What would do if you had a strong impression that another recession was coming soon? What kinds of actions and changes would you take to weather the coming storm? The steps that I list below aren’t a complete list by any means, and I don’t expect that anyone would be able to accomplish them all, but if any of them sparks something in you to do something that you’re not already doing to become better prepared for a sudden and significant economic downturn, I will have fulfilled the purpose of this blog.
The signs of a coming new recession are all around us:
- There has never been a sufficient recovery from the Great Recession that started in the autumn of 2008 with the collapse of the housing market. A huge number of people have been unemployed or severely under-employed since that time. They haven’t experienced any recovery or reprieve, just a severe downslide to the brink of poverty and a radical adjustment to what for them has become “the new normal.”
- Having tens of millions of new people become dependent on the government for food stamps, medical care, and other necessities of life has been a boat anchor for the economy. In a real recovery they would find decent jobs, they would produce something, make their own money, spend their own money, and save some of their own money. All of these things would make life better for everyone. Instead, it is a growing problem that will continue to apply downward pressure on the economy.
- Big companies have begun laying people off again. Sandy and I run a business-to-business company. Our client businesses have stopped spending money, are laying off employees, and are offering early retirement deals to help save money in the future. All of these are signs of economic contraction.
- The stock market has been climbing to record highs, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. The rise isn’t caused by underlying economic strength, but because of years of “economic easing,” the federal policy of printing billions of dollars of new money out of thin air. It creates the illusion of wealth without having any real foundation for it.
I could go on, but if you’re reading this article, you probably don’t need to be convinced. You just want to know what to do to help you prepare for it.
- Stop the bleeding! Are you spending money as if all is well and everything will go on as it always has? Stop it. Take an honest look at every aspect of your life and look for places where you are spending money that you may soon wish you still had. Sandy and I love to travel, but because of the recessionary clouds on the horizon, we’re not going anywhere for a while. Our DirecTV bill is $100 per month. I’m looking into pulling the plug on it and going with all Internet-based streaming TV. Eating out can be another huge drain on a household budget. You can eat like royalty at home for a week for the price of one or two meals out at a marginal restaurant. Make sacrifices. Stop the bleeding.
- Reduce your debt. Debt is the obligation for payment of money that you spent sometime in the past. Debt is just like the government’s economic easing policy — you generate cash out of thin air to buy things you can’t afford today and hope that you can find a way to pay for them tomorrow. When a recession hits and you aren’t making as much money as you used to (or no money at all), you don’t want to have to pay for purchases you made a long time ago. You’ll need everything that’s coming in to go toward current expenses. Reduce or eliminate your debt now so that you won’t be trying to pay for past expenses at a time of increased current need.
- Spend wisely. Is there anything that you could buy now that would be a good investment against hard times to come? Is there anything that you could buy now that would either help reduce your expenses or increase your income in the future? I’m thinking about things like:
- Sell some of your stuff. Do it now. We all have stuff that we don’t really use or need, but for some bizarre reason we hang on to. Sell it now, while you can find a buyer who has the money to pay you what’s it’s worth. The other option is waiting until a major recession hits, needing to sell it to generate cash, and not being able to find anyone who can afford to buy it.
- Save wisely. It’s tempting to spend all of your money now to buy things that you expect to need in the future. Prices continue to inch upward on almost everything, while incomes remain flat or actually decrease. Some staples that we stocked up on a couple of years ago are selling for 25% more now. That’s a pretty good investment return. Some people believe that our money won’t be worth anything in the not-to-distant future, so they say you need to spend it now to get anything at all from it. I don’t know enough about that stuff to have an opinion on it, but I do know that having a cash reserve has always been a good idea in the past and looks like it’s still a wise choice for the foreseeable future. Saving wisely can be a tricky one. Save as much as you can afford to now so that you are able to meet future expenses, emergencies, or can pounce on a great deal if the opportunity presents itself, but don’t save so much that you can’t spend wisely and reduce your debt now.
- Increase your income. Earning more money will help you accomplish all of the bullet points in this article. There’s a lot of talk these days about creating multiple revenue streams, which is just another way to say adding an additional source of income to your primary job. You’ve heard the old saying that “it takes money to make money.” Yes, but to meet the goals of the challenge of preparing for the sudden onset of a significant recession, you want to find something that you can do to earn extra money that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to set up. What can you do to earn a buck on the side without a lot of start-up costs?
- Build things
- Repair things
- Cook / bake / cater food
- Sewing and alterations
- Create and sell crafts or works of art
- Sell new or used products on Amazon (yes, you can do that), eBay, or Etsy
- Pet-sitting or house-sitting
- Do yardwork
- Trust God. I really wanted to lead with this point, but I also didn’t want anyone to tune out before I got to it. You won’t find “God helps those who help themselves” quoted in the Bible anywhere, but I believe that God expects us to do our part, and He wants us to trust Him to do what we can’t. Some people refuse to prep because of their faith in God. I’m just the opposite — I prep because of my faith in God. I take action because I trust in Him.
Even since I sat down to write this I’ve received word of one of our client companies cutting their budget to the core and requiring all employees to take a week off without pay this summer. The storm clouds of recession (or worse) are everywhere. It’s time to get busy and it’s time to trust God.
What will you do when medicine isn’t readily available? That question is one of the things that got me interested in Essential Oils. Medical preps are one of the most overlooked areas of prepping. Synthetic-based (i.e., man-made) medicines expire in a relatively short period of time. When SHTF happens, you won’t be able to go to the corner drug store, hand them your insurance card and pick up your needed medications. Most essential oils, on the other hand, have a very long shelf-life. (Some that have been found in archeological digs still hold their medicinal properties.) So I started looking into essential oils a little over a year ago. (See part 1 of my 2-part blog here.) After a year of dabbling, it’s time for me to get more serious about it. Enter the Healthy Oil Summit…
Oops…I’m a bit late in publicizing the free upcoming The Essential Oils Revolution Healthy Oil Summit. It starts tomorrow – Saturday, May 11 – and continues through Friday May 17.
