Downsize Before You Have To

Downsize Before You Have ToThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I don’t know about you but my finances have been feeling the pinch lately.  I’m not even talking about all the dire economic warnings, but on a personal level, it feels more of a struggle this year than last year.  For one thing my paycheck is smaller:  health insurance premiums as well as taxes increased.  When I go grocery shopping, the same budgeted amount of money buys less food – beef prices have increased due to the drought, and so have fruit and vegetable prices.   On top of that, gas prices are higher too.  The economy does not seem to be getting any better, and we can all feel it.

What’s a person to do, having to cope with these financial difficulties?

Downsize your lifestyle before you are forced to.

Lowering your monthly expenses will ensure you are in a better position than you may have been, in case things get worse.  And if things stay the same you won’t feel as financially stressed.

  1. Consider moving to a smaller house or apartment.   When your lease is up, evaluate whether it’s a good time to move to a smaller, less expensive space.  Your payments will be lower, allowing you to have more money at the end of the month.  At the same time, your electric bill and gas utility bills will be lower as well, since you are not having to cool or heat a large space.
  2. Give up the “hundreds of channels but nothing to watch” cable plan.  Cut out cable, or do it gradually by switching to a lower plan.  If you are on a one or two year contract that charges high penalties for leaving, here’s some good news.  I had one of those contracts too, but I called the company and found out the contract is to stay with them for the specified number of years, not stay on the same plan.  If you switch to a cheaper plan, you will not incur any penalty.  As long as you stick with them until the end of the contract term, even if you downgrade to the lowest plan, you won’t be charged the penalty for early out.  Talk to your cable or satellite provider and see what you can arrange.  Another thing you can do is negotiate a lower rate just by asking.
  3. Shop for a lower cell phone plan.  Once your contract ends, go month to month for a while and shop for a lower rate.
  4. Shop in your own closet before heading to the mall.  We recently went through all our stuff and found so many unused items and duplicates even though we try to be careful about that.
  5. Lower your food budget  Opt for cheaper cuts of meat, and buy produce in season.  Dust off the cookbooks and search for simple recipes that don’t need a lot of unusual ingredients.  Avoid waste in the kitchen.  Quit buying bottled water and use filtered tap water instead.
  6. Review all your insurance policies and find some discounts.  I recently got a renewal statement for our renter’s insurance and it was $200 higher than last year’s.  I called the agent to discuss ways to lower the premiums.  I opted for lowering some of the coverages and also found a few discounts.  The call resulted in a lower premium overall.
  7. Use less of your household and personal care products  I remember my grandfather used to use masking tape and a Sharpie to note the date he started using each item.  I didn’t understand it when I was a kid, but it to keep track of how long the item would last with normal usage, so he could adjust his habits accordingly.
  8. Stop using credit  It might be tempting to use credit to make ends meet, but charging up the cards only compounds the problem.  Your debt obligations will only increase, adding to your stress.  Instead, use cash for all your purchases and start lowering those balances.
  9. Choose free or low cost entertainment   We used to go to the movies at least once a month, but now that DVDs come out just three months or less after the movie originally came out, we just wait.   Now we have movie night, complete with popcorn, candy and snacks (bought on sale)  Read the community bulletin or paper for events such as school plays, events at the park such as Easter Egg hunts, etc. Having fun does not have to cost much, and for even more free fun, check #10.
  10. Get a library card.  I used to buy books all the time, but found they just add to the clutter once I’m done reading them.  Sell your used books and make some money.  The library also carries music and magazines.  Make the most out of your library visit by checking your book’s availability online first.  Most city or county libraries allow you to place a hold on a book, and they email you when the book is ready for pickup.
  11. Take less expensive vacations    Many frugal families splurge on the family vacation.  However, now is not the time to wipe out your savings for short term enjoyment.  It’s good to take a break – don’t forgo your vacation, but try something closer to home.  Consider camping and hiking – you get to experience nature, and learn a few skills at the same time.
  12. Make things last longer  Try to repair before you replace something, and find a way to repurpose your items.
  13. Let go of wasteful habits   Turn off appliances when not in use.  Guilty of this one – I have a bad habit of leaving the light in the closet on.  You don’t need to wash towels and sheets after just a couple of uses.  Unless you sweat heavily, you may not need to wash your hair everyday.  Combine your errands into one trip instead of spreading them out.  Stop eating out for lunch everyday and start bringing lunch from home.  These are only a few ideas to get started.  Don’t just do things because that’s how you’ve always done it.  Evaluate whether your hobbies are costing you way too much, and find more economical ways to get your materials.  Once you really think about your habits, you will find lots of ways to save.
  14. Find ways to lower your tax bill    There is no “one size fits all” advice for lessening the tax bite (legally of course), but we can all use a few tips.  See this article on how one couple manages their taxes
  15. Put the brakes on “lifestyle inflation”  If you are fortunate to get a nice raise this year, don’t increase your expenses in proportion to your income.  Put your new higher earnings to good use – pay off debt, add to your emergency fund or buy emergency supplies.

