Views & Editorials
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.
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.
Has the world always been as fragile as it is right now? It seems like we’re on the tipping point for disaster in any of a number of areas: worldwide economic concerns, nuclear threats from the rogue nations of North Korea and Iran, ecological disasters, extreme weather, earthquakes and volcanic activity — the list goes on and on.
One of the purposes of this website is to alert our readers to potential threats that could trigger bigger problems. We don’t want to be alarmists. We prefer a calm faith based on a saving relationship with a loving God. But with so many potential threats, we feel it’s just common sense to be prepared to face a significant disruption of our current way of life. To me, that’s what prepping is all about.
When I survey the landscape of potential threats, one that stands out to me is the global lack of competent, sane leadership. The Bible clearly describes a future in which the world will be united under the strong leadership of one man, the Antichrist. While we’ve been seeing the world moving in the direction of a worldwide government and banking system, what kind of event will eventually trigger the acceptance of a globally unified governing system? Economic collapse seems like a likely contender, but along with it (and indeed, probably the leading contributor to it) is the lack of leadership in the world. People are starved for a strong leader.
What we’re seeing on a worldwide scale is that the good intentions of government leaders are backfiring on them. The solutions that they propose and enact only serve to make the problems worse. One obvious case in point is the bungled implementation of the Affordable Helthcare Act. It was pushed through as a means to provide lower cost health insurance so that more people could be insured. The results have been the opposite of the stated intentions — insurance rates are skyrocketing and more people will be uninsured than ever before.
But I digress.
What prompted this blog was an editorial in the New York Times written by the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Great Britain, entitled Saudi Arabia Will Go It Alone. The Saudis have been waiting patiently for coherent, consistent, and competent policies from America to bring stability to their region in the face of mounting problems in Syria and Iran. They have waited as long as they can. Now they’re planning to “go it alone.”
For my entire life (and I’m no spring chicken) America has been the leader of the free world. Our leadership has crumbled. Some think it’s because of our fragmentation as a nation. We are a house divided, with nearly every important vote virtually split at close to 50-50 with no clear majority. Author and documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza has speculated in his book and movie Obama’s America, that this is all part of President Obama’s master plan to weaken America:
America as we know it—wealthy, powerful, assertive—is not what Obama wants. He wants a smaller America, a poorer America, an America unable to exert its will, an America happy to be one power among many, an America in decline so that other nations might rise—all in the name of global fairness. To Obama, the hated “one percent” isn’t just wealthy Americas; it is America itself. In Obama’s view, America needs to be taken down a notch.
While it certainly seems to me that this is precisely the direction America is headed in, I’m not entirely convinced that President Obama is smart enough or powerful enough to pull off such a colossal undertaking. Perhaps instead of attributing these “accomplishments” to a diabolical master plan to dismantle American power, we should apply Occam’s Razor and say that a simpler explanation for an event or phenomena is more likely to be the real cause than a complex explanation — namely a lack of competent leadership.
Whichever of these explanations you choose to pin the blame on for the direction our nation is headed, one thing is clear: We can’t depend on the government to help us. There will be no personal “bail-out” for you or me. We need to put our faith and trust in God, become more self-sufficient, and less dependent on government-based financial programs. For many of us, that will require a major shift of worldview and focus. Have you been counting on Social Security and Medicare to carry you through your retirement? You might want to come up with a new Plan A. Does a retirement check from a military or teaching career or other public service position make up a large portion of your income? It might not always be there for you. What are you doing now to prepare for it?
Aristotle sagely noted that nature abhors a vacuum. Something will always fill the void. That something isn’t always good. Faced with a worldwide vacuum of leadership, I propose that you and I step up to become leaders in our own households. We might not have much say about the direction that our nation or the world is going in, but we can take positive action right now to put our own household in a better position to thrive in a time of chaos.
Like the folks at Nike say, just do it.
I haven’t studied economic history enough to know (or at least to remember) what the causes of the Great Depression were. It might be a good idea for me to Wiki it because I believe with all my heart that we are currently living in a time of impending worldwide economic collapse. I don’t harbor any illusions that my coming to an understanding of the roots and causes of the Great Depression will prevent the onset of the next one, but I know that when we don’t learn from it, history has a way of repeating itself. So it might help me to more clearly see the signs of times if I were to revisit the Great Depression. I’ll put that on my list of Things To Do.
My parents were young adults during the Great Depression. It made a big impact on their lives long after the depression was over. Just as my parents were molded by the Great Depression, a lot of my prepper ideas have their roots from the Y2K scare. (Y2K is the abbreviation for “Year 2000.”) That’s when I first became aware of the need to be prepared for world-changing calamities.
For those of you too young to remember, or if you just weren’t paying attention at the time, Y2K was a scare that was born out of the growing pains of worldwide computerization. Computers run on data. One of the most common pieces of data used in computer databases is a date — month, day, and year — stored as numeric values for purposes of calculating… well, lots of things. Most early computer software was written to allow only two digit abbreviations to define each portion of a date, including the year (for example, June 28, 1907 would be 06/28/07). So instead of storing a year as “1907” it would just be “07”. It was assumed that you were talking about the 20th century.
As we approached the dawning of the 21th century, some forward-thinking programmer was dealing with future events that crossed over into the 21 century and ran into the problem of dating. Anything that was going to happen in the year 2000 or beyond was understood by the software as being in the 1900s.
