So Can’t Afford to Prep, Eh?

So You Can't Afford to PrepThis article first appeared in Preparing with Dave

Article by Dave at preparingwithdave.com

Can you afford not to?

Sadly enough, I feel like most of my time is spent trying to convince even preppers to prep. I hear many times that people cannot afford a necessary prep. A necessary prep means that if you don’t have it, you risk death in a survival situation. How could anyone not afford it? The answer lies in prioritizing one’s life and future. Many people are not fully internally aware enough of the seriousness of needing to be seriously prepared, thus not taking it seriously enough.

We make sacrifices to put money away for retirement, and call it an investment. Preps are investments, too. Water filtration devices are investments on life-saving hydration. Security devices and self-defense tools are investments to protect our lives from harmful people that said they couldn’t afford to prep, or just didn’t see it as important, which is kind of the same in my opinion. Their actions to aggressively acquire what they need will be the same.

Most of every item in my Emergency Survival Pack or Bug-Out Bag, is under or around $20.00 in cost of investment expenditure. Therefore, I will base some examples I offer you around that dollar amount of investment. Here are some examples of sacrifice to secure “Necessary Preps“.

Example one:

Some people drink two sodas per day. That’s around sixty sodas per month. Cost is around $20.00 to $40.00, depending on their favorite brand and flavor. That equals the cost of one to two Sawyer Mini Filters that filter 100,000 gallons of life-saving water each. Just cutting consumption of soda for one-month, and someone can have 100,000 gallons or more of water filtration prepped.

Example two:

The average lunch or dinner in a restaurant is $10.00 to $25.00 per person, depending on whether it is a fast-food or sit-down meal with tip. This could buy a couple of inexpensive packs on sale to start sticking preps in, to grab and go in an emergency situation. Skip these meals and go simple at home, and this prep is taken care of now. Add number one and number two example together, and you’re on your way to some good preparedness.

Example three:

Any service you have someone else do for you, like nails, hair, car wash, taking care of your yard, changing your oil, etc. These services add up to a healthy sum of money in a year’s time, or even just six-months. Actually, having all of these done in one-month adds up to over $100.00. That’s a lot of preps if you do a few simple tasks on your own, instead of paying someone else to do it for you. $100.00 dollars could buy eight fire starters, a family water filtration four-pack, 140 Mylar blankets, ten emergency shelters, ten emergency two-person sleeping bags, five Life Straws, ten containers of waterproof matches (250 matches), five WaterBobs, one high-quality crank emergency radio/flashlight ($30.00 leftover), and more. Get the idea?

Affording To Prep

These are just a few examples of what I call monetary maneuvering to acquire necessary preps. It takes sacrifice to have anything that is important enough. We have made many sacrifices around here to have what we need for our survival investments. We have a very nice “grid-down fund“, or “convenience-lost fund“, that is not monetary. It’s all in preps, since in SHTF, money isn’t worth anything and banks won’t be open to access the worthless notes anyway. You can do this too, if you prioritize your preps versus whatever else you are spending money on.

We have skipped favorite meals here and there, we do most everything ourselves, and we don’t buy frivolous items or services. We also prepare our owns meals that are healthier and actually much tastier, because we don’t use cheap food sources to cut costs and raise profit margins like restaurants do.

Do this or not, because it’s your choice and your life that’s at risk if you don’t…NOT MINE!”

About the AuthorDave writes preparingwithdave.com.  He created this page to share his experience, knowledge, actions, and continuing path with others.  He hopes your tour around the website is informative and you continue to visit for updates and sharing of your comments. Please visit Dave, on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/preparingwithdave

If you have any questions, ideas, or comments, please feel free to message him on Facebook:

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Monday Musings 9/8/2014: Preparedness Updates and Links

Monday Musings - Preparedness Updates and Links  09082014

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things  preparedness, as well as updates on the blog.

First the blog updates…

September is National Preparedness Month as we mentioned in yesterday’s post.

We’re having to look through our food storage to rotate items for freshness.  I hate to see anything go to waste, so we periodically go through our emergency items.  I know… I know, many food items can go well past their expiration dates, but how far past is safe?  No one really knows so I prefer to err on the side of caution.   What if you were relying on canned food that are five years past expiration, only to find out they emit ba bad smell by the time you open it?  Things would be much worse in a disaster when items are scarce.

