The Survival Mom » Budget Tips http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Thu, 28 May 2015 07:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 STOP! Don’t Throw Away These Treasures! http://thesurvivalmom.com/dont-throw-trash-into-treasure/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/dont-throw-trash-into-treasure/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 07:00:23 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22212 Storage and preparation can both be pretty expensive. It would be a shame to throw away items that would save us money when you can turn your trash into treasures, but that’s what we do every day. Many items that we throw out can be used to create tools and even appliances that we could […]

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Stop! Don't Throw Away These Treasures! Turn Your Trash Into Treasures.Storage and preparation can both be pretty expensive. It would be a shame to throw away items that would save us money when you can turn your trash into treasures, but that’s what we do every day. Many items that we throw out can be used to create tools and even appliances that we could use in our storage, while camping and in emergency situations.

Turn Your Trash Into Treasures.

Soda And Juice Bottles

bottlesSoda bottles are great for storing water in, but that isn’t all they are good for. They can be cut into other tools as well. Just cut the top half off and turn it upside down and that soda bottle can become a funnel. You can also cut it into a scoop. The top can be used as the scoops handle. Use different sized bottles to get different sized funnels and scoops.

Twist Ties,  Rubber Bands, And Grocery Bags

Sometime we need to seal opened items in our storage. We use bucket and old oatmeal canisters (another good item to keep off the throw away list). When you don’t have those items available there are some temporary but quick fixes to sealing storage items. For items like an open flour or sugar bag, place a grocery bag over the top to of the open ingredient bag and slide a few rubber bands over the two, leaving plenty of space before the end of the grocery bag.

Items such as small open bags of rice or beans use twist ties to re-close them and them keep them in a tied grocery bag. This reduces the chance of creepy crawlies finding their way into your small open bags. Find ways to use these items before other items in your  storage.

Candle Wax

That wax left over from candles can be used to water proof matches. You just melt the wax and dip the matches in. You could tie ten matches together and water proof them all at once, but I have found the water proofing is more complete when each match is dipped individually. Lay them out on wax paper to dry.

Jars

Candle jars are the best type of garbage to keep around. You can use them to sort nuts and bolts. You can use them as a resealable grease jar when saving drippings to make your own candles. They can be used for storing dry goods. All in all they hit the double use jackpot.

You can also reuse old food jars to can your next generation of food storage. You just need to clean and sterilize them. YouTube has a great video for this: How to Sterilize and re-use old glass jars for preserves and jam.

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Paper

Junk mail, newspaper and old school papers can be shredded and pulped to create your own recycled paper. An easy YouTube video to follow for this: How to make recycling paper. I spread the pulp over a screen (like a window screen)instead of plastic wrap. I feel it gets the water out of the paper pulp faster.  Then you let it dry in the sun and remove it from the screen. It may be thicker than store bought paper, but you have your own home made recycled paper. This paper can also be used to make all sorts of other items that you may need ranging from bags to baskets from following the directions of YouTube videos.

Boxes

Always save boxes. Boxes simply used as they were meant to be used is enough reason to keep them, but they can be used for other things as well. Boxes can be used for storage containers. They can also be used to transport storage items.

Boxes can also be used as the main body of a box oven. The best video I have found for instruction in making a box oven is on YouTube: Gourmet Cooking in the Wild- Box Oven Chicken. This video not only shows how to construct the oven, but also shows how to cook a chicken in the oven.

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52 Weeks Savings Plan: April discounts are here! http://thesurvivalmom.com/52-weeks-savings-plan-april-discounts/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/52-weeks-savings-plan-april-discounts/#respond Sun, 05 Apr 2015 20:17:08 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22482 Spring is here and with it comes lots of fun and activity in April – and lots of great things on sale. Don’t let the joke fall on you on April 1. April sales are no laughing matter! Passover starts April 3 and Easter is April 5. Taxes are due April 15. Earth Day and […]

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52 Weeks savings plan discountsSpring is here and with it comes lots of fun and activity in April – and lots of great things on sale. Don’t let the joke fall on you on April 1. April sales are no laughing matter!

Passover starts April 3 and Easter is April 5. Taxes are due April 15. Earth Day and Administrative Professionals Day is April 22. Arbor Day is April 24.

TIP: Expect a tax refund this year? Now is the time to start thinking how you would use any tax refunds you may receive.

Awesome food sales to expand your pantry

The biggest food sales are going to happen right after Easter. Ham, candy, baking items (like flour, yeast, chocolate chips, mixes and frosting), eggs, mustard, pre-made breads and dough, pies and pie crusts should be on sale. Organic foods and mushrooms are also April food sale items. You should find deals on produce like lettuce, red peppers and tomatoes if the weather stays warm where they are grown.

One friend buys pastel colored Easter candies and then uses them for different holiday celebrations during the year. Pink foil wrapped Hershey Kisses, for example, are perfect for Mother’s Day, a wedding shower, or a girl’s birthday party. Pastel M&Ms can be separated into different colors for different holidays and celebrations. If you’ll be storing chocolate candies long term, be sure to check out the video at the bottom of this article.

Produce in season for April are:

  • bananas
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • green beans
  • honeydew melon
  • lettuce
  • mangos
  • mushrooms
  • onions
  • leeks
  • peas
  • pineapple
  • rhubard
  • spinach
  • strawberries

Household sales to assist your 52 Weeks Savings Plan goals

Indoor kitchen appliances will go on sale as people move to cook outside with nice weather. Consumer Reports can help you compare appliances, models, prices, and product reviews.


Cookware, cookie cutters and Easter-themed linens, plates and supplies round out the kitchen deals for the month. Pastel colored paper goods are nice for stocking up since they can be used for birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, Mother’s Day, and more.

Rain gear, swim gear, spring clothing, sneakers and winter gear (coats, boots, clothing) go on sale in April. Winter bedding is also on sale before it clears off the shelves.

Spring beauty products will also be on sale. If you find these at super-bargain prices, they’re great for stocking up, long term since they generally have long shelf lives.

