Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Survivalism- Is It Frugal? Is It Useful?

As of late, there seems to have been many natural disasters, tropical storm Sandy, tsunamis, and earthquakes, among other things, all of which affect people's lives. War and dangerous political situations create man made disasters on a similar scale.
When people hear about potential of war or potential of natural disasters, some of the things they recommend doing is stocking up their household with things, just in case of disaster. Be prepared, they say. Survivalism and disaster preparedness have been on my mind a lot in recent times.

I find that as a frugal blogger, especially one who does non conventional things, I get a lot of hits to my blog from people interested in survivalism, people like Doomsday Preppers, and things of the sort. There seems to be an overlap between survivalism and frugality.

But is frugality and survivalism the same thing? Is survivalism frugal? Is frugality survivalism?

First off, lets explore what types of things constitute as survivalism. Or at least as far as I understand it, not coming from a survivalist point of view.

Survivalism is wanting to prepare yourself and your family for the eventuality that life won't continue exactly as it has been until now, perhaps that you won't be able to buy things from the grocery store the same way you can now, won't have any utilities like electricity, water, and natural gas, etc... Survivalists like to prepare themselves with knowledge of how to function in such situations, as well as physically preparing their homes for such an eventuality.

One thing that survivalists often have in common with frugal people is a stockpile. I mean, if you can't get out to buy stuff from the grocery store for whatever reason, make sure your home is well stocked with non perishable foodstuffs, like canned goods, dehydrated goods, frozen foods, toiletries, etc... Both survivalists and frugal people tend to have such fully stocked stockpiles that they typically "go shopping from the stockpile" instead of from the grocery store, when they need something.

Other things survivalists and frugally minded people have in common is their interest in learning to make things from scratch, making do without, and green ideas, such as collecting water from rooftops in a rain barrel, gardening, solar cooking, wood heating, cloth diapering, etc...

So, in that sense, frugal people and survivalists do have a lot in common.

But is survivalism actually useful in case of emergencies?

Well, lets think of certain situations in which one might assume a survivalist would be better off.

Forest fires.
Gas crisis.
Electricity crisis.
Economic collapse.

I'm sure there are more situations, but these are the first ones that come to mind.

Assume you had a large stockpile of food, toiletries, and lots of other things you need.

And then there is an earthquake, hurricane, fire, flood, bombing- and your home gets affected.
So will your stockpile.
Because when you get evacuated from your home, you betcha you can't bring your stockpile with you.
So how did that help anyhow?

When I looked at pictures of people affected by Sandy, seeing their homes, often their basements being fully flooded, if their home actually managed to stay intact- even though many didn't, unfortunately- I could see how little survivalism was helping them in their situation. Had they had a stockpile, it would have all been absolutely ruined.

What about gas crises? Does survivalism help then?
Certainly, because then your house is well stocked, and even without the ability to go to the grocery store, or even if the grocery store's shelves aren't filled, you'll still have what to eat, because a gas crisis doesn't affect your stockpile.
Same with water shortages, either because of natural disaster or damaged infrastructure. If you have a large supply of water in your home, you'll be fine. If you don't have a back up water supply, and there is no potable water coming from your tap, you're in big trouble. In that sense, survivalism can easily save your life.

What about blackouts?
Well, if the only foods you have are perishable things in the fridge, you're screwed over, as you would be if your entire stockpile was kept in your freezer. But if you have a bunch of dehydrated, canned, and otherwise shelf stable items in your stockpile, you'll have food to eat, even if you're unable to get to the grocery store.

Economic collapse, if things are no longer available in stores, or the streets are too dangerous to venture out, because of anarchy or any other type of thing like uprisings... Well then, survivalism really would help you, because your home will be well enough stocked that you can just stay put and have everything you need.

You might be wondering why exactly survivalism is what I chose to write about at this time. On top of all the tropical storm Sandy coverage that made me think just how little survivalism would be helping them in that situation...
Because of various reasons, local officials have been recommending that people stock up on stuff, including water, non perishable food, things that don't require electricity in case of a blackout, etc...  for the past while already.
I ignored it for a long time, brushing it aside.
But then recently things happened close to home that made me think of all sorts of "what if" scenarios.
And I realized that I was not prepared.
As much as I'm frugal, I'm not actual survivalist. I didn't have the things that would be necessary for survival in a survival type situation.
So I sent my husband to the store and we did our duty and stocked up. It set us back a bit financially, I'll be honest.
And it made me think, first of all, why we're doing that?
If we had to be evacuated and our home and belongings got destroyed, what good would that stockpile do us?

But, better be safe than sorry, I figured. Better spend the money now, but manage later, than try to be frugal now and possibly regret it tremendously later.

Since these things I've stocked up on are non perishables, I would have bought most of them at some point, sooner or later, anyhow.

Survivalism and frugality.

Some people stock up on stuff when there is a threat to their security; right before Sandy, stores shelves were entirely emptied out.
Trust me, people weren't paying good prices for those things.

Frugal survivalism means not doing it suddenly, in one go, like we did.

It means waiting for sales, using double coupons and rebates and all sorts of gimmicks and tricks to build up a stockpile gradually, cheaply, not buying everything at the last minute at whatever prices you see... And then hopefully you'll never be in a situation where you need to be a survivalist, and you'll just continue your life as normal.

And if everything goes to hell and all that you have gets destroyed, including your stockpile... Well, then survivalism would still make you better off than your counterparts. Because survivalism teaches you how to manage in tough situations; you'll know how to garden, how to forage, how to harness the sun and the wind's energy to help you out; you won't be stuck with nothing. Because survivalists know how to make do.
And thats something that frugal people have in common with survivalists. Because whether your purpose is to use those skills now, or just in an emergency situation, both extremely frugal people and survivalists will have the sets of skills that no one else has, that will be needed after disaster strikes.

Stay safe everyone!

Are you a survivalist? A doomsday prepper? What types of eventualities are you preparing for, and why? Do you think your preparations actually will help you, if things do get really bad where you live?
Are you just your plain old, run of the mill, extremely frugal person, without any "doomsday prepper" motives? If things got really bad, do you think your frugality would help your survival?
Is survivalism frugality? Is frugality survivalism? Why do you think so?

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