Thrift Tips for Stretching a Buck in a Tough Economy

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How to Survive a Layoff

Don’t panic. With a little “belt tightening” and a realistic plan, you will make it through this…

Being laid off, under employed or just watching your paycheck buy less and less at the store has become a reality in most homes. As businesses are downsizing, more and more work gets sent overseas and energy prices continue to sore, what can you do when you realize your income is not able to comfortably sustain your family?

Here are several practical tips…

Don’t Panic
First, in any survival situation, and trust me, being laid, under employed or broke half way through the month off can be a very real survival situation… Rule #1 is “Don’t panic.” So: step back, take a breath, sleep on it, pray and trust that you are going to make it through this.Store Up Some Food

Plan Ahead and Network
This is where having gone to the ant and observed their lifestyle comes in handy (Proverbs 30:25 & 6:6 – The Good Book).  It is a really wise rule of thumb to be prepared for what you think may never happen.

In our home, we have a decent stock of food that we lay by for the possibility of joblessness – which we actually have lived through multiple times.

Little Blessings From Others…
One winter, at the beginning of our years of wedded bliss, before we had  chance to think through anything wise, we wound up jobless with two little ‘uns.  That winter stands out in my mind as precious because we were fed almost entirely by a friend who was a delivery person for a food supply company…

People would reject a bag of flour that had a tear in it or cans that were dented.  He had a ministry of feeding many needy people like us with surprise deliveries of this food which would otherwise have been thrown away.

So, in our need, God supplied. Over the years, we’ve done a lot of networking and bartering.  Someone else might raise what you need and perhaps you have a skill you can trade for something. Or vice-versa.  Bartering is a great American tradition and it knits people together in a way passively forking over greenbacks can not.

Seek Out Local Resources and Encouragement
We have a wonderful Mennonite community and country store near us through whom we can order bulk foods.  They never look to profit on this, only to serve and it has been such a huge blessing in being able to order large quantities of food to stretch our budget and lay things aside at the same time.  Another place we are extremely fond of is a local surplus food store.

Bulk food is still affordable when you have a good source...

Bulk food is still affordable when you have a good source…

They resell those dented cans and just-expired foods at amazing prices so that we come home with a lot of food for not much output.  I’ve been to a store like ours in another locale and it was a rip-off.  So make sure you’re actually getting a deal.

Roadside Stands Can Be a Fun Surprise

Roadside stands are a great value

Roadside stands are fun and are often a great way to stretch a buck…

Folks who run roadside stand often go to produce markets and then bring their haul to reasonably resell. Roadside stands usually offer a great value when compared to grocery stores…

But better yet, find the wholesale produce market!  But be ready to process all the food you’ll buy there!  It’s an auction-like atmosphere, a lot of fun and a way to get semi-locally grown produce in bulk quantities.  Make sure you have your stamina that day because you may have to wait until the end for what you really want to get.

So search your area for resources like these.  Ask around…people who are thrifty are everywhere, you just have to find them!

I learned about the produce market from one of these folks!

Find Encouraging People in Tough Times
Look around  for people to whom the almighty dollar is in its proper place – at the bottom of their priorities.  These are the people who will keep your spirits from plummeting during hard times because they understand what is really important (people) and will reach out to help others.  This is where churches are supposed to shine, but unfortunately, impersonal, demeaning, mismanaged government programs have  usurped this privilege… and honestly, at times the church has fallen short, some being more occupied with things like “building programs” than building people.

But there are still some great, others-minded churches out there, and some wonderful loving folks who go to them. If you need help, seek them out.

Do It Yourself – Canning, Dehydrating & Freezing
Having a garden and canning, dehydrating and freezing what you grow is also an invaluable way to stretch a food budget.  It also allows you to have things laid up for that rainy day or week or month or year.

Canning
Our traditional way of “putting up” food for the future is a laborious but rewarding venture. However, as I learn more about nutrition (other posts to come), I am realizing that canning will give me food on my shelves, but its nutritional content is minimal, having been processed with heat for long periods.

Canning is a great way to preserve food

Canning is the traditional way to preserve food… but dehydrating is easier.

Dehydrating
Dehydrated foods keep indefinitely if dried properly.  Dehydration uses a very low heat and air circulation to lock in nutrients and enable you to have what is called, “living foods” kept on your shelf.

So dehydrating is MUCH better than canning from a nutritional perspective.

Because you’re not dependent on electricity to preserve your “goodies” after they’re dehydrated, it is better than freezing.

  • Get my article on dehydrating – Coming SOON!
  • Here’s the food dehydrator that I use – Click Here

Freezing
Freezing is also a better way than canning to preserve nutrients, but with freezing, you have a dependency on electric – which can go bye-bye at any time.

Make Your Own Laundry Soap!!!
Did you know that with a few basic very inexpensive ingredients you can make your own laundry soap?  I’ve been making my own for a few years now and it works great!

The Clothing Budget – What?
Well, we’ve been married about a quarter century and we’ve never had the prescribed clothing budget that you see in all the ‘how-to-make-a-budget’ books.  In fact, we’ve never had most of their categories!

Save money on cloths - go to a thrist shop

Going to Thrift Shops can eliminate the need for a clothing budget…

I can count on one hand the times I’ve purchased new clothing (excepting underwear, of course!).

I simply cannot bring myself to drop the amount of hard-earned money called for to buy things new.  Seems like bad stewardship to me for the purpose of vanity.

So, yeah – we shop at the exclusive places like Goodwill and Salvation Army.  I actually find it fun!  You can often find something that appeals to your fancy in a way you’d never imagined and it’s like a scavenger hunt/ surprise party every time you go!

Remember: Always try things on – even at a thrift shop, why waste money on things that don’t fit right?

Sometimes I look longingly at people who have wonderful store-bought clothes in just the right style I wish I could wear, but I really do pretty good at the thrift shops.  And if you’re clever with a needle, you can jazz up a simple second-hand tee shirt quite amazingly!

“My Secret” Resource For Everything!
I cannot write an article such as this without celebrating the age-old yard sale!

My “secret” resource for almost everything…

Oh my, if you look through my house, almost everything in it has come from a yard sale or was a gift.

You simply cannot tell that we have only two pieces of store-bought furniture. I have had many compliments on our eclectic décor and we have never been without what we need- in large part, due to yard sales.

Homeschool your children?  Yard sales offered us a plethora of low cost resources and teaching aids.

We always had a craft table full of fun things to make and do – compliments of other people cleaning out their craft supplies.

I still rely on my $50 23-cubic-foot Montgomery Ward deep freeze I got years and year ago when it was already old.

Outfits can be put together for a couple dollars. And one year I got a whole new wardrobe of brand new shoes that some lady who had a shoe fetish was getting rid of!

All of my canning supplies – yard sales.  Yard tools – yard sales.

Christmas, birthday, baby and bridal shower gifts – yard sales (think ahead!). I’m pretty sure people looked forward to seeing what would be in my shower bags because I always found such unique and wonderful things!

You don’t have to be a skinflint and can, in fact, be very generous, when you learn the art of yard saling.

One Last Tip – Take 21 Days…
Every time you go to spend any amount of money, no matter how small, ask yourself: “Do I really need this?”  If it is a need, ask: “Is there any other way I can meet this need without spending money?”

Resist impulse buys - wait 21 days

Resist impulse buys – wait 21 days

If it is a large purchase – a great rule of thumb is to wait 21 days to a month.  Sit on it.  Train yourself against impulse buying this way.

At the end of the time period, you will likely have moved on and your marriage may even benefit from this frugal, selfless practice!

Okay… Just One More tip: Leverage the Internet for Bargains…

And NEVER, EVER… purchase anything on the Internet without first doing a Google search for the name of the company you are going to buy from, followed by the words, “coupon code.” You’ll be amazed at how much you can save scrounging for a few minutes trying coupon codes.

Oh, and check Amazon before you buy online. We purchase most of our non-food necessities through Amazon because we get free shipping and find that we usually save 10% or more verse other online shops or local retail stores and we save gas and time shopping. Plus our credit card info is in one place and not spread about.

The internet is loaded with resources on how to do all sorts of things like make your own electricity,  find ways to fuel your car cheaper, heat your home for less, decorate on a budget, use simple ingredients like a gourmet, etc.,etc.  (I think my husband has some links to this kind of stuff around this site, too.)  And these are just a few of a plethora of ways to stretch what you have.

Just make sure you get all your info together in hard copies because well, who knows how long the internet will last?

Until next time…

~ Carin

300 a Month, Menu, Goals

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300 a Month, Menu, Goals I am always blown away by frugality and the ability to save money in ways that the rest of us think is impossible. There are families spending $300 a week on groceries and most of it is going towards stuff we shouldn’t be eating. Let me also say that you …

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52 Weeks Savings: June brings sunshine and summer deals

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52 weeks savings challengeIn June, we celebrate summer, Father’s, graduations, weddings and Flag Day. It marks the halfway point of the year and on the 25th, it will only be six months until Christmas! Maybe this is the month to start making a holiday gift list and begin looking for bargain-priced gifts, well before the shopping rush begins.

There are loads of great June sales and bargains. Here’s what we’ve tracked down for you.

Food sales

June is National Dairy Month, which means there will be sales on ice cream, cheese, butter, milk, cream cheese, yogurt and popsicles. Most of these freeze very well, so it is an easy thing to stock up on. June is Turkey Lovers Month, so there should be sales on turkey deli meat (whole turkeys are cheapest to buy around Thanksgiving).

Cookout supplies are also on sale, such as hot dogs, hamburgers, buns and charcoal. If a charcoal grill is one of your alternate cooking options, it would be a good time to stock up on it. Soda, iced tea and bottled water also go on sale. Bottled water is a great thing to have on hand for almost every emergency. I keep a case in our vehicle during the summer months for when we are out and about.

Watermelon goes on sale during June, and there will be good deals on lots of seasonal produce. Consider going to farmer’s markets or researching what u-pick farms are near you to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. It can be preserved by canning, freezing or dehydrating.

TIP: Think about what desserts you might want to have in the winter months and get the fruit for it now.

Here is what is usually in season in June:

June Household Sales and Bargains

Tools, tools and more tools: with Father’s Day, the typical gifts for dad are on sale. Cologne and menswear will also be on sale for this occasion. Dishes and kitchen appliances should be on sale to coincide with wedding season. Graduations start winding down in June, so the party supplies will be on sale, which can be used for future parties or for food storage supplies.

TIP: Paper plates are a very handy items in an emergency. They don’t need to washed, so you avoid wasting valuable time and water, and you can either shred and compost them or burn them in a campfire. The best thing is that paper plates from any past holiday or birthday party work just fine for this purpose!

For household items, some small electronics like camcorders and computers should be on sale. Both are good items to have on hand for keeping track of inventory for personal and insurance purposes. Carpeting and indoor furniture are usually on sale in June.

Women’s underwear, bras and lingerie are a hot item in June, since Victoria’s Secret holds its semi-annual sale in June.

And, as always, be on the lookout for gifts! Sooner or later, a birthday, bridal/baby shower, wedding, or some other holiday will surprise you, and when that happens, most of us usually go into the panic-shopping mode! That’s the mode where we don’t care how much something costs — we just need to get that gift today! Don’t be that crazy-eyed lady at the mall! Shop ahead and look for the bargains posted here in this article as well as the entire, monthly 52 Weeks Savings series on this blog.

Outside the home

Gardening items start going on sale in June. It is never too early to start planning next year’s garden. Stock up on seeds and gardening tools. Seed planters are handy along with organic fertilizer. June is Rose Month, since most are in bloom. This can mean lower prices for roses and rose bushes in June.

Sports and Fitness

Summer sports gear and swim gear go on sale in June. Many people tend to focus their exercise outside in June, so indoor exercise equipment goes on sale and some gyms may offer discounted memberships. June is hosts National Fishing & Boating Week and National Get Outdoors Day, so local parks and recreation departments may offer special and possibly free activities for those days.

Events                  

Taking a staycation this year? Check out this link for a list of blogs for fun things to do in different states: .

June is also National Aquarium Month, so if you have a local aquarium, they may offer deals.

Some stores and restaurants like to participate in specific special days, so keep an eye out for deals on the following days:

June 5 – National Doughnut Day

June 7 – National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

June 10 – Iced Tea Day

June 18 – Go Fishing Day

June 20 – Ice Cream Soda Day

June 27 – Sunglasses Day

Flea markets and yard sales gear up this month and are a great way to find deals on almost any item. Here’s a list of 21 things to always be on the lookout for.

Activities for Children

Summer reading programs are in full gear in June as schools let out for the summer. Check your local library and local bookstores to see what they offer. For a list of stores, theaters and online programs, visit http://savingdollarsandsense.com/free-summer-reading-programs/.

Several stores also offer children freebies as a reward for a good report card. Ask your local stores if they do anything for report cards or, for a list, visit http://savingdollarsandsense.com/good-report-card-freebies/.

Check local hardware and craft stores for children’s make-and-take events.

Register at www.kidsbowlfree.com to get children up to 2 free games of bowling a day at your local bowling alley.

Some movie theaters offer discount movies during the summer. Check your local theater for prices and movie listings.

Money saving tips

In the summer, close blinds and curtains to keep sun out on hot days to reduce cooling costs. If possible, dry clothes outside on a clothesline to avoid running the dryer. Take a different approach to summer meal planning and incorporate meals that are light, such as salads that incorporate fresh ingredients, or that involve cooking outside on the grill or over a fire pit.

If you have a solar oven, Sun Oven, or want to make a DIY solar cooker, this is prime season and a great time to learn this skill before a power outage or some other disaster happens. Using a solar oven will help keep your kitchen cooler and you won’t be using any electricity at all.

By the end of June, you should have $325 saved if you’re following the weekly savings plan (25 weeks). If you have extra right now, perhaps going to a higher week in the chart and putting that money away would be a smart thing to do. Take things one day at a time and focus on what you can do and what you can enjoy.

If you’re on Facebook, it’s not too late to join our very active 52 Weeks Savings Club for tips and encouragement.

Saving money is a daily lifestyle and the key is having a good attitude. Take pride in what you have already saved up and learn from any mistakes.

Take advantage of June’s deals and start looking forward to a fun summer. Come back next month to see what deals July offers to help you save AND prepare!

52 weeks savings challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bartering, Then and Now!

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Bartering, Then and Now! James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio in player below! On this special episode of I Am Liberty we talk about taking advantage of the barter economy that is alive and well out there. Dare I say it could even be growing. We are in the most entrepreneurial time in history. Everyone is … Continue reading Bartering, Then and Now!

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How To Build A Survival Gun Cache On A $500 Budget

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How To Build A Survival Gun Cache On A $500 Budget

Image source: MossbergOwners.com

 

Survivalists who find themselves on serious budgets always will be faced with the problem of accumulating the gear they want within a price point that they can afford. Putting together a survival armory of guns is no exception.

Let’s say that you only have $500 to spend on guns. Many would say that with this budget, it’s A) impossible to build a complete armory that covers your bases, and, B) the guns that you do buy for your armory will be cheaply made or of low quality.

Both of these are absolute nonsense. While $500 is certainly not going to buy you as many guns as a $2,000 or $3,000 budget will, it’s still not impossible to gather the guns you need for this amount.

In fact, you will be able to acquire the three most important guns that you need for just $500.  The specific models that you can buy may not be the fanciest examples on the market, but they are still reliable and will work well enough.

Let’s outline what the three most important categories of guns to have are, and then list an example of a make and model of gun that you can have in that category.

12 GA SHOTGUN – MAVERICK 88 ($180)

It’s hard to say no to a 12-gauge shotgun being the first gun that you own. The 12-gauge round is highly versatile. You can use buckshot for home defense, birdshot for target shooting and bird/small game hunting, and slugs for hunting bigger game such as deer or wild boar.

You also should ideally make your shotgun be a pump-action model over a single shot or semi-automatic, the reason being that you have more capacity than a single and greater reliability with feeding different types of rounds over the semi.

We’re going to cap off the price of a budget shotgun at $180, and the best model that you can buy for this price is going to be the Maverick 88 shotgun, which is the budget model of the world-renowned and highly popular Mossberg 500. While the Maverick doesn’t come with a lot of the same features as the 500, it is still highly reliable and more than adequate for defensive or hunting use.

The Self-Defense And Hunting Weapon That Doesn’t Require A Firearms License!

Although the Maverick 88 usually costs around $200 for a new model, you can very easily find used ones for $180 or even a little less on online auction sites such as Gunbroker.com.

.22 RIFLE – MOSSBERG 702 PLINKSTER ($100)

No gun collection of personal battery of arms is complete without a .22 rifle, even if you only have $500 in total to spend. .22 ammunition is very small, meaning you can store and carry lots of it on you. It’s also a perfect round for small game hunting, plinking, general homestead use, and for introducing new people to the sport of shooting. If necessary, it could be used for self-defense, as well.

Normally, the three .22 rifles that I would recommend first would be the Ruger 10/22, Marlin Model 60, or Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22. Unfortunately, none of these options is going to work, since I’m capping off the price for a .22 rifle at $100.

At this price point, your best option will be the Mossberg 702 Plinkster, which can be found used for even $80 or $90 if you look hard enough online. The Mossberg 702 is available in a wide variety of configurations and comes standard with a 10-round magazine, although higher capacity 25-round magazines also are available.

9MM PISTOL – TAURUS PT111 G2 ($220)

We’re now left with $220 to spend on our final firearm, which absolutely must be a pistol. The pistol is the gun you will have strapped to your side at all times during a disaster scenario. You want it to be easily concealed. I also recommend in this case that your pistol be a 9mm, simply because it’s the cheapest and most plentiful pistol caliber there is.

The specific pistol that I am going to recommend at this price point is going to be a pistol I wrote about recently, the Taurus PT111 G2. While it normally sells for around $250 new at most sporting goods stores, a quick perusal on Gunbroker shows that it can be purchased new or used in good condition for the $200-$220 range.

The PT111 G2 is a compact firearm, which makes concealment easy, but is also large enough so that you can get a full grip on the weapon. It holds 12 rounds in the magazine plus an additional round in the chamber, which is plenty of firepower for defending yourself against multiple attackers. Reviews of the PT111 G2 have been mostly very positive, and owners applaud its reliability, ergonomics and overall value. And besides, it looks much better than a Hi-Point.

Conclusion

So, there you have it. For $500, give or take a few dollars, you should easily be able to acquire a solid survival armory. And they cover your bases: target shooting, home defense/personal protection, and small-game or big-game hunting.

What do you think? What would be in your $500 survival gun armory? Share your thoughts in the section below:

If You Run Out Of Ammo, What Would You Do? Learn How To Make Your Own! Read More Here.

A $250 Reliable Pistol? Yep, And It’s Perfect For Home Defense

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A $250 Reliable Pistol? Yep, And It’s Perfect For Home Defense

Image source: Smith & Wesson Forum

One of the most important firearms to have in your home defense arsenal is a reliable handgun. I would even go as far as to say that owning a handgun is more important than a shotgun, simply because you can conceal it on your person and travel with it.

That said, you’re going to be very limited in choices if you’re on a tight budget. Fortunately, you have a few solid options. In fact, if you have only $250 or so to spend right now, there is a specific pistol that could be just what you’re looking for (and no, it’s not a Hi-Point).

It’s the Taurus Millennium PT111 G2 in 9mm (or the PT140 in .40 S&W). Yes, Taurus has had a blotchy reputation in the past, but their Generation 2 line of guns released in 2013 is widely regarded as having massive improvements over previous models in nearly everything: ergonomics, build quality, reliability and accuracy.

The PT111 G2, in particular, is a versatile little handgun that could be used for a variety of purposes, including concealed carry, home defense or as a disaster scenario sidearm. The primary reason for this is its size. The PT111 G2 is a compact gun, which means it can be concealed on your person very easily; the total length of the gun is just under six and a half inches, and weight clocks in at a light 22 ounces.

Despite its small size, the PT111 G2 still packs enough firepower to defend your home and family against multiple attackers. It holds 12+1 rounds of 9mm Luger, while the PT140 holds 10+1 rounds of .40 S&W.

Be Prepared. Learn The Best Ways To Hide Your Guns.

Moving on to the features of the gun, the PT111 G2 has a nice ergonomic grip with aggressive stippling on the sides, allowing you to get a secure grip on the weapon even if your hands are wet or slippery.

Not only does the PT111 G2 feature a Glock-style blade safety on the front of the trigger, but it also features a manual thumb safety mounted in the right side of the frame. While there’s nothing wrong with having a safety on a firearm you use for home defense or concealed carry, it’s important that you always remember to flick that safety off when presenting the weapon to shoot. It would be wise to train by conducting multiple, repetitive drills of drawing the PT111 G2 and flicking the safety off when you do so in order for this to become muscle memory.

One thing that makes the PT111 G2 unique compared to other striker-fired pistols in its class is the fact it is technically a double-action, single action pistol. This means that the first shot is long while all subsequent shots will be shorter. This long initial trigger pull essentially acts as a safety in and of itself, since the pistol has a lesser chance of going off with a long trigger pull than a short one.

The PT111 G2 comes installed with three dot sights, with the rear sight being adjustable. It also features a loaded chamber indicator blade behind the ejection port that flips up when the gun is chambered. Not only does this give you a visual representation that the pistol is ready to fire, but you also can physically feel the indicator in the dark should you not be able to see it.

As with all Taurus handguns, the PT111 G2 comes installed with Taurus’ trademark security system. A pair of keys ship with the gun and when you use it to turn a lock on the right side of the slide, the entire pistol will lock up and be rendered useless until you turn it back. You can store the gun knowing that a child or a burglar won’t be able to fire the weapon.

You’re getting a lot of gun for the money with the Taurus Millennium PT111 G2. If you want a dependable pistol for home defense, concealed carry or personal protection in general but are on a budget, the PT111 G2 is a superb option and excellent value.

Have you ever shot the Taurus Millennium PT111 G2? Share your thoughts about it in the section below:

Make Your Own Ammo! Read More Here.

Are you prepared to be unemployed?