Spring cleaning will prompt sales on organic and natural cleaners, as well as vacuums. Deals can also be found on home improvement supplies this month. With spring storms and hurricane season ahead of us, check into what supplies you might need to storm-proof your home. It’s better to do it now, before your home is actually hit with devastating weather.

Sales after Easter can supply various crafts and gifts for the upcoming year – baskets, ribbon, decorations, toys and stuffed animals will be on sale. Almost anything that can be used to fill an Easter basket can be used for future birthday party gifts, a rainy day craft or even stocking stuffers. Also, Easter outfits can be bought for future fancy occasions, like upcoming weddings, or for next year’s holiday in a bigger size or two.

Outside the house

Lawn mowers will be on sale this month before the grass starts growing long and people need them. Garden supplies and outdoor furniture will be on sale as well. Garden centers and nurseries will probably have good deals on loss leaders to get people into their locations with the hopes that they will buy more.

Websites, such as Monrovia.com, offer information about plants, growing seasons, and sometimes coupon codes and in-store discounts. Since this is garden season, establishing a garden can be expensive, so shop around and do your research before plunking down a lot of money.

Car care is also an April deal focus. Tires, auto parts and car care supplies will be on sale. Planning a road trip this summer? Prices might be at their lowest for getting your vehicle all prepped and ready for a safe trip.

Electronics

April is a good month to look at electronics because it is the end of the fiscal year in Japan. Computers, laptops, TVs, tablets, digital cameras, etc., are among the items that will have discounts. Think ahead to upcoming gift-giving holidays – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduations – and see if you can find a good deal, along with their accessories.

For preparedness uses, ebook readers, loaded up with survival manuals, fiction, and free classic novels are perfect for Faraday cage storage.

Sports and Fitness

Indoor fitness equipment will still be on sale this month as people start exercising more outdoors with nice weather. You may see deals on summer activity gear as the stores start gearing up for the season – kiddie pools (see 15 prepared uses for kiddo pools), sidewalk chalk, bicycles and swim gear.

Events and Travel

April is Stress Awareness Month and with that comes Spa Week from April 13 to 19. Spas across the country will offer 1 hour massages for $50. For more information, visit www.spaweek.com.

Check local events for any Arbor Day or Earth Day celebrations. Some communities will offer free festivals with family-friendly events, and there might even be free plant or tree giveaways. Also check your local nurseries or parks for free gardening classes. You can even try doing an Internet search for free seeds and see if any companies are giving away sample seeds. There have been a few giving away free seed packet for bee and butterfly gardens.  Home improvement stores will start offering free classes for children on the weekends.

National Parks offer free access April 18 to 19 to celebrate the opening weekend of National Park Week. If you are thinking of going on vacation, now is the time to contact the local chamber of commerce or visitor’s center and ask for free brochures and see if they have any free events coming up.

As you do your spring cleaning, assess what you have and see if you have enough to do a yard sale.

 

By the end of April, you should have $153 saved if you’re following the weekly savings plan (17 weeks). If you have extra right now, perhaps going to a higher week in the chart and putting that money away would be a smart thing to do.

Saving money is a daily lifestyle and the key is having a good attitude. Don’t focus on what you can’t do – focus on what you can do and what you can enjoy. Take pride in what you have already saved up and learn from any mistakes. Take each day as it comes and keep saving!

Take advantage of April’s deals and enjoy the sunshine spring brings. Come back next month to see what deals May offers to help you save AND prepare!

Other resources for you:

Survival Mom’s Hurricane Preparedness Pinterest board

Survival Mom’s Tornado Preparedness Pinterest board

Survival Mom’s Spring Survival Pinterest board

The official Survival Mom 52 Weeks Savings Plan Pinterest board

52 Weeks Savings Club Facebook group

 

 

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52 Weeks Savings Plan: Watch for these March sales! http://thesurvivalmom.com/march-sales-discounts/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/march-sales-discounts/#respond Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:00:19 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=21772 March brings with it the promise of spring and some special March sales on purchases that can help you both prepare and save money. Two holidays that will generate some special savings are St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, and Palm Sunday, on March 28. We have a late Easter this year, but retail stores […]

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What to buy in March -- deals and steals to help you stay on your budget. www.TheSurvivalMom.comMarch brings with it the promise of spring and some special March sales on purchases that can help you both prepare and save money. Two holidays that will generate some special savings are St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, and Palm Sunday, on March 28. We have a late Easter this year, but retail stores will still be pushing Easter related discounts.

Food sales to watch for

You may still be able to find some Valentine’s candy and decorations tucked away in stores. Remember to store them in airtight containers, away from light and heat. Mason jars work very well for candy and can be sealed with a jar attachment for Food Saver machines. I prefer the wide mouth attachment and using wide mouth jars, just because they are easier to fill.

With St. Patricks’ Day on March 17, you will find corned beef and cabbage, carrots and eggs on sale March 18. You can buy at least two corned beefs and have one for dinner and freeze one or more for later. Cabbage is good to make and can sauerkraut and there will be some really great discounts on cabbage and potatoes. There may also be St. Patrick’s Day treats, baked goods and alcohol sets on sale.

Stocking up on alcohol, even if you’re a teetotaler, can be helpful for making things like tinctures. I’ve stocked up on vodka, in particular, because of its many non-martini uses.

March is also National Frozen Food Month. There will be deals on all varieties of frozen foods and coupons in the newspapers and online for these items. With proper storage, frozen food can last a very long time. You may want to vacuum seal items that you plan to keep for more than 6 months. Some fruits and vegetables are even fresher when they have been frozen at their peak.

And, dehydrating frozen food is the easiest thing ever. You’ll need a food dehydrator, it can be inexpensive or top of the line, and bags of frozen fruits and veggies. Here are details for drying that food. Be sure to store it in either vacuum sealed canning jars or vacuum sealer bags, and keep in a dark, dry, and cool location.

Some good online coupon sites are:

Fish and seafood will also be on sale this month as it’s the Lenten season. These can be canned using a pressure canner. Follow the safest canning instructions.

