PrepperFI 2022: Taking Control of Your Future Beyond Just Money

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PrepperFI 2022 Re-Introduction

I wrote the original portion of this post back in the summer of 2018 for Tread Lightly Retire Early. If you like this post, aside from checking out all of WPF where we sprinkle these interests, check the Women’s Personal Finance (Women on FIRE) Facebook group, as well as the PrepperFI Facebook group that sprung up after I wrote the post! 

Wow, things have changed in four years!

It sure is something to look back on where my thinking was and what a small lifetime of changes can do. 

Let’s see, my son got cancer, and our lives got turned upside down. Then we DID have forest fires near the ocean, going without power and living off the generator for multiple days. The pandemic hadn’t hit yet, but we had high-quality facemasks from when my son had his bone marrow transplant, so we used those when we needed to be outside. Every household is likely to maintain a supply of surgical masks and N95s at this point. Suitable for emergencies of all kinds!

You’ll see in the full post below that I mentioned a pandemic risk, and we’ve been living through two years of the Covid19 pandemic. It looks like we’re heading for the second pandemic in two years with the weekly doubling case counts of monkeypox. I’m calling the joint significant infectious disease worry CovOx, for funsies. 

All that is, sadly, in line with where my expectations were, to a degree. As in, it wasn’t a huge surprise. Given that I was prepared (at least mentally) for these developments, I think my mental health has faired far better than many through the last two years. I’m a little shy to admit I’ve found the pandemic to be a pretty good time with a release of many expectations of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Team hermit FTW!

I was not expecting how quickly I would see our sociopolitical stability in the USA unraveling. To be fair, the writing has been on the wall for a time, with hindsight guiding us. 

New potential threats loom in my mind, exacerbated by the expected ones related to climate change and the like. I didn’t think I’d be contemplating (another) American civil war in my lifetime. Many things point to the fact that we may already live in a failed state

I’m the first to admit I’m not near as prepared as I should be. There’s only so much 1.2 people (I say that as my husband does most of the work while I manage all that worldly stuff like bills, income, medical appointments, and social life) can do, especially on a lower fixed income. I help a little, but it’s mostly him. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I mostly left my traditional employment in 2021 too. That has meant that, though I consider myself financially independent (at poverty levels, we can eat and have a place to live), there’s not a lot of room to speed up our process. Prepping takes resources – time, money, or both. We have had a decent amount compared to many, but there’s a lot more we’d like to do.

Things feel “ok” on the home front. We could weather a few months of collapse in relative comfort (minus internet withdrawals). The beginnings of the Covid19 pandemic helped to show us that when we didn’t leave the house and went shopping once every month or two at most. 

Community, Community, Community

What was lacking in my life at the point I originally wrote this post was community. A lot has changed on that front as well.  

Me and my internet bestie (and remote platonic life partner), Angela, turned Women’s Personal Finance into a multi-pronged business in 2021. We have talked about it many times in various places regarding how we’ve contributed to community in many ways throughout our lives. But this time, we have been conscious and intentional in how we go about it.

As we built WPF, we watched our local and national communities fall apart. In some ways, maybe that’s a good thing. The pandemic and the Orange One helped strip us down to where we stand, and many of us were able to determine where our non-negotiables in life are. We’ve brought some of that nastiness from the shadows into the light, and maybe now we can deal with it.

Don’t get me wrong; I wish we weren’t this torn as a country. But, pleasantries and avoiding hard conversations haven’t worked to get us anywhere in the last few decades. So, in a small way, I’m glad that conversations that used to be relegated to only our best friends, and only those we trusted, can now take part in more open places. Once we can work through this profound visceral reaction to experiencing the truth of others, perhaps there is some hope that we can find some common ground again (though I’m characteristically pessimistic it will happen).

But back to community; we need more of it. That’s part of why I’m writing this extensive re-introduction and minor revisions to my post from 2018. As we’ve been working on building a community, we’ve realized that it’s a significant part of our resiliency strategies. It’s great to have that typical American attitude around rugged individualism, but we fully recognize that the collapse of society isn’t an all-or-nothing thing. 

