Investigating the paranormal can get very expensive very quickly. Venues cost money. Insurance costs money. Petrol costs are high and let's not forget the very expensive equipment. Some of the more popular items will set you back several hundred dollars. It can take years to build up a kit and there is nothing worse when you drop tonnes of money on a new piece of tech only to find out it doesn't live up to the expectation. While many would love to be able to go out every weekend with a full suitcase of tech to investigate the paranormal, financially it is not always possible.
Here are some tips to investigate the paranormal on a budget!
The is an obvious one that many people already do. Tour groups hire out the venue and should have the insurance all covered. They should also be providing you with some equipment. Some have a full range, while others have a basic kit - it depends on what kind of methods they use. Each tour is different and unique as everyone does something different. It is a great way to be able to use a lot of the tech out there without having to buy it for yourself or even learn other techniques you can try yourself. Investigation tickets are pretty affordable these days and compared to what it would cost you to hire out the building yourself, it is a much easier option for many. Keep in mind that you will be attending with the general public but there is usually a way around this if you really don't like this idea. Why not get a group of friends together and organize a private booking? A lot of places will do it for groups of 10 and above so it is a great way to investigate if you are not keen on sharing a space with the general public. Don't let this deter you though. Many of us have met lifelong friends on public tours and you could too! You may end up forming your own group and decide to go and try investigating together. At least give it a try!
Many of the locations that we like to investigate are historical locations that are open during the day. Some are free entry, while others charge a small entry free. A lot of the places allow you to roam and do a 'self-guided tour'. I like to think of it as a 'self-guided investigation'. You can absolutely do your own investigating while there. Of course, there are things to consider like other people and outside noises, etc, but it can be great to just go there and sit in a quiet spot, do some EVPS or just sit and see what you feel. If you get there right as it opens or in the last hour before it closes, these are usually the quietest periods. If it is possible, go on a weekday as opposed to a weekend as there are likely fewer people. Even on days when there is bad weather, people don't like to venture out. Who knows maybe a storm could amp things up - that is what a lot of people believe! You don't even have to do a full-blown investigation. Talk to the people that work there. You may be surprised to learn the things they start sharing just by having a chat. A lot of work in paranormal research is gathering witness accounts and experiences.
There is a great location here in Victoria Point Nepean which is an old Quarantine Station as well as Army Barracks and underground tunnels. It is open to the public 24 hours a day and is free to enter. I have been there many times and all it has cost me has been the petrol in my car, and a few snacks! It is just amazing. My brother and I would take the last bus up to the forts at the top of the hill, wait for sunset, and for everyone to leave and do my thing. Then walk back and hit the different spots along the way. The buildings are closed after 5 pm, but there is nothing stopping us from sitting outside the building. There are plenty of legal ways to investigate the paranormal at a public location. In fact, when I have been there in the past, I have struck up a conversation with someone who I found out used to live there when it was used as Army Barracks and spoke of a time when they were in their dorm with chairs up against a door because they felt like something was going on.
I know times are tough, but there is never an excuse to trespass on a property just to do an investigation. These are abandoned for a reason and are usually really unsafe. It also gives paranormal investigators a bad name. Many locations refuse to open their doors or associate with the paranormal because they are afraid it will attract attention and people will attempt to break in. This is a real concern they have and I know because I had to work really hard to convince venues to get in over the years. I don't care who you are, I don't condone trespassing. Get permission from the owner if it is not public property. You might be surprised how much asking nicely can open doors. A lot of people just assume you can't get into a location but don't bother asking. Ask the question, the worst that can happen is they can say no.
If you are traveling to cemeteries, check and make sure you are allowed to enter at night. Many don't allow it after sunset (and there is a reason they close the gates). Make sure everything you do is legal. If in doubt, check the signs. If it feels like you shouldn't be there or you have to ask should we be here, you probably shouldn't.
If you are handy with a circuit board, a lot of Arduino boards can be made into equipment that can be used for an investigation. If you have an old radio, you can look on youtube which will tell you how to hack it to turn it into a ghost box. There are boards for vibration sensors and even theremins boards which are what the REM pods are made of. If you have a 3D printer, you can print a box to put it in, or you can buy a box and LED lights from places like Jayco. It could be a fun rewarding project at the same time and you can take your time when building it to really understand how it works. This is something that will benefit you when you are ready to use it because you have a pretty good understanding of how it works! There are so many videos and things on the internet now, you could certainly give it a try and see how you go.
