The Penny Pinching Prepper Helps You Save and Survive

Who among us doesn’t want to save money?

With the economy in the shape it’s been in the past several years, we could all use money saving tips, couldn’t we?

But what if you want to get better prepared? It costs a lot of money, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t have to. Bernie Carr has written The Penny Pinching Prepper, which helps you save and survive by giving you practical guidance. Discover how to get prepared for a lot less money than you’d think.

Bernie is this week’s DestinySurvival Radio guest, and you won’t want to miss this one.

I didn’t try to discuss everything in her book during our visit because there would have been too much to cover. We touched on a few things you might say jumped out at me as I went through it. You’ll see other points of interest when you look it over for yourself.

Below I’ll combine several highlights of the book along with what we talked about.


The Penny Pinching Prepper in Person

It’s been my experience interviewing guests for DestinySurvival Radio the past few years that almost none are “gloom and doomers.” (I hate to even use the term.) Most of my guests do what they do because they put hope and optimism into practice by getting better prepared.

Some guests are more cheery and enthusiastic than others. But that could be said about the people we meet on the street, couldn’t it? I guess I’m playing the role of Captain Obvious here.

Anyway, Bernie is one of the cheerful preppers. She conveys an attitude that says, “Nothing’s going to stop me. I’ll find a way to get it done.”

When you view Bernie’s site and read her book, you know she’s the real deal. What she does isn’t mere theory.

You’ll find her to be especially encouraging if you’re living in an urban environment. If she’s doing it, there’s hope for you, too.

In case you’re not familiar with Bernie, here’s a bit of background info.


Bernie Carr became fascinated with survival techniques and self-sufficiency as a child, hearing stories of her father’s adventures in the wilds of Southeast Asia as a land surveyor and avid outdoorsman. As an adult, she developed an interest in emergency preparedness and self-reliance, having survived the 1994 Northridge earthquake in California, the 1992 Los Angeles riots, and the evacuation of her home during the 1993 Southern California wildfires. She relocated to Houston, Texas, in an effort to avoid more natural disasters only to arrive in time to encounter the fury of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Bernie has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southern California and has worked as a technical writer in various fields, such as personal finance, insurance,and health care. She is the creator of Apartment Prepper (, a popular website about preparedness while living in small spaces. She has written two other books, The Prepper’s Pocket Guide and Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure.

Bernie resides in Texas with her family.


I interviewed Bernie once before for DestinySurvival Radio in May of 2014 when we talked about her book for children. You can view my post about that here.


The Penny Pinching Prepper


The Penny Pinching Prepper in Print

Is the lack of funds keeping you from geting prepared?

If you think prepping costs too much money, this book is for you.

If you’re on public assistance of some kind, or you know someone who is, Bernie has you in mind.

As odd as it may sound at first, Bernie says once you get started prepping, you can actually start saving money. By writing this book, her goal is to help you get your financial house in order by encouraging you to save money by doing DIY projects as well as learning new survival skills.

You’ll find numerous practical tips throughout The Penny Pinching Prepper. It’s easy to tell she practices what she preaches and passes along what she has learned. Most chapters are short, but each one is packed with tidbits you won’t want to miss.

This book is a terrific survey of a variety of preparedness topics. It’s great for new and inexperienced preppers.

If you’ve been at it for a while and have read several books on preparedness, you’ll see similarities in the information they present. But don’t shy away from this one because Bernie includes a number of gems from her own experience you may not have thought of.

The chapters cover…

  1. Raising Additional Funds for Emergency Supplies
  2. Water
  3. Food
  4. Shelter and Comfort
  5. First Aid
  6. Hygiene and Personal Care
  7. Cleaning
  8. Communications
  9. Safety and Defense
  10. When You’re on the Move
  11. Low Cost Survival and Preparedness Projects
  12. Making Your Own


Get Yourself Together

One of the first things Bernie says a new prepper should do is get organized. Actually, that’s good advice for any of us. Bernie doesn’t merely tell you and me to get rid of clutter, but she recommends what to get rid of. One of her recommendations is to have a garage sale.

I asked her what advice she has for someone who’s not an organized person by nature. She says not to let that stop you. Just get started. And as you get going, it gets easier.


Whittle Down Wallet Worries

Getting out of debt is an important component of being prepared. It’s possible to do that while working on your preparedness strategy. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

If you’re thinking of buying precious metals, Bernie has perspective on that in her book, too. My summary of the bottom line–have your other prepping ducks in a row first.


Keep it Cheap at Home

The Penny Pinching Prepper gives you tips on saving money in your everyday home life. For example, you don’t have to wash clothes in hot water. Save the energy needed to power your water heater. Washing in cold water will work.

Need to know how to turn your hobbies into cash? How about part-time jobs you may not have thought of?


