With the new trend of living a minimalist lifestyle, people are de-cluttering and de-junking more than ever. This is great news for people who like to prepare for an uncertain future.
You can find and stock up on all kinds of items that will help you survive a disaster, without paying retail prices.
The real goldmine, outside of checking out thrift stores is finding moving sales for older couples downsizing into smaller homes and selling off a lifetime of used items, or estate sales after a death.
Here you’ll discover long-lasting quality items that were likely purchased before the arrival of cheaply made overseas items in American stores.
Check your personal inventory to see what you need most, and what you have room to store. If you’ve got storage space, you can never have an overstock of prepping supplies.
Keep in mind that when an emergency occurs, not everyone will be as prepared as you. You can barter with your surplus emergency supplies. Here’s a list to get you started:
Books and Magazines – Typically you’ll find a plethora of books and it’s worth the time to dig through them. Look for books on survival, homesteading, gardening, wilderness survival manuals, Boy Scout manuals and any magazines that pertain to these subjects. Buy any cookbooks that provide specific recipes for outdoor and Dutch oven cooking, canning or anything that has very basic ingredients required for recipes. You may want to pick up some books for yourself as well. In a long-term disaster you’ll have more downtime than you’re used to. Use the time to educate yourself or read some classics you’ve never read before.
School Supplies – If you have young children or grandchildren in the house, look for educational books, flashcards, workbooks and textbooks. You’ll not only need to entertain those kids, but if you’re in a longstanding crisis, you’ll be the children’s only teacher. In which case, any school-related items you can procure will be crucial.
Board Games – Here’s another item to look for if you have children or grandchildren in the home. You’ll require something to entertain them, so buy as many board games as you can find at a low price. Puzzles are another item to watch for. Additionally, pick up board games and puzzles that adults can enjoy as well. You will need some entertainment, too.
Kitchenware – Every year as new and improved kitchen gadgets hit the market, people throw out their manual kitchen tools. Watch for any manual or hand kitchen tools, such as mixers, a French press, percolator, egg beater, can opener and similar kitchen tools that don’t require electricity.
Kitchen Flatware – Many homesteaders only use silver flatware for a reason. Not only does it last forever, but there are antimicrobial properties in sterling silver that will prevent intake of harmful bacteria. With limited access to antibiotics during disasters, you’ll want to limit microbe intake as much as possible. Chances are you won’t find a matching set, but pick up spoons and forks as you find them.
Knives – Used kitchen knives can always be sharpened, but make sure you’re only buying quality brands. There are many on the market, so take a moment to Google the brands you find to make sure the knives are worth buying.
Cookware – As people obtain new cookware, they tend to get rid of cast-iron and Dutch oven cookware they no longer use. This is exactly the cookware needed for survival cooking. Buy anything you can get your hands on for less than retail.
Canning Supplies – Not everyone keeps canning glassware and canning equipment, making this a great way to find inexpensive survival items that you can use later.
Battery-Operated Appliances – In preparation for power outages during an emergency, watch for battery-powered appliances, tools, flashlights and fans.
Camping Equipment – Garage sales are an ideal way to stock up on camping and outdoor equipment. So many people buy or are gifted camping items that they never use. Watch for stoves, lanterns, cots, sleeping bags, camp chairs and any additional outdoor items that will make life easier during a disaster.
Tools – Look for older, well-made tools that will allow for building a shelter and maintaining your home. Estate or moving sales are a prime source for this.
Garden Tools – You’ll need gardening supplies for long-term survival, so buy those on the cheap as you see them. This is another area where having duplicates will be helpful.
Hunting Equipment – Estate and moving sales are where you’ll find the best hobby gear, as people realize they don’t use items enough to want to move them. Watch for firearms, bows, ammunition, gun cleaning kits, decoys, trapping supplies and even camouflage clothing. If you can stock up on these items, you’re going to save yourself quite a bit over buying new.
Fishing Equipment – Watch for fishing poles, nets, extra rods and reels, flies and any fishing lures you may find.
Clothing – Purchasing inexpensive, used clothing is a practical way to prepare for a disaster. Buy winter clothing such as thick flannel shirts, warm coats, gloves, scarves and hats. If you have children or grandchildren in the house, be sure to buy various sizes to plan for their growth. Look very closely at clothing items to ensure you don’t buy clothing that is so well-worn that it won’t last long. You want items that can withstand some wear and tear.
Boots – This is also a low-priced way to pick up all types of boots that you’ll need: garden/mucking boots, work boots, military boots or any well constructed boot type you may find in your size. Again, if you have children or grandchildren in the home, be sure to size up.
Jewelry – This will likely be more difficult to find, but if you end up at an estate sale with gold and/or silver jewelry, it may be worth the investment for you.
Emergency Supplies – Watch for low-priced items that can be used to grow your existing disaster supplies, such as first-aid kits, radios, candles, empty water containers, water filters, purification tablets, etc.
Medical Supplies – Estate sales often have used medical equipment after the owner of the home has passed away. No one wants the reminder of illness, so you can barter for a lower cost on medical related items with ease. Watch for these particular items: crutches, boxes of alcohol wipes, bandages, sterile gauze, slings and splints.
Bug-Out Bag Gear – Watch for backpacks you can use as bug-out bags, and also items you can add to the bag: lighters, rain ponchos, bandanas, manual can opener, small pocketknife, tarps, etc.
For thrift stores, find out when they receive new inventory or sale days. As you frequent garage sales, don’t be afraid to barter on price. Be friendly and let people know what you’re looking for. You never know what they may have sitting in the garage that they are willing to part with.