Useful Strategies To Pay Down Debt Life is already hard for us preppers without having to deal with debt. If you add it up to our daily struggles, it can be something incredibly difficult to manage. Most survivalists are considered hoarders by the general public, all because they keep buying more supplies than the average …
Maybe you’re looking for a fresh start. Or perhaps you’re looking to find a different job, or you’re trying to get out of the city. Whatever the case may be, when you’re looking for a new place to live there’s a lot to consider. And if you’re thinking of crossing state lines to find a new home, there’s one vitally important detail that you need to think about and research.
Most people don’t consider this, but you should really look into the financial stability of any state that you’re thinking about moving to. If worse comes to worse, and the economy collapses, you want to make sure that the state you live in is fiscally responsible. States that have high debts and low credit ratings are living on the edge. Any major economic event could push them into bankruptcy.
That means pensions could go unfunded. Public services like law enforcement and firefighting would be understaffed. The infrastructure of the state would crumble, and public education would be decimated. Taxes would likely be increased, which would only exacerbate the financial problems of the state because businesses would leave, leading to more unemployment and a smaller tax base. Obviously, all of these factors could contribute to the risk of civil unrest.
In other words, any financial calamity that occurs at the national level, would be magnified at the state level. The economy of these states would fall into a tailspin, which would make life for the average person exceedingly difficult.
So which states should you avoid? There are three factors you should look out for. There’s the amount of debt as a percentage of the state’s GDP, the amount of debt per person (debt per capita), and the state’s current credit rating.
The 10 states with the worst debt to GDP ratios are:
- New York-22.71%
- South Carolina-21.31%
- Rhode Island-19.40%
The 10 states with the most debt per person are:
- Rhode Island-$8,919.27
- New Jersey-$7,517.15
- New York-$7,040.97
- New Hampshire-$6,152.00
And perhaps the most important factor is the credit rating of any given state. This gives you a good idea of how investors think a state will fare financially in the future, as opposed to a state’s current financial woes. According to credit rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s, as of last year the states with the five worst credit ratings are:
- New Jersey-A
Though those ratings don’t look too bad, it’s important to keep in mind that those states have had sub-par credit ratings for a long time. There’s no indication that they’re going to get their act together any time soon, because they’ve been teetering on the edge for years. When the next wave of the economic collapse hits, these states (along with states that topped the first two lists, such as New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Connecticut) are going to be the first to feel the pain.
Think of it like this. If a storm arrived and threatened to flood a community, the homes that were built in low-lying areas are going to be underwater first. These states are like the houses near the river. So if you’re planning to move, look into the financial stability every state you’re considering, and seek higher ground.
Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.
Joshua’s website is Strange Danger
This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition
Prepping can easily become an all-encompassing activity, affecting every area of our lives. That’s why many preppers refer to it as a change in lifestyle, and not simply adding something to their already full plates. That actually makes sense, as the attitudes one needs to develop for prepping require looking at life in a different way and establishing a different set of priorities.
The basic concept of prepping is to make sure that you have everything you need to survive, no matter what comes your way. That’s a pretty broad concept, but one that is actually achievable. After all, our ancestors lived a prepping lifestyle as a matter of course, and they didn’t have as much available to them to work with as we do today.
But the problem with such a broad definition is that it’s easy to have blind spots — areas that we haven’t thought about which could affect our survival. Ultimately, we need to seek out and find solutions to those blind spots so that they don’t come up and bite us at the wrong moment.
One such blind spot is the area of debt. In our modern, materialistic society, we are accustomed to living in debt. In fact, I’d venture to say that there are many preppers who have built their prepping stockpile with credit cards. While that might be okay to get started, if someone doesn’t have the cash on hand, in the long run, it can be devastating.
Debt and Disasters
Here’s the problem, and it’s a problem which comes from a blind spot we all too easily have: The likelihood of a societal-ending event is much lower than is the likelihood of a regional natural disaster.
So, how is that a problem? Because many of us easily slip into the thought pattern of surviving such an event. As such, we don’t think of having to pay off that debt. After all, if an EMP attack were propagated against the United States, all the computers which house the records of our massive debt would be fried. Nobody could collect, because they wouldn’t be able to prove that we owe the money. And if the company is several states away, with no mail delivery, how could we pay anyway?
But a regional disaster isn’t going to do a thing to make those records disappear. So, in addition to trying to survive and rebuild our lives, we’ll have the problem of trying to pay for our homes, our cars and just about everything else we need, simply because we bought it on credit.
In such a situation, a family easily could lose their car or even their home if they didn’t have the cash reserves necessary to continue their monthly payments. Rather than helping them to survive, that would make their survival problem infinitely more difficult, as they would lose their shelter and probably a whole lot more.
A Potential Financial Collapse
But there’s another potential disaster that could prove even worse for those preppers who are in debt. That is, a financial collapse. The little hiccup we had in 2008 to 2009 caused millions of families to lose their homes. What would a nationwide depression do?
