The scenario: You want to get a few ideas of how you would handle ‘tough times’ for a year, if it were upon you. What should you do now, while things are relatively good, to prepare for tough times? First, let’s make a few assumptions…
Assumptions: You already have the basic needs and supplies that you need for day-to-day living, based on where you already live. In this case, our definition of ‘tough times’ will be mostly economic, e.g. someone has lost their job and money is tight (tighter), or perhaps you still have a job, but prices have been going out of control and there is turmoil (social and financial) in the streets.
FRUGAL WAY OF LIFE
The primary mode of operation during tough times is that of FRUGALITY. Actually, the time leading up to tough times should also be lived in frugality so as to enable acquiring more supplies.
Being frugal is a way of life. It is a thought process that occurs naturally whenever you are thinking about product purchases, or uses for existing or new supplies. Many people that are currently financially ‘wealthy’ are frugal themselves, and you might never know that they are ‘well off’. This is how they got there… IT WORKS. It all adds up.
Before a purchase… think… do you need it? Really? Are there alternatives? Are there multiple uses for the product? How long will it last? How long do you need it? Could you borrow it instead? Do you need to spend more for quality? (sometimes this is wise, while other times it is not) Is it practical? Lots of questions should precede any purchase.
Cash on hand (enough for x-months of bills, rent, etc.). This is tough one. It is difficult for most people in their present budget, to save extra cash for the future. It is however very important. Obviously, the more cash you have saved, the longer you will ride the storm during tough times (provided that the situation isn’t a total meltdown of life as we know it).
Having 3 months of cash for bills and rent is a reasonable goal. 6 months is even better. Manage your debt. Do not add to your debt. If you are able, pay more than your minimum payments. If your finances are insufficient, I would pay rent-mortgage first (for a roof over your head), then your food (frugally), then utility bills, and lastly your credit cards.
The more you have stored, the easier for tough times. Period. Remember, you’ve likely heard it before… buy what you eat and eat what you store. Buy on Sale, with coupons, generic brands.
Eat cheaper foods, no restaurants. Change your diet if you have to. You will be amazed at how cheaply you can eat, if you try. The problem is, we are programmed to buy the expensive foods (processed, small quantities). Buying bulk foods and preparing and cooking yourself will save big bucks. Make a goal to store 3 months of food supplies. It’s pretty easy. It really isn’t terribly difficult to build yourself a one-year supply either. Just keep working at it each week. Buy on Sale!
So long as there are utilities, you should be OK with your water source. It is good to store some extra though, for emergency, 2 gallons per person per day rule-of-thumb. You should certainly do this if you have well water that relies on the power grid.
First Aid supplies! Bandages, STERILE gauze pads of various sizes. Don’t just have a few… keep a-lot! Treating a wound will consume lots of these and you will run out fast. I know this from experience. Don’t scrimp on this. You can find these supplies in bulk, which will save you lots of money compared to buying single pieces at CVS, etc.
For over-the-counter pain relievers, buy the large quantity bottle for BIG savings (this is significant when you compare cost per unit). Buy generic for BIG savings – it’s the same ingredient!
Modern civility will decay very rapidly without the power grid. Consider what your needs are if you are to survive somewhat comfortably for a week (or two) without power.
A heat source in winter is essential. Consider purchasing a portable heater that runs without electricity. Obviously flashlights, lanterns, and candles. You must have a portable cook stove of some type. Food will spoil in fridge and freezer without a generator, so be ready to lose your cold storage… Keep a regular ‘Cooler’ (ice chest) on hand – you can throw snow in it during winter and keep indoors without it freezing, but still cold to keep some leftovers fresh.
Kitchen tools without power. Things like a manual can opener, hand mill for flour (if you don’t know how to do this, it’s a great thing to learn – milling your own flour and making your own bread). Keep a coffee percolator – your electric drip coffee maker won’t work without power!
Buy bulk quantities of TP, paper towels, etc., while on Sale. Don’t be afraid to accumulate 6 months or more of this stuff. Prices always go up in our ‘FIAT’ system, so you can’t lose on this philosophy.
Be sure to have at least have basic hand tools such as screwdrivers, hammer, pliers, cutting tools-saws, and hardware like nails, screws, etc. Obviously, if you know how to use them, the better. Keep spare parts for critical systems, or keep two of some things (two can openers for example).
If you own a vehicle, be sure to keep it in decent shape. The last thing you need during ‘tough times’ is an expensive auto repair. Doing regular maintenance and staying ahead with replacements like tires, exhaust system, oil changes, filters, and belts during ‘good times’ will help to eliminate any unpleasant surprises later on.
During tough times, we all could use some positive attitude or fun distractions from time to time. Think about the games that you may have enjoyed in the past, and go get a few… things like playing-cards, board games, puzzles, or the good old fashioned ‘books’ instead of the current electronic variety (no power?).
Avoid spending your hard-earned money on extravagant entertainment, which can be very tempting when everyone is depressed. Instead, resort to the things we used to do when we were younger. Take a walk. Ride a bike. Explore… See the world outside.
OK, if all else fails during tough times, and you are about to lose your home or apartment due to lack of funds, where will you turn? Do your research ahead of time so you will have an idea where you will go or what you will do.
It may sound a bit unreal, but the fact is that most folks live nearly from paycheck to paycheck, or may only be able to struggle through a few months without a job before being overwhelmed with bill collectors and landlords. Make plans now, just in case. Maybe you have a close friend who you could partner with for a while. Or maybe you could approach a close family member.
There are a zillion different ways to jot down ideas of how to prepare for tough times. Each time that I do it, it comes out a little different. I could literally go on for chapters regarding more specific details, but I’m already up to 1,300 words, so I will stop for now!
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