First things First – you can register for the free event by clicking below:
Free Gifts You’ll Receive
When you register, you’ll receive a number of free gifts, including advance access to two of the presentations. One of these presentations, “Essential Oils for Gut, Thyroid and Adrenals” by Josh Axe, is the absolute best presentation on Essential Oils I have ever seen, live or recorded. The three free ebooks are also very well done.
How the Summit Works
Beginning on May 11 and continuing through May 17, four or five videos will be posted each day for you to view. You’ll receive an email each day with info on the videos available that day. Topics are as wide ranging as:
- Antibiotic Resistance — How Essential Oils Can Help
- Cancer and Essential Oil Research
- Using Essential Oils for Beauty and High Performance Health
- Culinary Uses for Essential Oils
- Empowering Emotions with Essential Oils
- Essential Oils for Animals
And of course, there’s much more.
If you want to buy a copy of all the presentations for viewing again later, you will be able to purchase all 31 presentations for $47. Register for the free event and you’ll have the opportunity to purchase your own copy of the presentations.
It’s Time for Me to Take the Next Step — How About You?
I’ve been “playing with” essential oils for about a year. What I mean by that is I’m using them sporadically (when I remember) for just a few things — to help me sleep, as a pick-me-up in the afternoon, to ease sinus congestion. Over the past few months as I’ve read more articles and talked to more users, I’ve been developing an awareness that essential oils could do so much more for me. It’s time for me to begin to use them as part of a healthy living regimen.
Hey folks! Just a quick reminder to check out the Home Grown Food Summit.
And it starts next week.
Sponsored by Marjory Wildcraft, the queen of Grow Your Own Groceries, you know it’ll be good.
Lest you are anticipating a Summit that is all about gardening, let me correct your thinking – it’s not! There will be webinars on raising chickens, canning, deer hunting, aquaponics and more. With more than 30 presentations, you know they’re going to cover lots. There’s a complete list of speakers here.
We’ll be there! Hope you can join us.
You’ll also receive four bonus ebooks when you register.
Traditional thinking about OpSec (Operational Security) is that we should keep quiet about our preps. In a catastrophic event, the thinking goes, civil unrest immediately follows and those who don’t have food will steal – by force, if necessary – from people who do. Everyone who has talked to many people about their prepping activities — that they store food, water, medicine, and supplies — has been told by someone, “If anything ever happens, I’m coming to your house!” Being interpreted, that means they have no intention of spending their time and money to prep. Why bother? You’ve already done it all for them. And when times do go bad, they’ll remember that you have what they need. And they’ll tell their friends and family about you, too. And all of them will tell their friends and family. So good OpSec dictates that if you want to keep what you’ve stored, you keep your mouth shut and not reveal to anyone what you’re doing.
I agree with that…to a point. But I’ll get to that.
We have purposefully gone against traditional OpSec with this website because we think that it’s important to get the word out to others about the need to prep. And we want to inform you and encourage you to prepare your family for the time when life continues, but with some major changes from how we know it today.
About a month ago we attended PrepperFest in Columbus, OH. It was our first prepper conference and we found it to be well worthwhile. One of the workshops was by Black Dog Survival School. I found the instructor’s take on OpSec to be surprising and so much more realistic than the traditional perspective. He asked a question that went something like this:
“How long after SHTF do you think it will take for those around you to figure out that you have food, shelter, heat, fire, and water?”
His answer – about two days after they run out, which will probably be about three days after the catastrophic event. I think he’s probably right. That means that by Day Five, unless you live in a really remote location, your OpSec will be shot, too, and you will have to make some critical and difficult decisions:
Will you share what you have and, if so, with whom?
In the cozy security of life-as-we-know-it, you may be able to take a hard line and answer that question very narrowly – you’ll share only with those you’ve prepped for or with. In other words, anyone else who comes knocking at your door will be turned away, probably at gunpoint. Or maybe you’re more generous and think you’ll share with your extended family and neighbors. But how far does that extend?
Will you really be able to say “no” to your children and their spouses and children? What about your in-laws and their families, including that brother-in-law who drives you nuts? What about your children’s in-laws?
As I recall, the speaker said when they honestly looked at their family tree, they decided that they would be prepping for fourteen people. Yep, fourteen. Because to do otherwise meant that they would be saying to people they love (and/or have an obligation to), “No, I can’t give you food – you will have to go hungry.”
Phil and I don’t have children, so we don’t have to deal with the heart-wrenching decisions of giving our rapidly decreasing food to our children and their in-laws. Sadly, we also don’t live near our siblings, so we don’t face sharing with them and their families either. (I wish we did.) But the question extends to our friends. Would we really tell our closest friends, “Sorry, we can’t share our water with you”? I can tell you the answer to that is “no” because we’ve already said, “Brother /sister, if you are in need and we can help, please come to us.” Just because life has changed doesn’t negate that promise we’ve made.
Of course, the problem is exacerbated when we know that some of the dear friends we’ve said that to have grown children and grandchildren. Despite our best efforts to convince them of the need, they are not preppers. How far does our grace extend? In all honesty, we struggle with that question, because supplies will disappear rapidly in a truly catastrophic event.
And then there is the neighbor who sees that we have food and water when they have none. Will we really say “no”? And will that honor God?
The conference speaker encouraged three actions that I totally agree with:
- Think through this discussion with your spouse honestly. Lose the bravado and macho attitude. Pray about it. What would God have you to do?
- Prep more food and water. More than you need for your family. More than you need for your extended family. More.
- Break OpSec with those you care about. Talk about prepping with your family, friends, and neighbors. Don’t be the crazy doomsday relative or neighbor, but plan get-togethers and get to know one anothers’ skills and assets. Encourage prepping in whatever way makes sense for each person. Challenge each person to go a bit beyond what they think they can or should do.
