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What I Wish I Had Done Differently


After 7 years of being The Survival Mom, I’ve been reflecting on what I would do differently if I were starting to prep right now.

Maybe my prepper mistakes will help you avoid a few pitfalls. I wish I would have:


1) Read less Survival Blog and watched more how-to videos on YouTube

Survival Blog gave me a big kick in the pants for getting started in preparedness, but it also sucked me into near-panic attacks and bouts of despair. One day my husband came home from work to find me at my desk, in my pajamas, hypnotically reading article after article on Survival Blog. Rather than motivate me into action, I was frozen with fear.YouTube is also filled with massive amounts of great information but in smaller doses and often accompanied by a friendly face and voice. I would have learned more about waxing cheese, filtering water, and stocking up on veterinary antibiotics, all of which would have been more practical than reading tips for buying property safe from rifle fire.

James Rawles is one of my heroes, but for a beginner, YouTube videos would have been more helpful and encouraging.

2) Bought less crap and more high-quality products

Preparedness is best done in this order: awareness, education, and then action. I steered clear of education and jumped right into the action phase. That’s my style, I guess! Early on I bought a lot of cheap “survival” products that I ended up sending to a thrift store as a donation. Because I had a stack of “awesome” coupons, I bought bottles and bottles of salad dressing we’ve never used and has since turned all sorts of weird colors. I don’t think the thrift store will be interested in those, and I can’t blame them.

TIP: I now stock up on ingredients to make my own salad dressings, laundry soap, and a lot more. The ingredients are inexpensive and have multiple uses. Download this free ebook for dozens of recipes.

I’ve since learned that buying the best quality we can afford is smart, even if we have to wait until we have the money. A high-quality pair of walking shoes could make the difference between life and death someday. We want tools, supplies, and even food that is meant to last for the long haul, not bargain basement specials that are cheaply produced and quickly fall apart.

3) Spent less money early on

I imagine that most preppers start off in a panic mode and begin amassing enormous quantities of stuff, just for the sake of stuff. However, I have learned that doing a fair amount of research first is the smartest way to go.

I didn’t know much about food storage conditions, for example, when I first began buying extra food and soon found myself with packets and boxes of potato flakes infested with tiny black bugs.

4) Networked with others sooner

It’s always hard feeling as though you’re the, “only one”. The, “only one,” with a certain health condition or the, “only one,” going through a personal crisis. Feeling as though you’re the only prepper in town is just as hard. You feel isolated, a little paranoid, and yet there’s a deep need to talk with others who are on the same wavelength.

I felt very alone, year after year. A couple of fledgling prepper MeetUpgroups began around that same time, but I didn’t take advantage of their meetings, and I should have. Joining in on forum discussions is a good option but it can’t take the place of face to face conversations. It would have helped me identify more quickly what my priorities should have been, and it would have been comforting to know that I wasn’t the, “only one.”

Are you really the only one involved in prepping? Here are my thoughts in a video:

Here’s an easy way to connect with others, who just might be preppers. When asked about your job/career, answer, “…but what I really love to do is…”

  • Raise chickens
  • Take care of my beehives
  • Grow food in my backyard
  • Go hunting/fishing
  • Take the family on camping trips
  • Spend my weekends at farmers markets
  • Make quilts
  • Work on my NRA instructors certification

The idea is to work your prepper-related hobbies into conversations as bait, and see who bites! Recently my husband and I had dinner with some friends and, when asked about my career, I explained in pretty general terms what I do and what I write about. To our complete amazement, this family was all-in with prepper ideas and had thought about growing more food on their property, how they might survive an EMP, and so on.

If you consider that books like One Second After have hit the mainstream, chances are very good that it’s been read by people you know, and they have jumped into survival mode, too!

5) Kept my mouth shut around family and close friends

To this day, no one in my family or my husband’s family is on board with preparedness. In short, I could have saved myself a lot of awkward explanations and times of feeling defensive if I would have stayed quiet.

Eventually, preppers self-identify when they’re around people they know and trust. They are suddenly familiar with names like Gerald Celente and Alex Jones. City-dwellers develop an odd interest in raising chickens and turning their backyard pools into tilapia ponds. It’s not hard to figure out who’s prepping if you pay attention, and keep your mouth shut until you’re pretty darn sure they’re on the same page as you.

There’s no point at all in beating  your head against a wall, trying to get others to understand what you do and why it’s important.

6) Focused on financial survival first instead of third or fourth

In the beginning I felt a mad rush of urgency to buy, stock up, preserve, and research. I wish I had felt that same urgency when it came to money. I should have doubled down on paying off debt, saving money, learning about and buying precious metals. We did these things eventually, but it would have made life easier if we had taken financial survival a little more seriously from the get-go.

If you’ve been in the survival/preparedness mode for a while, what would you do differently? Join in the discussion on Facebook.

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About Author

Baron Von Kowenhoven

Baron was just a shy kid with a dream, growing up in the 40's with a knack for story-telling. After a brief career in film, Von Kowenhoven went to Europe in search of fringe-scientific discoveries and returned in the 90's to unleash them on the entertainment and political landscape of America.

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