I have also come up with some ideas on how to build some cheap equipment (not using any electronics) called Old School Challenge. Here you can find the instructions:
Make your own electroscope
Make your own compass
Make your own barometer
Make your own thermometer
There are arguments that the equipment itself is not reliable when it comes to collecting evidence. This is up to you to decide. If you want to use tech, use it, but know how it works as there are a lot of false positives to understand. If you don't want to use tech, you don't have to! There are plenty of things you can do that don't include using any tech which is very friendly on your wallet. From table tipping to seances, to pendulums and dowsing, there are plenty of things you can try. Check out my article - how to investigate with no electronic equipment
There are many buy swap sell pages that sell off or swap equipment. This can be a great way to pick up tech at a cheaper price. Do you have tech you don't use but want to buy something else? Why not swap it with someone else? If there is someone you trust, maybe you could lend them some equipment to use. Oz Paratech in Australia offers a lot of the popular equipment with the Afterpay options which mean there is no big upfront cost - it is paid off over 4 installments. This is a great option if you are good with payment plans.
For the first few years investigating the paranormal, I was a stay-at-home mum with 2 kids under 4 and we lived on my husband's wage. It was tight and there wasn't a lot of money for extra activities every weekend. I was very lucky that my brother used to shout me a ticket to an investigation. He did this on so many occasions so I wouldn't miss out. He also let me use his equipment as if it were my own. Not everyone is in the position to be able to do the same things you are. I know I certainly still can't afford to buy expensive equipment and I don't think I could justify it in my family budget, so I am always coming up with different things I can try.
If you have a piece of equipment that you don't use and it doesn't matter to you, it could be a gift of the year to someone else. Do you know someone who loves the paranormal? Get them a voucher for their birthday for an investigation. If you are the birthday person, why not hint to your family that you want to go on a particular tour or ask for a voucher. Show them a piece of tech you want. Give them the link to that book you want to buy. If you find something useful in the paranormal field, others will too so share your information. Share your books, share your knowledge.
I am going to start this off by saying - you get what you pay for and it's something you really need to keep in mind. Yes, there are a lot of cheaper versions out there on the market which are clones of popular equipment for a fraction of the price. You are also receiving a fraction of the quality. The same could be said about the tech you are building yourself. It is never going to be as good as the 'official' versions so just keep this in mind. I have used cheap versions and even things people have made themselves. Some of the cheap knockoffs from overseas have not been good. Some of the homemade versions have been hit and miss - it has depended on who makes them. If you are going to buy from someone that makes their own tech, get some recommendations from other investigations and you will get a pretty gauge on what to expect.
At the end of the day, any results you get on anything regardless of the brand are only as good as your interpretation of them. Don't just rely on one single spike on a piece of equipment. Look at the whole picture. Equipment should be an aid, not a focus.
When it comes to recording audio, you have people who are quite invested and have the knowledge of a sound engineer and study every sound and frequency, and then you have a large majority of people that record to see if they catch a voice. All mobile phones come with a voice recorder app that is more than adequate to use. You can record EVP sessions anywhere using your phone. Just keep in mind of course that your phone will interfere with electronic equipment and cause false positives. If the phone is the only thing you have with you however, go for it!
The newest thing over the last 12 months has been people using cat balls or cat toys which are balls that light up when they move. Honestly, I am not a fan of this and I won't use them but I know others who swear by it. I personally find them distracting, however, in context, it is really no different than putting a ping pong ball on the floor which many investigators have done for years. The difference is these light up so you can see if the ball is moving.
Investigators sometimes use an EM Pump which is a device that pushes out electromagnetic energy and essentially charges the environment around us. The theory is that spirits can draw on this energy to help them communicate. It has long been believed in the paranormal community that spirits drain batteries. Equipment dies with fresh batteries, cameras die and you know you just charged the battery. If it is that easy and a spirit can drain the battery directly, why not put a pile of batteries on the floor and tell the spirit to use them to draw energy from? Alternatively, you can buy cheap plasma balls from stores like Kmart. These throw out an incredible amount of EMF and are virtually like running your own EM Pump - just a lot cheaper.
A lot of people are into Video ITC. There is a version you can do using a pot of water. People like to look for faces within the water itself as they believe it is a sign from spirit. You can also use the water for scrying. There is also a theory that water acts as a conduit for spirit to draw from so again it could be an aid. Here are some articles on Water ITC and Scrying to help you out:
Of course, don't forget the value of a notebook and pen and yourself. You are the most important tool!
I really feel like I am just getting started with this list because there is so much you can do, however, I am going to hand it over it you! Tell me what are your tips for investigating on a budget?
* I don't necessarily use all of these methods as I have my own methods and theories as do you. Remember there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the paranormal and while there are methods I don't like or may not believe in, other people love them and vice versa so I have tried to include a diverse selection to cover a wide range of interests. They are all just ideas so let's all respect each other and their ideas.
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