Thanks for being our sponsor   A big thank you to Ready Made Resources for renewing their sponsorship with us!  Please continue to visit our sponsors  – they help keep the lights on at Apartment Prepper!

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Vote for me!  I got a really positive responses about Monday Musings when we ran our first poll ever.  If you like Apartment Prepper, please go out and vote for me!

Now for the links…

Mommy, I Have to Go Potty! Make Your Own Emergency Toilet

Drought in Spain means massive olive oil shortage in months ahead

“Grid Jihad”: What If You Had a Week to Prep for the End of the World?

The Escape Exercise

Recharge Alkaline Batteries

Looking out for your finances as a renter

Ten Steps To Turn Financial Disaster Into Financial Independence

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

Financial Emergency: 12 Ways to Raise Cash

Financial Emergency  12 Ways to Raise CashThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Everyone faces the need to raise cash at some point: the car breaks down, unexpected medical bills, legal troubles etc.  It can get so dire that rent gets behind or utilities such as water and power are being threatened with disconnection.   Pretty soon, TV or radio commercials singing the virtues of payday loans start to sound tempting.

If you find yourself starting to wonder whether a payday loan may help you in the short run, stop right now.

  • Payday loans have outrageous interest rates.
  • If you fail to make the payment or need to re-borrow, those interest rates are going to be even higher: there have been cases where borrowers end up paying $1100 for a loan that was originally $250, leaving them in a cycle of debt slavery.
  • These loans are designed to keep the borrower in a downward spiral.

 

What to do if you find yourself with no credit, and need to raise cash quickly

  1. Evaluate why you need the money right away. Sometimes, a bill that is perceived as an emergency may not be as urgent as originally thought.

Utilities such as electricity, water and gas are urgent, but the cable and cell phone bill are not as crucial.

Most utilities also allow you to make payment arrangements if you need to move the payment to align with your paycheck. Be up front with them and explain your circumstances. When the time comes, you must stick to the arrangement to avoid disconnection.

For medical bills, doctors and hospitals are also happy to accept monthly payments.

2. Go through your belongings and find things you can sell.

· Hold a garage sale.. If you live in a building that does not allow garage sales, join forces with a friend who can hold one.
· List your items on Craigslist or Ebay.

3. Return unused items that still have the price tags.

I’ve seen friends’ closets that contain outfits they bought but never wear, and still have the price tag on after several months. Many department stores will accept returns, but be aware they will refund the money if paid in cash, but if paid by credit card they return it to the card. Some stores will only issue a gift card, but this brings me to the next tip.

4. Sell your unused gift cards for cash. You’ll have to sell them at a discount, but you’ll get cash for gift cards you haven’t used.

Try Gift Card Granny http://www.giftcardgranny.com/sell-a-gift-card/

5. Hire out your services on Fiverr

The jobs start at $5 a “gig” but as services get added, the cash could add up. I’ve used them for small jobs, and each time I spent at least $25 and I’m the frugal type. If you act professionally and deliver quality work within the time agreed upon, the jobs could add up.

6. Get a part-time job or create a side job: Start a pet sitting or dog-walking service, tutor kids after school, teach a skill or sport.

7. Collect and sell aluminum cans and other recyclables.

8. Pawn or sell valuables at a pawn shop.

9. Sell your handmade crafts on Etsy, swap meet or craft fairs.

10. Make money during your down time on Amazon Mechanical Turk https://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome

11.  Rent out your car to someone else.  Most cities have peer to peer car sharing services such as Relay Rides  I haven’t personally tried this, but have read some car owners can make an average of $250 depending on the schedule.  Make sure you investigate thoroughly as to how it works, and what your protections are.

12.  Try borrowing from a peer to peer lender.  Peer to peer loans are unsecured personal loans from other people, facilitated by a lending intermediary that may charge a one-time fee.  Again, investigate all aspects and read the fine print before getting into anything.

If you are in a cash crunch, try one or a combination of the above tips.  Pretty soon, you’ll have the cash you need to get by.  Keep your spirits up, and never lose faith that “this too, shall pass.”