During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate hit a whopping 25 percent, meaning that one out of every four families had no income. Many of those families lost their homes, leaving them on the streets and searching for shelter. In the process of losing their homes, they lost many of their possessions, as well.
The same would happen again were we to be hit by another such depression. Considering that financial analysts have been predicting a collapse for years, we need to be ready for it. Perhaps the government and the financial community will be able to prevent such an event, but that’s not something that we can count on.
Your home is your single most important piece of survival equipment. It not only provides your family with shelter, but it is the place where you store your stockpile and other survival gear. When a disaster comes, it will be your home that will protect you. But as long as you owe money on it, there’s a chance you could lose it.
Getting Out of Debt
Granted, paying off a home – or even a car — is a difficult undertaking. This isn’t something that you can solve in a month or even a year. But it does need to be part of your survival planning. Until you own your home, free and clear, you will always have the risk of losing it. From a survival point of view, let alone any other, that’s unacceptable.
Part of the problem is that most of us have more home and more everything than we can actually afford. The average American family lives off of 110 percent of their income, counting on credit to make up the difference. So, instead of getting out of debt, they’re actually getting more and more in debt.
The first step in getting out of debt is restructuring your finances. No, I’m not talking about restructuring your debt, but rather restructuring your budget. You’ve got to find a way to get to a positive monthly cash flow, rather than a negative one. That will probably mean cutting some things out of your life, and may even include downsizing to something that you can more easily afford.
There are three major areas of debt that most of us have:
- Credit card debt.
- Vehicle debt.
- Home mortgage debt.
Of the three, the credit card debt is the least important, although that’s the one that experts on debt reduction tell you to get out of first. Their reasoning is that it is smaller than the other two categories, and the interest rate is higher. But from a survival point of view, failing to pay off your credit card isn’t going to cost you anything, simply because there is no collateral for you to lose.
On the other hand, both vehicle debt and home mortgage debt do have collateral, the items you used the loan to buy. So, those are the ones you could lose the fastest. But even there, we can see a distinction between their relative importance, as you don’t necessarily need your car to live, but you do need your home.
So, the number one thing you need to come up with is a plan to pay off your mortgage. That may include paying off the other debt, as well, but the goal isn’t just paying off your cars or your credit cards; it’s paying off your home. Only then will you have the security of knowing it won’t be taken from you at your time of greatest need.
Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the section below:
On TV the other day (I was streaming a news broadcast off the Internet – I don’t have cable TV) I saw a commercial that settled in my mind and it gnawed away at for me awhile. I didn’t realize until later why it bothered me so much. Here’s a synopsis of the commercial: Dude1 walks out of his house over to his neighbors house in a suburban neighborhood, where his friend (Dude2) is admiring a new car. “Nice car!” Dude1 says and Dude2 beams and starts to talk about its features. Dude1 listens politely, then hits the button on his key fob and the brand new ultra fancy pickup truck in his driveway chirps and he walks over to it with a look of smug satisfaction on his face while Dude2 with the car stands there with his mouth open, obviously wishing he had the fancy truck.
The American Dream is being forced down our throats, people. Marketers know how we think and they target our desires to warp us into wanting more. Not only do they convince us to want more, we need whatever “it” is to be bigger, faster, and more powerful! Buy, buy, buy! It keeps the economy going and the markets inflated.
“They” want us to consume so they can continue to make their Porsche payments and live in their fancy houses with body guards. Meanwhile, we’re stuck with five-hundred dollar a month truck payments we can’t afford because we’re suckered into The Dream. I’ve noticed the same trend in prepping. Someone shows off the latest AR-15 or M4 with a super-scope or laser sites and there’s oooh’s and aaaah’s and people wanting to rush out and get one for their arsenal. Or maybe someone got the latest land rover, RV, or a hardened Hummer. Hey, if you can afford the stuff more power to you, but most people I know are in debt trying to keep up with their house payments and student loans, much less a hardened hummer with three new AR-15’s in it.
Get By With Less
It’s ok to plan on getting by with less. As a matter of fact that’s exactly what we’ll need to do if and when TSHTF. The more knowledge and experience you have about survival and getting by with less the better off you’ll be. Once the balloon goes up finding gas for that thirsty Hummer will be a chore and way more expensive to boot – if you can even find any. There’s been a movement lately about getting by with less called minimalism. I’ve done a little reading and decided that it’s perfectly fine to cut down on the amount of stuff in my life that takes up valuable space and time thinking about it. I went from fifteen dress shirts to six. A whole pile of t-shirts to five. A huge pile of camping gear to just what I need for me and my family. What good is five packs full of gear if I can only use one at a time?
I wound up selling a bunch of stuff on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace (one of the few things Facebook is good for) and haven’t regretted it at all. How do you decide what stuff to get rid of? That was actually the easy part for me. I went through my gear and if I hadn’t touched it in the last six months or a year I put it in a pile mentally labeled “Sell or Donate.” If you decide to give it a try you’ll be surprised at how fast that pile will grow.
