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!