So what do you say the person who simply says, “If that happens, I’m coming to your house”? I’ve developed a new response to that. It’s something like, “OK. What are you bringing to the party? What are you prepared to contribute to the group?” And if there is an opening, I continue, “You see, you are welcome at my house and I will share what I can with you, but understand that if I share my year’s supply of food with you, we then only have a six months’ supply. And if you bring your husband, we now have only a four months’ supply of food. And four months isn’t long enough to grow enough food for all of us to continue to live on. So what will you contribute?”
Overwhelmed by this? Thinking, “Hey, I’m still trying to get enough food for me and my family set aside and now you want me to do more?” Then step away from this article and revisit it in a few months. We’re all at different places in our preps. Over the past few months I’ve just come to realize that more really is better. And that our goal of having enough food and water for “Phil and I and some to share” needs to be modified to “Phil and I and LOTS to share.”
When did you last have one of those “Doh!” moments? You know, one of those Homer Simpson slap-yourself-on-the-forehead, what-an-idiot-I’ve-been moments? Sometimes it’s because of something that you’ve said. More often it’s because of what you forgot to say.
Sandy and I were on national TV recently. We were featured on a show called Biblical Preppers that was broadcast on the Destination America cable channel. Many of you are probably reading this as a result of seeing us on the show. (Welcome. We hope you like what you see. Be sure to subscribe by filling in your email address in the box at the top of the column on the left. Thanks.) Those of you who have seen the show have the advantage over me. I haven’t seen it yet. I didn’t find out that it was being broadcast until the show was actually on and I missed the first half of it. That would be, of course, the half in which we were featured. I’ll catch one of their many reruns.
The production company sent a producer and video crew to our home for two days in December 2013. Two days after the crew had packed up and left, I slapped myself on the forehead and shouted, “Doh!” I had just realized that I left something out – probably the most important thing I wanted to communicate. I didn’t tell them what I believe about the things that are happening and the real reason why I became a prepper.
I believe that God’s hand of protection has been taken away from America.
America has its detractors and it’s easy to find fault with it at any time in its history, but I don’t think you can find a better place to be in the 200-plus years of its existence. That’s why people have flocked to its shores and continue to do so by the millions. Those who are critical of America ignore or discount all of the good things that this nation has done for the world. You can’t be on Facebook for fifteen minutes without seeing that someone has put up the poster that says the only ones who would freely die for you are Jesus Christ and the American soldier.
Yeah, we’ve been just that kind of place. We’ve been just that kind of people. But things are changing, and they are changing rapidly. This was once a nation that knew God and sought to follow Him. It used to be that when the word “God” was spoken in a room with 100 people, about 90 of them would have the same thoughts about God go through their heads — who He is, what He’s like, etc. That is far from the case today.
At work I am required to ask people what their religion or denomination preference is. Overwhelmingly, the most common answer is “none.” For some people that means that they see no distinction in one religion from another – any one is as good as another. For others it means that they want to be free from religion and any thoughts of God at all. They don’t want to be ultimately accountable to anyone. To them, God is dead or never existed in the first place. But increasingly, especially among people under the age of 35 or so, when I ask the question about their preference, they don’t even understand the words that I’m speaking. I repeat it, thinking that they didn’t hear me, but it’s not the volume that’s the problem. It’s the vocabulary. They don’t know what the words “religion” or “denomination” mean. Honest to God! They live in a society that is so far removed from God that they have no words for Him or His culture. And friends, while it may not be the case around you and your immediate family and associates, it’s the society in which you live today, too.
God has been systematically removed from America for the past 50 years. My company held its annual Day of Prayer yesterday during which we prayed for our employees, clients, and key contacts by name. We prayed for one woman at a client company who, if you mention a problem or difficulty, will openly tell you that’s she will pray for you, and always closes every call with a “God bless you.” We marveled that she is allowed to get away with that at a major U.S. corporation in this day and age. Such speech is increasingly becoming prohibited in America today. Someone might become offended. We shouldn’t pray for people. We should never bless them in the name of God. Not in the workplace. Someone might complain. Or they might even file a lawsuit against us. This is the kind of place that America has become in my lifetime. Keep God to yourself or suffer the consequences. You will be persecuted prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Nature abhors a vacuum. Culture does, too. If you take something out, something else will move in to take its place. America is increasingly removing God from our society. People are turning away from the God who has blessed them, led them, and protected them. So what takes His place? Lawlessness. A casting off of all restraints. Corruption of moral standards, justice, and God’s word. (For more on this, see this hard hitting article.)
How does God feel about? A close reading of Jeremiah chapter 2 will spell it all out:
The word of the Lord came to me. “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: “This is what the Lord says: “‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,’” declares the Lord.
Hear the word of the Lord, you descendants of Jacob, all you clans of Israel. This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’ I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable. The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.”
That second paragraph tears my heart out. God is asking the people He has loved and cared for and who have turned their back on Him, “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols.” Some might hear that spoken as an accusation. I hear it as spoken from a grieved and broken heart. Still, God’s justice demands that He judge such behavior. Read his response to being abandoned by the people from the latter half of Jeremiah 2:
“Therefore I bring charges against you again,” declares the Lord. “And I will bring charges against your children’s children. Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look, send to Kedar and observe closely; see if there has ever been anything like this: Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.
Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the Lord. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder? Lions have roared; they have growled at him. They have laid waste his land; his towns are burned and deserted. Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have cracked your skull.
Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when he led you in the way? Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Nile? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the Euphrates? Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.”
Jeremiah is the story of God calling His wayward people to repentance over and over again, and their stubborn refusal to listen to God, heed His warnings, acknowledge that they had strayed from Him, and return to Him. As a result, God disciplines them by sending the Babylonians to eat their lunch in the bag they brought it in and carry them off to captivity for 70 years.
I believe that America is guilty of everything that brought judgment and destruction on the Israelites. I believe that God is calling us to repentance, but America is stepping up its resistance to Him instead of returning to Him. And I believe that God is removing His hand of protection from America.
