43 Frugal Tips for Cutting Down on Expenses

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I haven’t always been good at saving money. When I think about all the money I wasted in my twenties, it makes me sick to my stomach. I may as well have been lighting cash on fire. After the Great Recession began, I finally learned how to find great deals and cut down on household […]

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23 Prepper Items To Look For at the Goodwill Store

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Stockpiling food, water, and supplies to sustain you and your family for a long time can get very expensive. For some, it just isn’t feasible to spend hundreds of dollars or more every week buying supplies that won’t be used right away. Don’t be embarrassed. Most people can’t afford to do that. The trick is […]

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Financial Emergency: 12 Ways to Raise Cash

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com Everyone faces the need to raise cash at some point:  unplanned medical bills, car repair expenses, legal troubles etc.  It can get so dire that rent gets behind or utilities such as water and power are being threatened with disconnection.   Pretty soon, TV or radio commercials singing the virtues of payday loans start to sound tempting. If you find yourself starting to wonder whether a payday loan may help you in the short […]

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Cash? Gold? Silver? Bitcoins?

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Cash? Gold? Silver? Bitcoins? Everything we do in life involves money, being in the preparedness community, the question now is what kind of money. That probably makes no sense but im sorry to say my friends… the world is changing whether we like it or not. You have to adapt in order to survive and …

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The Day When The ATMs Dried Up

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survivopedia-the-day-when-the-atms-dried-out

The people of India suffered through a difficult December, caused by a sudden action of their government.

On November the 8th, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that as of midnight the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes would no longer be valid. As their replacement, the new 500 and 2,000 rupee note didn’t hit circulation until weeks later, it left people in a bind.

There’s a lesson to be learned here; and that is that our money isn’t safe.

The move was made in an effort to curb corruption, forcing both wealthy people who were keeping their assets in cash and criminals who avoid banks to either deposit their money or lose its value.

It’s germane to note that the government stands to make a tidy profit on this move, as people who have been avoiding paying their taxes will be easily caught when they make those deposits.

But in the mean time, it’s left people in a bind. While India is a much poorer country than the United States, with many people dealing only in cash, they are still an industrialized nation, with modern banking, including ATM machines. Just like the rest of the world, electronic money is replacing the paper kind in many places, so people were lined up at ATM machines, with the obvious result, as they tried to get what cash they could.

ATM machines can hold a lot of money; much more than they typically do. Even so, with the massive number of people who were trying to get their hands on cash, even a full ATM machine will run out of bills quickly.

And that’s exactly what happened in India, as ATM machine after ATM machine ran out of money and went out of service, leaving a line of people who had waited to withdraw money that was temporarily unavailable.

Even with all the consternation that the people of India were going through, trying to get their hands on funds to use in their daily lives, it was nothing more than a temporary inconvenience.

It was nothing like the problems faced by the citizens of Cyprus, when the government froze citizens’ assets and stole a percentage of them. Then, they limited how much people could withdraw, so that there wouldn’t be a run on the banks.

How Safe Is Our Money?

I’m saying it again: our money isn’t safe.

Money in the bank can be seized by the government. Money we keep at home can be made worthless at a moment’s notice by the government, canceling denominations, just like they did in India. Our accounts can be locked up and our access to our own money can be denied.

Then there’s the risk of the whole system collapsing. Most money today is electronic, rather than paper or coin. All it takes to make it disappear is erasing a number.

While there are many failsafes in place to protect our money, there are some things which are bigger than those failsafes. Whether they would impede our access to our money temporarily or permanently, any of them would make life more difficult.

Many people put their confidence in the money they have as their security. They figure that no matter what happens, they’ll always be able to buy what they need.

While that might work in normal times, what would those people do, if they couldn’t access their money? A financial crash, the ATM system going down, an EMP attack or a terrorist attack taking out the power grid could all make that happen. Those people would literally go from financially comfortable to financially broke in a moment’s time.

As a society, we have become largely dependent upon our modern conveniences. Unlike emerging countries, where the infrastructure is unreliable, we’ve learned that ours is… at least, most of the time. Since we expect it to be reliable, we live our lives as if it is, putting ourselves at risk.

This is the antithesis of being a prepper, as prepping is all about becoming self-sufficient. Yet I’ve even met preppers who have large bank accounts, filled with money to use on that proverbial rainy day. Yes, they stockpile supplies as well, but they also stockpile money; after all, the dollar is accepted around the world.

But what would happen if that rainy day shut down our financial system? What will those people do then?

What Is More Valuable Than Money?

The truth is, we can’t depend on any money that’s not in our hands, and we can’t even depend on that. As the Indian people just learned, the government that prints that money can declare it worthless at any time. So, what we need isn’t money, it’s something of universally understood value. That limits us considerably.

For most, that means investing in precious metals. Those are much more secure than any nation’s currency. Gold and silver transcend time, with a long history of being accepted as valuable currency in trade, going back even before written history.

But precious metals aren’t the only thing of value. I’ve said for quite some time that my favorite investment for the average person is non-perishable food. Not only doesn’t it lose value, but inflation is hitting food harder than many other things. Then, of course, you can eat it to keep alive in an emergency. In that sense, food is the ultimate investment.

I seriously doubt that if an EMP struck, you could buy much with good old greenbacks, even if you had them. Nobody would be accepting them, simply because they wouldn’t be sure that they could buy anything with them themselves.

Oh, you might be able to use those dollars for a few days, but all it would take is one person refusing to accept cash as a medium of exchange and the whole system would come crashing down.

Our financial system, like that around the world, is based upon the belief that money has value. As long as everyone believes that it has value, it does. But the moment people stop believing, the value of that money will plummet. For this reason, preppers tend to put their money into something of lasting value, like the gold, silver and food I just mentioned.

Do you Remember the Argentinian Crisis?

When cash loses its value, people turn to other means of exchange. Rather than accepting money in trade for goods, they want something that will be of value to them. So, they quickly go back to the barter system.

That’s what happened in the Argentinean economic collapse of 1998 to 2002. Groups of people even set up barter co-ops, so that they could trade things they had, for things they needed.

It wasn’t until the country had recovered from the financial collapse, four long years later, that people started trusting their nation’s money again. In the mean time, they did what they had to do, in order to stay alive. In many cases, that meant avoiding the government and the government’s money.

Video first seen on Albert Clack.

What Would This Crisis do to America?

So, what will happen here? I’m afraid that we might not fare as well as Argentina and Cypress did.

Americans are much more accustomed to everything working and have little idea what to do, when it is not. Without access to money or the ability to use the money in their bank accounts, most Americans will find their options severely limited.

Of course, a large percentage of our society has been infected with the entitlement mentality. So, rather than help themselves, they will expect the Nanny State government to take care of them. Some will even die waiting for that help to come. Others will see that no help is coming and demand that those who have share what they have with them.

This is the point at which society will begin to break down and things will begin to get ugly. It will be a mere three days to a week after the cash stops flowing.

By then, those people with the entitlement mentality will have eaten what is in their homes and will be getting hungry. Some will try begging for food. Others will shoplift. Stores will be looted, both for useful things like food and also for alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Crime will run rampant, as people’s baser instincts take over.

When the stores are empty, these people will start looking in other directions. Some smarter ones will seek out warehouses and other places where there is a likelihood of an inventory of food.

Others will look to their neighbors, trying to see who might have something they can beg, borrow or steal. As they get more desperate, they will even be willing to kill for that food.

Those of us who have prepared for such an eventuality will have to make a choice. We either use the supplies we have to help others, ensuring the demise of our own families, or we shut those people out, condemning them to suffering and death, so that we can protect our children.

As the situation continues, violence will increase. That’s what happened in Argentina. Law abiding citizens had to lock themselves in their homes to defend themselves. Children were no longer able to play outdoors, unsupervised.

