Monday, June 28, 2010

Woohoo! Dave Ramsey says I'm right!

Hubby Dear and I have been going back and forth a lot on the subject of prepping. Honestly, it has descended into flat-out fights several times. Hubby Dear and I are the kind of couple that usually make people sick because we're so lovey-dovey even after over a decade of marriage, so that is very unusual. It was after one of those fights that I got all steamed up and emailed Dave Ramsey. Little did I know that I would quickly get a reply from Dave's producer, Lara Johnson, and actually talk with the man himself live on national radio.

In case you do not know who Dave Ramsey is, he is THE financial guru. His slogan says it all: "Debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid-off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice". We have been following the Baby Steps as set out in his best-selling book, The Total Money Makeover, for over a year. I knew if anyone could solve this problem Hubby Dear and I have, it would be Dave.

When we put our problem before Dave, he was impressed to hear how much debt we had paid off in the last year. Lee told Dave that he didn't want to spend money on prepping until we paid off the remainder of our debt. Dave Ramsey told Lee that it would be fine to set a budget for prepping as long as we stick to it. Dave noted that preparedness obviously must be something important to me since I was willing to call in to a national radio show!

After he stated his opinion on our question, Dave asked me why I felt the need to, in his words, "store up a bunch of food in the basement". I briefly explained my reasons for prepping. Dave said he wasn't worried about ever having trouble feeding his kids, but said what did he know - he stocked up on certain kinds of ammo when Obama came into office.

Overall, I was very satisfied with the call, even though Dave isn't a prepper. Hubby Dear and I are finally on the same page with our budget and I get to spend money on prepping.

* By the way, they said our location as Kansas City. I'm proud that I was quick witted enough to give a phony location. I didn't break OPSEC! ;)

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Preparedness Binder, Parts Two and Three

In case you missed it, the first section of my Preparedness Binder is devoted to Food Storage and Preparedness Stocking Plans. I've collected bits and pieces of the collective wisdom of preppers on the Internet to come up with my own plan to buy food and supplies.

The second section in the binder is entitled "Food Storage Information". In this section I have general information about long term food storage.

-The Seven Major Mistakes in Food Storage

-Recommended Food Storage Shelf Lifes

-Growing and Using Sprouts

-Water Treatment

  • Print offs of information from Food Storage Made Easy - water storage, grains, baking supplies, etc. This includes types of items to store, ideas on how to use them and shelf lifes.
  • A handout from Everyday Food Storage about wheat

I intend to collect more information on how to use the items in our future long term food storage and put them in this section.

The last section of my binder is devoted to emergency and disaster information. The LDS Preparedness Manual was very helpful for this section as well. I included:

  • A Preparedness Test (We failed!)
  • Supply Table/Master Preparedness List
  • Generator Info
  • What to do in the case of biological or chemical agent dispersion
  • Nuclear/Chemical decontamination kit and how-to
  • A Shelter-in-Place diagram (I got this from
  • Nuclear Disaster and Warfare Info

I have also collected quite a few recipes that use food storage items. I plan to put together a binder for food storage recipes soon.

Speaking of food storage recipes, I have finally completed our three month food supply. Well, not the food itself, but the shopping list of what we need to have three months worth of shelf-stable food. I'll have to post our menu sometime. The Excel file from Food Storage Made Easy was essential and really made things so much easier.

It is a bit intimidating to realize just how much food and other items we need to store. 45 cans of Chicken Noodle Soup, 75 large cans of fruit and eight cases of toilet paper are among the highlights of the list. (Yes, we use a lot of toilet paper. It's pretty ridiculous.) I'll just keep chipping away at it and get there eventually.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Marriage Ref - Dave Ramsey!

Well, Hubby Dear and I still aren't seeing eye to eye on spending money on prepping. So I called in the big gun - Dave Ramsey! I'll be speaking to Dave on his radio show around 1 pm central time on Monday. We'll see whose side of the argument Dave falls on!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Preparedness Binder

I thought I would share more details and links from my preparedness binder. I have spent a couple of months compiling resources from all over the Web and you might find them to be helpful, too.