We want everyone we care about to be at least thinking of ways that they can prepare for their futures, good or bad. Part of that is sharing our skills and what we’ve learned with our wider community. That includes what we’ve learned about money and functioning well-ish in this mashed-up mess of our economic system. It includes discussing ways to reduce your reliance on commercial food systems, starting as small as growing some potatoes in a barrel. It includes us pointing out that your abundance can help another and that they, in turn, might help you (we call that mutual aid). And it includes bridging audiences (so check us out on the Poor Proles streams in August 2022). 

Optimistic Nihilism FTW!

With that, I’ll move over and give you a glimpse of where my mind was in 2018. I’ve added a few comments here and there on life updates, though, not too many because I’m not known for my brevity. I hope you enjoy hearing how I have learned, grown, and become even more cynical while becoming ever more hopeful at once. I don’t call myself an optimistic nihilist for nothing.

Now, the (mostly) Original Version of the 2018 PrepperFI Post with 2022 Updates!

There is an interesting subset of people in the financial independence movement, and I guess I’m one of them. I’m going to call them the financial independence PREPPERS. The folks endeavoring at PrepperFI.

You’ve heard of preppers. You’ve probably seen some tv shows. They probably seem a little cooky at times.

I would sum up the group as people trying to prepare for the scary unknowns and a potentially problematic societal future. They might be prepping for a single major disaster event (or major localized disaster event). Or maybe they’re preparing for an unwelcome future due to socio-political changes that make us entirely rethink how our lives and society might look.

Most preppers are likely planning for any potential. Many have a “pet disaster” scenario they are most concerned about.

For my family, being mindful of prepping has had an excellent side effect: Aside from a few significant expenses along the way, preparing for the worst makes us more financially fit too! And it makes us better prepared to weather financial storms.

If you aren’t a prepper, maybe you should consider becoming one!

It Doesn’t Matter What You’re Prepping For or Why You’re Prepping

Being prepared is being prepared, and that’s a good thing!

We often discuss the future and our money in the personal finance world. But, how many of us are thinking about what it might mean if money didn’t mean anything anymore?

PrepperFI folks might be more inclined to invest in precious metals like gold and silver. Speaking of which, my husband keeps mentioning he wants to buy gold.

But I don’t mean invest in the market; I mean gold bars in your lock box because you want that gold in your hand in a TRUE prepper scenario. You want to be able to barter.

But let’s back up a bit before I start sounding too paranoid!

Most of the PrepperFI People That I’ve Encountered are Pretty Logical

We’re equally concerned about future environmental stresses on humanity as we are with politics and the global economic situation.

Most of us have a fair amount of trust in the markets, at least for the time being. Maybe you’d call it hedging your bets? Hope for the best but plan for the worst?

When people mention HUGE market downturns, I’m rarely concerned about the thought of losing money. If the global economic system were to collapse, I’m worried about war, looting, starvation…

I’m thinking MAD MAX.

Mad Max

Or, A Boy and His Dog

A Boy and His Dog, 1975

Or Tank Girl, to be a little more fun with our dystopia

Tank Girl (How I hope I look during the apocalypse) (2022 update, look getting closer!)

The fact is, populations are increasing, and tensions are rising. Ocean levels are rising. Bacteria are building resistance to our antibiotics. We’re due for another pandemic. We’re hugely reliant on technology. There is any number of things that can… that WILL… happen. Those things will make us rethink what society looks like. The question is simply when?

So What Have I Done About it?

Well, I’ve tried to go about my life in a mostly normal appearing way while balancing, in hopefully the most logical, sane way, thoughts of how we can best set ourselves up in the event society shattering circumstances (2022 update, I don’t really think my life looks that normal anymore since I quit traditional employment!).

