I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from new subscribers to the Survival Pulse email newsletter (our prepper & survivalist news mail out; you can subscribe here if you’re interested) letting me know that they’re having difficulty at home with spouses who don’t approve of prepping in general, and spending money on preparedness in particular.
A problem like this is a tough cookie to crack, but I don’t think it’s impossible to live with and work around. If your spouse isn’t at all a fan of prepping, I firmly believe that there’s still away to go about prepping that:
- Doesn’t involve you lying to them (I would never advise you do this).
- Doesn’t involve them thinking you’re crazy – we’re not going for “completely normal” here, but “quirky” or “has an odd hobby” will definitely do.
- Doesn’t involve them getting mad about the allocation of finances to prepping.
These are, in my opinion, the three issues you really need to tackle if you’ve got a spouse who is not a prepper, doesn’t understand why the hell anyone would want to be, and hates the fact that money is disappearing someplace they don’t particularly approve of.
If you’re interested in more on this topic, by the way, take a read through my article: How to Have the Prepper Talk With Your Family.
Now on to the tips.
Part I: How to Make Sure You’re Not Lying to Your Spouse About Prepping
1. Don’t pretend you’re not prepping when you are.
Likely, your default way of dealing with a non-prepper spouse who dislikes the idea of you being a prepper is to continue to prep, but without ever telling him or her about your prepping. Don’t do this. Have some sort of discussion with him or her about preparedness, though make sure you go about it in the right way. Use the tips from section 2 to go about it in the right way.
2. Don’t hide the fact that you’re using family money to prep.
Just don’t. I mean really. It’s not worth it at all. Money is the #1 reason couples fight. We all know this, so don’t make your life harder by getting into a situation where you’re basically setting yourself up for a really, really big fight.
There is a better way to do things than to prep using family money in secret. Of course, that’s to make sure that your spouse is okay with the money you’re spending on preps. This will need to come about slowly, through compromise, and through a lot of back and forth, but more on that in section 3 of this article.
Part II: How to Make Your Prepping Behaviour Seem Less “Insane” to a Non-Prepper
1. Do not go full tilt into the prepper talk. Don’t talk about TEOTWAWKI situations.
Again – JUST DON’T. Normal people do not like thinking about the end of the world. Normal people do not think it’s realistic. I don’t care if you want to be completely open and honest with your spouse about prepping and your beliefs that an EMP or solar flare will cause a TEOTWAWKI situation, you can get to that point of honesty and openness eventually, but you have to work your way up to that level. If you haven’t yet spoken about these kinds of end-of-world situations with your spouse because you were worried about how it would come off, you had the right gut intuition: don’t do it yet. Test the waters with something more “normal” to prep for (job loss, natural disasters, etc.), and then work your way up to what normal people consider to be crazy.
If you have gone full-tilt prepper TEOTWAWKI talk before on your spouse and this is why you’re having problems – stop now. It can be fixed. Nothing is beyond hope. Just don’t talk about TEOTWAWKI situations anymore to him or her. Yes, I’m telling you to censor yourself – but it’s for your own good. You can’t just expect your spouse to be okay with something they’re fundamentally not empathetic to overnight. Cut out end of the world talk completely, starting today.
Until when you ask? When is it okay to talk about it again? When they ask about your TEOTWAWKI beliefs – if ever they do. Other than that go talk to someone who’s actually as interested as prepping in you. Sign up for a forum or tweet to us – whatever you like. Just from now on, treat prepping like it’s a miniature collection hobby that no one “in real life” wants to hear you drone on about, find like-minded people to chat about it with online, and leave your family alone about it. They will be so much happier and you will have a much easier time converting them to be okay with you prepping.
See what I said about hobbies? That leads me straight into my next point.
2. Explain away prepping by saying it’s a hobby.
Yes, I’m 100% on your side when it comes to seeing prepping as not-at-all-like-a-hobby. I firmly believe it’s a lifestyle and not a hobby at all, but if you’re trying to get the people in your life to be okay with you doing something extremely “weird” in their eyes, the absolute best way to do this is by chalking your behaviours and passions down to a simple hobby.
Why would this work? People let a lot of things slide when they can be chalked down to quirks of a hobbyist. You see many people complain that collectors are hoarders? I really don’t think so. If you collect model airplanes, old guitars, or antique furniture, even so much that your house is drowning in them, you are not crazy, just “eccentric.” Be eccentric! There’s nothing wrong with eccentric! Better than crazy – you can’t recover easily from crazy. Conversely, you can even go so far as to win people over with “weird” and “quirky.”