Those who were still driving would run red lights, merely slowing to ensure that it was safe to go through the intersection. They had to, as stopping at an intersection opened them up to attack. Anyone they didn’t know personally became a potential enemy, as crime rates surged.

We can expect the same… and even worse. The larger number of guns in the United States and their ready availability will mean that those who turn rogue in their search for food will have the capability of greater violence. An equally high amount of violence will be needed to stop or subdue them.

Those of us who are prepared will use our guns to protect our families. But what of those who are not?

Only a small percentage of Americans, even American conservatives are preppers. So the number of conservative gun owners who have guns but aren’t preppers outnumber those of us who are. While conservatives tend to use their guns to protect, rather than to commit crimes, all bets are off when their children are hungry.

Desperate people, as they say, do desperate things. Some of those people, even though they were the best of honest, law-abiding citizens all their lives, will snap, when their children start crying for food.

It will be ugly; that’s for sure. We depend on money too much, to live without it. Oh, we can live without it if we prepare to live without it, but that requires time and work. Few are making that effort; too few.

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This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia.

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5 Ways to Make Candles Last Longer

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com Candles are both decorative and functional.  We tend to use more candles beginning in Thanksgiving and throughout the fall and winter seasons.  They give a great ambiance at the dinner table or throughout the house, and can be used as emergency lighting in a power outage. Soy candles are said to last longer than regular wax candles.  Quick tip:  For emergencies, choose long lasting candles, and don’t forget to store matches next to […]

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50 Interesting Facts About Life In The Great Depression

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Although the Great Recession is officially over, our economic problems have just begun. Wall Street and the Federal Reserve essentially papered over the systemic problems that led to the stock market crash in 2008. They may have kicked the can down the road, but they are almost out of road. I believe shortly after the […]

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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!

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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!

Money Mondays: Money Hack to Help You Stay on Budget

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com If you are trying to stay on budget but seem to be having difficulty succeeding, here is a hack to help you get there. Money Hack to Help You Stay on Budget:  The Debit Card Diet We tried the debit card diet during the month of August in our own Apartment Prepper household. What is it? The Debit Card Diet involves using cash for all shopping transactions.  Mr Apt Prepper and I agreed […]

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Money Mondays: “Your Playbook for Tough Times” May Be Just What You Need

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com I just finished reading my review copy of the new book by Donna Freedman, Your Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul.  I have read Donna Freedman’s articles for years, since she first started writing the MSN Money Smart Spending blog.  She has been through some tough financial times and has found a way to thrive. This is a timely book A lot […]

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How to Survive a Stock Market Crash from All Time Highs

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How to Survive a Stock Market Crash from All Time Highs The stock market is at all time highs. Usually when it crashes, it’s from the highest heights. Black Tuesday (1929), Black Monday (1987), the dot-com bubble (2000), the Credit Crisis and Great Recession (2008) all came from market highs…  and it’s been a bull market …

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Money Mondays: Should You Keep Receipts?

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com One of the challenges of staying organized in a small space is dealing with receipts.  Receipts from purchases, bank transactions seem to keep multiplying and cluttering up pockets, wallets and purses.  It is tempting to just get rid of them.  However, I have found you need to keep receipts for a certain period of time before discarding them. Dealing with receipts: Cash machine transactions:  When I use the ATM I keep them for […]

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8 Reasons Chickens Nearly Always Pay For Themselves (And Then Some)

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The Easy Livestock That Pays For Itself – And Then Some

Image source: Pixabay.com

A recent egg customer noted the thick stack of bills in the worn red canvas pencil case I use for egg money, and remarked that sales must be going well these days.

I replied that they were indeed doing nicely. The pullets are all up and running, and the older hens have bounced back from their molts and resumed laying again.

“The girls ought to be getting their own wi-fi and spa treatments,” my friend said, laughing.

It is true that my backyard chickens deserve to be treated well, and they are. The great thing about raising laying hens is that a few egg sales can pay for not only all the birds’ needs but can pad the pockets of farmers a bit, too.

Get Diatomaceous Earth Here! It’s The Time-Tested Way To Get Rid Of Bugs

I have raised a variety of other livestock, and each animal was rewarding in its own way. However, none have been so consistently self-supporting as chickens. Following are some ways my backyard birds pay for themselves.

1. Eggs. I have an endless supply of fresh organic free-range eggs, which are said to be lower in cholesterol than factory-farmed eggs. Around my house, there is no shortage of omelets, fried egg sandwiches, frittatas and egg-rich baked goods — made with eggs that go for premium prices if I were to buy them retail.

2. Sales. My surplus eggs sell for a reasonable amount, often the same price as weeks-old factory-farmed eggs in the grocery store. Even though they could easily fetch far more, I choose to keep mine affordable. Even so, my egg income easily covers the cost of everything the birds need.

3. Inexpensive to feed. My hens get top-of-the-line all-organic grain and scratch, and there is still plenty of egg money left over after I buy them food and supplies. In my particular situation, it helps that the birds have access to ample pasture and woods where they can scratch for their food of choice. Grain is always their last choice. But even in wintertime when they eat mostly grain and are not able to forage, I break even on feed costs.

4. Easy to house. My chickens have a cozy coop which is well-insulated against the winter cold, in addition to optional shelters from sun and rain where they can spend time during the day. According to my calculations, they paid for their own Taj Mahal in three or four years of egg-laying.

8 Reasons Chickens Nearly Always Pay For Themselves (And Then Some)

Image source: Pixabay.com

5. Can be treated humanely with minimal effort and costs. Chickens have few needs — food, clean water, shelter and protection from predation — and thrive well on very little. Homesteaders who are concerned with compassionate care for animals can easily attain such a goal.

6. Help with kitchen and garden cleanup. My chickens love all manner of food nobody else wants to eat. They will gladly snap up vegetable trimmings, past-prime produce, home-canned jellies and chutneys that have been sitting on the larder shelf too long, and stale bread, all of which saves space in the compost bin and saves on chicken feed costs. Chickens are omnivores, too, so they will eat by-products from meat and dairy which would otherwise go into the trash.

7. They love bugs and other pests. Mine eat ticks, flying insects, beetles and other garden menaces. It is good for them, provides them ample entertainment, and reduces my pest population. This results in better vegetable yields and less need for pesticides.

All The Answers To Every Chicken Question And Quandary …

8. Meat and stock. My laying hens stay around the henhouse until they die of natural causes. Even when they stop laying, or when what few eggs they lay have paper-thin shells and break when they land in the nest box, the old girls stay. That is not the way everyone does it, but homesteaders need to do what feels right to them.

However, my homestead does sometimes raise chickens specifically for meat. The result is clean organic meat and stock at a significant savings over the same product purchased elsewhere, and is yet another example of how keeping chickens is an endeavor which pays for itself.

There is not much that can be had for free in today’s world, and there are not many endeavors which truly pay for themselves. In many cases, chickens are one of those rarities. By laying eggs, paying for their own upkeep, keeping other homestead costs down by taking care of scraps and bugs, and providing affordable high-quality meat, keeping chickens is very much a worthwhile activity.