Do the above tips only if they make sense to you, and if they fit in with your overall lifestyle.  Keep up your prepping efforts, because they also help you in the long run.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

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Surviving an Economic Collapse – Advice from Mark Goodwin, Author of The Economic Collapse Chronicles

American MeltdownMark Goodwin, who runs Prepper Recon has written two books in The Economic Collapse Chronicles:  American Exit Strategy and the recently released American Meltdown.  With all the fears about economic collapse, I was glad to have the opportunity to interview Mark about his thoughts on the best way to prepare.

1.   What do you think are the most likely disasters to prepare for and what is the best way for a beginner to be prepared?

I believe in preparing to survive without systems of support. Those types of conditions can be triggered by a hurricane, earthquake, EMP, solar flare, or socioeconomic upheaval. With that being said, I think the most likely scenario to trigger tough times is an economic collapse. I think the current monetary policies of the Federal Reserve are creating a massive amount of destructive energy in financial markets. The M2 money supply is around $11 trillion. That is up 57% since the beginning of the crisis in 2008. These are the types of things done by banana republics like Zimbabwe, not by the central bank of the world’s reserve currency. Zimbabwe, by the way, had a hyper-inflationary currency collapse, just like every other country in the past who has tried to print their way out of economic hardship. Argentina in 2001 suffered a similar fate, the Weimar Republic went through the same thin after World War I. It always ends the same. Now the US is doing the same thing and hoping that this time it will be different. Well, I hope this time is different than the other 599 fiat currencies that have failed throughout history, but I highly doubt it. If it is, from a statistical view, it would be considered an extreme outlier. Statistics tell us that the odds of a currency collapse are close to 100%.

For a beginner, the best thing you can do is to get on a budget. It doesn’t sound as cool as buying a bunch of guns and long term storage food, but it will keep you from creating your own persona SHTF moment. We don’t know what the meltdown will look like. For many folks, myself included, it has already meant losing a job and having to reinvent yourself. That is much easier to do if you have some savings and are already living within your means. If you are spending everything you make right now, you can’t survive a 10% pay cut, much less The End Of The World As We Know It.

2.   For an average person, what are ways to prepare for an economic collapse?

To prepare for the turmoil associated with a currency collapse, I am diversifying my assets away from dollars. I try to keep a portion of my assets in silver and gold. Unlike the 599 currencies throughout history that have failed, silver and gold have maintained their status of being stores of value since Genesis 13:2 which says “Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.” That is pretty much the beginning of time.

I am looking to purchase a bug out location. I hope that is something that will turn out to be a good investment. I hope to use it as a vacation spot and to be able to harvest timber from the land. There are several ways to monetize your bug out property between now and the apocalypse.

3.   What would you advice city dwellers on improving their chances to survive a disaster?

I recommend balancing Operational Security or OPSEC with getting out there and forming community. No one can survive on their own. OPSEC means not telling people that you are preparing and it seems to be juxtaposed to forming a community, but there is actually a middle ground. Don’t invite all of your neighbors over to show off your new gun. Instead, get to know your neighbors and get the conversation started. You can initiate conversation by talking about things that threaten your area. If you live in California, you can start talking about earthquake preparedness. If you live on the east coast, ask your neighbor how well they are prepared for a major hurricane. Most anyone can talk about the recent chemical spill in West Virginia. Ask your neighbors what they would do if they had no drinking water for a week.

3.  Please tell us a bit about your background.

I woke up from my normalcy bias in September of 2001. I realized how fragile our system was and understood that I wasn’t as safe as I though. I put together a bug out bag at that time and started taking responsibility for my own security. I think everyone should do that. The police can’t be everywhere at once, and we wouldn’t want them to be. Their main task is to show up and take a report after the crime has already been committed. Hopefully, they can catch he bad guy, but the damage has already been done.

