The world is scary.
Not only do I have to worry about spiders, clowns, sharks and hurricanes, but threats of global warming, nuclear warfare and artificial intelligence infiltrate headlines periodically and scare the bejeezus out of me.
Preparing for an emergency seems to be an American pastime, if not a rite of passage. There’s even a TV show where people prepare for a range of potential threats like wildfires and doomsday.
Recent tensions with North Korea skyrocketed sales of such survivalist supplies, according to Time Money.
But the question remains: Is investing in one of these kits really worth it, or are folks just buying into hype?
The Wide World of Doomsday Prep Kits
A Google search for survival kits turns up tons of options.
There are plenty of options, but they ain’t cheap.
Bulk retailers aren’t new to the game, either. In fact, this is their specialty.
Costco offers by-the-pallet food kits. Options range from $999 to $5,999 for a year’s supply, assuming a 1,300- to 2,000-calorie diet.
One of them feeds a family of four for an entire year. It boasts 36,000 servings of food, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, for $6,000. That comes out to 16.7 cents a serving. Just keep in mind, coffee is sold separately.
The specs say this supply will last you 1,460 days, or four years if you eat 2,000 calories a day. So that means you can run from zombies and still get all the nutrients you need with plenty to spare.
In the words of Gloria Gaynor, “I will survive.”
How Much Food Do You Really Need to Survive?
Most of us learned about basic survival in school. You won’t live long without food and water.
Sedentary men over age 18 need more than 2,000 calories per day to survive, according to the the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Sedentary women ages 18 to 50 need at least 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day. Anything below those numbers will result in weight loss.
The caloric needs of boys and girls under 18 start at 1,000 for toddlers and rise to 2,400 calories a day for teenage boys if they’re sedentary.
Most of the survival kits we’ve seen don’t include water, so whatever you do, don’t forget the water or else it’ll all be for naught.
How Much Does It Cost to Eat for a Year?
I pride myself on being pretty frugal with food costs.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a woman my age can survive off $1,965.60 a year, or $37.80 a week on a thrifty plan. Gulp. Guess I’m not as cheap as I thought!
The same plan estimates that a family of four — two adults 19 to 50 years old and two children between ages 2 and 5 — spends $128.90 a week or $6,702.80 a year on food.
So the premium Costco kit with its plethora of servings would be cheaper than living off a bargain-basement budget for a whole year by American standards.
Items in the emergency kits generally keep from 10 to 25 years, so if you have a broke year, I’d say just dig in, because are you really ever going to ever eat it? You could always write it into your will to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.
I wonder how my fiance would feel if we just start eating MREs and put all the extra savings into our retirement accounts.
Can You Compile Your Survival Kit?
This is America! You can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you don’t break any laws.
And we’ve definitely thought about this before because we’re Penny Hoarders, after all.
Having some sort of plan or emergency kit in place when a disaster strikes is smart. Snowstorms and hurricanes can knock out power grids for days. Tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires can destroy your home in a matter of seconds.
You can assemble your own emergency kit for much less than a store-bought one.
But when it comes to a nuclear attack or doomsday-type event, you might need a little more than the basics. We compiled a handy guide to help you wade through the options and stay ready.
Is it survival of the fittest or survival of the most prepared?
Do You Need Survival Gear?
This is entirely a personal decision.
I like to keep a spare tire, car jack and raincoat in my trunk for emergencies. A survival kit is just a more extreme version of that.
Everyone should have some version of a disaster kit because Mother Nature is one fierce woman, and you’ll never know when she’ll strike.
Although investing in a year’s supply of food is in a whole other ballpark. If you have enough money and it is important to you, there are affordable options that cost less than feeding your family for an entire year when the aliens or robots take over.
I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.
Seriously, we got through Y2K and the end of the Mayan calendar. There are other productive ways to prepare, such as learning Morse code, gardening, or skipping the hubbub and investing in a retirement account.
Even Shakespeare warned of a doomsday over four centuries ago. He didn’t seem too worried about it then. Why should you be now?
“Come, let us take a muster speedily. Doomsday is near. Die all, die merrily.”
Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She takes the REM approach to doomsday: “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
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