Do you agree that chickens pay for themselves? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

Money Mondays: Stock Up on Bargains and Boost Your Supplies Before Summer Ends

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com August is a great time to boost your food storage and emergency supplies.  It is still summer, but the back to school sales are upon us.  With the warm weather,  it is also prime yard sale season in many areas across the country. Now is the time to shop end of summer sales on camping equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, outdoor lighting, outdoor cooking accessories, summer clothes and footwear, and backpacks. Summer […]

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Surviving Your Dentist and Bitcoin

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Hello
1 I am a retired lawyer – for 30 years I defended dentists in malpractice suits. I can tell you with some authority…you are exactly correct!!
Many years ago I started going to see other dentists every time one told me I had a cavity. I’d go to another dentist, never mention I’d already been to see one, & the 2nd one would never mention a cavity.
I also learned to never say I was having tooth pain (they are taught to ask). Just say “no problems” & see if they can find it.
Obviously, there are exceptions, but…
2 As for why we have such an inefficient medical system, Milton Friedman accurately described it back in the 1970’s. The problem is too much money. Government programs pump billions in to medical schools & they have to spend it. This is why we have studies on pregnant pigs, studies on insects, conflicting studies on the most minute aspect of everything. They have to spend that money. Way too much supply for the demand. So medical folks create more demand!
3 I’m enjoying your book on the Argentina Collapse. Very good! Thanks for writing it.
Do you have an opinion on Bitcoin in preparation for an economic collapse? I don’t see it on your site..
Thanks!
Jack

.
Thanks Jack for sharing your experience. I’m glad you’re enjoying my book too.
I agree about this being a money problem (seems its always the issue). They just have to milk money out of the sheep any way they can.
About bitcoin. I may have talked about it before but I’m no expert. Some of the most evil people in the planet seem to hate bitcoin so that makes me like it already. It may be a huge thing in the future, and today it does have a place for sure. It’s hard to understand what digital money actually is. I know it took me enough time, but once you understand why it’s “mined” and why that is important you understand it a bit better. I think its another tool in the tool box. I think of it as a digital version of gold, with some advantages over it and obviously some disadvantages, the greatest one clearly being the lack of time proven acceptance over thousands of years like precious metals. In a diversified portfolio I think it does have a place and I understand why people are excited about it although I try to be cautious.
Regards,
FerFAL

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Money Mondays: Six Things I Did to Save Money this Weekend

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com I am always looking for ways to save money so I can increase my prepping budget.  Some days I am able to net pocket change, but some days I succeed in saving a few dollars.  Here’s a snapshot of what I did this weekend: Six things I did to save money this weekend: Dehydrated herbs I do not own a food dehydrator, but found another way to dehydrate herbs without one.  I had […]

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Money Mondays: If You Don’t Have a Job, Make One Up

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 Written by Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper This article first appeared in The Organic Prepper With unemployment rates skyrocketing, going out and finding a new job can be nigh on to impossible these days.  This is only going to get trickier as the government continues to force businesses to increase the minimum wage. Workloads that used to provide employment to two people are now forced onto one. The work performed gets shoddier as the one employed person struggles to keep […]

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When It’s Morality Vs. Money, What Should The Government Do?

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When It's Morality Vs. Money, What Should The Government Do?

Image source: Pixabay.com

How far is too far? That is the question that Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina lawmakers will have to answer in the coming weeks.

Back in March the conservative governor signed a bill into law requiring all citizens who identify as transgender to use public bathrooms that correspond with their anatomical gender – thus overturning a Charlotte law that had required businesses to allow transgendered people to use the restroom of their choice.

The state immediately was met with great hostility from the media, the entertainment industry, corporate America and the LGBT community. Several months later, the onslaught hasn’t stopped. That is to be expected, but the shrewdness with which dissenters have made their opinions known has become the ultimate test in morality vs. economics.

Proving once again that money is the greatest idol in our nation, conservatives have begun to grow weary of the effects the law has had on the state.

Christian Heroes For Christian Kids: These Amazing Stories Are Putting God Back Into History!

Almost immediately after passing the bill into law — a bold measure to say the least – rock star Bruce Springsteen cancelled his performance in the state, citing the law as reason enough to boycott his own fan base. But he wasn’t alone. Pop singer Nick Jonas jumped on board the same train. It wasn’t long before liberal New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive action prohibiting travel of state employees to North Carolina on official business, which ultimately caused the most recent bout of drama to break headlines: the cancellation of Albany’s game at Duke University, nestled right inside Durham.

Corporate powerhouses such as PayPal have expressed refusal to open facilities and do business in North Carolina due to the legislative measure, costing hundreds or thousands of jobs and millions of dollars. One after the other, dominoes keep falling in the fight for progressive power in the Republican-controlled state, and the pressure keeps mounting. As business after business and celebrity after celebrity keeps boycotting McCrory, the lines between morality and money are getting very, very blurry.

Donald Trump brought slight criticism to the law, citing its potential economic fallout. The question that McCrory will have to answer in coming months is one of virtue: Is money more important? Or is morality more important?

When It's Morality Vs. Money, What Should The Government Do?

Image source: Pixabay.com

Certainly, money would be the easy way out and is the norm nowadays. When the question of legalizing marijuana comes about, potential profit is always heavily considered in the discussion. States institute government-controlled lotteries in an effort to rack up large swaths of funding – lest people drive across the border to a neighboring state. The list goes on and on. In a world run by currency, an ethics play is a powerfully divergent move against the grain, but could it be that McCrory’s law is indeed a step in the right direction?

Want To Know The Real ‘God Story’ Behind The Constitution?

Jesus Himself said, “No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

Governor McCrory took the same stance the apostles did in Acts 5:29, when they boldly proclaimed, “We must obey God rather than men!” It’s sad that the question of ethics always comes down to the question of money. Christians are very quick to sacrifice fundamental truths – even truths about our design and anatomy – in a cheap effort to appease the masses, only to find that the masses always want to take more. At some point the buck has to stop, and those left with a conscience have to take the fight right to an unrighteous society.

The same business big-wigs that demand a bow and conformance to their beliefs are the same businesses that would trade all of their thousands of employees for cheaper manufacturing rates, overseas, in a heartbeat. To bow down to the big guys in such a time as this would be to admit defeat and willfully give the keys of policy and ultimately power to corporate America, snuffing out the grassroots efforts and freedoms of private citizens and small businesses – who opposed the Charlotte policy — once and for all.

This is the time, now more than ever, for truth to prevail and for North Carolina to act as a state government should: as an independent state, conducting affairs as it legislates best on behalf of its private citizens and small-business owners from a place of conviction and truth.

Many professing Christians would tell you that blessing follows morality, but as we’ve seen and will continue to see, when the pressure’s on you, you never know what decision will be made. I, for one, hope McCrory stays the course. But one thing is for sure: America is watching, and the heat is on.

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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Ron Owen Report. Australian Elections 2016.

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Elections 2016.

The eternal war between the Individual and the State ebbs and flows with the same regularity as the oceans tide. Last week, on 23rd June (Britains Independence Day) the individuals stood up and voted to break away from the tyranny of the European Parliament. The little guys won, the smaller more independent parties finally beat the media/bank/big political party machine. Lets hope its not a one off.

We are living in a vary exciting time, due to many factors, one large one being the internet, facebook and twitter the individual are competing with mass media. Mass media, due to its reduction in advertising revenue is in decline, not quite like a falling star, but faster than anyone could have envisaged five years ago. The Trump phenomena is still tied to big party Republicans politics, but the died in the wool Republicans hate him, as he is financially & morally independent of them all. They cannot control him and he has successfully used his ‘one liners’ to set up the main stream media to rail against him, knowing that his  ‘one liners’ are irrefutable to the common man and woman, ‘the individuals’. We are the people who are fed up, with Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dummer politics, we will be the people who cause the revival of individual power. No longer are we going to be the meat in the sandwich with left wing buying votes for immigrants and right wing importing cheap labour, at the cost of higher GST to pay the ‘fly in’ welfare bill. Australia still  needs a Nigel Farage UKIP, or a Trump to unify the middle ground, but as we go to the poll next Saturday we have for the first time lots of choices, Martin Turnbull (turncoat) who is very acceptable to all the major bankers like Goldman Sachs and Bill Shorten who is acceptable to left wing unions, both are smiling as they re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, just hours before it hits the iceberg. Both are glancing forwards to see the Independent  imminent iceberg slowly but surely approaching. Look hard the smiles are only a façade to cover their fear.