I admit that at first it’s a little hard getting rid of stuff that you love, but after awhile you realize it’s not the stuff you love, but the idea of it. You buy junk you don’t need because it makes you happy. It gives you a little dopamine hit when you walk out of the store with a new item. Pretty soon you have twenty-five pairs of shoes you don’t wear and two closets worth of clothing that just hangs there.
I probably had two or three hundred movie DVD’s sitting in my basement collecting dust. Now I’m down to about twenty of my favorite all time movies that I watch over and over again (Billy Jack for example), but are hard to find online.
And books. If you love books like I do this was a hard one, but I went through my books and if I hadn’t read it in a year or ten and it didn’t make my heart bump in that special way it went in the pile. My goal was to cut back to one bookshelf (about five shelves from floor to ceiling two feet wide) instead of books taking over every available space in the house. This was actually way easier than I thought it would be. First to go were all the books I’d picked up at lawn sales or had given to me. You know what I’m talking about; you pick up a book on a hot summer day and it marginally grabs your interest, but hey! It’s only a quarter, so you pick up seven or eight because you have a few extra bucks on you and throw them into the back of your car. They ride around there for a week or so until you carry them in the house and try to cram them into that bookshelf that’s already overflowing and then you forget about them.
Where I notice it the most is on my dresser. It used to be covered with cameras, computer gear, pieces of paper, change, flashlights, knives… you get the idea. I have one of those that opens up like an armoire, so there are actually three shelves where I could keep stuff. In the morning I’d go crazy trying to find my EDC.
Now it’s clean. All the extra books are gone, I’m down to a couple of cameras I actually use, change goes into a special place in the kitchen where it can be used. How did my wife react to this new mode of thinking? She was ecstatic! By nature she’s always been a minimalist, so when I started getting rid of extra junk she was happy as could be. So how does that carry over to prepping? For one thing it allows you to focus on those things that are really important such as good quality food.
Instead of opting for ten guns how about buying one or two that will really get the job done? Instead of a brand new sixty thousand dollar range rover how about taking care of the vehicle you already have? Treat your vehicles right and they’ll treat you right. People are so willing to throw something away today instead of taking care of it that it blows my mind.
I see people treating trucks like computer tablets these days. Once it’s a couple of years old they’ll trade it in for a new one instead of taking care of the one they have. Of course a tablet goes for a hundred dollars these days and a truck costs anywhere from twenty-five to seventy-five thousand depending on what kind you get. Friends of mine who didn’t have the money went out and bought an expensive SUV, but didn’t have the money to pay for it. Now they’re stuck with a huge vehicle payment and regret it.
Today my wife and I avoid debt like the plague, which is a great thing to be in agreement on. If we can’t afford to pay cash for something we don’t buy it. And living as minimalists we typically don’t want it anyway, which makes it far easier to cope with those emotions that spring up when we see some shiny new car or gizmo that would be wicked awesome to have, but can’t afford or will never use.
Years ago my phone was ringing off the hook with companies wanting their money and I finally did this to get out of debt. It’s hard to do, but so worth it in the end! Don’t get me wrong, I still see stuff I want and think, “Ooooh! I’d love to have that!” But I’ll sit on it for a week and if the feeling goes away I know it was just a passing fancy. (That Korean era officer’s military mess kit I saw this summer for $300 springs to mind.) I thought about it for awhile and decided I didn’t want it because of its authenticity, but because it would be fun to whip something like that out at the campground and actually use it. I then decided that if I wanted something like that it would be far easier and cheaper to build one myself. It’s still on the back burner, but if I decide to move forward it will be a fun project and one that will really mean something to me.
I’m not saying to sell all your stuff and live in a tent or a yurt (although a yurt might be kinda cool when I think about it.) What I’m suggesting is to take a look at your lifestyle and possessions and see if there’s anything you can cut back on or things you can sell. Almost everybody has extra stuff and the average American has tons of extra stuff they don’t use.
If you have debt, selling some of that extra stuff and not buying more can help you drive that debt down a little. Thoreau said to “Simplify!” and if you take that advice to heart you can live a rich life while staying out of debt. Let go of the stuff you don’t need and take a good hard look at the stuff you have. You’ll be a happier person because of it. Questions? Comments? Sound off below!
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Every ounce of critical financial planning can go to waste if you don’t have an emergency fund to back it up, which can really be a lifesaver when unforeseen expenses crop up. There are emergencies that need immediate attention, such as a daily-use home appliance breaking down or car repairs demanding early intervention. Since these
Every ounce of critical financial planning can go to waste if you don’t have an emergency fund to back it up. Emergency funds are a lifesaver when unforeseen expenses crop up. There are emergencies that need immediate attention such as a daily-use home appliance breaking down or car repairs demanding early intervention. Because these emergencies
A judge sentenced a cancer patient to 90 days in jail for writing merely $200 worth of bad checks in what critics are calling an unconstitutional debtors prison.