In 2008 I realized how much I didn’t understand about the fragility of the financial system. I went to school and got my Accounting degree and independently studied our economic system. The more I learn, the more I want to be prepared. Two years ago, that turned into a passion for teaching others and I started PrepperRecon.com. Last year, that grew into a podcast where we have had some awesome guests like, James Rawles, John Rubino, Glenn Tate, Doug Casey, David Morgan, Ferfal, and Bernie Carr. All of those interviews are available to stream or download in the archives section on Prepper Recon by clicking the Prepper Recon Podcast tab at the top of the page.
I love prepper fiction, so I started writing it last year. I try to weave my knowledge of economics, politics, and survival into an action-packed tapestry of fast-paced, post-apocalyptic fiction. I think prepper fiction can be a useful tool for waking folks up to the need to prepare. I think it’s a great tool for seasoned preppers as well. It forces us to consider how we would deal with the situations in the book. We questions whether our preps and training would be adequate to survive the scenario.

5.  Any plans for other books?
Book Three of the Economic Collapse Chronicles will be out this summer. I may attempt a practical survival manual if the Lord opens the right doors. The first book of my next trilogy should be out by next winter. Whereas the Economic Collapse Chronicles pre-supposed the meltdown to be caused by incompetence and buffoonery on the part of the Federal Government, the next trilogy will look at the collapse as being a planned event.

Mark is giving away a copy of American Exit Strategy and American Meltdown.  To enter, just leave a comment regarding:

Are you concerned about a possible economic collapse?  How are you preparing?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Saturday, March 8 at 8 pm Central.*Winner will be notified via email.  Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.
THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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This Number Impacts you More than You Know

Application DeniedThere are always a lot of prepper discussions about relocating to a safer area, or purchasing rural property, but there is one factor that is often left out:  actually qualifying to buy or lease that place.  Whether you are an apartment dweller or home owner who is trying to move, there is one thing, besides income, that will always be a requirement when you are ready to apply for a lease or buy property:  your credit score.

Why you should check it now:

  • Your credit score is a big factor in determining whether your application to rent a new apartment or qualify for a loan to buy a property is accepted.
  • Many potential employers also check credit scores during the hiring process, so the score could impact your chances of getting a job.  This does not seem fair but that the way it is.
  • Credit history is also considered for calculating auto, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance premiums.  I know.  When I found this out I was shocked.  Insurance companies seem to feel that persons with bad credit are more likely to file a claim.
  • Another good reason to check your credit score is to watch for any signs of identity theft.

How to get a free copy of your credit report

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) entitles you to a free copy of your credit report each year.  Go to www.annualcreditreport.com  

Be careful if you are just searching online and try to get a free credit report from just any site- there are a lot of scams out there that try to lure you into ordering your report from them, but lock you into a paid subscription.  To be on the safe side, go the the Federal Trade Commission website for more information on getting your free credit report.

One free site that a friend recommended to get a quick look at your credit is creditkarma.com   They show what TransUnion, one of the big three credit reporting agencies reflects about you.  I gave it a try and I did not get any solicitations or suspicious tactics.

You won’t really be able to clean up your credit report completely, but you can point out any errors you find to the credit reporting agencies and they will research the items.  You can also have them add a explanation from you.   This process takes time, so ideally, if you haven’t checked already, you should do this 60-90 days before making a big purchase or moving.

What is a good credit score?  Generally a score above 700 portrays “good credit management” to a lender.

Money saving tip:

Every apartment or landlord will ask for an application and charge you a non-refundable fee to pull your credit.  The fee ranges from $25 to $40 (per person, so it’s double if you are applying with a spouse or partner)  and therefore can get pretty steep especially if you apply to several places.  If you get rejected, your application fee is not returned.  Before shelling out the money, try to find out the minimum score that they will accept.  Ask if they work with people that are below the cut-off, such as charge a higher rent, or if they reject them completely.  If yours is well below the cut-off, then you know you are likely to get turned down.  Save yourself the money and keep looking.

If you are buying a property or vehicle, some lenders work with people with less than stellar credit, but may do one or more of the following:  approve the loan at a higher interest rate, ask for a co-signer or a higher down payment.

Being prepared means identifying potential pitfalls that might trip you up.  Having a bad credit score could hurt your future chances for a job or a place to live.   That is why it is important for you to check it once a year.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Are We Headed for Economic Hard Times?

