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What Over A Decade Of Prepping Has Taught Me. Was It A Waste Of Time And Money?

  • Post category:Prepper Q&A Series
  • Post last modified:January 21, 2024
  • Post comments:4 Comments
  • Reading time:18 mins read
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I feel like a little honest prepper talk. I’ll address what prepping has taught me and whether it seems like I’ve wasted all these years.

How Long Have I Prepped?

A common question is, “How long have you been prepping?” That’s a tough one to answer because… well, I’m not entirely sure. I started Next Step Survival eight years ago in May.

@usha777 Asked:

You have a great supply. How long have you been stocking up? Looks like it would cost a lot to do in a short time.

@truncinesaulsberry9664 Asked:

How long have you been doing this

I prepped long before that. I remember a mindset change from the 2003 widespread power outage. But I did prep, along with a get-home pack loaded with survival gear I carried in my truck as an over-the-road truck driver throughout the nineties. Well before I knew what a prepper was.

So, what did I learn from all these years of practicing a preparedness lifestyle? Am I better off now, or were those years wasted for nothing? Would that money and effort be better spent on more realistic things? Did I allow paranoia and prepper fear to cause undue stress on my life and that of my family?

All questions I will tackle right now.
Let’s do it!

Let’s Try A Little Prepper Talk: What Prepping Has Taught Me

What have I learned? A lot of emergency preparedness stuff, for sure. Prepping has taught me about food storage and priceless survival skills like:

  • Long-term food storage
  • Canning
  • Dehydrating
  • Gardening
  • Freeze drying
  • Fire starting
  • Water collection and filtration
  • Hiking
  • Outdoor survival skills
  • Communications
  • Off-grid power
  • Emergency shelter
  • Situational awareness
  • Self-defense
  • First aid
  • And many other survival skills

But the learning doesn’t end with preparedness skills. Prepping has taught me other life skills. The preparedness path can take you involves:

  • Cooking
  • Food safety
  • Better budgeting
  • The value of paying down debt
  • Rational decision-making skills
  • Saving and investing for the future
  • Creating better health habits
  • Spotting a potential threat
  • Reading and listening skills
  • Recognizing when to evade a potentially bad situation
  • And many other life skills

Soapbox Warning

We can’t prepare for everything. We are all unprepared on certain levels.

You can’t prepare for everything because once you believe you have, the inconceivable will slide right up into you and make you it’s punk.

Me – A year ago
Willfully ignorant turns sinister when those same people try to force your head into the sand along with theirs.
Soon to be famous quote by Brian D. Hawkins

The willfully unprepared is no different than the diabetic who pushes the thought of a future amputation from their mind as they reach for another can of sugar. Or the alcoholic facing liver failure as they take their next drink. Or my younger self as I leaped into a physical altercation while ignoring the fact that it might be my last stupid decision.

What About All Those Preps? All That Equipment?

Most of us would be blown away by the dollar figure invested in long-term food storage and the survivally equipment we have applied to live a more prepared life.

Was that money spent in vain? If you feel it was – then it was. I don’t feel that way. Not always, but there are things I shouldn’t have bought.

Deleted commenter asked:

Youre putting your family at risk and wasting money. What are you so afraid of?

Funny, another common question:

“What are you so afraid of? Dad, do you really think the world is ending?”

My Daughter πŸ˜‰

I have many responses to that question, but my favorite is,

“I’m not scared, I’m prepared.”

Me. I say that. A Lot! Others have said it before me.

No, I don’t think the world is ending. That said, I don’t think pulling the wool over our own eyes is useful, either.

There are bigger questions to ask.

The Great Depression lasted ten years (1929–1939). Do you think the people of today are more resilient or less so? Do you believe something similar, or worse, is impossible today? Do you have more confidence in today’s government and leadership or less? Have we forgotten the supply chain disruptions just a few years ago? Hundreds of thousands of shipping containers stuck in the ports? Do you trust the media to keep us informed of the truth?

No, I don’t believe the world is ending.
But, the gravy train?…

Prepping Has Taught Me About Food Waste

@georgemoomaw9437 Asks:

Impressive indeed. Most of what I see on the shelves has a shelf life. The majority of the prepper books and videos I have seen recommend rotating inventory. What is your projected loss if a real SHTF scenario doesn’t materialize for another 2 or 3 years?

One of those skills involves food rotation. Sure, I toss out the occasional box of whatever I didn’t get to before it died on the shelf. Who doesn’t?

For the most part, that food gets eaten or donated well before it goes bad.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of storing a backup food supply is saving money while limiting waste. Much of what we eat today was bought at last year’s prices. Or even the year before that.

How many ‘normal‘ people look for different ways to keep food scraps from going down the drain or into the trash? Most preppers do. From composting to freezing scraps for the next batch of homemade bone broth to feeding animals and livestock, we intentionally avoid food waste. Not because it’s the yuppy feel-good thing to do. Because we have learned the value of saving and using as much as possible.

At the very least, those in the prepper community have learned to ignore the somewhat deceptive marketing tactic of best buy dates. You won’t catch us tossing out cans or boxes of food because the date printed on the label has passed. That knowledge alone can translate into a large savings.

Don’t you Regret Spending So Much?

Yes and no. We’re being honest here. Right? Could I have invested more money into a better financial future? Probably.

The thing is, what prepping has taught me applies to finance and wealth as well. I’m doing things today to secure a better financial future that I might not otherwise have done.

