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When you are building up a stockpile, it can be a financial worry. Even when you focus on thrifty options, it can be daunting to budget for items both for your family’s use now and for an emergency scenario.
However, after planning for food and water needs, you might be overlooking some dirt-cheap items that would serve you well in a survival situation. These are inexpensive everyday items we tend to take for granted when all is well. However, in an emergency, they will do more than just come in handy.
We took a tour of our local dollar store with a survival perspective in mind and found many dirt-cheap items that would not only serve more than one purpose in an emergency but would be valuable for bartering.
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Plastic tarps – even the cheap kind – can serve multiple purposes. For example, you can use them to collect rainwater, to cover a broken window, and as a shelter. They are also reusable and they’re easy to carry and store.
Sure, it’s important to learn how to start a fire without matches, but why not stock up on a large supply of matches so you may not have to worry about it? Boxes of matches are cheap and stackable.
Lighters are also an inexpensive item you might overlook for your stockpile. What about also picking up a magnifying glass at the dollar store as another fire-starting option?
3. Toilet Paper
Toilet paper is one of those items we take for granted – until we don’t have it. The dollar store is not the best place to buy this essential item in bulk, but you can find name brands in bulk quantities in warehouse stores.
4. Feminine Hygiene Items
Once again, the dollar store sells these times at dirt-cheap prices, but you still might be better off looking online or in your local warehouse store for bulk prices on pads and tampons for the women in your family.
Bar soap is an inexpensive item and very useful to add to your stockpile. Ivory soap is a good option since it does not contain perfumes or dyes.
Hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes will be important in the unsanitary conditions a disaster might bring. In addition, liquid bleach is cheap and useful for disinfecting contaminated water. Keep in mind that chlorine bleach does have a short shelf life and may lose up to 50 percent of its effectiveness within a year, so be sure to rotate out this item.
Hand-cranked radios and flashlights are great to have for emergency preparedness, but while you save for these important purchases, you can keep your supply of batteries fresh.
8. Cooking Oil
Cooking oil is a basic necessity for meals and health. Olive oil, for instance, stored well and can be used for cooking, remedy preparations, emergency lighting, and candles.
9. Face Masks
Although you may be wanting to add N95 face masks to your stockpile – and for good reason – they are expensive. Standard hospital face masks, however, are cheap and easy to store.
10. Pain Medication
Stock up on inexpensive generic brands of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin to help ease the aches and pains that are bound to come along with a disaster scenario.
11. Other Over-the-Counter Medications
Don’t forget other medications for your first-aid supply – especially those that treat stomach and digestive ailments. Don’t forget antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide as well.
Rolled gauze bandages, first-aid tape, and adhesive bandages are inexpensive and probably will be needed in any emergency that knocks out the power grid. Elastic support bandages may also come in handy and are available at the dollar store.
13. Dental Supplies
Toothpaste, toothbrushes, and dental floss all are inexpensive necessities that can be overlooked for a survival stash. Dental floss is good for sewing repairs on tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, and other survival items since it is strong and waterproof.
14. Vinyl Gloves
Of course, you will need heavy-duty gloves in your stockpile, but don’t discount the cheap latex or nylon kind. For pennies a pair, you can use these gloves to clean, treat wounds, and sort through debris.
Making your own candles is a good project for homesteaders, but you can find candles for emergency lighting purposes in dollar stores, yard sales, and flea markets. Candles store and stack well in shoe boxes.
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16. Sewing Supplies
The mini sewing kits available at the dollar store are great to stick in backpacks and could be useful for bartering in a survival situation. The kits typically include a couple of needles, safety pins, a few rolls of threads, and a small pair of scissors. (The scissors, unfortunately, are pretty much useless.)
A sturdy new pair of scissors is a useful addition to your emergency supply. The dollar store has kitchen shears for a buck.
You cannot overstate the importance of having a pair of clean, dry socks in a survival situation. Grab a supply of cheap socks at the dollar store or checks for better quality ones at yard sales.
19. Duct Tape
Cheap and amazingly versatile, you should definitely include a supply of duct tape in your stash. Here are some survival uses.
- Repairs on plastic bottles or tarps
- Arrow fletching
- Bandage strips
- Make-shift rope
- Belt loops
- Mend clothing and shoes
- First-aid sling or splint
- Sticky notes
- Trail markings
And that’s just a start. There are many other uses for duct tape.
20. Zip Ties
These dirt-cheap items are a must for your survival stash. Zip ties (also called cable ties) can serve as makeshift shoelaces, handles for bundles, and they can help you attach gear to your backpacks.
They are good for temporary repairs of fencing, and they also can help you save space when you wrap them around rolled blankets and clothing.
21. Rope and Chain
The dollar store sells clotheslines, chains, and bungee cords that are inexpensive and would be useful both for yourself and for bartering. You also can stock up on twine (check the arts and craft aisle) on the cheap.
22. Aluminum Foil
People who lived through the Great Depression would save aluminum foil as a valuable commodity. This inexpensive item can have many uses in a survival situation. Here are a few ideas.
- Emergency meal prep and storage
- Can be folded into a small “pot” for boing water
- Reflective signal strips
- Insulation for electronics (improvised Faraday Cage)
- Fishing lures
- Temporary patches
Here are some other uses for aluminum foil.
23. Small flashlights
Start an emergency stash of small LED flashlights from the dollar store. They are handy in a bug out bag and may be useful for bartering.
24. Rain Ponchos
These dirt-cheap items help you stay dry in all seasons and can be used in creating a makeshift shelter or for collecting rainwater. There are literally dozens of uses for ponchos.
25. Baby Wipes
If you have a little one, you will need a good stash of these for their intended purpose. However, if water is scarce, they will come in handy for a wide variety of uses. They can dry out in long-term storage, but you can add a bit of water to moisten them again.
