How I Formed A Mutual Assistance Group

Some have wondered how I wound up with a group of 20 to prep for, and have voiced the opinion that the MAG is either a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on their own point of view.

The short answer is I didn’t set out to form a group at all.  The group exists whether I prep or not.  We all have friends, family, neighbors that we care about.  If there is someone in my life I care about enough that I would not turn them away during SHTF, and they are likely to show up, then they are part of my Mutual Assistance Group (MAG).  I may or may not choose to tell them, mostly depending on whether I think they can maintain some degree of OPSEC, but they are in regardless.

We all have people in our lives, whether we admit it or not.  Meanwhile, on various prepper forums threads start on “How Do I find a MAG without breaking OPSEC?”  The disconnect is hoping to find someone who will take part of the load.  Folks are looking to get more help than they are willing to provide.  Once you realize the key is to give more than you expect to receive, the issue becomes clear.  People who are less prepared are all around, and OPSEC is your only concern.

The other issue is recognition that you will never be completely prepared.  However, it is better to be 50% prepared than not prepared at all.  Once you realize:

  1. I am not going to turn these people away.
  2. I will never be completely prepared, but I can do better over time, and that is worth doing.

Then you are on your way.

So how do you plan for this?  Start with a sheet of paper and make a list of family members, especially those who do not live with you, e.g. grown children, siblings, etc.  Some may not be a concern because they live far away.  It is not a problem to drop them off your list if they are unlikely to show up.  However, if you have any households of relatives that are close by, you have the following choices:

  1. Talk to them about preparing, and hope they will contribute. Hope they don’t break your OPSEC.  In my own case I have some young adults in my MAG.  They can certainly prepare a BOB and acquire a couple buckets of rice and beans.  I have advised them to do that.  I will talk about more if they do that much.  If not, there is nothing to be gained by further discussion.
  2. Decide you are simply going to prepare for them and add them to your count. In my case, this includes grandchildren, and people that come with someone I am planning for, e.g. that young adult with a BOB.  He or she has family too.
  3. Decide you really will turn them away. In my case, this is anyone not on the list of who is in the MAG.

Next consider close friends in the same manner.  The number of friends you have that are so close that you will prep for them is likely to be small, but it may be another household or two.  Go through the same process.

I wound up with 20 people on my list.  You may have fewer, or you may have more, but there will be people that you cannot turn away.

Now you may be saying to yourself “I can’t afford to prep for all these people.”  That’s probably true.  However, your alternative is not prepping for them.  If nothing happens, it all works out.  😊  If what you are prepping for actually occurs, what are you going to do when they show up?

You may also be thinking “This doesn’t help!  I need people who can contribute, not just a bigger responsibility!”  That’s also true, but every other prepper has the same issue, whether they acknowledge it or not.  Let’s say you form a MAG with 3 other families.  You think they are all in good shape.  SHTF occurs and every family shows up as 10 people instead of 4, including you.  Now what?

I need to stock up on diapers!  😊

Doesn’t it make more sense to be realistic about what is going to happen, rather than to plan to turn people away that you are never going to turn away?  Maybe you think you can prep for a family of 4 for a year and stock food accordingly.  You wind up with 16.  The food is good for 3 months.  You are in exactly the place you were all along.  The issue is you weren’t realistic about your circumstances.

This isn’t a bad thing.  You are in 3 months better shape than most other people.  You just aren’t where you thought you were.  You can figure this out now, while everything is calm, or you can figure it out after TEOTWAWKI when your mother in law shows up.  😊

Once you have a count, you can start to prep for them with your eyes wide open.

There are some contingencies worth noting.  What happens if someone in your MAG doesn’t show up?  Your preps go further, or you can take in someone else you weren’t expecting who does show up.  What happens if there is no SHTF event?  Then you leave a nice Prepper Estate.  What happens if someone breaks OPSEC?  Despite your best efforts, that will probably happen.  Deal with it.  However, it is less likely to occur with a bunch of family members than lesser acquaintances that you thought might be preppers.

I am not where I would like to be with my preps, and I have way too many people to prep for.  I may never get to where I want to be.  However, when my family shows up in the middle of TEOTWAWKI, I will be happy to see them, and not tearing myself up inside trying to figure out what to do in the middle of a crisis.  Furthermore, I will continue to prep, continuously improving toward the goal I have set for myself.