That’s why I prep. I believe judgment is coming. Like Noah, I’m building an ark, so to speak. I trust God, but I see trouble coming and I take action.
And that’s what I forgot to say on TV.
This article isn’t for everyone. Hopefully, it’s not for you. It’s about being proactive rather than reactive. It’s about not accepting life as it is, but about having a vision for a better life and doing what it takes to make it happen. I’ve titled it “Take Control of Your Life.” Sandy thinks I should have titled it “Enjoy Your Life.” She might be right. Because that’s ultimately what it’s about.
My inspiration for this post has came from different sources over a number of years. It’s like I’ve been hearing variations on the same message for a long time, and they’re just now really coming together and forming a more complete picture.
Inspiration #1 — Several years ago, I had the opportunity to see sales trainer and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. If you’re not familiar with this great man and his teaching, I think you could benefit from his wisdom. Zig started his talk by asking if you could think of five things that you could start doing right now that would improve your life. No problem! I can come up with a list that’s as long as my arm — eat better, exercise regularly, learn new skills, save for retirement, spend more quality time with my wife, develop meaningful relationships with the people God puts in my path, etc., etc., etc. Each and every one of those things is well within my ability to do right now.
So why am I not doing them? In some cases I’ve taken the path of least resistance. I’ve chosen to do what’s easy rather than what’s right. In other instances I’ve just fallen into a rut and mindlessly put my life on auto-pilot. Work, eat, TV, bed, repeat. Too often I operate by being reactive instead of being proactive. I don’t take the time and effort to consider if there might be a better approach that I should be taking.
I’m certain that there are a huge number of other factors at work that hold me back and prevent me from taking control of my life and making it the kind of life that I really want it to be. I need to become actively aware of these things and fight against them at every turn. I need to bust out of these ruts of inactivity and take control of my life.
Inspiration #2 — When Sandy and I were first married, we lived in an apartment that had a large rectangular space that served as the living room and dining room. The side wall was something like 27 feet long and was all white. The TV was against that wall in the living room area. We sat and stared at our little 19-inch TV for a couple of years before either of us noticed that the TV and the stand it sat on were the only things we had on that long expanse of white wall. It was like that on the day that we moved in and we had done nothing to change it or to make it our own.
Last summer I found Sandy doing some work out in the yard. She was changing something that had been just as it was since we moved to this house nine years ago. I said to her, “What are you doing??!!” She looked up at me and said, “I decided that this is our house and our yard and I can make it be whatever I want it to be.”
She was absolutely correct, of course, but this was just so unlike either of us. Our tendency, although never consciously thought out or expressed in any way, was that we just accept things the way they are and work around them. We play the hand that we were dealt. Sometimes there can be virtue in that approach, but in this case it was shackling us to the way things are and keeping us from enjoying the liberty of how things could be.
Inspiration #3 — We got a lot of comments on our last blog, including a couple from a reader who goes by the handle of “Snake Plisken.” My new buddy Snake made a point that resonated deeply with me. He said:
Getting back to your original topic, prepping makes me feel secure. I can feed myself, warm my house, provide clean drinking water, and defend myself for many months, if required.
For instance, I resigned from a job last week that I’ve had for 7 years and am in the job hunt process outside of the industry I’ve been in for 24 years. I would never have done that drastic move if I didn’t have months of savings and plenty of supplies on hand. I’ve got that cushion to rely on and am now aggressively pursuing new and interesting opportunities. I could have never done this had I been unprepared. Luck favors the prepared mind and yeah, I’m a bit scared and anxious, but prepping has given me the opportunity to pursue what I want to do.
Dang, Snake! I want to be like you when I grow up. Snake nailed it when he talked about the freedom that prepping brings us. Because he has a storehouse of goodies, not only is he able to provide for his family if a disaster strikes, he also has the security to voluntarily leave a job that he really didn’t want anymore in order to pursue something that’s more to his liking. Is it risky? Could he burn through all his preps and be no better off at the end? It’s possible, but at his age and with his skill set it’s a manageable risk with the potential of a great return. The important thing is that he isn’t just sucking it up and sticking with something that doesn’t make him happy and riding it out until retirement. He’s leaving the old behind and making a change that will make his life be what he wants it to be.
As a result of reading this article, I would like each of you to try something that you have an interest in that you’ve never done before. I want you to answer the question that Zig Ziglar asked and begin just one thing right now that will improve your life. When the poo hits the fan, most of us won’t be in a position where we can take risks. Our preps will help us through, but but we’ll be cautious about using them. Right now is the best opportunity to do it. I don’t think the world is getting any better or more secure. The time to take control of your life is now.
By encouraging you to step out, take a risk, and do something new that could improve your life, I’m not issuing you a License to Be Stupid. Talk to your spouse and talk to God. Pray, listen earnestly, and if God doesn’t tell you not to, give it a shot.
Snake Plisken is leveraging his preps to improve his future, not just hoarding them to subsist when the approaching day hits. He is “rearranging the furniture” of his life instead of just doing what he’s always done before. He never would have taken the plunge if he didn’t have his preps to live on while he’s pursuing his dream. Because it helps you take control of your life, prepping is a very, very good thing.
What We’re Reading
I got this for Christmas from my mother-in-law. Almost 800 pages of self-reliant goodness, this fat book is a compilation of articles on topics by multiple authors, ranging from solar power to gardening to hunting to foraging to you name it. It’s all written at a very approachable level, making it perfect for prepping newbies. If you want to pursue homesteading on any level, whether on a patch of untamed wilderness or at your home in the city or suburbs, this book is a great reference that will help you on your journey to becoming more self-reliant.
Non-preppers don’t get it. They think we’re wasting our time and our money. They think we live in constant fear of calamity. They think nothing will ever come of it and all of our preparations will be for nothing.
