There is a lot you can do to prep that does not take money or very little money to do.
Shop Garage Sales - one of my personal favorites! I have been able to find tools, clothes, books, camping equipment, toys and so much more at garage sales. The danger of garage sales can be overpricing so be knowledgeable about what you are purchasing. The upside of garage sales is that most items can be haggled over!
Auctions - A lot can be said for auctions. I do not go to them very often, but when I do I usually find some really good deals. Just make sure you bring cash, know what you are willing to spend, and what the item retails for. Bidding at an auction can get out of hand quickly so know your limits.
Freecycle - I like Freecycle. I haven't gotten much from it myself, but I blessed many others with my gently used junk. A lot of great things are posted on the local freecycle and can be used for prepping.
Curb Shopping - Not familiar with curb shopping? This is when your neighbors or townspeople set things out on the curb to get rid of. You can not get away with anything cheaper than that! Many towns will have a scavenger night or a treasure hunt night where people can put the stuff they want to get rid of on the curb of their house and people can drive around and take it. Then the next day the city crews will drive around and take away what is left. Just a word of caution: Do the smell test before you take the item. Just saying.
Dumpster Diving - I hesitate to mention this one. I don't do it. I know of lots of others who do. One overwhelming message they have about this is: know your local laws about this because it could be illegal. But whatever you get out of the dumpster will be free.
Clearance Shelves - I shop a lot of clearance racks and shelves. A lot of awesome things can be found there. I especially love when Target puts things out on clearance, but a note to Target: 15% off is not clearance. That barely constitutes a sale item. A clearance items becomes even better when you can combine it with....
Coupons!!! - I would lose my coupon queen status if I didn't mention coupons! Always a good way to save money! To make sure you are getting the best deal possible, subscribe (for free!) to websites like afullcup.com and couponmom.com that will list the sales and coupons that go with them. They also have forums where others can post great deals they find too.
Consignment and Thrift Stores - A personal favorite of mine too! Just like garage sales, I have found all sorts of things at consignment and thrift stores. Unlike garage sales, prices will be set and you are less likely to deal with overpricing.
Pawn Shops - I am not really that familiar with pawn shops. I know you can get pretty decent items there for at least 50% of the original price if not less. If you are looking at guns and security items, you might want to check out pawn shops. I plan to myself in the next few months. My dad seems to find all sorts of things at them so I am curious too!
Shelves wanting to be filled!
I hope these ideas help you in your prepping efforts. Please make sure you stick to your budget. If you have problems with buying used items, I have two sayings for you:
"Why buy new when used will do!"
"Buy used and save the difference!"
Thanks for reading,