Home Defense On A Budget: 20 Inexpensive Tips

Home defense is a part of self-reliance that we all deal with on a daily basis, and self-reliance is the king of all things DIY (Do-It-Yourself).

Since it applies to us all, regardless of how much money we have, this article will address how a prudent measure of home security can be achieved on a budget.

I lay out the fundamentals of survival as follows: security, medical, shelter, water, food, signaling, navigation, and mobility. If you have those basics covered, you are in good shape, and security is not listed first among them by accident.

I use a modified rule of threes to remember these priorities and keep them prioritized in order of what can get you killed the fastest, because one way to see survival is as a race against time. I remember to rank security first in the rule of threes by saying that you can live three seconds without thinking. This is easy to remember because the average gunfight lasts just over three seconds. That is all the time you will likely have.

If you are not familiar with the rule of threes, it’s worth your time to look it up (but I will not explain it here or the article might be too long).

If you train or have been there and done that, you know that three seconds is often more than you will likely need to resolve a deadly force scenario, but it sure does not leave much room for error. Especially when you are doing something that cannot be undone and will be the very first line people read on your permanent record.

No two ways about it, home defense is serious business and warrants serious attention.

To make this something everyone can afford in the space allowed by an article, an effective defense should include the following four points:

  • Your Tactical Toolbox
  • Physical Security
  • Training
  • SOP (Standard Operating Procedure … or Operations depending where you hail from)

This article will focus on the first two and I’ll assign the last two as homework since I’ve already covered them in another article.

Your Tactical Toolbox

The container for your tactical toolbox can be anything that will hold and organize your gear.

The container you choose does not matter so much as that it does its job adequately for you and may need to vary as you see fit to comply with local law. You can use a concealed carry waist pack, a belt, a satchel, an EDC bag or anything else you can strap on in a hurry that will hold what you will need to deal with a home intrusion or invasion.

Here are some suggestions for what it should hold, but your mileage may vary:

  • Defensive firearm (with night sights and loaded with defensive ammunition if possible)
  • Spare magazines, speed loaders or shells
  • Tactical flashlight
  • Tactical folding knife
  • Less-lethal option (such as pepper spray, taser, an ASP baton if you are trained and certified to use it as a less-lethal weapon)
  • Cell phone
  • ID
  • GSW/trauma kit (First Aid Kit for gunshot wounds)

That is your tactical toolbox. Many folks toss a pistol under the table or in the night stand and call it good. This is a recipe for disaster. You can and must do better than this. Your life and then your freedom may depend on it.

I would avoid using something that looks too overtly tactical if the grid is still up. It may save you a lot of grief. Local laws may prevent you from carrying concealed in your own home or they may protect your right to do so even without a permit, so learn your local laws. They may determine what this toolkit needs to look like in order to keep you out of prison.

The idea here isn’t to take on a SWAT team, it is to fight your way to a safer room with larger weapons.

Most of this list is likely pretty self-explanatory to many of you. No need to drop a bunch of money on a smart phone for your tactical toolbox because you will only need voice and any old cell phone that will still power up should be able to dial emergency services. If you don’t have one lying around, you can find one for a song.

Physical Security

The idea behind physical security is thus:

  • Conceal the existence of your family and your home.
  • Conceal anything that makes your family or home a target worth the trouble.
  • Convince your enemy the risk is not worth the reward.
  • Make getting into your property, your home and your room, noisy and time consuming buying you time to react, whether that means running or fighting.

Start outside your property or apartment and work your way in concentric layers. Begin by looking at your property from the outside and look at it through the eyes of your enemy. Do what you can to make it a less appealing target. Move anything of value out of sight, under a tarp underground or inside and work your way in.

You’ll have to decide whether making it look abandoned will help or just invite trouble. Sometimes you need to go the other direction and make it look occupied by more people than it is. Since this is about prepping on the cheap, I will forego retreat defense and defending a large amount of real estate.

If your home has a perimeter fence, keep it in good repair. Plant thorny plants or cacti at the perimeter to discourage entry. Same goes for anyplace your enemy will go for cover or concealment.

Home defenseKeep your plants trimmed so they do not afford intruders good places to hide. If things go downhill, I’ve seen homeowners in many countries apply mortar to the top of a wall and set glass bottles in the mortar.

They let the mortar set and then break the tops off the bottles. The result is a wall topped by broken glass set into mortar. It is not unattractive and is certainly more colorful than barbed wire but would might get you a nasty letter from your home owner’s association if you have one and the grid is still up.

If you cannot afford motion sensor year lights, go the biological alarm system route and give a puppy or two a good home or throw out some bird seed. Once you are accustomed to the reactions of animals, they become an inexpensive alarm system that needs no electricity and is tough to fool.

An old West gunfighter hero of mine trained his dog to lick his face in order to wake him up instead of barking and managed to die of natural causes even though he drank heavily and had a lot of enemies.

CLICK HERE to find out more about layered defense for your home.