Today I'll go through the Food Storage/Preparedness Stocking Plans section. It contains lists and information about what to have on hand and various purchasing plans:

  • A list of our frequently eaten meals and their ingredients. I also listed all of the non-food items we use - hygiene items, cleaning and paper products, etc. I used the Excel file from Food Storage Made Easy to develop an inventory and shopping list for our three month food supply.
  • I also downloaded the Excel file from Food Storage Made Easy for long-term storage. I haven't gotten very far at all on long-term storage (I have fulfilled only our baking soda and salad dressing quotas!), but at least I know what I'm shooting for.
  • If you don't have Excel, you can go to and find the same long-term storage calculator. These suggestions are based upon the LDS (Mormon) church's recommendations for food storage.
  • The three month supply list from
  • My Prepping Plan, month by month. These are the items I am going to purchase and the actions we'll take.
  • Another LDS resource, The LDS Preparedness Manual, has a TON of information. I printed off the pages having to do with food storage lists and a monthly food storage purchasing calendar for this section of my binder. We're not Mormon, but since the LDS church preaches preparedness, they have lots of resources that are useful for anyone wanting to develop their food storage.
  • Print-outs of the Babysteps Checklists from Food Storage Made Easy. You can sign up for free bi-weekly emails that will guide you through developing your food storage over the course of a year.
  • A copy of a handout by Wendy DeWitt. She has developed an easy system of food storage with recipes that use a solar oven. An excellent resource! You really get a good idea of how you could use your long-term food storage if the SHTF. There are also videos of her presentations on YouTube that fully explains her system.
I will go through the other two sections of my binder sometime soon.

Month Two Preps

Now that my Month One Preps are mostly complete (our van emergency kit is a glaring omission, I will admit), it's time to think about Month Two.

Month Two Preps:
  1. Get $20 in small bills to add to BOBs.
  2. Continue to build our three month supply of food and other essentials.
  3. Reorganize our storage room. Clear out junk, donate unnecessary items and consolidate to make room for food and water storage.
  4. Buy Iosat tablets for the whole family.
  5. Buy items necessary to store 2 weeks worth of water for our family - barrels, siphon, water conditioner, etc.
  6. Fill water containers. Store appropriately in our cleared out storage room.

Month One Preps, Part Four: Three Month Supply of Food

In my last few posts I have tried to illustrate what I've accomplished during my first month of prepping. It doesn't feel like I've done very much because I see all of the shortcomings of my plans and I know how far I have yet to go. Plus there's the whole issue of my desire to spend money on preparedness vs. Hubby Dear's gazelle-intensity to pay off his vehicle. I'll wear him down yet, LOL!

The last item I have to discuss from my month one preps list is a three month supply of food. Basically, this is normal, everyday food, not designed for long-term storage. What do you eat regularly? You should store three months' worth of that food.

Some people include frozen foods in their three month supply. I'm kind of ambivalent about that. If I'm storing food for a minor emergency - job loss, quarantine, etc. - that is fine. But if the power goes out, a three months' supply of fresh or frozen food will quickly spoil.

In addition to food, it is recommended that you store up at least three months of non-food supplies. These are items like toilet paper, diapers and cleaning supplies. I have decided to go above and beyond these recommendations and build a year's supply of non-food items. The only exception to this is diapers. With two children in diapers, a year's supply would be HUGE. I could definitely get better about storing diapers and formula, though.

The best explanation of how to store three months of food is from the ladies at Food Storage Made Easy. You can read about it here. They have a wonderful Excel spreadsheet that helps you calculate just how much you need of any one item. It is also available as a print-out if you do not have Excel.

Another helpful resource is this Three Month Supply List from

Obviously I'm not going to be able to build up an entire three month's supply in one fell swoop. I am buying a few extra items each time I go to the store, however, and they will build up. I'm having a kind of hard time with this. We do not eat a lot of canned food besides beans and tomato products. My children are so used to eating only fresh or frozen vegetables that they refuse to eat canned veggies of any kind - even home canned green beans. It's taking some extra thought on my part to plan three months of shelf-stable meals we'll all enjoy.

And then there is the problem of where to store it all. But I'll tackle that in a future month.

Month One Summary:

1. Get Hubby Dear to back-up the computer
Status - Still need to do this.
2. Create emergency kits for both vehicles
Status - Hubby Dear's vehicle is complete. I need to figure out how to fit it
all in my van.
3. Make Bug Out Bags for our family
Status - Complete
4. Buy a large box of N-95 Masks
Status - Complete
5. Buy a crank flashlight/cell phone charger
Status - Complete
6. Create Emergency Binder and Preparedness Binder
Status - Complete, though I continue to find and print off useful articles for
my preparedness binder
7. Stock up on 3 Month Food Supply items
Status - In progress
8. Start saving cash and add to Bug Out Bags
Status - In progress. I've got a measely total of $34 at the moment and will
continue to add to it each month.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Month One Preps, Part Three: Bug Out Bags

I thought for a long time about the best way to assemble Bug Out Bags. Some lists you'll find out on the Internet are very much military inspired and list every component down to the type of heat you should be packing. I definitely will be investigating firearms at some point, but my inherent clumsiness and complete lack of experience precludes me from including them at this point.