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

 

How to Survive a Personal Economic Collapse

How to Survive a Personal Economic Collapse

This post is originally appeared in The Organic Prepper

by Daisy Luther

With all that is being written about the national economic collapse, people seem to be waiting for some huge event.

However, for many North Americans, the collapse is here. This isn’t relegated to only lower income neighborhoods. As an article from a Cinncinnati new station stated, “Hunger doesn’t know a zipcode.”

How to survive a personal economic collapse

For many people who were formerly financially comfortable, the economic collapse has already happened, in the form of a job loss, hours that have been cut back due to Obamacare requirements for employers, an exorbitant medical bill or other crushing debt, or simply an inflation rate that has outstripped your pay increases. Despite all of the warnings, many people are still going to be absolutely blindsided.
For many families, personal finances have reached a catastrophic level – they are left to make terrible choices:

  • Which utility can I live without?
  • Should I walk away from my mortgage?
  • Should I eat something so I can work harder or should I skip meals so my kids have food?
  • Should I use the grocery money to take my child to the doctor or should I wait and hope he/she improves without medical intervention?
  • Do I risk the IRS-enforced penalties by forgoing enrollment in Obamacare or should I skip that whole grocery shopping thing so I can pay the monthly premiums and enormous deductibles in order to stay in the government’s good graces?

These are the kind of decisions that people across the nation are grappling with every day.

I’m talking about good people, hardworking men and women who have always been employed and paid their bills. A personal financial crisis does not just strike those stereotypical “welfare queens” with the long manicured nails, Gucci knock-off purse, and a grocery cart full of EBT-funded lobster.

I’m talking about the person next door, who seems to have it all together. I’m talking about that quiet family that sits two rows in front of you at church. I’m talking about that two-income family with two children and a car in the driveway that takes them to work and school 5 days a week. I’m talking about people just like you and me.

What is a personal economic collapse?

A personal economic collapse is a little different than the major crises you see all over Europe right now, where huge segments of the population can’t feed their children or stay employed. It is a crisis that just hits your family due to a given set of circumstances. (In actuality North Americans are on the brink of the kind of collapse that is occurring in Europe, but because of easy access to credit and a buy-now, pay-later society, many of us still have the appearance of prosperity.)

Here are some signs that you may be in the midst of a personal economic collapse:
· You can only afford to pay the minimum payment on most of your bills.
· The same dollar amount you used to spend on groceries doesn’t buy enough food to feed your family for the week.
· You can’t afford to go to the doctor when you’re sick.
· You are taking dangerous steps to “stretch” needed medications because you can’t afford the prescriptions.
· Your utility bills are past due and your power is in danger of being cut off.
· You skip meals in order to save money or to have enough food for your kids.
· You’ve lost your job or had your hours cut.
· You have lost property due to foreclosure or repossession (such as your home or your vehicle).

Surviving the crisis

Times are tough but you can survive this.

1)  First you have to see exactly where you are.

It’s time for a brutally honest assessment of your finances. If you use your debit card or credit card for most expenditures, you’ll easily be able to see what you’re spending and bringing in.
Print off your bank account statements for the past 2 months. On a piece of paper, track where your money is going. List the following
· Rent/Mortgage
· Utilities
· Car payments
· Vehicle operating expenses (fuel, repairs)
· Insurances
· Credit card and other debt payments
· Telephone/Cell phone
· Cable/Satellite
· Internet
· Extracurricular activities for the kids
· Extracurricular activities for the adults
· Dining out
· Groceries
· School expenses
· Clothing
· Recreational spending
· Gifts
· Miscellaneous (anything that doesn’t fall into the above categories gets it’s own category or goes here)
Don’t say to yourself, “Well, I usually don’t spend $400 on clothing so that isn’t realistic.” If you spent it, then it’s realistic. You are averaging together two months, which should account for those less common expenses. Brutal honesty isn’t fun, but it’s vital for this exercise.
So….what do you see when you look at your piece of paper with your average monthly expenditures for the past two months? Are there any surprises? Did you actually realize how much you’ve been spending? Most of us will immediately see places that we can trim the budget. Those $1-$5 purchases can really add up. Reining them in may just allow you to take care of an important need that you thought you could not meet.
It can’t continue like this. The economy will not withstand it. Step one is to see where you can cut things out right now from the above expenditures. Can you reduce your grocery bill? Slash meals out? Budget more carefully for gift-giving and school clothes?