Food Line Great Depression

Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of dire predictions about the economy.  Whether they happen as predicted or not, it’s a good idea to pay attention to these signs.

This article for Modern Survival Blog caught my eye:

Major Stock Market Crash In January

If you look at the chart, the patterns between today’s stock market and the time period leading up to the Great Depression (1928-29) look uncomfortably similar.

Then I saw this one from SHTFPlan.com:

15 Signs That We Are Near The Peak Of An Absolutely Massive Stock Market Bubble

You can even find concerns from mainstream sources  Take a look at

Be Prepared For Stocks To Crash 40%-55%

Even Clark Howard who offers practical financial advice weighed in:

Is a stock market crash coming?

It’s Too Close for Comfort

Last week, right before Thanksgiving, it was announced at work that management had done some “restructuring”  and a few employees were laid off.  Those of us who were fortunate to have a job were asked to increase our workload to “add value” to the team.   I felt relieved to have a job, but felt bad for the people who lost theirs.

What is your Economic Crash Plan?

Think about your own worse case economic scenario:  for many it’s the loss of income.  Hopefully, unemployment benefits would cover in the event of a job lay-off.  However, expenses would have to be cut back drastically.

  • How long would your emergency savings last- how many months or rent or mortgage can you cover?
  • Start using emergency supplies to avoid having to buy food.  Find out about food banks and other services that can offer help.
  • Can you borrow from retirement plans?  In a crash, you need to take care of the present and keeping a roof over your head.
  • Consider which relatives can you move in with, if you had to.  As undesirable as the possibility might be, remember it’s only temporary and it would still be better than being homeless.
  • If you don’t have relatives you can move with, can you live in a truck or RV if you had access to one? 

It is hard to even consider these ideas, but this mental exercise will help you plan and cope better should your financial fortune take a turn for the worse.

What you can do now

I am hoping everything continues along as normal, and nothing happens.  But just in case, it is a good idea to implement a few good habits now, while there is time.

  • Build your emergency cash fund by using your skills to earn extra income
  • Go through your unwanted items.  Donate or sell them to make room for supplies that you do need.
  • Don’t go overboard with Christmas spending.  Set a limit for gifts, decorations and entertainment and stick to it.  Pay cash for everything.  Using a card makes it easy to overspend.
  • Look at each non-essential bill and decide if you can do without it:  gym memberships, premium movie channels, etc.  If you are not using it, consider getting rid of the service (but be mindful of contract terms and penalties.)
  • Learn to cook more meals at home, you will feel healthier by avoiding fast food, and you’ll save money.
  • Cut down on discretionary spending now, and send the extra money to savings.
  • Build good relationships at work and in your industry.
  • Stop incurring new debt, pay down debt if you can.
  • Stock up on food and supplies while you can
  • Get your checkups, prescriptions, eyeglasses and any elective medical procedures while you have health insurance
  • Learn survival and self-sufficiency skills now.

These measures can only help your finances in the long run.  Prepare while you can.

 

Camping Survival

Camping Survival

 

 

How to Prepare for Job Loss

Being prepared is not just for natural emergencies or disasters.  A job lay-off, while not usually considered an earth shaking event by most of the population, could be an “end of the world as we know it” for the person who is losing his or her job.  There are “mass casualties” even though it does not involve physical pain, does involve mental and emotional anguish for those that are affected.  Because it can be devastating and can significantly affect your lifestyle, it should be included in the list of events worth preparing for.

I have been laid off from work a few times in my career, a couple of those times happened within a year of each other.  Because of that unfortunate string of events, I have learned never to feel permanent in any job, even though I like to stay at my jobs for several years.  My co-workers wonder why I do not post personal photos or keep plants and knick-knacks on my desk, and that is because I never want to grow roots and feel complacent.   I learned to be observant and aware of the signs that things are not so stable.

Pay attention to job-related economic news, and keep your eyes open.  By the time you hear the word “reorganization” it may be too late.