I decided the easiest thing to do would be to order a prepackaged emergency kit and personalize it. My large order from Emergency Essentials (which also included the items for our Vehicle Emergency Kits) weighed over 70 pounds!

The emergency kit I ordered was their "Trekker IV", a mid-priced emergency kit for four people. Since we have six people in our family, I then ordered additional items such as rations, water, ponchos, etc. for another two people. I don't think that Baby Dear will be eating emergency rations for a while, but I wanted to have them on hand now rather than forget about it for the future.

The kit includes two backpacks and you arrange the items in them as you desire. It really does include many items and covers the vast majority of the ones you will find on Bug Out Bag checklists.

The only weakness I really found was the multipurpose tool in the kit. I found it to be pretty flimsy in comparison to one we already have kicking around the house. I wouldn't want to have to depend on that tool for my survival. I'm planning on upgrading that at some point in the future.

One of the items I added to the kit was this flashlight/cell phone charger. If you crank it for 1 minute, the flashlight will work for 30 minutes. The cell phone charger could be really handy since our cell phones tend to run out of juice right when we need them.

These are the emergency food rations the Trekker IV kit contains. Some of the more pricey kits Emergency Essential sells include MREs. That is something I may buy down the road, but for now these rations will do. They will keep us alive anyway. My oldest two children are begging to try them out.

I bought a box of 20 N-95 masks. These are good for preventing dust inhalation or infectious disease transmission. Hubby Dear is in the health care field and told me that if you have facial hair, it is nearly impossible to get a N-95 mask to fit correctly, which is something to remember. During the Swine Flu epidemic, he was unable to wear one over his beard at work. Nonetheless, these are important to have on hand.

The final addition to our BOB was my emergency binder, which I explained in this post. It contains all the information we would want to have on hand if we hand to evacuate in a hurry - family phone numbers, insurance information, etc.

The two backpacks that make up our primarily emergency kits are very heavy. None of our children could possibly carry them and they would wear me out in a hurry. I guess I had better start lifting weights!

I made another backpack that contains diapers for Sweetie Pie and Baby Dear as well as formula. That backpack could be carried by either of our two oldest children. There are two other backpacks that contain changes of clothing and shoes for our entire family.

Finally, I am building up a store of cash to carry in the BOBs. I've started our stash with the $30 we were paid for being a Nielsen family. Each month I intend to add to the cash using small denominations only. Right now I'm planning on putting about $200 in the BOBs and storing additional cash our safe. Eventually I'd like to have around $1,000 in cash stored at home. We already have a substantial emergency fund in the bank, but if SHTF that may not be accessible.

So that's our Bug Out Bags.

Month One Preps, Part Two: Vehicle Emergency Kits

Having survival supplies in your vehicle is important. Hubby Dear works long hours at work and would likely be away from home should an emergency occur. I am home with our four offspring most of the time, but with my luck I'd be at a ballgame or at the local megamart when SHTF.

I bought a few items from Emergency Essentials to throw in the back of Hubby Dear's vehicle. They should enable him to make it home on foot or survive in his car for a while. 99% of the time he is alone in his car, so I only included enough supplies for one person.

Contained an a plastic tub:

  1. Aqua Literz - Enough water for one person for one day. I have read reports that bottled water isn't safe to store in hot vehicles, but this boxed water should be OK.
  2. Premier Bottled Emergency Kit - Packed in a water bottle, it contains many different survival items including a poncho, water purification tablets, first aid kit, etc.

  3. Emergency Road Side Kit - Jumper cables, tools, etc. My one complaint about this product is that the plastic container it is housed in is pretty flimsy.
  4. Tri-fold shovel - A shovel could be handy in an emergency. There were times this past winter that Hubby Dear really could have used one.
  5. Some Millennium bars - 400 kcal each, these food bars last up to 5 years and can stand the heat of a vehicle during summer.

I also want to make a more extensive emergency kit for our family mini-van. I went ahead and bought a shovel and Emergency Roadside Kit. The problem I'm encountering is that our family fills up our vehicle already. Add in a typical load of groceries and I simply don't have room for an emergency kit. I'd like to store items under the seats, but nothing will fit underneath there. I'm still thinking of the solution to this problem and welcome ideas.