2.) Rethink necessities.

If your finances are out of control, the best possible reality check is a stark look at what necessities really are. It is not necessary to life to have an iPhone, a vehicle in both stalls of your two-car garage, or for your children to all have separate bedrooms. People in Southern and Eastern Europe right now will tell you, as they scramble for food, basic over the counter medications like aspirin, and shelter, that necessities are those things essential to life:
· Water
· Food (and the ability to cook it)
· Medicine and medical supplies
· Basic hygiene supplies
· Shelter (including sanitation, lights, heat)
· Simple tools
· Seeds
· Defense Items
Absolutely everything above those basic necessities is a luxury.
So, by this definition, what luxuries do you have?

3.) Reduce your monthly output

Reduce your monthly payments by cutting frivolous expenses. Look at every single monthly payment that comes out of your bank account and slash relentlessly. Consider cutting the following:
· Cable
· Cell phones
· Home phones
· Gym memberships
· Restaurant meals
· Unnecessary driving
· Entertainment such as trips to the movies, the skating rink, or the mall

4.) Waste not, want not.

We live in a disposable society. Food comes in throw-away containers. People replace things instead of repairing them. If you throw out more than a couple of bags of garbage each week, that’s a very good sign that you may be wasting resources.
Before throwing anything away, pause and think about how it might be able to be reused.
· Food: Many times small amounts of leftovers can be recycled into a brand new meal. Meat bones can be used to make broth or stock. Small amounts of veggies or grains can be frozen and added to a future soup or casserole. Leftovers can be frozen in meal-sized portions to take to work for a brown-bag lunch. (Learn more about repurposing leftovers HERE.)
· Clothing: Clothing that is torn or damaged can often be repaired with only rudimentary sewing skills. If it has been outgrown or cannot be repaired, often the fabric or yarn can be reused for other purposes, from cleaning rags to fashionable accessories like scarves and headbands, or home items like throw pillows, potholders or rag rugs. When all else fails, the fabric can be used for cleaning rags or patches to repair other items. Keep jars full of buttons, elastic, and other notions that can easily be removed before you throw a clothing item away or relegate it to the rag bag.
· Electronics: Obviously, initially you should attempt to repair (or have repaired) electronic items that are not working. If this is not feasible, are there components of the item that can be reused, either now or in the future? What about hardware such as screws or fasteners?
· Containers: Most food comes in a container of some sort. Before throwing the container away, consider whether or not it might be useful. Glass jars, plastic tubs, and plastic bags can often be reused to store food in your refrigerator or to contain food in brown bag lunches. Clean aluminum cans can hold all manner of items, from hardware and tools in a workshop to sewing and craft supplies. Use your imagination.

5.) Take control of your food budget.

The price of food is skyrocketing. Who hasn’t been to the grocery store recently and been shocked at the high price of that cart full of groceries or at the mysterious shrinking food packages that are the same price as yesterday’s larger ones?
· Stockpile: Create a stockpile of nutritious, healthy staples at today’s prices to enjoy when the cost goes even higher tomorrow. (Learn how to create a frugal food stockpile HERE.)
· Preserve: Learn to preserve food yourself when you come across a windfall. Pressure canning, waterbath canning, freezing, and dehydrating can allow you to take advantage of great sales or end-of-season scores.
· Eat less: This suggestion isn’t for everyone, but many of us could stand to shed a few pounds. Perhaps now would be a good time to cut back a little and shrink both your waistline and your weekly food bill. Lots of people eat for the sheer entertainment of it or out of habit. Next time you’re watching TV, grab some mending or a crossword puzzle instead of a bag of potato chips. Dish out slightly smaller servings at dinnertime to leave enough to stretch the leftovers for a brown bag meal the next day.
· Drink water: Skip the beverages and drink water instead. At less than $1 per gallon for purchased water you simply can’t beat the price. It’s better for you, also, than sugar-y drinks. If you are lucky enough to have well water or access to spring water, your drinks don’t have to cost you a penny.
· Focus on nutrition instead of convenience: Buy the best quality of food you can, and skip the processed, nutritionless convenience foods.
· Grow your own. In the summer, grow the biggest garden you can. In the winter, or if you are an apartment dweller, put some sprouts and greens in a sunny windowsill to add some fresh produce for pennies.