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Are you prepared to be unemployed? Bob Howkins “APN Report” Audio in player below! You prep for disaster, stock up and fortify. Gain the tools & talent to handle catastrophe. But what if, instead of a bad storm, earthquake, tidal wave, forest fire or zombie attack, disaster comes visiting in a totally unexpected form. What … Continue reading Are you prepared to be unemployed?

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5 Essential Keys To Create A Family Budget Plan That Works!

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If one of your goals is to simplify your life, then it needs to begin with creating a personal or family budget plan. Living simple does not mean living without the things you need or want in your life. It

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Can You Make Me a Student Survival Kit?

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Can You Make Me a Student Survival Kit? We got a reader question asking us if we could make a low-budget student survival kit. If you yourself are a student or know one and would like to give him or her a survival kit that would be excellent for wilderness survival but that doesn’t break …

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The 12 Days of Christmas: Day 6, The Gift of Memories

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gift of memories

Here’s an idea for something even the youngest members of your family will enjoy making and receiving: their own collection of photo memories. When my daughter was three years-old, I made a photo collage for her room.  I combined small photos of family members and close friends, a pic or two from recent vacations, and a few of her and put them in a store-bought collage frame. Even though she was just a preschooler, she loved having her own collage of memories and the people she loved.

This year she placed about a dozen photos from past family vacations in our Christmas tree. Once sentimental, always sentimental, I guess, but I realized how inexpensive photos can decorate for the holidays and throughout the year.

Our tree has ornaments made of tiny photo collages and photos inside clear glass balls. Add some shiny tinsel to that glass ornament, and you have something that is both memorable and beautiful. These make great gifts for teachers, friends, and even your kids’ friends. At barely over $1 each, they are gifts manageable for even tight budgets.

Another very inexpensive tree ornament are plastic sparkling snowflakes, like these. For years we’ve nestled these in the branches of our Christmas trees, but with a little hot glue, you can easily personalize them with family photos. What a great family project to select photos from this year’s best memories and create a scrapbook of sorts you can enjoy all season long. Be sure to store these in a cool location during the rest of the year in order to preserve the photos.

Take this idea a little farther by making photo ornaments that feature old photos from past decades. What a treat for a grandparent to receive a collection of ornaments with photos from her past and of her kids and grandkids as they grew through the years!

In today’s age of digital photographs, it’s easier than ever to compile incredible memories from months and even years gone by. You can store thousands of them in the cloud, on a flash drive, or your computer’s hard drive, and then quickly sort through to find the best photos to keep when the holidays arrive. There are so many different gift options beyond tree ornaments.

For gift-giving, consider sorting your photos in different categories, depending on who the gift is for. Once you’ve selected the best of the best, you might find that some are best suited for different people:

  • Grandparents on each side of the family
  • Long-distance relatives on each side of the family
  • Grown kids who have left the nest
  • Close family friends

These very simple craft foam photo frames can be decorated by even the youngest family member. Online sites like Canva and Pic Monkey allow you to edit photos, add captions, and create collages, all for free. Add a frame and you have a gift.

For the past two years I’ve taken this idea and applied it to wall calendars using Shutterfly and Snapfish.  Sadly, I’m not a scrapbooking queen, but even I was able to make beautiful digital collages for each month of the year. In addition to the photos, there is space on each calendar page for a few words.  I included favorite Bible verses one year, and this year, phrases from favorite songs.

One year I created a hard-cover book for my parents. It was a collection of the many “mom and dad” type sayings they were famous for over the years and placed a few photos of us kids and the grandkids on each page. Are your parents or some other family member famous for certain sayings? This is a fun way to remember their words and add corresponding photos. Here’s a sample from the book I created:

untitled

Putting together photo memories is do-able on any budget, and the finished product is priceless. Online companies like Shutterfly make it possible to have your photos printed on calendars, mugs, fleece blankets, canvas wall hangings, note cards, and so much more. Printing digital photos at home or through an online service like COSTCO or Walgreens has never been cheaper or easier. Even when Christmas is only days away, it’s possible to print photos at home or through a one-hour service. One year, with my back to the wall, I was able to design our annual photo Christmas card, get it printed at Walgreens and then sent out the same day. Whew!

If you’re an Amazon Prime customer, and I highly recommend becoming one, in 2 short days you can have answers to your gift giving dilemmas. This cute clothesline-of-photos caught my eye because the 51khqdy4culphotos can be changed and you can add other mementos, including your child’s artwork.

If you’ve ever doubted the value of photographs, then imagine what it would be like 10 years from now to have no images at all of precious moments like birthdays, holidays, or just hanging out as a family. When you give the gift of memories, you give not only a gift but something far more precious.

gift of memories

5 Amazing Habits To Help Simplify and Fulfill Your Life In 2017!

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What does it take to simplify your life?  We are often asked to speak to various groups about our little farm, on topics ranging from the garden and canning, to the chickens, bees and more. But lately, more than ever,

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Good, Cheap Knives

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The prepper survivalist can never really have too many knives. And of course, there are more knives to be knives_cheap_good_average_bargainhad than the Clinton Foundation has mysterious dollars in their bank account. By the way, just curious, but where exactly is that bank account? But, then again, your everyday bug in or out blades do not have to bear such names as Loveless, Randall, Dozier, Morseth, Randy Lee or so many other well recognized blade masters with retail pricing to match, not to mention waiting times for their products. Average, good knives can serve you well.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Nope, us everyday folks can obtain and use a slew of good quality, multi-purpose blades and tools at the fraction of the cost of a custom fabricated knife from a named maker.  Right now I bet you can search your kitchen drawers, workbench, tool bags, and cases and probably find a dozen decent knives that will serve you well and do all the cutting jobs you need done.

A Blade Goldmine

So, to prove it, I did just that. I started opening drawers around my man cave, plastic storage boxes, and other hidey places just to see what would turn up. Like most preppers, I tend to horde and, from time to time, I have to do a reassessment inventory just to see what I have picked up since the last accounting.

Related: Three Excellent Survival Knives For Under $100

And, yo ho, what a treasure trove.  Category wise I found pocket knives, hunting blades, multi-tools with cutting blades, a box cutter, an electricians blade, a kitchen paring knife, a cook prep/garden harvesting knife and a handmade knife I got on a fishing trip to Homer, Alaska.

These few do not even scratch the surface of my odd collection of blades. Any and all of these suit me fine as a prepper. You just have to dig around to see what you have on hand now, then fill in the gaps if something in particular is really needed for specific projects or jobs.

Blade Investments

As I hinted early on you don’t really need a $500+ Randall knife to do the majority of prepper work. If you have one or want one, fine, but all it will give you is an elitist edge, which doesn’t really cut cheese. That pun was not intended, but it did work out well.

Common propriety brand knives work well, too, but shop around and make sure they are not the low end, foreign made junk. That stuff is creeping into what was once fine lines of knives, so be careful. Blade brands like Remington, Browning, Kershaw, Ruger, Schrade, Gerber and many others are still selling some decent knives even though they may be made in China. Not everything from China is junk. Remember what Japanese-made used to mean?good_cheap_knife_budget_prepper

All of the blades shown in the accompanying photos cost under $100, most of them well under $50. The most expensive was probably the IISAKKI Puukko knife I bought at a hunting and fishing shop off the main square in Helsinki, Finland years ago on a moose hunt with Sako firearms. The Puukko is a classic Scandinavian blade of high quality, and fine workmanship. That company has been making such knives since 1879.

Also Read: Cold Steel Pocket Bushman Knife Review

The common tools like a box cutter, a very useful and necessary cutting implement, can be bought at any hardware or building supply store for under $10. Buy several of the disposable ones for just a couple bucks apiece. These blades are razor sharp so don’t take them for granted.  Same can be said of the electrician’s blade used to trim insulation off wiring. I talked an electrician out of that one at a trade show job fair. It has turned out to be a very handy little knife for many jobs around the house and campsite.

Other Blade Applications

Again, this is just a sampling but a good cross section of what every prepper ought to consider having in their Bug Out Bag, EDC, SHTF tool box, house, camp or escape hideout.  A multi-tool like this little Gerber is a must.  This one was on sale for $25 at a big box store during hunting season.  It has a couple cutting blades, small tools like screwdrivers, and when folded out, it is a set of pliers.  I use these all the time for a variety of jobs.  Preppers should have several of these in different sizes, and one to carry on their belt at bug out camp.

See Also: DMT Diamond Sharpener Review

The pocket knives are just that.  They are useful for cutting nearly anything from gutting small game, to cutting rope, twine, string, tape, rubber tubing, gasket material, you name it.  I suppose a good pocketknife is just about the quintessential cutting tool that every prepper must own.  In fact, it’s a good idea to own several of different sizes with different blade configurations, shapes, and locking mechanisms. Small ones can easily be carried.  After all, one should always be at hand.

The hunting-camp curved skinning blade by garage knife maker Maynard Linder of Homer, Alaska is a multi-use caribou_knife_good_cheap_budget_toolblade.  I went to Linder’s house years ago to watch him make knives with his trademark native Alaskan animal bone handles, mostly Caribou but other types as well.  He makes all types of hunting, camp, cooking, kitchen and utility knives.  They are reasonable in price, durable, and well made.  His wife made the leather sheaths.  The whole point here is that there are a lot of good, decent quality knives out there for a wide spectrum of uses for preppers, and survivalists. Whether it is for food foraging, repair work, building projects, general cutting and trimming, food preparation, or whatever, you need to assemble a good selection of knives for multi-tasking around your bug in residence, a bug out tent camp, or an SHTF escape domicile. There are plenty of good, cheaper blades available that do not have to slice up your prepper budget. Take care of them and they will take care of you for a long, long, time.

All Photos Courtesy of Dr. John J Woods

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Internet Money on I Am Liberty!

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Internet Money! James Walton “I Am Liberty” Listen to this show in player below! Its very rare we take the time to talk about income but lately I have been looking for ways to change that. The motivation behind this is two fold. One is the fact that I am looking to take control of my world … Continue reading Internet Money on I Am Liberty!

The post Internet Money on I Am Liberty! appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

52 Weeks Savings Plan: Give this a try and have an extra $1378 by the end of the year!

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Best Of the survival mom

If I’m going to post the best and most popular blog articles, I have to include this one. It launched a very popular Facebook group page and an entire month-by-month series of money saving articles. National Preparedness Month may not seem like a natural fit for a money-saving article, but with no money at all, it’s hard to get fully prepared.

Jar full of money on white background

I spotted this ingenious and simple savings plan* on Facebook, posted it on my wall, and it went viral with 3,074 likes and 4,230 shares within a couple of days. I’ve never seen anything like it. Obviously, this plan hit a nerve with a large number of people who know they need to save, want to save, but are dealing with the reality of tight budgets.

On many calendars, each week is numbered, beginning with Week #1: January 1-7.  On this 52 weeks savings plan, you save the amount of dollars that corresponds to that week’s number. If one week you find yourself with extra cash, add it to the pot. You’ll end up with more than the $1378 total by the end of December or you’ll have created a bit of a padding for weeks that don’t have any extra cash left over. The 52 Weeks Savings Plan is highly versatile. You can begin with Week 52 in January, or start on whichever week is easiest for you.

Print out this chart or make your own and check off each week as you save. If there are other members in the family with an income, encourage them to do the same. A family with 2 breadwinners could end up with a grand total of $2756, and that’s no small-potatoes! *I have no idea who originally created this chart, but I thank them!52 week savings plan

UPDATE: Since this was posted, readers have made some really great suggestions

1. Get the whole family involved. Discuss how you’ll spend the savings, give some to charity, etc. and then post a progress chart. Kids who earn money for odd jobs, babysitting, and the like can contribute, so everyone learns how to save and then gets to share in the rewards!

2. The last half of the savings plan can be pretty pricey per week. If that’s too much for you right now, go through weeks 1-26 twice. You’ll still end up with a nice balance at the end.

3. Others have suggested starting with Week 52 at the beginning of the year so the larger savings can be set aside at a time of year when holiday expenses aren’t an issue.

For more help following the 52 Weeks Savings Plan…

Follow along with a special series of monthly sales, tailored specifically to the needs and interests of Survival Moms and their families. Check out these examples:

April discounts

May bargains

June discounts and sales

Retailers typically offer the same types of sales each month, year after year, so these articles continue to have value and important info for bargain hunters!

Join other Survival Moms in our very active 52 Week Savings Club on Facebook! 1625 members and growing!

Read, “10 Ways to Make the 52 Weeks Savings Plan Work For You” — even more creative ideas!

Best Free Preps!

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Best Free Preps! Highlander “Survival and Tech Preps” This is all about those free preps you might not have known you can get for… well free! What about all those different items that you can reuse for prepping? Not only the reuse but also what we can do to make a little extra money for our prepping … Continue reading Best Free Preps!

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16 Ways to Find Free Food

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find free foodBeing a Survival Mom means you have a plan to feed your kids, no matter what, whether by having some food storage, growing as much as you can, or even finding free food.

That means not just if SHTF, but also if you experience unexpected, personal events that leave you actually wondering about your next meal, as happened when this couple hit rock bottom. For example, with one of my children, maternity leave lasted twice as long as I planned. We had savings for the expected time, but found ourselves in a financially tight spot when I had to stay out of work longer than we anticipated.

Life happens. Before it happens to you and you find your bank account empty and your pantry bare, here are a few ideas on where to find free food. Whether they will work for you or not, may depend on local regulations.

Find free food with these tips

  • Pet-sit. I recently asked my neighbors to watch our backyard chickens for our vacation in exchange for any eggs. They ended up with 8 dozen eggs!  If you don’t know of anyone with farm animals, check with your local 4-H or poultry groups.
  • Side of the road. In our metro area, it’s acceptable to leave items you don’t want at your curb for others to pick up. Sometimes it’s a dresser or kids’ bikes, but frequently, people leave out extra garden produce like zucchini and tomatoes. If you see something, though, stop immediately and grab it. It probably won’t be there on your way home later.
  • Community events. If you live at an apartment complex or you have a neighborhood association, watch for community events involving food. Often these will be pizza parties or cook-outs funded by member dues. Or see if you have a friend who might live where these sorts of events occur, and go as their guest.
  • Serve at a catered event. Longer term, finding a job as an on-call catering server could net you more than just an hourly wage. In my experience, employees often get to take home leftover food from weddings or other events. Or volunteer to help at friends’ weddings or graduation parties. One family sent me home with enough leftover catered food to feed my family for 2 full meals after I helped with their son’s graduation party.
  • Craigslist. Check ads for extra garden produce, or post an ad yourself saying you’ll take extras. Just be careful meeting people—I usually like to meet people at public places, like parking lots with video surveillance.
  • Gleaning. This is the old fashioned word for “picking up leftovers after harvest.”  If you live near farms or community gardens, get permission to go through after the harvest. It might be some hide and seek, but with a little effort, you could probably find dropped produce, extra fruit still on the vine, or discarded imperfect veggies.
  • Church food pantry. Many churches keep food pantries. Call around to houses of worship in your area and ask. Often there are no strings attached in regards to membership, but usually there’s a limit such as visiting once a month per household or something similar.
  • Community garden.In our city, we have at least one community garden where you earn a share of the produce by volunteering 2 hours a week. Check in your area, or with local CSA’s to see if you can exchange time for food. Even better, you will have helped grow it yourself!
  • Hotel breakfasts.If you are traveling, or for any other reason find yourself staying at a hotel with an included breakfast, consider taking a little extra to eat later. For example, a yogurt and an apple would make a morning snack. Just be reasonable.
  • Grocery stores. Make friends with your local produce, dairy, and meat market managers. Perishable foods can’t be sold after their expiration date. I’ve gotten half gallons of milk for free or nearly free (25 cents!) on that expiration date. Produce might be sorted in the morning, whereas meat might have to be tossed at the end of a business day. If you know what days or times to show up, you might be able to collect a whole meal’s worth!
  • Foraging. If the idea of foraging seems daunting, then just think of this as a “snack” category. Pick raspberries along the bike trail, or the mulberries hanging over the sidewalk. Food is food, and if times are bad, every little bit–especially fresh fruits and greens–will make a difference. Always stick with plants you know–NEVER eat anything you aren’t sure about. You’ll find important foraging safety guidelines here.
  • Freewill donation meals. Find the Pancake Breakfasts or Spaghetti Dinners in your community that ask for a freewill donation. Usually, they are fundraisers for the local fire department or Lions club. But if you’re in a tight spot, you could take advantage of these meals. Pay what you can, then when times are better, you could make a more substantial donation.
  • Feed bread. Our local bakery outlet store will set large garbage bags of past-date bread as feed bread for farm animals. You are asked to sign a form saying it’s not for human consumption, but if times are really bad, you may find it worth going through to see if anything is still edible.
  • Trade or barter. Offer your skills in exchange for a meal. Help a friend move and get pizza. Help your brother in law build a garage and stay for dinner. Help your co-worker fix his computer at home and let him pay for take-out. This is a win-win for everyone. I’ve found this book about bartering to have valuable tips for getting started.
  • Your own pantry or food storage. This is why you have food storage, right? If you need it, by all means, use it! But it will go much, much further if you can stretch it with some of the above ideas.
  • Bountiful Baskets or another food co-op system. If you volunteer to show up early and help out, any food that is left over or unclaimed is divided among the volunteers.

If you find yourself on hard times, you’ll probably need to rely on a combination of ideas and avenues to feed your family. But stay calm, think outside the box, and no one in your house needs to go to bed hungry.

What other ideas do you have?

find free food

 

10 Free Things You Can Do To Prepare For Disaster

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10 Free Things You Can Do To Prepare For Disaster It’s happened to almost every prepper. You look at a list of survival supplies you want to buy, then you look at how much spending money you have, and your heart sinks. How are you ever supposed to afford all this stuff? When it comes …

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Seven Things I Wish I Had Known When I Began Prepping

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smart preppingHave you gotten bit by the prepper bug? Millions all over the world now consider themselves to be preppers.

I bet you’ve spent hours on the internet searching for the ultimate solar radio, the most comprehensive food storage inventory list or maybe which water filtration system to use. We have all been there, usually late at night by the warm glow of the computer screen.  I get it. I was and still am the same way. As with all new endeavors, we learn as we go and gain knowledge from our experience. There were some things I do wish I had known when I started.

  1. Rotation, rotation, rotation

I do not want to think about all of the food I have thrown away. Is life really that busy that I forget to rotate? I do not remember even buying minestrone soup 6 years ago! Rotating food is one thing I really struggled with. After time I have found what works for our home.

  • Store 3 months of food that you normally eat in easily accessible places. Kitchen cupboards, the pantry and extra shelves if you have the space for them. This way, you don’t forget what you have, as in “out of sight, out of mind.”
  • Move large items (crockpots, holiday kitchen items, etc.) to a different part of the house to make more room for food in your kitchen. If you see it, you will cook with it.
  • Plan meals from what you have in your cupboard. It will remind you of what you have and need to use.
  • If you have an additional freezer, organize it by food type. Chicken on one shelf, pork on another, fruits and vegetables in the bins. This method will let you know what you eat more of and allows you to adjust your shopping and menus accordingly, and yes, I do keep some ‘food storage’ food in my freezer.
  • Rotate the items in your car kits, bug out bags and work bag. Extreme hot and cold can make some items go bad, taste odd or expire earlier than thought.
  1. Smart prepping is trying it out first

Speaking from experience I can tell you that putting a new camp stove together in the dark with hungry kids around is not fun. How hard could it be to put a new stove together, right? After a few frustrating experiences with new things, I have learned to try things our first. Some things we have learned to try out:

  • Food that looked good on the label were not always as tasty. Certain brands we no longer buy. Store what you like to eat, but be sure to try it out first.
  • Try new foods out at home, not over the camp fire or in an emergency. If it works, you know right then and there! If it does not, you can prepare something else for dinner or enjoy take out.
  • Directions on the box are not always as clear when assembling anything the first time. We have made purchases where there were no directions included or they were in a language none of us spoke. That is when the internet came in handy. You can download and print out instruction manuals but this would be difficult, if not impossible, under duress, such as a power outage.
  • Sometimes parts are missing. It is better to take something back to the store sooner than later.
  • The first few times you practice an evacuation drill, it will be a disorderly mess. It is during those drills that you learn what you are forgetting and gives you the chance to practice. This drill is what now reminds us to store our computer files and pictures on an external hard drive.
  • Eat a meal or two from your bug out bag. It can be life changing. Eat a meal or two without your kitchen appliances. Use your grill, solar oven, etc.…
  • Wash your clothes by hand. Learn how to dry and hang clothes on a clothes line properly. Here are tips for taking care of laundry during a power outage.
  • Camping/survival gear should be used first in a non-emergency situation. The four room tent that we purchased was easier to set up in the back yard in the middle of the day than it would have been if we were in a stressful situation. I keep at least one tent on hand for possible using indoors during a winter power outage. Here’s more info about that.
  1. Store more water than you think

Water has been stored in every room in my home. Under sinks and in closets are the usual hiding places, but I’ve been pretty creative in finding other spaces. What is surprising is how often they have been used.

Water to our house has been turned off for repairs, more times than I want to remember. During these time we have always been shocked at the amount of water we used. Thankfully it was not in a time of emergency. Nevertheless, we opened more bottles than we thought we would. It was a real eye-opener at the amount of water needed to support a household. Even if there is an emergency and you conserve the amount of water used, you will need more than you realize. We found that during our non-emergency times, water was used for:

  • Washing hands after bathroom use
  • Flushing toilet (only #2)
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Wiping down counters, stove, table, sink
  • Washing hands during meal prep, especially after touching meat
  • Drinking, making drinks
  • Water needed for making food and rehydrating freeze-dried and dehydrated food
  • Washing hands that just got dirty

Lesson learned. You use more water for more things than you probably realize.

  1. Remembering to pack and update bug out bags

I remember being so excited to have our bug out bags organized, labeled and perfectly packed. I was beaming with pride as I put them in the closet. And that is where they stayed for a very long time. Cleaning them out years later was a bit discouraging. So we came up with a plan!

The first weekend of April and October we update our bags. In April, we replace anything that is close to its expiration date. This is usually food and medical items. In April the warmer winter clothes are replaced with summer clothes. In October we go through again and put back our winter wear. During this time we go through the home and check smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and stock up on batteries for our radios and flashlights.

Print out this list of things to consider packing in your bags/kits.