According to Premeditated Leftovers, these produce items often go on sale in March:

  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • artichokes
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbages
  • chard
  • celery
  • leeks
  • collard/mustard greens
  • fava beans
  • chicories-radicchio
  • sunchokes
  • spring garlic
  • spring onion
  • lemon
  • blood oranges
  • red grapefruit
  • tangerines
  • navel oranges
  • kiwi
  • d’anjou pears
  • strawberries

Produce in season are the following according to Premeditated Leftovers. You might be able to buy them in bulk from food co-ops, such as Bountiful Baskets, and at farmers markets.

  • apricots
  • bitter melon
  • honeydew
  • limes
  • mango
  • oranges
  • pineapple
  • strawberries
  • broccoli
  • lettuce
  • zucchini
  • rhubarb
  • artichokes
  • asparagus
  • okra
  • spring peas
  • yellow, white and red onions

Household bargains in March

Winter gear may still be on sale in some places, but you will start to see the spring and summer gear taking their place. Linens and blankets may also be on clearance. Calendars and planners should be leaving the shelves this month, so look for deep discounts on those items.

With spring around the corner, people will start thinking about spring cleaning. Cleaning supplies, as well as home fragrance supplies, will go on sale. Fragrance items will include candles, diffusers and sprays. These make great gifts, so stock up on a few for early Christmas shopping.

Humidifiers will still be on sale this month, too. If you have ever been congested, you know how handy humidifiers can be. If you find a good deal, it wouldn’t hurt to have one as a back-up.

Jewelry can often be found on sale in March because there is not an occasion like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day creating a demand. If you can find a deal, you can stock up on future gifts or stash things away for bartering purposes.

St. Patrick’s Day is another good time to find plates, napkins, tablecloths and decorations. Think ahead to Easter and see if any of the toys could be used in Easter baskets. Green tissue paper could be cut up and used as Easter grass or saved for Christmas.

Electronics

Digital cameras and small consumer electronics (MP3 players, DVD and Blu-ray players, etc.) should be on sale this month, along with TVs, to make room for new models. These items can be used for entertainment and for documenting household inventory. Most digital cameras also have video recorders on them. Having an MP3 player and/or portable DVD player in your shelter area or bug out bag could provide comfort (or distraction) for children during an emergency situation.

Video games might also be on sale this month as the holiday sales have started to wind down and the games are now considered “old.” You might also be able to find used copies of recently released games in stores. Video game systems and accessories may also be on sale, too.

While The Survival Mom isn’t a huge fan of video games and reliance on electronics, they can make our lives easier in many ways. If you find a really good bargain on these, consider buying them to store in a Faraday cage.

Sports and fitness gear for the

Gym memberships and workout equipment will go on sale in March as people start going outdoors more. Getting in your best physical shape possible is an important part of being prepared.

Winter sports gear, including ski and snowboard equipment, will be on sale since it’s the end of the season, but in many parts of the country, it’s going to be a while before the snow melts!

Travel Bargains

Luggage goes on sale in March since it is not considered a big travel month. A new set of luggage is a great wedding or graduation gift, and if you find a really sturdy suitcase on heavy-duty wheels, consider it for an emergency kit/bug out bag option.

March can be the best time to find a weekend getaway deal or cash in miles for an airline ticket. Since it’s the end of the ski season, you can find deals on lift tickets and at ski resorts. Again, these are fun excursions for anyone, but for the penny-pincher, they make great gifts AND you’ll be saving money.

By the end of March, you should have $78 saved if you’re following the weekly savings plan. If you have extra right now, perhaps going to a higher week in the chart and putting that money away would be a smart thing to do. You can  make the 52 Weeks Savings Plan work for you with a little customizing!

The key to being a winner when it comes to saving money is to pinch pennies wherever you can with purchases and then put even small amounts saved in your savings stash.

TIP: Now is the time to start thinking how you would use any tax refunds you may receive.

Enjoy March and its deals, but look forward to April when we’ll see some great bargains tied to Easter (April 5) and spring to help you save AND prepare!

Resources mentioned in this article

 

 

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30 Uses for Phone Books http://thesurvivalmom.com/30-uses-for-phone-books/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/30-uses-for-phone-books/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:00:56 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=21373 We all get them dropped off one (or more) times every year — big, thick phone books. But what to do with them now that we just look up phone numbers on Google or we have them stored in our cell phones? Here are some creative uses for phone books our readers came up with for […]

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Use unwanted phone books in lots of creative ways!  www.TheSurvivalMom.comWe all get them dropped off one (or more) times every year — big, thick phone books. But what to do with them now that we just look up phone numbers on Google or we have them stored in our cell phones?

Here are some creative uses for phone books our readers came up with for phone books – actual, paper phone books.

In the House

Emergency toilet paper (Note: may not be the best for your pipes or septic system.)

Stack them under the table cloth to elevate a nice centerpiece.

Fold pages at angle from top outside corner to mid at center to make a door stop

Bullet-proof your house! Build 6-foot book shelves along all exterior walls within your house and line them with phone books. They make the best bullet stops there is, and it makes you look like an intellectual.when people stop by. Another option to do build these “bookshelves” alongside the front and back doors. It’ll give you something to duck behind when you have unwanted company…with guns.

Stack them to create a make-shift booster seat.

Insulation

Washing windows

Hollow one or two out to make some hidey holes for valuables

Wrap Christmas decorations and other fragile items to protect them in storage or shipment.

Wrap compost in  it to carry to the bin, then just throw the whole thing in so you don’t have to worry about washing a dish or bucket out.

Uses for phone books in arts & crafts

Floor cover for little artists

Tear out the pages and use them for papier mâché

Coat pages in petroleum jelly. Roll them up and dip them in wax. Makes emergency candles that are also waterproof.

As a teenager I would use them as scrap books. Cover them with all kinds of art.

Save them and turn it into paper snow flakes. It’s what I do with my used non returnable textbooks

Pattern paper

Origami practice

Outdoors, Fires, and Animals (Pets)

Firestarters

Target practice

You can pack them in a box or wrap them up together for a safe backstop for dry fire practice with a gun.

Bullet penetration/expansion tests

Mix with ashes and lamp oil or kerosene to make fire logs

Tear out a few pages and stuff them into empty toilet paper tubes. Great firestarter.

