Elzi Gang Member

preparing on a budgetAs some of you know I meet with some friends I have been with during that time.

I describe my experiences in detail in my course but here is how a friend Elzi spent some of his time.

He did not have choice and joined gang to fight. It was only way for him to get some resources and make it through year.

Most people joined gangs for the reason that they did not have any other way to survive, or they thought that was the easiest way to survive.

Some of them did not have food so they joined, some of them did not have weapon for protection and they joined, some of them just wanted someone to lead them.

Most of the folks I know who joined, did that because they were not prepared. Nobody expected what their life would be like.

It was trade with the devil, but trade that had to be done for many to save their families. (Gangs had power and resources, so being in gang meant having usually more food than others for example and of course weapons)

Last time I met Elzi we recorded some things (we recorded for hours, I will write more about his experience if you like).


Elzi’s struggle to survive

I joined because i did not have weapon in my house, and no food for me and my family.

Anyway i had some military experience before, never been in real battle before, but i had training, and know weapon and drill.

I joined group of 8 men, only 3 of us had weapon at the beginning. Our city was divided between many armed groups, maybe 7-8 big organized groups, with alliances and hostilities between them. Each of that big group had many smaller groups, loosely in some kind of alliance more or less. I had to go there because it was only way to feed family.

I talk now about first 5 – 6 weeks. I learned a lot later on.

We “acquired” weapon one night from smashed vehicle, i guess somebody shoot driver and passenger and car roll over. In the back there was 6 rifles, still fresh with oil and grease, i guess they were stolen from some military warehouse during the first days of chaos. In a wooden box we also find 5 mines, on sticks.

This helped us to become stronger group in our alliance and equip all our members with weapons. When we moved through city, we learned quickly in those days, adapt or die. We saw many people die.

We always changed location, every day , or night different location, we lived on move. Enemy groups want to know a bit of the territory before they strike so we did not give them chance to spy out our location. Next night we would be somewhere else. Every night. When i needed shelter, cover, place to hide or sleep i always choose second floor in a house. My group most of time stayed in no mans land. That land between enemy lines so after a night staying in one house, maybe next day we were already in enemy territory.

The front lines were not clear lines, just several rows of houses that were fighting zone. Our no mans land. At night of course we slept always with guard. Moving depended on situation. Because it was densely populated area, houses were close. Almost without space between two houses.

Lot of time we moved from house to house with plank of wood (think of something like in pirate movies to enter ships). We just placed that wood on windows of one house and on balcony or any opening on other neighboring house and walk or crawl to that other house. I became pretty skilled in that very soon. Nobody wants to be on the street in no mans land.

Place of hiding was chosen based on if it had safe exit. So actually in reality whenever i needed place to hide, i always looked for a safe and fast exit from that place. Without safe other way out of the place it was not acceptable, no matter how good looking it was.

Basements were death traps, no matter how good armed and equipped i was. Always higher floors with other exits. We placed a few traps outside, sometimes with mines and sometimes just with ropes and all kinds of junk so we had some clue when somebody was coming.

Getting captured and taken prisoner was no option. We had prisoners too and knew what to expect. Nobody is good to the people that try to kill them.
In no mans land taking prisoners was not so common. Better to end problem directly. The brutal reality caused many people to go through strong feelings of fear.

Lot of people died because of their fear. Because they run in panic or fight in panic. Often during attack there was one point when everyone panicked. When many people run away the massacre starts.

Run first or run last, do not run somewhere when everybody runs. Better to run before everyone runs. But when you run when everyone runs enemies shoot in frenzy. Stupid way to die but feelings were often stronger than smartness.

Another good thing in beginning during the fight was to stay away from bigger group during the shooting. In the panic folks just shoot at all directions and at every moving target. Adrenalin just gets you crazy.

In many situations during a fight it was better to be with one good person than with many. Safer. Quite a few people got shot accidentally by own people.

In reality what i did soon , i just choose position little bit behind my group in fight. A row of houses behind. Safe for shooting, safe for running away, first or second floor of some house or building.

Anyway people learned some things quickly. We became creative. Once we destroyed armored vehicle with lot of gas cylinders hidden in drainage ditch during the night, and next day we waited for vehicle to pass, blew everything up with one grenade.


