Build your library
Most of the time, people in the preparedness world like to have hard copies of important information. This way, if the power goes out and you can’t access the internet or recharge your Kindle, you still have access to vital advice.
Some of these books are for just such an event, while others are guides to building your self-reliance skills. Commit to picking up a good book each pay period until you have a library to reference during any type of scenario. But don’t just buy it and stick it on a shelf. Read that book and put some of the ideas into action. You may not have time to sit down and read 200 pages in the midst of a crisis, right?
My own books are indicated with a star. *
- *The Prepper’s Canning Guide (It’s awesome to grow your food, but how will you make it last through the winter, particularly during an off-grid scenario?)
- *The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide (Water isn’t exactly a fascinating topic, but it’s certainly one of the most vital. This technical guide will walk you through storing, acquiring, and purifying water.)
- *The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget (This book outlines building your healthful pantry while on a strict budget)
- The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster (This is the be-all and end-all Bible of prepping. Tess’s book is the most complete compendium out there, broken into easy, manageable steps.)
- Survival MomL How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios (This is the classic book that made prepping more mainstream. It’s a down-to-earth guide that will help you take on any emergency with aplomb.)
- Prepper’s Natural Medicine (At some point, you may run into a scenario in which modern medicine is not available. I used this book recently when I was bitten by a black widow spider in the midst of a storm that kept us trapped at home for a week, unable to leave due to a mudslide.)
- SAS Survival Guide: How to Survive in the Wild, on Land or Sea (I keep this little gem in my vehicle, my bug out bag, and in my kids’ backpacks. It doesn’t go into lots of detail, but if you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, this small book could save your life.)
- The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself(A compendium of all things self-reliance)
- Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary (If you can’t protect it, you don’t own it. It’s that simple.)
- How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times (By James Wesley Rawles, who many consider the “Father” of the modern preparedness movement)
- The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster (Quick, inexpensive preparedness steps that anyone can take)
- The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way (It’s vital to have a guide on hand that doesn’t rely on 911 for serious injuries, in the event that you’re completely on your own)
- The Complete Tightwad Gazette (While this book is about hardcore frugality, trust me, there’s crossover. There are a lot of great suggestions for creating stockpiles on a budget, living simply, and doing things the old-fashioned way. And saving money is always a good idea, so that you can use it to help you become more prepared.)
Be sure to check out used bookstores, libraries, and garage sales, too. Look for books that teach self-reliant skills like sewing, gardening, animal husbandry, carpentry, repair manuals, scratch cooking, and plant identification. You can often pick these up for pennies, and older books don’t rely on expensive new technology or tools for doing these tasks.
Bookmark some websites
The internet is a wonderful place, and best of all, a lot of this knowledge can be found for FREE! The more you know about crisis situations, the more ready you will be to face them.
Some sites are friendlier to beginners than others, so if you stumble upon a forum where people seem less than enthusiastic about helping people who are just starting out, don’t let it get you down. Move on and find a site that makes you feel comfortable. If you see them utter the words, “If you aren’t already prepared, it’s too late,” run, don’t walk, away from them. No one needs that kind of doom and gloom. It’s stressful, unhelpful, and honestly, kind of mean. Plus, I firmly believe it’s never too late as long as you just get started.
To get the most out of a website, I strongly recommend subscribing to the newsletter. For example, I provide information to subscribers that isn’t available on my website, plus I share a lot of personal stories about how preparedness and frugality have helped our family live a comfortable and secure lifestyle. As well, when I find a really cool offer or discount, I can let you know about it ASAP. (You can subscribe to it here and get a free bundle of PDFs of the information readers have found to be the most helpful and inspiring over the years.)
Following are some of my favorite sites, and the link will take you to a good starting point on these sites. In no particular order:
- The Organic Prepper (obviously – and sign up for the newsletter here)
- Preppers University (There’s a fee for the courses, but sign up for the free newsletters – you’ll get a free class and an easy-to-incorporate prepper tip every day!)
- Backdoor Survival
- The Survival Mom
- Survival Weekly
- Ready Nutrition
- Graywolf Survival (A former Army bad-a$$ writes about survival in an intelligent, easy-to-implement manner that cuts through all the nonsense.)
- Disaster Preparer (This is Dr. Arthur T. Bradley’s site. He’s a former NASA scientist. If you want to know about natural disasters, EMPs, and solar flares, he’s your guy.)
- Preparedness Advice
- Survival Blog
- Herbal Prepper
- Prepper Website
- Survival Sherpa
- Urban Survival Site
- Food Storage Moms
- Homestead Dreamer
7 Ways I Make Learning a Priority
- I block off time for it. I have “work hours” even though I’m self-employed because I find it makes me more productive. I get up early, feed animals, grab some coffee, and get to work on the things that require the most concentration. Then, by the time my daughter is up and over her morning muteness, I’m finished with the things that require my undivided attention. I treat Learning Day exactly the same as any other work day.
- I catch up on newsletters. I don’t usually take the time to read newsletters the day they come (there are a couple that are so good I have to, but mostly, I save them in a file on my email. Then, I sit down with my coffee and read them all.
- I keep a link document. As you can imagine, with the amount of research I do, I read many articles per week. However, there are dozens more I want to read but just don’t have time at the moment. Instead of losing them to the vagaries of the internet, I have a document to which I paste links all week long so that when I have time, I can sit down and read the articles. Once I’ve read them, I delete them from my list.
- I take online courses. Man, I love the internet. I can learn about things that would have cost thousands of dollars and time in a classroom before. Almost everything I learned about homesteading or running an easy-to-use website originated from an online course. On my designated learning day, I catch up with any webinars or assignments.
- I listen to podcasts or videos. If the information is presented in a format that I can listen to, I generally do that while I’m doing laundry or working in the kitchen. Those links go into my link document too.
- I take notes. I keep two learning journals. One is for preparedness/homesteading information and the other is for website and business-related stuff. I take notes of the things that inspire me or seem the most applicable to my situation.
- I implement what I’ve learned. At the end of my learning session, I make a plan to implement the things I’ve learned. Maybe I add a button to my website that makes it easy for folks to print off the information. Perhaps I figured out a good way to plant a certain vegetable, so I order the seeds. You get the idea.
Finally, you have to actually do stuff.
- Take a prepping course and actually follow the to-do lists and do the challenges – there is a section each week of low-cost tasks and the challenges don’t cost a penny.
- Take the master gardening class, make a plan, and produce the best garden ever.
- Go take that First Aid course and brush up on your skills regularly.
- Learn 5 ways to light a fire without matches and actually practice until it becomes easy.
- Involve the family – you can make this fun!
Become a prepared, skillful person takes time. If you’re really serious about it, you’re going to have to commit to more than just stashing away some buckets.
Make learning a priority. It’s the least expensive but most important prep you’ll ever make.