We Should All Know Who To Vote For. Have you Contacted your Local Candidates Yet.
Lots of readers, of this Bulletin have contacted me asking for advice on who to vote for, some have asked me to print a suggested ballot paper out, but they do not realise that this humble message goes to 10,000 shooters in ever State and electorate in Australia, even Tasmania, as there are so many variations it is impossible and would only confuse the issue.
So to simplify, just keep this loud and clear in your minds and please pass this on to all of your friends and families. All major parties, in all states are fully aware and concerned about the growing resentment against them by Australia’s middle ground, added to this is there concern that the 2 million licensed shooters in Australia which equated to 15 % of the voting public is a larger factor than the traditional middle ground swinging voters.

This Has Held Back The New National Firearm Agreement.
Twice this past year the Police Ministers from every State have met with the Commonwealth Justice Minister and they have adjourned the decision on a new altered NFA. The Commonwealth Government has refused FOI requests from Dr Samara McPhedran, (Senior Research Fellow at Griffith University’s Violence Research and Prevention Program,) submitted a FOI in March 2016 to access the documents mentioned in a News.com.au article that the government has been circulating since November 2015. The FOI request was denied by Stephen Bouwhuis, Assistant Secretary at the Attorney-General’s Department.
Mr Bouwhuis confirmed the document existed, however refused to disclose it. He said in a letter to McPhedran, “I do not consider that it would be in the public interest to disclose this document”.
“The information contained in the document was communicated to the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department by or on behalf of state or territory governments on a confidential basis, for the purposes of discussions about the proposed agreement,” he said in the letter.

“Following consultations with the relevant state or territory government agencies, a majority of agencies objected to the disclosure of the document on the basis that it would disclose information provided to the Commonwealth in confidence.”

Blind Freddy can understand from Stephen Bouwhuis statement that the major parties have a bad plan for us, that they don’t want to announce before the election because they fear a huge backlash at the ballot box from the shooting community. Even the process is obviously corrupt as it is a case of ‘Caesar judging Caesar’, the Justice Department runs the COAG meetings and the FDA and it also controls all Freedom of Information requests. So its no surprise that Caesar won’t allow us to see the document.

If the major parties have a huge cut in there vote percentages they will not have the guts to rip a new FDA into the Australian shooters. On the other hand if one of them has a huge majority we can dig a big hole and get ready to bury your tears. So no one has an excuse, so do your duty vote against the big four.

Vote instead for the Shooters Party, or Liberal Democrats, (Senator David Leyonhjelm) or Katters Party, or One Nation, or Liberal Alliance, or any sympathetic Independent. We all should be on the telephone, or on the email asking all of these parties, even our traditional enemies, Liberal Labour, Nationals and the Greens what improvements are they going to make for licenced shooters, don’t be discouraged by the long silence as every time they are asked and answer in a negative, or lie, they know they are losing votes, the bad guys are not known for their silence, they will never publically support us, but they will complain to their party henchmen and blame their losses on the shooters, so please get motivated and annoy them at this crucial time. They won’t listen again, like this for four years.

History of Treason in Parliament.
Many shooters have emailed in references to Section 44 of the Commonwealth Constitution and asked why we have Muslims in parliament who give their Allegiance and Adherence to a foreign power, the political orientation of Islam when section 44 states,
Disqualification.
44. Any person who-
(i.) Is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power,
How can they honestly take the Oath of Allegiance?
I, A.B., do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law. SO HELP ME GOD!

These issues of ‘Allegiance’ are the product of the Bill of Rights and were codified there in the Oath of Allegiance followed by,
“That the said Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons being the two Houses of Parlyament should continue to sitt and with their Majesties Royall Concurrence make effectuall Provision for the Setlement of the Religion Lawes and Liberties of this Kingdome soe that the same for the future might not be in danger againe of being subverted. That noe Forreigne Prince Person Prelate, State or Potentate hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction Power Superiority Preeminence or Authoritie Ecclesiasticall or Spirituall within this Realme Soe helpe me God.”

As you can see the problem that they were addressing was very similar to what we now face in all countries of Western civilisation. Infiltration and subversion from leaders whose real interest is in a religious ideology that has its own separate political agenda to Australia. In the days when the Bill or Rights was written it was ‘Popery’ and today it is Islam. That document the Bill of Rights  is also relevant to shooter in Australia due to its other provisions,

“Disarming Protestants, &c.
By causing severall good Subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when Papists were both Armed and Imployed contrary to Law.”

Subjects’ Arms.

That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.

John Locke wrote  ‘The Second Treatise of Civil Government’ which inspired the freedoms and rights listed in every Bill of Rights since 1689.

That document is also our Bill of Rights and it is the Bill of Rights that the Americans copied into their Bill of Rights which are included as amendments to their Constitution and in our case are acknowledged under the Coronation Oath which every Monarch submits to. As power of assent to all laws flows from the Crown the Governors and Governor Generals should not give assent to laws that are in breach of those Constitutional documents such as the Bill of Rights and Magna Carta that limit the Crown powers.

So why won’t our Parliament disqualify the Muslim members of parliament, why won’t our Parliamentary members uphold the provisions of the Bill of Rights? Same reasons for both problems. Just look at the next provision in our Commonwealth Constitution Section 45.

“Vacancy on happening of disqualification.
45. If a senator or member of the House of Representatives-

(i.) Becomes subject to any of the disabilities mentioned in the last preceding section: or

(iii.) Directly or indirectly takes or agrees to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth, or for services rendered in the Parliament to any person or State: his place shall thereupon become vacant.”

As all party politicians take an honorarium and are paid election expenses after pre-selection by a political party, which is paid to them on the basis that they render a service to the Party once they are elected, they should all be Disqualified. This provision was thoughtfully placed in the Constitution by our founding fathers Henry Parks and Sir William (Good Iron Mac) Mc Millen to prevent Party control of our Australian Parliament. They wanted our representatives to represent the individuals not Political Parties. So on the basis of “Those that live in Glass Houses should not throw Stones” our party politicians will never complain as they have to so  we the people have to accept treason as a daily occurrence in our halls of government. That does not mean we just walk away from it, we have to tell everyone we know about it, we have to keep striving to change things and regain our freedoms. Its not much of a choice its simple either Vote for Liberty or Tyranny.

Questions to Ask Your Anti Gun Friends??
On Facebook every time we have a published massacre, ( I say that as there are many massacres that occur every day, forty or fifty dead in a third world country, but if they are not in a Gay Brothel, or a Gun Free zone we never hear about them) we are inundated by anti gunners full of Hoplophobia zeal. I have over the last forty years had to deal with them personally or in letters to the editor and I have found that best way is to ask them nicely to answer a few questions and then your will answer theirs. I have put the questions on this site so you can easily cut and paste them into a facebook post.

Ron Owen.


3 Survival Skills You Will Need If Society Collapses

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Obviously the more survival skills you have, the better. But there are three in particular that will especially useful if society collapses. In a total societal collapse, you would find yourself right back in the 19th century. And if it gets that bad, then even the best preppers will eventually need something from someone else. […]

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5 Ways You’re Throwing Away Money On The Homestead (No. 2 Trips Up Lots Of People)

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Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

Even small expenses can soon add up on a monthly or annual basis on the homestead. Here are five ways that homesteaders waste money that could be put to better use elsewhere.

1. Not repairing clothing

Working on the homestead is hard labor, and it takes a toll not only on the body but also on clothing. However, when good quality clothing becomes worn with a hole, or torn, or loses a button, resist the temptation to automatically discard it and buy new replacements. Instead, learn to mend clothing. A simple sewing kit, manual sewing machine, and basic supply of cloth can greatly extend the service life of clothing.