Every calculation that was based on a date either gave the wrong answer (best case) or crashed the system altogether (worst case). Virtually every significant computer system in the world would be affected by this error — banking systems, public utilities, military applications, manufacturing, government, healthcare, everything! If steps weren’t taken to replace old hardware and software to accommodate date codes that used four digits to define a year rather than two digit year abbreviations, and do date math correctly, there was a real risk of computers malfunctioning on a global scale and the world suddenly reverting to the level of technology of the late 1800s overnight.
Governments and businesses spent train loads of money to update their software and hardware to avert the problem. The result was that Y2K was rung in with traditional fireworks and celebrations, instead of the world going dark as power grids failed.
There were many skeptics in the run-up to Y2K. But let me repeat the first sentence of the previous paragraph: Governments and businesses spent train loads of money to update their software and hardware to avert the problem. People who understood the problem and its implications weren’t skeptics — they were preppers!
I was working at the global headquarters of a Fortune 500 company at the time leading up to Y2K. It was reported around the water cooler that the CEO of the company installed a 15,000-watt generator to keep the power running at his large home in the event of a Y2K blackout.
So there were many skeptics and nay-sayers during Y2K, but the fact remains that businesses, industries, and governments fixed their computer systems (at great expense) so that they wouldn’t become part of the problem. The experts were believers, and they convinced their bosses who held onto the purse strings to become believers, too. They took the necessary actions to avert the disaster.
I see three impacts from the Y2K scare.
First, the emergency expenditures made to update computer systems worked, making all the personal preparations that Y2K preppers did unnecessary. Many uninformed or unaware people thought that Y2K preppers were a bunch of nuts. The success of the business and governmental preps solidified this opinion among skeptics. “There’s no need to prepare for disaster! Even if the threat was real (and many believed it was not), the government will take care of everything. You don’t need to get your panties in a bunch.”
Second, I believe that the massive amount of expenditures made all at the same time to update computer hardware and software has created (or enhanced) a new economic cycle of boom and bust. Let me point out here that I’m not an economist. I don’t pretend to be one. I’ve never read an article that discussed what I’m about to say. I’m just a guy who has lived through some events and put some pieces together.
Here’s what happened in the run-up to Y2K. IT departments were staffed to the rafters, and computer hardware and software companies had an unprecedented boom because of expenditures made to avert the Y2K problem. Everything had to be in place by January 1, 2000. When it was over, it was over. Business and government now all had new computers and software, forcing a very artificial arrhythmia in the normal upgrade cycle for hardware and software. No one was going to be in the market to buy new stuff for another three or four years.
Three months after the world stopped spending money to upgrade computer systems, in March 2000, the “dot-com” bubble burst. Over the next two and a half years, the stock market lost five trillion dollars ($5,000,000,000,000.00) in value. Telecommunications company World.com was one of the most notable to fail, filing the third largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Coincidence, or cause and effect? The dot-com bubble was followed by the housing bubble in 2007, which is the cause of the Great Recession that started in 2008 which bankrupted our federal government and has never ended. I predict more bubbles to burst in the days to come. The next one may be the personal debt bubble, perhaps led by the school loan bubble. People can’t find jobs, so they take out huge loans and go back to school. When the jobs still aren’t there, they’ll default on the school loans, bursting that bubble. China’s booming economy may be all smoke and mirrors, too. We’ll be posting a shocking video of a story that ran on the TV show 60 Minutes that will make your financial toes curl. (No, not in a good way.) But to sum this second point up, I believe that the expenditures made to prevent the Y2K disaster from happening set up (or at least exacerbated) a series of boom and bust bubbles that will eventually bring down the global economy.
The third result of Y2K is the Cassandra Effect. Cassandra was a figure from Greek mythology. She was human, but Apollo, the god of the sun, fell in love with her and gave her the gift of prophecy. But when Cassandra rejected Apollo’s romantic advances, he put a curse on her so that her prophecies would never be believed by anyone. There were so many skeptics speaking out against the efforts and warnings of Y2K preppers that a book and organization called The Cassandra Project were launched. I don’t know if they still exist, but we need them. The general public has their head more deeply in the sand now than during Y2K. Our culture is dominated by ease, comfort, convenience, instant gratification, entertainment, and a hostile sense of entitlement. Take away any or all of the first things in that list and see how long it takes for the hostility to raise its ugly head. Preppers are regarded as kooks and extremists. Most people still think that our bankrupt government will come to the rescue of the entire country if hard times come. There’s no need to change our personal habits. “Just as in the days of Noah…”
So Y2K didn’t pan out to be the global disaster that it was warned could happen. I believe that’s because it was caught and fixed in time, but with repairs that have caused these three long-lasting repercussions. I saw the potential for hardship that Y2K posed, so I was among those who sounded the alarm within my circle of influence, and I took some baby steps toward personal preparation. They really wouldn’t have served me well or for very long if I had needed them. We all need to do much better now.
But 13 years later my take on Y2K hasn’t changed. I believed then, and I maintain now, that Y2K was a wake-up call, a “dress rehearsal,” for what is to come. Golfers take a practice swing before they step up to hit the ball for real. I got a practice swing during Y2K. Now it’s time to get ready for the Real Deal.