3. At first – talk about the smallest emergencies you could possibly think up.
“The power went out for 3 hours? Shoot! What happens if it goes out for a whole day? We should make sure we have a backup generator so the food in the fridge doesn’t spoil. It’s too expensive to let go to waste.”
“Oh no, what happens if the power goes out in the winter? We really need to get more warm things. Our blankets aren’t warm enough to keep us cozy if the power goes out. Can I get some warmer ones? Is that okay?”
Literally. The. Smallest. Emergencies.
Things they cannot doubt may happen.
4. As slowly as you possibly can muster, start increasing the size of those emergencies, and introducing the “concern” over slightly bigger SHTF situations happening.
“Did you know that one winter the weather was really bad in Toronto, and they had a power outage that lasted 5 days? I’m kinda worried something like that could happen here. I think I’m going to grab one of those portable stoves and some gas for it, so that even if the power’s out we can at least still warm up some soup or something.”
“They’ve been talking about layoffs at my friend’s work and I’m really worried something like that could happen to us. What would we do if you lost your job and it took a little while to find another one? Can we start saving money so that in case it ever happens, we would be okay for at least a month or two? I don’t want to have to ask friends or family for help.”
Take the prepper talk one small step up at a time. You should be prioritizing smaller emergencies when prepping anyway, and ones more likely to happen locally (like natural disasters specific to your area), as those are the most likely to take place. If something has happened in your area or to your group of friends and family before, chances are your spouse will be more likely to see them as rational reasons for worry, and thus prep for.
5. Questions about your TEOTWAWKI beliefs? Tread carefully. Answer honestly, but make sure you sound as rational as possible.
One night you’re watching TV together on the couch, and out of the blue: “Do you really think something like The Walking Dead could happen?” This is your opportunity. Your moment to shine. Except – be really careful.
Instead of belting out something like, “Yes, that’s totally possible, of course!!” – try containing your excitement at having been finally asked a cool prepper question, and answer something along the lines of this instead: “Yes, it’s possible. Unlikely of course, but we have absolutely no idea what kinds of diseases could come our way. We don’t even know how to cure cancer, as well as many other diseases we’ve had for thousands of years. If something like a zombie disease came about, I don’t think we’d be able to figure out a cure quickly, and I don’t think we’d deal with it too well.”
You can see where I’m going with this, right? It’s not about what you say (i.e. I believe this is possible), it’s about how you explain it.
Three important steps in making sure you sound as compelling as possible:
- Always explain that you know the probability of something extreme taking place is low.
- Always explain exactly why you think a specific situation may be possible. Don’t just leave it at, “Yes, it’s possible.”
- Do not get defensive. Do not be aggressive about your beliefs. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And your spouse is most certainly a fly you want to catch.
Part III: How to Get Your Spouse to be Okay With You Spending Money on Preps
This shouldn’t be as hard to do as you currently may feel like it is. That being said, you have to lower your expectations because it’s highly unlikely your spouse is going to be happy with you doing everything you want to do from a preparedness standpoint. That’s okay! Take what you can get, especially at first. You can build up from anything.
1. Make sure to recommend inexpensive items as solutions to the emergency situations you’re thinking about.
Don’t say you want a bunker. Don’t say you want gas masks or solar panels that mean you can live off grid. Those are expensive items and many preppers who have spouses who are fine with them prepping still wouldn’t be able to get their spouse to agree to purchasing these because of how much they cost.
There are many ways to keep costs down when prepping. Buy gear when it’s on sale. Buy inexpensive kit that’s well worth the money. Buy your survival food from a grocery store when there are good deals running. Keep those expenses down!!
2. Do your best to recommend items that you can use for purposes besides prepping. Bring up these alternate purposes as luxuries worth having.
Some things that play well into this:
- Gas or charcoal barbeque (or both): I want a barbeque in case we want to be able to cook if the power’s out, but also because I think it’d be nice to host some barbeques for our friends in the summer.
- Sub-zero degree sleeping bag & tent: I think sleeping bags and tents are handy items to have around in case there’s an emergency, but also I want to camp more with you guys, and it’s uncomfortable to do it without good camp gear like that.
- Mountain bike: I want to invest in a good bicycle because they’re really good in case gas prices skyrocket for some reason, but also I want to exercize more and that’s cheaper than buying a gym membership.