Know the Signs

Many people who lost their jobs feel blind-sided, and say comments like, “It came out of nowhere.”  “I thought my job was safe.”  Yet there are always clues.  Knowing the signs to watch for can help you prepare accordingly.  Here are a few tell-tale signs:

  1. Your company is cutting back on expenses, and your boss has announced “no more ordering new supplies.”  This is one of the early signs; it might mean the company is losing money, but it could also be more serious than that.
  2. Managers are constantly getting called to mysterious closed door meetings and are gone for long periods of the day, and they come back subdued.
  3. Many senior leaders have quietly left the company, with no retirement parties or goodbyes.
  4. Business travel plans, even those that were scheduled months ago, are being cancelled.  Perks, even for salespeople are being cut out.
  5. You have been asked to submit a description of your job duties.  Even worse, you are suddenly being asked to train another employee to do your functions.
  6. It is nearing the end of the fiscal year or end of the calendar year.  I observed that lay-offs at least in many industry are common during these periods.
  7. Projects that were top priority are now placed in the back burner, or, projects that were your responsibility are being shifted to others.
  8. You are being left out of important meetings.
  9. Your boss, who used to be friendly and caring, starts avoiding you.
  10. Annual reviews that used to happen the same time every year, have been postponed indefinitely.

If you suspect cut-backs may be happening soon, now is the time to take steps to prepare yourself and your family:

Steps You can Take

  1. Obtain a copy of your position description from your boss or Human Resources.  This is something that can be done at any time, but it may be too late to obtain once you are already being called to the boss’s office and told to clean out your desk.
  2. Update your resume.  This may be a “no brainer” for many experienced career oriented folks, but I have talked to many newer employees who do not maintain their resumes at all.
  3. Review your LinkedIn profile and keep it maintained.
  4. While you are still in contact with respected and trusted colleagues, line up references.  But be discreet about this.  If word gets out to the boss you are taking steps, you may be called out for spreading rumors and being a disgruntled employee which may hasten your departure.
  5. Start networking with contacts within your industry, but outside your own company.
  6. Use your health insurance benefits:  get your doctors’ and dentist appointments done, fill prescriptions for eyeglasses and medicines.
  7. Postpone major purchases such as home, car, and avoid incurring new debt.
  8. If you are a renter and your lease is up, search for a cheaper place, if possible.
  9. Pay off debt.
  10. Lower your living expenses:  cut back now now and get used to living on less.  Save the money that you would have spent.
  11. Review your bills and see if you can negotiate a lower rate.
  12. Save as much money as you can.
  13. Find ways to supplement your income by starting a micro-business.
  14. Prep!  Boost your preparedness level by stocking up on food and everyday supplies.  Your stockpile will see you through a period of unemployment.
  15. Come up with your own worse case scenario personal economic disaster plan.
  16. Acquire self-sufficiency skills now; skills that allow you to repair things or make things yourself will save you money even if you don’t lose your job.
  17. With the holidays coming, start thinking about lowering expectations for gift giving, and start making homemade gifts now.

Stay vigilant but keep a positive attitude.  Taking a pro-active attitude can only benefit you.  If you are fortunate and nothing happens, be grateful that you have been blessed.

 

The Cost of Not Prepping

$$$

Last week I mentioned my friend who got into debt - she has now off her prepping plans, which is unfortunate.  I am concerned there are lots of others out there who feel the need to prepare for emergencies but have convinced themselves to put it off for one reason or another.  Let’s think it through and see if it would really cost less to NOT prep.

No emergency food in the house

We know a a few families who do not keep much food in the fridge – maybe a bottle of orange juice and a few bottles of beer.  The kids feel lucky to have a few frozen food entrees, otherwise they eat out for every meal.  The next time there is an emergency, these people expect to be able to run to the corner restaurant and demand to order. A cousin who runs a burger place says this happens all the time.  If the restaurant loses power they have to close temporarily and turn away customers.   The customers get frustrated they have to find someplace else to eat.  So they drive around town looking for a place that’s open.  Now they are wasting gas and time, not to mention risking their families driving out when streets are flooded.  And, finding that there is no food to be bought anywhere, just like what happened with Hurricane Sandy, these same people may be forced to go dumpster diving.

No way to filter water

The same people described above rely on bottled water.   But if the bottled water runs out, and tap water gets contaminated, they do not have any a way to filter water.  Right before a hurricane or some other disaster hits, they realize they don’t have any backup plans and they find themselves having to fight desperate crowds to pick up water at the last minute.

Not filling up the gas tank until it’s empty

Let’s say someone who does not want to live a prepared life just lets the tank “run on fumes”  One day that tank is just going to dry out, and the car will stall out.  I see cars like that on the road all the time, with the driver walking with a gas can on hand.  The engine could be permanently damaged and the car will need hundreds of dollars to repair.  It would have been so much easier, had the driver kept a prepared mindset and got into the habit of refilling the tank well before before it registered empty.