Planned Location of Forever Home

When we sought to settle down and buy a home, we wanted to make sure that we got out of a “big” city. We weren’t in a huge metro area, but we were in a rapidly growing location centered on two major highways. There were also various military installations close enough that our area could have been a potential military target.

We wanted to go somewhere off the beaten paths and not on any escape route/mass exit path. In a disaster, we didn’t want people traveling directly toward us or blocking the highways.

We bought a property that is isolated by geographical barriers. There is an abundant national forest nearby, which means reduced human populations and lots of natural resources. We’re also really close to the ocean, another geographical barrier, and natural resource.

YES, a tsunami is a risk, but we are not personally at risk of a tsunami. Hopefully, our home is well-prepared enough to support ourselves and ride it out until community services are restored if a tsunami hits.

Our exact location is not at risk of rising oceans for a long time. By the time the oceans rose high enough to impact us… well… I’m sure Canada has enough space for all the Americans, right? And that would mean it’s so damn hot that we have bigger problems than higher ocean levels.

Forest fires are potentially a risk, but not traditionally so in our area. As climate change progresses, that could become an issue at some point (2022 update, there were fires on the Oregon Coast in 2020 and we were without power for days).

View out my window during the 2020 Oregon fires in September

In my forever location, we’re also in a lower-risk area for a nuclear bombing. There aren’t any significant targets nearby. If you’re interested in what could happen in your area during a nuclear attack (or an attack on the nearest likely target)… or you simply want to play Dr. Evil and go through every imaginable scenario of atomic destruction, check out

NukeMaps. This site can keep my husband busy for HOURS.

We Bought PROPERTY

It was VERY high on our list when planning a permanent location to have plenty of land. The more, the better. Of course, one has to be practical and consider the costs of land ownership. We almost bought something three times larger than we currently have but eventually backed out due to easement issues. I’m glad because it’s unlikely that we would have ever paid that place off!

One good thing about buying any abundance of land is that the price per acre goes down as you purchase larger property units, in typical bulk buyer fashion. Above 5 acres is the sweet spot in my area for when you begin to see much more land offered at a given price.

We opted to buy a smaller home to be able to afford more land. I wasn’t entirely happy about that at the time, but I’m learning to live in a smaller space that comes with plenty of benefits other people like to discuss. I’d still like my own quiet office space. 

Once you adapt to living in a smaller home, it does have benefits. Easier and cheaper to care for, clean, heat/cool, etc. Plus, if something ever happens to it, it’s cheaper to replace.

Our property is large enough and with enough wood that we will likely never need to purchase firewood. And yes, that means we heat our home in the winter with wood.

It also has enough land that, if need be, we could safely have enough animals to support a small family. It also came with a VERY small, but, importantly, year-round stream. In a disaster scenario, that small amount of running water could be vital to my family’s survival!

(2022 update – in a nice PrepperFI mix of finance, prepping, and community, we’ve been renting out campsites for 2 years now. We installed a great pit toilet (it’s super nice as far as pit toilets go), and we get to dial in how our property might support more people if needed while making some cash for ongoing improvements. Great use if you have larger properties. Check out HipCamp if you’d like to find properties like mine to camp at or want to rent out space on your property from cabins to tent sites).

PrepperFI can be pretty, with the prettiest pit toilet you ever did see

We’ve Been Thoughtful About Where We Make Some Large Purchases

For example, we bought a tractor. A tractor that cost over $30,000 with implements. But, do you have any idea how much back-breaking work or need to hire people to do things that tractor has saved us? It allows my husband to work (and improve it dramatically) mostly independently. And, if a disaster hits, we’ll be more prepared to handle problems on-site or have a bargaining chip tool/skill to offer others.

Gas is going to be the problem. Husband has his eyes open for a diesel fuel storage tank. And since it’s diesel, there are potential alternative fuel sources (2022 update – diesel tank procured, but not yet filled).

And, we bought a generator. To be fair on the generator, we also purchased this because we heard that it was common for the power to go out for days during winter storms. It hasn’t happened for more than a few hours in the years we’ve been here, but we’re ready. My husband even wired the house and the electrical panel, so all we have to do is flip a switch to convert it to generator power (2022 update – we’ve used the generator multiple times, most notably during the 2020 Oregon wildfires). 