- Waterproof matches & wet fire tinder: I want to grab fire starting tools because these would come in handy if there ever happened to be a power outage in the winter, but they’re also great for using to start camp fires or keeping barbeques going in the summer.
3. Make sure the overall amount you’re spending on prepping isn’t very high.
I list this as separate from making sure you’re recommending inexpensive items to buy because if you’re buying tonnes of inexpensive items, the bill could still be very excessive at the end of the month or year. Want to make sure your spouse is cool with prepping over time? Don’t break the bank. This isn’t wise to do anyway, as if you’re a prepper you should well know by now that not getting yourself into debt and having emergency funds are two of the most important preps you could ever possibly work on. Don’t dip into those savings for gear or to increase your stockpile. Period.
4. Ask your spouse how much they are okay with you spending on prepping (your “hobby” remember?) a month, and stick to that figure.
Build trust. It’s important for your relationship, and it’s important for your peace of mind. Ask what your spouse is okay with and make sure you stick to that, or spend considerably less some months and garner a few extra points.
Your spouse is probably okay with you spending some money on prepping. You can frame it as, this is my “spoil myself” money that I use on “my hobby” – imagine if you had a music hobby, that would be quite expensive considering how much musical instruments usually run. This should be reasonable financially by comparison.
5. Ask your spouse if he/she would be okay with you getting a part time job and using the money from that to fund your preps.
You can get a side gig, like babysitting or tutoring, or you can get an actual part time job and use the money from that to fund your preparedness. Even if your spouse isn’t okay with you using all the extra money you’re making on preps, ask if you can use half or three quarters of the extra money on your prepping.
6. Compromise. If your spouse doesn’t like the idea of buying something you really wanted for your preps, offer something else as an alternative he or she may be okay with.
Usually this is just a matter of the thing you wanted being too expensive, so if you offer a much cheaper alternative, chances are your significant other will be a lot more okay with you going out and purchasing that then your original, expensive option. Again, you can prep and buy gear on the cheap. Don’t think that just because your spouse doesn’t approve of you prepping that you’re the only one not able to buy everything you wanted related to prepping. Most preppers have tight budgets they have to stick to, and have to build stockpiles within that tight budget whether or not their spouse approves of their prepping.
7. Try to do as much “free prepping” as possible.
Follow these steps here to stockpile items for free or next to nothing. If you’re hardly spending a cent, I doubt your significant other will care that you’re prepping. You may want him or her to be happy about your preps, but let’s be honest, being indifferent because they don’t mind it is one heck of a lot better than fighting about it.
Trying to Prep As Cheaply As Possible?
Take a look at our articles on affordable prepping in order to help you stick to your budget while prepping:
- How to Stockpile Items for Free or Next to Nothing
- 10 Tips for Building a Stockpile on a Budget
- How to Stockpile Food and Other Goods Cheaply
And if you’re looking for inexpensive survival gear to buff up your prepper stockpile, take a look at what we think the best bang-for-buck survival gear products are at the $5, $10, $15, $20, & $25 price points.
You can also at times find some great sales at outdoor retailers like Cabella’s, REI, and Patagonia. Take a look at our massive list of knife & outdoor retailers’ sale, deal, & clearance pages to do a quick comparison of the discounts currently available on the web.
Tips for preppers with spouses who don’t get prepping?
Anything I missed in this article that you could suggest to someone who’s a prepper but has a spouse who most certainly isn’t happy about it?
If you’re a prepper who has a spouse that isn’t a prepper, have you gotten them to the point where they’re okay with you prepping? Have any of you managed to “convert” those in your lives to becoming preppers as well? How did you do it?
Let me know in the comments!
Celeste Leavitt says
I think besides the financial investment, a likely objection a spouse would have is storage space. “OMG it looks like we are hoarders! Quit buying so much stuff!!”
Thomas Xavier says
Thankfully, I never had that problem but I can see why people think we are hoarders!
Bobs dock says
Tell her to go do your laundry ! Oh an make you a sandwich !
get a divorce !
