Survivalism vs. Minimalism – can you have both?

Can't wait to see the colors in the sky and the reflections on the water like this again. Spring, come to me!!
Can’t wait to see the colors in the sky and the reflections on the water like this again. Spring, come to me!!

This is a question I’ve been grappling with lately. Don’t ask me why – I’m not sure exactly what got me started on this. Maybe it was finding a few youtube videos by this guy, the MainePrepper, and realizing he’s not a complete nutbag who thinks that his views are the only possible views out there in the world, or maybe because I am the granddaughter of someone who lived through the Great Depression, and always had her “reserve” cabinet of food in her house, even in the early 2000s.

I definitely want to get rid of extra stuff in my life. But I also want to be prepared for emergencies or disasters, too. Thing is, my $ sources are not unlimited, and my space is somewhat limited too, living in an apartment. And my plan is to live in a small home/rv/manufactured home, etc., so it’s not like that space is going to get any bigger from what I have now…

So, where does this leave me?  Well, I’m working on preparing myself in a few ways.

Food.  A lot of preppers/survivalists say you want to work up to saving three months of food at your home. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that much extra space.  However, I will slowly build up some of my food stores – this just makes good economical sense to have some extra foods set aside for a rainy day, be it if I lose my job, or there is a natural disaster that occurs in this area.  The possibilities are endless.  It can’t hurt to buy extras of things that have a long shelf life, and which I eat regularly anyway, especially if I can get them on sale. The saying is to “save what you use and use what you save.”

Physical and mental fitness. This is one area where I think I am already in good shape (hm….not sure, pun intended?!) If, god forbid, something absolutely awful happens and I end up having to travel somewhere far on foot or by bike, etc., I want to be in shape. Seeing as how I want to eventually transition into doing personal training full time, that’s one area where I am totally on board, and already there. Just have to keep maintaining it.

And where the mental fitness comes in, that means you need to have a positive attitude that you can get through times of crisis, and that you are a survivor and don’t just say “oh, I can’t do this….I just can’t…” as you sink down the side of a wall and curl up into a ball and cry yourself to the point where you can’t really breathe right, like a little kid who is hyperventilating. (We’ve all been there and been “that kid”, you know what I mean.) That’s giving in and being a victim. And if any of you know me, either virtually or in real life, you know that’s just not who I am.

Getting rid of debt. Yes, this is actually part of “prepping” for a disaster.  You all know how I’m doing on the debt front (think, slowly but surely), and saving up as much as I can. I’m happy to say that I met a personal milestone goal this week in terms of saving, but because this is the internet, I won’t say exactly what that is. My adviser and I have agreed that any money made from my freelance work will be split three ways – some into savings, some into paying down the student loans, and some into my account in which I’m setting aside funds for next year’s taxes.

Learning self-defense and other skills.  Some of you know that I have been going to self defense classes recently, and they are taught at a school that teaches the art of Krav Maga. While I’m not so naive as to think that’s all I would need to know, I figure that is good knowledge to have whether or not the world as we know it collapses. While I’m stronger than most women my size, truth is, I’m small. I need both physical strength and mental smarts, as in how to avoid conflicts, etc.  Also, I don’t plan on living in the city forever, so if I am in the suburbs or even a more rural area, I will need to know how to take care of myself.

I am considering saving up to buy myself a physical weapon, but believe me, I will have so much training on it before that happens. And, of course, I will research the hell out of it before I buy anything. Whether or not to own a gun is a very controversial issue and it’s one I am still figuring out for myself. I won’t judge others on this, so I ask you to not judge me either.  (I welcome your thoughts, just say them in a constructive way in the comments if you have an opinion.)

Learning practical skills. In this area, I have a lot of work to do. I’m not a handy person at all, so I need to learn how to use tools, do bicycle maintenance, etc. I haven’t done a whole lot of research into this area, but I definitely plan on it, whether it be through adult education classes or via watching gazillions of youtube videos on how to do things, make things, etc.

The problem I’m having with resolving these two different frames of thought is that I feel like with survivalism, there is a bit of negativity and a whole lot of fear, and that’s not how I want to live my life. I don’t want to live every day like “oh my God, the sky is falling!” I’ve developed a positive attitude about a lot of things and I like being that way. It didn’t happen overnight – my attitude took a hell of a lot of work and self-reflection and I went through a whole lot of pain to get to the point where I am now in life. But, with minimalism, are the people who follow that line of thinking just living in a dream world?

What do you think? Is it better to be a minimalist and only have what you need for right now, or is it better to be prepared, even if nothing happens? 

12 thoughts on “Survivalism vs. Minimalism – can you have both?