Also, consider hanging your laundry out to dry. Air drying is much easier on clothing than using a drying machine. After all, that lint in the drying machine filter is just small pieces of clothing material that belong with the clothing, not in the trash.

2. Paying too much in property taxes

Property taxes are an annual evil that siphon away serious dollars that would be better managed by the property owner instead of the government. While there’s no magic wand that can reduce the property taxes on a given piece of property, off-the-gridders should give serious consideration to how much acreage they really need.

Get Off-Grid With Wind Power!

A lot of people yearning to escape modern life in the cities or suburbs dream of 40 acres or a hundred or a thousand. And if your heart’s set on it and you can afford that, go for it.

Otherwise, think about how much property you really want. I lived for years on 40 acres and loved it. But maintaining the perimeter fencing and keeping an eye out for trespassers was a lot of work. When I decided to move, I bypassed the 40-acre and 80-acre properties and settled on five acres. I have enough room for gardening and small animals, but the area is small enough for me to keep an eye on.

3. Throwing away material that can be reused or recycled

5 Ways You're Throwing Away Money On The Homestead (No. 2 Trips Up Lots Of People)

Image source: Pixabay.com

While many homesteads don’t have trash pickup and they routinely haul it to the dump, many do subscribe to private trash pickup services. If you do, scrutinize the size of the container you’re paying for. You may be able to downsize. Frankly, for homesteads that should be reusing or recycling a lot of material, the smallest trash container available should be sufficient.

4. Not bartering

If you have a thriving homestead, you probably have excess goods or services that others may be willing to barter for. Why buy something from a store when you can barter for it?

For example, my neighbors own a ranch and raise cattle and pigs. Instead of buying beef or pork from a store, I trade chicken eggs, rabbits or produce from my garden for meat from my neighbors.

It works with services, too. I can help the neighbors on their ranch and get some meat in return.

5. Not buying used

There are many opportunities for thrifty homesteaders to buy used items that are acceptable. For instance, new books these days cost close to 10 dollars. So browse in a used bookstore and pick up a great read for 50 cents.

Clothing is another opportunity. While I buy much of my clothing new, I buy used clothing for when I’m working outside. When I’m digging soil or cleaning animal pens, used clothes work just fine for me. Goodwill stores and garage sales often yield gently used clothing for a dollar or less.

Conclusion

Simple changes can yield small savings. However, over time, these small savings become big savings.

What other ways do homesteaders throw away money? Share your ideas in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

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.

 

Money Mondays: Can a Crisis Like Venezuela’s Happen Here?

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  This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com You can’t help but feel bad about the citizens of Venezuela, as they suffer under miserable economic conditions:  People waiting in lines all night and day to buy basic necessities, formerly middle class people having to hunt dogs and cats in their neighborhood for their next meal, with widespread rioting and looting. But can it happen here?  This post certainly got my attention Coming Destruction? Alan Greenspan Warns “Venezuela Under Martial Law […]

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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 […]

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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

Weather has been less than optimal but we still got a lot done.

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We got hail this week but most of the plants seemed to do all right despite the pounding. Most of my plants are somewhat protected in containers, so damage was minimal.  We are sort of behind the power curve on planting the garden but so far that is not a bad thing as the weather has been a bit wonky this year.  So far the plants  seem to be doing well and my focus has been adding in grass, making my pathways and a backyard that works for me and Mom.  Mom and I are doing a lot of basic yard maint. and cleaning up the grape vines has been a challenge this year since I let them get over grown along with the lilacs and a couple of or bushes. We got a lot of of the overgrown stuff cut back but we still have a lot of work to do on cutting back the grape vines.  I’m a little behind on putting the garden and it is rainy so rototilling the soil is just not on until the soil dries a bit. I’m adding a new bed to the front yard for edible flowers and annuls that just add a bit of color. The flower bed will be done in red landscape timbers to sort of fit the “craftsman home” effect.

True Value hardware is having a great sale for most of the things I need. I’m buying up Semi-gloss paint for the house as that makes the walls easy to clean and they have tarps on sale that will finish up protecting the wood pile from rain yet the tarps can be folded up to let the wood pile dry. The wood overhead cover is rotting and boards that support the roof are warping big time.  Two more tarps will cover the firewood and I can start cutting out the the bad roof over the wood pile.  I will be able to afford enough paint to cover most of the house with colors that work with a Craftsman type house.

I just bought a 10 gallon air compressor/oil type from Harbor Freight and a basic tool set up. This air compressor should be a large enough for most basic jobs around the house. I bought a small paint spray gun for paint but until I test it, I’m not sure about trusting it despite the reviews.

Mom always see what has not been done. I see how much we have got done.  Actually Mom gets down on herself for not doing more around the place. I think she is outstanding in her work cleaning up the grape vines and helping me trim up trees and bushes.  I suppose it goes back to her being a recovering Catholic.  It’s guilt imposed via childhood. I see the glass always full, It just might be full of air which is not helpful at times. I think we are doing great! The little “Casa de Chaos” got a new roof, a lot of work on the yard.  Hell we can run my washer without running a garden hose to the shower. We have grass for the dogs and great paths that are a pleasure to walk rather than uneven dirt that could twist an ankle of knee. I think we are doing pretty well over all.

Shrinking U.S. middle class: 47% of Americans don’t have $400 for Emergencies

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The title says it all. A recent pool by The Federal Reserve Board shows that 47% of Americans would struggle to come up with $400 to deal with emergencies. The article is well worth reading.

The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans

The (misguided) idea is that higher education should come along with massive debt. If we add to that a mortgage and car payments most Americans simply accept the fact of living in debt most of their adult lives. If we throw in unexpected job/career difficulties or serious diseases, this means most Americans struggle with keeping themselves from going bankrupt if not literally dying.

Lesson of the day: Cash is king, even for economic collapses you want a cash cushion. Economic disasters teach us that in nearly all cases cash does not lose value overnight, especially not stable well recognized currencies. You should aim to have at least a month worth of expenses in cash.

If banks close and ATMs run out of money, how much cash do you have at hand?

FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

BREAKING: Billionaire Investor Abandons Stocks For Gold; Says Market Is Collapsing

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Billionaire Investor Abandons Stocks For Gold; Says Market Is Collapsing

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A legendary billionaire investor apparently believes the stock market is about to collapse, and he’s moving his money into gold instead.

George Soros has dumped 37 percent of his US stocks and made huge investments in gold, according to Bloomberg, which reported that Soros bought 1.05 million shares in the SPDR Gold trust (an exchange fund that tracks bullion prices) and $264 million worth of Barrick Gold Corp (NYSE: ABX), the world’s largest gold-mining company.

“A hard landing is practically unavoidable,” Soros said of the current state of the market in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “I’m not expecting it; I’m observing it.”

Raul Moreno, CEO and co-founder of iBillionaire, told CNN this week, “It’s been a while since he’s been this bearish. Soros has made money in markets going up or down, so people definitely trust what he’s saying.”

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Soros also doubled his bet that the S&P will lose value.

What Soros Knows

Soros built a $24 billion fortune predicting what the market is going to do next. In 1989, Soros predicted Japanese stocks would collapse, and they did. He also made a very successful bet that the Bank of England (the UK’s equivalent to the Federal Reserve) would devalue the pound in 1992. It did, and Soros made $1 billion on the deal.

Soros has been, for some time, warning of another financial meltdown like that of 2008. He has said the European debt crisis is worse than the crisis of 2008, which began when the US mortgage market collapsed.

sorosNor is it just Europe Soros is worried about. He also has predicted that the Chinese currency – the Yuan – is about to collapse. That would bring down the Chinese economy and potentially cause a collapse of stock prices in the United States. Many American companies are heavily dependent on sales to China.

