PrepperNomics 107:  Budgeting for Preppers

PrepperNomics 107:  Budgeting for Preppers

In an earlier post on Supply Categories, I outlined the categories I use for planning and inventorying supplies. We can use those categories for preparing a Prepper Budget.

Variable Costs

Consumables have a Variable Cost depending on the length of time, and number of people, you intend to have preps for.  Want to extend your preps to be able to go a month longer without resupply?  You need more supplies.

We can now go category by category, to figure out an estimated per man-month cost for each category.  Note that we are calculating costs here, not how long it will take to pay for these supplies.

Water:  Water is cheap but there is cost to storage containers, filters, cleaning agents like bleach, etc.  I would suggest budgeting $10 to $20 per person per month for water or supplies.  Also, figure out how much you can store before you need a renewable source.

Food:  I tend to go for five-gallon buckets for food storage.  While most preppers determine food needs in calories, I have tried to simplify this into buckets.  I estimate the need for a person per month to be 2 buckets and the cost to be $50 to $100 per bucket, depending on what type of food is in the bucket.

Hygiene: You need cleaning supplies for yourself and your surroundings.  I estimate $50 per person per month.

Medical/First Aid: First Aid supplies, prescriptions for chronic medications and antibiotics, more extensive supplies if you know how to use them.  I’ll use $25 for this category.

Energy:  Depending on where you are you need heat for home and cooking, transportation, and electronic gizmos.  I estimate I will need $50 to $80 for this figure.

Ammunition:  Ammunition can be categorized by caliber, which is one reason to standardize calibers, and an Ammunition Budget developed.  For this exercise we’ll plan on $50 per month.


For consumables, we can now figure out how much we require to support a MAG member for a month.  Here is my budget based on the figures so far.

Category Amount per Person per Month
Water $10 to $20
Food $100 to $200
Hygiene $50
Medical/First Aid $25
Energy $50 to $80
Ammunition $50
Total $285 to $425

We simply need to multiply these figures by the number of people, and the number of months, we have set as a goal.  Remember that these are not the amounts we need to spend per month, but the amounts we need to set aside to reach our man-month supply goal.  If a prepper can afford to spend $100 a month and has a goal of being prepared for a single $425 month of preps, it will take him 4 to 5 months to accumulate his one man-month of preps.

If the same prepper is responsible for a family of 4, and wants to be prepared for 3 months, he is now looking at 60 months of saving and acquiring, or five years, to achieve his goal.  ($425 * 4 people * 3 man-months * 5 months of saving)  I think this illustrates why it is so difficult to become truly long term prepped, while living a normal life!

If you choose to use different categories, you need estimates for your categories, not the ones I use.  Your estimates should be personalized to your group and situation as well.

Fixed Costs

Durables have a Fixed Cost that doesn’t change with the length of time you are prepped for.  Once you purchase it, you’re covered.  Having a longer SHTF event, doesn’t increase your cost.

Budgeting for Durables is much simpler than for Consumables as you don’t need to budget for replacement.  You buy it once, or once plus a backup, and you are done.  However, you may still need multiples for the number of MAG members for certain categories such as firearms.  In my case Shelter is simply a few tents as I have not acquired a separate BOL.  For a long-term event, we would go to relatives in a Bug Out scenario.  If your BOV is your daily driver you can zero out that one as well.  I happen to be fixing up a dedicated BOV.  For now, I will assume a cost of $1,000 per person.

As a result, we are looking at the following one-time Fixed Costs for our hypothetical family of four.

Category Amount per person People Factor
Firearms $1,000 4
Clothing $500 4
Shelter $5 4
Transportation $1,000 4
Communication $50 4
Tools and Materials $500 4
Library $500 4
Total (family of 4) $14,220

This is pretty expensive.  We are talking about $14,220 of one-time fixed expenses plus up to $425 per person per month, or $1,700 of variable costs, for our family of four per month, $20,400 for a year for that same family. We could lower the cost by using a daily driver for our Bug Out Vehicle (BOV), but having a dedicated Bug Out Location (BOL) would be more expensive.  This set of numbers is merely an illustration of what a typical prepper’s budget might be.

You are free to change the categories for your own planning, or change the estimates based on your own circumstances.


Prepping is a ridiculously expensive endeavor if you want to be prepped for a long period of time, or for a large number of people.  Unless you are very wealthy, or win the lottery, a significant level of preparation will take you years to achieve.  The best bet is to start early, and stick with it.

The good news is that if you are partially prepped, you are much better off than the guy who isn’t prepared at all.  In order to optimize your spending, I suggest that you acquire your first month of consumables before you give any consideration to durables.  As your consumables begin to accumulate, you can give some thought to durables, then stagger your purchases of durables while continuing to accumulate consumables, always watching for price fluctuations that work in your favor.

You can also see why I view prepping as a multi-generational activity, and have recommended a Prepper Estate. Give your kids and grandkids a head start so they can eventually become better prepared than yourself.


Paranoid Prepper

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