5 Quick Ways to Start Prepping. You’re Already Doing at Least Two of These.

In my recent post about the state of the American economy, I told you that you didn’t need to immediately go out and become a prepper.  And you don’t.  But, much like anything else, it helps to be prepared.  You don’t have to have a bunker under your backyard, a whole armory in the bedroom closet, or enough food to feed your whole neighborhood for years.  You can, however, start making sure that you and your family have a good start in preparing for any disaster.  Here’s 5 quick ways to start prepping.  And you’re already doing at least two of these!

Stockpiling

You don’t have to have enough stockpiled to keep your family fed for months or years.  But, if there’s anything that this winter has taught much of the U.S., it’s that it’s very possible that you could find yourself stuck in one place for several days.

What should you stockpile?  Well, food is a good start.  Canned and dry goods mostly.  Beans, rice, canned vegetables (straight from the garden if you DIY), flours, grains, vacuum packed foods, and canned meats all are good staples that can go straight into your pantry and provide backup food sources should you be unable to reach a grocery store.  (also, if grocery stores cease to exist… but let’s not go all extreme just yet.)

Stockpile other goods too.  Toilet paper, pet food, matches, fire starters, medical supplies, and even ammunition if you have that armory in your closet.  Any essential that you use regularly that won’t spoil is fair game for stockpiling in case of emergency.

5 Quick ways to start prepping

Reducing Debt

If the economy crashes, do you know what the worst thing to still have is going to be?  Well, if you haven’t guessed it, that thing is debt.  If you think your hands are tied by debt now, just wait until the economy is in the dumps, you lose your job, and inflation kills your buying power.  Debt is your enemy, no matter the state of the economy.  Start with a detailed spending log where you list what you spend every day.  Knowing what you spend, and when you usually spend it, create a simple budget.  Stick to the budget, and pay down debt by whatever means necessary.  Get rid of it.  Even if the economy booms, you’ll still be better off.

Become More Sustainable

Sustainability isn’t just for hippies.  Being eco-friendly maybe attributed to the earth loving, free love, woodstock-ing people of previous generations, but today, it’s an excellent way to be healthier, and save money on costs.  There are lots of things you can do to become more sustainable.

The easiest way to start making a difference in your bottom line is to replace high energy consuming items with low energy consuming items.  LED or Incandescent light bulbs are a relatively cheap start, and last for years.  High efficiency appliances like on-demand hot water heaters are more expensive, but can save a lot on energy over the long run.  Try air drying your clothes too.  It takes a little longer, but make it a habit, and your energy savings will grow a lot.

Growing your own vegetables, installing rain barrels, and composting are also great ways to decrease your footprint, while saving yourself money.  You can replace that produce at the grocery store with home-grown veggies, use the water in your rain-barrel instead of the electrically pumped water from a well, or the municipal water, and you can save on what you put into the dump while providing nutrient rich compost for your garden.

Learn New DIY Skills

If the economy completely fails, there’s a good chance that your access to many of the services and products that you have access to now will be severely limited, or severely cost prohibitive.  Not only will learning new DIY skills (like growing vegetables, canning food, repairing items, building items (like a deck), and the list goes on) save you money by allowing you to not pay for someone else to do it, but you’ll also gain a barter-able service that you can trade for services you can’t do.

There are plenty of ways to learn new skills too.  You can just try it and see what happens, although, in my experience, doing so increases the chances that the project you’re working on will take longer or fail entirely.  If you look, you can probably find a local class that can teach you some of the skills.  Videos on YouTube and instructions on the internet (easily found through a search) are also great ways to learn something new.

Make Your Plans

We all know that we should have a plan so that everyone knows what to do should they wake up in the middle of the night to a house that’s on fire.  We give our children a plan should they get separated from us in a crowded place.  We create budgets to plan how we will spend our money, and pay down our debt.  Having a plan for an economic collapse and the conditions that could arise should it crash doesn’t cost us anything.  A little time, and some thought.  That’s it.  Do you have family that you’d “bug out” to?  Are there people in town that you’d want to help?  Are there people in town that would help you?  How will you get wherever you’re going?  Even if that’s just home?

Having a plan, and executing it if you have to is very likely to be the difference between uninterrupted life, and something far more unpleasant.

How many of these things are you already doing?  Which are you going to try out?

Original image credit:Robert Benner Sr., on Flickr.

American Economy on the Brink of Collapse?

I think it’s normal, during hard times, to consider what might happen should the worst happen.  A recent post by Crystal, asking “Will You See the Collapse of America“, brought the question to the forefront for me.  Is the American Economy on the Brink of Collapse?  Will we see the collapse of America?

First, the optimist in me immediately says no.  There are too many good things going on in our country for it to collapse completely.  The stock market just came off of a really good year.  The job market is, if not rising, holding somewhat steady and certainly isn’t gushing jobs like it was in 2008-2009.  And, up here in North Dakota, we’re working on providing lots and lots of oil.  We just need a little bit more refining capacity to do even better.

But, those aren’t the only indicators.  Crystal points to the slow degradation of our rights, and our ever increasing consumerism as reasons that America might collapse in 100-200 years.  While the loss of rights is something that we have to do something about, our consumerism had shown signs of slowing down.  With the crash of the housing market, the average saving rate had been rising.  From a low in 2005 of 1.5%, to a rate of 5.4% in 2008.  Since then, it’s begun to slowly work it’s way lower, but is still close to 4%.  At the same time, the average consumer debt held has continued to decline.  Maybe, just maybe, we’re making a difference and a better educated population is starting to make the changes that are necessary to be more financially stable.  Now, if only we could convince the government to do the same.