  1. Set money aside each month

It is easy to let your enthusiasm for prepping take over your bank account. Looking back, I would have set a specific amount of money aside each month. It gives you the opportunity to save for larger items if needed. Having money for this purpose allows you to take advantage of clearance items or great sales you may run across. Once we practiced this in our home, my husband and I felt we were more in sync with each other on preparing our family.

Buying that four room tent, on clearance, was much more thrilling because we knew the money was already there for the purchase. It does not matter how much you can afford to save. Every bit counts and it adds up. Find time to go over your budget and decide how much of your funds you can put in an envelope towards your prepping.

  1. Store books

I have realized that the more I learn, the more I forget. The internet is so dependable when I need answers, so why try to remember everything? But what happens when there is not electricity or access to the internet?

Over the last 15 years I have been collecting books that I can lean on when an emergency happens. The books vary in topic, preserving food, medical manuals, old cookbooks, knot tying, animal trapping, psychological health and physical fitness, and making shelters. Included are books that can help me mentally and emotionally get through difficult times. Some of these are self-help and motivational books, a journal, a Bible and other religions materials. Many of these books are inexpensive and can be found at thrift stores and online. The Red Cross has a lot of their manuals on their web site that you can download and print out. Some cities also offer free materials to the community.

Dr. Joe Alton’s book, The Survival Medicine Handbook is a must-have, as is this complete family survival guide.

  1. Teach/train family

Having five kids, it did not take long to figure out that I can do things faster without help. Not only faster, but the right way with less mess. Much of the preparedness took place after they were in bed and I could get something done, uninterrupted. Looking back I wish I would have involved my children even more in preparing. Around the age of 8, they were helping with bug out bags and little ones were helping in the garden. But I did not include them in other areas of preparedness. If I could go back I would include them more in:

The kids have turned out fine, considering their lack of involvement in the beginning. Though difficult and time consuming, it is better to include them in as much of the preparation as possible. Habits are created and lessons are learned during those moments that cannot be re-created at other times.

Check out this list of 32 practical skills for kids and urban survival skills.

As the children became teens, they lost the child-like enthusiasm to help. Not surprising. Involving the family in outside activities that teach your kids preparedness skills can help to. Thankfully, the Scouting program was there for my sons to reinforce the “Be Prepared” things we were doing at home. Classes and service projects in your community can provide an occasion to learn new skills and put into practice the ones you have. Remember to include your children when doing:

  • Home repairs
  • Car maintenance and repairs
  • Gardening/food preservation
  • Laundry and sewing
  • Menu planning and shopping
  • Budgeting and some financial matters

smart prepping

 

 

17 Urgent Preps For Under $100

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If you’re reading this, you no doubt want to be prepared in case of a widespread disaster. But if you’re like most people, you probably don’t have a lot of money. Hopefully you can come up with $100, but how prepared can you actually get with so little money? More than you think. Although you […]

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Life Happens: How to Prep Again When You’ve Lost Everything

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When you've lost it all, here's how to begin prepping from scratch.

I remember the night so clearly. It was the end of an emotionally exhausting day. My husband and I were lying in bed, holding hands, feeling like it was the only thing we had to hold on to. He sighed and said, “The life that I am living doesn’t seem like mine. Everything we are going through seems like something that happens to someone else, not us.” I could not argue with him, he was right. We were watching much of our life around us crumble and there was not much we could do to prevent it. We had to wait until the crumbling stopped and we could re-build.

Our family was experiencing hardships of almost every kind. We had to move from our home, close a business, and we had nowhere to live. The foster child we were in the process of adopting mentally went off the deep end. For the physical safety of our family, we immediately moved him out, and this caused more legal and emotional trauma than we could have imagined.

One of our cars died; it was not worth fixing. A friend loaned us an extra vehicle he had. We stayed at my sister’s home until we could find a place to rent. Moving to a new area where we didn’t know anyone was just another stress. Our other car was beginning to have problems. Our savings were low. We were living paycheck to paycheck and our food storage was almost depleted.

Some of the chaos was our fault. We did not prepare as much as we thought we had or think some decisions through completely. The other chaos was called life. We had no control over the economy, other people and their actions, nature, or health issues. Even thinking about that time brings back some of the overwhelming feelings we had. Our family was working on getting our footing first, then rebuilding our emergency supplies. We learned many difficult and painful lessons along the way, and we came out of it much smarter and stronger than we could have imagined. Life will always throw us curve balls, but we are more prepared to handle them now. As a family we have become the “better prepper”.

How to start prepping from scratch

1) You can never have too much money saved.

There will always be something unexpected come up, and it will come up at the worst time, always. We kept a mason jar around for loose change. I remember using it to buy $85 of groceries. As things got better, we worked our way up to a dollar jar. We were surprised to see how fast the jars filled up. Those jars were what helped us build up our emergency money. They are still in use and are a reminder to keep change and cash on hand. Not only in our home, but also in our bug out bags and cars.

To raise additional funds, we sold items we did not need. We started cleaning out what we had and decided what we could live without. At the time, it was difficult to see some things go. Knowing that we were doing everything we could eased some of the pain. It was a few years later that I heard Dave Ramsey on the radio. Being prepared means having a healthy savings account and we decided to try his baby steps plan. That was the beginning of the way we now handle our finances. Go over your finances and make certain you have enough to get you through an emergency.

Here are a few Survival Mom resources for you:

  • Check out my monthly series of past articles, “52 Weeks Savings”, with discounts, bargains, and deals for each month of the year. Here’s a sample month for June’s best bargains.
  • Learn more about the 52 Weeks Savings Challenge here and customize it to your own income and circumstances with these tips.
  • Print out my collection of tracking charts at this link.
  • Join Survival Mom’s 52 Weeks Savings Club on Facebook. We’re over 3600 members and going strong!
  • Dave Ramsey has solid advice for taking control of your finances. I recommend his basic book, The Total Money Makeover for an easy-to-follow plan and a quick, motivational read.

2) Have 3 months of food stored.

Money was tight and we ate our food storage. Our meals were inexpensive and home-cooked. Everything was used, nothing was thrown out. Soups were made with left over vegetables, meat was stretched by putting it in casseroles and salads. Knowing how to prepare nutritious meals from scratch was a skill I possessed, but had taken for granted.

To supplement our food storage, I took advantage of additional opportunities. Many communities have some type of food co-op program where food is exchanged for volunteering hours or food is deeply discounted. The local university offered in-season produce grown by the students at $90 a year. My husband put in a small garden of tomatoes, lettuce, squash and bell peppers. Our neighbor was more than happy to give us oranges and lemons from her trees. Lemons were prepped and kept in the freezer for future meals.

DON’T MISS THIS: Survival Mom’s guide, “Simple Food Storage Meals“.

As things improved and finances allowed, we purchased meat and canned goods that were on sale. Our 3 month food supply of food, water, and everyday living supplies was built up a few items at a time. Nothing causes you to evaluate your food storage than having to use it. Store food you are going to eat and enjoy. This includes cake mix!

3) Education: I attended the local adult education school.

After only a few months I was employed as a certified nursing assistant. A few months later I was a certified EKG technician. This experience slowly morphed into a small business. Being self-employed allowed me to make good money and go back to school for my BA. I knew I did not want to do this type of work as a career, but I do not regret the certifications.

Being a prepper, I understood that it was an education that could someday benefit my family and others. Always look for ways to increase your education and preparation. It could be an Amateur Radio license class, CERT classes, and local adult education or community classes. Adding other streams of income is the key.

4) If full time employment is not possible, look for a short term solution.

Something as simple as a dog-walking, house-sitting, substitute teaching, or other temporary jobs can get you through a rough patch. If you already have a full time job, look for other part time income streams. Is there a skill or hobby that you teach to others? What knowledge or experiences do you possess that can be turned into a small business?

5) Physical and Mental Health

Even though we did not go through a natural disaster or suffer extreme trauma, we still experienced a large amount of stress. Stress takes a great toll on your body. Glucose levels and blood pressure can increase. Our immune systems can take a hit, making you at risk for auto-immune and cardiac disorders. To off-set the negative impact of the stress, our family focused on cutting out processed foods and switched to a whole food diet. We spent time walking, swimming and hiking outdoors.

Mental health is sometimes overlooked in the prepper world. The pressure of trying to put life back together can be overwhelming. The effort used to get through or get by can push aside feelings of anxiety or depression. Sundays have always been used as a day to decompress for our family. When there were times of difficulty, we focused even more on keeping Sunday low-key. We attended church and did not obligate ourselves to anything else. We read books, watched uplifting movies, played games together and rested. This down time allowed us to face the next week with a renewed attitude.

Along with family time, my husband and I continued to have our weekly date night. Since there was not much money, we could often be found having a picnic at a park or attending free activities in town. Maintaining strong and healthy relationships is part of being prepared. Two people, or a family of more, can work together and get through trying times if their family has trust and communication between each other.

6) Faith

We are a religious family, it is part of who we are and it is our family culture’s main ingredient. During the good and bad times, we pray. This simple act has sustained us, and has given us the strength to get through difficult times. It has also given us hope that things will get better and that we are not alone in this journey. Prayer holds us accountable. When I pray for guidance, I am reminded that I need to be doing my part. Am I a wise steward with my money, time and resources? Prayer helps put things in their proper prospective and reminds us of the blessings we have been given.

For those who are not religious, it is important to take time meditate or connect with one’s self. There is much to be thankful for, even in trying times. Center yourself and be open to opportunities and possibilities. Great ideas and solutions can come when the world is quiet and we are alone. Write down any ideas, even if they sound a bit crazy. They can transform into brilliant ideas.

Life Always Happens

Through all of this, we were able rebuild our food storage, savings and emergency supplies. Our financial situation was good, and education and jobs were going well. Life was to be going great! And then another curve ball was thrown. My husband’s employer was replacing all management employees. We had a little bit of notice, but not as much as one would hope. After a brief moment of panic, we realized that we were going to be okay. Together we had been through such challenging times, this did not seem as difficult. Because of the experiences we had many years earlier, we were better prepared. During those four months of unemployment, we adopted a daughter, celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas, witnessed our son’s wedding, had a beautiful reception on a shoestring budget, and prepped two kids leaving for college. We were able to enjoy all of the happy family events because we were prepared.

When you've lost it all, here's how to begin prepping from scratch.

 

The Plunge: One Year Later

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The Plunge: One Year Later via The Survival Mom, no incomeRemember that one time my husband decided to quit his job and go back to school to finally get that Bachelor’s degree in engineering and we had to live off of savings? Well, guess what? That was a whole year ago! A lot of things can happen in a year. And for us, lots of things did happen.

My husband is still in school and is doing well in his classes, so not much has changed there, but we had another kid (yikes!) which means we had to upgrade to a larger vehicle that could fit everyone in our family. Despite the unexpected things that we didn’t include in our original budget, we’ve always been able to pay our bills and put food on the table. And we’re still going strong.

How are we still sustaining this? Lots of reasons. It would be arrogant and untrue to suggest that we are succeeding because we are doing things differently or better than other people. Our combined skill sets have been great assets, but we’ve had a lot of help, too.

Skill sets help when there’s no income

We’ve had ten years of married life to hone the skills requisite to living on nothing, which means we have something of an advantage over other married college students in the same situation.

My husband qualifies as a “non-traditional student” because of his non-linear career path. I worried a year ago that being ten years older than the average undergraduate would be a hindrance. Instead, it has proven one of his greatest assets. Being in the workforce for so long helped him develop skills that his fellow students don’t yet have. He has ten years of programming experience that his youthful peers do not have, as well as the intangibles like work ethic and problem solving. Having that kind of maturity has helped him earn better grades and gain respect from his professors.

As for me, I’ve got ten years of experience in the field of wise management of our resources. In her novel Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell writes much about the virtues of “elegant economies,” which is a fancy term for making extreme thrift look cool. Like making meals from the cheapest ingredients around, canning, gardening, repurposing old clothing.

I don’t even bother to read those articles about “five ways to reduce your spending,” because I’ve already been doing all of them for years. I have become an expert in decorating my house in what Erma Bombeck calls, “Early Poverty.” If I were the kind of person who puts vinyl decals of pithy sayings on my walls, I most certainly would get one that says, “elegant economy.”

Multiple streams of income

Many people asked me, “why don’t you just get a job?” It’s a pretty fair question. The main answer is: child care. It’s the same story that I’m sure many women are experiencing. Degree in an obscure field that’s not hiring, plus, I’ve been out of the work force for ages. Babysitters are not cheap and all that together equals we actually save money by me not working. Much, much ink has been spilled on this issue. And it is our reality.

That said, it wouldn’t be quite true to say that we were living on “no income.” We have had some income; just not the kind that puts is in the same tax bracket as before. Instead of one full-time job, both my husband and I have taken multiple odd jobs here and there: a bit of chauffeuring here, a bit of freelance editing there. My husband is working as a research assistant this summer, and I got a (very!) part-time job teaching which will start in the fall. Multiple income streams is key.

Accepting help from others

About three weeks after my husband’s last day of work, we discovered that we’d be adding to our family. It was a little bit of a shock, but not as big of a shock as it was to discover that this little one would be born with a severe cleft palate and would require multiple surgical procedures over the course of her life.

We made arrangements to pay for the birth out-of-pocket, but given the scope our daughter’s birth defect, decided to bite the bullet and accept public health insurance. It was kind of a wrench to do it because of how we felt – and still feel – about relying on state programs. We wanted to be independent, and this felt a little like cheating. We didn’t want to drain an already overwhelmed system. But on the other hand, this is a very temporary measure. We paid into Medicaid the whole of our adult lives prior to this point, and fully intend to do so again in the future. And given the huge costs of healthcare, we might as well have forgotten about the whole thing if we had to pay for a string of palate repair surgeries with private insurance.

As of the time of writing, we have successfully been able to avoid accepting other state programs like WIC or SNAP. Neither has it been necessary to take out student loans. My husband qualified for some FAFSA grants, and that expanded our budget quite a bit.

We had support from family, as well. My parents moved from Texas to the Intermountain West so they could be closer to us. Along with some very caring aunts, my parents took care of the older kids when the baby was born, provided meals, and helped with childcare for the baby’s many appointments at the children’s hospital when my husband couldn’t miss class. When it came time to upgrade to a minivan so we could fit all members of our family in one vehicle, my father did most of the work to find something in good condition. My mother made it her mission in life to ensure that shoes in my kids’ sizes magically appeared on our doorstep.

How you, too, can live your dreams

Someone told me about six months ago, “I wish I could do what you are doing.” Guess what? You can! Lots of people do. My husband isn’t even the only one in his department completing his degree as a seasoned dad. One of his fellow-students is in his mid-thirties with five children. If you are considering a similar non-linear career path, here’s what I would advise based on our experiences this past year:

  1. First, consider your chosen field. Going back to school is not always the right decision. Going for a Ph.D. in Underwater Basketweaving with an emphasis in Skullduggery most likely won’t advance your prospects in life. However, something that will help you gain skills so you can be more competitive in the job market is a fair bet.
  2. Learn to distinguish between needs and wants, and prioritize accordingly. Do you really need a new mobile device, or ultra-fast high-speed internet, or would it just be nice to have? To be really candid, our family has adopted a fairly stringent view on what is considered a “need.” I haven’t purchased new shoes for myself since 2011. Our holiday and birthday celebrations are beyond spare, and yet still extremely enjoyable and fulfilling. We eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and almost never eat out. Since 2009, we’ve seen five movies in an actual movie theater. But like I said before, we’ve never had trouble paying bills or putting food on the table.
  3. Don’t feel bad about taking advantage of government programs. If anything, those programs were created for families with temporary needs: getting through law school, that time in-between jobs, etc. Even those who struggle to find work will not be out of a job forever.
  4. There is abundant scholarship money to be had. One professor at our local university remarked that everyone always worried how to pay for grad school. The big secret, he told us, was that nobody could afford grad school. When it comes to technical fields, however, there are all sorts of ways to secure funding. While the statement that staggering amounts of scholarship money go unawarded is actually a myth, there are many scholarships available.
  5. Don’t think that you’re not smart/ disciplined/ good enough/ worthy enough. Don’t pay any attention to those self-fulfilling prophesies. The world is full of people who will try to tear you down and tell you that you are stupid and that your dreams are trash. You will miss every opportunity that you don’t take. Yes, failure is within the realm of possibility. That’s always a risk. But if you succeed, the payoff is pretty amazing.

Read Beth’s “Taking the Plunge” full story

The Plunge: One Year Later via The Survival Mom, no income

 

21 Ways to Save Money for Survival Supplies

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For most people, purchasing enough food, water and supplies to get through a major disaster can be very difficult financially. The average person doesn’t have a lot of extra cash to put toward such a big investment. If you’re like most people, paying the bills and keeping a roof over your head is hard enough […]

The post 21 Ways to Save Money for Survival Supplies appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

5 Steps to Creating a Culture of Self-Reliance in Your Family

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teaching self-relianceWe have all known people who save everything. My grandmother is one of them. If there are four green beans left in the pot, she puts them in the freezer. I remember one specific visit with her, 27 years ago, where she asked me to get her a bowl of ice cream. What I thought was the container of vanilla ice cream was actually a container of saved bacon grease.

Fast forward to today. She is now 96 years old, and still saving every last morsel and dollar. Grandma grew up during the Great Depression; those habits, ingrained in her when young, are still manifest today. The family snickers a little bit about it, but we know she will not outlive her money or her things. Isn’t there something reassuring about that? She has always worked hard at being self-reliant. Will our children be able to do the same?

As I watch the news and look around me, I wonder if another Depression wouldn’t do us some good. It wasn’t too long ago when life wasn’t so convenient. Many in our society have lost the mindset that our grandparents had. We have instant and immediate food, entertainment, communication, and information. Many feel that things will always be as good as they are now, but history does repeat itself. Perhaps one of the most important things we can do is prepare the next generation for whatever may arise.

Like those who have habits from the depression, you can make self-reliance and preparedness a part of your family culture. One of the most effective ways to do this is to live it every day. Whether we have children of our own or are involved in an organization such as a church or school, we have the power to instill preparedness values. Now is the time for us to equip the younger generation with skills that will help them be confident and prepared for anything life may throw at them.

READ MORE: Volunteer organizations and the 4-H Club are excellent choices for instilling values of self-reliance in young people.

If you have children I recommend that you have a weekly family council. Along with normal family business, make goals on implementing these principles of preparedness into your family. If you are part of another organization, teach classes or organize projects that encourage preparedness. Set the example by your actions.

Five Preparedness Principles

There are five principles that can generate a preparedness mindset:

Thriftiness and frugality

The longstanding adage “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”, still holds true today. The importance of being thrifty and frugal is often forgotten. Clothes can be mended, altered and remade into other items. I have seen curtains reused to cover chairs, a table cloth became pillow covers and adult size clothes were remade into clothes for a younger child. Learn ways to take other household items and re-purpose them.

Another way to pinch pennies is to find out where all of your pennies are going. There are many forms online that can be used to assist in budgeting. Record your family’s expenses for one month and then gather together to review them. Are there any non-essentials that can be eliminated? Involve family members in creating a budget. Teach them to differentiate between wants and needs and set financial goals together. Save money for a vacation or purchase that the whole family can enjoy. Budget additional funds to be set aside for large purchases and for emergencies. Teach your kids now that it is not worth “keeping up with the Joneses”.

For more ideas:

Strive for independence

This would include independence from anything that prevents us from living to our full potential. Avoid any habits or addictions that restrict your body and mind. Eat healthy, exercise, surround yourself with good friends, and strengthen yourself spiritually and mentally.

Look at your finances. What can you do to be financially independent? Do not get into the habit of using credit for purchases. Many people look at the monthly payment amount versus the real amount of an item. If you have debt, pay it down now. There are many websites available to help accomplish this.

Time is another area where you can be independent. Choose how to prioritize and use it wisely, which would include helping others. Teach this next generation the importance of being kind and charitable. Donate money and time to projects you feel are worthwhile. There are many opportunities available in your own community or help out with a need on the other side of the world. Either way, you will develop a deeper empathy towards others and an appreciation for what you have.

Become industrious

It sounds odd to tell someone to work at being industrious, but it does require energy to be creative and find balance in life. Look at your life and see what circumstances are around you. Search for ways to be resourceful. You may discover talents you did not know you had.

Are there any enterprising opportunities available that you could take advantage of? Another source of income could benefit you and those around you. Find ways to increase your marketability in the workplace. It may be finishing that degree, taking community classes or a free online classes (many are available). Look in your community. See if there is a need that could be filled by a skill that you possess. Teach those around you the importance of an honest work ethic.While industriousness is good, remember that wherever you are at in life, be there completely. When you are at work, work. When you are at home, leave work alone and enjoy your time with family and friends. If you need down time, take it.

READ MORE: How did people earn money during the Great Depression? You might be surprised by their creativity and industriousness!

Strive for self-reliance

I am sure you know people who seem to be able to do, make, or fix anything. Chances are, they had to work on those skills often before they mastered it. Like them, you need to continue to learn and put what you learn into practice. The internet is a great resource. We can learn how to do basic car maintenance, repairs on our home, first aid, and taking care of what we already own. Not only can you save money by doing these things yourself, you are free from depending on others to do them for you. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from doing and mastering new tasks. Planting a garden is another way of developing self-reliance. Not only will you save money on groceries and enjoy fresh produce, there are benefits much greater. Gardening, along with other tasks, allow you to spend time with those close to you. Working together as a group builds stronger relationships, whether it is between parent and child, as friends, or in a community setting. There is a sense of togetherness and learning that you cannot get anywhere else. If you do not teach those around you how to work, who will?

Aim towards having a year’s supply of clothing and food

Don’t let this overwhelm you. Take baby steps. Make a list of the amounts of food and commodities that your family normally consumes in one day. Take that list and multiply it by 7. That is your one week supply. When you have a one week supply stored, continue until you have three months supply. Use and rotate your 3 month supply. Then focus on long term storage.

Many foods, such as grains, beans, and pasta can have a shelf life of 30+ years. Clothing can be a bit of a challenge if you have growing kids. Looking at clearance racks and thrift stores can be an inexpensive way to work on storing clothes and shoes. If you sew, fabric is also be a great addition to your years supply. Do not forget to include any notions you may need.