One of Soros’ biggest fears is deflation, or a collapse in prices and corporate profits. A similar scenario was one of the worst effects of the Great Depression.

Soros based his Chinese prediction on the fact that prices for finished goods in China have been falling for 46 straight months, Bloomberg reported.

Not Just Soros

Soros’ former employee, money manager Stanley Druckenmiller, has been urging investors to buy gold because of the huge amount of debt in China, CNN reported. Druckenmiller compared the state of Chinese banking to subprime mortgages in the US in 2007-2008, and predicted it will soon collapse.

The Federal Reserve will not be able to get the economy out of the current situation, Druckenmiller warned investors.

“The Fed has no end game,” he said. “The Fed’s objective seems to be making sure the S&P goes another six months without a 20 percent decline.”

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Druckenmiller is also worried about what he calls reckless behavior of American CEOs who have been wasting money on stock buybacks and mergers.

Bond investor Jeff Gundlach of DoubleLine Capital also thinks that the Fed could make the economy worse with incredibly low or negative interest rates, CNN reported.

Negative rates are really bad,” Gundlach said. “It’s going to backfire like an old Model-T.”

Gundlach says gold could hit a price of $1,400 a troy ounce this year because of economic turbulence. Gold was trading at $1,271.38 an ounce on May 18, according to goldprice.com.

What is your reaction? Do you believe the stock market is going to collapse? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Preparing for Economic Collapse

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downturnPeople 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 […]

The post Preparing for Economic Collapse appeared first on Vigil Prudence.

Sod is finished Huzzah!

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Before
After
After 2

This is the before and after on the sod project. The rest of the grassy areas will be done with grass seed. One mistake I made with the grass seed was not keeping the ground wet. I’m now watering the grass seed areas daily and it has helped get the new grass areas started growing. I will be using landscape timbers as a border on the right and at the rock entry area at the back gate. The last job will be adding in more mulch on the right  and that should keep down the weeds and break down to add organic material to the dirt.

Mom did a great job on cleaning up the grape vines and the alley way. Now I can add the sedums, plant the sunflowers and add more mulch to keep down the weeds and hopefully the new plants will start choking out the weeds. Just killing or pulling weeds is not enough if you want to have good soil and growing spaces. You got to help mama nature by replacing the weeds with good plants.

Now that we have the backyard mostly finish mom and I can concentrate on the garden area.

I started laying out the sod

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Laying out sod isn’t cheap but it seems to be a good choice for the small area I want grass for the doggies. The area I’m laying the sod is 30 feet by 12 feet so about 20 rolls of sod is enough to cover the area.  I laid out 12 rolls of sod today and another 8 rolls should finish up the job. The other areas along the borders I have planted grass seed and while slower, it is also a lot easier on the budget. Prepping/building up your soil is critical for both grass seed and sod along with keeping the ground, grass seed and sod damp so the grass can take hold and put down good roots.  The internet has great info about how to lay out sod as well as calculating the cost. You will get sod for about 30 cents per square foot and if you have poor soil figure about 30 cents per square foot to improve the soil. 65 -75 cents per square foot is a good guesstimate for the cost of sod but if you have time for growing grass from seed you can half that cost.  Of course if you buy sod in bulk you will probably get a better price.  If you have someone else install the sod you should double the price because of labor.  I think most people could handle laying sod as a DIY project and save some money at least if you want to sod a small area and not a whole yard.

For grass seed or sod you will need to prepare the soil.  A de-thatching rake is perfect for cutting into bare dirt to make it easier for the grass to put down roots.  Also a de-thatching rake is great for keeping a lawn healthy.  I’m adding a lot of top soil as well as some Steer manure/compost mix to augment the clay soil I have in the backyard. Mom’s chickens are doing a great job turning over the compost pile, but I’m still learning the best way to incorporate the compost in my yard work and building the soil. If you decide on sod, lay out the rolls off set sort of like tile so the “seams” of the sod are not all parallel or you will get gaps.  Plan your yard to make all yard work as easy and quick as possible while being inviting.  Using mulch and rock to block weeds, creating borders and paths ways will stop you from creating bad/dead areas in your lawn plus cut down on weeding or using a weed wacker around trees that may cut into the trunk and give an opening to bad bugs. While I’m cheating by adding sod for a quick lawn area I’m also looking at what the yard will look like in the future as well as how functional it is for ease of work.

A few things I noticed about laying out sod. The dogs love having the grassy area and have not done as much digging where I have planted grass seed in other areas. By adding mulch and now the sod we have several nice soft areas that are a pleasure to walk on and will help cushion falls. This is a great thing considering my handicap and works well for anyone with weak bones.  A big plus for me is I’m leveling my backyard and no longer fear twisting an ankle then falling down on hard soil or concrete paths. Mulch paths help retain water and healthy grass will help a lot blocking any weed growth.  Healthy plant growth really cuts down on the mud the dogs bring in. Last winter was a nightmare of mud because I had so much bare ground. Gosh if I had kids it would have ten times worse.

One last thing. If you have a clay soil don’t add sand for drainage as you will make a terrible concrete. Add organic material such as a wood mulch or compost. This is a slower method but after the mulch/compost breaks down over the winter you will have better soil for plants and or a garden.  Using sand for leveling if building a stone wall, deck or garden bed borders is okay. Building good soil can take years depending on your dirt.  Remember if you have lots of weeds your soil is probably missing something. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to experiment with solutions. The solutions may not work but at least you will have learned something practical and not just based on theory.

Don’t be afraid to screw up as that is how you learn. The school of hard knocks may seem a little expensive but it is still a lot cheaper than a college degree and you get to try out both theory and practical applications of your knowledge.

 

Easy Ways To Make Money Off-Grid (By Doing What You’re Already Doing)

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Easy Ways To Make Money Off-Grid (By Doing What You’re Already Doing)

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One of the best things about living off-grid is that you can make some money while living your dream lifestyle. I’m not talking about millions of dollars, but instead hundreds or thousands of dollars — enough to supplement other sources of income, which allows you to continue living off-grid.

For these, you likely already have experience in them or already are involved:

1. Selling surplus protein

Many off-the-grid homesteads have a collection of small animals raised for protein. Chicken and rabbits are common, but other fowl or fish are also possible. One easy way to make some extra money is to sell surplus protein. For example, you can only eat so many eggs at a time. So if your hens are rocking, sell the extra eggs.

Discover 1,147 Secrets Of Successful Off-Grid Living!

The key is diversity. Many off-the-grid homesteaders focus on one or two animals, so eating chicken or rabbit every day can be monotonous. Your neighbors, who may raise cattle or pigs, may be eager customers for a few meals of chicken or rabbit rather than beef or pork. Word can spread quickly, and you even could sell the items at the local farmers’ market.

2. Selling surplus produce

Easy Ways To Make Money Off-Grid (By Doing What You’re Already Doing)

Image source: Pixabay.com

The same goes for the output of your garden. Make a special effort to grow something different and uncommon that other nearby neighbors will happily buy from you. For example, while everyone grows potatoes and carrots, consider some other root vegetables like salsify, parsnip, or sunchokes. Again, variety is the spice of life, and neighbors and others in town may happily pay you for something different from the ordinary.

3. Growing grains

If you have the available land and labor (like a horse or a tractor), growing grains is a moneymaker. People are naturally drawn to buying locally, and if you can offer something relatively unique like quinoa, sorghum or amaranth, this will be a welcome change to corn or flour. You could bake and sell bread, cakes and other delights made from your own flour.

You also can expand this to growing fodder for your neighbors’ pigs or cows.

4. Making household supplies

Another way to make some extra money is to focus on making household supplies that every homestead needs. Canning food, growing and producing herbal remedies, tanning, making soap, and making candles are all options. The best part about these options is that you can use supplies readily available on the homestead.

