What You Can Do to Prepare in this Slow Economy

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

In spite of all the happy talk in the news media about positive economic growth, I feel the economy has not improved much.  More and more families are finding it difficult to make ends meet.  Many people live paycheck to paycheck if they are lucky enough to have a job, while many are unemployed or have stopped looking.  See Year Ends in Economic Slump: “More Americans Than Ever Living in Poverty”

I’ve covered the stagnant economy and money saving ideas a number of times in Apartment Prepper posts.   People are still worried about jobs, high food prices, and the ever increasing deficit.  I think the most important thing people can do is be prepared for anything.

As the new year begins, Make a firm decision to become prepared and do everything you can towards this goal.

  • Buy food and other necessities now while the prices are still manageable.  Buy items on sale and combine with coupons.  Even if nothing happens, you know prices are only going to increase so you really can’t lose by setting aside a good stockpile.
  • Even if you are employed and are comfortable with your finances, save some money and avoid getting into new debt.
  • Have a “worse case scenario” plan on what you would do if there were an economy collapse and the main wage earner of the family were to lose his or her job.  What if you can no longer pay your rent or mortgage?  Would you combine forces with your family and move in with them?  These are not pleasant thoughts, but if you deal with them now, you avoid going into shock later.  You will also be able to make a plan and take action now to ensure a better outcome.
  • Value your job.  Make yourself as valuable as possible by volunteering to learn new skills, exceeding your boss’s expectations and being a team player.
  • Pick up a “side gig” or two to supplement your income.  It can be as simple as selling books and items you no longer need, or making crafts and selling them online.
  • Take care of your health – use all your workplace benefits toward getting new glasses, getting checkups, maintaining your dental work etc.
  • Eliminate spending on services you no longer use:  ditch cable if you are no longer on contract, get rid of the gym membership if you never go, stop those magazine subscriptions that you never read.
  • Maintain your car and make it last as long as possible.
  • Instead of buying, find a way to make things yourself.  All you have to do is try. Try making your own bread, cereal, yogurt, muffins, laundry detergent – even dog treats.  You can even make your own skincare products. These are easy projects that can be done in a few minutes.
  • Don’t use shopping as entertainment – having fun does not have to cost a lot.
  • Don’t neglect your emergency supplies.  Build your emergency food, water and necessities, buying a small amount as you can afford.  Continue to stockpile but make sure you rotate your supplies to avoid waste.

What do you think?  Please share your comments below on what you think people should do in this troubled economy.  I’ve gotten many great ideas from comments and suggestions.  In the coming months, I will write more on these subjects.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

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  1. What can you do?

    Develop several income streams so you have several ways to make money if (and likely when) one goes away you still have money coming in.

    What this plays out to is to start being self employed. If you work for other people this seems impossible. But it’s really not as hard as one thinks. All you have to do is look inward and ask yourself what skills you have or can develop that others are willing to pay for.

    Pick a skill and learn all you can about it, buy the needed tools to do it (used is less expensive) and practice till you can do it in your sleep.

    What skills is hard to say for sure as we all have different abilities and interest.

    I have my own handyman / home / apartment repair business. I fix just about everything you can think of. But when I first started out with the business I only did electrical work (went to school for electronics) but I wanted to make more money and I self-taught myself a LOT of new skills and now I fix everything in a home or apartment.

    I do wood working, rough construction, brick and masonry, electrical, plumbing and 100 other things. No one of them will provide a good living by themselves, but together they all keep me so busy I have trouble fitting in all the work from the calls I get.

    If you work for someone else you can still do this. All you need to do is to offer a service (once you learn it and get the tools to do it) or product and sell it on Craig’s List.

    Do you sew clothes?

    Do you make things out of wood?

    Do you know how to repair autos?

    Do you know how to fix appliances?

    Buy a carpet machine and clean carpets for people.

    Buy a pressure washer (a good $3500.00+ gasoline powered one, not a $200.00 Wally-World one) and start power washing houses, buildings, roofs, driveways and sidewalks.

    Buy a welder and learn how to weld, people always need things welded (I started doing this last year).

    Do you can food, if so you can teach others how to do it.

    Are you computer savvy and have something to say, start a blog.