GET STARTED: Read this comprehensive list of food storage basics.

As you begin to create a culture of self-reliance, you will feel more confident about your ability to withstand almost any hardship. We cannot depend on the government or charities to provide services and care for the millions of people across the nation when a disaster happens. It is essential that each individual and family do all they can to be responsible for themselves when needed. If we are wise and careful with our resources, we will be able to sustain ourselves through difficult times.

Learn more about Great Depression survival

self reliance culture

Position Yourself for Financial SHTF – Practical Steps for Paying Down Debt and Saving Money!

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Money1

We’ve all been expecting it!  In fact, some of us are baffled that it hasn’t happened already. Many who are paying attention to the global economy expect a time when this country and possibly the rest of the world experience economic SHTF.  One thing though, no one exactly knows what it will look like when the proverbial economic balloon goes up!

As a result of not knowing, we could stress and worry.  Some of us prep food, water and supplies.  But besides prepping the basics, one of the things we should do is position ourselves to be in the best spot possible for a financial SHTF scenario.

To be clear here, a financial SHTF scenario doesn’t have to be the meltdown of the global economy.  When that happens, everyone will be in the same boat and those who have made an effort to position themselves will fare better.  However, people find themselves in financial SHTF scenarios everyday when they lose their jobs, have a medical emergency and have no insurance, lose a loved one who is an income earner, etc…  Hopefully, the information in this piece will provide relevant information to help anyone prepare for a future financial SHTF scenario.

Two Economic SHTF Scenarios – Two Extremes

When preppers think about SHTF, we tend to think about the kind of world you read about in dystopian novels.  JWR’s Patriot’s is a book that many preppers are familiar with.  In the book, an economic crash sends the USA into the world of The Walking Dead.  Bank holidays, credit card and ETB freezes, Marshall law, Biker Mice from Mars, The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, dogs and cats living together…This is an extreme view. Could an economic crash bring the collapse of the USA?  I don’t know.  I think TPTB already have a plan in place if they see the balloon going up.

The other side of this extreme view is something I first heard Jack Spirko talking about back in the day, a slow economic spiral downwards.  In this scenario, things start to cost more and your earnings don’t go up.  Your money doesn’t buy you as much as it used to.  You stop going out to eat or to the movies as often because it’s so expensive.  You hold off on making big purchases.  You don’t have discretionary income like you used to have.  You start watching your finances closely because any hiccup can cause pain.  Your quality of life spirals down.  You stress.  Your spouse stresses.  Your kids feel the stress.  You look back and long for the “good ol’ days.”

These are two extremes, of financial SHTF.  We’ll probably wind up somewhere in between.

Where Do We Start?

In a recent poll on Prepper Website, I asked, “If you had an extra $500 right now, what would you do with it?” 28% of those who responded (132/478) said they would pay down debt!  (“More food storage” came in a close second, but that is another post.)

I would say that these respondents have the right idea.

Think about it.  If the economic balloon goes up, money (paper money will be used for a while, even in a JWR Patriot’s type crash), will buy less and less.  The more money you have freed up to make purchases, the better your overall position will be.  The biggest step in positioning yourself for financial SHTF is to get out of debt!

Getting Out of Debt Is Too Hard!

Yes, if getting out of debt was easy, everyone would be debt free.  It takes determination, discipline, going without sometimes and creativity.  But when you get debt free, it is the best place to be!

Years ago, I taught the Dave Ramsey course, Financial Peace University at my church.  My wife and I had already started getting out of debt, but FPU helped a lot.  I don’t agree with Dave Ramsey on everything.  In fact, I’m a little disappointed that he’s not warning people of what could possibly become of our economy.  He is still pushing 401K’s and mutual funds.  But, his advice and system for getting out of debt is very helpful to anyone wanting to get out of debt.

I’ll post a video of his 7 Baby Steps plan at the end of this article, but Dave tells you exactly how to do the debt snowball in the video below.  Notice the discipline and determination part!

 

Ways to Cutback and Find Money for Your Debt Snowball

One of the things that easily sidelines people when they try to get out of debt is finding money to add to their debt snowball.  If you just use what comes in, your current income, it might take longer than you like and you can wind up getting discouraged.  The trick here is to live way below your means.  And when I say below…I mean below.  The way to do this is to make a budget.  Just like you have a bugout plan or food storage plan, you need a budget plan to help you stay on track and manage every dollar that you bring in.

Back in the day, I created an Excel spreadsheet that would make changes automatically so I could see exactly what was coming in and going out.  I’ve attached a version here, using Google Sheets.  I would download this copy and open it using Excel. Or you could do it old school if you like.  Remember, you don’t want to have any money left over at the end of the month.  You want all your money accounted for and “working” for you.

Other Practical Ways to Cut Costs and Save

After you make you budget, you need to find other ways to bring in money.  Many people start having garage sales, work a part-time job, and find ways to save.

In my years aggregating articles for Prepper Website, I have linked to some great articles with great info. on being frugal and saving money.  I want to share some of those great ideas here.

On the Bacon and Eggs website, you can find an article that shares 114 Frugal Money Saving Ideas and Tips.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas…

8. Use cold water in your washing machine.  It’s the action in the washer that cleans the clothes

 

9. Unplug anything that is sucking “ghost power”  We’ve got a power strip that we can flip on and off when we need to.

 

20.Craigslist, Freecycle, Penny Papers, Thrift Stores and yard sales all can provide most things you are looking for.  Why buy new when gently used is so much less expensive?

 

26. Keep your freezer full. If you have to, put milk jugs or 2-liter bottles of water in the freezer.  It’s less expensive to run a full freezer than an empty one.

 

35. Open the curtains/drapes on the sunny side of the house during the daytime and close them on the shaded side(in the summer I reverse that). This works very well on sunny, non-windy days. This allows me to use natural light as well.

 

38. If you are considering making a big purchase why not try waiting 30 days and then see if you still feel the need for the item.  I find myself sometimes not needing something nearly as much as I thought I would three or four weeks later.

 

46. When running errands, try running them at “off peak times”.  You’ll be able to save time and gas by not having to wait in 5’o’clock traffic.  You’ll spend less time looking for a parking spot too!

 

61.  Check out the weekly ads in your area BEFORE you go shopping and use it to help with making your list.  Once you get your pantry stocked up you can use this “tip” to help you prep and save money while you are doing it.  The idea is to try and NEVER buy anything that isn’t on sale or doesn’t have the best bang for the buck so to speak.

 

68.  Compare unit prices.  I have found this to be really really helpful.  Most all stores show the price per ounce. Lot’s of times what you “thought” was a good deal really isn’t at all. Compare the per ounce costs of each item.  You would be surprised at how many times “bigger is not always better”.

 

73.  When you find something that you use regularly on sale – Stock up and buy as much as you can afford to. You know you will be using it later on and prices are rising fast these days.  Store what you eat and eat what you store.

 

77.  Stay away from convenience foods.  You can make most of the same things at home for half the price.

 

87.  Go “meatless”  one day a week.  We love meat. But face it, it’s expensive.  We like beans around here so I’ll cook up a pot with some rice and cornbread for dinner sometimes.  Makes great leftovers as well.   Use the leftovers as a side dish during the week.  Another thought is to have “breakfast for dinner”.  Pancakes and eggs for dinner…. oh my!

 

89.  If you don’t know how to cook it’s time you learned.  Cooking from scratch saves tons of money and it’s just plain better for you.

 

111. Invest in a thermos and take your coffee to work with you.  With the money you save by not buying $5.oo coffee’s every day you could easily afford a nice home brewed coffee every day!

To read the rest of the article – click here.

Over at Modern Survival Online, a guest poster Gilfner, shares “Ways We Are Creating Money in our Budget for Prepping” Here a few good ones…

TV – We only pay for streaming Netflix, $7.99/mo.  If you are serious about prepping, you don’t want to be stuck on the couch.  No need for cable/satellite or the $40 plus per month bill.  Spend the extra time getting stuff done and the extra money getting stuff to do it with.  The deals for bundling services aren’t that good.

 

Our cars are all paid for.  As much as I lust after the new cars, I am doing just fine with the ones I have.  But it’s tough to find the balance between good running cars that don’t cost a ton & thrashed cars that might as well have a monthly payment to keep them on the road.

 

Paying attention to sales.  Not everything is a good deal.  Not everything at Costco is a good deal.  Last month we found that the source we had for the pre-packaged Augason Farms hard red wheat went up in price dramatically.  We realized that with some work, we could get 25lbs bags from the LDS Cannery and bucket it ourselves for much less.

 

For construction projects around our place, we find that checking the cull bin at the Home Depot or Lowe’s nets us a lot of wood for less.

To read the rest of the article – click here.

Survival at Home shares “45 Ways to Save Money on Your Monthly Bills” Don’t miss these…

4- Eliminate drafts by using inexpensive expanding foam or caulk to fill cracks and small holes around windows, door frames and exterior walls where cold or warm air typically escapes. Look carefully around where pipes and wires enter and exit your home.

 

23- When it comes to credit cards, the easiest thing to do is just stop using them. If you can’t afford to pay cash for what you need, you probably don’t need it. Of course there are emergency situations, but those are likely to be few and far between. Don’t use your cards for anything you can eat or wear, and avoid using credit cards to buy “wants” such as a new stereo or TV. Wait until you have the money to buy it.

 

36- Do some price comparisons on your auto insurance. Consider changing your insurance policy to one with a higher deductible. If you have an older vehicle you might even consider switching to a lesser coverage. Decide if the monthly payment for collision insurance is worth paying for on your older vehicle.

 

45- Negotiate all of your bills. Call each company at off- peak times (such as early morning) to discuss lowering your rates. Companies are less busy and more likely to spend time negotiating with you. It absolutely never hurts to ask.

To read the rest of the article – click here.

Daisy Luther, at the Organic Prepper always has good advice on cutting costs and living below your means.  She shared in her post, The Austerity Diaries, some of the changes she and her family made to get through some hard times.  The article is from Jan. 2014, and Daisy is still alive and kicking.  So, you know it worked for her and her kids.  Check out her article, The Austerity Diaries and also the link at the top of her site dedicated to being frugal.

I also found some great advice in an article on Survival Blog called, Seventy-Five Ways to Save Money for Prepping.  Here are a few…

Don’t let a screaming child (or teenager) rule your finances. Learn to say “no” and mean it! The same goes for teenagers begging you for the latest and greatest “I Whatever”. The proper mantra should be “get a job and pay for it yourself”. You’ll thank me later. This has been a public service announcement.

 

Log all expenses, and keep a continual tracking system in place. Know where the money goes. (FYI: You don’t have to use credit cards like the author suggests. Saving receipts and plugging in the figures later works just as well for the OPSEC minded.)

 

“The Return of the Clothesline” is now playing at a theater near you. Start using a clothesline or drying rack and you’ll save energy, prolong the life of your clothes, and your house will be quieter and cooler. Oscar Awards all around!

 

Sewing will be a great skill to know and barter with post-SHTF. Many times articles of clothing will go unworn when buttons come off or a seam comes loose. It is a shame to let nice pieces of clothing go to waste or kids outgrow them without getting as much use from them as you can. It also comes in handy to have a sewing machine so you can take clothes in and let them out without always having to buy new ones.

 

Check Craigslist for free plants; you’ll almost always find them!

 

Shopping online? Never leave the coupon code box blank again! Google the name of the store and add the words “promo code” to the search bar. Sites like RetailMeNot.com offer free coupon codes for just about any product you’re shopping for.

 

Learn how to do basic home repairs and maintenance. Home Depot offers free classes from the Home Improver Club. You will learn important skills and save money at the same time. That is, of course, unless it’s a major project. You really don’t want to make any mistakes that only a professional can repair (and will charge you accordingly).

 

Stocking up when the price is low is the key to saving. Having a price book will really benefit you in the long run. Find what works for you– coupons, shopping at several stores, or shopping online. A combination of all three is my technique of choice!

To read the rest of the article – click here.

Brown Thumb Momma has a short article with some good advice and links.  “In 20 Things I do to Save Money,” she shares…

I make my own cleaning supplies instead of buying them. As an added bonus, this means the kids can help clean and I don’t worry about them being exposed to weird chemicals.

 

We make breakfasts ahead of time so nobody has to stop for fast food on the way to work/school.

Check out the other 18 tips! – Click here.

Remember, doing a lot of just a little bit, will save a ton and make a difference.

What About Precious Metals?

There are many out there in the alternative media space that believe when/if the economy crashes, they will become the next millionaire on the block because they have invested in precious metals.

I’m not a financial or precious metals expert.  But what I’ve gathered from trying to take in all the information out there, is that precious metals are a hedge against inflation. Could there be a time when the Biker Mice from Mars invade and our paper money is worthless and all that anyone will exchange or do business in is precious metals?  Could be.  Should you own some precious metals?  Yes, probably.

Although gold would be smaller and easier to physically move, silver might be your best deal right now.   Silver is very undervalued compared to what it costs to come out of the ground. I’m not going to go into a lot of specifics here.  I think that Michael Snyder of the Economic Collapse Blog did a good job of explaining all of this in a recent article, Why Investing In Silver Is Vastly Superior To Investing In Gold Right Now.

Conclusion – Time is Ticking

I like my life.  I’m comfortable.  I don’t like thinking that there is a future out there where I won’t be able to afford some of the things that I enjoy, much less, not be able to afford some of the things that are necessary, like medicine and medical procedures because they are too expensive.  I don’t like what this all implies for my kids!  But, that is why we prep!  That is why we sacrifice a little now because we see what could possibly be in the future.  Dave Ramsey has a saying that goes, “Live like no one else, so later, you can live like no one else.”  Time is ticking, get your finances in order!

For more ways to save money, check out the Frugal Living and DIY pages on Prepper Website!

You can also check out the TAG Cloud for saving, savings and frugal.

Peace,
Todd

Peace,

Todd

43 Super-Frugal Tips for Cutting Down on Household Expenses

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cutting down household expensesHome is where the heart is, but for too many of us, it’s also where the debt is and where paychecks go to die. It’s also one area in which small savings steps can really add up and where everyday spending decisions can make a big difference. Here are a few tips that have helped my family get out of debt and stay out for the past 8 years. You can save money on household expenses starting today.

  1. Buy used furniture, but make sure it’s great quality. You’ll have a much better chance of finding high quality furniture at resale and consignment stores. Once you get used to older, well-made furniture, you’ll be shocked by the low quality stuff found at new furniture stores, and the prices will leave you gasping for breath!
  2. Find out when the best discount days are at Goodwill and thrift stores and shop on those days. Ask about discounts for veterans and senior citizens, too. You’ll soon find your own set of favorite thrift stores — those with good prices and excellent quality, gently used clothing and other goods. I also recommend seeking out specialty thrift stores. When you’re in need of baby furniture and kids clothes, a kids-only resale shop will make your shopping easier since you won’t be wading through every other type of merchandise out there.
  3. Before calling a repairman to fix an appliance or a car, look for YouTube videos and do it yourself. Repairclinic.com is a site that sells thousands of parts for such things as lawn mowers, power tools, appliances, and much more. Between the easy ability to get the necessary parts and training videos online, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars in repair bills every year.
  4. Your insurance agent won’t thank me for this, but each year, try to get better prices on all your insurance policies. In fact, mark “Insurance Review” on your calendar. Review coverage, deductibles, and ask about discounts you might qualify for. Compare companies, and don’t limit your shopping around to only the Big Names in the insurance business, such as State Farm and Allstate.
  5. Do the same thing with all your other bills: internet/phone packages, cell phone packages, electricity, etc. Be sure to compare not only prices, but features and benefits.
  6. Kids grow quickly, so organize a toy and kid clothing swaps with other moms. This is a true win-win scenario: moms get to socialize, kids get new stuff, and everyone is saving money!
  7. Depending on where you live, this might be tough, but if you can postpone using the air conditioning or heater for as long as possible, you could save a good amount of money in a very short time. Growing up in Phoenix, I know a few tricks about staying cool in hot weather (read my tips here) and staying warm on a cold day requires layers of warm clothing and, perhaps, shutting off rooms that aren’t being used.
  8. Use a space heater and keep the central heat turned down to utilize heat in a way that continues to save money. There’s no need to warm up an entire house when you typically spend most of your daylight hours in just 2 or 3 rooms. Those are the rooms to keep warm.
  9. Consider extreme changes to your lifestyle, such as moving to a much cheaper neighborhood, city, or state. Other extreme steps: selling an expensive house and renting for a while, living with relatives for a while, or in an apartment with utilities included in the rent. Very often, these moves help a family rebound financially, save money, and prepare for moving on with their lives.
  10. Use a magicJack in place of a landline phone and continue to use your landline phone number. You’ll need to buy the magicJack device itself and pay a year’s service fee. Combined, this is under $60, and you can do away with any other landline phone service. Before jumping into the no-landline trend, though, you should know that a power outage will disable all types of plug-in phones, including cordless.
  11. Use plastic grocery bags as liners for small size trash cans. These bags can also be placed over ripening fruit and vegetables to keep the birds away, used as a type of “glove” for picking up dog poop, or as packing material. They’re also handy as a daily compost collector. Just remember to empty the contents each day in your outdoor compost pile!
  12. Stay home more. Every time you go out there are temptations to spend money, but this doesn’t have to mean life becomes unbearably boring. Here’s a list of more than 100 things to do that are free and fun.
  13. Be a one-car family. It will take some getting used to and juggling of schedules sometimes but the savings in insurance, vehicle wear and tear, gas, repairs, etc. will add up. However, before you sell that extra vehicle, park it for a week or two to get an idea of what life will be like once it’s gone forever. How will its loss impact doctor and dentist appointments, school and sports activities, etc.? It’s better to find out now, while you still have that second car!
  14. Begin using cloth diapers, if you have a baby in the family. New styles are easy to use and most moms who make the switch from disposables say they’ll never go back. If you have an adult family member who may need incontinence pads, use baby diapers for their super-absorbency.
  15. Become familiar with what your dollar stores usually stock and when you need those items, go there rather than other retail stores where you’ll pay full price.
  16. Start drying your clothes on a clothesline and wash them cold water.
  17. Unplug electric items when not in use. One homeowner told me that he saved a few hundred dollars per year doing this.
  18. Weatherstrip doors and windows. For just the low cost of some new weatherstripping, you can keep your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. If you’re not sure if a particular window or exterior door needs new weatherstripping, hold a lit candle near its edges. If you see the flame flicker, air is coming through the cracks around the door or window.
  19. Buy next year’s clothing at end of the year clearance sales. This is particularly helpful with higher priced items like winter coats and cold-weather boots.
  20. Gradually replace lightbulbs with LEDs. My electrician husband swears by LED bulbs.
  21. Run the dishwasher right after dinner and set a timer for when the washing cycle has ended and the drying begins. When the timer goes off, open the dishwasher door and let the dishes dry overnight.
  22. Go for long hairstyles and get a trim twice a year. Some stylists claim that a long hairstyle is more youthful!
  23. While your kids are young, learn how to cut their hair. If you mess up a bit, hey, they won’t even notice, and by the time they’re old enough to care, your skills will be advanced!
  24. Cut back or eliminate expensive activities for kids. Find cheaper or free alternatives – classes at Home Depot, REI, Cabela’s, Minecraft classes online, the library, and so much more. Remember what your own childhood was like, with far fewer extracurricular activities, lessons, and busy schedules? There’s a good chance that your imagination thrived and you turned out okay. So will your kids.
  25. Gas prices go up and down, but try to get in the habit of walking or riding a bike on nearby errands. Carpool when you can. Not only will this save on gas but also on the wear and tear of your vehicle. Add the health benefits of walking or bicycling, and it’s a winning combination.
  26. Stay away from stores that tempt you most. They have such an enormous variety of products that you’re bound to find something you absolutely need — or do you??
  27. If you need money in a hurry, go through one or two rooms of your house, garage, and/or attic, and look for items you no longer need, want, can’t wear, etc and sell them on a local Facebook page, Craigslist, etc. This is quicker than a garage sale, with no need to set up or price items.
  28. Grow a garden. Even an herb garden is a huge, frugal help if you regularly buy fresh herbs for recipes. Watch your expenses, though, because store-bought mulch, fertilizer, seeds, supplies to build boxes, etc. add up quickly.
  29. Begin your own compost pile out in the backyard. It’s a great way to enrich your soil, with no expense at all.
  30. Knit dish cloths from inexpensive cotton yarn. You can make several from just one large ball of yarn. These make great gifts as well, and it’s a great way for kids to learn this useful skill.
  31. Don’t know how to knit? Learn this skill and hundreds of others on YouTube! Free training and, in many cases, even the supplies are extremely cheap.
  32. Ditch napkins and paper towels Use small washcloths for napkins instead. You’ll be using these for years, versus continually buying the paper products.
  33. Make inexpensive homemade cleaning solutions from vinegar, baking soda, small amounts of liquid soap, and so on. For years, I used just vinegar and water to clean my stained concrete floors. You can’t beat that for being frugal!
  34. Cut up old t-shirts for cleaning cloths and save old, worn-out towels for really messy jobs, such as cleaning up after pet accidents or wiping up anything that might stain one of your nicer towels. I keep a large stack of these towels in a cabinet in my laundry room, handy for all the uh-ohs that occur on a regular basis.
  35. During cold weather, wear layers around the house, socks, and turn the heat down.
  36. Collect blankets and use them to cover windows, doorways, and add triple and quadruple layers of warmth to beds! I always keep blankets handy in our living and family rooms.
  37. Never buy new vehicles. Ever. Let someone else drive that brand new car or truck out of the dealer’s showroom and enjoy the quick depreciation in value! You can lurk in the background, waiting for them to grow tired of their shiny new toy, either sell it or trade it in, and then you can leap into action, grabbing that vehicle at a huge discount.
  38. Maintain your vehicles with regular oil changes, keep the tires inflated, and take care of minor issues before they become budget-destroying expenses. This becomes especially important when you want to sell your used vehicle.
  39. Don’t postpone visits to the dentist and taking care of small cavities. Dental problems can become very expensive if ignored.
  40. Do your workouts at home, not a gym. Sooner or later, you’ll grow tired of the trips to the gym but will probably forget to cancel your membership. This will result in paying for something you aren’t using.
  41. If you have pets, find the best priced pet insurance. It may make the difference between saying goodbye too soon to a beloved pet and being able to afford expensive medical treatment.
  42. Ask doctors for samples of pharmaceutical medicines. Many are willing to do this — no problem at all. Not only will it help you to know if you’ll have any negative reactions to the medication before buying it, you’ll also save money. Years ago when we didn’t have health insurance, my husband’s doctor gave him a supply of one prescription for over a year.
  43. Do your own yard work and housecleaning, or pay the kids to do it. Be sure to thoroughly teach them how you want the job to be done. This is vital to developing their work ethic, attention to detail, and ability to follow directions. If you don’t believe in paying kids to do household chores (above and beyond their typical duties), then don’t!