26. Coffee Filters
To give you a few ideas, you can use these inexpensive paper items as filters, as funnels, and even as fire starters. They are stackable and lightweight. Here are a few other uses for coffee filters.
27. Safety Pins
You can buy large supplies of safety pins for a buck at the dollar store. You can use them for big and small temporary repairs.
28. Trash Bags
Stock up on cheap trash bags to use as makeshift rain gear, slings, rope, shelter, ground cover, and carryalls. If you’re creative, you can find dozens of uses for trash bags.
29. Cotton Balls
Speaking of cotton balls, in addition to starting fires and their well-known hygiene uses, they are handy for helping guard against blisters, treating wounds, and serving as makes-shift candle wicks.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that there are a variety of dirt-cheap items to your emergency stockpile to help pass the time. Here are a few ideas we came across at the dollar store.
- Crossword puzzles
- Coloring books and crayons
- Notebooks and pens
- Playing cards
30. Lip Balm
Lip balm moistens chapped lips of course, but it also can protect and help heal hands and face. You can also use it in an emergency to help clean a small wound and as a firestarter on a cotton ball.
Here are some uses for ChapStick. Petroleum jelly is also a good option for similar purposes.
31. Plates, Cookware, and Utensils
Stockpile plenty of plates, utensils, and other cookware now. Even storing paper plates and plastic utensils is better than nothing. This may not seem like a very big necessity, but plates and utensils will certainly help to make life easier when the going gets tough. Keep in mind, you can repurpose used paper plates as tinder to help get a fire going.
32. Paper and Writing Utensils
You’ll need paper and pens for taking notes, recording data, sending messages, or writing stories if you’re creative and need something fun to do to boost your morale. Stockpile plenty of paper and keep it in a box or container free of moisture so it stays dry.
Heirloom seeds will provide you with a lot of value for the money. If the grid goes down, growing your own crops will be very beneficial not only to feed yourself but also to trade or barter with someone else. Stockpile plenty of seeds now while you still can.
34. Baking Soda
If there is only stockpile one personal hygiene item, it needs to be baking soda. Baking soda can be used to create personal hygiene products such as deodorant, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and surface cleaners. What’s more, is that it’s super cheap at just over a dollar per box on average.
Novels, history books, children’s books, survival books, classic works written by famous authors, books that you believe could be at risk of future censorship, you name it. When the grid goes down, you’ll no longer be able to order new books or read electronic versions. It will be wise to build up your library of physical, paper copies.
36. Cleaning Supplies
Basic cleaning supplies such as dishwashing soap, glass cleaners, laundry detergent, toilet cleaners, carpet cleaners, and all-purpose cleaners are typically very affordable. In the event of a future supply shortage, these will also be among the first items to disappear off the shelves, so stockpiling any kind of cleaning items now while you still can will be wise.
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37. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a wise item to stockpile (so long as you don’t have a peanut allergy) because of the wide variety of meals and dishes it can be included in. Furthermore, peanut butter can provide a good source of protein for those who are on vegetarian diets.
38. Pet Food
Do you have any pets, such as dogs or cats? If so, stock up on as much pet food for them now while you still can. People care deeply about their animals, so you can bet that pet food will fly off the shelves fast in the event of a major disruption to the supply chains.
39. Water Purification Tablets
Water purification tablets are critical for ensuring that the water you collect is made safe to drink. What’s more, you can usually buy hundreds of tablets for super cheap.
40. Can Openers
Have you stockpiled any canned food? If so, you’ll want to start stockpiling a few can openers as well.
41. Fishing Supplies
This includes fishing lines, hooks, lures, weights, and bait. Not only is fishing a fun activity, but fish are also a great source of protein and knowing how to fish will be important for when times get tough. Stock up on fishing supplies now while you still can.
42. Glow Sticks
Glow sticks are a great alternative to flashlights or candles to help you see in darkness or when the power goes out.
Having to blow your nose when you get stuffy is a basic human need. Kleenexes and tissue are very affordable and widely available, so it’s wise to stock up now while they remain so.
44. Plastic Sheeting
Plastic sheeting can be used as an alternative to tarps for collecting rainwater, building shelter, or covering leaks or broken windows in your home. Stock up on it now while you’re still able to.
The last thing anyone wants is to get a bad sunburn, which can also increase your risk of developing skin diseases. In the summer months especially, sunscreen will be imperative to help keep your skin protected.
Beyond its intended function, superglue offers many important uses as well: it can be used to help close open shallow wounds, patch holes in ripped tents or backpacks, or stop fraying rope or cordage from unraveling further. Superglue is perhaps one of the most overlooked useful items that you can stock up on.
Ordinary towels will get you dry fast after a bath or shower, or they can be used to help cover broken windows or leaks in your home as well. This is an example of a common household item that might not hurt to stock more of.
48. Ziploc Bags
Ziploc bags will prove their usefulness for storing and organizing food you’ve just made or leftovers you’d like to save for later. You can use them for storing and organizing other small items as well. Furthermore, Ziploc bags are very cheap in bulk and can be found at most grocery and convenience stores.
You can sometimes find packs of firewood to buy for cheap at gas stations and convenience stores. It’s a more convenient option for collecting firewood than going out to collect your own (in areas where you can legally do so).
50. Propane Heaters
Do you have any items that are powered by propane, such as lamps, heaters, or outdoor cooking stoves? If so, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of propane canisters stockpiled before times get tough. Just carefully research safe methods for storing propane before you do so.
Although this list of 30-plus items is not exhaustive, hopefully, it gives you an idea of some of the necessities (beyond the priorities of food and water) that you can stockpile without laying out a lot of cash. What would you add to your dirt-cheap list of survival items?
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