We’re prepping for a large greenhouse. We’ll put in a greenhouse in our quest to become more self-sufficient and learn more skills. The site is prepared, but we’ve had other things going on, so we haven’t pulled the trigger on this (2022 update – we installed the greenhouse, high tunnel actually, in 2020 and grew in 2021, and now in 2022, a game changer for us on the coast!).

Me in the 30x50ft high tunnel with plants we grew from seed

We removed the forced air heating system and installed a wood stove. The ducts were rusted out anyway, and we have so much wood around the property that this seemed like a no-brainer. Plus, wood heats you twice, as they say… or more! Chop it, stack it, move it to the dry storage, and move it next to the house in the winter. That’s a lot of exercise!

We bought a three-month supply of dried food. We bought it on a Black Friday sale too! Three waterproof tubs. To each, we added a personal water filter. They live in my overpacked office. They have a TWENTY-FIVE YEAR shelf life! My son can start using them for solo camp trips once he becomes an adult if we still have them.

These are just some examples of our thoughtful purchases and upgrades!

We’re Educating Ourselves on Self-Sufficiency

Self-sufficiency education is an ongoing task, and we’re a little better every year. Both my husband and I grew up in the city. I didn’t have a garden, I didn’t have pets (except a backyard rabbit for about a year), and there wasn’t a lot of home cooking. All the skills I’ve acquired are self-taught.

At least in the city, my husband had a large garden in the backyard. His dad grew up POOR, like no shoes poor in the 1930s and 1940s (not uncommon at the time). Having come from a large family in a poor area and being a child during the depression, his dad kept his frugal values. My husband ate squirrel for Thanksgiving once and plenty of dandelion greens. Of course, once he could fend for himself, he abandoned all this and is relearning too.

I’ve learned to pressure can foods. I’ve learned to ferment foods to preserve and extend the use of my harvest (even without good refrigeration). We’ve learned to identify many harvestable and edible local plants and mushrooms. I already sell mushrooms I pick, which could be a valuable bartering tool. We don’t currently hunt, but we’re prepared and capable (in theory) of doing so should the need arise.

We’ve grown our flock of chickens to about 30 birds. That’s enough chickens to keep our family in eggs throughout the year. In the summer, we have enough to sell (or barter). If necessary, this should also be enough to keep our flock going indefinitely. If we chose to eat the chickens, we would likely let the flock grow larger and cull the roosters for eating. That’s a critical self-sustaining food source in a disaster situation.

My husband has expanded his “handy” skills. He has learned how to manage our forests for firewood. He can safely chop down a large tree on his own and has learned various wood storage and curing techniques. He’s learned more about building things on his own.

We Aim to be Less Technology-Dependent Than Your Average Family

We do stuff the hard way a lot. There is something to be said about the satisfaction of doing it yourself. Mostly, we’re just doing it to be cheap or frugal. But, so many of those times, we have learned a new skill in the process.

By we, I mostly mean my husband, to give credit where credit is due. He does most of the heavy lifting around here.

My husband doesn’t even use a cell phone. He currently has one, but he keeps it in the glove box of the truck he drives a few times a month (2022 update, I had to get a new phone when mine died in 2019, and it had a buy-one-get-one offer, so he’s got an iPhone now too and uses it more frequently, but still not a lot).

We plan to teach our child to be self-sufficient and not heavily reliant on technology.

The funny thing about our lifestyle is that the world COULD be blowing up outside, and we would have no idea. We’re just happy taking it easy at home.

We don’t get over-the-air television out here. We have no visible neighbors. Like Mr. Money Mustache, I have a “Low Information Diet” because it’s better for our mental health (2022 update: I no longer have a low-info diet thanks to existing as the owner of an online business with a heavy social media presence and a 60k member online community).