I respectfully disagree, but for more reasons than might be apparent. Whether TEOTWAWKI occurs during my lifetime or not, prepping has improved my life in numerous significant ways. Here are a few that come to mind:
Peace of Mind — We recently had lunch with a non-prepping friend who knows what we’ve been doing. While discussing current events and the potential threats they present, he said, “I couldn’t live like you, always worrying about all the problems that could happen.”
He is only half right. We think about these things often. But we don’t worry about them. Why? Because we are better prepared to face them than the average citizen. We are thinking three moves ahead and staying vigilant so we don’t get taken by surprise. We have supplies set aside for such events. We have skills and plans that we didn’t used to have. And above all else, Sandy and I don’t place our hope and trust in our equipment and our skills, but in God. Our trust in God isn’t Plan B, our last resort, but our first and foremost place of refuge. All of these — faith, knowledge, supplies, plans, and watchfulness — give us tremendous peace of mind, much more so than before we started prepping.
Our non-prepping friend brought up his apprehension about the instability of North Korea. He also talked about his fears concerning the vulnerability of our nation’s electrical grid. He knows the threats (these two, at least), and yet he has willfully chosen to do nothing to improve his ability to ride them out. He says that he wants to spend his time and money on things that help him enjoy his life. My preps make me significantly better prepared to deal with these kinds of threats, if they ever occur. Who do you think has greater peace of mind, him or me? What is peace of mind worth?
Greater Security — Our introduction to firearms has been written about many times in these pages. Next to storing food, learning gun safety and acquiring firearms were among the first preps that we did. (Notice that learning came before acquiring – that’s a good order to follow.) Being able to comfortably and competently handle firearms has provided both of us a greater sense of security. Home invasions are on the rise everywhere, but now we’re better prepared to defend our home and our lives if anyone chooses to target our house.
I’m More Healthy — I spend more time outside since I’ve become a prepper. That’s a good thing. I still don’t get as much exercise as I should, but I get more than I did before I started prepping. If the lights ever go off across America, there will be a lot more physical work to do. It’s wise to be in good shape to be ready to deal with it. I’m nowhere near being up to speed in this area, but I’m closer to it than I used to be.
Prepping led me to plant a garden two years ago. I started small but added to it last year, and this year’s garden will be even bigger. I grow my vegetables organically, so my garden enables me to eat better than I used to.
One of Sandy’s new areas of prepping expertise is with essential oils. She has used essential oils to treat congestion, insomnia, sore muscles, and wounds, all of which lead to better health. We also routinely diffuse healthy essential oils in our bedroom and living room. We’re helping our body fight off all the bad stuff before it reaches critical mass.
Research shows that as we age, learning new things is important for our ongoing mental health. Consistent training has prolonged effects on the brain, improving our memory and impacting our ability to do everyday tasks. Well, I’m learning lots of new things, so my brain cells are getting their exercise regularly! And one of the great things about prepping is that there is always more to learn.
Closer Marriage Relationship — I’ve read a lot of questions on prepper forums and message boards about how to get your spouse to join in your prepping efforts. (These aren’t all men. There are a lot of prepping women whose husbands don’t agree with their activities.) I feel their pain. It must be terrible to be divided on such a critical issue. Fortunately, that isn’t the case in our household. The need to get prepared was impressing itself on me in numerous ways over the course of several months before I ever said anything to Sandy about it. I’m incredibly blessed that her reaction almost immediately was, “You’re absolutely right. What should we do about it?” She has been a full partner in all of our prepping efforts, leading the way in many of them. For example, it was Sandy’s idea to start this blog so that we could help get the word out to others who are considering prepping or are just getting started with it.
Partnering with your spouse in any significant endeavor brings you closer together. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Sandy and I have always been blessed with a good marriage, but prepping has brought us even closer. We plan and work and learn and grow together. We see the importance of what we’re doing and we do it together. I’ll allow for the possibility that Sandy may not be the best wife in the world, but she’s the best one for me.
It Makes Me a Better Citizen — There are different ways to approach prepping. Some people do it to provide for themselves and their loved ones to the exclusion of all others. I won’t fault that approach, but I don’t follow it myself. We have voluntarily violated OPSEC (operational security) by writing this blog. We publish information on the Internet about products that we’ve bought to become prepared for hard times ahead. I’m not saying that everyone should do this — in fact, I would caution against it. Practicing good OPSEC and not spilling the beans (so to speak) to the world about all of your plans and preparations is a very good thing. But I would encourage you to leave room in your heart and in your preps to help others during a time of hardship.
Sandy and I prayed about starting this blog before we ever started broadcasting it to the world. We recognize the fact that we can’t become prepared enough to go it on our own if things get really bad. We just can’t do it all. I can’t be a mechanic and a farmer and a construction worker and a doctor and an infantryman and everything else that I would need to survive a real hard crash. I need a community. As such, I’ve taken some steps in my preps to provide for some of the needs of other people. One example that is near to my heart is the spiritual needs of others. When things get bad, many people turn to God, but knowledge of God isn’t as prevalent in our society today as it was a generation or two ago. So I have included in my storage cases of inexpensive Bibles and New Testaments that I will be able to give out to friends and neighbors when they decide that they want them. Sandy writes another blog, www.ApprehendingGrace.com, that talks about integrating our faith in Christ with our everyday lives. These are a couple of the ways that we want to be able to help support those around us when calamity strikes. We want to be a part of the solution, not a part of a problem.
Prepping has led me to become a better citizen in some broader ways, as well. I’m more ecologically aware and sensitive now than I ever have been before. I might need to rely on a nearby stream for drinking water at some time down the road. I don’t want to see it polluted or the water table depleted. I want to make sustainability a priority. I want to incorporate more solar energy into my home. These are things that help make the world a cleaner and better place than we found it, and that’s good citizenship. Prepping did that for me.