Cage liners, especially shredded, for rabbits, birds, feral cats, etc. (better if mixed with hay)

Lay under tomatoes, under the straw for weed help

Tear them up and use them to smother weeds, putting mulch on top. Works better than the black plastic stuff, and the best part is that they degrade completely.

Use with this awesome tool to never run out of seed pots!

Shred for compost (except for the cover, which was probably treated with chemicals)

Worm bin

And the most shocking answer of all:

Using a phone book for its intended purpose is better than a smart phone. The phone book gives you more choices and you’ll always have it handy. Use a PostIt Note to bookmark pages you use most often, and if your eyesight isn’t the best, keep a magnifying glass handy!

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Protect your canning jar investment http://thesurvivalmom.com/protect-that-canning-jar-investment/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/protect-that-canning-jar-investment/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 08:00:01 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=21378 I have a problem. Well, I have more than one but this one plagues me on a continual basis.  In my house we have 16 feet.  160 toes and a TON of socks.  So many socks that I’ve given up on sorting and mating them.  Instead they just get tossed into the sock bin.  If […]

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Protect your canning jars from breakage with these tips. | www.TheSurvivalMom.comI have a problem. Well, I have more than one but this one plagues me on a continual basis.  In my house we have 16 feet.  160 toes and a TON of socks.  So many socks that I’ve given up on sorting and mating them.  Instead they just get tossed into the sock bin.  If someone needs socks, they must go to ‘the bin’.

So how did my sock bin end up helping me protect my canning jars? Here’s the whole story.

It’s not a pleasant thing to go to the bin in search of a pair of matching socks because it means several minutes of searching for two that match. The bin is the bane of my existence.  It stares at me whenever I walk past taunting me. “SORT ME” it says. Being the stubborn soul that I am, it gets ‘dissed’ by me nearly every time.

…Until this last time. Not sure why it won this time around, but it was particularly persuasive.  It could have been that my 9 year old daughter was sucked in by  it’s tendrils or just that it was time.  So I sat down and started sorting.

My infamous sock bin.

My infamous sock bin.

Now this is not just a little bin. Seriously, my 11 year old could get in this bin with the lid closed, and often we’d see a cat or two perched on top of the sea of socks. I dug in and was determined to tackle this monster.

You might be wondering why you’ve had to sit through my sock tale.  Well for one, I want the world to know that “I SORTED THE SOCK BIN”  (taking a bow). This is a huge accomplishment, and secondly, the ones that didn’t find a mate still have a food storage related purpose, a useful life left in them.

Protecting your canning jar investment with socks, of all things!

We are going to recycle those socks into something that can help protect our investment.  We put a lot of time, energy and money into our food storage when we bottle something.  This can all be for naught if these jars get knocked around at all.  Glass likes to break if bumped too hard.

TIP: Have you ever thought of canning, or bottling, meat?

I live in earthquake country and at some point, the ground on which I stand is going to start shaking.  If my bottles aren’t ready for that shaking, I’m going to have a big mess and HUGE loss on my hands.

Here is the simple process I used to transform those mismatched socks into something I could use.

Step #1: Cut sock into four parts as shown.

Tutorial for transforming a mismatched sock into a canning jar protector. SurvivalMom.com

Cut sock into 4 parts as shown.

Step #2: Toss out the toe and heel portions of the cut-apart sock and save the other two sections for use.

Tutorial for transforming a mismatched sock into a canning jar protector. SurvivalMom.com

These are the sock parts you want to keep.

 

Step #3: Use the sock parts as illustrated to help protect your canning jars.

Tutorial for transforming a mismatched sock into a canning jar protector. SurvivalMom.com

Tutorial for transforming a mismatched sock into a canning jar protector. SurvivalMom.com

Other techniques I’ve discovered for protecting jars

Now there are some great commercial products on the market but I don’t have a ton of money to spend on those, If you do, great!  but I’d rather spend that money on more food for my family. So here are some easy and cheap ways.

Bottle box: Save the boxes that the jars came in,  The cardboard dividers will provide some protection from breakage.

Rubberbands:  Remember this post?  Well here’s another use for rubberbands.  Stretch the wide ones around the top and bottom of the jar to keep them from bumping around in the box.

Socks:  store your jars in socks, one long tube sock and protect 2 quart jars,   or cut them up in to tubes of various sizes to put on the jars.  They can even be rolled up to create even more buffer space or to secure them more snugly into a box.

Old towels:  Put the jars in a box with space in between and stuff the spaces with old towels or rag strips.

Bubble wrap:  Wrap your jars in bubble wrap or the packaging that comes in your mail order boxes.

Apple boxes:  Go to the grocery store and talk to your produce guy.  Apples sometimes come packed with puffy paper sheets in between them,  These are GREAT to wrap around the bottles…and the boxes themselves are a perfect size to fit at least 15 jars.

Sweaters: Wouldn’t that be cute for our jars to wear sweaters? There are some on Pinterest if you are into that type of thing.  I’m not going to the trouble to ‘dress’ my jars like those… but one thing my mom did was to take some left-over fleece from another project and sew it into a tube.  Then she cut the tube into about 6 inch sections.  Each of these were slipped over a jar to prevent that jar-to-jar contact in the box.

So get creative with your jars…or just stuff socks but do something to protect that investment.  Do you so something different with yours?  I’d love to hear other great ideas.

New to canning? You must own a copy of Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving!

If you want to check out products you can buy, rather than make, that will protect your canning jars, take a look at these:

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Shape Up Your Budget: Tips for accumulating more cash! http://thesurvivalmom.com/budget-tips/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/budget-tips/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 08:05:11 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20448 Shaping up in the new year? Shape up your budget, too!  End the year with more cash on hand using some or all of these budget tips! Set a goal Just like your physical shape-up, you should begin with a goal in mind. Your (SMART) goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  Set […]

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Quick tips for saving cash. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.com

image by www.CourtneyCarmody.com/

Shaping up in the new year? Shape up your budget, too!  End the year with more cash on hand using some or all of these budget tips!