Hopefully, more preppers will start to think this way.  Once they do, forming MAGs will cease to be a concern.  Prepping for the MAG will be the concern.

Paranoid Prepper


  1. Well, most people have at least some connections, and hopefully you will have some friends and family in the future. A 24/7 watch schedule is tough to maintain without a few people. 🙂 I suggest that you at least prep for a couple, so that you are prepped for a future spouse. Good luck.

  2. So how did you form a “mutual assistance group”?
    This article is (basically) about storing more than you need and becoming the family charity which is all well and good but has nothing to do with vetting out, helping prepare, or discussing mutual assistance with anyone.

    • Are you willing to tell family members “go die.”? If not, and if you really believe prepping is necessary, then they are part of your group, whether they also prep or not. How many people are in your group? Do you have family that are not in your group? What are you going to do if/when they show up when SHTF?
      The point I am trying to make is regardless of what you think a “mutual assistance group” is, or should be doing, you need to consider whether you are being realistic about who you are already responsible for.

      • My .02 cents on this

        My prepping group consists basically of family and a couple of close friends known to be 100-percent reliable.

        There’s myself, Spice, my sister Mammy & her husband “The Man Of The House” (TMOTH), plus her son and his family. That’s it.

        Mammy and I are VERY similar in our outlooks, and in many way we are the kind of siblings that can finish each other’s sentences.

        Having said that, we do have non-family members as well, people who we got to know over years and who we slowly sounded out until it became pretty obvious that we were compatico.

        I think Paranoid Prepper is right, if we have family that we won’t let die then we have, in fact, formed our group whether the other members realize it or not. Fortunately for me, Mammy and TMOTH are prepping-compatible and they are taking care of business (moved to a better location, better state, etc.).

        Spice’s family are different, they are very VERY self reliant as a whole, and if the SHTF they will band together in their location and look out for each other… so we are feeling good about that.

        I think a lot of people miss out one crucial point: If there are people you will not let starve if the SHTF, they are in your group already. If they don’t prep, well… we had better prep for them. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it’s where the rubber hits the road.

        • You’ve definitely got the point, and have the good fortune to have a family of like minded individuals. If you’re the first in your family to recognize the need, then your position is more like mine.

  3. I live in a country where prepping is considered “odd” and even a little bit “weird”, if you add all the preppers, survivalists, homesteaders(we call them Smallholders) off gridders, back to the landers, they would still only amount to a FRACTION of 1%, most of the population live for today, the next foreign holiday and they are all heavily in debt, have no savings. these sorts of people will not survive WTSHTF, they are not self sufficient and self reliance is a dirty word.

  4. i’m a lone wolf, i’m better off on my own, I don’t do people-their just a pain in the butt, now a dog or two is a different matter.

  5. M A G is an activity I have problems with. They have to be mutual support, but separate resources. Otherwise, anyone can be kick out of the group without the resources they contributed to the group. YES, this will happen. As resources dwindle, harmony will disappear..

    • I understand your concern. If you form a group of acquaintances, without other close ties, there is going to be friction over unequal contributions and probably other factors. This is why I have chosen to create my group around family. I don’t expect my children and grandchildren to contribute equally. I’m also not going to kick family members out of the house, mid-crisis.

      In order to feel good about the group, you need to be willing to give more than your fair share because the contributions will not be equal. On the other hand, if you can’t turn someone away, they are in your group, whether you call it a mutual assistance group or something else.

  6. This is close to what I have done. I have given lists of priority of things to bring to those I have invited to come and join us. Some will be able to make it some will not. Some will be able to bring some of the things, some not anything, others that think more like me will bring almost all the things on the lists. Those invited are family, some friends and some neighbors and some skilled people (doctors, law enforcement and other specific skills). But a big part of my plan is to include the whole community I live in. But do that after the fact. Here is why: we live in a valley with one road in on end and out the other. This valley has approximately 2000 acres with several farms with cattle, hogs, chickens, horses, mules and various pieces of farm equipment and resources. About half of this valley has a river around it. I know the number of people here now and know some about most of them.I know the number of buildings, houses, barns, cabins, shops, etc. I know where there are three springs and we are all on well water. In this community we have all we need to survive, if we work together and can defend it from outsiders. That will be part of my pitch to all the neighbors. If they won’t join us then those friends and family will stay on our end of the valley about 600-600 acres and make a go of it.

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