Convenience — Yeah, what could possibly be more convenient than being a prepper, right? But prepping really has made my life more convenient in at least a couple of significant ways. First, following the Boy Scout motto of “be prepared,” I now carry more stuff with me than I used to. My Mom lived like a prepper. Seems like anytime we were out and needed some small item, she’d rummage around in her purse for a minute and then produce the very thing that we needed (or a reasonable facsimile). Taking a cue from Mom, now when I’m out and about, I might not have everything I need to deal with every possible situation, but I’m better equipped than before with tools, pocket knife, flashlight, etc.
Another example is with my food preps. Following the dictate of “store what you eat and eat what you store,” I tend to not run out of things anymore. I have more of whatever I need in my storage pantry. It’s like having a grocery store in my own house. You can’t beat that for convenience.
The Bottom Line — Being a prepper hasn’t been a drain on my life and resources, it’s enhanced both. It doesn’t make me more anxious, it gives me peace of mind. It helps me be a better version of myself. And that’s a good thing.
The question “what are you prepping for” has just about been worn out. There is no shortage of threats in our world to be concerned about and to take steps to prepare for. Take your pick. My pet threat is economic collapse. Yours might be a nationwide power grid failure or terrorists with suitcase bombs attacking several American cities simultaneously. All of these are valid threats. I’ve joined the growing rank of people who have decided to not be caught by surprise, but rather to be as well prepared as possible if any such disaster should strike. Since you’re reading this, you’re probably in that camp, too.
But one question that doesn’t get asked very often is whether the thing that you’re prepping for is an event or a process. What do I mean by that? And why would it matter?
An event would be a sudden occurrence, like an earthquake on the San Andreas Fault that causes a significant part of California to go bye-bye. Or an EMP (electromagnetic pulse), either solar or nuclear, that wipes out all of our electronics. Everything is fine one moment, then in an instant it’s not.
What would be the results of an SHTF event? There would be a significant loss of lives, followed by widespread shock and panic. Supplies and services would be disrupted for a long time, perhaps for a very long time. Panic buying would empty store shelves in a matter of a few days. Multitudes would be unemployed. No amount of government intervention would make a dent in the level of catastrophe affecting our world. Virtually every aspect of our lives would change from anything we had ever known before. Ready or not, everyone would be thrust into full-scale survival mode.
If an SHTF event occurs, you’re stuck with what you have. If you don’t already have it, you’re not going to be able to get it. If you’ve planned to buy a good multi-fuel rocket stove, you’re too late. You won’t be able to get one anywhere now. Still working towards acquiring a top-notch first aid kit? Kiss that plan goodbye. You’ve probably got a good supply of rice and beans and wheat on hand, but have you also stocked the spices and seasonings that you’ll need to make it taste good? That ship has sailed.
There are a lot of SHTF event scenarios that have a chance of occurring in our lifetime. That’s why we prep. But the bottom line for an SHTF event is that prepping time is over and implementation time has begun. If you don’t already have it when an SHTF event occurs, you’re not likely to ever get it from that point on. The key to making it through an SHTF event is to already have the things you want and need.
It’s possible that the world won’t go out with a bang (event) so much as a whimper (process). A global financial collapse may have begun 15 years ago with the tech bubble and crash of 2000. While it appears that our economy plateaus or even rallies for a short time since then, it seems to me like we’ve been on a trajectory of steady economic decline ever since 2000. The years 2001 and 2008 saw the greatest losses in stock market history. Much has been written about this 7-year cycle, with warnings of a bigger crash to come in 2015.
An SHTF process wouldn’t come about suddenly like an event would. Instead, it would take years or decades to play out — a slow, steady decline. Money gets tighter gradually. There may be a series of bubbles that burst, but we ride them out. Businesses adapt by running “leaner,” squeezing more productivity out of fewer employees. Families adjust by taking fewer vacations. Many people are out of work, and those who have jobs have been cut to part-time so employers don’t have to pay for the benefits that full-time workers get. First and second-world countries start looking more and more like third-world countries. We find ourselves like a frog in a beaker of water on a bunsen burner. The heat gets turned up so gradually that the frog doesn’t react to the changes — and then he finds himself thoroughly cooked.
Unlike an event, an SHTF process could give you years and years of opportunity to stockpile the things you want and need. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if (when) you find yourself out of work, instead of adding to your supplies, you start tapping into your preps to get by until the next job comes along. But it doesn’t. And what you can’t eat you sell in order to get money to meet your family’s needs.
An SHTF process is not a pretty picture. Slow death never is. Yes, you are better equipped to deal with the problem than those who don’t prep, but it just delays the inevitable.
So what is the key to surviving an SHTF process? Sustainability. You will need self-reliance skills, the kind of mojo that the pioneers had 150 years ago. Do you know how to grow and preserve food? Raise animals? Use and repair tools? Prepping isn’t just about storing stuff. The best preppers would say that it isn’t even primarily about stuff. It’s about skills.
Which one will it be?
Of course, your guess is as good as mine. Sandy and I lean toward process but we are strongly aware that it could be an event and that event could occur tomorrow. We don’t let that worry us. Rather, we do what we can while trusting the Lord for what we can’t. At the beginning of each year we look at where we are, re-consider where we want to be and set priorities for the year. Yep, that’s what we’ll be doing in the coming week.
Comment below or on Facebook to let us know whether you think SHTF will be an event or a process.
Whatever your SHTF scenario, make the most of your time by getting (right now) the top priority items that you need to ride it out, and continually work on building the skill sets that you will need to sustain yourself and your loved ones through tough times ahead. You’ll find links to our favorite suppliers in the sidebars. (Yes, we make a small commission from the sales that are generated from this site. Thanks for supporting TheApproachingDayPrepper.com.)
I apologize for this posting being such a buzz kill. I hope you all have an exceedingly blessed, healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year, and that next year finds you in a better place than you are right now.
Being in the holiday spirit reminds me how important celebrations and traditions can be. Even those who adamantly declare that they avoid traditions are, in effect, implementing them – that is, their avoidance of tradition is, in fact, their tradition. I know, it sounds strange, but it’s true.