The man, Lee Robertson, was unable to pay the checks because chemotherapy made him too weak to work, and in jail he didn’t get his medicine, a lawsuit alleges.
Robertson was a victim of a court in Sherwood, Arkansas, that teams up with local businesses to exploit the poor and make money for the city, according to a lawsuit filed by the Arkansas Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He was one of only hundreds of people who were jailed and forced to pay money to the courts because of small checks.
The court has collected about $12 million in five years, comprising about 12 percent of the city’s budget, according to The Huffington Post.
People are arrested for “failure to pay” or “failure to appear” in court, and even the smallest of overdrawn checks can bring fines of $400.
“This is a broken court system that disregards due process rights at every turn,” said Kristen Clarke, the executive director of the Lawyers Committee.
The suit alleges that the Hot Check Division of the Sherwood municipal court orders people to pay large fines to avoid time behind bars.
“People are doomed for failure when they appear before the court, and most significantly trapped in this never-ending cycle of expanding debt,” Clarke told The Post.
According to the suit, bailiffs tell defendants that family and friends are not allowed inside the court. Defendants are forced to sign a waiver of counsel, meaning they forfeit their right to have a lawyer present, The Post reported.
Another defendant, Nikki Petree, was arrested seven times for a $28.93 bad check. She served 25 days in jail and had to pay the city $640.
Another man, Richard Green Sr., was still paying fines of $200 a month on a bad check he wrote for $58 in 1998, The Arkansas Times reported. Green claims to have spent 405 days in jail because of the check.
“I’ve probably paid thousands and thousands of dollars,” Green said. “I have lost everything because of this. … It’s just a revolving cycle I’m on. You never know when you’re going to get it paid off. It’ll seem like you’re going to get it paid off, but you don’t get it paid off. You think it’s going down, but then it’s going back up on you. You never get through paying.”
Debtors’ prisons have been making a comeback in America even though the US Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional in 1983. In 2014, National Public Radio uncovered evidence of people being jailed for debt all over the nation.
Do you believe people should be jailed for debt? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Statistics show that about 33% of all Americans age 25 and older have college degrees and those numbers are rising over time. Unfortunately, many Americans use loans to finance this higher education. Nothing welcomes your adulthood like getting the first student loan bill in the mail. These bills can control your life if you’re careful. And, while we don’t recommend taking loans in the first place, following these six steps will help you steer clear of trouble and manage your debt in a responsible manner:
1. Don’t Ignore Your Student Loan
Most of us would agree that student loans are no fun to pay back. Completely ignoring them, however, will lead to serious consequences in both your credit rating and financial future. Make sure you start paying them off right after finishing college.
Editor’s Note: College loans typically give you a six month grace period from graduation before you have to start paying them off.
2. Set Up A Budget
Your lifestyle completely changes after college. You’ll need to start paying attention more to your financial surroundings and managing the flow of money through your accounts. Part of managing your income and expenses will involve tackling your student loans.
Monitor all your incomes (pay checks mostly) and expenses (rent, food, utilities, student loan payments, etc.) and create a budget off this information. It will help you determine your repayment strategy and show you where you can and cannot spend money.
There are apps and programs that can help. Third Party phone applications like You Need A Budget (YNAB), Mvelopes, and Mint as well as software programs like Zilchworks and Quicken can help you get on track.
3. Set An Affordable Monthly Payment
There is no one solution for everyone. Once you’ve set up your budget you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of what you’re capable of committing to pay each month – no less than the minimum of course so you don’t default. If you can’t handle the minimum for whatever reason, it is best to talk to the loan manager as they are usually willing to work with you. It is much better to set up smaller monthly payments over a longer time than default on your loan.
You will get rid of your loan sooner (and pay less interest) if you pay a higher amount than the monthly minimum. This approach should be a goal, however. Minimum payments should be considered mandatory for the reasons we’ve listed above. Side note – if you have a lot of debt, consider looking into the debt snowball payment method as a way of getting out of debt faster. It won’t be easier, but it works..
The recently created Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE) also aims to make paying off student loans more manageable.
Editor’s Note: I have no experience with this plan so please check with consultants to see if your loan and circumstances qualify you for the program.
4. Research Forgiveness Options
There are some lawful ways to have your student loans dismissed. There are also certain criteria you must meet to qualify for a student loan forgiveness program. Research available student loan forgiveness programs at the state and federal levels to see if there is a student loan forgiveness program that suits your situation. In the meantime, make sure you’re keeping up with your minimum payments.
5. Set Up Automatic Payment Options
One of the best solutions for student loan repayment is to opt for an automatic payment option. These programs will automatically deduct a preset amount each month from your account to pay off the loan. You will not have to worry about writing a check each month as it will be deducted automatically on a certain date.
Typically, you have the option of picking which day of the month you pay the loan. This option allows you to do helpful things like schedule your payment for the day after your paycheck is credited to your account.