Elzi made it through the whole year because he is street smart. While you sometimes need group to survive always acting like the herd can cost your life.

Got to make the right choices when it matters, I hope when we share experiences like this here and in course it helps you to get a bit of idea of what to expect when things get bad.

Small decisions can make big difference so every detail matters.

Preparing on a budget

Looking at survival survey results it seems a lot of people have to see where they put their money. Into preps or have to spend it on things for everyday living. I know how this feels and live like that the last decades.

After war I left city with two plastic bags full of random belongings. No documents and nothing else. I was refugee. But lucky that I was able to stay with family on countryside.

preparing on a budget

I never really thought, ok now I prepare or anything. I simply wanted to have all sorts of things I did not have during my SHTF year. So preparing came naturally to me. No surprise. First it was all about weapons. Whenever I had money I bought ammunition, rifles and guns.

When I got my own place and job again I started to get other preps. Economic has ever been bad since war. Sometimes we get paid, sometimes not, sometimes late. So I never had much extra money but even when I got paid, I made plan what I need for next month and what not and then spend most of money on buying things in bulk. For example I drive every few weeks to tankstop half hour away to buy 200 liters of gas. They have it cheaper and give discount. Buying in bulk is not only cheaper I get rid of my money and have things instead. That matters for me.

From other blog posts you also might know I do not value money much and never have after my SHTF year. You can’t eat money and when I do not get paid, or not paid in time I simply live of my preps.

People help when preparing on a budget

Interesting thing might be that my area is at brink of collapse again and has been for some time. We have 40% unemployed people so black market and exchanging things is normal. People do not have money so they exchange whatever they have. I might need new jacket but have knife I don’t want anymore and call a few people and get what I want. 

Most of my friends have same or similar life philosophy, actually it is the matter of choosing right people to hang with them, so I do not have friends who find meaning of life in buying big LCD TV or having fancy car. It is more about having friends with who you can go into the woods for few days with very few things to check how it is like, or to discuss with them how we can get from point A to point B fast and safe when SHTF for example.

We meet for coffee or a few beer and plan this. It is our hobby and has been ever since war. We laugh and have good time, we fear little because we know what to expect and are prepared.

People with who you hang out have influence on you, either you like it or not, so you just have to choose with who you are gonna spend your time. Most of my friends are also exchanging / trading stuff, so it is easier for me to live without money and more with preps.

My guess is if there is slow collapse your country who is now better will come down to this level of where my country is, first before complete economic collapse.

In this state of half collapse I live in I just take safe route and that is having things. So what I write might be future advice for when time has come for your country. I just share how I prepare with my limited budget.

I can trade things now and if total collapse happens I still have more valuable things than worthless money. During collapse those with 1000 $ but broken shoes will pay 1000 $ for a new pair. Just not sure if I would sell because I can not wear those paper notes.

Friends with grey market traders

Another thing that helps is to get right connections. It helps to know some people who work in darker grey areas. People who sell stuff that “fell from a truck” are those who exchange and hustle for living and will be first who become big traders once SHTF. Their job does not change much, just more customers.

Now you may or may not approve this what i say, but consider knowing people from this “grey” area of life as a perfect part of preparing for future SHTF event. Those people is not your local drug dealer who is also on drugs, but more business people who focus on “lost and found” things.

If your country is far away from having trading people like this, look out for them once things get rougher. They will emerge fast. When they are there it is more than time to exchange money and have things instead.

Even now in normal time when i want to buy something, i always look for the word on the street where i can buy something good and cheap. If you have little you have to make things happen, somehow.

If I want military type bag, I always ask few people that I know have good info about that kind of stuff. They can point me to the guy who has that stuff for me. I do not ask too much questions, I do not want to know where that comes from, it is cheap, it is good, I have far greater things to worry about. If I had money I have guy who can sell me tuna cans, in bigger amounts, I mean 400-500 cans, almost in half price. How? Don t know, I do not wanna know.

There is the people here for buying anything, and I think it is similar everywhere i mean for most of the things there is the folks who are selling that, cheaper.

Jay who lives in Thailand went to supermarket manager to make his own deal and saved a lot. How supermarket manager could give him good prices like that? Nobody wants to know. If you do not know grey guys your local supermarket manager might be the go to guy.

