Prepper Habits & Qualities:
Just as there are habits of highly successful people (regarding the workplace), there are effective habits that all Preppers should have. When prepping becomes a habit, it builds a lifestyle. One that is more self-reliant, more secure, and almost stress-free!
1) Having a plan for everything- Preppers should have plans that they discuss with their family (and/or close prepper-unit members) in regards to everything they can think of to do with self-reliance. What are your plans for water? Food? First Aid/Medicine? Hygiene? Security? Communication? Caring for the young and the elderly? Shelter? Warmth? Cooking? Travelling? Staying hidden? Rendezvous point for your group? Livestock needs? Family pet needs? Electrical needs? Education? Handy-man/Fix-it needs? Tools? Bugging in? Bugging out?
Having a plan will make you feel better, relieve stress, stay organized, and reduce panic when SHTF. Have more than one plan. Have multiple plans. If you are planning on bugging out to a Bug-Out Location, do you have multiple ways to get there? Multiple avenues to travel as well as means of travel? If you rely on one person as your medic, have you begun teaching others in your group basic first aid, medicine and other illness-related needs? If you have food in your fridge & freezer, have you begun storing canned goods in your pantry and freeze-dried foods for long-term storage? If you have water in your hot-water heater in your house, have you stored more water, located nearby water in creeks, rivers, or lakes? If you have one person who is the “handy-man” in the group, have you begun learning basic repairs, electrical/plumbing/carpentry skills yourself or at least bought DIY books? You must have multiple redundancy in your planning because if your medic is separated from your group (or injured/killed), others in the group will need to step up to fill that slot! Same goes for all your planning needs. Everyone needs to be cohesive and flexible. Everyone needs to be able to work as a group and as an individual in a SHTF scenario. Remember, you are only one serious injury or illness away from being useless to your group. Don’t be that person.
2) Small things may save your life- Do you keep your gas tank in your vehicle at least half-full at all times or store extra gas cans? Do you have extra cash and gold/silver at home to use as alternate currency if your credit cards no longer work? Do you have extra copies of your vital documents? (Birth certificates, marriage license, SS card, ID, passport, titles/deeds to property, phone numbers written down, maps of the area, etc. It does cost a little extra to get copies, but it is money well spent if you have these documents in your BOB ready to go!) Do you exercise at least 20 minutes a day? (Doing so can increase your strength and stamina, as well as add years to your life). Do you read up on prepping-subjects at least a few minutes a day? (Knowledge is power and it weighs nothing, so read up on what you can! Plus it helps keep you mentally sharp!) Do you set a daily goal, weekly goal, monthly goal, that you make an effort to achieve? (Starting slow, but having a goal to work towards in Prepping will help you stay focused and on track). Do you have a Bug-Out-Bag and a Car-Kit in your vehicle, ready to go? (You may not have time to pack up and leave, so having the bare essentials in your vehicle at all times, is a MUST.)
3) Observation- Do you pay attention to the news? (not just main-stream media, but alternate/individual journalists on the ‘net. Do you “take the temperature” on the internet? With blogs, twitter, facebook and other social media, it is easy to become your own “web-bot” and “read” what is going on- do you see a lot of talk about economic collapse or stocks falling? Do you see a lot of talk about martial law or war? Do you see a lot of talk about food or gas shortages? Taking a reading of the internet daily via observation can greatly improve your preparedness plan and you can do it in just a few minutes twice a day- morning & evening.) Do you practice your observation skills when you are out and about? Example- It is safe to assume that a vehicle is not in running condition when you notice that the owners are mowing the grass AROUND that vehicle, but not under it- which in a SHTF scenario might mean a way to get spare parts or gas. Do you pay attention to people’s behavior- are they acting suspiciously, following you, avoiding eye contact, acting jumpy or twitchy? Their body language could mean they may want to harm your or rob you, so pay attention. Practice makes perfect.
4) Eat what you store and store what you eat (ROTATE!)– Practicing proper rotation of your food and water storage not only ensures that you will KNOW what to do with your food storage (and all those great meals you have been practicing making), but it prevents you from moving from a Prepper to a Hoarder. Preppers are not Hoarders, nor do they want to be. Preppers avoid this mistake and don’t allow their hard-earned & hard-money spent preps to spoil and go to waste. Preppers also only store what they like to eat, meaning if you and your group hate brussel sprouts, it’s probably a waste of money to store brussel sprouts. Sure, some might say “oh I could use brussel sprouts as barter since my group doesn’t eat them”, but honestly, there are wayyyyy better things to store for barter items, that won’t spoil and are a better use of money spent. See our Barter Items post. You can also track your food storage and rotation on a chart to not only keep track of what you need to replace when you go to the store, but to track what you and your group is eating. Are you watching your diet and trying to eat healthier? Use your preps to do that! Your body will thank you!