This approach takes the responsibility of remembering to write a check and mail it (or even just log-in and process payment) each month out of your hands and keeps your credit and status in good standing.
6. Make Extra Payments Whenever Possible
We touched on this item in Step 2, but the best tip for managing your student loans (after not taking them) is to pay them off as early as possible. You can do this by making extra payments whenever you have a few dollars in your pocket.
When making extra payments, make sure it is explicitly clear that the extra money in your payment is to be put against the principle of the loan and not against the next future payment. Also, if you have multiple student loans, always apply any extra payments to the loan with the highest interest level first. This approach will reduce the amount of interest you pay and reduce the total cost of your loan over time.
Student loans are beastly things that are best avoided. That being said, if you have them, it’s best to service them as much as possible. We recommend following these six steps and also consulting with the most experienced, informed and active student debt consultants you can find in order to resolve your debt the most beneficial way possible to your current situation. Student loans can be trying but they are survivable.
Paying For College Tuition Podcast
“One of the main driving forces behind the democratic, socialism movement in America today is the high cost of college tuition and student loans. In this podcast we explore solutions to getting a college education without incurring student debt or relying on the government. We also discuss possible ways to pay off debt and earn additional income while pursuing your desired career field.” ~ Galtstrike
In this video podcast Tom Martin and Bobby discuss how loans began to put our economy in debt by causing tuition’s to sky rocket . When government money became available for people to go to college the tuition more than doubled in a ten year period. To put it into perspective, in a ten year period 50% of students went from having zero percent debt to 40-80 thousand dollars in student loan debt.
The system is set up to keep you reliant on them instead of progressing in your life as you should. Why? Because then they are not making any money off of you. They discuss ways we can change this and get our education without starting life in serious debt because of loans. They produce wonderful ideas that will boost you way ahead of everyone else in your chosen career. From everything to getting out of debt you already have to making your car an income source and a tax write off.
Listen to special guest that call in with great information questions, answers and ideas.
People prepare for many reasons, be it a zombie apocalypse, EMP, nuclear war just to name a few. Personally I think the most common forms are disaster are weather related, such as floods, hurricanes and such and financially related, such as a full blown economic collapse to a personal financial crisis. This is why I […]
If you believe in the value of being ready for a disaster, then you probably understand that the time to prepare is now.
Since the type of disaster or crisis may vary, it can be difficult to prioritize exactly where you should be putting your efforts. Below are five things you can do to better prepare yourself for a variety of challenges.
1. Get fit. This is far from easy, I know. Like most people, I prefer to eat more food, choose less healthy options, and engage in less activity than is optimal for my health.
But it is important not to lose sight of the future. The reason for preparedness is to increase the chance of survival, and to maximize the quality of life after catastrophe happens.
Consider how much more you’ll be able to contribute to the well-being of your family and community if you are capable and strong. If you are morbidly obese or frail and don’t have the capacity for endurance, you will not be able to play as big a part in protecting yourself as you would like to.
It is possible you could even place loved ones in additional danger. If you are unhealthy and go knocking on a dear one’s door when the world is in chaos, they are likely to take you in despite what it will cost them.
Better for you to pay the price now. And when you think about it, it’s hardly much of a price. By eating right, exercising, taking steps to lower your blood pressure and blood sugar, and building cardiac strength, you will most likely feel much better and be glad you made the lifestyle changes.
2. Get out of debt. Nobody knows for sure what will happen. Will the economy collapse? Will Wall Street crash? Will the value of the dollar suddenly plummet due to offshore circumstances beyond our control?
Some permutations of apocalyptic predictions say that lending institutions will cease to exist. Loans and mortgages will implode, leaving homeowners and borrowers to live by the adage “possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
But there are no guarantees it will work that way. It is possible there will still be enough enforcement in place to repossess your belongings and put you out of your home. Even barring anything being hauled off by creditors, nobody needs the added stress of financial ruin in times of emergency. It is better to own free and clear as much as you can.
Another fact to consider is that debt is costly due to interest costs. The less of your income that is committed to monthly payments, the more money you can devote to investing in preparedness.
3. Get skills. Telling yourself that you can easily take up gardening or learn to use a cross-cut saw for firewood when the time comes is folly. Investing in supplies and equipment ahead of time is not enough.
Saying you will learn to use your stuff after disaster strikes is like saying you will learn to drive your car after you need to rush someone to the hospital. It might be possible, but it is certainly not the best way.
If you think your post-apocalyptic life could include hunting animals, living in the forest, raising livestock, sharpshooting, collecting mushrooms, canning vegetables, starting fires without matches, or living on the move – then get good at it while you can afford to make mistakes.
4. Get organized. None of your preps will do you any good if you can’t locate them easily and access them when you need them.
If disaster happens suddenly, those of us trying to survive will have to react with speed and confidence. There may not be time to wonder where you stashed those batteries or whether the latest 300 pounds of livestock grain ever made it into the barn.
In addition, it is harder to know for sure what you have on hand without organization. Lists and specific routines help, as does making sure there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.