Most ‘normal‘ people contribute to their 401k through work and hope it’s enough. Hope is not a plan. Few understand that better than a prepper.

Plus, I value food security when money might not buy it anymore.

What About All That Stuff? Do You Need All That Gear?

What’s the price for a sense of security? What would you pay to understand that you’ll be ok with much of what other people outside your control throw at you? And if you don’t survive, what is the value in knowing your family will be alright and that you’ve instilled a little resilience into their lives?

β€œGod has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”

St. Augustine of Hippo

Don’t ya love how I answer questions with more questions? Questions you didn’t even ask? Hush now, I’m helping you answer questions others may ask. Or perhaps addressing doubt that hasn’t surfaced yet. You are welcome.

Honestly, Brian, are you ever going to use that gas mask?

Hmm, probably not. Since I don’t own one, I don’t prepare for the apocalypse.

There are certainly things I own and hope never to use. I hope I never need to use my gun or have to apply a tourniquet.

Do you buy homeowner’s insurance hoping your house blows up? Of course not. You buy insurance to hedge against a catastrophe that would otherwise leave you helpless.

That’s prepping.

Again, hope isn’t a plan. I plan to be as prepared as possible – within reason.

Living Like That Can’t Be Healthy

@xcalmowl99 Said:

It can’t be healthy living like that. You might need professional help.

Prepping can get away from you. An unhealthy prepping lifestyle is sad. Like every other aspect of our lives, survival and prepping require a little balance and common sense.

That is the biggest reason I started this website. To show as close as possible a step-by-step method without the waste and paranoia we see all over YouTube. I want to help people find that healthy balance to live life while prepping to survive the challenges thrown at them.

I’ve mentioned this before but had to replace my roof during the lockdowns. I mean the entire roof – shingles and wood. It was expensive. I also had to replace both our furnace and central air. Before I became a prepper, that would have meant going deep into debt. I financed zero. I also lost zero sleep over any of it. Does that sound healthy?

The power went out last winter for a week. I was so excited to test my preps, fear and worry never materialized. Running for help or finding a hotel never crossed our minds. So unhealthy.

When everyone was running around in a panic-driven hunt for toilet paper and necessities, we were sitting so pretty we were handing the stuff out. That piece of mind is super unhealthy, I guess.

Value Comes In Many Forms

There’s value in sitting back on the weekend and enjoying time with family and friends. There’s value in creating memories and teaching your children how not to become victims and take responsibility for themselves.

There’s tremendous value in knowing how you will feed your family during the next shutdown or supply line disruption.

There’s probably value in driving a shiny new car for some, but I chose not to. Luckily, we can find value where we want, not where someone else says where to look. Another thing prepping has taught me.

Yes, I feel like a better person than I did before this change. Not better than a non-prepper – a better me. A more relaxed and optimistic me. A me that is more confident. Me as a prepper.

I will continue as a prepper as long as I am able. When I’m gone, I prepped for that, too. How will my family survive without me, and what will happen with all that stuff? These will not be my last thoughts. I am a prepper.

Does anything here resonate? Prove it by requesting more!

Next StepHow To Start A Prepper Pantry – Updated w/ Video

Stay safe. Stay prepared.
Hawkins Out.

Image Credit: The works of Bludat and Alajo were used to help create the featured image.

Brian Hawkins

Father, grandfather, Veteran, animal lover, law-abiding taxpayer, homeowner, trucker, and a United States Citizen. Oh, and I'm also a prepper, survivalist, responsible gun owner, and hiker.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Mandy

    Very well done! I think most people would change their tune if faced with a real emergency. I’ve always been impressed with your preps and know-how. I like the list of what prepping has taught you. It made me realize I’ve learned much more than I think on this journey. There’s a prepping topic- prepping is a journey, not a destination! Haha!

    1. Brian Hawkins

      Thanks, Mandy. It’s a topic I’ve been meaning to address for a while. When we look back at all of the skills we acquired over the years we’ve been prepping, it really adds up to a significant change. Between an improved mindset, realization, and skills, we change (hopefully improve) over the years.

  2. Bill

    Brian,well written site! Great food for thought. Some of us are older and can no longer do the more laborious chores anymore. We store the more traditional beans,bullets and band aids. However, we have learned to cook from scratch. Even the mixture of canned stuff we have in the pantry. We can make great meals with. I think that is really important because some younger people cannot even cook a pot of store bought bagged beans. People have laughed at me when I said that until I handed them an unmarked bag of beans. What do you expect me to do with this!
    Stay Safe And God Bless…

    1. Brian Hawkins

      Thanks, Bill. And you’re right. I’ve always been able to cook as an adult, but since I’ve been prepping, I’ve gotten a lot better. And safer, too. I cook at least one meal a week straight out of our pantry. No running to the store for any part of that meal. Not even anything from the fridge or freezer.

      I started a video series called “Cooking From The Pantry,” but that kind of fizzled out when I realized no one seemed interested. But we still do it at home.

      In fact, last week, when it was below freezing, I made myself go outside and cook chicken noodle soup on my camp stove. I don’t mean heating up a can of soup. Homemade from the pantry using my home canned chicken. I just wanted to be sure it still worked in those temperatures. It does.

      It’s not just men, either. I know couples that eat out (or takeout) almost every day. Heating up a pre-cooked meal or something that came out of a can is their idea of cooking.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Brian

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