5) Make time for flea markets, yard sales/garage sales, Goodwill/Salvation Army, antique stores- This might sound weird, but making a weekly stop at either a flea market, yard/garage sale, Goodwill/Salvation Army store or antique store is a good habit to have. Sure, 75% of them will have actual “junk” that you are not interested (think those damn McD’s beanie babies!), but many times you will find at least one item that would be good to have as a Prepper. Examples of prepper things you could find- oil lamps, a butter churn, grain mill, electronics, tools, real coins/jewelry for barter, sleeping bags/camping gear, hunting/fishing gear, cast iron cookware, sewing equipment/fabric, books, even vehicles or vehicle parts! The list goes on and on, but this should be enough to get your taste buds wet and start looking for these prepper-supply havens in your area! Remember, you don’t have to spend a ton of money and you don’t have to visit every, single, one. Just make time to visit them to look for good deals when you can afford to and are able to.
6) Learning & practicing new skills– Knowledge may weigh nothing, but it is soon lost on the fool who does not put it to use. Get some books on whatever skill you are looking to learn and then practice it! Some folks call this “dirt-time” or “boots on the ground training”. Practice in your own backyard if you can. Get the kids out there and make it a family event. Other good ways to practice new skills (if you can’t at your home location) is to go to a working farm and see if you can volunteer in exchange for learning how to farm, tend animals, use equipment, etc. You could see if an Amish/Mennonite farm would allow you to volunteer, as long as you respect their religion and privacy. Another way (greatly overlooked by Preppers)- is to join a Historical Reenactment Group- primarily either a Mountain Man/Rendezvous group or an American Civil War reenactment unit. Why? These two particular reenactment groups practice living life as if it was still the 1800’s- no running water, no electricity, no internet/phones, etc. These people who reenact (usually for the general public education or school-program, and for fun of course), are used to living outdoors in tents, cooking over a campfire with cast iron, storing food that won’t spoil, using black-powder firearms (for demonstration/hunting purposes), are skilled at using knives and hand-sewing, and all without electricity or the internet to aid them. Many reenactment units have “loaner gear” that they can let you borrow for a weekend at an event, to see if you like reenacting. If they don’t have loaner gear, getting into the reenacting hobby is not as expensive as most think (plus a lot of the reenactment gear like the cast iron, tent, knives, etc are good prep items too!) Find a reenactment group in your area (just search on the internet for groups), talk to them, explain you are looking to practice prepper skills outdoors and living the 1800’s (no-electricity) lifestyle. Most reenactment groups are family-0riented and are willing to help others join a unit. Most reenactment units go out and “reenact” their time-period one weekend a month during spring/summer/fall and are understanding of work/family/medical obligations, so its not a huge, life-changing commitment to join one of these groups (although there are reenactors out there that LOVE the reenactment lifestyle so much, that they do consider it a big part of their lives). Besides practicing outdoor living skills, you might learn a thing or two about history that wasn’t taught to you in school!
7) Being realistic while questioning everything– An excellent habit to develop is the ability to be realistic when it comes to prepping (maybe the zombies won’t come after all), but at the same time, still questioning everything. Question authority, question government, question anyone who wants to regulate, tax, or take-away your rights. Question products (is it a good product to buy? Will it last?). Question skills (is there more than one way to do that?). Question knowledge (did the news really just say that? Did that really happen that way or am I being lied to?). We used to teach children in this country to question everything and research things themselves. We don’t do that anymore and it has resulted in the loss of common sense. Keep in mind why you are prepping- be realistic with yourself and your group. Are you prepping solely on the thought that a Super Volcano might erupt? Or are you more realistic in prepping that you know prepping means being prepared for ANY scenario, not just a particular situation. Be honest with yourself.
8) Mind your money or it will mind you– Being frugal and thrifty will not only save you money, but will curb that “impulse” buying that we have all come to know in America. Buy as much second-hand items as you can (except for your food & water storage items, those should ALWAYS be brand new!), and save your money for special items you want for prepping, but cannot find used (like a solar oven or a good knife). Take your savings and invest them in gold or silver coins that you have physical possession of, or just keep the cash at home. Try to keep as little money as you can in the banks, stock market, or financial portfolios. While people will tell you that your retirement investment is what you should focus on, what will you do if the stock market crashes, there is an EMP/computer glitch that fries the ‘net (since all money is digitalized now between your bank accounts), economic collapse where money is damn-near worthless, or if government just decides to seize your assets (like they have done in Cyprus and the European Union) and you cannot withdraw YOUR money? All of a sudden, that retirement account is worthless if you cannot access it and get cash when you need it most. Having some at home already will help. Your preps and supplies will also help. But make it a habit to NOT trust the bank. Your grandparents survived the Great Depression and many of them still kept money at home, hidden away, because they knew not to trust banks, (especially since currency is fiat and not backed by precious metals and can be printed on a whim by any govt’ crony at the Fed.) Having money at home will also teach you not to rely on money so much. If you don’t have it in the bank where you can just swipe your debit card, you won’t be tempted to blow through you paycheck. And on that note- get rid of credit cards all together. Credit as we know it today, is NOT how your grandparents or great-grandparents knew it. Credit back in the good ole days was strictly covered by a handshake and your honor to repay the debt, whether that be through cash, labor, or barter. If the power is out, no one is going to be running a credit check on you to see your score! So if you are using credit cards to build up your credit score so you can purchase a house or land, do so quickly, then get them paid off and closed out. Use negotiation skills and barter to pay for thinks, or exchange of labor. Cut the bank out of your life as much as possible. You can also keep a journal to track your expense so you can see where you can trim the fat, so-to-speak!