My husband and I agreed to disagree. I can prep all I want and he won’t say a word as long as he doesn’t have to go with me to do it. He said he would help with the garden bring the things in out of the truck, just don’t ask him to go to Sam’s one more time! He is a good man, a hard worker, a good dad to our 2 birth and 12 adopted children but he just doesn’t think we are facing a disaster that necessitates buying enough food for an army. I prefer for him to be right, but I could not live with myself if I did not do all I could to protect my children. He doesn’t care how much I spend so guess where I am going tomorrow? I love your website, by the way. Great job
Elise Xavier says
Haha. That’s not a bad deal, though! At least he’s okay with you doing what you feel you need to do. It’s like when one person handles the finances, another does all the cooking – separating responsibilities is completely normal & you have the prepping responsibilities. I’d be totally okay with that. No harm, no foul!
Thanks for the compliment on the site :). Hope to see you in the comments again!
Well, I don’t really consider myself to even be a professional prepper but I do believe it’s a good idea to an extent. Probably all posts on this article are from people in the US, but I live in Australia and even though it is a post-modern tech advanced society we get regular reminders from the government to ‘prep’ for bad weather, fire evacuations, being cut off because of floods, storms etc. Where I live is usually always perfect weather but you get that once in 10 year event.. Just before the December holiday period the entire state of South Australia lost power for about 3 weeks due to damage to the electricity grid from a freak storm, and this has never ever happened before. Then it happened again after the holidays for about a week. There was political uproar and outrage about it. Back in 2011 Queensland got flooded for the first time since 1974 and people were cut off without food for weeks and begging for help from the Army who had to use black hawk helicopters to drop supplies in. These things are rare but do happen and it’s good to have some stocks on hand. Some people here do have generaters. I at least have a gas camping cooker and butane gas bottles and I bulk by with shopping.
Where I live we lost power for about 1 hour recently and I could hear people starting generators up straight away to keep their air cons going. Extra blankets and things like that could be justified with the idea that it would be handy to have for visitors. Alot of thing that are purchased for prepping could be useful for general use in the house and camping holidays etc. A lot of canned foods could be rotated back into the household to prevent being stuck with really old stuff in the prep stocks, so a lot of it can be circulated around for other uses too. If you have someone so adverse to any prepping and not willing to compromise then it may be a case of incompatibility.
Elise Xavier says
I actually think the fact that your government tells you to prepare for small emergencies is so good for society. It helps normalize planning ahead and thinking about small scale emergencies and natural disasters, which is the first step, I believe, in getting people to think about planning for bigger problems they may encounter in their lives.
There are always little emergencies taking place, no matter which country you live in, but responding to them by telling people to be more mindful and prep for bad weather or power outages is such a useful thing for the government to do, I’d say. So much better than to tell people to just trust them.
I think that turning your generator on for air conditioning is hilarious of course, but I guess that goes to show that some people just do as their told and don’t really think about the why (i.e. the fact that the generator is supposed to be there to help with a real emergency – the power could be out for weeks potentially and so they should save their generator).
Great comment! Thanks for sharing.
Yes I agree that people should save the generator. On another note, serious prepping for apocalyptic type events goes well beyond things mentioned in my post and doesn’t account for biological hazards and things of that kind, so is just a starting point and doesn’t account for having to flee for your lives.
Tonight I am listening to repeated emergency announcements on the radio telling the population of area along a section of coastline to evacuate immediately because an out of control fire is about to engulf the entire area. It is a regional area but with quite densely populated suburbs and businesses. So I guess you would have to have all of your prep stuff underground to protect it all from something like this and fires would happen as a by-product of some other events too. This makes me think that you would need supplies ready to throw in your car or truck to evacuate with unless you have somewhere and someone to take you in an supply you with everything.
I also noticed that I have a can of strawberries in syrup that is over a year out of date and some other stuff like chickpeas that have expiry dates that means that they are good for another 2 or 3 years, so this is something to keep an eye on.
Elise Xavier says
Definitely. Thanks for the tips. And yeah, having to move away from your base is probably my worst nightmare. Not easy at all – but certainly has to be done at times.
Dry pasta and other basic foodstuffs are cheap and last forever. I prep for calories almost exclusively with these foods. I am attracted to the big freeze-dried pallet load of canned dried foods that lasts decades (a year of food for 2 people). But I really can’t justify to myself the commitment to spend thousands of dollars and eventually eat a years worth of powdered eggs and other powdered/processed stuff if the year-long crisis NEVER comes. If the crisis came I’d congratulate myself as a genius, but it has not come yet in the last several centuries. So I can understand a spouse saying no to getting the pallet load of food, the vault full of guns, and trading in your vacation money for gold coins. But disasters come to every place. Hurricanes, forest fires, tornadoes, blizzards. A well-stocked pantry, some emergency supplies, some ready cash so you can buy gas when the cards don’t work. That sort of prepping is a much easier argument to make.