For example, candles use rendered animal fat. Soap can be made from lye. Herbal remedies come from the flowers and herbs in the garden. Finally, consider woodworking. While today’s shops are noisy places filled with buzzing saws and loud drills, people have built simple furniture and other items for centuries without modern tools or electricity.

5. Using your technical expertise

Easy Ways To Make Money Off-Grid (By Doing What You’re Already Doing)

Image source: Pixabay.com

Most off-the-gridders rely on some type of modern device for power – solar power, diesel generators or hydropower are common options. While all of these technologies are great alternatives to buying from the electric company, some degree of technical know-how is necessary to troubleshoot and repair an off-grid power source that’s not working.

So if you have solar power, become an expert on inverters and batteries. If you have a diesel generator, learn how to diagnose and fix any common generator problem. Likely, you and your neighbors live in remote areas, so those near you will appreciate having someone close by to troubleshoot and repair their off-grid power systems.

6. Blogging 

While many of us cherish books, a lot of us learn by searching the Internet. You can make some money by setting up a website and writing blogs about your own off-grid living experiences.

Conclusion

Often, people living off-the-grid can use some supplemental income. By putting your labor and homestead bounty to work, you can provide goods and services that others in the nearby community will readily pay for.

What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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

The Overlooked Way You Can Make THOUSANDS Of Dollars With Goats

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The Overlooked Way You Can Make THOUSANDS Of Dollars With Goats

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

Goats are awesome animals. They provide milk and meat for our tables, fertilizer for our soil, and hours of entertainment for us to enjoy. Another benefit they provide, which many people don’t realize or take for granted, is to serve as natural, alternative mowers.

When allowed to graze, goats will scout and sample a variety of wild edibles: weeds, flowers, twigs, vines, tree leaves, shoots — even the barks of young trees.

They’re so good at clearing brush that not a few enterprising farmers have made it their business to rent out goats – an enterprise that’s taken off this past decade. Though goat-grazing weed control dates back hundreds of years, it has lately become a growing movement for sustainability in landscape maintenance.

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Private land owners rent goats for weed control of their yards, woodlots and organic farms. Government agencies and environmental groups contract them for vegetation management of municipal lots, parks, forests and wetlands. Goat grazing also helps with the restoration of native habitats.

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In many states, the public works and transportation departments deploy goats to open up access roads and utility easements, clear railroads and roadsides, and simply reclaim places overrun with succession plants and invasive species. In drought-prone California, towns use goats for fire mitigation.

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Eco-friendly and Economical

Goats don’t use power tools that burn fossil fuel, spew out toxic fumes and make a lot of noise. They work quietly and do little to disturb the soil, leaving a very low carbon “hoofprint.” They don’t use chemical herbicides, nor create a massive mess of brush for landowners to rake, burn or haul to the landfill afterward. Instead, they gift them with rich, organic fertilizer – improving the soil for free. Plus, goats can get into areas hard to reach by man or machine, like slippery slopes and rocky terrain.

Diatomaceous Earth: The All-Natural Livestock De-Wormer

Best of all, they’re cheap. In 2014, rental costs ranged from $500-$1,500 per acre. Some outfits charged $250 per day for less than a dozen goats, while others charged as low as $2 a day per goat regardless of land area. Pricing really depends on several factors: location, brush density, established trails and topographical challenges in setting up a fence. Some operators say it takes 8-12 full-sized goats to clear an acre, while others claim they can get the job done with just three to four. Ultimately, it depends on how fast the owner wants his land cleared.

Food Fare

Lest you think the goats get the shorter end of the bargain here, think again. They get free meals consisting of the richest and tastiest wild forage.

Goats are voracious eaters. They’ll eat 8-10 pounds of salad a day, or about 5-15 percent of their body weight. Some of the invasive species they like to feast on are poison ivy, poison oak, blackberries, buckthorn, honeysuckle, multiflora rose, burdock or sticky bobs, yellow star thistle, scotch broom, leafy spurge, wisteria, privet and the ubiquitous kudzu.

Although there are some plants that are said to be potentially toxic to goats — like iris, rhododendron, buttercup and rhubarb — these animals are very picky and seem to be able to detect and avoid them on their own. They usually eat whatever has the highest level of nutrition in an area, and that varies according to what’s available, the time of season, and their familiarity with the species.

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“Targeted grazing” is what they call the deployment of goats in specific areas that are most infested with noxious, unsightly weeds. This raises the chance for native flora to thrive, while reducing the growth of unwanted ones. It’s a huge benefit to ranchers, who depend on native grasses and local forage for their cattle.

And, unlike horses and cattle, goats don’t spread seeds through their droppings. Their complex digestive systems are able to break down seeds, thus preventing these from growing.

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Even though goats don’t remove plant roots, they like stripping the bark of saplings down to the cane, which dry out and eventually die. Depending on what’s growing in an area and what’s being planned for it the next season, the goats are likely needed back once or twice to keep particularly stubborn, hardy species from re-growing.

A word of caution: Goats like the green bark of young trees and can debark full-sized ones and kill them — especially if they’re confined in a small, overgrazed area. If you’re going to graze your goats, make sure you protect trees that you don’t want eaten.

How to Goat-Graze

If you’re keeping goats in confinement but would like to use them for clearing brush, then start by introducing them to the invasive species in your area, and get them used to eating those. Initially, you can cut and carry the plants to their corral, and when the goats (and you) are ready, let them out more often to pasture and wooded areas. For a sizeable herd, you may want to get a guard or herd dog to ward off potential predators like coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions.

This Cool-To-The-Touch Lantern Provides 100,000 Hours Of Emergency Backup Lighting

If you’re going to target-graze, then make sure you have fencing that goats can’t easily break. A temporary electric fence or netting works best. There are solar-powered portable ones that are easy to assemble and move around so that you can strip-graze or divide up a large pasture into smaller, more manageable sections.

It’s a good idea to have a mix of different sizes of goats. Large ones can rise on their hind legs, reach for high branches and bear down on them with their weight, while the smaller ones can feast on lower branches and plants. Any variety of goats would do, but if you’ve got the budget and inclination to go for the pure breeds, rental operators like to use the Boer, Kiko and parasite-resistant Spanish breeds. Just make sure to purchase from a dealer that has similar brush types as you do. Also, don’t buy from a breeder that has high-maintenance goats. Pampered goats that have only been fed grass, hay or grain will take a lot of time and effort to get accustomed to wild forage.

Got goats? Rent Them Out

And if you’re thinking of turning this into an enterprise yourself, you may be in for a promising venture. So many invasive plants have made their way into the U.S. from Asia and Europe, that there won’t be a dearth of properties needing weed control.

Do you have any advice for using goats as weed control, or to make money? Share your tips in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

Gold, Rolex and Cash after SHTF

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File:Gold Bars.jpg

Hi

I read the portion of your site devoted to the Rolex watch and the supposed value of the watch.

For the last so many decades I have been dealing in vintage watches.

Couple of points. It’s a ladies watch and ladies watches are much less in demand on the resale market than men’s watches are.

Also, there is no set price for vintage watches. It’s kind of what you can get. It’s not the stock market where the prices are posted for anyone to see.

Also, Rolex are a mass produced watch. Replicas are very good and not many people can spot the difference unless they have some experience in the field.

Best thing to have for emergency is gold. Bullion gold. Such as Maple Leaf coins or some other 999+ gold coin. Also, one should buy bullion gold coins in a minimum of 1/4 ounce size. Smaller than that there is a premium that the buyer never never gets back when they sell to a dealer.

Gold, as you well know is a publicly traded commodity with published, both print and on the net, prices for buying and selling.

Preppers are a funny bunch. Lot of silly ideas and full of conspiracies and fantasies about how they will cope/live in a difficult environment that they foresee coming our way.

They may be right about the future but I suspect few of them are prepared.