No First Aid Kit

If a family does not keep a first aid kit at home, they will be running to the hospital’s emergency room the minute anyone in the family has a medical need, even a minor one.  They may say, “I have health insurance, I can afford it.”  But what about the co-pay?  Let’s just look at a common plan:  An emergency visit costs $100 co-pay; if they have met the deductible, that is.  If not, they’d have to pay for the entire bill.  Many ER visits can run up to $2000 depending on what diagnostic tests are run.  Let’s hope they have an emergency fund.

No available cash for an emergency

But wait, the same non-prepper decided to put off saving for the emergency fund.  He didn’t have the money to pay the ER bill so he put it on the credit card, thinking he can pay it off later.  The visit cost $1500 and it all went to credit.  Now the bank will charge  interest on the $1500 at 18%, adding another $270 on top of the $1500.  Now the debt that was so worrisome to begin with, got even larger.  Additional debt causes sleepless nights, worry, and having to work longer hours at work.  Not being prepared can affect mental health.

Even if there is no disaster or emergency, a simple power outage or bank glitch can cause bank ATMs, credit and debit cards to stop working.  Having just a small emergency cash fund would help the family buy necessities without any issues.

These instances show the cost of not prepping is too high even for common emergencies – consider what might happen in a total grid down disaster.  Seeing the family suffer from lack of food, water and other essentials would be intolerable.

Most of us pay property insurance, car and health insurance.  I look at emergency food, water and supplies the same way:  better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.  I may be preaching to the choir here, but if just one person decides now is the time to take a few steps to be prepared instead of putting it off then I’d be happy to have helped someone.

Prepping may cost a bit of money and time up front, but NOT prepping would cost even more.  And, the peace of mind that comes with being prepared is priceless.

 

Budgeting for Emergency Supplies – the 60% Solution

This is a reprint of an article I wrote a few years ago and it originally appeared on Modern Survival Online.

One of the issues to consider when preparing for a disaster is where to focus your spending:

  • Do you focus most of your money on buying supplies to prepare your house or apartment (Shelter in place)?

OR

  • Do you spend money on gear so you can leave your area when disaster hits (Bugging Out)?

We’ve struggled with this question ourselves.  Naturally you want to cover both scenarios all at once, but resources are limited so there has to be some direction to your spending.

Your choices will depend on your own particular situation, and on what you feel is the most likely emergency you will be facing.

Here are some considerations:

  • Do you live in or close to a major city?   Think about what will is likely to happen in your surrounding area if a disaster were to hit today.
  • Can you defend your home or neighborhood if necessary?  If you live in a close- knit neighborhood near people you can rely on, then you can potentially band together and protect your neighborhood and homes.  This would allow you to be able to stay in your home a lot longer.
  • Do you have a place to go in the event of a major disaster such as a cabin retreat or relatives you can stay with?  You do not need a cabin or retreat out in the woods; you just need to have a plan.  Identify friends and relatives you can potentially stay with should your area become uninhabitable.  Or plan out a route to a hotel in another town.  In either case you will need cash for gas and a hotel stay.
  • Would your family be able to leave on foot if needed?  There is always a chance the roads become impassable and you have to walk out of your area.  Would your family be able to leave?  If you really cannot leave, then you will most likely need to shelter in place.

In our case, we live in an apartment, in the middle of a large city.  We know that the city can potentially degrade into an unruly, crime infested area when a major large-scale disaster occurs, as in Hurricane Katrina.  We would want to leave before a powerful hurricane directly hits our city.

On the other hand, it is not always necessary to leave when an emergency occurs.  In 1992, we experienced the Los Angeles Riots.  For six days, thousands of people rioted, looted and burned parts of the city.   We got sent home early from work and drove for hours looking for a route around the rioting areas.  But once we got home, we stayed home until things calmed down.  Because the emergency occurred in another part of the city, and our utilities and infrastructure was not affected, it was a “shelter in place” type of situation.

At this point in time, we consider the highest risk to be economic in nature:  with high unemployment, rising fuel and food prices, and the country’s debt piling up.  So we concentrate 60% of our emergency preparation fund toward staying in our home.  We are purchasing food in bulk, storing water, having back up sanitation methods, communications, fuel, first aid and other supplies that may be too expensive or hard to come by, should there be a financial emergency.  Our supplies are also a hedge against inflation, since we are buying at today’s prices and using them sometime in the future if prices go up.