The next concentric ring in your defense is the structure of your home itself. Anyone with the right tools can go right through even the walls or roof of most homes, so this is more about slowing them down and making a racket than preventing entry.

If you hear them coming and are prepared, you can disappear or make them right on a battlefield you have chosen and prepared. If you can afford it:

  • Install security doors in addition to exterior doors.
  • Install Protect-O-Shutters over weak points such as French doors and glass.
  • Replace any weak exterior doors with strong solid core security doors, ideally steel or incorporating layers of steel.
  • Make sure all doors, hinges and windows are attached to framing with long hardware.

Do what you can afford to do to slow entry and then get creative.

One-way glass is very inexpensive and underused as a tactical advantage. Install one-way glass in any mirror frame and cut a hole in the wall behind it. This inexpensive trick gives you the drop on anyone entering a room. They think they see a wall, but behind the wall is an armed homeowner.

You may have a hard time justifying the deception if the grid is up, but at least you will be alive to stand trial. I have installed such contraptions and it is very easy. The hole on the other side can be finished and concealed by another mirror of similar design or anything your like.

Build hard cover into walls where it will benefit you, but deprive a home invader of advantage. These areas will be easily located in tactical role-play training exercises. One cheap way I have done this is to pour blocks of steel-reinforced Quikrete to match the spaces in between studs and cap the studs themselves with mild steel stock screwed into the studs. Then just sheetrock back over it and no one would know your cracker box home is a little less so than they might think.

Similar to one-way glass, most stairways can be turned into a death trap. Most people do think they will be shot in the back descending a solid stairway, but stairways are hollow underneath and all you have to do is cut a view port/firing port in a stair case and screw some Kevlar from surplus PASGT vests around it to turn into a pillbox against small arms. This works particularly well with carpeted staircases. As you can just remove enough material from the carpet to see out without anyone being able to notice the viewport.

Another inexpensive tip to swing the odds in your favor is the placement of lighting and light switches so that your defensive positions are shrouded in shadow while those of intruders are brightly lit. This is not an insignificant advantage and can be accomplished even without electrical light.

Use these tips in concert with your tactical training to make use of hallways, stairway and doorways as fatal funnels and you will increase your odds of surviving a home invasion.

Just do not forget to implement SOP and train or your enemy will just waltz right pass your defensive preparations and use the element of surprise to make sure you never make it into position to put any of your preparations to use.


This article has been written by Cache Valley Prepper for Survivopedia.

Written by

Cache Valley Prepper is the CEO of Survival Sensei, LLC, a freelance author, writer, survival instructor, consultant and the director of the Survival Brain Trust. A descendant of pioneers, Cache was raised in the tradition of self-reliance and grew up working archaeological digs in the desert Southwest, hiking the Swiss Alps and Scottish highlands and building the Boy Scout Program in Portugal. Cache was mentored in survival by a Delta Force Lt Col and a physician in the US Nuclear Program and in business by Stephen R. Covey. You can catch up with Cache teaching EMP survival at survival expos, teaching SERE to ex-pats and vagabonds in South America or getting in some dirt time with the primitive skills crowd in a wilderness near you. His Facebook page is here. Cache Valley Prepper is a pen name used to protect his identity. You can send Cache Valley Prepper a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com

Latest comments
  • I am puzzled by mention of “pouring blocks of Quickrete” between studs. Although reinforced concrete offers superb resitance to bullets, pouring blocks is rather difficult. Pouring concrete between studs and the wall surfaces is also rather difficult; the moisture in the POUR will dissolve sheetrock. Building a frame of two by fours which are spaced to match the wall studs will permit a means of pouring slabs that will fit, but they will be extremely heavy to tilt up and anchor, although steel brackets can be cast into the concrete.
    A rather vicious method discouraging attempts to invade can be contrived with a bottle of compressed air, nitrogen or helium and a solution of water and Ammonia. The helium is pricey, and for that reason alone not my choice.
    A roll of 1/14 inch poly tubing (copper or stainless steel is better) is attached under the eves of the ground floor. After stapling in place, pierce very tiny holes over every door and window, angled toward the ground. (Think of a capital Q as the cross section of the tube).
    The external end of the tubing can be sealed with a wooden or plastic dowel glued into the end of the tubing. To reinforce this with a screw clamp, spring clamp or twisted wire will work. If you use the metallic tubing, end-caps are available at any home improvement store. Assuming you have left a relatively long part of the installed tubing in the house, where you have chosen to place the compressed air/gas bottle, there are two very important connections to make. 1) a tightly capped metal or plastic bottle with the cap pointed down – and a suitable plumbing connection to the compressed gas. This container must the vented at the bottom, by punching a small hole and using a screw with a gasket, like dense foam or plastic washer to prevent leakage when filling the container. Surplus military 2 quart canteens are a durable choice, and only require a small hole drilled into the bottom for a connection to the tubing.
    This assembly is critical and must be put together to avoid leaking the Ammonia into the area where the controls are to be. An epoxy putty is available from Locktite which MAY provide a decent connection..no guarantees.
    The bottle will be filled with a solution of at least 50% ammonia, and water and will feed by means of a simple valve into the 1/14 ” tube, and the gas will propel the mixture thru the tubing and into the air surrounding the house if you have strung the tubing all the way around.
    The tiny holes you have pierced in the tubing (and you can skip areas of choice as those without established windows, doors, etc) This will also conserve in the dispersal of the solution.
    Two factors will apply to that dispersal.
    Controlling the gas pressure and where the mixture is dispersed. AND
    You must close all windows beneath the tubing or the mixture will drive you out of the house.
    You can obtain a pressure control set of gas welding gauges from Harbor Freight for a modest sum and those are my preference.
    I don’t expect this system to be fool-proof, It will cause you discomfort or even sever injury in its use … use gasmasks for you and your family. It is very dangerous and not to be confused with a safe solution to the problem of deterring home invaders. But I don’t know any safe solution to the problem of home invaders. The levels of risk are way off the chart in that type of defense situation. Homes are not bunkers.
    As an additional device, beneath each window, scatter caltrops, which can be broken glass, or you can purchase them by the dozen from online sources. These are adaptions of Ninja tashibishi, tools and weapons.