6.) Reduce your dependence on utilities.

Energy rates are skyrocketing. As the prices begin to rise, more and more people will be unable to pay their bills and eventually their power will be shut off. Check your bill each month and as prices increase, use less power. Try some of these ideas to reduce your reliance and drop your bills.
· Hand wash your clothing
· Hang clothes to dry
· Cook on a woodstove or outdoor grill
· Can foods to preserve them instead of relying on a large chest freezer
· Turn the heat down a few degrees and use non-grid methods to keep warm
· Use rain barrels to collect water
· Direct the gray water from your washing machines to reservoirs
· Turn off the lights and open the blinds
· Use solar lighting whenever possible
How do you intend to weather the storm?
There are bleak days ahead. Have you planned for this? What strategies do you intend to use to weather the financial crisis that is coming for all of us? What suggestions do you have for families who are undergoing their own economic collapses? Please post questions and ideas in the comments section below.

About the Author:

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives on a small organic farm in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is also a staff writer at The Daily Sheeple, where she helps to “Wake the Flock Up”. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

 

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What’s Your Threat: Economic Downturn

Whats Your Threat  Economic Downturn

When I started my preparedness journey, I was mainly concerned about preparing for the next hurricane, but as time went on, I felt there may be a possibility for a major economic turmoil in our future.

We already experienced “The Great Recession” back in 2009 when many people lost jobs and businesses.  We had our own share of financial troubles, and, have not fully recovered yet.  Although the media reminds us the economy continues to improve, we can see the writing on the wall.  The government continues to print money, banks continue their bad behavior that led to the decline, and people continue to get in over their heads in credit.  We all know what happened in the Great Depression.  Back them people were a lot more resilient and not as self entitled as people are today.

Even if the economy continues along in its path, there is also always a chance of a personal economic turmoil, if you were to lose your job.  In that situation, everyone else is fine, but you still have to find a way to pick up the pieces and keep going.

Steps to prepare for another economic downturn

    • Avoid debt like it’s the plague.  Adding to your current debt by buying stuff you don’t need only worsens the problem.  The short term boost of buying something new is not worth the anguish later when the bill comes.  Put the brakes on borrowing now.
    • Downsize your lifestyle.  Now is the time to reduce your fixed overhead costs such as housing, utilities and other bills.  You might consider moving to a small house or apartment, giving up cable, going to a lower cell phone plan etc.
    • Make your home more secure.  In a bad economy, thefts and other crimes will rise.  Make your apartment or house more secure while you have resources.  Even a low tech solution is better than none.  Take a class in self-defense, get trained in firearm safety or find options in personal defense.  Your mode of defense is a personal choice, but at least consider your options.
    • Build your emergency fund.   Make it a habit to save some of your income every month.  You may need to rely on savings if you lose your job.
    • Keep cash at home  Even if nothing happens, it is important to have some cash hidden at home in case your credit and debit cards stop working.  A power outage, a security breach such as the recent one at Target, or identity theft can all cause you to lose access to bank cards.
    • Get a side gig.  It is a good idea to develop some income on the side, in addition to your regular employment.  You could try moonlighting at night, or using one of your hobbies to make items that people would buy.
    • Boost your preps.  Before prices rise, buy bulk foods and add to your emergency supplies.  If you were to lose your job, you can use your food storage to tie you over until things get better.
    • Consider buying physical gold and silver.   To find out about buying gold and silver, I accompanied a friend to a gold dealer in town; see Part 2 here.  For more info about protecting your savings using gold and silver, see Economic Collapse:  5 Strategies for Protecting your 401k Savings
    • Develop self sufficiency skills.  Learn to do things on your own, instead of relying on outside services:  bake your own bread, make yogurt at home, use essential oils, start a garden etc.  You don’t have to learn everything all at once, just choose one skill and try it out.  Not everything works out right away – there is a learning curve.  You’ll find some things you like, and some things you won’t.  The main thing is to try it out.
    • Find product substitutes.   We all have our favorite name brands, but sometimes you can replace the pricey brand with a simple solution:  make your own cleaning supplies or laundry detergent.  Or, if you really like your products, try using less.
    • Take care of your health.  Maintaining your health is important, especially if there are stressful times ahead.  Keep a healthy weight, exercise and take care of any health issues now.
    • Take action.  All too often, we get bogged down reading but neglect the next step:  doing what you need to do.
    • Don’t worry.   It can get overwhelming sometimes, and these worries can keep you up at night.  If you are already preparing and taking care of what you need to do, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done your best.