Let Water Wisdom Seep In

Chapter two includes tips on collecting, storing and filtering water. Keep track of how much water you use so you’ll have an idea of how much to store. We tend to use more water each day than we realize.

Bernie tells me she loves her Berkey, but if you don’t have the money for one, you can take advantage of her DYI instructions for making your own gravity flow filter.

Find out how to distill your water as well.


Foster Food Freedom

Did you know you can start your food storage plan for just $10 a week? Bernie gives great tips on what you can buy and get the most for your money. Plus, find out how to package your own storage food.

You’ve probably heard of canning meals in jars. But did you know you can make meals in a jar with dried foods?

Of course, as Bernie and others will tell you, store what you eat. That way you can eat what you’re used to without stress or appetite fatigue.

Do you know how long you can keep eggs, potatoes or onions? These are a few of the practical food related tidbits covered in the book.

If your power goes out for very long, you’ll likely lose food. You may not want to waste it, but don’t take chances getting sick. See the tips on food safety.


Keep Comfortable at Home

In the chapter on shelter and comfort, find info on lighting, batteries, generators, and how to heat your house in winter and keep it cool in summer. Find tips on cooking without electricity, including solar cooking.


Practice Low Cost First Aid

The first aid chapter not only gives a listing of necessary supplies, but you’ll find useful tips and recipes. For example, do you know how to make your own ice pack or heat pack?


Make Homemade Home Products

Did you know you can make hygiene and cleaning products you use every day, such as: shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, hand soap, and laundry soap? If you make these items now, you’ll know what to expect from them when such things aren’t readily available on store shelves.

You can trust Bernie’s recipes because she has tried them herself, or she knows someone who has successfully done so.

If you’re not into making these items, then stock up. And then be ready to rotate them before their quality deteriorates as time slips by.


Put in Place The Rule of Three…Texters

When we think of communications, we think of two way radio, ham radio or CB radio. Bernie touches on those, but she also recommends setting up a calling or texting tree, where each person contacts three other people. That’s an idea I like.

Having three people in your texting or calling tree is an easy number of contacts to manage. Be sure to have a paper copy of information for those contacts.


Stay Safe and Secure

Practicing situational awareness is the first thing mentioned in the chapter on safety and defense. Along with that, don’t do things that call attention to yourself, and you’re less likely to be a target of thieves.

Bernie passes along good info on pepper spray and alternatives. Firearms are also touched on briefly.

Bernie encourages women to get a gun and firearms training. Be certain about it though. Could you actually shoot someone if it came to that?

Thankfully, in many situations, the presence of a firearm is enough intimidation to prevent trouble.


Realize Readiness on the Road

There’s a good chance an emergency or disaster will strike when we’re away from home. How well are you prepared for that if you’re at work? How well equipped is your car? Bernie has great info in her book to help you out.


Get Into Low Cost DIY and Survival Skills

As for low cost survival and preparedness projects, the first order of business is to get your head on straight. In other words, how’s your preparedness mindset?

Beyond that–and this goes back to the need for being organized–are your important papers in order and accessible? Do you have important phone numbers written down and at the ready?

But there’s more.

Do you know how to shut off your utilities?

When is the last time you conducted a fire drill with your family?

Do you know CPR?

Have you taken any CERT courses?

Do you know more than one way to start a fire?

The last chapter focuses on ways you can be more self reliant, including making meals from scratch, baking your own bread, making your own yogurt, canning and dehydrating food, and gardening (even if only in a window).

But what if you’re someone who doesn’t know how to cook? Bernie says it’s never too late to learn.

In fact, she says cooking is a survival skill. That makes sense when you consider how so many of us have become reliant on convenience foods and eating out.

How about making your own soap? Could you sew or mend your own clothes?

Many of these tasks are a lost art today in our high tech, convenience-oriented world.

But at one time Bernie didn’t know how to do these things either. Her example shows there’s hope for you and me to acquire new skills for survival.


The Penny Pinching Prepper on the Podcast

In case you think I’ve written more than I needed to for this overview, I’ve barely scratched the surface. You really do need to hear from Bernie herself.

Do that by listening to my conversation with her on DestinySurvival Radio for October 1, 2015. (Right click to download.) Then get your copy of The Penny Pinching Prepper by clicking on its title wherever you see it in this post. Why not buy it as a gift for someone you know who needs Bernie’s practical guidance?

Also, don’t forget to check out Bernie’s site at for her down-to-earth articles.

If you have thoughts on what you’ve read here or heard on this week’s show, feel free to leave a comment below. What part of prepping seems too costly for you? Where do you need help on cutting corners without sacrificing your chances for survival?

On the other hand, if you have answers, share your wisdom with other preppers. They’ll be glad for any money saving tips you have to pass along.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.