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The Poor Woman's Survival Guide

FREEBIES
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In America there are many freebies that will help to reduce the cost of preparing for the future.

Before listing the freebies available to you a word of warning.  Many businesses provide their paying customers with free extras.  These are meant for paying customers not for freeloaders.
 
If you are not a paying customer taking these extras is stealing.  If a business that you visit has free extras then buy something and take a few extras home with you.  Never more than two of each item.
 
When I was preparing for a previous downturn in the economy I watched a homeless man at a fast food restaurant.  He ordered some french fries and literally drowned them in catsup and mayonaise.
 
The woman who took his order and I watched with excruciating looks on our faces as the homless man devoured his catsup, mayonaise and fries.  Neither of us said a word.  What could we say, he was a paying customer and using the extras provided by the restaurant.
 
If a business wanted to change its policy concerning these extras it would have to put up a sign warning its customers about the change. 
 
If the business then allowed the mayor's wife to violate this change and enforced it against a homeless person they would be inviting an expensive lawsuit.  A lawsuit the homeless person would probably win.
 
Some of the extras that I have come across are:
Salt and pepper in paper shakers.
Coffee creamer
Sugar
Honey
Candy
Tea bags
Book matches
Ketchup and Mustard
Jams and Jellies
Hot sauces
Napkins
Plastic knives, forks and spoons
Straws
Tie string
Soap
Shampoo
Hand cream
Sewing kits
Water Bottles
 
The salt and pepper shakers are single use only.  Most fast food places have these available.  You should store them in plastic bread bags with the tie wires or the plastic twist top that they come with, or you can buy resealable plastic bags.
 
Ten of each stored in your car will provide you with all the salt and pepper you will need during most natural diasters.
 
For any emergency lasting more than 10 days you should have a set of disposable salt and pepper shakers.  Mine cost a dollar at the dollar store.
 
Napkins, almost all food places provide napkins for their customers.  At a sit down restaurant take any napkins, that are provided, home after they serve you dinner.  In fast food places you should take a few napkins home with you each time you visit.
 
At home you should deposit them in a convienient box in your pantry.  When the box is full tape the top shut, label it, and put the box in storage.  You should provide one napkin for each person in your household per day.
 
Napkins can be used for the sniffles or as a substitute for toilet paper.  Buying toilet paper may be a waste of money, as you will probably use it when you are short on money.  Addressing or failing to address your sanitation needs during an emergency can make the difference between life and death.
 
Most fast food places provide plastic knives, forks and spoons for their customers.  After you touch the plastic dinnerware most places will not allow you to return them even if they are in sealed plastic bags.
 
A supply of plastic knives forks and spoons will make your life easier during an emergency.  You should have a supply of these available.  Try to clean them after use and reuse them if you can keep them clean.  Otherwise keep them in a container until they can be cleaned and reused.
 
If you do not clean and reuse them a single person will need 365 sets and a family of four will need 1460 sets for their years supply.   It would be easier to keep a small supply that you intend to clean and reuse.
 
Paper plates.  Most fast food places use plastic plates not paper plates.  If you go to a fast food place and they serve you with a plastic plate consider taking home the plastic plate, wash it and put it in your emergency food storage.
 
Otherwise you can buy paper plates for low cost in most large box stores or dollar stores.
 
You should make room in your storage plan for your personal or family vices.  Most adults enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.  Many places provide more than one tea bag.  Take home any tea bags that you do not use.  The restaurant cannot use them after they have been served to a customer so if you do not take them home they end up in the garbage.
 
Coffee will have to be bought as it is served in restaurants already brewed.  However, the cream and sugar that you may need for your coffee or tea is usually available for free.  If you buy a cup of coffee consider taking home a couple of packs of sugar and powdered cream.
 
The liquid half and half containers of creamer do not store well.
 
You will need many feet of tie string available for various uses.  For example, securing tarps in case of high winds.  You can pick up free string when you buy something at the local hardware store.  They usually have tie string available for paying customers.  Each time you buy something take no more than two or three yards of string.
 
Always be a good customer and most business will not take any action against paying customers. 

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