See what other members of The Prepared Bloggers consider to be current risks, in our first ever blog hop:

What's Your Threat? What's the biggest threat to you and your family? Check out some amazing blogs and how they attack their biggest threats to being more prepared and more self-reliant!
Push Past the Fear and Just Do It!! – Mom with a PREP

Living in Tornado Alley – The Busy B Homemaker

{Forest Fire Safety} – Mama Kautz

Why You Need Food Storage – Food Storage Moms

Break in the Supply Chain – Homestead Dreamer

Drought! – Ever Growing Farm

Medical Emergencies at Home – Preparedness Mama

Surviving a Tornado – Survival at Home

Wildfire – Cooke’s Frontier

Rising Food Prices – Common Sense Homesteading

Economic Collapse – Timber Creek Farms

A Personal Job Loss Situation – Food Storage Made Easy

7 Tips for Keeping Your Family Together in an Emergency – Food Storage & Survival

Massive Blackout- Trailerpark Homestead

How to Overcome a Lack of Motivation to Prepare – Home Ready Home

The Unexpected – Are We Crazy, Or What?

Our Threats Are Many, But Our Worries Are None – Trayer Wilderness

Food Storage Without a Plan – My Food Storage Cookbook

Hurricanes and Nor’Easters – Backyard Pioneer

Hurricanes (What I Wish I Knew Before it Hit!) – Prepared-Housewives

A Financial Disaster – The Surival Mom

Staying Off the Radar – Geek Prepper

Everything Becomes Too Expensive – Beyond Off Grid

 

My new book is out!

Jake and Miller's Big Adventure

Grow More! Spend Less!

Grow More!  Spend Less!

 

Debt-Proof Living

Get Rid of Cable = Save Money for Preps

Today we returned the cable boxes and unhooked ourselves from Comcast cable.

It all started out when we moved to a smaller unit a few months ago (part of the plan to downsize).   We weren’t on a contract but we had one of those “bundled” plans that was discounted.  At the same time, we were aggravated by their service issues.  We realized that out of roughly 200 channels, we were really only watching a handful.

Here are a few ideas on getting shows:

20130827_163109 - CopyMohu Leaf TV Antenna - Copy

  1. An indoor HD TV antenna or a regular antenna allows you to get all the free channels.  Cost is around $12 for “rabbit ears” antenna or $36 for an HD antenna, and the monthly cost is $ 0.
  2. Get shows via Hulu and Netflix, at a fraction of the cost.  Cost is around $7.99 for either one if your TV is a newer model and allows the access.
  3. Watch shows directly from the networks via internet.  Cost= free.
  4. The Roku 3 is small box that is connected to the TV that lets you stream shows from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video or Hulu Plus; accessing 1000+ channels and growing.   Initial cost of the Roku 3 is $89, monthly cost depends on what services you subscribe to.

For us, getting rid of cable saves $70 from the monthly bill.  Currently we are on Option 1 but may consider adding services later.  Even adding a small monthly $7.99 bill from Netflix is still only a fraction of what we were spending.

If you are wondering how you might find some savings for the emergency fund or buy some preps, consider cutting out cable TV.    Small steps you can take:

  • Evaluate your family’s viewing habits for a week.
  • Write down the channels you most often watch.  I bet most of those channels are not being used.
  • Do some research on what’s available, talk to the family, then decide.

With all the alternatives available, I am certain we won’t miss it at all.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

 

How an Average Person can Prepare for a Pandemic

How an Average Person can Prepare for a PandemicThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I’ve been seeing several news reports of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and got to thinking about pandemics in general.  Lots of people fear a global pandemic.  If you had to rank a list of super scary threats, pandemic would be pretty high on the list.  We’ve all seen movies like Contagion, which is scary enough.  We also associate pandemic with nightmarish throngs of zombie like disease ridden creatures.  But let’s pull back to reality and get some sense of what is a pandemic and whether they can happen.