Set a goal

Just like your physical shape-up, you should begin with a goal in mind. Your (SMART) goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  Set a specific dollar amount that you think you can realistically save each week or month.  Multiply that number by 12 and you have long-term amount.  Start with short-term goals, though, so that the amount is fresh in your mind every time you go to make a purchase. If you have no idea what you can realistically save, consider trying the 52-week savings plan, or calculate what you can save by eliminating unnecessary expenses like these.

Cut out the fat

Cancel cable

Plans can cost anywhere from $30 (plus equipment fees) to over $100 per month for premium satellite packages. (compare here) You’re looking at a minimum savings of $360/year. It may not sound like much now, but combined with some of these other strategies, it adds up fast! And just think of all the extra time you’ll have to read, learn new skills, and reconnect with your kids.

Cancel satellite radio+

Seriously. When did we start paying $19 every month for services that are provided for free? You’ll save $228/year.

Rethink your home and auto insurance

Our homeowner’s insurance kept creeping up for four straight years. Our mortgage company offered to check rates and gave us the top 3 offers.  We saved around $250/year (about $21 per month) without any changes to our coverage or deductible. Sometimes you can even call the company with a quote from another carrier and they can match it without the hassle of switching.

Brown Bag it

Even if you order the cheapest fast food on the menu, you’ll get way too many unhealthy calories and pay out the nose for the privilege. So let’s say you order the cheapest possible, dollar meal deals at $5 every weekday for a year (I know you wouldn’t, but I also know you often spend more than $5, so just go with it.). You’re at 260 lunches for a whopping $1300! A can of Progresso soup can fill you up for around 200 calories and about $1.50 without coupons. That’s $390 on the year for a savings of $910/year.

Switch a couple of those meals to ramen noodles at twenty cents each for a little variety and you can afford to add fresh, homemade salads without changing your budget. Better yet—actually bring and eat your leftovers from dinner the night before and stash that fiver in the safe each afternoon.

Forego Starbucks

$1.75-$4.65 for coffee? My Depression-era grandmother is shaking her head from Heaven if I even smell it on my way through the food court. If you’re getting the smallest, cheapest, plainest coffee even 2 days a week, you’re spending $182/year. The $11 Folgers can lasts us 3 months, and means coffee every morning for $44/year (a savings of $138).

One less dinner out

We were eating out twice a week because our kids’ sports schedules were running us ragged. I finally started packing “picnic dinners” and saved about $30 a week for a yearly savings of $1,440.

Stop smoking

Or stop whatever vice is eating away at your budget.  This website indicates a pack of cigs averages between $4.96 and $14.50 depending on your state of residence.  Let’s say you’re a pack-a-day smoker in Kentucky, the cheapest state per pack. I can think of much better ways to spend $1800 a year! Nonsmokers, you should also give up habits that are detrimental to your health. It’ll save your budget and keep you from paying to see the doctor!

A gym membership?

Really? The cheapest one in our town was $24/month for $288/year. Walking and hiking are free—not to mention a family affair. For a fourth that amount you could invest in a kettle bell and work out your entire body for the rest of your life!

(I know you don’t have all these savings opportunities, but if you did, you could save $5,414!)

Generate additional revenue

Sell unwanted gifts

I know you have some weird Christmas gift you can’t return.  Don’t tuck it away; sell it! Even if you don’t have an eBay account, you can list for free on Craigslist or your local “Give and Take” on Facebook.

Invent a Job

My teenage son took his truck around the back roads, knocked on doors, and offered to haul off people’s broken appliances or rusting metal for free. Then he took it to the recycling center. Cleaning up the environment and scoring some cash is a pretty good way to spend a Saturday!

Trade Services

Whenever possible, trade your goods or expertise for someone else’s. It saves you money and keeps Uncle Sam’s hands out of your pockets! Last summer I was looking for hard-to-find wild fruit. I advertised on Craigslist that I would do all the work to can fruit for anyone who wanted to split the harvest. Crabapples, gooseberries, and elderberries?  Yes, please! I even traded a coworker for some local honey.

Spring Cleaning

Maybe finally get rid of those gifts from last year. Anything your kids have outgrown, you use only once a year, or you just can’t see yourself using in the next 12 months should be sold. Whether you list it electronically or have a garage sale, turn your junk into cash.

Have a plan for each dollar

Every dollar has a purpose

If it’s set aside for something specific, you’re less likely to spend it willy-nilly. If it isn’t earmarked, you’ll probably see it as “play money.” Try putting any saved cash in an envelope with your child’s name on it and mark it “College Fund” or “Christmas Fund”. You won’t pilfer it when it feels like stealing from your kid.

Pay With Cash

Developing a cash-only habit serves a couple of purposes: 1) It forces you to stay within your budget.  If you have $100 bill for the trip to the grocery store and a list, you’re not going to go over your budget.  If you have a debit or credit card, you’ll suddenly find items you can leave without buying. 2) It lets you actually keep and track your savings. If that trip only cost $94 and you have the physical savings in your pocket, you can stash it away much easier than having that cheery “you saved $6.00 today” at the bottom of your card’s receipt. And physically saving it is much more satisfying, so you’re more inclined to try to do that again.

Try a loyalty card

Many grocery stores and pharmacies have cards that give you discounts or rewards toward your next purchase (even when you pay with cash). I downloaded Wal-Mart’s “Savings Catcher” app, which lets me scan QR codes on my receipts.  It compares everything I bought with local competitors’ advertisements and gives me credit back as a gift card. I don’t love shopping there, but during a hectic week, it makes ad-matching a lot easier.

What else have you done to slim your budget and sculpt your savings account?

You may also be interested in reading this article about a potential scenario that will greatly affect your financial stability, Scary Scenario: The One-Hour Meltdown.

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52 Weeks Savings Challenge: Watch for these January bargains http://thesurvivalmom.com/52-week-savings-challenge-january-bargains/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/52-week-savings-challenge-january-bargains/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2015 15:27:08 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20445 It’s a New Year and time for all sorts of resolutions. If you have on your list to be more prepared and to save money, we have some suggestions for you. But first, commit to the 52 Weeks Savings Plan by starting with just one dollar. As the year progresses, you’ll be adding additional dollars […]

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Get on the 52 Week Savings Plan and start saving money with these January bargains! | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comIt’s a New Year and time for all sorts of resolutions. If you have on your list to be more prepared and to save money, we have some suggestions for you.