An Economy, Broken.

And, really, when we start talking about the American economy, it’s going to be the government that makes it or breaks it.  After all, you and I can save 100% of our income, but it won’t do a bit of good against a $17 Trillion dollar (and growing) debt.  The truth is, with debt that increases by several Billion each day, the rate of personal savings won’t do a bit of good.  At some point, the countries of the world that use the Dollar as a basis for trade will cease to do so.  The continual weakening of the dollar against the other world currencies (even BitCoin), makes for a potentially disastrous recipe.  It’s very possible that, if spending (and that debt) don’t come down, that the American economy could find itself between a rock and a hard place very soon.  And that could spell a major recession or depression.  How the government reacts to such a thing could be the only indicator of whether the economy ever comes back out of it, and, ultimately, whether the America we know and love continues to exist.

Like Crystal, I think the eventual collapse of the economy is unavoidable.  The government hasn’t made any meaningful steps to reduce debt or spending.  And the majority of the population either don’t see it, or believe that the people that we are electing are going to save us.  Frankly, without a major overhaul of the government, and some changes to who we elect, it may be too late.  Really, it just comes down to how quickly the collapse will come.

Crystal thinks it’s 100-200 years from now.  She may be right as far as the collapse of America.  The country itself might last that long.  The Roman empire lasted for many years before finally collapsing completely, but the signs were there for a very long time.  If I’m being optimistic, I think we might have 4 or 5 years before we see any major collapse of the economy.  But, we’ll start seeing signs even sooner than that.

American Economy on the Brink of Collapse

Signs of the Collapse

What signs, you ask?  There are some broad indicators, like the overall housing market and the stock market.  The rate of inflation as well.  But, unless you’re heavily invested in the stock market, that indicator might not make much difference to you.  Watch for more simple indicators.  The price of gas.  The cost of a gallon of milk.  The cost of produce.  When you combine all the simple indicators that you notice every day with the overall indicators, you should be able to make a pretty good guess which direction the economy is heading.

What next?

Let’s say that I’m right.  In 4-5 years, the American economy collapses.  Maybe it’ll be gradual, or maybe it’ll be a crash for the ages.  Either way, what can you and I do about it?  On the grander scale, not much.  We’re not going to stop the collapse by ourselves.  But, we can push it further off, and we can prepare.

Delaying the Collapse

I’m already taking some steps to delay the collapse of the economy.  How?  By talking about it.  By making people aware of how to best handle their money.  You are too!  By being a good steward of your money, and telling your money how to work for you instead of your money telling you what to do, you’re making your own contribution to the betterment of the overall economy.  We can get involved in politics (I know that sounds like a lot of fun… or not.)  and push our representatives to work harder to reduce debt, reduce deficit spending, and to get it done without any partisan politics.  Just don’t hold your breath that it will happen.  We can also help by not only helping our own finances out, but by also helping our friends and family get their financial houses in order.  It’s a touchy subject, but, ask yourself this; how many of your friends and family do you want knocking on your door when the economy collapses?

Preparing for the Collapse

Even with all that work, the collapse might (probably will) still come. Surviving it will depend wholly on your preparation for it.  I’m not saying you have to go out today and become a prepper.  What I am saying, though, is that you need to start taking steps to be ready.  Start learning how to be more self-reliant.  Learn how to grow some of your own food.  Then learn how to can it and preserve it.  Yes, that might mean creating a little bit of a stockpile like a prepper, but I happen to think we could all do with a bit more sustainability in our lives.

Most of all, have a plan.  What happens in an emergency?  Even if it isn’t caused by the economic collapse of America?  If you were without power for days, how would you keep warm?  How would you eat?  What would you do for a bathroom?  These questions don’t require anything more than a little thought, and maybe some research on solutions!  Have a plan.

What do you think?  Is the American economy on the brink of collapse?

Fincon Expo Tickets on Sale Now

This post will have very little to do (directly anyways) with personal finance.  It’s aimed more at those folks who, like me, write about personal finance, or are members of the personal finance media.  You’re welcome to continue to read on if that isn’t you, but it might be a bit boring.  :)

So, just a quick note to let you all know that Fincon tickets went on sale about 30 seconds ago.  Yes, seriously.  Go get your ticket now before they sell out, or the price goes up.

Fincon ExpoDon’t know what Fincon is? You’ve been missing out! It’s the major personal finance and money conference. I’ve been every year so far, and am hoping to be able to make it this year as well. If you’re in the money media, it’s the place to be for meeting others like you, meeting vendors like Ally, Lending Club, Chase, and others, and meeting some of the biggest names in the media/money arena. Last year, we got keynote speeches from Jean Chatzky, Pat Flynn, and Derek Halpern. This year, Farnoosh Torabi will be giving a keynote as will Chris Ducker.

There will be an abundance of information to take in, and I guarantee you’ll come away with at least a handful of ideas on ways to improve what you’re doing.

Are you still reading this?  Stop.  Go get your tickets first! Then, come back and let me know if you’ll be attending, how many you’ve been to (or if you’ll be a first timer), and what you look forward to the most.