  • This is a great topic of conversation Terri. Personally, I believe minimalism prepares one for survivalism because you learn the art of non-attachment to stuff. You also know how to live on little. Minimalism also teaches you how to recycle, reuse stuff or how to use your creativity with the resources you already have. Ultimately, one become more practical in the event of an emergency. Taking in a little closer to home, in my family we’ve learned to make “magic” on very little food, clothing, etc. I don’t wish for any “dooms day” event…but if it ever did happen, even without a 3 month pantry of items, I would think we could make ends meet because we’ve been “practicing” on a regular basis. It’s also not a bad idea to take classes and learn new survival skills as you mentioned. Just my thoughts…

    • Thank you, Kelvin. I agree with you on the minimalism helping in a way to assist you in assigning value to things and not to others. Like, if there was a doomsday scenario, I think I know what I would take and what I wouldn’t, with my animals being of the most importance, and maybe my two photos of my grandparents (Which I would even take out of their frames so they don’t weigh too much.) Minimalism has definitely helped me to think in a different way about what is necessary and what is not. You’re right – it really is an “Art” – not being attached to stuff. I look at some people I know who are still caught up in the wanting of “things” and I feel sorry for them. I really do.

      • Exactly! I’m not saying non-minimalist wouldn’t know what to do. But it sure helps to live a lifestyle of non-attachment to things. It has helped me to focus on my relationships which are more valuable to me.

      • Agreed. Stuff is always replaceable. People, once they are gone, are not. When it comes down to it, I know what’s important if/when the SHTF, something I probably couldn’t have said a few years ago. And am very grateful for my online friends like you, Kelvin. (Hope your wife is feeling ok.)

  • The apocalypse is only coming to the unprepared. I have safety equipment on the boat, not because I’m paranoid but because I’m prepared. I never intend to use it but because its there I never have to worry about it. Three months of food for both myself and Chloe plus a ton of booze and yummy snacks. I rotate though this constantly but honestly if I had to I’m prepared to set sail today and could make it to Australia or anywhere in-between today. I should mention that I’m not a survivalist or a prepper, I’m a yachter If some major tipping point occurred and they seem to quite often, I won’t be in survival mode, I’ll be sipping red wine and eating fresh cheese anchored off some beautiful Island.
    PS You asked so I’ll tell, guns… for me personally the answer is no and I could write a book about all the reasons why. 🙂

    • Your dog’s name is Chloe?? I had a cat for 16 years with the same name. I lost her about two years ago, and then started the adoption of a few others! (I have 5 now. Cue the crazy cat lady theme song.) How do you keep that much food on board the ship? That’s impressive.

      I’ve done some thinking since I wrote that post – I think I want to be prepared in the way of having skills that can be useful if the “apocolypse” comes. Admittedly, I don’t consider myself very handy as of now, but I plan on learning. I need to if I am going to be living on my own, either in a tiny house or a motorhome (as my tiny home). I have thought about having a gun just because I will be a single woman with my furry animals, and realize and RV may not be the most secure of abodes. I wouldn’t ever want to use it unless I absolutely had to. So I’ve not gone through all the steps on that thought yet. Many people tell me “don’t get one if you aren’t prepared to use it.” I think “prepared” is different than “wanting” in this case.

      Like many things in my life lately, I’m not putting pressure on myself to make a decision on this, one way or the other, just yet. There’s no rush with something so major.

  • Glad to hear you do a little prepping =) I live in a small space but I still make room for Spam and water containers. I live in an earthquake prone area and I’m not going to be one of those in line for water and food….Its too bad that most people today are too complacent and don’t think about these things.

    • Oh wow, Spam….that’s something I have not eaten since I was a kid! 🙂 I do have some items in bulk, but not a ton. I do try to think of readiness in skills, however.

      • Spam is not something I eat either but it holds for decades. I buy stuff, store it and not think about it. I make up for the lack in skills with stuff =) I’ll have plenty of time to figure it out while bunkered in from the zombies.

      • You must be a fan of the Walking Dead! I’m dying for more seasons/episodes to become available on Netflix. I’ve only seen it through Season 3. 😦

      • Yep, I’m a fan of The Walking Dead =) Its one of the few shows I watch these days. I quit subscribing to cable years ago so I would buy the show from iTunes. Breaking Bad was the other show I was purchasing. Hulu and Amazon Prime fills in the rest. I didn’t start watching TWD until season 3, I never gave it a chance and now I’m an addict =)

      • I actually got rid of my TV about two years ago and I’m so glad I did. I know people who have taken time off from work to finish watching Breaking Bad, believe it or not! Yep, I love Hulu (free part of it) and Amazon Prime. I also have Netflix. For $8/month, it’s not bad.

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