How far you wanna go with buying some things from some grey people is up to you. I do not suggest anything when it comes to that. Each and everyone of us have to decide about that.

You may like this way or you may not. If you are poor or have to make difficult choices when buying preps it is form of survival already. When SHTF there will be way more difficult choices and you will laugh about this.

Find those people who trade things now

Even in good times (which are still bad times here compared to most other countries) I can get what I want with exchanging stuff. Pay good attention to when things become more valuable or better investments than money.

If I buy 4 pairs of boots that I know I will use and get them cheaper now, I do this. I live like this for years now but your country might not be there yet, but know time will come.

Money is good, money is great actually, but do not get caught up in situation like in the middle of the night with 1000 $ in your wallet, and S. has just hit the fan, and your 1000 $ is worth 10 cans of food, yesterday it was worth 400 cans, but…

We all expect that we gonna recognize signs, have time.. but we actually can be suprised, all of us. Looking at some alternative media sites I’m not sure if they promote truth or themselves more.

In the end we prepare to be safer and that is something you have to do today, not tomorrow.

Don’t prepare, save money

I know from forums that some people have problem justifying spending money on preps because other family member believe collapse can not happen or the government will provide.

This was never problem for me because all family knows preparing is only smart thing to do. Still you do not have to prepare for collapse officially. I save money by buying in bulk and also save gas by not making that many trips. Also saves my time because we do not have to leave house that often for buying things.

We are slaves of money, modern way of life is doing that to us, and it is hard sometimes to prepare but all of life is full of hard choices and making right choices today might safe one of your family members life tomorrow.

Not being a sheep today

Another good advice I think is that you have to not be one of the herd. Having new iPod might be a must have, but I do not care. It might be easy to say for me because priorities have changed a lot but I do not need most things media of advertisement tries to tell me I need.

You can start having survival mindset today. Those who think they need big LCD TV or latest iPod will have even bigger challenge once times get tougher and they are left with little or nothing.

There are many ways to do this. In this article I explain mine (my 6 months supply list is in course area).

What are your ways of preparing and staying within budget?

The Global State of Survival & Preparedness Report

Survival Report

We are really happy how many people participated in our survey. Over 1800 of you have answered the questions and I have spent the last few nights to whip all the responses into a presentable form. This is done now and I think it gives everyone a good idea what is on most people’s mind, why people prepare, what they prepare for and where you are standing compared to others.

The Global State of Survival & Preparedness Report comes in four parts but I strongly suggest you start with the first part.

Global State of Survival & Preparedness Report I

  • How long have you been preparing / into survival?
  • Please describe in a few sentences what scenario you are preparing for and what events might trigger it.
  • Do you currently prepare for a long term survival scenario? (5 years + / sustainable living)
  • (Optional) Why don’t you prepare for a long term survival scenario?
  • How long would your current food supply last? (Just the food you store)
  • How do you buy your preparations?
  • Where do you buy your preparations?
  • What made you start to get into survival?

Global State of Survival & Preparedness Report II

  • How threatening are the following scenarios for you?
  • Natural disasters
  • Economic Collapse
  • War between countries
  • Civil war or rioting
  • Totalitarian regime (new world order)
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Pandemics / widespread health problems
  • What kind of natural disaster might affect you?

Global State of Survival & Preparedness Report III

  • If you could take only 5 items with you in a bug out bag what would they be?
  • How experienced are you in the following areas?
  • Self defense / hand to hand combat
  • Weapon handling (guns, rifles, knifes..)
  • Homesteading / sustainable agriculture
  • Medicine / first aid
  • Trading / bartering
  • Food preservation / water storage
  • Wilderness survival / bushcraft
  • Hunting and trapping
  • Financial preparedness
  • In what areas would you like to improve your skills?
  • What was the most helpful survival skill you have learned so far?

Global State of Survival & Preparedness Report IV

  • In case of SHTF how many people do you have to take care of?
  • Does your group include children or people who depend on assistance or support?
  • Do you try to network with other preppers in your area?
  • How many other preppers or survivalists do you know personally?
  • What is your plan if it comes to a total collapse from one day to another?
  • What factors do you consider to be the most essential for your survival once shtf?
  • Summary