How to reason with an overzealous "prepper"?
February 4, 2014 5:04 PM Subscribe
Without consulting his wife or family members, my brother-in-law raided a savings account and bought ~$20k worth of guns/ammo and survivalist gear for his "bug out bag". This occurred over a three week period. I've been asked to get him to relinquish these items so the money can be recouped. So far my efforts have mostly failed. Is there anything else to try before I give up?
posted by 99percentfake to Grab Bag (67 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Very quick background: He is 35-40 years old, spent most of his life pursuing academic degrees, and for the last year has worked part-time in a business I own. He has health insurance (through the job) but refuses to see doctors or do any counseling. He has a history of mismanaging money -- he owes $200k+ in student loans and his parents have given him $150k+ over the years (which they do not expect to see back).
Meanwhile, his wife works full time (office job) and has a second job on Saturdays. She does eBay sales in her spare time and had four garage sales last year to bring in some extra money. The wife also carries a heavier load of the parental duties and does more work around their apartment. For encouragement, a family member offered to match dollar-for-dollar if she saved $1k/month. The intention was an "emergency fund” (as their vehicles are on last legs, etc.) which later could become the down payment on a house. She worked very hard to build this account, and then her husband raided it to buy his "prepper" materials.
My in-laws asked me to speak to him, with the goal of him relinquishing all (or most) of his supplies so they can be sold to rebuild the emergency fund.
First attempt: I asked my brother-in-law what he was prepping for and he described some very vague scenarios. I asked him where he thought he would go with all these supplies (they live in an apartment), and he said they would live on some land *I* own. (He had never mentioned this to me before, or else I would have told him that the land is uninhabitable and I am only holding it for a friend.) I explained how people were very upset about him taking the money and he needed to make a choice. He could relinquish his “prepper” supplies or potentially lose some important relationships (his wife, the family members who currently provide free childcare, etc.). He first responded that he would help everyone by being “prepared” but eventually he agreed to think about it.
Second attempt: Last weekend, I brought along my friend who is retired from the USCG. My friend very patiently explained that many of the supplies would not be of much use in a survivalist situation. (Example: My brother-in-law’s family lives hand to mouth, with barely a single dose of Advil/Claritin/Mucinex/Imodium in their medicine cabinet, but he had spent several hundred dollars on obscure surgical instruments and materials to treat gunshot wounds.) My friend politely pointed out how my brother-in-law has never been to a shooting range, has never been camping, has never been hunting/fishing, has never taken a first-aid class, etc. I said no one was “anti-prepper” (indeed, weather-related disasters happen in our area) but the amount spent needed to fit his family’s monthly budget and he should include his wife in these discussions. At that point, my brother-in-law relinquished about $3k worth of stuff but became very protective of his remaining supplies.
If you were in my shoes, is there anything else you would try? I am going to print this out and share it with my in-laws.