gear. Nobody is going to expect to find anything valuable sitting in an old suitcase. When it comes time to throw everything in the car or truck and bug out, that’s a whole lot easier to do if things are already in cases.
Cast Iron Cookware
Finding cast iron cookware in the Salvation Army is like finding gold. Few people are willing to bother with cast iron these days, so if they have it, they’re likely to donate it just to get it out of the house. If it’s a bit rusty, it’ll go that much quicker. But that rusty cast iron cleans up easily, and is the ideal thing to have around for cooking over an open fire.
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13 Prepper Items to Look for at the Salvation Army is written by Rich Murphy for urbansurvivalsite.com