But first, commit to the 52 Weeks Savings Plan by starting with just one dollar. As the year progresses, you’ll be adding additional dollars to your stash and the week’s number on the calendar corresponds to that number of dollars. The plan is simple but staying on track can be a challenge due to:

  • Forgetfulness! Print out our tracking chart and post it somewhere prominent in your home. Find a savings buddy and hold each other accountable. Join our 52 Weeks Savings Club Facebook page to link up with people who have the same goal as you do. It’s a great source of information and a place to ask questions.
  • Lack of funds. This one can happen to anyone, and if it happens to you, don’t give up. Just add what you can, even if it’s just a dollar. One work-around for this dilemma is to add extra dollars when you can, knowing that at some point during the year, you may run short.

Our goal is to help you each month with information about products that are usually on sale. Any time you can buy at a discount or recyle something you own to fulfill a new need, you’re saving money.

Keep in mind this quote from the days of the Great Depression:

Use it up

Wear it out

Make it do

Or do without.

Sales tend to be cyclical. Here’s what should be on sale in January and how you can use them to be more prepared for whatever life brings. Holidays and other special events are also part of the calendar and usually they bring with them bargains. For example, toward the end of January you’ll find all kinds of foods on sale related to Super Bowl parties. Keep an eye out for those specials, and if the items are something you would be anyway, stock up.

Food supplies

In January, holiday candy and treats should go on sale, which can be used as comfort food in your food storage. Candy can also help keep children calm in emergency situations. For long-term storage, refer to my article, “20+ Foods That Must Be Repackaged For Long-Term Storage and How to Repackage Them.

Those sweet treats will last a lot longer in your pantry if you use a vacuum sealer, like a Food Saver, to package them using these instructions.

Oatmeal and diet foods should also be on sale. Diet foods can include drinks and food bars that are packed with nutrition, making them a decent addition to an emergency kit.

Seasonal produce that can be found at a good price this month are:

  • lemons
  • oranges
  • papayas
  • tangelos
  • tangerines
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • grapefruit
  • leeks

Consider freezing or dehydrating some of these for long-term storage.

Household items

Bedding and towels are usually on sale in January. Do you have extra bedding for each person in case of sickness? Do you have pillows in case you want to sleep in your tornado room? Do you have blankets and towels in your car or with your camping gear? This would be the time to stock up on these items.

Cookware is also on sale this month if you need an extra set for cooking outside. Another deal to look for is on flooring. If the power were ever out for a long time, carpet would not be an ideal flooring to have without a working vacuum. You could possibly find a good deal to swap out the carpet for tile, wood or laminate.

Winter clothing also starts going on sale in January. Think ahead to next year if you have children and buy the size they are going to need. Make sure to have hats and gloves for each person in winter bug-out bags and in vehicles. Long underwear is another must if you typically experience cold weather or enjoy winter sports.

Holiday decorations and supplies (wrapping and party) should also be on sale if you want to do some shopping for next year or add to your supply of paper plates, cups, utensils and tablecloths. Some people suggest buying plain wrapping paper on sale now to use for presents throughout the year.

If you need to get organized, January is also the time to look for organization systems, bins, calendars and planners. Any person who starts a food supply or accumulates camping gear knows that staying organized is the key to knowing what you have on hand.

And, join our Skill of the Month Club because Get Organized and Reduce What You Own is our very first skill!

Entertainment

If you’ve ever been homebound due to sickness or severe weather, you know how important entertainment can be. CDs, DVDs, video games, board games, computers, TVs, cameras, select electronics and toys are all on sale in January. It can be a time to be frugal and think ahead to future gifts, too. Cameras can be useful for documenting your property for insurance or emergency situations. Some digital cameras have video recording, too.

If a game or movie relates to survival, so much the better!

Getting fit

Many people make fitness New Year’s resolutions and to go along with that treadmills, ellipticals, sneakers and fitness gear tend to be on sale in January. Being fit cannot be overemphasized in preparing for any situation. Take advantage of this sale and get your body fit for whatever may come.

The outdoors

Camping gear can also go on sale because not many people are thinking of camping in the middle of winter. However, now would be a good time to check your camping inventory and see if there is anything you need. Are the children getting older and need a tent of their own? Want some extra sleeping bags for vehicles or a tornado shelter?

Gas grills tend to go on sale early in the year, too. A gas grill can help with cooking if the power goes out for a few days.

Transportation

Motorcycles, bicycles and boats also go on sale this month with newer models coming out. Bicycles can be part of a bug-out plan after an EMP. Motorcycles can help give a family member a cheaper mode of transportation if gas prices go up again. If you live near water, a boat can help you bug out or take you to a food source.

By the end of January…

According to the 52 Weeks Savings Plan, you should have just $10 saved up. I know you can do that! If you have extra right now, perhaps going to Week 52, in the chart and saving $52 would be a smart thing to do.

The key to being a winner when it comes to saving money is to pinch pennies wherever you can with purchases and then put even small amounts saved in your savings stash.

We’ll be back in February with more money-savings tips to help you save AND prepare!

 

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Top 18 Holiday Bargains for Stocking Up http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-18-holiday-bargains-stocking/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-18-holiday-bargains-stocking/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 21:46:13 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20321 Beginning in October every year, grocery stores begin prominently displaying all types of food typically used in holiday cooking and baking. Every grocery store I’ve been to in the past couple of months has their holiday bargains right out front and center. For Survival Moms who want to stock up their food pantry, this is an […]

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The holidays are the perfect time for stocking up! Here are 18 bargains to look for. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comBeginning in October every year, grocery stores begin prominently displaying all types of food typically used in holiday cooking and baking. Every grocery store I’ve been to in the past couple of months has their holiday bargains right out front and center.

For Survival Moms who want to stock up their food pantry, this is an ideal time to take advantage of the coupons and sales that also come at this time of year. Today I took a look at this week’s grocery ads, and here’s a master list of items you may want to grab before the holiday season ends.