Traditions ground us – they define who we are and connect us to community. The community may be present or may be miles away, and it may be large or small. Growing up, we always baked Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving. Now as an adult, when I bake cookies on that day – even if I am baking alone – I feel connected to those I baked with, and even the people they baked with before I was born.
Traditions can be reassuring and calming. When the world changes dramatically, I can’t think of anything we’ll need more! What a better way to prepare for such a time, than to create “Holidays in a Can.” Or a six-gallon pail. Phil describes the contents of holiday cans as “the saved of the saved.” In other words, we’re prepping for the holidays, not just for survival. We’re purposefully storing special food and other items with our preps that we won’t touch until the holiday comes around so that our holiday will be special even when times are tough.
What holidays should you plan for? Any days that are special to you – birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve or Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Independence Day come to mind. In our house, only a few of those are important days – you identify the ones that are important to you. (Phil is a peculiar fan of Groundhog Day. Go figure.)
What should be in the holiday cans? Now there’s a question that will have a unique answer for each of us. Ask yourself this:
What makes the holiday special to me and my family? Is it smells or activities or sights or sounds?
Your answer to that question will help you identify what should go into your can. Here are some ideas.
- A card (birthday, anniversary, etc.)
- A decoration or two
- Ingredients for a prepper version of a favorite or special food (or just include a fruitcake!)
- A gift – something special to share with others
- Something frivolous or fancy
- Something that evokes memories of the holiday – perhaps a picture or ornament or piece of clothing (an ugly Christmas sweater comes to mind)
- Candles. Fancy ones since you might be using candles more in TEOTWAWKI and we want the can to hold special things. Don’t forget birthday candles if it’s a birthday can – and if you’re one of those people who always puts trick candles on the cake, be sure to include them.)
- Spray scent (I hate it, but if I was desperate, I might really enjoy the Christmas feel of it – or it might just remind me of why I always hated it – which is a part of Christmas, too!)
- A game
- A special drink (every year at Christmas I have a glass of Crown Royale because it’s what my dad gave me for Christmas every year)
The key is to pare the items down to just a few that will bring the essence of your holiday into a time of crisis.
The Alternative Holiday Can
Having written all that I just did about the importance of traditions – and believing every word of it – I’ve also experienced times when it was important to break with tradition to make the holiday livable. For example, the year Phil’s mom died I specifically planned a non-traditional Christmas for us. I knew that the holiday memories would be too difficult the first year, so instead of focusing on the holiday, we remodeled our living room and dining room over Christmas week. Yes, we took a short break to join family for dinner, but then we returned home to finish painting.
So another approach to your holiday cans (or perhaps just some of them) is an alternative holiday can. Instead of filling it with things that remind you of former holidays, use it as a starting place for igniting new traditions or simply having a fun day. Here are some ideas:
- A new game
- Supplies to make a new scrapbook or cards
- Treat food that isn’t reminiscent of your holidays. I’m loving Auguson Farms Blueberry Muffins these days. A couple batches of that in my birthday can would be a new tradition I’d enjoy!
- An IOU for a day of rest and pampering – in whatever form that would take in TEOTWAWKI. Massage oils would probably have a very long shelf life.
- A letter that you write now that would still be applicable then
- One thing that reminds you of and connects you with the traditional holiday. Just a small thing. Don’t make it the centerpiece of the can.
Remember, your holidays in cans are the “saved of the saved.” They’re in the secret vault not to be opened until the holiday arrives. That’s what holiday prepping is all about.
What are your ideas? How are you including the holidays in your prepping? Comment below or add your comments on Facebook.
And again, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year.
This week, Americans have been indulging in the annual food extravaganza known as the national day of Thanksgiving. People have been baking pies, roasting turkeys, and stuffing themselves with stuffing. We took part in the festivities, too, but in the couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving Day we’ve been eating our own dog food.
Not literally, I’m happy to say.
“Eating your own dog food” is a slang expression that means personally using the same products and practices that you recommend to others. If we don’t do what we encourage others to do, why should anyone?
In our case, we’ve been preparing meals using long-term storage survival food from a one-month kit that we bought from Augason Farms. We don’t want to give you the impression that we’ve been living on survival food exclusively. Far from it. (You can read our introduction to this experiment here.) But we thought it wise to sample a variety of long shelf life food and learn how to cook it and make meals with it before we found ourselves in a situation where we absolutely had to use it to survive.
Going into this experiment, we had a lot of the same questions that anyone would have about food they aren’t familiar with:
- How is it different from what we normally eat?
- How does it taste?
- How easy is it to prepare?
- Could we really live on a steady diet of this stuff?
- What would we miss from our regular diet?
The one-month food kit that we were working from is largely a collection of ingredients that you combine to make recipes, rather than pouches or cans of just-add-water freeze dried entrées. We own and have tried some of the ready-made entrées. They’re quick and easy to prepare, and are quite tasty. They’re also relatively expensive, so we gravitated toward the much more affordable ingredients approach. Most of the ingredients are dehydrated, but some were the more expensive freeze dried varieties. Besides, if you buy a freeze dried beef stew entrée, what can you make with it? (This isn’t a trick question.) The answer is “beef stew.” But if you have all the ingredients you need for beef stew, you can use them to make beef stew or many other dishes. Consider Taco Bell. They’ve built a fast-food empire by coming up with different combinations and preparations for about six basic ingredients.
What have we eaten?
The kit from Augason Farms came with a booklet with 54 recipes. There are also recipes on each of the cans. Using the booklet as our guide, we’ve made:
- Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder
- Chicken Noodle Vegetable Casserole
- Creamy Wheat Cereal
- Scrambled Eggs with Bacon Bits
- Buttermilk Biscuits
- Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Mashed Potatoes
We should note here that one category of food that is glaringly missing from our list is desserts. We haven’t sampled any of the desserts or drinks yet. The pictures of milkshakes on the box look delicious. How do they taste? We don’t know yet.