What is a pandemic?  According to Flu.gov, a pandemic is defined as a global outbreak of disease.  It’s not determined by the number of deaths, but by how quickly it spreads.

Do they happen?  Pandemics do happen, as in three outbreaks of flu pandemic in the 20th century:

  • Spanish flu killed $40-50 million in 1918
  • Asian flu in 1957 killed 2 million people
  • 1 million deaths from Hong Kong flu in 1968

What are the chances?

I don’t have a crystal ball, and there is really no way to predict when and how a pandemic can happen.  Certain “tells” would be:

  • A new virus emerges, which means people would have little or no immunity to it
  • The virus is easily spread to others
  • Virus starts affecting various countries around the globe at the same time.  This is not hard to imagine, given the speed of air travel.
  • Outbreaks come in waves.

This would overwhelm the healthcare systems in affected countries, cause a shortage of medicines and caregivers, large scale deaths would disrupt the economy and systems.  People would not be able to come to work if they are too sick or too busy caring for family members.

What can an average person do to be prepared?

The basics for preparing for a pandemic is similar to preparing for a regional disaster, such as hurricane or ice storm, except for a few added precautions:

  • Have at least two weeks worth of stored food that does not need refrigeration.  Don’t forget to store enough for kids, pets and other special diets.  Increase your supplies if you have the means or the space.
  • Store enough water for your family for at least two weeks- the recommended amount is at least one gallon per person per day.
  • Have a power outage kit, which means backup lighting, cooking and communications, in case of power disruptions,  Your car survival kit should also be fully stocked.
  • Have some emergency cash.
  • Keep a fully stocked first aid kit, complete with backup prescriptions
  • Make sure you also have toilet and sanitation provisions
  • Be aware – pay attention to the news, both mainstream and alternate sources.

Stock up on additional supplies including:

  • N-95 face masks
  • goggles
  • gloves
  • hand soap and antibacterial wipes
  • bleach – a good standby when in comes to disinfect surfaces.  According to the Clorox website, use 2 tbsp bleach to one gallon of water, to sanitize a surface.  Bleach loses its potency so always mix a fresh batch for cleaning.
  • garbage bags for disposal of waste

Bolster your Immune System

Strengthening your immune system is always good to do, whether there is a risk or pandemic or not:

  • Get enough sleep and rest.
  • Relax and avoid stress.
  • Exercise at least three to four days a week.
  • Eat a healthy diet.  Take vitamin supplements if you feel you don’t eat well enough.

A few other tips:

Have a plan   Decide in advance under what circumstances you would start keeping kids home from school, staying home from work or creating a sick room in your house.

Discuss your plan with family members and plan care giving tasks ahead of time.

Avoid crowds   Being among lots of people increases your chances of getting contaminated.  If you live in a condo or apartment complex, you would need to avoid common areas, possibly take the stairs that are used less frequently than elevators.  If you must be around others, you’d need to wear a mask

Wash your hands  Get everyone in the family in the habit of washing their hands as they come home from public places and before eating.  If you cannot wash your hands right away, use antibacterial wipes.

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze  Use tissues or a handkerchief to cover up and avoid spreading germs.

Stop touching your eyes and face  Once you touch something with germs, and you touch near your eyes or mouth, you can instantly catch a disease.  Be aware of this and if you cannot wash your hands right away, at least keep your hands away from your face.

Disinfect surfaces around you   Droplets from coughing and sneezing travel several feet.  These germ filled droplets can last for hours on surfaces such as paper, steel or plastic.  For this reason, keep a box of antibacterial wipes and clean door knobs, light switches and other commonly touched items around you.

Learn basic first aid and herbal remedies  If there is a pandemic, hospital emergency rooms and doctors’ office would be overwhelmed, and also filled with contagious people.  If you had a minor issue such as a cut or a cold, and can take care of it at home using first aid or over the counter remedies, you are better off avoiding these places.

Recommended reading:  If you are interested in finding out about the time when the Ebola virus made it all the way to Reston, VA, read The Hot Zone, a nonfiction story that is all the more scary because it really happened.

Preparing for a pandemic is similar to being prepared for other disasters.  There is no need to panic or live in fear – being prepared will help you sleep better at night.

 

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

 

Get out of debt

 

 

 

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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