Here are even more resources to help you save money!

cutting down household expenses

DIY Brick Fire Pit on a Budget

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DIY Brick Fire Pit on a Budget Having a sturdy fire pit on your property is a great way to enjoy a fire during a BBQ’s, a family get together or just having drinks around it during a social gathering. Love it. Think about if the power goes out, this fire pit can be transformed into an awesome …

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Don’t Make These 4 Financial Mistakes!

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common financial mistakesThere are a few issues rarely mentioned on popular survival blogs and forums, and one of them is finances. A discussion of everyday carry, best household defense weapon, or bug out locations will have thousands of responses, but finances? Yeah, silence.

The health of any household rests on financial stability and it makes sense that a serious prepper would take financial survival just as seriously as any other survival component. That’s smart prepping and smart living, regardless of future events.

In my current work on a financial survival book, working title: The Frugal Family’s Almanac, I realized just how frugal I am, with my main splurges being restaurant meals when I’m too busy to shop for groceries! However, as a small business owner, I’ve made plenty of financial blunders over the years and have had to learn some difficult lessons the hard way on our journey toward financial survival. From my own experiences, here are 5 that have had the most impact on me and my family.

1. Not tracking expenses for tax purposes

I’ve written about the importance of staying on top of taxes, but over the years, I have a less than stellar record in this particular area. When you have a young family, homeschool, and run a business, inevitably something important falls through the cracks and a few times, it was the records I kept for my quarterly and annual tax reports.

Panic-stricken, I would shuffle through manila envelopes filled with miscellaneous receipts, track down check book registers, and comb through 12 months of bank statements and scattered mileage records. Those harried scenes could have been avoided if I had used a system for organizing receipts and jotting down mileage and expenses, I could have sailed through each and every tax season with ease.

Fortunately, my tax professional, Suzanne, was not only highly competent but ever so patient with me and my last-minute drop-offs at her front door.

2. Not staying in touch with Suzanne throughout the year

If you have an accountant or have used a tax service, such as BlockAdvisors, you are probably in touch with them only once or twice a year. That was my relationship with Suzanne, until I wised up.

One year she phoned us, late on April 13, and asked us questions about home improvements we had made the prior year. She explained that we hadn’t reported anything to her in that category but high-ticket improvements to our home were tax deductible. My husband and I quickly scrambled to find documents for the updated lighting and new flooring we had installed ourselves, we saved a bit on taxes, and learned that contact with Suzanne was something we needed to do throughout the year, not just the first week of each April.

When our move to Texas was a sure thing, I got in touch with her regarding any tax issues I might need to deal with in Arizona. She advised me on the need to, ahem!, keep records of our move since many of them would become tax deductions.

If you have a tax professional and they have proved themselves to be smart, reliable, and up to date with everything tax related, I encourage you to stay in touch with them, especially if you anticipate any of these events in the coming year:

  • Getting married or divorced
  • Having a child or adopting one
  • Start a business
  • Change jobs
  • Searching for a job
  • Retiring
  • Moving
  • Inheriting money or property
  • A tax audit
  • Bankruptcy
  • Home foreclosure or short sale

3. Underestimating our taxes owed

If you are an employee of a company and only file a W-9 form with the IRS, you will never know the joy that comes with figuring your own taxes and paying them directly to the federal government. Since my husband and I have both owned businesses over the past 20 years, we get to experience this multiple times each year.

Some years I underestimated my earnings and taxes owed. Trust me, you never want to be surprised with a huge tax payment, even if you have a healthy amount of savings set aside. Before we connected with our own tax professional who could give us reliable tax advice, we were just winging it, and two years in a row, I cried when faced with several thousands of dollars owed. My bad.

And, it’s not just underestimating taxes that causes problems. Underestimating the cost of health insurance, the financial impact of insurance deductibles, miscellaneous expenses related to our kids sports and school activities, and the list goes on.

Now, I keep track of earnings, estimated taxes, and over-estimate how much money we’ll need, and that’s where a focused savings plan comes into play.

4. Not establishing saving money as a top priority sooner

When we became serious about preparing for an uncertain future, it was obvious that financial stability was going to be a part of those preps. At that time, we got serious about cutting down on expenses, finding ways to earn more money, and then saving as a priority. It made sense to me that another significant downturn in the economy, from “minor” to a complete collapse, required us to have no outstanding debt, money in the bank, and multiple sources of income.

Now, as soon as any money hits our bank account, I transfer as much as I can into savings. Now, that isn’t a way to get rich, since savings accounts pay virtually no interest, but it’s important to have enough liquid cash on hand for emergencies and that “6 month living expenses” financial advisers recommend.

I just wish we had started all this a few years sooner.

What did I do right?

I’ve made plenty of mistakes with managing finances, but I always had one Ace in the hole. I’ve always, always had a side gig. When I was a trainer for a large school district, I started a direct sales business. That business became so successful that I was able to quit my school job. As time passed, I started The Survival Mom blog and that income allowed me to leave direct sales. Now that I have a successful internet-based business, my next side gig is going to be teaching others how to blog for profit.

READ MORE: “3 Strategies to Making More Money from Your Side Gig

Improving your own financial survival will always be about saving a little more, spending a little less, and earning a little, or a lot, more. There are no shortcuts. Professionals can come alongside you, such as those at BlockAdvisors, with information and assistance throughout the year.

Disclosure: BlockAdvisors compensated me for my research and writing this article. 

common financial mistakes

18 Tips for Enjoying a Frugal Lifestyle

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frugal lifestyle tips

Frugality.

Penny-pinching.

Thriftiness.

Frugal lifestyle tips.

Do any of these words bring to mind a lifestyle full of joy and freedom? Oddly, they don’t. Instead, they bring to mind images of Scrooge and dreary, turn-of-the-century London slums. (Not sure why that last image comes to mind, but it does. Possibly from reading Oliver Twist!)

For those of us who do live lives of frugality, penny-pinching, and, yes, thriftiness, the reality is quite different. My family has been debt free for many years, with only a house payment and utilities as our expenses. While we aren’t exactly rolling in dough, neither are we over-burdened with stuff and all the responsibilities that come from owning too much stuff.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years and a handful on my own To Do list:

  1. Give yourself a cash allowance every week or month and when the money is gone, it’s gone. Even having $10-20 and knowing you can spend it on ANYTHING YOU LIKE, adds some fun to the month. This will help you avoid those moments of self-pity when it feels like you never get to treat yourself to something special, and then, when you do spend, you know the money is there and there’s no stress about whether or not you can afford it.
  2. Check your banking account online often. Look for unauthorized expenses and those little expenses that can add up quickly. It helps you feel like you’re in control when you know exactly how much money is in your account and where it’s going and if there are any fraudulent charges, you can contact the bank immediately.
  3. Find friends who also want to live a frugal lifestyle, rather than with people who have expensive tastes. If you hang out with people who absolutely must have the latest technical gadget the day it comes out and they spend money like it’s water, pretty soon you’ll begin to do the same, or you’ll end up feeling depressed when you don’t spend. Who needs that additional stress?
  4. Have no spend days. Once you are able to go 1, 2, 3, and 4 days without spending a dime, then challenge yourself and your family to a full week of no spending.
  5. If one member of the family is more frugal, more of a saver, send THEM to the store with a list. They’ll be more likely to stick to the list and avoid impulse buys. If I run to the store to buy 4 things, you’d better believe I come home with 30 or 40. My penny-pinching daughter?  She’ll stick to that list like white on rice!
  6. Make saving money a game. What are the very cheapest meals you can make? If you spent $500 on groceries this month, can you spend $475 next month and $450 the next?
  7. On Sundays, sit down with your family and plan your spending for the week. Know what you will need to buy and this helps avoid buying things you don’t need. This will also help surprise expenses that the kids might spring on you at the last moment, such as fees for school activities.
  8. If possible, have a set amount of money automatically deposited from your paycheck into your savings account. There’s a very good chance you’ll never miss it. If you don’t make a point of saving money on purpose, it will never happen. Use this 52 Weeks Savings Plan, too.
  9. Carry cash for your spending money. It’s harder to spend it than it is to swipe a card. Those plastic debit and credit card remove you from the actual transition of cash. After all, it’s just a swipe, right?
  10. Take advantage of pre-tax Health Savings Accounts and employer contributions to a 401K, if those are offered by your job. Every benefit offered by your company, even if it’s just a bag of coffee beans per month as offered by Starbucks to their employees, is there for the taking. (By the way, Starbucks is an excellent employer. Review their benefits here.)
  11. Keep track of your financial progress: savings, debt repayment, mortgage/car pay offs, etc. This is so motivating — and get the family involved. Right now, my own family is saving up for an extensive vacation, and we have savings goals for each month. Not surprisingly, both kids are eager to get summer jobs, so they can add to the kitty!
  12. Use tax returns strategically: pay off debt, use it as your emergency fund, divide it by 12 and use it toward a monthly expense, etc. If you normally get this little “windfall” from the IRS, give yourself at least 3-4 weeks before spending it, a “cooling off period,” if you will. That will give you time to prioritize expenses and decide how much you want to set aside in savings.
  13. Watch your attitude and be grateful for what you have. It’s easy to become discouraged and even depressed when money is tight, but our grandparents and great-grandparents who lived through the Great Depression not only survived but many of them have said those were the best days of their lives. Why? Certainly not because they had every creature comfort and a huge bank balance, but because it was a time of families and communities pulling together, encouraging one another, and finding creative ways to make the most of what they had. If they could do it, you can, too!
  14. Stay away from malls and stores! You can’t pray, “Lead me not into temptation”, and expect to not be lured by tantalizing merchandise in stores and your favorite mall!
  15. Do the same for your kids. They are immersed in messages that tell them they must own certain items, dress a certain way, emulate one celebrity or another and spending time at malls and stores will only further drive home the message that happiness and acceptance by others can only come by spending money. Not a good foundation for their adult years.
  16. Spoil your kids with things that don’t cost much, if any, money – story time with mom, a trip to the dog park, story time at the library, “Hot Chocolate Night”, etc. This is when it really pays to keep track of restaurants and fast food joints that have “kids eat free” days. Combine that with a special night out for just you and one of the kids, and that’s a really inexpensive way to make your kid feel like a million bucks. In our house, we call this, “Girls Night Out” and “Guys Night Out.”
  17. Know the difference between needs and wants and make sure everyone in the family understands this, adults included! When my son has a long list of things he absolutely must have, I have him list each of them on a separate PostIt note and put them on the fridge. A few days later, I ask, “Is there anything on that list you don’t really want or need, after all?” One by one, the PostIts come off the fridge as he realizes he was just acting on impulse. If there’s something left after 3 or 4 weeks, he then begins saving money to buy it.
  18. Sign up to become a mystery shopper. This is a tricky way to get a nice meal out and be reimbursed. I’ve done mystery shopping for several companies over the years. It’s not the easy, get-rich-quick job that some claim, but once you get in with a few companies, you can pick and choose which jobs to take. Now, I only, and very occasionally, shop my absolute favorite high-end restaurant. For a $45 gift card to that same restaurant, it’s not a bad investment of my time!

frugal lifestyle tips

31 Super-Frugal Tips for Saving Money on Food

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saving money on foodIn any family’s budget, there are many expenses we have little control over: rent, insurance, mortgage, tuition, but when it comes to food, now there’s an expense we can easily adjust. Here are 31 tips that have helped my family with saving money on food.

  1. No more restaurants or fast food. For my family, this means planning meals and keeping up with grocery shopping. The second I become so busy that I don’t have dinner planned and ready is the moment we decide to eat out, again! And there goes at least $40. For one meal.
  2. No packaged microwave meals. Too many additives, too few of these meals actually taste good, the portion sizes are tiny, and they can be expensive. Try cooking up a large batch of soup, a stew, chili, a casserole, or preparing breakfast or lunch burritos, and then freezing them in individual portion sizes. Here are a few additional ideas to get you started on this healthier option.
  3. Take lunch to work and pack school lunches as well. Your meals will be cheaper, but just as importantly, they will almost certainly be healthier and better balanced. I bought this lunch box set for my husband, and all of a sudden, it’s cool to take your lunch to work!
  4. Keep packets of instant soup/oatmeal and cans of soup at work for days when you forget to pack a lunch. Be sure to keep a spoon, knife, and fork tucked away in a desk drawer.
  5. Say no to expensive vending machines. The easiest way I know to do that is to simply not have any change on hand! No money = no junk from the vending machine. Saving money on food can be just this easy!
  6. Carry snacks in the car to avoid impulse stops at fast food or convenience stores. If you know you’ll be running errands and/or you have a full day of appointments, pack a small cooler with healthy, homemade snacks, sandwiches, fruit, and water.
  7. If you must go out to a restaurant, find a place with cheap Happy Hour prices on appetizers and make that your dinner. My husband and I recently found an awesome sports bar just a couple of miles from our home, with super inexpensive lunches, and their evening menu is budget-friendly, too. We’re not big drinkers and only moderate sports fans, but it’s a fun night out and we can keep our bill to $20 or so.
  8. Another restaurant tip — find one that serves huge portions and share the meal.
  9. Make coffee at home and take it to work/school in a thermos container. Avoid Starbucks. I know 2 teenagers who stop at Starbucks virtually every day and typically get expensive drinks that cost $4-6 or so apiece. That’s a ton of money per month!
  10. Learn how to make “fancy” Starbucks-style drinks at home. You may very well end up liking your homemade version better.
  11. Keep an eye on leftovers and produce in the fridge. Don’t shove them toward the back of the top shelf! Instead, keep them at eye level, so you’re reminded of them every time you open the fridge. Eat them before they go bad.
  12. Become a master of “re-imagining” leftovers! Chop up all the meat leftovers in the fridge and add them to chili, a stew, or a soup. Here’s a recipe I invented for Spur of the Moment Chili, which came about just like it sounds! (I do my best cooking when my back’s to the wall and it’s 5:30 p.m.!) I also take leftover meat, either chop or shred it, and then fry it in some butter with chopped onion and sliced, fresh jalapenos. This makes an amazing filling for tacos or burritos.
  13. Learn how to make homemade tortillas, for better taste and frugality!
  14. Plan meals for several days at a time, shop for those ingredients, and avoid quick trips to the grocery store where you’ll inevitably end up spending more
  15. Look for a discount bin in the meat department. This is how we’ve managed to fully stock our freezer to overflowing.
  16. Make multiple meals ahead of time and freeze them. It will help when you have busy days and evenings when you’re tempted to just eat out. Truthfully, eating out is so much easier than cooking everything at home, but the expense adds up and it’s one of the few expenses we have total control over.
  17. Cook a whole chicken and plan 2-3 meals with the meat: shredded chicken mixed with beans or chopped and cooked potatoes in burritos or tacos, shredded chicken in white chili — the trick is to combine the chicken, or any meat, with other ingredients in order to use it in 2 or more meals.
  18. Learn to cook more things from scratch, even things like bread, noodles, crackers, hamburger buns, and marinara.
  19. Cook more meatless meals and more meals with meat/chicken as one of the ingredients and not the main dish on its own – egg meals, beans, rice, soup, loaded baked potatoes.
  20. Use coupons only when they are for foods you would buy at full price and avoid processed foods, which are both unhealthy and more expensive than homemade.
  21. Set a goal for no eating out — one week? Two weeks? How long can you go without eating a single meal at a restaurant? This is also one of the easiest ways I know of to drop a few pounds.
  22. If you can’t resist appetizers at a restaurant, then make one of them your meal, or buy 2 or 3 and share them. Also, if you go to a restaurant that offers free chips and salsa or warm bread before a meal, that’s one way of filling up and not being all that hungry for an expensive entree.
  23. Hunt and fish for healthier meats and save on your grocery budget. Look for a good, used freezer and a vacuum sealer in order to freeze the meat for later. Or, learn how to can it and keep it stored at room temperature, long-term.
  24. Use the weekly grocery store ads to determine what meals you will make. Make those decisions based on the best grocery store sales, not by recipes or whatever you might be, “in the mood for.”
  25. One way to save money on lunchtime restaurant meals is to go home each day for lunch if you happen to live near your workplace.
  26. If you use coupons use them on double coupon days and combine with grocery store sales. Give serious couponing a try to see if it works for you, your schedule, and your lifestyle, but avoid being enslaved by it. Use coupons only for the products you truly need and use, but then, get their maximum benefit by shopping on double coupon days.
  27. Decide which grocery store(s) tend to have the best prices and memorize the store’s layout. That way, when you need to go shopping for just a few items, you’ll know exactly where they’re located. That saves time and money, since you won’t be wandering around the store, being tempted by product displays at every turn!
  28. Start keeping a price book on everything you buy. This is an old-time concept and it’s effective. Simply keep track of the lowest price you’ve ever paid for something and record it in the book. This will help you know when a price is really a good discount or just a temporary gimmick. For example, if the lowest price you’ve ever paid for a gallon of whole milk is $2.39 and you’ve recorded that price, when you see it advertised for $2.79, you’ll know it can be bought for less. When you find it on sale for $2.19, record that new price, and it becomes your new “Lowest Price” for a gallon of milk. A price book helped me cut down my grocery expenses by a large margin. I organized it by food categories: dairy, meats, produce, frozen, canned, and so on.
  29. Learn to use meal stretchers, such as cooked and mashed lentils in meatballs, rice or macaroni in soups. Add 2 cups of cooked rice to casseroles and skillet meals. Not only will the meal serve more people but you’ll likely have leftovers for future lunches and dinners.
  30. Tortillas are my trick for using up almost any leftover! I make leftover tacos or burritos by adding the heated leftovers to a soft, warm tortilla, shred a little cheese over the top and add sour cream and/or salsa. If you have leftover meat and need to make several of these, add cooked rice or cooked, diced potatoes to stretch the meat a little further.
  31. Learn how to make one big dish, like chili, and then utilize it in different meals throughout the week: chili over rice, chili on a baked potato, chili with macaroni, Frito pie, chili dogs, and even added to a can of soup!

saving money on food

Warning: What You Can Do About Tax Return Fraud Right Now

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tax return fraud

I’ll never forget coming home after a fun beach vacation and finding a welcome letter from Zales Jewelers in our mailbox. Zales wanted to thank my husband for opening a credit account with them and they thoughtfully offered a second card for my personal use.

Problem was, we had never purchased anything, ever, at Zales!

If you’ve ever been the victim of identity theft, you know the unsettling feeling of knowing someone out there is using your name, birthdate, and Social Security number to make unauthorized purchases. They have their crime honed to a fine art and they are difficult to catch.

I was surprised to learn that tax season presents yet another vulnerability to us consumers: tax return fraud Just a few weeks ago on my neighborhood’s forum, several residents complained about getting phone calls from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The person on the other line wanted personal information because, they said, the IRS was filing a lawsuit for past taxes!

In fact, the goal of these fraudsters is to get your Social Security number, in particular, so they can file a claim and, hopefully, get your tax refund! And, they can access your personal information in other ways besides a direct phone call.

You know that public wifi you use at Starbucks or Chick-fil-A? Shockingly, about 7% of folks who file their taxes online do so on a public wifi system, making it even easier for identity thieves to steal their information.

Sometimes we are so trusting. Too trusting.

These scammers use whatever personal information they can glean and then file a tax return, using your information! They make up details about your employer, deductions, dependents, income and more, and in some cases, just copy and paste random information into one return after another!

You won’t know if a false return has been filed using your name and Social Security number until it’s too late. Once your actual return has been filed, you’ll get a letter from the IRS, letting you know of a duplicate return under your Social Security number, or the letter may state that you received wages from an employer you’ve never heard of! The letter might even state that you have a balance due or that your account is now in collections.

All very unpleasant and unwelcome, to be sure.

Even those who are very diligent about checking their credit reports each year and faithfully reviewing bank and credit card statements may find themselves dealing with one fraudster after another. When a false tax return is filed, though, that puts the issue on a whole new level.

In February, 2016, a sophisticated attempt was made to generate E-file PIN numbers for stolen Social Security numbers. The criminals used malware, in this instance, and had over 460,000 Social Security numbers on hand. They were able to create PIN numbers for 100,000 of those! That’s a lot of innocent taxpayers being victimized on the IRS website, itself!

The IRS is aware of tax identification fraud and has taken steps to address the problem. You’ll notice new security requirements when preparing and filing your taxes online. That may not be enough, however. We’ve learned that the IRS sometimes has a hold time of more than 2 hours for phone calls. Last year, right around tax time, the IRS commissioner himself, admitted that the agency’s service was so bad that over 60% percent of phone calls went unanswered altogether.

Is there any way to protect yourself?

It doesn’t appear that we’ll be able to depend on the IRS for much substantive help when it comes to tax return fraud, and in many cases, there’s nothing the consumer can do to protect themselves. That leaves tax preparers on the front lines to battle this type of fraud.

In the case of Block Advisors, their Tax Identity Shield was established in 2015, specifically to address this growing problem. For taxpayers using Block Advisors to file their taxes, there is a small, additional fee for the protection that Tax Identity Shield provides.

This is a helpful service because too many of us are already bewildered by the most complicated tax code ever invented by humans, and tax filing season is already a highly stressful time of year. You may or may not even know that the IRS offers an Identify Protection PIN. This is one way to deter identity thieves, but getting the IP PIN isn’t a cut and dried process, since it depends on where you live and what kind of ID theft you’ve already experienced.