This low information diet, along with the two deep freezers and an amply stocked pantry, means that we regularly go over a week without leaving the property or getting any “info” (other than what we pickup online without trying). We would probably get the idea that “something” was going on if the internet went down… but some major shit could be going on, and we’d be blissfully ignorant (2022 update – we easily went a month between outings during the height of the 2020 pandemic).

Ok- aside story here. I *may* have watched too many apocalyptic movies because when I hear a weird loud noise outside or we get military doing ridiculously loud and fast jet maneuvers in the area now and then, I think… “Is this it? Did they drop the bomb?”

How Has This Made Us More Financially Fit?

Well, for one, we’re “easily entertained,” or maybe we have plenty to keep us busy at home. We don’t need to leave home often, so there aren’t many things we need to spend money on.

Many things we DO spend money on serve to educate us and help us save even more money in the future as we become more self-sufficient.

Some of those self-sufficiency skills, like identifying and foraging wild edibles and mushrooms, have netted me about $200 in sales this year!

The more we practice these skills, the more we’re happy with less. It’s a nice cycle of increasing self-sufficiency and increasing frugality. That’s an important point.

The Future… Doesn’t Look Bright.

I hate to say it, folks, but the times they are a-changing, and there’s not much we can do to stop it.

I don’t know if we’ll see a major change in my lifetime, but I brought a child into this world. Just one, mind you, because I AM concerned about our rapidly exploding population and if we can provide enough resources for humans and the rest of the ecosystem. More than my future, I’m concerned about his.

There is a good chance that at some point in my son’s lifetime, there are going to be some significant changes. Likely they will come slowly, but it could involve world governments trying to ensure that we don’t destroy ourselves.

Curious to see what’s going on in this area? Check out the United Nations Agenda 2030. They have a specific global action plan for ensuring we survive as a species, but as individuals, we’re probably not going to like what this looks like. I know I wouldn’t say I like it. It scares me. The scariest part is if some actions like this aren’t taken eventually, can we survive, let alone thrive as a species? There is a reason I’m not in politics. I don’t want to make those calls (2022 update, it’s a bit harder to find info on Agenda 2030 now, and there’s a lot of gross far-right attention drawn to it, which has made some people think it wasn’t real, so, reader beware if you research it).

I’m hoping our individual life choices will insulate us from some of the potential ill effects humans and the future could bring. Hopefully, we’d be better equipped to suffer the mental strain that could come with wide-reaching global environmental austerity measures.

Our self-sufficiency measures often make us more aware of our environmental impact. Sufficiency sure sounds a lot like efficiency, doesn’t it? The two do go hand in hand. We’ve become much more aware of our impact on the environment by living in a more natural environment daily.

Simple measures like controlling the amount of trash we produce so that we only have to go to the dump a couple of times a year have made us keenly aware of the amount of packaging and what a “throw-away” culture we have. Our society’s interest in single-use items (and even minimalism at times) are at odds with a proactive approach to our worsening environment.

Time to Join the PrepperFI Movement?

In my opinion, changes are likely to come slowly. The best thing you can do is keep enjoying your life and not stress it (2022 update, I’d like to reword this sentence because for many people, “enjoy your life” has turned into complete disassociation and ignoring of our problems. Please, don’t ignore, be active, and seriously, work on beefing up your community if nothing else). But DO be aware.

Increase your self-sufficiency skills. Waste less. Cook more. Try to become a more intentional and thoughtful consumer. DON’T go out and buy a whole bunch of “prepper” supplies. Supplies won’t do anything for you if you don’t know how to use them! 

And keep aiming for financial independence. In the early stages of any profound change, being beholden to others due to your financial constraints could be the most significant factor that holds you and your family back from taking actions that ensure the best possible outcomes.

Happy PrepperFI-ing!

(Check out the actual original of this post HERE)

3 thoughts on “PrepperFI 2022: Taking Control of Your Future Beyond Just Money”

  1. Pingback: Six Years of Lean FIRE - The Frugal Humanist

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