We also know that there could be a chance we may have to leave our home, such as a Category 4-5 hurricane, fire, civil unrest, etc.  The other 40% of our budget for supplies is going toward gear that will be needed to leave the area, such as hiking shoes, backpacks, portable food, a portable water purification system, First Aid kit, fire starter, tent etc.  We are getting our gear as inexpensively as possible, by shopping sales and buying quality used items where available.

One thing to remember is, the two options do not have to be mutually exclusive:  many items such as “Meals Ready to Eat”, portable water purifier, first aid kit and other light weight supplies can be brought along with you should you have to leave.  Just make sure you have all your supplies in one area that is easily accessible so you can grab them quickly.

You may feel differently and decide on a whole different set of threats to prepare for.   I would not recommend “putting all your eggs in one basket.”  Regardless of what area you focus on, the items that you buy now will be good insurance against whatever comes your way:  economic collapse, natural disasters or man made threats.

Get the real deal. Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

 For beginning preppers

Good ideas for building a food storage plan can be found here:

DebtProof Living

 

What if Your Preps Outlive You?

Two unrelated stories caught my attention this week, which prompted me to write this article.  One story was about a California couple who found an underground 1960s fallout shelter in their backyard and the other story was about a woman who had a baby and soon found her husband mistakenly sold a box where she had stashed her wedding ring.

These stories have nothing to do with each other, but they both got me thinking about something that is often left out of emergency planning:  having instructions should something happen to you.

As you can see from the story about the bunker, the man planned well, for what many feared in the 60s, that of nuclear war, but fortunately for him, a nuclear disaster never did come to pass in his lifetime.  Yet his emergency preps lived on, now a quaint reminder, even a time capsule of sorts, representing a bygone era.  In the same vein, we prepare for emergencies or disasters, and continue to hope for the best.

The second story about the wedding ring being hidden in an unused box that got sold inadvertently reminded me of the  importance of telling a trusted someone where you hide things.  I’ve seen articles giving tips on where to hide stuff such as cash and other valuables.  But what if you hide your items in these secret places and something happens to you?  You may have hidden them so well that no one will benefit from your foresight – your loved ones may find your stash accidentally, or maybe they will never get found.

I admit, I don’t even feel comfortable with this subject either, but I know it is something I  need to deal with.  At the very least, have a conversation with your partner about where and what you are hiding, so someone else knows where to find things should something happen to you.  If you were incapacitated or unconscious in the hospital, will your loved ones know where to look for emergency cash or even health insurance forms so they can pay the hospital bill?   Here are a few issues to consider:

  • Do you have a last will and testament?  If you have a lot of assets, then best consult an attorney, if not, and your estate is simple, websites such as Legalzoom (no affiliation with us) may help you.
  • If you are parents, who would take care of the kids?
  • To whom would you grant power-of-attorney should you become incapacitated?
  • Hidden caches and such:  would your family know where you hid your valuables such as safe deposit boxes and storage units?  Watching that show Storage Wars and seeing the characters uncover hidden gems for profit just makes me wonder about the hapless owners who lost these items for whatever reason.
  • Not all families are “on-board” with prepping – you’d have to consider who may appreciate and benefit from your efforts the most, instead of just dumping everything in the trash or selling them off for pennies at a garage sale.

No one really likes to think about this, but loss of life is certainly a disaster situation for the family.  It is something that many of us avoid thinking about, yet is necessary to consider as part of a well-rounded plan.

 

For beginning preppers

 

Preparewise

Preparewise

DebtProof Living

 

Spooked about What Happened in Cyprus?

Everyday we hear about the banking developments in Cyprus, where bank holidays were declared and a “tax” on deposits is being instituted.  Depositors stand to lose a large amount of their accounts.

It seems preppers are not the only ones wondering about this – even at work, concerns about Cyprus are being discussed in conversations at the break room.   Seeing the long lines, reading accounts from residents makes you wonder if this can happen here, and whether your money is safe anywhere.

It’s not something to panic about, but certainly something to think about.   What can a regular person do to reduce your risk?  I don’t have any large savings to worry about, am not a financial expert, but a regular person observing what’s going on and looking at ideas.

Consider Where You Bank

Many people are thinking about moving to regional banks or credit unions.  They feel having a relationship with a smaller bank give them a bit more confidence in where they are keeping their cash.

Don’t Keep all your Eggs in One Basket

Don’t keep all your money and credit in one bank.  This is prudent to do even in “normal times.”  I learned this when my bank account got hacked and the bank froze all the accounts (savings, checking and credit cards) during a long weekend.  Now I have savings, checking and credit cards spread out among different banks.