Tax Identity Shield can guide you through the process and, in fact, do the footwork for you, even before the actual filing of your taxes. Here’s what you can expect:

  • A security scan of your personal information to check for the potential of tax identity theft risk.
  • Personal advice throughout the year, along with tips and education to reduce the risk.
  • Help with obtaining an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS.
  • Early detection of any fraudulent returns in your name.
  • In the case of tax identify theft, give Block Advisors copies of any communications received from the IRS, and they will work with you through the process of getting your identification reinstated.

This yeear, Block Advisors is offering a nice bonus. Now, through March 31, receive an introductory offer of 50% off what you paid your tax professional last year. (Minimum $100 charge). This discount will offset the fee of their Tax Identity Shield, if you choose that protection.

Avoid tax return fraud with these steps

In the meantime, here are a few things you can do on your own to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Be highly skeptical of anyone calling or appearing at your front door, claiming to be with the IRS.
  • If you do get a phone call from “the IRS” check your caller ID. In some cases, these scammers can actually manipulate their identification to make it appear legitimate.
  • Run malware programs on all your electronic devices and install a good security software system.
  • File your tax return as early as possible to deter fraudsters from filing before you.
  • Read this IRS publication, “ Security. Together.”
  • Set up fraud alerts with the 3 major credit bureaus.

I never cease to be amazed by the criminal mind. I’m horrified by the thought of thousands of electronic scammers working tirelessly to steal from hard working Americans and when that money is a refund coming from the tax collection agency, money you overpaid, that somehow makes it even worse.

Please use the tips in this article to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your hard earned money.

Disclosure: BlockAdvisors compensated me for my research and for the writing of this article. 

tax return fraudx500

 

Making money and rural living!

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Making money and rural living
DJ Cooper “Surviving Dystopia

Making money and rural living HOMESTEADI hear it over and over. Always the same problem and the one big problem many homesteaders struggle to overcome. In a rural setting often times jobs can be scarce. How can you make money to pay for things like taxes and incidentals?

3-2-16 diggingThis is likely the number one issue faced by the self-sufficient aficionado and sometimes it is also the most difficult to navigate because it seems like the options are so limited. Does it seem like no matter what you do the options are so limited that you wonder if you will even make it? Have you tried things like sales or a farm stand and wonder why you end up spending more than you make?

Making money and rural livingThis episode on Surviving Dystopia we explore some of the usual avenues for home based earning but also some unconventional ideas and options as well. There are the usual working options also, like commuting, which is at the least time consuming and can be expensive. How about some kind of transportation that keeps you from home for sometimes weeks at a time? Do these both seem kind of pointless as your goal seems to conflict with the excessive away time these offer? So what is there to do?

I would love to explore a number of options that require only internet. Others that you can use your creative nature and still more, that just require brute strength or simply some good ole’ fashioned ingenuity.

I want to share with you some ins and outs of a few of the options out there. The number one thing you need is desire. A desire to find a way to make your dreams work for you. After that some just run on sheer determination.
Surviving Dystopia Blog:www.survivingdystopia.com
Join us for Surviving Dystopia “LIVE SHOW” every Wednesday 9:00/Et 8:00Ct 6:00/Pt Go To Listen and Chat

Listen to this broadcast or download “Making money and rural living” in player below!

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Archived shows of Surviving Dystopia at bottom of THIS PAGE!

The post Making money and rural living! appeared first on The Prepper Broadcasting Network.

7 Tips For Finding & Using a Tax Professional

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tax professional #BlockAdvisors

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Block Advisors. All opinions are 100% my own.

Given the choice between death and taxes, as a long-time small business owner, I’m not sure which is worse. Both are inevitable, both invoke dread, and both are a bit easier to handle with prior planning and thought.

As I’ve written on this blog and in my book, Survival Mom, having multiple streams of income is vital to a family’s financial stability these days. That extra money is also important when it comes to being prepared for a job loss, medical emergency, and disasters of any kind. Offering piano lessons, tutoring, writing e-books, selling products on eBay or at a farmer’s market, and yes, writing a blog, can all bring in additional income, but with that income comes the requirement of record-keeping, paying taxes and filing tax reports.

It’s not always easy to find the best tax adviser, someone who stays up to date with the latest regulations, laws, and sometimes, loopholes. It may take asking friends, relatives, or other business owners for references or checking out the services offered by Block Advisors. From my own experience, when you find a tax professional that is knowledgeable, approachable, and available, by all means, hang on to them! They will be worth their weight in, well, lower taxes and possibly even refunds!

How to find the best tax adviser

Over the years, I’ve discovered that my business is most successful when I do what I do best and leave the rest to professionals. When I launched my first home-based business more than 20 years ago, I knew I would need a tax professional to help guide me through the labyrinth of tax laws, reports, due dates, and tax payments. At a personal level, it was bewildering to make sure we took advantage of every possible deduction, paying what we owed, but not a penny more!

If you are just starting out with a business, or you want a good tax adviser for your own personal taxes, then learn from my experiences, and mistakes.

1. Do not hire a relative to do your taxes, even if they are a professional!

Your mileage may vary, but I discovered that I wasn’t at all comfortable with a relative knowing all about our personal finances. In my case, the relative was up to date with all IRS laws and definitely knew how to do her job, but there was always this nagging feeling that she was dropping bits of confidential information into the ear of her mom, and then that would be shared with another relative and then another.

When it comes to running my business, I look for the best professionals who are not relatives!

2. Hire someone with a track record and a permanent business address!

During tax season, anyone with a calculator can post an ad in the local paper or on Craigslist and offer their services as your new tax adviser! Untrained and without knowledge of the latest information from the IRS, they could end up costing you an enormous amount of money due to errors, missed deadlines, and possibly an audit. The IRS has been known to track down these types of tax preparers, simply by identifying returns with multiple errors!

Block Advisors is one company whose tax professionals go through annual, rigorous training to make sure every return is done correctly, the first time. As a small business owner, I know what it’s like to receive a thick envelope from the IRS with a list of errors made on a return or report, and it’s not a lot of fun to track down old receipts or other forms of evidence in order to avoid penalties.

3. Look for a tax professional who works year-round.

If you own even a very small business, you will no doubt have questions throughout the year about such things as medical expenses, the part-time jobs your kids pick up, and what receipts must be kept and for how long. When I helped a group of homeschoolers set up a co-op last fall, I was shocked by how many tax regulations we had to follow, and I had plenty of questions.

When you choose someone, or a company, to handle your tax returns, be sure they will be available to answer your questions throughout the year. With more than 280 offices around the country, by Block Advisors is available year-round, both for actual tax preparation as well as advice and even help with small business tasks, such as payroll and bookkeeping.

4. Choose someone who is a good listener and wants to get to know you.

Your income, expenses, circumstances, and family are unique in the world. A tax adviser should be willing to spend time getting to know you, your financial obligations, and your sources of income. With my blog business, not every tax expert out there is familiar with the various tax rules and laws that govern the specifics of what I do. Your tax adviser should be detail oriented, should ask lots of questions, and show a desire to work with you year-round and customize their services to your needs.

5. Flexibility is important

When our kids were in their baby and toddler stages, it meant a lot to me if our tax professional could come to our home or if they had flexible office hours. My husband had a crazy work schedule with his own business and sometimes, I just wanted to gather together all our receipts and dump them off for our tax person to organize!

Look for a company or a tax pro who is willing to work with your schedule. Do keep in mind that during the final few weeks leading up to April 15, the tax filing deadline, their lives will be completely insane!

6. When it comes to tax prep, cheaper isn’t better.

Go ahead and pinch pennies by buying store-brand toilet paper and stocking up in the dollar store, but with tax preparation, cheaper is not better. I pay a little extra for certain things just so I’ll have peace of mind. Our tax adviser has been a God-send, although probably not the cheapest one in town. I’ll never forget the year that we owed quite a bit in taxes and she called us to go over, once again, all our expenses and deductions. That one phone call alone saved us plenty of money to keep in our pockets, rather than paying to Uncle Sam.

When hiring a tax pro, be sure to clarify exactly what you’re paying for and what services you will be receiving. Just as it’s no fun to get a “Surprise!” from Uncle Sam, you don’t want one from your tax adviser, either!

7. Hire a tax professional who knowsthe IRS.

IRS tax auditors are among the most despised professions in the country. If you’re ever audited or if an IRS agent shows up at your door, you’ll want a tax professional who will be there for you, someone who has worked with the IRS, understands their system, and yet, is on your side. At that moment, you’ll be grateful that you hired the best and most knowledgeable professional around.

A hallmark of Block Advisors is their commitment to be there for you if the IRS ever does reach out and touch you with questions, requests for documentation, etc. Whoever you hire, ask what type of support you’ll receive if your return is flagged for an audit and what happens if your return contains errors.

Life is never stress-free and right around tax time, stress levels peak! If you’ve wondered if you really are getting the biggest refund possible, if you’re not sure whether or not you can deduct certain expenses, and, especially, if you have any type of business, large or small, I recommend finding a tax professional who is well trained. In the last several years, the IRS has hired thousands of new agents and will be enforcing fines related to the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. This may be the year that hiring a tax pro becomes a necessity, not a luxury.

Disclaimer: Block Advisors asked me to review their services and write this article, related to tax preparation. I was compensated for the time spent researching and writing this piece. As a small business owner, I believe in hiring a tax professional to avoid errors and over-paying taxes. 

tax professional #BlockAdvisors

 

Perfect, Portable Heat: The Honeywell Infrared Heater — GIVEAWAY!

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Perfect, Portable Heat: The Honeywell Infrared Heater via The Survival Mom

I’m in love with this heater and so is every other member of my family. Honeywell’s MyEnergySmart Infrared Heater arrived at my doorstep, perfectly timed with a cold spell that hit our part of Texas in January. Our older house, built in 1972, doesn’t have the greatest duct system, and it seems that our family room is always chilly.

honeywell infrared heaterIt’s been many years since I used a portable heater and naturally, safety was my first concern. Is this infrared heater safe on carpet? Do I need to worry about our pets wandering too close to the heat source? Does the exterior of the heater become too hot to touch?

The answers, as I discovered from the instructional manual and safety information, were:

  • Yes, it’s safe on carpet.
  • There is no blast of hot air emitting from the unit, and it’s perfectly safe around pets.
  • No, the heater does not become hot.

My husband remarked, “I like this heater because it doesn’t dry out the air. It just gives off gentle, warm air that is comfortable and never overheats the room.”

My son said, “I love this heater, and I’m keeping it for myself!”

Our winter energy bills aren’t especially high, but our house does have a few cold pockets here and there, and this infrared heater is just perfect for those areas. However, the unit is actually designed for larger rooms than our small family room (150 square feet or so).

A few other features I appreciate are:

  • The EnergySmart technology actually regulates energy consumption.
  • Regular use could cut down on our power bills.
  • There’s a LED panel that indicates power usage, the room’s temperature, and the desired temperature.
  • There are 3 different pre-set heat settings, and you can set your own custom temperatures.
  • Copper and stainless steel reflectors are used to enhance heating.
  • The unit is on wheels for easy transportation.
  • A remote control can be used to change settings from a distance. This is perfect for anyone with mobility issues.
  • The small unit would be perfect for dorm rooms and chilly bedrooms.

Win one for yourself!

I’m excited that Honeywell is providing a new Infrared Heater to one lucky winner, right here on my blog! I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do.

Important details

  • Giveaway begins on Tuesday, February 16 and ends at midnight on Tuesday, February 23.
  • Open to U.S. residents only.*
  • Winner will be selected at random and notified within 48 hours of contest’s end. Winner will have 72 hours in which to reply to our email, after which a new winner will be randomly selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Wonder why some giveaways are for U.S. residents only? It’s not because of stingy sponsors but because of international laws and regulations. For example, Canada, a country I love, has different legal definitions for giveaways and contests than does the U.S. Winners in other countries may have to pay import charges. I wish it were different for my international readers, but ignoring these laws could cause big problems for some sponsors.

 

Perfect, Portable Heat: The Honeywell Infrared Heater via The Survival Mom

Disclaimer: I was provided with a Honeywell Infrared Heater to evaluate for this review and giveaway.

Why Sound Financial Planning?

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Why  Sound Financial Planning?

Financial PlanningThe number one lesson we have been taught by the economic crisis of 2008, is to be very careful with where we invest or what we do with our cash. It has likewise taught us that in times of uncertainty, consulting your counselor could be the best step to take. The economic collapse in 2008 likewise opened open doors for master financial planners and beginners who are looking for individuals and organizations to multiply their assets.

On the off chance that you are wondering why you or your business needs financial planning, here are some of the major advantages.

Minimizes Risks

Financial planning empowers organizations or people to assign the appropriate amount to the right area that needs change or more investment in a convenient way. This minimizes risks and wrong investment. Productive financial planning would then in the long run lead to better income and effective cost administration.

Enables You To Make Effective Decisions

Financial planning exhibits the expenses and revenues of an organization or individual in numbers, giving them a clearer perspective of what they will be putting resources into. This makes it easier for business leaders to go and stop an agreement or undertaking.

You Can Forecast Profits And Losses

A financial plan is made on a yearly basis. This financial conjecture clarifies how much expense and revenue the business or individual ought to anticipate and when to expect it. This not just shows to what extent the wait will be, additionally it also forecasts the amount of profit that can be expected. Each month, a financial plan is likewise made to contrast with the yearly plan and check whether the objective is being met, surpassed or something else. This cautions the entrepreneur or individual of potential outcomes and postured dangers in the speculation, and on the off chance that it’s an ideal opportunity to give up or not. In spite of the fact that it is not generally right, as there are such a variety of things that could influence the business’ financial status, financial planning and administration makes it simpler to see what is and what can be.

While a few individuals or entrepreneurs wouldn’t want or need a financial planner as they can do this all alone, there are some who might require a planner’s help to get the heap off their backs. In any case, when searching for a financial arranging organization to handle this task, here are the things you need to consider.

License

Locate an authorized or certified financial planner, which signifies their capacities and validity. Don’t simply bounce on the first firm that comes your way in an edgy move to discover one.

Pay structure

There are two noteworthy pay structures your planner might be using: expense based and commission-based. Nothing of the two is superior to the next; it is truly up to the organization or individual what he/she inclines toward. There are likewise planners who, similar to free-lancers, can be paid by the hour or when you just need them.

Advice Over Promises

Search for financial planners who can give you sound guidance about your endeavors and the issues it faces. Planners who over-guarantee productivity and profitability might just disappoint as a considerable measure of things can happen in the financial world that can influence its execution at whatever time.

Personal financial planning can help you in several ways. If you make a monthly budget and adhere to it strictly, you will know what exactly you’re spending where. This will give you greater decision making power, in turn helping you cut down unnecessary costs. If you’re one of those drowning in student loan repayments and credit card payments, you definitely need to try financial planning and budgeting.

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Scrambling to Survive in a Collapsing Economy

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economic collapse

One of the first acronyms I learned as a new prepper was TEOTWAWKI.  The End Of The World As We Know It.  I knew from reading James Rawles’ Patriots that the end could come suddenly, within just a few days as America’s banking system collapsed upon itself.  Another, more drastic version was spelled out for me in an online article, “The One Hour Meltdown.”  Neither vision of the future was pleasant, but I was skeptical about the concept of a sudden economic collapse.

Instead, a slow decline, a de-evolution, of our lifestyles and our economy may be far more likely.  Continued high levels of unemployment, for example, are eroding away at America’s middle class.  Worse still, is the fact that long-term joblessness causes individuals and families to exhaust their savings, retirement funds, and max out credit cards in their attempt to stave off bankruptcy, evictions, and home foreclosures.  As each safety net is consumed, people become more and more entrenched in the growing underclass, and in today’s economy, it’s going to be more difficult than ever to recoup what has been lost.  TEOTWAWKI has become a reality for millions of Americans, and the slow decay continues.

The proof is in the numbers

Currently, around 48 million Americans are living below the poverty level, measured by an income of $24,230 or less for a family of four.  The median income has decreased to levels seen in the mid-1990’s. Depending on whose numbers you trust, the unemployment level is either 5%, according to the federal government, or upwards of 25%.

The unemployment rate depends largely on where you live and the health of local business and industry. As the oil and gas industry has taken a huge hit in 2015, employment in this areas, as well as other related businesses, has dropped. A few years ago on a road trip, we stopped in Yuma, Arizona, and it was a virtual ghost town with dozens and dozens of stores and restaurants closed and out of business.

READ MORE: Do you know what the actual poverty levels are for different sized families? Here is a table that provides that information.

A record number of more than 94 million people are no longer in the workforce.  The percentage of employable males between the ages of 25 and 54 who are unemployed is around 12%, up from 6% in 1980. Today, only 44% of Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”, down from 53% in 2008, and, incredibly, 49% believe they are “lower class”.

The average age of a worker earning just minimum wage is 36. 52% of American workers make less than $30,000.No wonder American families are hurting.

READ MORE: Coping with a personal financial crisis? I wrote this just for you.

Bottom line: Americans are earning less and working less.  Jobs have simply disappeared, and this leaves millions of us more vulnerable than ever to an economic collapse.

The saddest ending of all

A slow decline of a society is more sad and tragic than a sudden collapse.  After all, what is the more awful to watch, an animal dropping dead from a single rifle shot or one that lumbers along in pain from a not-quite-mortal wound, finally dropping, exhausted, miles away? At some point in the future, we’ll wake up and realize that our country has been lumbering along and has finally collapsed.  TEOTWAWKI isn’t always sudden.  Sometimes it’s slow and sad.

Back when Russia was the USSR and the Iron Curtain was firmly in place, I traveled through such glamour spots as East Berlin, Belgrade, and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).  I was struck by the widespread poverty, from patched up cars from the 1950’s to equally antiquated fashions.  Grocery stores were virtually empty, the scarce goods available were poor quality, technology was ancient as vendors used abacuses to calculate sales, and only a very few people at the top of the food chain enjoyed the comforts I took for granted.  When I think of a slow collapse of America, this is the snapshot that comes to mind.

Preppers and survivalists will inherit the earth

We are currently in a small window of time in which we can prepare our families for an economic collapse, whether it happens in one day or continues far into the future, “lost decades”, as they say.  The concept of preparedness is based on taking steps before a crisis to insure your family’s well-being afterwards.

Recent reports tell of record numbers of Americans resorting to dumpster diving in order to find food.  Preppers and survivalists with deep pantries filled with buckets of wheat, SPAM, and soup will be spared that indignity!

READ MORE: Dumpster diving requires more skills than you might think!

Here are a few proactive steps to take in the face of an economic collapse.

  1. If you’re relying on a solvent Social Security system to see you through your retirement years, you’re already in trouble. If the government gives it to you, they can take it away. What can you do to earn more money on the side to invest in hard goods, such as food storage, possibly precious metals, moving to an area that is less populated, or buying a vehicle that is more likely to be EMP-proof.
  2. However, for the time being, DO take advantage of any and all forms of government assistance if you qualify. You paid into the system and you might as well get the help you need as long as the federal government remains solvent.
  3. Give a lot of serious thought to how you might earn extra money. I started this blog when I was in my later 40’s — so don’t use age as an excuse to not try something new! Assess your bank of skills and knowledge and how you might be able to leverage them to start a small business out of your home.
  4. Review every expense paid by cash or debit and anything paid for with a credit card. Slash and burn unnecessary expenses.  It’s surprising how little we actually need, even though cutting out beloved expenses can be painful.  I cried when I had to cancel my son’s guitar lessons, but our family budget couldn’t handle the expense any longer, and I was able to find free lessons online.
  5. Set aside a few months worth of food suitable for long-term storage, and then continue stocking up. If your food is stored safely and correctly, there’s really no such thing as having too much, since you can always share with others.
  6. Fuel prices will likely escalate at some point and car upkeep and insurance are always dependable money-drains. What can you do now to minimize your dependence on car travel?  Can you switch to doctors, stores, and businesses within walking or bicycling distance?  Imagine, now, that gasoline is $6 a gallon, or not available at all, and begin making changes accordingly.
  7. Along with fuel, energy prices are headed sky-high. The appliances in your home that use the most electricity are your air conditioner, heater, water heater, and stove.  Do you have more than one way to cook food and heat water in order to save on the monthly bill?  What about staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer?  Excessively high rates for power are common in countries with struggling economies, so having a plan and the right supplies is crucial.
  8. Don’t count on solar. It continues to be prohibitively expensive, even with government and power company assistance.  It takes a decade or more to recoup the expense of a whole-house solar system, and the electronic components are susceptible to EMP.  You’re better off buying smaller solar-powered products such as battery chargers, a solar oven, or a solar-powered refrigerator, although that, too, is costly.
  9. Learn how to produce some of your own food by gardening and raising whatever livestock your circumstances allow. Backyard chickens have become so popular that many towns and cities are revising their regulations to allow chickens, and in some cases, other animals, including bees.
  10. Pay off debt and tackle the mortgage. Remember, farmers in the Great Depression lost their farms because they couldn’t make the payments, and in some cases, because they couldn’t pay the property tax.  Even adding $50 or $100 to a mortgage payment will reduce the principal.  If your home is free and clear, start a monthly savings plan so the annual property tax bill can be paid promptly.
  11. Save money. Even if the dollar should be devalued, paper money will still have some value. It would be better to have $5000 in a devalued dollar than nothing at all!  Even if such an extreme scenario never occurs, the average period of unemployment is approaching one year.  Anything in savings will, literally, buy you and your family time as you seek employment and other sources of income.
  12. Become frugal now. Whatever money you have in savings will last a lot longer if you know how to pinch a penny until Abe screams for help!
  13. Consider investing in precious metals. No, you can’t eat gold or silver, but precious metals have always been of value.
  14. Don’t count on bartering as a lifestyle. Remember, that in order for a barter exchange to be successful, you have to have what the other person wants or needs.  If all you have are airplane bottles of whiskey and I’m a non-drinker, do you really think I’m going to trade my food or medical supplies for your booze?  There’s definitely a place for bartering, but too many people see it as the solution rather than a possible option.
  15. Stay up to date with dental and medical issues. Drastic changes to our health care system have already happened, with more to come. If our economy continues its downward slide, only the very wealthy and well-connected will be able to have top-notch medical care on demand.  If you’ve been putting off the annual physical, surgery, or any other procedure, it’s time to make the call, set the appointment, and take care of it.
  16. Get in shape. Not the most popular of survival topics, but if you are at a healthy weight and in average to above-average shape, you’ve already improved your health, making medical issues less likely.