5. Get real. Do not worry about zombies. Instead, concern yourself with laws that don’t make sense or with politicians who don’t have America’s best interests at heart. Worry about our nation’s enemies, natural disasters, the state of the planet’s resources and the economy.
You do not want to become so consumed with having a massive stockpile of every kind of weapon and ammunition known to humankind that you neglect to gain real independence. Having the ability to take care of yourself in a wide variety of situations, and knowing you will not perish while waiting to be rescued, is far more worthwhile.
Rather than holding mandatory all-day weekend sessions teaching your kids how to pick a lock using a secret pocket gadget cleverly disguised as a credit card, try teaching them potentially universal skills. Skills like finding their way without using GPS, preparing vegetables for cooking, and steering clear of poison ivy can be far more useful.
There has never been a time when the Latin phrase “carpe diem” – meaning “seize the day” – has been more important. By focusing on the above, you can improve your chances of surviving when disaster strikes.
What would you add to our list? Share your ideas in the section below:
It’s difficult being an urban homesteader. In order to make it, you need to be independent. Independence can mean many things, but a lot of people think of owning a good amount of land. So what is a poor city inhabitant who longs for the country life supposed to do? Become debt free!
Going Debt Free
Homesteading and independence go hand-in-hand with being debt free. The tips below will allow to homestead anywhere. They will also show you how to cut expenses and save cash. The culmination of this effort can result in a debt free lifestyle. The same kind of lifestyle that might see you own that real estate in the country.
Think you need a patch of earth to grow vegetables? Reconsider. You can grow tomatoes, lettuce, squash and potatoes in simple containers. Items such as barrels, pots or hay bundles will do.
Even better, container gardening is perfect for those new to planting. You have fewer plants to manage, less weeding and less immediate cost and time. You can grow a significant number of crops in minimal space, even if all you have is a small balcony. All you need is a little planning.
Zucchini and strawberries can grow in hanging wicker bins. Similarly, tomatoes can grown in little tubs.
Gardening and growing vegetables doesn’t require large machinery or planting equipment. All you have to do is make use of the things available to you.
Make and Use a Solar Oven
One of your biggest expense can be your utilities. Have you thought about how you can continue on the debt free path and cook for free? A Solar Oven is simple to make and can completely reduce your utility costs.
Keep Some Chickens
A friend of mine hatched chicks from prepared eggs utilizing an electric skillet set on low. They used some water to keep the air inside the skillet soggy and a towel to pad the eggs. Five of the eggs hatched and three of the birds made it to adulthood. She now keeps these three hens in her lawn. When they are mature enough, these animals will supply her with eggs once a day.
The cost of feed will most likely be offset by the amount of money you spend on eggs. You can take the savings and put it towards your debt free goals.
Raising chickens isn’t for everyone. Make sure you check the rules and regulations of your city. Also, make sure you are onboard with raising livestock. It’s a full-time commitment.
A smart thought for anybody, yet key for a trying homesteader. Figure out how to curtail costs now, keeping in mind you are busy. Dispose of the extra costs in your life. A homesteading lifestyle requires that you figure out how to deal with what you have as opposed to rushing to the store for something new.
Do you need those three TV sets? What about that vast closet of clothes? Learn to get by with what you have now. Heading to the store when you’ve ‘made it’ might not be as easy as you think.
Living simply also means curtailing any extra costs that you might be incurring. Doing things like paying off any loans that you have taken as soon as possible can lead to a debt free lifestyle. Do not to buy items on credit. The simple life may be what’s needed to get you to your debt free goals.
Riots, EMP threats, NASA’s megadrought, clashes between religious fanatics, the U.S. debt increasing and the coming elections – all of these situations point to the same thing: the world may go down south at any time. I’m not saying they will – I hope they won’t – but are we really crazy for prepping for them?
Our minds are running in overdrive about prepping while the Government’s telling us everything is fine and we don’t need to worry. Sometimes they call us crazy… even though preppers are some of the nicest and friendliest people you’ll ever meet.
I wrote this piece to give you tips on how to prepare without appearing crazy or freaked out about what’s to come. You’ll find my prepping suggestions reasonable. Acting on them will make you feel safer and I can almost guarantee you’ll sleep sounder knowing you’re ready for what might come.
Seven Reasonable Prepping Tips
#1. Get Into Shape
Bad situations bring out the worst in people. When push comes to shove, people will start thinking they have more of a right to something than you and you may need to fight one or more thugs one on one. You may need to jump, crawl, climb and run to save your life. You may need to pull or carry an injured loved one to safety. All of these require strength, flexibility, speed and stamina.
Fortunately, it’s easy to improve all of them. The easiest thing you can do is just walk more! I, for one, love walking and I always find excuses to leave my car in the garage and run errands on foot. Jogging, hiking and going to the gym will all improve your fitness levels and work your muscles. I suggest you focus on tactical fitness exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, jumping jacks and so on. Remember, prepping is just as much about gaining skills as it is gathering gear.