Reduce Your Dependency on Debit and Credit Cards

Many people have ditched using cash for the convenience of debit or credit.  They just pull out a bank card for everything.  But what if you lose access to these accounts?  Even if you have direct deposit of your paycheck, get back in the habit of withdrawing the cash for your weekly needs:  grocery, gas, entertainment etc.  It seems inconvenient at first, but if you get into the habit, you will find out that you spend within your budgeted amount by using cash.  Lowering or eliminating your debt will benefit your finances and peace of mind in the long run.

Have Spare Cash Available

I’ve always recommended having a cash stash to tide you over in case you cannot get money out of the bank.  Even in “normal times” you should have enough cash to cover your needs for a few days.

Keep Hard Assets

Having emergency food storage, enough water, health and sanitation supplies for a few months will help you survive a bank holiday.  Imagine if you can’t get to your money using your debit or credit card for a time period, and think of all the items you need to survive.  Have a ready supply of these items on hand at all times.

Precious Metals

Keep a few gold and silver coins to diversify your financial portfolio.  Do some research before jumping in.  Save your nickels  or trade paper cash for nickels.  Buying coins minted pre-1965 is another place to start.  Don’t forget about your jewelry-they have value as well.  Jewelry is not as easily convertible to cash, but they can still be sold if you need cash.

Know Your Alternatives to Online Bill Paying

If you lose access to online bill paying, you may have to pay your utilities directly or through an authorized third party.  Many grocery stores have a customer service desk where you can cash checks for a small fee, and they accept payments for utilities and cell phone providers.

 

ReadyMade Resources is a trusted source for your preparedness supplies:

 

Find products that are equally functional for wilderness survival as well as urban preparedness:

Monday Musings 10/1/2012 October Edition

With today being the first day of October,  I thought I’d do a quick post.

New SARS threat bears watching.   The World Health Organization is closely watching out for cases involving a virus in the same family as the one that caused SARS back in the early 2000s.  This new virus starts out as a respiratory type infection but can cause pneumonia and kidney failure.  See New Coronavirus Outbreak: WHO On Alert And Watching New Sars-Like Virus In Saudi Arabia.  No need to worry, best thing to do is stay aware and get informed on SARS, by visiting the CDC website

And, with the regular flu season nearly upon us, it doesn’t hurt to check your First Aid supplies, chicken soup, herb teas and other home remedies.

Everyone needs a fire evacuation plan.   At least once a week we hear about some unfortunate families who are victims of a house or apartment fire.  I think apartment dwellers are vulnerable because the close proximity of homes contributes to fire spreading rapidly.  A few units are affected by the time the fire is contained.  Keeping our loved ones safe is of utmost importance.  Here is an article that helps you create a plan:  Planning a Fire Evacuation Route for Your Home

Fiscal cliff looming.  Even the mainstream early morning news radio that I listen to, while sitting in traffic, was discussing the “global economic slowdown.”  See Faber Warns “Everything Will Collapse”  ; Five Mainstream Economists Sound a Warning  ;   America could be ‘taken over,’ warns Ross Perot   If you have been holding off for a better time to get prepared, don’t wait.   There is no better time than right now to get those emergency supplies and finances in shape.  I hope these dire warnings never come to pass, but signs are hard to miss.   These are worrisome times indeed.

Blog updates

Moved to a new server.  My web hosting service has informed me that the blog just finished moving to a newer. faster server.  The actual moved occurred this past weekend.  I had a few issues logging in on Friday night when I got “server unavailable” error message but nothing too major.  For anyone who wasn’t able to visit the site, sorry for the inconvenience and thanks for your patience.  Any issues should be fixed now.

New sponsors are welcome  I receive a lot of requests for banner ad space but I am being selective by limiting sponsors to preparedness and survival companies that fit in with the blog content.   It does help pay the blog expenses such as the aforementioned servers and for testing, ingredients etc, so if you know of anyone interested, please have them drop me an email.

New book giveaway.   I will be announcing a drawing for a new book.  Check back later this week!

Have a safe week everyone!

 

Check out the Legacy Premium line of storage foods carried by one of our sponsors, PrepareWise.

Get the real deal. Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

Don’t let those expiration dates get past you.  An inexpensive but helpful tool to keep track of supplies (Iphone or Ipad users):