A final word about an economic TEOTWAWKI

The worst part about an economic collapse is the unfairness of it all, and that brings me to my final and most important tip.  Guard your mind and your heart against bitterness and anger.  Most of the recently unemployed are there through no fault of their own.  Hundreds of thousands of hard working, responsible Americans have lost homes and property because of decisions made by those in government, finance, and business who continue to live in luxury.

Survival begins with a positive mental attitude but anger and resentment consume energy, cause depression, and increase feelings of victimhood.  Instead, make the decision to be proactive and self-reliant.  When you do that, you’ve taken power away from those you resent and have empowered yourself.  That’s a sign of a true survivor who’s ready to face whatever comes.

economic collapse

Pimp Your Bugout Vehicle on a Budget

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bugout vehicleA reliable vehicle is a very important part of our preparedness planning. Not only is it transportation out of a bad situation, but your vehicle can provide lighting, heat/air conditioning, electrical power, and shelter. Most of us don’t have the luxury of procuring a dedicated bugout vehicle; we have to make the best of what we have. The good news is that you can add important capabilities to your existing vehicle without breaking the bank, and at your own pace.

Road Clearance

One thing that will quickly defeat your bugout plan is a tree or vehicle blocking the road. In an ideal world, you could hook up your vehicle’s winch ($1,000) and pull the obstacle out of the way, or use your chainsaw ($300-$1,000) to cut up the tree so you can pass. But winches are only practical on certain vehicles, and chainsaws require significant maintenance; both also come with hefty safety issues as well.

Forestry saw

Chain saw substitute

Fortunately low-tech, cheaper alternatives to the winch and chainsaw are available, but they both require using a bit of muscle, so consider your family’s fitness level if you go this route. A good winch substitute is a cable puller, sometimes called a “come-along.” It gives you a 35:1 mechanical advantage: you move the ratcheting handle and it pulls with about 3 tons of force for about $200. Another poor man’s winch is a tow strap or chain, a fixed length of flexible material ($25-$50) that can be hooked to your vehicle and the obstacle. Your vehicle can move the obstacle, if you have the room to work.

A forestry saw ($200-$225) can cut a freshly-fallen tree or branches without the expense and maintenance required of a chainsaw. These saws are like the hand saws we’ve all used, but up to 4 feet long with huge teeth. They stow flat in your trunk with little bulk.

Staying on the Road

Just about every disaster creates debris, part of which become sharp objects that pose a danger to your tires. A flat tire during your bugout can place you and your family in danger while you attempt to repair the problem, if you are even able. Multiple flats will take your vehicle completely out of action. The good news is that you may be able to upgrade your vehicle’s tires to the “run-flat” type.

Run Flat Tire

Run-flat tire has a stronger sidewall.

The military has used run-flat tires on their High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or “Humvee” for many years. These special tires use several strategies to allow the tire to continue to support the vehicle’s weight even after the loss of air due to puncture or other damage. Cadillac and BMW widely make use of run-flat tires for their product lines, and several tire manufacturers including Goodyear, Firestone, and Continental offer run-flat tires as replacement tires which may fit your vehicle. The run-flat won’t eliminate the flat-tire problem, but it can give you up to 100 miles of additional driving to escape dangerous conditions. Run-flats will cost you an additional 10%-30% per tire.

But run-flats aren’t available for every vehicle. Alternatives include tires with Kevlar belts for enhanced puncture protection, and flat-fixing kits with a chemical sealant and air compressor. At a minimum, a full-sized spare is a critical need.

Pass the Gas

Fuel is one of your bugout vehicle’s Achilles’ heels. Not only is it important to have enough on hand, but protecting it from theft and vandalism is necessary and not always easy. In recent years a theft technique has been to puncture a vehicle’s under-body fuel tank with a screwdriver or sharp object and drain it into a bucket; faster and easier than siphoning for the thief, it also essentially takes your vehicle out of action until the tank can be repaired.

Emergency Evacuations Book CoverBUGGING OUT? Don’t leave home without this book — Emergency Evacuations: Get Out Fast When It Matters Most! Small enough to tuck into an emergency kit, but with enough details and checklists to make sure you don’t overlook a thing!

One way to secure your fuel is to mount an additional fuel tank inside the vehicle, in a trunk or rear cargo area not accessible to the casual thief. Auto racing offer many sizes, shapes, and capacities of fuel tanks that can be

Protected fuel

Auxiliary gas tank

adapted to this purpose; many offer a “foam-filled” version that prevents an explosion if the tank is ruptured. Due to the mechanical and safety issues raised by adding a fuel tank to your vehicle, this modification should be done by a mechanic familiar with racing fuel systems. The tank itself will set you back $120-$250 depending on size and features. Another option, particularly for diesel-powered vehicles, is a contractor-style auxiliary fuel tank.

See Them Before They See You

The most vulnerable time for a civilian vehicle is nighttime.  Vehicles put out light, heat, and lots of noise that is easily detectable. Worse, the vehicle’s occupants are less able to detect other people and vehicles when it’s dark outside. If money were no object, a set of night vision goggles (about $5,000-$7,000) would allow an occupant of the vehicle to detect potential threats at night.

Personal Thermal Imager

Thermal Imager

For the rest of us, a thermal imager can increase your survivability. A thermal imager is a device that detects varying levels of heat in the environment and produces a video image allowing visualization similar to that seen in daylight. If your local police agency flies a helicopter, odds are a thermal imager is on board to help find bad guys at night.

FLIR Systems, makers of military and commercial thermal imagers, has a consumer-level unit called the FLIR One, which attaches to certain Android-based phones and tablets and many IPhone-and-IOS-based devices. The $250 FLIR One uses a combination of a thermal camera and a standard digital camera to assemble a fairly detailed thermal image. This device can provide a passive thermal detection capability for a vehicle or person on foot that could allow movement in full darkness without lights. Potential threats could also be identified and avoided or neutralized.

The Bottom Line

Make a careful assessment of your needs. Consider worst case scenarios but don’t assume that you will always encounter the worst case. Build your capabilities over time, as your budget and time allow.

bugout vehicle

65 Pieces of Survival Wisdom From the Great Depression

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survival wisdom great depression

It was the best of times, it was the very worst of times. America’s Great Depression of the 1930s was a time of starvation and subsistence survival for many families. Decades later, many survivors of those years hold on to the survival lessons they learned, from hoarding pieces of aluminum foil to eating lettuce leaves with a sprinkle of sugar. Frugality meant survival.

Today, most of us aren’t living quite the same bare-bones lifestyle of the Great Depression, and photos from that era are difficult to comprehend. In a photo from my own great-grandparents, I see a family group wearing tattered clothing, standing on the porch of a dwelling that can hardly be considered something as sturdy as a house.

Yet, those people went on to ultimately live productive lives with an inner strength gained from having lived through the worst.

Survival wisdom, Great Depression

I spent some time earlier this year researching the Great Depression years and was most interested in even the smallest life lessons to be gained from those “worst hard times.” Here are 65 of them.

  1. Families traveled to wherever the work happened to be. They stuck together as much as possible.
  2. Life insurance policies were cashed in to try and survive for just a few months longer in their “normal” worlds.
  3. If possible, homes were very often refinanced in an effort to save the family residence.
  4. Clothing had to last as long as possible and women (mostly) became expert seamstresses, especially at alterations. One creative woman used the fabric from the inside of a casket to sew beautiful holiday dresses for her children.
  5. In areas of the Dust Bowl, cattle were fed tumbleweed and moms learned how to can tumbleweed to feed their families. Some had to find food wherever possible to keep from starving.
  6. During heat waves, people slept on their lawns or in parks.
  7. Many stores allowed people to buy on credit and they just kept track of what was owed. Sometimes they were repaid, sometimes not. Some store owners ultimately lost their businesses.
  8. It wasn’t unusual for people to live out of their cars and trucks.
  9. When there was no cash, payment was made with eggs, fresh milk, or produce.
  10. A family with a cow and a garden was considered “rich”. Those two advantages alone meant the difference between a well-fed family and one that was near starvation.
  11. Many Americans were too proud to accept charity or government help.
  12. It was important to maintain appearances. Individuals still had a lot of pride, regardless of their circumstances. Mothers still wanted their children to look their very best.
  13. When the soles of shoes were worn through, pieces of rubber tires were used as replacements.
  14. Thousands and thousands of entire families were displaced. Very often, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins ended up living in one house, or one vehicle, as the case may be.
  15. Desperate people would sometimes beg outside of restaurants, and yes, there were those who could still afford a restaurant meal.
  16. Many kindhearted farmers kept workers on payroll as long as they possibly could, even if meant paying them with produce.
  17. Some families ended up living in tents or lean-to’s.
  18. Many became migrant farm workers, traveling from harvest to harvest in order to stay alive.
  19. Anything that could be freely collected and sold, was. Driftwood was collected, split and sold as firewood.
  20. Many men joined one of the government programs that were part of the New Deal. One group, the Civil Conservation Corps, built dams, roads, campgrounds, and were trained in fire fighting in national forests.
  21. Banks closed quickly and without giving any notice. You never knew ahead of time when your own bank would close its doors.
  22. Back in those days, banks were revered. It never occurred to anyone that a bank could close and their money would be gone forever.
  23. Most people were willing to do any type of work. My own relatives became moonshiners!
  24. Just about everyone had a garden and most gardens were enormous. Since 20% of the population still lived on farms, even those in cities still had country roots and gardening know-how.
  25. Neighbors and family members were supportive of each other, donating meals and money whenever possible.
  26. Missions were there to feed people but many of those missions eventually ran out of money.
  27. All food was made from scratch.
  28. To what extent any individual or family was affected by the Great Depression depended on large part where they lived. Not all areas were affected in the same way.
  29. Hunting and fishing were major ways in which families were fed.
  30. Everyone, including the kids, found ways to earn money. There was a team mentality that brought everyone together for a common goal.
  31. Unfortunately, loss of income wasn’t a good enough excuse to not pay rent or the mortgage, although some landlords, in particular, were willing to extend credit.
  32. There was virtually no sense of entitlement. Everyone knew they would only survive if they worked hard to do so.
  33. At this time there was no such thing as “retirement”. Everyone worked until they became physically unable to continue.
  34. Some towns had “welfare budgets”. Money was loaned from the town to individuals, but there was a strict keeping of books. Some towns even published in their newspapers how much each person owed and repayment was expected.
  35. There was a sense of dignity in even the lowliest of jobs. One woman tells the story of a notions salesman who visited their home every few months. He looked very dapper and wore expensive looking clothing, even as a door to door salesman.
  36. The Great Depression affected people in all walks of life. Only the most elite were immune from its effects.
  37. When banks closed, you were left with, literally, only the cash in your pockets or hidden away at home. Everything else was GONE.
  38. Many discovered strength through optimism and looked at their disadvantages as personal challenges that could be overcome with ingenuity and hard work.
  39. Foods that would normally have not been eaten became commonplace at the kitchen table, such as bean sandwiches and codfish gravy.
  40. Many mothers learned to “not be hungry” as they gave larger portions to their husbands and kids.
  41. Food prices at that time were fairly high when compared with wages. For example, a general laborer made $2 per day. The WPA paid $1 per day. But bread was 10 cents a loaf, milk 8 cents a quart, and eggs 7 cents/dozen.
  42. Meals were simpler than those we eat today and, therefore, cheaper. There were virtually no prepared foods at grocery stores.
  43. Families learned to shop at the very last minute on a Saturday night to get bargains on fresh produce that would go bad over the weekend. (Stores were closed on Sundays.)
  44. Learning how to forage and find edible plants helped many families fill their dinner plates. Things like nuts and wild asparagus were treats and often entire families would grab a pile of gunny sacks and head to the good foraging areas for the day.
  45. Housewives were judged by how many jars she had “put up” during harvest season. Women would show off their full pantries with pride.
  46. To add different types of food to their meals, families swapped produce with each other.
  47. The seasons determined what you ate.
  48. For many, there was no electricity or a refrigerator, so you just cooked only what could be eaten at that one meal.
  49. In some communities, there were group gardens on empty lots. Everyone had their own small plot and could grow whatever they wanted.
  50. Many worked multiple part-time jobs, waking up before dawn and falling asleep long after dark.
  51. Those with just a little bit more than others found odd jobs around their homes or property to provide employment to others.
  52. “Depression Soup” was a real thing! It contained anything and everything you might have in the kitchen or was donated by others. To this day, some say it was the best soup they ever tasted.
  53. Some enterprising women would wake in the early morning hours and prepare dozens of meals to sell to workers from their vehicles.
  54. Fabric feed sacks were recycled and became “feed sack dresses.” For some, it was an embarrassment, an obvious sign of poverty, but others wore them with pride. A family with many chickens, and therefore plenty of feed sacks, might be the best dressed in the neighborhood!
  55. Hanging wet sheets over doorways was a way to cool down a room or house during the summer. Hot air was slightly cooled as it passed through the wet fabric.
  56. Walls were covered with everything from mud/clay, scrap pieces of wallpaper, newspapers, and tar paper.
  57. Homemakers still took pride in their homes, keeping them as clean as possible, even those who lived in areas affected by the Dust Bowl. One mom made a couch from old bedsprings and stuffed homemade cushions with unginned cotton.
  58. Many spent their days walking the streets looking for work, anything at all that could bring in a few dollars or cents for their families. Often a “job” was just an individual task, payment was made when the task was completed, and the worker went on to look for the next job.
  59. Some communities organized “surprise parties”, in which everyone would pull together a large amount of food and other necessities, including cash. One by one, each family was selected to be the recipient of the surprise party.
  60. People were grateful. Grateful for any kindness, any blessing. That attitude carried many of them through the Great Depression years and they now look back on them with fondness.
  61. A jack-of-all-trades could often find work when others couldn’t. It paid to know a bit about plumbing, carpentry, painting, and home repairs.
  62. The hardened end of a slab of bacon was sold for almost nothing and could be used to season just about everything in the kitchen!
  63. There actually were government inspectors of different types during the Great Depression years. They had the authority to shut down many different types of home businesses. Some did, some didn’t.
  64. The Sears Roebuck catalog was truly the book of dreams for many people — not just kids!
  65. Stories from the Great Depression years are filled with incidents that illustrate one act of kindness after another. In spite of incredible hardships, people could still find ways to encourage others with words of blessing or unexpected help.

More wisdom and advice from the Great Depression years

survival wisdom great depression

December deals bring the year to a close

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52 weeks savings plan December

This is the final month of the 52 Weeks Savings Plan!

The year ends with a month full of celebrations and deals. Remnants of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday may be found at the beginning of the month, which then moves to Hanukkah starting on Dec. 6, Winter Solstice on the 22nd, Christmas (25), Kwanzaa (26) and New Year’s Eve (31). Not to mention holiday festivities, get-togethers and winter weather all month long. Here are some of the things you could find deals on this month:

Grocery deals

There will be deals on feast items for post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas and post-Christmas. Discounts will vary, but you’ll find them both before and after each holiday. You will find the following on sale: Ham, turkey, butter, spices, dried fruit, baking supplies like flour, sugar and yeast, cheese, pie crusts and dough, pies and filling, nuts, cake mixes and frosting, oatmeal and soda. Holiday specialty items like eggnog, cider, gravy, stuffing and boxed potatoes will also be on sale. If you do a lot of baking year-round, stock up on those ingredients, both from scratch ingredients and mixes.

TIP: You’ll almost certainly end up with leftover ham and/or turkey. Read my tips for putting those leftovers to work in creative and delicious ways.

Another food item on sale in December is canned goods, which can help stock up a personal food pantry or the local food pantry to help those in need. You will see sales on soup, canned meat, vegetables and sauces. These are all worth buying for stocking-up purposes as canned foods, when kept in a cool location, have a very long shelf life.

Produce in season for the winter can vary by location. However, citrus fruits, winter squash, kale, chard, mustard greens, collard greens and turnips are in season. Putting nuts and citrus fruit together in a basket can make a great gift.

You will also see deals on champagne as it gets close to the end of the month for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Since champagne has a shelf life of at least 5 years, stock up and cheers!

Household deals

There may still be some Thanksgiving and fall decorations, crafts and table setting items on sale that can be used for other occasions during the year or for next year. There should be deals on disposable baking pans and plastic wrap so you can stock up on that for the kitchen. Foil is a great thing to have on hand for outside cooking. There will also be some deals on cookware and kitchen appliances. Stores know people will be doing a lot of cooking and will try to lure them into the store with those deals.

For electronics, December is a great time to find deals on TVs, computers, cellphones, camcorders, GPS units, and many electronics in general. Anything with a camera or video camera can be very useful when you need to document household inventory for insurance or if there is any damage to your home or property. Computers and tablets are great places to stock up on reference books and PDFs. December is also a great time to stock up on batteries for electronics (put some in the bug out bags, too).

TIP: Stores often try to get rid of showroom models at the end of the year to make room for new inventory. Ask if there are any showroom models available for purchase.

For gifts, a lot of jewelry is on sale in December. You can also find toys, gift sets and board games. Restaurants that have gift cards offer some great deals, too, such as buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 one free. You may also find some deals by visiting local craft fairs. Sometimes, they may offer you items that aren’t necessarily cheaper than a store, but could save you shipping and it supports people in your local economy.

Winter clothes and coats start going on sale in December in a lot of places because people already have their coats set for the season. Consider buying the next size up if you have children or get some extras to stash in vehicles or bug out containers.

If you are considering fixing up your house, this is the month to buy carpeting, flooring and tools. Some tools, such as hammers and shovels, are great to keep in a vehicle for the winter season. Can you really ever have enough tools, and they make great gifts.

Thrift stores often have discounted items over the holidays as they see more things coming into their stores. Many people would rather donate items than sell them during the holidays due to weather and lack of time, and some people are selling off unwanted items via Craigslist or consignment stores in order to raise a little extra cash for their own holiday spending.

Outside the home

Outdoor sports equipment is on sale during winter since it’s out of season. Think your children might join soccer in the summer? Buy the gear now. Pools, pool gear and golf equipment should all have some good discounts. Outdoor patio equipment, including gas grills, are in the same boat. Cooking with a gas grill can be a great backup cooking method for when you face a possible power outage.

Cars, motorcycles and bicycles are also on sale in December. Check out the deals at a local dealership this month if you think you need a new or replacement car. Make sure it can fit everything your family needs in case you ever need to evacuate. Bicycles are another alternative if you had to leave your home and the roads or damaged.

TIP: You may not be thinking “emergency evacuations” right now, but winter is a common time for power outages and devastating storms. Check out my newest book, all about this topic!

If you are in the market for a house, the winter months can create motivated sellers. There is sometimes a drop in people looking for homes during the winter because it’s cold and they would rather not move during the school year. Take advantage and see if you can find someone who has been trying to sell since the summer. Families with children are in a hurry to move and get their kids settled into a new school, so if you are pre-qualified and can move quickly, you may end up in the house of your dreams!

Travel

You can find travel deals in December by thinking of where most people want to go in the summer. Look at beach locations for a great deal. Weddings get cheaper in the fall and winter as most people try to have spring and summer weddings. We personally got a great deal for our honeymoon with a stay at a 5-star resort because it was a few days before Christmas and it was their slow season.

You can sometimes find good airfare prices for travel between Thanksgiving and Dec. 20 because most people stay home between the holidays.

December events

Did you know there are occasional “Leap Seconds” added to the official year? On December 31, 2015, the folks who maintain the official time for the planet will add an extra second to the day.

Some stores and restaurants like to participate in specific special days, so keep an eye out for deals on the following days:

1 – Eat a red apple day

7 – Cotton candy day

8 – Brownie day

9 – Pastry day

13 – Ice cream day

16 – Chocolate-covered anything day

17 – Maple Syrup day

18 – Bake cookies day

19 – Oatmeal muffin day

24 – Chocolate day

25 – Pumpkin pie day

27 – Fruitcake day

Winter tips to help your 52 Weeks Savings Plan

This is also the time of year when food and toy drives kick off. There are many people in need around us. If you find a good deal, it can be a good idea to pass it along to someone who needs it more.

Some family winter activities that don’t cost a lot of money are going to see Christmas lights in different neighborhoods, go on a walk while drinking hot chocolate, have snowman building contest and see what local festivals and tree lighting events are in your area. One year we printed out certificates labeled, “Best Christmas Lights”, “Most Creative Christmas Lights” and “Best Religious Display”, rode our bikes through our neighborhood one night, and awarded those certificates to unsuspecting neighbors!

There is one month left to make deposits in retirement accounts, decide how to spend health savings account money and make donations for a tax write-off.

If you followed the 52 Weeks Savings Plan, you will have $1,378 by the end of the month – congratulations! If you haven’t been able to put that amount away, be proud of what you did save this year and start planning for next year. Saving money can take some planning and determination, but it can be done!

TIP: Make a list of all the presents you plan to give in the next year and keep an eye our all year for possible gifts when there are deals rather than buying something at full price at the last minute. Think of holidays, graduations, weddings, baby showers, teacher thank yous and hostess gifts, along with birthdays and Christmas.

Learn more…

  • Check out my monthly series of past articles, “52 Weeks Savings”, with discounts, bargains, and deals for each month of the year. Here’s a sample month for June’s best bargains.
  • Learn more about the 52 Weeks Savings Challenge here and customize it to your own income and circumstances with these tips.
  • Join Survival Mom’s 52 Weeks Savings Club on Facebook. We’re over 2500 members and going strong!
  • Dave Ramsey has solid advice for taking control of your finances. I recommend his basic book, The Total Money Makeover for an easy-to-follow plan and a quick, motivational read.

25 Ways People Earned Money During the Great Depression

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great depression earn moneyIn a previous career, I was a history teacher, and I’ve always loved learning about the past and gleaning whatever wisdom I can from the words and actions of others.