Elise Xavier says
I know, I agree. I may eventually buy some dried food packs for really long term survival but that’s not at all my priority. I’d rather work on a way to be more self-sufficient anyway. I’d take that investing that money in an amazing prepper garden over using it to buy dried food packs any day.
Very pragmatic article. It’s easy to forget that prepping is “outside” the norm. You have to start from where your spouse is, not from where you are. You probably can’t even meet half way, but just one baby step ahead of him or her. Prepping for a snow storm or power outage is within the realm of reality for most people. I love the barbecue scenario. When we were building our house I used a small BBQ for three months and a two burner hotplate for six months.
Elise Xavier says
Yeah definitely agree with everything you said. And BBQs are seriously helpful! Emergency or not.
The economy over the last few years has helped bring my family around. They’re not full blown preppers but I’ve convinced them that by buying non perishable food when it’s on sale saves them money in the long run. As food prices keep rising They’ve begun to see that staying ahead of the curve really is a cost saving tool. Of course you have to buy stuff that you actually use. Buying something just because it’s on sale might benefit the local food bank but it doesn’t help you if it’s going to sit on a shelf until it goes bad.
As far as the Zombie apocalypse goes I’ve interjected a little humor into the subject. A couple of years ago the military had a large scale zombie excersize in California and the CDC had a zombie apocalypse page on their website. When the subject comes up I always remind them that the government sponsored the plans because if you’re ready for the apocalypse you can handle any lessor disaster with ease.
Elise Xavier says
So great that your family has come around. I think it’s always important to remember that even if you start off one place, people learn and change a lot over the years at times. Especially if you go about explaining in the right way.
This: “When the subject comes up I always remind them that the government sponsored the plans because if you’re ready for the apocalypse you can handle any lessor disaster with ease.” Spot on. I actually wrote an article about not getting doomsday prepping at first and how I actually get it now thanks to people like you who point out this kind of logic.
It’s here in case anyone else reading the comments is ever interested: http://morethanjustsurviving.com/rational-doomsday-preppers/
There’s an old adage; prepare for the worst and hope for the best and you’ll never be disappointed.
Elise Xavier says
Yes exactly :).
I explained to my kids that this is the way your father and I grew up. Our parents and grandparents alway put food up because your crops may fail next season and what will you eat. I told them prepping is just a new name for an old way of life.
Elise Xavier says
Spot on – I think that’s actually one of the best ways to sum it up & explain I’ve seen, Bonnie.
Great article with a logical approach!
Elise Xavier says
“My Spouse Doesn’t Like Me Prepping: What Can I Do?”
Missing Answer: Trade them in for one that does.
I use the following:
a.) Examples that really DO scare my wife. She is paranoid of tornadoes, so I emphasize that this impacts readiness for something like that
b.) I let her know that as a man, it is my job to protect the family; her job is to make a home. I need to respect her doilies, candles, etc.; so ask politely that she respect the mandate the God has given me as a man – protect the family.
c.) She is sensitive, as most women are. So I let her know what I am doing, very rarely do I go in to serious issues, like a CME/EMP. However there are times she is open to that on rare occasions, so I take advantage
d.) I refer to bad things that happened in her life, such as losing her family farm and mother to cancer the same year as an example.
e.) She gets the debt and deficit issue will destroy the country, so I use that as a lead in and focus on the things she gets.
f.) I also let her know that most men have a McGuyver side to them – some of this is that McGuyver/he-man/cave man part that most men have. She respects that, just as I respect her home-making abilities.
g.) Every winter I prepare for winter, as I know it is coming. So with an economic meltdown. Maybe it will be bad, or mild – you never know. But you don’t go into any winter in the north expecting it will be 50F all winter.
I never like or mis-represent. She knows what I am doing. But a lot of stuff I just keep low key, and don’t inform her of every little move, Last night I bought a Dutch oven for $30 I had lying around. We aren’t broke, and we never tell each other of minor purchases, so that helps keep the stress down. I appreciate that fact that she just doesn’t want catastrophe in front ofher on a daily basis. So, it all works for us…
Elise Xavier says
This is all really good advice. I’m sure those in similar situations will be relieved to read about your experiences and that it’s totally “doable.”
Honestly, I think you’ve found a great dynamic. Works very well in my opinion.