  • Ham and Turkey
    • Both of these can be frozen and/or canned to provide meals well into the New Year. A frozen turkey can remain frozen and still be safe to eat for up to a year.
  • Fresh oranges
    • Once the orange has been eaten, dry the peels and create your own orange zest for recipes throughout the year. If you end up with more zest than you think you’ll use within 6 months or so, use a Food Saver to vacuum seal the remaining zest in a pouch for longer term storage.
  • Coffee
    • Grocery stores know that coffee is part of holiday entertaining, so you’re going to find lots of coffee brands on sale. Coffee beans, and especially green, unroasted coffee beans, will have the longest shelf life, but you can still repackage both beans and ground coffee in canning jars using the Food Saver jar attachment to suck out all the air/oxygen or seal the coffee in plastic pouches using your vacuum sealer.
    • Coffee is definitely worth stocking up on, but be sure to keep it stored in a cool, dark, and dry location. Even so, it will have its freshest flavor if used within just a couple of months.
  • Nuts
    • Again, this is the season for baking all types of treats and many of my favorite recipes include nuts. You’ll find nuts on sale but keep an eye on prices because they are still generally a higher priced grocery item.
    • If you do find a bargain, store those nuts in a cool, dry, dark location, and, if possible, vacuum pack them using a Food Saver.
  • Fresh fruit
    • Depending on where you live, you may find low prices on blueberries, blackberries, pomegranates, pineapple, oranges, and a lot more.
    • Dehydrating fruit is very simple and food dehydrators don’t have to cost a lot of money. I found mine on Craigslist several years ago for $30 and it still works fine.
    • You can also freeze fruit and even can it, so stocking up now on fruits that are in season is a very smart thing to do. Just make sure you budget your time so all that yummy stuff won’t rot during an especially busy time of year.
  • Butter
    • Right now my favorite grocery store has a pound of butter for $2.50. That’s the lowest price I’ve seen in a while. Butter can easily be frozen, at one time I had 40 pounds of it in our big freezer!
    • I’ve heard of canning butter but am not convinced it’s the safest thing to do.
  • Alcohol
    • Call me crazy, but it never hurts to have a few bottles of whisky or vodka around. Even if you’re not much of a drinker, vodka can be useful in making tinctures and from what I’ve heard, whiskey has medicinal uses as well.
    • If you’re thinking of stocking up on bottles of alcohol as a product for barter, stick with hard liquor: vodka, gin, tequila, rum, whiskey and brandy, as they can all have indefinite shelf lives.
  • Potatoes, both fresh and instant
    • Potatoes can be peeled, sliced, and dehydrated by following these steps.
    • When stored in a very cool location, around 45 to 50 degrees, they can stay fresh for up to 3 months.
    • Instant mashed potatoes come in handy for quick meals. However, they will need to be repackaged for a longer shelf life. Read these instructions. Once repackaged, I highly recommend placing them in the freezer for at least a week in order to kill any microscopic insect eggs that might be present.
    • Here’s a terrific collection of awesome potato recipes.
  • Canned vegetables
    • Store these in a cool location and they can last for more than a year.
    • You can always drain the veggies and dry them on your dehydrator trays for even longer shelf life.
  • Over-the-Counter meds for coughs and cold symptoms
    • These generally have a shelf life of more than a year.
    • During the winter months, you’ll also find coupons for these for added savings.
  • Batteries
    • Retailers aren’t stupid. They know that for every battery-operated gift purchased, someone is going to need batteries! Keep an eye out for coupons and combine them with store sales.
    • Batteries are among the most useful items you can stock up on, so go crazy when you find a really good deal!
  • Not-just-for-Christmas wrapping paper
    • Who said that white wrapping paper with red polka dots is just for Christmas? When you find wrapping paper that will be perfectly fine throughout the year, buy it!
  • Gravy and gravy mixes
    • There’s nothing like homemade gravy, but there’s also nothing handier than opening a jar of gravy and pouring it over mashed potatoes! A few jars of gravy in the pantry just might save dinner one day soon!
    • Gravy packets are great as a stock-up item. They have very long shelf lives, can be prepared quickly, and can make items as plain as white rice pretty tasty.
  • Frozen pies
    • Now, you wouldn’t ordinarily think of a pie when it comes to stocking up, but one or two in the freezer can come in handy.
    • Think about any special occasions coming up, potlucks, parties — any even where you might have to make dessert. Now think about how busy you’re going to be this year. A frozen pie looks like a better and better idea, doesn’t it?
  • Baking staples
    • Sugar, flour, baking powder, chocolate chips — you’ll find all these and a lot more on sale. And, all of them can be stored long-term.
    • Flour, in particular, must be repackaged. Read this to learn how.
    • Watch this video to learn how to store things like chocolate chips, shortening, and candy.
  • Snack foods
    • Grocery stores know that serving appetizers and snacks are a part of the holidays. You’ll find things like Triscuits and other crackers on sale, along with pretzels and chips. If you find these at a great price, stock up and plan on portioning them into snack bags for your kids’ lunches.
  • Chex cereals
    • Everybody and their dog is going to be making one variation of Chex mix or another, so why not stock up on several boxes for breakfasts or other recipes?
  • Canned soups
    • Like most other canned foods, soups can have a long shelf life if stored in a cool location.
    • Buy soup flavors that your family members enjoy and soups that you normally use in recipes.

What other foods that are on sale during the holidays do you stock up on?

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Looking for a UNIQUE Gift? Try Fiverr! http://thesurvivalmom.com/looking-unique-gift-try-fiverr/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/looking-unique-gift-try-fiverr/#respond Tue, 02 Dec 2014 07:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19547 You can use these as ideas for unique gifts for Christmas, Thanksgiving centerpieces, Hanukkah gifts, or New Years Party favors. Heck, you can use most of them to celebrate the 4th of July if you want! What the heck is it? First of all, what is Fiverr? It is a website where artists offer to […]

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unique giftts from fiverrYou can use these as ideas for unique gifts for Christmas, Thanksgiving centerpieces, Hanukkah gifts, or New Years Party favors. Heck, you can use most of them to celebrate the 4th of July if you want!

What the heck is it?