A couple of years ago I found an excellent book with dozens of first-person accounts from the Great Depression, We Had Everything But MoneyI’ve spent hours reading through anecdotes, touching, humorous, and poignant, and one thing that struck me was the ingenuity of the Americans who lived through those tough times. Many continued to find ways to earn money, even when their own circumstances were dire.

I put together this list. Feel free to add any others that you know of.

To earn money, people:

1. Caught and sold fish, clams, and crabs

2. Made homemade fudge and sold it

3. Sold newspapers on the corner. Kids earned a little extra if they were promoted to “Corner Captain”, a sort of Great Depression multi-level marketing program where a kid brought in other kids to sell papers and earned a bit extra himself.

4. Started a lunch truck/wagon

5. Grew, picked, and sold berries

6. Road work

7. Shoveled snow on roads

8. Multiple part-time jobs, including housecleaning

9. Chopped wood or harvested driftwood

10. Made and sold handwoven baskets

11. Mowed lawns and other kinds of yard work

12. Door to door sales of things like shoes or sewing notions

13. Made deliveries for stores

14. Made and sold quilts

15. Sold homemade baked goods, like bread or pies

16. Sold eggs for 25 cents a dozen

17. Childcare

18. Rented out rooms

19. Mended or altered clothes

20. Washed windows

21. Would purchase produce and re-sell door-to-door

22. Sold apples

23. Loaded coal

24. Piecework sewing

25. Sold homegrown produce

In every case it was a simple matter of looking around to see what people needed, what they wanted, what made them feel good about themselves and about life. Years ago a hairdresser friend of mine said, “Lisa, even if the economy collapsed tomorrow, women still want to look pretty. I would do business out of my home and probably continue to earn pretty good money.”

This is why some people who have lived through economic collapses say that beauty products, such as lipstick, eye shadow, and lotions, are good items for barter.

In addition to these creative entrepreneurial efforts, don’t forget that many people found work in the various Depression-era works programs as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, and keep in mind that these people had practical skills that folks today just don’t have. Perhaps some of these might be good additions to your own skillbank:

  • Rendering lard
  • Caring for livestock of all kinds
  • Smoking meat, poultry, and fish
  • Butchering all types of animals from squirrels to hogs, cattle, and other “varmints”
  • Foraging
  • Sewing by hand or with a non-electric sewing machine
  • Raising flourishing gardens
  • Preserving food by canning
  • Tinkering — Knowing how to fix all kinds of things.

As you can see, many of these skills go hand in hand with the money-making ventures of our Great Depression-era grandparents and great-grandparents. Today, so few of us have any of these skills. We are generations removed from farm life and homesteading.

How will YOU earn money in the next Great Depression?

One of the main reasons for studying how people survive, whether economically or physically, is to find lessons we can apply to our own lives and circumstances. For many years, some economists have been predicting an economic collapse here in America. If you are one of the 93+ million of Americans who are out of work, your own personal economy has already collapsed.

Now it’s time to consider how you will earn money, whether or not you are currently out of work. In the days of the Great Depression, it was common for grocers and landlords to provide credit to their customers. Today? That would be a rare occurrence.

From the Depression days there is an abundance of stories of neighbors and church families showing up at the door, laden with bags and boxes of food for a needy family. When one desperate mom was asked by her daughter, “Mama, what’s for dinner tonight?”, the response was, “Whatever the neighbors decide to bring us!”  I wish I could imagine that happening today, but our communities and families have become so fractured over the past few decades that it would be a rare event.

So, what skills do you have that might offer a service during a severe economic downturn? What knowledge do you have that would be helpful, even vital, to others? What products can you produce? What skills can you teach?

Ingenuity is something that can never be stolen by thieves, confiscated by a government, or lost to flood or fire. It is possible to survive during a Great Depression and there is plenty to learn from those who lived through the last one.

Want to learn more about Great Depression survival?

great depression earn money

 

Penny Pinching Prepper!

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Penny Pinching Prepper Show
Josh “The 7 P’s of Survival”

Penny Pinching PrepperThis Week on the 7 P’s of Survival Live Show we will have Bernie Carr from Appartmentprepper.com and the author of the new book “The Penny-Pinching Prepper!” We will discuss several preparedness related topics covered in her book including: water distillation and alternative water purification methods, stocking a prepper pantry on a budget, building a DIY rocket stove, Navigation tips and tricks, and diy soap making. Buy your copy of her book HERE! Be sure to come to chat and call in with your questions this week as we will be giving away a copy of Bernie’s book and also “Lights Out” by Ted Coppel!

Penny Pinching PrepperThis book offers dozens of affordable and easy-to-implement solutions, including how to stock a prepper pantry on $10 a week, build a stove from used tin cans, create a water filter with two free 5-gallon buckets, craft a lamp that burns inexpensive vegetable oil, devise a storm shelter using 10-cent trash bags and more. Packed with inexpensive DIY projects for keeping your family safe in any worst-case scenario, Carr’s smart and frugal approach shows how to stay on a stable financial footing while fully preparing for any life-threatening situation.

Bernie also highlights old-fashioned skills like cooking from scratch as a doubly beneficial way to save money and increase your self-reliance. No matter what your setting or your financial situation might be, you will find practical suggestions in this book. It neatly straddles the line between a frugality guide and a prepping book and would be a great gift to inspire someone who is new to the preparedness lifestyle.

About the author:
Penny Pinching PrepperBernie runs the popular website ApartmentPrepper.com, where she writes about family preparedness for the city dweller living in a home that is different from the usual prepper retreat. In her bio, she writes, “Many preparedness sites that I have read gave me good information but much of it is geared toward people who own their homes or have a retreat. While this is one of our goals towards which we are working, we are currently not there yet. So I needed to do something in order to feel more productive. There are some steps we can take now to become better prepared and self sufficient, while living in an apartment in a large city. I am writing this blog to help not only myself but others who are in the same situation and want to have more control.”
Penny Pinching Prepper Show

Join us for The 7 P’s of Survival “LIVE SHOW” every Tuesday 9:00/Et 8:00Ct 6:00/Pt Go To Listen and Chat

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Managing Your Budget During Preparation

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Managing Your Budget During Preparation

Preparing for disasters of any kind can be expensive, especially on a budget. Getting food, fuel, medication, and other needs stockpiled in a safe, durable location requires a major investment. Philosophically, we know it’s worth it, but in practice, we still have to make the dollars and cents work out in a sustainable way.

The best way to save money is not to waste it. The very real urgency of threats can cause us to rush through the planning and execution of our preparation. But the things you do to prepare are the most important things you’ll ever do to provide for your family, because the whole goal is to be ready in case the world’s economic and transportation systems fail. You must be able to survive independently.

So how do we invest wisely? We must do things correctly and not get in a hurry. Think about the provision of power. If you have solar panels, is all the electrical work properly connected? Do you have spares for expendable things like fuses and light bulbs? Study your backup generators and other power sources. Make sure you have the knowledge, tools, and supplies to make repairs yourself.

What about construction projects? Do you have good drainage, proper footings, and well-built projects? Can you get by without outside contractors? Think of the full spectrum of disasters that may come, and consider how you rely on others to respond. If you have 24 inches of snow, you’ll need to be able to clear it yourself. If heavy rains bring mudslides or flooding, you’ll have to be self-sufficient. Investing in a Bobcat skid steer at Fastline will position you to handle these critical needs without waiting on someone else, and in the meantime, you can put it to work in your everyday activities.

So apart from the actual construction of storm shelters, bunkers, and so forth, how do you keep yourself financially afloat until disaster strikes if you’re on a budget? After all, it’s one thing to max out the credit cards and mortgage the farm if you know the financial system will collapse in six weeks. It’s another thing entirely to know that it will happen but not know when. It does you no good to have your house ready for an economic collapse if you are foreclosed on before it happens.

Keeping expenses in check without shorting yourself and your family largely centers on controlling the costs of expendables in your preparation activities.

Preparation stockpiles involve a number of non-perishable items, but others do have a shelf life. We know to try to keep plenty of medication on hand for ordinary aches and pains, stomach issues, and so forth. But over-the-counter drugs like these can’t be kept indefinitely. They should be replaced well ahead of their expiration. Simply rotate stock; keep your older medicine in the house for daily use, and place new purchases in your stockpile.

Gasoline is another example. While the goal is to reduce reliance on outside petroleum, there will nevertheless be a need for you to have at least some fuel on hand. And despite the fact that oil products were in the ground for millions of years without being hurt, they are still perishable and should be rotated periodically. That includes not just stockpiled fuel but also any that is already in the tanks of vehicles or equipment.

If you have gas-powered motors that haven’t been used in a while, start it and let it run for a while. It will help clean the engine and give you the chance to check on its function. Then drain the remaining fuel for use elsewhere, and put fresh gas back in the tank.

It can be a big waste of money to let these expensive items expire, but even more problematic is that you will be without them when you need them.

Being ready for disasters and other crises includes flashy things like weapons training and first aid. But the mundane things can be just as important. Make sure you manage your budget correctly.

 

 

This article first appeared on American Preppers Network and may be copied under the following creative commons license.  All links and images including the CC logo must remain intact.

The post Managing Your Budget During Preparation appeared first on American Preppers Network.

Keep calm and buy life insurance

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buy life insurance

It is the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it is there, yet no one wants to talk about it. The elephant is death.

I recently lost my brother in law, Joseph, at the age of 36. It was unexpected, and of course devastating. What is tragic is watching my sister in law struggle with the bills and funeral costs. These come to the surface and demand attention. She has taken phone calls from people wanting money when she has had none to give.

The problem is that Joseph was under-insured. In my profession I have been working with those who are dying and their families for many years. What I have found is that many are unprepared for the roller coaster of emotions, the mounting pile of medical bills, funeral plans, extended family issues and finances. It is unfortunate that during this emotional time important decisions need to be made. Much of this is unavoidable. One thing that can ease some of these burdens is life insurance.

Policy Types

There are a many types of life insurance policies. The most common are Permanent, Whole, Universal, and Term Insurance. The first three are sold as a life insurance policy and a method of investment. Life insurance is not the best way to invest your money. There are other investments that yield a higher return. These policies also allow the insured to borrow or withdraw cash against the policy.

Some individuals cannot qualify for term or find it too expensive. These other policies may be more budget friendly and still get the job done. There are advertisements on the television about policies that require no physical or medical questions. They are by reputable companies and can be considered an option. Be sure to read the fine print. There are limitations placed on this policy that may range from a few months to a few years. They may not be a bad purchase, just read all of the fine print. Be an informed consumer.

Term insurance allows you to buy the amount of insurance that you need, for only as long as your need it. The money saved by purchasing a term insurance policy can be used to pay off debts or to invest. Term insurance is the best option for those who are young and raising children. When the kids move out, ask your agent about adjusting the amount or if another type of insurance would better fit your needs.

Some term insurance companies are offering a return of premiums (ROP) to their customers. If you out live the term of your policy, they will refund you 100% of the premiums you have paid. Read the details and ask your agent any questions about insurance. It is a product you will want to work seamlessly for you when you need it to.

Policy Sources

Many employers and financial institutions offer free life insurance. Employers usually base the coverage on your yearly income. There may be an option to buy additional insurance coverage. Check to see how much coverage you have through work and include that amount when making your life insurance decisions. Remember that if you switch jobs, you need to purchase it through the new employer or with an agent. If you lose your job, you lose that insurance. Banks and credit unions may offer insurance for free, but it is not a large amount.

Another option is to self-insure. This is when you save money in an account that is to be used only when you pass away. The dollar amount must be enough to pay for funeral expenses, medical bills, and any other expenditures. Make sure that your final papers are in order so a family or friend will have access to the account and make sure it is spent on your funeral.

There are many sites on the internet that offer insurance calculators. You will be asked information about possible expenses and any special needs that your family may have. Plug in the requested numbers and amounts and a detailed report will follow. Many sites (and employers) offer other types of insurance to consider. These may include disability, long term care, critical illness and income protection. Again, examine the variety that is available and speak to an insurance specialist about what additional coverage your family may need.

How much coverage?

Many ask how much life insurance is needed. You need to have coverage that is 10 times your family’s annual income. The whole point of insurance is to replace yours or your spouse’s salary. If your homes income is $75,000 a year, your insurance coverage should be $750,000. Your chosen beneficiary can invest this money at 10% per year, which will provide them with an annual income of $75,000.

By replacing your income, your family can maintain the same lifestyle that you provided for them. Chose a beneficiary with care. It should be someone that you trust. The beneficiary should understand what you want done with the insurance money. Not only should you verbally discuss this, it needs to be written out in a will.

What could be more traumatic on the heels of losing a spouse than being forced to sell your home, find a job, and uproot the kids? Imagine how nice it would be to know that when you pass, your spouse will be able to be there for your children during this difficult time. Evaluate how long you will have your children at home and purchase a policy that will at least cover your family until the last child leaves home.

As your life changes, so will the amount of insurance coverage needed. When the children are moved out, the amount of insurance coverage can decrease. It is wise to reduce or eliminate any debt and increase the amount you save. A policy will need to cover medical bills, existing debt, and funeral expenses.

Where do you keep your policy? I recommend that you have a drawer, file cabinet, or box that holds all of your important documents. When you pass away, your family can quickly find your life insurance policy and all of the other needed documents. These documents should include:

• Will and estate plans that tell your family how you want your life insurance money spent
• Tax returns, your monthly budget, and bank account information
• Passwords, PINS, combinations, user names
• Other insurance policies
• Investments and retirement accounts
• Funeral and other after death instructions

Final thoughts. (So to speak.)

Seven months after Joseph’s death, his widow is still adjusting to her “new normal.” A GoFundMe page and a yard sale of donated items has helped ease some of the financial burden, but there is still a shortage of money and some bills still need to be paid.

You know you are going to die. We all are. No one should be left behind worrying about going back to work, keeping the lights on, and paying the mortgage. Do the right thing and purchase life insurance. There is no “thinking about it” or “I will get around to it”. Do it now. It is the most thoughtful gift you can give to your loved ones.

52 Weeks Savings Plan: November is full of deals

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52 weeks savingsIf you are a bargain shopper, then November is probably your favorite month. The month begins and ends with holiday deals and it features a weekend dedicated to sales – Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday.

November’s main holiday is Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), but also features Election Day (3), Veterans Day (11), Children’s Day (20) and the start of advent (Nov. 29).

Take some time at the beginning of this month to set aside a holiday gift plan and budget. Then, if you see some deals on gifts you want to buy, you can save money.

Grocery and food deals

At the beginning of November, you can stock up on candy for the entire year for cheap as Halloween items go on sale. As stores stock up for the Thanksgiving holidays, you should be able to find deals on turkey, baking supplies (sugar, flour, baker’s chocolate, chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk), pie crusts and ready-made dough, frozen pies, marshmallows, nuts, cheese, butter and turkey. You can also find deals on gravy, stuffing, potato and cranberry mixes .There will be deals both before and after the holiday on these items, so think about stocking up for your Christmas and New Year’s festivities when you find these items on sale. Spices, nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal and soup are also November food deals and these items are great for stocking up on for food storage.

In November, produce in season are: apples, artichokes, arugula, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, clementines, cranberries, garlic, kale, lettuce, onions, pears, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips. Many of these items can be frozen, canned or dehydrated. For the Survival Mom’s tips on long-term food storage here are instructions for doing that.

Thrive Life’s Black Friday Sale

One event that thousands of people look forward to ever  year are the huge savings that Thrive Life offers during their famous Black Friday sale. I’ve seen a preview of their biggest discounts and you won’t want to miss it!

Get to know Thrive Life at this link.

And, if you want to receive an alert and sales flyer with information about this event, just email your request to thrivelife@thesurvivalmom.com, and you won’t miss a thing!

Household items

To go along with the holiday cooking sales, items like aluminum foil, plastic wrap and disposable baking pans and liners should be on sale. Cookware also goes on sale in November. These can be a great item to stock up on for presents.

Halloween costumes, decoration, paper goods and baking sets will be on sale the first few days of the month. Costumes make for great presents for children who like to dress up. Some Halloween items can be used very creatively – read more here. Holiday gift sets and candles are some other gift ideas you can find deals on this month.

You’ll start seeing deals on baby products and toys in November, along with leftover summer shoes and wedding gear. Tools, carpeting and flooring will see discounts as people think about indoor home improvement projects.

Large appliances and kitchen items will be on sale since cooking is a big theme for the upcoming holidays and the stores are hoping to draw you in with sales on those items.

For electronics, camcorders, GPS navigation systems, TVs, DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs are on sale. Camcorders can be great for providing an inventory of your home’s items for insurance purposes (make sure the time/date stamp is correct). DVDs and Blu-Rays can make for great presents if you find great deals.

Outdoor items on sale

November can be a great time to plant trees in some locations and you can find trees, shrubs and bulbs on sale, along with some gardening gear if stores have any left. Outdoor furniture can be on deep discount, too.

Gas and charcoal grills are on sale and are a great way to cook if you lose power. Make sure to keep a propane tank full or have charcoal on hand if you do plan to use that in an emergency situation.

You can find discounts on bicycles, and they are a great way to bug out if your vehicle or the roads are disabled. They are on sale this month. See if you can find bike trailers to help hold supplies to take with you.

Black Friday Deals and Tips

You can’t talk about November without talking about Black Friday. Look for many gift items being marked down the weekend of Black Friday. Some of the main items that you will see every year are video games, movies, TVs, gift sets, clothing, winter gear and kitchen appliances. Stores will often have items that are on a deep discount for certain hours of the day.

It is not smart to go out shopping on Black Friday without a plan. If you do plan to go out, check the ads out online or in the newspaper on Thanksgiving, compare the ads with things you already know you want to buy and make a list of where you want to go. Set a budget and a time constraint. Try not to buy something you don’t need just because it’s a great deal.

Black Friday deals can be great for preparedness supplies on top of household items and gifts. If you take the time to take stock of what you have on hand and what you still need to be prepared for emergencies, you can add those items to your list of things to look for on sale.

If you don’t feel like going out on Black Friday, there is also Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday where you can support local business or shop from home in your pajamas and still find great deals.

November outings

Travel is only going to get more expensive as each day passes now. At some point, if you want to travel over the holidays, you may decide a road trip is more feasible for your budget. Here are 13 Tips to Survive Family Road Trips  and things to think about if you were to get stuck in your car for a while. One big way to save money on a road trip is to pack your own food and stock back up at grocery stores instead of eating at restaurants.

Weddings get cheaper in the fall and winter as most people try to have spring and summer weddings. We personally got a great deal for our honeymoon stay at a 5-star resort because it was a few days before Christmas and it was their slow season.

Fourth graders and their families can benefit from a free pass to any National Park by visiting www.everykidinapark.gov. The pass is good until Aug. 31, 2016.

November events

November is Child Safety Month, National Adoption Awareness Month, National Novel Writing Month and Peanut Butter Lovers Month.

Some stores and restaurants like to participate in specific special days, so keep an eye out for deals on the following days:

Nov. 2 – Deviled Egg Day

Nov. 3 – Sandwich Day

Nov. 7 – Book Lovers Day

Nov. 15 – America Recycles Day

Nov. 17 – Homemade Bread Day

Nov. 19 – Great American Smokeout

Nov. 25 – National Parfait Day

Winter tips

This is also the time of year when food and toy drives kick off. There are many people in need around us. If you find a good deal, it can be a good idea to pass it along to someone who needs it more.

As we move into winter, it’s a good time to do a walk around of your house and look for any repairs that need to be done before it gets too cold. Check on insulation, heating fuel for winter and a furnace tune-up. Consider hanging up hooks for Christmas decorations and Christmas lights (you don’t have to turn them on yet) before the temperatures get bitter cold. There are two months left to make deposits in retirement accounts, decide how to spend health savings account money and make donations for a tax write-off.

 

By the end of November, you should have $1,128 saved if you’re following the 52 Weeks Savings Plan (47 weeks). Don’t get discouraged if you’re not there yet. Putting away anything you have extra is an accomplishment in itself. Compare what you have now to what you have when you got started and be proud! Keep focusing every day on the things you can do and enjoy while keeping your long-term goal in sight.

Take advantage of November’s deals and enjoy summer. Come back next month to see what deals December offers to help you save AND prepare!

Fall for Planting Trees?

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Fall for Planting Trees?

Fall for Planting TreesThe other day, my husband and I loaded up the kids and took a trip to the local farm supply store. Our objective was to get feed for the goats and sheep, and the chickens, as well as a few heat bulb for our adolescent chickens. As we approached, we saw some of the trees that were left from the spring. Still green, but the leaves were falling off, they were fast approaching their dormant stage. As we got closer we saw the sign, the sign that changes your plans.

50% off our nursery stock.

SOLD! $9 for 3 year old fruit trees!?! You know we couldn’t pass that one up. My husband and I looked at each other. Money? ~sigh~ I know. Fruit? yep. Should we? In the long run, it will be worth it. Agreed. {as I said previously, my husband and I are very articulate people}

There was about a dozen or so trees available. We looked at the tags, most were apples, but we already have 4 apple trees, 1 pear tree that has been graphed to produce 3 types of pears, a cherry, a peach and a plum. Our nectarine had been killed in the late frost earlier this year. And there it was, 1 nectarine left in the bunch. I took it. My husband declared that he loved my plum jam, so he decided that another type of plum was needed. It saddened me a bit, because the only reason we got our first plum tree was because of my father, so I was reminded of him. But my husband did indeed like the plum jam, so it was all good.

Wait a minute Phelan, it is cool out now. I know, I hear you. That bitter north winds are starting to cut through the landscape. Frost has arrived at least once by now. Why on earth would we go ahead and buy trees to plant? Autumn is a prime time to plant trees. With them in their dormant stage, they have time to establish roots systems without worrying about getting nutrition to the rest of the sleeping tree.

Bare root and burlap roots are the best for fall planting, but if you happen to find a deal like we did, and the trees are in containers make sure they get the required amount of water. Plant your fall trees as you would your spring ones. They need to be mulched in with organic materials, in wide shallow holes. If you can get them in the ground before the hard freeze of winter, before the soil loses it’s warmth, you will see that those fall planted trees do better, then your late spring, early summer ones.

I would suggest going out this weekend to the places you saw the spring time trees for sale. More than likely they are on sale, and you can get a great deal.
Originally posted on APN

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