When Reading Gets in the Way of Doing

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Years ago when I first got interested in frugality, a friend introduced me to the Tightwad Gazette books.  They are great resources for anyone learning how to pinch pennies.  I also immersed myself further by reading personal finance blogs.  Unfortunately, that’s all I was doing:  reading.  While I was spending all that time reading, I was still living beyond my means.  In other words, reading made me feel productive, but I wasn’t accomplishing anything.  It was just making me feel good.  Not until I took concrete steps to improve my finances such as balancing the checking account, making a spending plan and cutting out expenses did I truly get started.

The same thing can happen when learning about preparedness and survival books.  I got excited about finding out all this information, and whole new way of thinking opened up.  So much to learn!  I am not saying you should stop reading about preparedness.  Far from it.  All I am saying is once you read about something you need to do, you must do something to at least get started.  I have a good friend who is really concerned about preparing, reads everything he can about what’s going on in the country, and worries about what’s going on.  But when I ask him has he done anything to prepare, he says he knows he should but hasn’t gotten around to it.  I worry he will never get around to it.

Even if you can’t run to the store right now to go buy supplies, go do something that you can do right now, like take inventory of what you have, clean out a closet to make room for supplies, fill up clean soda bottles with water, etc.   Find one skill you’d like to learn and get started:  talk to someone who knows how, and schedule some time to learn the skill.   Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish this month, and take action.  If and when the emergency comes, you will be glad you did.



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  1. I agree completely. I read for months without doing much at all. The final straw was when I couldn’t even get myself to make a scan of all the cards I kept in my wallet. So I finally forced myself to take action and did it. I then spent weeks gathering info about our personal info – like scanning info on our property, making notes of who holds what insurances, the numbers and accounts we have that are active for our utilities, etc – all to go on a thumb drive to be held in a secure place plus BOB. Also the little stuff like filling up wine bottles with water as my husband empties them of wine and storing them in the garage. As our garage gets up into the 100s of degrees for several months over summer I don’t like to keep water in plastic containers there, though the glass bottles do take up a lot of room for the amount of water I can keep. Any action is better than none.

    My problem is that my daughter isn’t in any emotional state to do any prepping so I need to do some for her family too. But one step at a time.

    1. Hi Harriet, I’m not the only one this happened to! It really does take some energy to get started. I am glad you got all those things done. I agree with you about keeping plastic in the garage. Soda bottles are good for water storage but not in 100 degree heat. I keep mine in the house, but if they were in the garage I’d use glass too. Your daughter is lucky to have you help her out. You sound like a strong person, you’re just the one to do it. Thanks for the comment!

    2. I have the same set up on my thumbdrives. I keep one at work, one in a safe and the other in my bug out bag. I would also suggest adding pictures of family and friends. It’ll help if you had to bug out or uproot somewhere else because of a disaster is heading your way. You can always take the flash drive to your local walmart, drugstore or photo place and have them print and frame the pictures.

      1. Also great ideas. Photos in a thumb drive would definitely be a comfort in a time of emergency, not to mention a way to reprint them when things get back to normal.


    It’s all about “Pulling Triggers.”

    You speak the gospel truth when you talk about doing something about it TODAY. It doesn’t matter if it’s big, small, or miniscule. The only thing that matters is that you do it NOW. There will never be a better time, you will never “get around to it”, “someday” never comes. You have to do it today.

    And to be honest, a lot of preparedness is mental. It’s being organized. It’s assembling information (nice job Harriet), it’s having conversations with your loved ones and making decisions together. It doesn’t have to be building a bunker or cleaning off the costco shelves on a stockpiling trip. There ARE many triggers that you can pull in a few minutes. But you still have to pull them.

    So much of this world is really just scared of taking action. Just plain chicken.

    They are too scared to pick up a phone and call, go shake a hand and say hi, start a business, make a purchase that they know they need to, move to a new place, get out of a relationship that’s destructive, ask someone out that they’ve been wanting to, get right with God, get right with family, answer their cell phone, take a class, pick up a hobby, say no, say yes, or do ANYTHING.

    We live in a world (or at least a nation) that runs and hides from things that look daunting, uncomfortable, or scary.

    Your post is about life.

    In the grand scheme of things, the journey of preparedness is just one little part of life. But there are infinite other opportunities that you have to either put something off, or take action. You either do it today, or you don’t do it at all.

    After all, life really is just a bunch of days.

    Thanks so much for a good little kick in the butt.

    1. Hey Dan! That is so true, while I was mainly thinking about prepping and the experience with improving my finances, it really does apply to the big picture. Taking that first step is the hardest, possibly scariest part. But once you do take that first step the rest becomes easier. I hope more people decide to take action and get prepared or whatever else they need to do today. Thank you!

    1. Hey millenniumfly, that is normal for all of us. Sometimes there is so much to learn it is easy to get bogged down. This afternoon I was riveted to the TV from all the hurricane news. Another case of “watching TV getting in the way of doing.”

  3. The first thing I tell people to do is get a notepad and keep it on them at all times. Start writing down the things you can do to reorganize your place, ways of making room or more space for storage. You will be amazed when you see something on TV, an observation or that thought keeping you up at night; write it down and go to sleep.

    Plan to place a flashlight and candle in each room along with a lighter or matches so if the power goes out you have enough light to see and make your way through the house. I have the 8″ tall candles you get at Walmart or the grocery store for about a dollar since the last and a pretty safe running all night.

    As for practicing what you have read or seen on a website, book of youtube I like to test simple things on my patio, local wilderness parks or trips up the mountains which is a 30 minute drive. It is better to practice these things in controlled or semi controlled environment before finding the book or video was wrong or you didn’t grasp it the first time.

    1. All good suggestions Jarhead 03. I actually use the notebook method myself as well. I do keep flashlights on the nightstands at home but its a good idea to have in every room. Yes, definitely practice is ideally done before an emergency, being on the road or actually camping/backpacking is not the time to try new methods or gear. Thanks!

  4. I’ve often thought about this issue myself. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a piece on “how to be a good refugee” with some of this in mind. I suspect that there are a fair number of people who are convinced enough in their heads to read preparedness info, but are just “armchair quarterbacks” and rarely take concrete steps to actually prepare.

    I agree with Urbivalist Dan that a lot is mental, but a lot is also practice of skills and acquisition of needed supplies.

    Great reminder to everyone! Thanks.

    1. Hi Laura, I agree, most of it is mental. I would hope anyone who has started reading about preparedness follows through, if only to avoid being a “good refugee” Thanks for the comment!

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