#2. Get Out Of Debt
I don’t know if an economic collapse will come before the next major natural disaster or if it’s going to be the other way around. What I do know is that, in case of either one, you don’t want to be owing money to banks or to anyone else.
We’ve always said that you should start of prepping by paying off your debts right now even if that means more effort or not eating out every day. You know what they say, the more you sweat, the less you bleed…
#3. Move Out Of The City
What usually happens during riots is that the downtown area of a city turns into a battlefield. That’s the last place you want to live because you can’t get in, you can’t get out meaning you might get stuck inside for days, even weeks. Even worse, you might get yourself injured trying to get home.
Try to find cheaper housing in the suburbs. You’ll have to be careful about the location, though, to avoid high-crime neighborhoods. You want to be safe before and after a riot, not just during, when those low-income rioters who also live in the suburbs decide to take justice into their own hands. You’ll also want a quick way out of the city if need be.
Fortunately, you needn’t go further than this website to learn about life in the suburbs.
#4. Start Stockpiling
No, you don’t have to fill an entire room with toilet paper. You should, however, have a pantry full of foods with a long shelf life such as canned veggies, jams, peanut butter and honey. All you need to do is buy a little more food than usual with each time you go to the supermarket. Make sure you’re paying attention to nutritional content of your stored food as well. A healthy you is a stronger you.
Buy the things you like to eat so you can easily incorporate them in your diet. Food rotation is important because you don’t want to end up with a spoiled pantry. Of course, you can get other things in bulk such as the aforementioned toilet paper, floss, soap and other hygiene products. You should never run out of any of them – catastrophe or not.
#5. Find New Hobbies and Passions
Hiking, camping, fishing, woodworking, gardening, crafts – these can all make you better prepared without anyone suspecting the real reason why you’re doing them. If you thought about finding a new hobby, maybe now’s the time.
Who says you have to start a hobby on your own? You can do many of these things with your kids (and bond with them) or with your spouse (and possibly bring back the romance into your marriage). Hobbies are great bonding opportunities. Who knows, maybe one of them will turn into a passion.
#6. Prepping Your Car
Engine oil, transmission fluid, a toolbox, a spare tire, a shovel, these are things every driver should have in an emergency. To go the extra mile, why not add water and even a few snacks in your trunk? Not just for SHTF events but also in case you get stuck in traffic for longer periods of time. Add an AM/FM radio and a few blankets, too. If you’re stuck in heavy snow for hours, you don’t want to use fuel and your car’s battery to stay warm and hear the latest news.
Last but not least, make sure you have a good first aid kit. Not the basic one that came with the car, of course. You can make your own from scratch to make sure you have everything you need. Keep an eye open for sales on first aid equipment and you should be able to do this step on the cheap. For example, I bought some Ibuprofen last night and they had a “buy one get one free” promotion. Now, I can keep the extra pack with the other in my bug out bag or I can add it to my car’s survival kit.
#7. Start a Medicine Cabinet
Keeping in mind that I’m not a doctor and that you should only use my advice for information purposes only, I want you to build on the previous idea of assembling a custom first aid kit. You can take it even further by buying things such as:
- Bandages (triangular, 2×2, 4×4, H bandages etc.)
- Nitrile Gloves
- Burn and Trauma Dressings
- Sam Splint
- Instant Cold Packs
- Dental Kits (dental care is going to be tough in a post-collapse world)
- …and more.
Note: You shouldn’t store your medicine in your bathroom. Keep them in a dark, cool place because the heat and moisture from your shower will decrease their shelf life.
Truth be told, I could write another five articles with all the basic prepping actions you could take and not look crazy. This one should give you a great head start in tackling all sorts of scenarios, including a natural disaster, riots or an economic collapse.
The Hidden Cost Of Credit
As a participant with American Preppers, I’ve learned about long-term survival tactics, food and food storage, bugging out, and some of the special equipment that would improve your chances at survival success. But, I know that some of you who want to do what is necessary to protect self and family are not able to do as much as you’d like. The reason comes down to one word – Debt.
Just as our country’s debt could plunge us into chaos, personal debt is at the critical stage. When I released my book, THE CREDIT DIET back in 2002, personal debt was just over a trillion dollars. Today that number is $11.4 Trillion or a 10 fold increase. And it’s what you can’t see about debt that really costs.
This column would like to share the benefits as well as the methods of eliminating debt without risk. Without disguising what you owe as a single payment stretched over 30 years. What you’ll find here are some easy to follow tips regarding credit, debt, and the elimination of monthly payments from your life.
For example, how long would it take to pay for a set of furniture costing $2,000 if you charged it using a store credit card making just the minimum payments? Some of you would be shocked to learn that it would take over 30 years. Others would shrug it off as the cost of getting what you want. However, let me share what you probably wouldn’t know.