    • The method I used was simple Robert. I measured between the studs and framed 2×4’s in the shape I wanted the blocks. Since they were already the right depth, I just laid the frame on gravel and poured qwik-crete into the molds. Then I inserted rebar or wire grid into the concrete before it cured. I let the blocks cure and then stacked them two high between studs and nailed 1/4″ bar stock over the backs of the studs to strap blocks in place and provide extra protection at the studs since you do not what a rifle round sneaking through there. It gives you a whole lot more hard cover than a sheetrock wall, which only only provides concealment.

      As long as there isn’t a lot of wiring in the area you want to fill, it works out great. Hope that helps! : )

  • is protect – o – shutter a brand ? or generic descriptor.

    • I looked up the same reference to”Protect-O-Shutter”, it appears to be a generic description at best, ala’ motorized hurricane shutters made from metal.
      I think that the reference to “biological burglar alarms” is outstanding and well placed. Most “alarms” that are biological in nature are far more accurate in terms of notifying potential for “breach” long before that potential reaches the outside perimeter of the residence. We have both types systems and they compliment each other well. The biologicals have never gone off by “accident” either.
      Another fine article CVP, well done.

  • C.V.P.
    Good article! Thanks.

  • All law enforcement can get into electric garage doors with one click. When you are home stick long screwdrivers into sides.

    • You are correct Catherine, and not only law enforcement. Anyone with the resources can obtain the safety override equipment. Remote garage doors trade security for convenience, and there is no end to line of people willing to do that. Early adopters of smart phones stood in line to trade their privacy for a small measure of convenience … privacy paid for in blood, sweat and treasure.


  • In one of your articles you mentioned a pepper spray activated contraption. How can I get instructions on how to do this? I’ve got an obsessed young but dangerous “man” who lives behind me & has been harassing me since I moved in, ranging from lighting spray paint cans on fire until they explode to sending me pictures of his genitals to even going at my fence with a hammer. Police are useless…one even sided with him saying he’d be going nuts too with a rack like mine. I’m so disgusted. This needs to stop NOW.

    • I’ve had similar experiences with LE, Sienna. It’s amazing how unsafe women are in this world. I’m here after thwarting an attempted home invasion at my apartment the other night. He was taunting me through the door, told me he didn’t believe I had a gun aimed and ready (from a covered position though). Thankfully LE got there fast, but he would have found out the hard way for sure. I’ve had LE sexually harass me in my own home after calling them to report an attempted rape. So what I’ve learned is, yes-take care if business yourself. And stay ready against ANY threat to your life and livelihood. I’m limited in options being in a rental, but what I can do without being noticed by the landlord, I do. Planting thorny but pretty perimeter defense got me praise from him, as did installing new lighting outside after it failed me during said attempted invasion. There’s a limit to how much I’ll spend improving a rental, but I like it here and actually have a good landlord. My neighborhood is relatively safe usually, so hopefully getting my CC permit and taking some basic measures will help. I’m surprised that homemade bombs weren’t enough to get the LEOs to step in. :/ stay safe sister.

      • Hi! Thx so much for your response! What I really am wanting are some instructions on how to build the motion activated pepper spray setup that was mentioned in one of your recent articles. I think that’s a perfect solution to deter my “pest”…at least for a little while! Thanks, I’d really appreciate those instructions!

        • Off topic somewhat, but I would say you are both candidates to sue the LEO/departments. Remember to document everything but you should not have to live in fear and even more fear of the people who should be assisting.


  • How about living within your Financial means? Or owning a car you can actually PAY OFF Within five years. If you buy some thing expensive ( computer ;TV, etc.) Don’t advertise that you own it. throw the boxes up. Then put the pieces in a very dark garbage bag.Plus don’t brag about owning it.