    Do you know a lot about herbs and can you teach a class? Last summer I traveled almost 80-miles (one way) for a class on herbs. The herb class cost $45.00 and it had 27 people attending it. Not a bad income for a Saturday afternoon.

    Do you own a lawn mower, leaf blower and a bush trimmer, maybe you can print up flyers and deliver them to homes in your area. Same thing for a snow blower, lots of older folks can’t clear away the snow and would pay you to do it.

    The list of things to make extra money is just about endless.

    We all can learn how to do something others will pay us for. What do you do for a job and did your employer train you to do it? And is it something you can do on the side? It would be nice to put that training (that someone else paid you to learn) to work making you extra money. Everything extra I had to learn came from my on pocket $$$, it would have been nice if others were to have foot the bill.

    I know most will read this and say they can’t do it, and you are right. If you decide you can’t do something you can’t or ever will do it. But if you have an open mind and truly want to make extra money you can find the skills, time and a way to do something. But understand that a base of customers that use you all the time builds painfully slow, it took me years of living on little money before I got the option of being selective as far as what jobs I do. You need to build customer relationships now, not after it hits the wall. Who knows, you may be able to fire your boss in a year or two and go it alone. This is where real freedom comes from.

    PS: You need to NOT be in debt, debt will almost always sink you as it puts you behind before you even start out. Sell that newer auto and buy a good running junker. Cut up the cards, live below your income lever so you have extra money at the end of the month. I had a wife (now X-wife of 20+ years) help me get out of debt as she destroyed my credit and since I live by the if I don’t have the cash, I don’t buy it. Not fun at first, but now it’s wonderful as a lifestyle. I will never go into debt again.

    1. Love this comment, Chuck. I supplement my income by teaching girls how to cook from scratch, in my own kitchen. Saturday mornings, $25 per child, two hour class, about 20 attend per month. After I buy the food supplies, I net an $400 per month (avg $50 per hour) and I’m teaching the girls an important life skill. You would be surprised at what people will pay for you to lovingly teach their children skills they cannot.

      1. Hi Melanie, What a great idea, teaching young girls to cook from scratch! So many people don’t cook and therefore unable to teach this skill themselves. You are doing a great service, and making extra $ at the same time. Thanks for sharing!

  2. As far as making yourself as valuable as possible by volunteering to learn new skills, exceeding your boss’s expectations and being a team player. I’ve tried that and it usually ends up with more work with little to no boost in income.

    But when you are self employed and learn a new skill it starts paying you the first time you do it. As an example a few years ago I bought fittings and tools to do PEX plumbing. I spent about $300.00 for all of it. I did my first PEX plumbing job and made $250.00, I almost had all of it paid for in one day.I use those tools every few weeks and over the last few years it has paid me well. If I worked for an employer I would have learned a new skill and then done the new work and hoped my boss saw fit to pay me a bit more. But with today’s economy few people get much of an income boost as the money isn’t there for most companies.

    I know self employment is beyond most people as they just can’t see themselves doing it. But it really does give you freedom, piece of mind and puts you in charge of your income, not someone else that doesn’t have your best interest in mind.

    I hope we don’t see SHTF times but being self employed I know I will weather the hard times much better then someone who is working for another person.

    I already barter with people, I build relationships with customers that we both value and will continue if or when bad times come or come more then they already have.

    Cutting expenses is a good thing to do, I had an x-wife help me cut to the extreme. But we also need a more secure income that is SHTF resistant and working for others for the most part doesn’t give us that. Cut all you can, but you still will need money.

    I’ve read numerous post over the years where someone says they plan to keep their head down till the initial bad times pass and then come out of the bunker. Nothing wrong with this (I would do the same thing) but once things settle down a bit and you do come out and if your job got nuked what are you going to do for money? No one outside of the super rich can stock everything they need for the rest of their life. It just can’t be done. We all will need to trade, buy, sell (conduct commerce) and for that we all need money. Most of us also can’t stock up on enough gold or silver to last till we die. so we need to make money and self employment (a service-based business) is the best way to do that as it puts us in charge of our future.

    Many preppers think we are going to get some version of Mad Max or JWR’s Patriots book type of future. If we do get it no one is going to go to the office, but you will likely be able to trade a service type of work for things.

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