How is it different from what we normally eat?
That’s a very personal question and your answer will undoubtedly be different from mine, but my answer is that it’s not drastically different from what I normally eat. Providing familiar foods that people already eat and enjoy is one of the major goals of a long-term storage food vendor. In this regard, Augason Farms was on the money. Dehydrated foods are a part of the dining landscape more than we realize. Grocery stores sell a lot of products that include dehydrated or freeze dried ingredients. The quality of these kinds of products has increased a lot over the years, and these are the same kinds of foods that come in the cans of long shelf life survival foods.
One major difference from my normal diet is that survival food won’t provide large portions of meat, fish, or poultry. No thick, juicy cheeseburger. No platter of fried chicken. No big honking slice of ham. I grew up in an age when kids heard a lot (at least from our parents at the dinner table) about the people starving in China. Real oriental food (not the Americanized stuff we get at carry-out restaurants) traditionally used proteins sparingly to flavor a dish, almost as a condiment. Rice or noodles and veggies were always the bulk of a dish. You’ll need to adopt that kind of mindset when you use your survival food.
How does it taste?
Having said that the foods are familiar and tasty, I’d like to add here that many of them are much higher in sodium than I am accustomed to, especially the soups, which are a staple in the survival menu. That’s bad news for anyone on a reduced-sodium diet. The good news is that the soups are flavorful enough that you can use them as a topping for potatoes, rice, or noodles. This practice will stretch your food budget while cutting back on your salt intake.
Another note on taste is that since you are preparing the recipes, you can modify them to your liking. The first meal that we made was the Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder. It was OK as is, but we had some leftover chicken that we added to it. Adding the little bit of chicken made it less like a soup and more like a meal. The pancakes were fine as is, but we tossed some frozen blueberries into the batter and kicked it up a notch. On another occasion, I made a sauce for baked potatoes by mixing some of the Broccoli Cheese Soup with just enough water to make it a sauce consistency and added some of the TVP Bacon Bits (a vegetarian soy-based bacon replacement) to give it a smoky kick. (Prepper Fun Fact: A little bit of TVP bacon bits goes a very long way. Use them sparingly.)
Of course you can also modify a recipe by leaving out things that you don’t like. Augason Farms’ recipe for Scrambled Egg with Bacon Bits included adding dehydrated chopped onions. We obediently followed the recipe, even though we don’t normally put onions in our eggs. We were open to trying something new, but the result was that the eggs were pretty strongly oniony. I was OK with the novelty of it, but Sandy didn’t like it at all. It wasn’t just the oniony-ness of the eggs, that Sandy didn’t like, though. She found the powdered eggs less than desirable in general. She’ll eat them in an emergency, but she won’t be pulling them out to make a meal when we’re out of eggs.
One of the questions we asked as we ate each meal was “would we serve this to guests?” In many cases the answer was “yes.” The creamy corn and potato chowder or broccoli cheese soup would be totally fine to serve to guests on a “come on over for soup and sandwich” night. Having friends over for breakfast? The pancakes would be fine, as would the creamy wheat cereal. The cereal is especially good with some raisins or other fruit thrown in. Of course, be sure to stock cinnamon because your cereal will come alive with some cinnamon. The biscuits were good, but the texture was a little off. We want to experiment with them a bit more before we serve them to friends.
Having said that, we’re thinking a “Prepper Food Tasting Party” might be a great way to introduce some of our friends to the prepper lifestyle.
How easy is it to prepare?
Most of it is just add water, simmer, and stir. Sandy, who does very little of the cooking in our house because she truly hates it did most of the cooking during our experiment. So I’m seeing a real benefit to adding some prepper food to our diet on a regular basis!
The Chicken Noodle Vegetable Casserole was more involved. You simmer some ingredients for 20 minutes, then combine others and bake it for 15 minutes. The result was a real casserole-style dish, but for a survival situation it was too energy intensive. I don’t want something that I have to both sauté and bake. Too much heating. One or the other, please. Still, having the capability provides nice variety. Maybe we’ll splurge on energy usage for a special occasion!
Could we really live on a steady diet of this stuff?
It has suitable nutrition and caloric content to sustain life. It tastes OK — sometimes better than just OK. We’ve become spoiled by abundance and variety. Of course we could live on it.
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter full of joy to his friends in the church in Philippi. In it he said, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV)
Sandy and I have been broke many times in the course of our 36-year marriage. Going broke is a good thing, if you know the secret of being content in any and every situation. It develops an appreciation and a gratefulness for the simplest of pleasures, the most basic of necessities. None of these are guaranteed in life. Entitlements are a man-made fiction. Can we live on a steady diet of long-term storage survival food? It might not be our first choice, but when it becomes our only choice I suspect that we will be quite happy to have it.
What would we miss from our regular diet?
My mother (who would have celebrated her 100th birthday this month if she were still on this earth) grew up dirt poor in the hills of central Tennessee. She told me that her favorite Christmas gift every year was an orange that she would get in her stocking. Not a pony. Not an iPad. Not a trip to Paris. An orange.
In a prolonged period of austerity, there are things that each of us will miss. We each need to give this matter some serious thought and plan accordingly. We might only be able to get fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re in season locally, which is a major change from what we’re accustomed to now. Learning to can and store those items would be helpful. We’ve also mentioned that large portions of meat might become a thing of the past. Those can also be canned. A lot of people store bulk quantities of wheat, but are they also storing baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and all of those other “minor” ingredients that we take for granted?
Sandy and I consider our experiment of “eating our own dog food” to be a success, but only a preliminary success. We’re going to make this an on-going part of our preparations. We will continue to learn to cook with food storage items and practice cooking on camp stoves and rocket stoves and maybe a solar oven. Food preparedness is about more than just hoarding. It’s also about knowing how to use what you’ve stored.