9) Learning to fix or re-purpose things- Another great habit to have in a world where we are taught to throw everything away if it is broken and go buy new. This one is pretty self-explanatory and goes-together with Habit #1 in this post. It will also save you some money. Sure you could end up with a junk-yard if you aren’t careful, but if you properly organize broken items and save what can be either fixed or re-purposed through part use, you can avoid the “crazy junk-yard man” syndrome. This also goes for items that you might recycle- like glass jars, milk jugs, plastic cups/containers, etc. These can be used for gardening and storage! So rinse them out and save them!
10) Learning to keep your mouth shut- Today it is common to tell people what we are doing, where we are going, who with, etc. etc. etc. We think nothing of letting strangers or fellow employees into the more intimate parts of our lives. Just like the Prep Club Rules say- you don’t talk about Prep Club! Don’t tell people you work with or people you strike up a conversation with in the store or on the internet about what you prep, why you prep, where it’s stored, what your plans are, where your money is, what your assets are, etc. Cutting back on political and religious conversations in favor of personal details is partly to blame for the sorry state our country is in. We have stopped talking about politics and God’s role in the family so we can take pictures of our meals or post pictures of cats on the internet. Speak up about politics and religion if you feel moved to, while carefully making sure you have a good, detailed, logical argument (so you don’t come off as a loony), instead of telling people that you are worried about a Super-volcano or zombies and that you have X-amount rounds of ammo at home! The other reason to keep your mouth shut is that you don’t want the real “zombies” (the ones who have not prepared for anything and will become a raving pack of rioters when SHTF, looking to kill, steal, or maim anyone just to get some food or water), but you don’t want the government (on any level) to know you have preps and that your house is where they need to raid “for the greater good of society”. And yes, government WILL do that and has the power to do that if they so choose to. I saw it firsthand after a hurricane- city government came in and rationed out how much gas you could buy, how much food, where & when you could travel, etc. It might sound like a good thing in a SHTF scenario, but it really is just controlled chaos and tramping on your freedom, all in the name of “greater good”.
11) Practice faith– Whether you consider yourself religious or spiritual, take a few minutes everyday to pray, meditate, talk to God, read God’s word, center your Chi, or calm your inner being. Making this a habit will strengthen your inner peace and inner mind as well as get you used to taking a few minutes each day to clear your head, gather your thoughts, de-stress, and become organized and prepared to tackle problems or stressful situations. People who claim to be atheists are going to have a harder time collecting themselves if they don’t have something to believe in, whether that be God, Mother Earth, Chi, Budda, aura/6th sense/mind’s eye, etc. It has been shown in scientific studies that people who practiced faith of some sort, even for just a few minutes each day, have better blood flow/circulatory system, better brain/cognitive function, and lower stress levels. It’s just plain good for your health! Knowing yourself and having compassion for others are great ways to grow that “inner peace” we all need!
12) Develop flexibility- Another habit to have in your arsenal is the ability to be flexible. Flexibility is more than just being able to come in for a swing-shift at work on your day off. It’s about understanding that as time goes on, some things change and some things don’t. What you are prepping for now, might be different in 5 years or 10 years. Disabilities or other medical conditions could come to the surface in you or your group, that you hadn’t had to deal with before. SHTF scenarios can quickly change from a few day civil-unrest to a full-on martial law scenario overnight. You may be navigating across land only to come to a ravine you can’t cross. Ability to be strong like a willow tree, but able to bend with the wind, is crucial to survival both short-term and long-term. Practice this in your life as much as you can. Be spontaneous with your family and test everyone’s flexibility that way. You can be flexible to roll with the punches while still having perseverance. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Flexibility also goes hand-in-hand with problem-solving capabilities and interpersonal skills. You can use all of these to focus on your goal and achieve it.
There are probably another million habits preppers should have, anything from gardening, to starting fire with sticks, to rocket science, but I hope these 12 habits give you a good core to work with and are skills you will incorporate into your life on a daily basis!
Good luck Preppers!