The minimum payment on a charge like that would be about $38. (In all examples we will not be compounding rates, calculating tax consequences, or quoting specific interest charges. We will use worst case or best case examples to share the point. Every situation is different but principles are universal.) Taking that same $38 and investing it in silver, gold or for preppers, coins of real value (silver and gold) could be the difference in being able to trade with others.
If your metal investments earn 8% over 30 years you would earn a total of about $55,000 at $38 a month. If you found a way to earn 10%, just 2% more, you would end up with $85,000. At a rate of 12% your final total would be $132,000. And gold and silver go through the roof at 18% the total after 30 years would be $536,000. Folks, that’s a half a million dollars in the future for a couch you had to have today.
This is what I mean by the hidden cost of credit. It’s not what you see that can hurt you. It’s what you don’t see. Credit has two costs that can alter your future and neither of them is really talked about. You just saw an example of future cost for today’s comfort. You’ll never see these numbers on a financial disclosure of any loan document. They’re important numbers that you need to see and understand before you make a buying decision.
The second one is what I call the net payback. What that term means is that your payments are made in net dollars (earnings after all tax and other deductions). What you need to look at is how many hours you have to work to “net” enough to pay for a particular purchase. (To see if you’re in potential trouble with debt, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you a free debt quiz. 7 simple questions to see if you’re in trouble.) In this case, let’s say your mortgage payment (not including tax and insurance) is $1,000 a month. If we assume that one third of your earnings are deducted for taxes (I know some are higher depending on state and local deductions) you would have to earn $1,500 to make that payment.
Since banks and other sources advertise the effective yield of potential earnings, you should calculate the “effective” interest rate you’re paying. To do that, find out what rate of interest you would be paying if your mortgage payment was at your gross earnings. For example, if $1,000 a month was reflective of a 7% mortgage and you had to earn $1,500 to make that payment, calculate what the rate would be on the same amount borrowed to reflect a $1,500 payment. In this case, the effective rate would be approximately 11.5%.
I’m being extreme to share what you may not have been considering when it comes to borrowing. After learning the hard way about the consequences of debt, I can conclude that all you do when you borrow is travel to your future earnings to pay for your past pleasures. Unfortunately, you can’t relive the past but you will have to live in your future.
John Fuhrman is the best-selling author of “THE CREDIT DIET – HOW TO SHED UNWANTED DEBT AND ACHIEVE FISCAL FITNESS” and is the founder of THE CREDIT DIET WEALTH CENTER. You can also visit John at www.creditdietwealthcenter.com.
By Michael Snyder – The Economic Collapse Blog
Has there ever been a major holiday more focused on materialism than the modern American Christmas? This year, Americans are planning to spend an average of 830 dollars on Christmas gifts, which represents a jump of 110 dollars over the average of 720 dollars last year. But have our incomes gone up accordingly? Of course not. In fact, real median household income in the United States has been experiencing a steady long-term decline. So in order to fund all of our Christmas spending, we have got to go into even more debt. We love to pull out our credit cards and spend money that we do not have on lots of cheap, useless stuff made on the other side of the world by workers making slave labor wages. We do the same thing year after year, and most of us have grown accustomed to the endless cycle of growing debt. In fact, one Pew survey found that approximately 70 percent of all Americans believe that “debt is a necessity in their lives”. But then we have to work our fingers to the bone to try to make the payments on all of that debt, not realizing that debt systematically impoverishes us. It may be hard to believe, but if you have a single dollar in your pocket and no debt, you have a greater net worth than 25 percent of all Americans. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true.
Overall, when you add up all forms of debt (consumer, business, local government, state government and federal government), Americans are more than 60 trillion dollars in debt.
Let that sink in for a bit.
40 years ago, that number was sitting at about 3 trillion dollars.
We have been on the greatest debt binge in the history of the world. Even though we were “the wealthiest, most prosperous nation on the entire planet”, we always had to have more. We just kept on borrowing and borrowing and borrowing from the future until we completely destroyed it.
And we still haven’t learned anything. Instead, this Christmas season we will be partying like it’s 2007…
Americans are planning on celebrating Christmas like it’s 2007.
A November survey by Gallup found that US adults are planning on spending about $830 on average on Christmas gifts this year.
That’s a huge jump from last year’s $720 average.
Notably, American consumers haven’t suggested a number that high since November 2007, when they were planning on spending $866 on average.
Sadly, our incomes simply do not justify this kind of extravagance. As Zero Hedge has pointed out, household incomes “actually peaked at least 15 years ago in 81% of U.S. counties.”
So why can’t we adjust our lifestyles to match?
Why must we always have more?
About the author:
Michael T. Snyder is a graduate of the University of Florida law school and he worked as an attorney in the heart of Washington D.C. for a number of years.
Read his new book The Beginning of the End
Debt is Slavery
This week we tackle the issue of Debt. How debt enslaves you. How freeing it can be to escape from under debt. Mike and I both have become debt free at fairly young ages.
We share some tips on how to get free. How to stay free from debt. Also we talk about some frugal tips.
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