First of all, what is Fiverr? It is a website where artists offer to do work, or people request artists to do work, for $5 per job, or gig. There is an extra $.50 handling charge, but it you get a refund that is refunded as well. (I had to get a refund for one when I misread what the artist offered.) Many have add-ons that make it more, but it’s all clearly stated and the buyer needs to select the add-on items. Truthfully, the price is so low that I can’t really get mad about it.

What are some of the possibilities?

A lot of what artists there are hired to do a business related gigs – creating logos, designing websites, illustrating book covers – so I’ll admit they didn’t jump out at me for gift ideas, but then I looked at the tab all the way to the right in the top nav that says “more”.

Wow.

The three categories there are “Lifestyle”, “Gifts”, and “Fun and Bizarre”. I won’t try to go into everything listed there, but I will warn you that it’s kind of like Pinterest. Once you start looking, you discover so many cool things it can suck you in for longer than you intended. If you chose a gift from here it will be unique, and not just because so many items are handcrafted.

Under Lifestyle / Animal Care and pets, there is a certified professional dog trainer who is selling the plans to make a dog agility pole course for $5. Or how about a leather collar with a bell or a cozy sweater for your dog? Or 100 Recipes to Make for Your Cat (including the right to resell and reuse them)?

Under Fun and Bizarre, you can choose a celebrity impersonator. Does your kid or friend love Lady Gaga? Dad always been a James Bond fan? Have a message recorded and surprise them! Or maybe your friends or family are pranksters and you could use some professional help with a prank. Look no further! Fiverr can help.

Do you have a friend, loved one, or teacher who dreams of making it BIG in show business? Then by all means – help them! Put three images on billboards in NYC! No, they won’t really be on a billboard (gotta love technology!) but it still looks cool!

Teenage boys on the list? You can have a pretty girl burp their name on camera. (They also have super cute poop.)

Have you ever thought it might be cool to have Monopoly with your own street names on it? You can buy this gig and get a version designed to be printed on a standard printer, assembly instructions included. (It’s FIVE DOLLARS, although he does say prices may rise soon.) You can also have a Pong game made using someone’s head, or soap shaped like a Lego brick.

There are tons of opportunities to have items personalized, as well. A shot glass with your image is just one. So is one custom cookie cutter for $5 or 4 for $10.

This is one my kids are ordering: a wooden Christmas ornament with the name / word of your choice in it. Whether it’s a Nana, an Opa, or  Gramcracker, somehow grandparents seem to end up with names you just can’t find pre-printed on anything! And this is a gift they can cherish. Of course, if you want something more year round, you can go with an engraved coffee spoon.

There is an entire section of jewelry, including book charms for a charm bracelet with the cover(s) you send and actual paper inside.

That doesn’t even hit the more “normal” gigs of turning a picture into a comic style image, a caricature, or other style of artwork! Once you start looking, there are so very many possibilities! Who knew that for $5 you could get a personalized puppet video?!?

How do you do it?

Once you know what you want, request a gig from the artist – remember to include any extras and read what they provide carefully before doing this. You’ll get an email response asking for more details so they can start on the project. As it continues, you will probably exchange a few emails for details as the artist polishes their work. When its done and and you have approved it (note that most artists limit the number of revisions, or require extra payment for more revisions), the artist will send it to you.

I haven’t bought any (yet) that require shipping, so I don’t know quite how that works, but I think it’s a fantabulous way to get cool custom gifts on a budget!

 

 

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5 Halloween items to buy for your safety (it’s not what you think!) http://thesurvivalmom.com/5-halloween-items-buy-safety-think/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/5-halloween-items-buy-safety-think/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 06:00:02 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19103 Did you know there are several Halloween props that can be useful for your safety? I’m not talking about glow sticks and paper products (although those are great to have) – I’m talking about the makeup, body parts and costumes. Imagine a long power outage where people start scavenging for food. Imagine a long-term lockdown […]

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halloween

Did you know there are several Halloween props that can be useful for your safety? I’m not talking about glow sticks and paper products (although those are great to have) – I’m talking about the makeup, body parts and costumes.

Imagine a long power outage where people start scavenging for food. Imagine a long-term lockdown or quarantine where supplies might be in demand or confiscated.

Dress Up for You and Your Home

There could be a time and place where you might want to stage your house to deter unwanted visitors and by scouring the after Halloween sales, you can come up with quite a few supplies for cheap that could be useful.

  • Costumes, wigs, and temporary hair coloring
  • Makeup
  • Fake blood and body parts
  • Caution tape and cobwebs
  • Spray paint

Caution tape and a little makeup could make your house an instant quarantine area.

Various body part decorations could make your house look like it’s already been attacked. Coupled with some caution tape, it’s a crime scene.

Spray paint and cobwebs can make a house look abandoned. And costumes, along with wigs and makeup, can change how a person looks.

Makeup and fake blood could also be used to create various medical conditions that could keep people away or help you get whisked to safety.

Use your imagination …

I’m not advocating out-right lying or deceiving people about serious situations for fun. I’m also not advocating anything criminal, like impersonating a police officer, but how many doctors do you think actually have things like scrubs or a lab coat – “doctor-y clothing” – with them outside of the office? It is entirely possible that you, someone you know, or a stranger you shelter could be an off-duty professional and a few select items could give them some instant credibility for their profession.

A few prop weapons, and you could fake an attack on someone that scares off would-be intruders without actually hurting anyone. Some glow-in-the-dark hair spray, body paint, etc. and it’s suddenly easier to find the kids or follow each other on a path in the darkness. Of course, it’s also easier for others to find you without you seeing them.

If we ever did face desperate times, it could call for desperate measures to keep our loved ones and property safe. If  you needed your kid out of school right now in an emergency and wearing a simple costume like a lab coat or gas mask would make it happen, would you really hesitate?

By making your house look abandoned and already rifled through or already searched by authorities, people may steer clear and move on to another area, keeping you safe. If you wonder why this would be good, just think about what happened in New Orleans post-Katrina.

Go take a look at the Halloween supplies and imagine what ways you could change the look of your home, and possibly even your loved ones.

Have you thought about staging your house? What supplies do you have on hand or would you recommend people getting to change its look?+

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