Btw, I have purchased your book and read it at least twice.

Be smart and lucky amigo.

All the best.

-James

.

Thanks James, you bring up some excellent points.

As I said before it all comes down to how much you’re paying for it. There’s always a price. A buying price. A selling price (which usually offends those on the other side of the counter when they are the ones doing the selling) and there’s a price just too good to walk away from.

I would be very cautious about buying anything I don’t know well, for example in my case watches. I have a pretty good idea of what guns cost. I know a Colt Single Action Army has a certain value that no gunstore will refuse to pay for given the possible resale value, so I have a pretty good idea of what the “too good” price is. As you say though, it is better if you have a fixed, unbiased price for the specific item so that’s why gold and silver are so appealing. There’s no debate regarding their given price each day. Then again, there’s even less of a debate when it comes to a wad of cash. A couple thousand dollars in 100 USd bills is still pretty compact, and you don’t need to sell it fist to use it as you would with gold or silver. This is why the first savings you put aside for a rainy day, those should be hard cash.

“But cash is useless during an economic collapse”. No, no its not. Especially during the first few days and weeks, it may lose its value but it does so slowly. At the same time the shortage of cash, in spite of the economic collapse, creates an environment where cash is king. During this first period of time, cash gives you leverage even if it loses value. In the case of a strong currency like the USD, its even less likely that it will become worthless or lose significant value overnight.

Then yes, if you want to put aside something “economic collapse proof”, that’s when you go into precious metals.

FerFAL

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

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

Money Mondays: How to Survive When You Can’t Pay Your Bills

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  This post first appeared in The Organic Prepper By Daisy Luther Let’s talk about poverty. I don’t mean the kind you’re talking about when your friends invite you to go shopping or for a night out and you say, … Continue reading

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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

Feds Seize $271,080 From Brothers, But Don’t Charge Them And Refuse To Give It Back

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Feds Seize $271,080 From Brothers, But Don't Charge Them?

A federal appeals court has struck a major blow against forfeiture and government overreach by ruling that simply having a large amount of cash is not a crime.

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ordered Chicago police to give two brothers back their life savings, which was seized even though they never were charged.

“The government apparently brought no criminal charges against the brothers or anyone else in the house, but it sought forfeiture of the money, contending that it was proceeds of, or had been used or was intended to be used to facilitate, drug trafficking,” Judge Diane Wood wrote in a ruling in late March, blasting the government’s case against Pedro and Abraham Cruz-Hernandez.

Discover The ONLY Way Back To True Freedom And Liberty In America…

The money involved $271,080 that a drug-sniffing dog found in a safe in the brothers’ van. Police found a small bag of marijuana but no other drugs, and the government alleged that the money was part of “proceeds of, or had been used or was intended to be used to facilitate, drug trafficking.”

Officers claimed that it was drug money because the brothers had a handgun and a hand-written ledger with notes on it. The brothers contended the money had been saved over many years to build a home in their native Mexico.

Wood wrote that the “government has presented virtually no evidence that the brothers are involved in drug trafficking.”

“There was nothing to indicate past or current drug dealing by the brothers or anyone else living with them in the house, nor was there any suggestion that either brother used the bedroom where the apparent drug paraphernalia was found,” Wood wrote. “Though drug dogs had alerted to the safe and currency, the government did not submit to the court any evidence of the dogs’ training, methodology, or field performance.”

The brothers presented evidence that their money was earned legitimately, Wood ruled.

“They documented income since 2000 that between them totaled just over $680,000,” he wrote. “After subtracting the money found in the safe and all other expenses described in their depositions and other records, the brothers had approximately $320,214 — roughly $1,026 each per month — left to cover living expenses. The government pointed to no evidence suggesting that any of the brothers’ evidence of income is fabricated or that they have lavish spending habits. Because the brothers realistically could have saved the $271,080 at issue, there is a genuine dispute of fact that precludes summary judgment for the government.”

The Seventh Circuit vacated the lower court’s ruling, and sent it back to that court for further proceedings. The government now must convince a jury that the money was tainted.

The case was discussed in a blog post at the Institute for Justice’s website.

Which side do you believe? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Tired Of Losing Freedoms — And Looking For Another Country? Read More Here.

5 Essential Preps You Can Do Right Now That Are FREE

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5 Essential Preps You Can Do Right Now That Are FREE

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

It seems that most discussions about preparedness often revolve around guns, tools and gear. Sometimes we overspend, but today let’s take a look at things you can do that won’t cost you a dime. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and stop spending so much money.

Gear is great, but knowledge and practice are more important. Here are five free things you can do to be better prepared:

1. Get into shape.

This is, by far, one of the best things you can do to increase your chances of survival. Being fit is necessary, regardless of whether you’re “bugging in” our “bugging out.” You cannot afford to have your body fail you. The amount of energy you’ll expend on a daily basis will increase, the amount of food you’ll be able to procure will decrease and a sick body just won’t be able to cope with that.

Restore Your Old Blades To A Razor’s Edge In Just Seconds!

Now, you might be thinking you’ll need to buy weights to use at home. Yet there are many at-home workouts that only use your body weight. They focus on exercises such as jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, squats, leg raises and so on. Of course, you should check with your doctor to see what you can and cannot do. Show him or her the list of exercises, but consider holding off on the real reason why you’re doing this. They might not understand.

2. Make a plan.

Not that I’m making you choose, but if you had a bug-out plan and no bug-out bag, you might be better off than someone who has a BOB but no clue as to how to evacuate.

Making a survival plan isn’t hard. The hardest part is figuring out the various survival scenarios you might have to face. You’ve basically got three main categories: bugging in, bugging out and getting home.

Now, the more family members you have to take care of, the more elaborate the plans. If you have pets, you have to take care of them, too. As long as you have pen and paper or a computer, you can write down your emergency plans and improve them over time.

3. Make an inventory of everything you have.

5 Essential Preps You Can Do Right Now That Are FREE

Image source: Pixabay.com

Speaking of plans, how about you make an inventory of all the things you have in your home that could be useful during a crisis? Hint: pretty much anything can be of value. When’s the last time you went through all the bags of old clothes and items in your attic? I bet you can find a lot of things up there you thought you’d never use.

Make an inventory and crisscross it with the list of survival items you were going to purchase.

4. Learn a new skill.

The list of survival skills you could learn is a long one, but don’t let that intimidate you. Making primitive tools and weapons (mortar and pestle, tomahawks, fishing spears, slingshots), starting a fire, finding water, crossing a river, signaling for help, escaping a burning building, fixing various things around the house – all of these can be learned for free or almost for free.

New Solar Oven Is So Fast It’s Been Dubbed “Mother Nature’s Microwave”

If you’re thinking about bugging in during the next disaster, you might be interested to learn:

  • woodworking
  • plumbing
  • splitting wood
  • milking a cow
  • gardening
  • washing clothes by hand
  • planning your garden
  • recognizing and foraging for wild edibles (some of them may be in your backyard)

…and on and on.

5. Hunt coupons.

Coupons can help you save a lot of money on preps in the long run. If you’re smart enough to use them during sales periods, you might even be able to get some items completely free! The coupon hunt will take a lot of time, though. You’ll have to look all over the Internet, subscribe to a bunch of newsletters, look for them in newspapers and closely monitor when the survival items you want are on sale.

This means you have to know what you want. Make a list of items to purchase. If you do it in excel, you’ll also keep track of how much you spent, so you can make a weekly average and try to keep it as low as possible.

Related:

Why Many In The Survival Community Are Doomed

That’s our list – what would you add to it? What “free preps” did we forget? Share your advice in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

25 Prepper Items To Look For at Flea Markets and Thrift Stores

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If you’re interested in preparedness, flea markets and thrift stores can be goldmines. Everyday, people clean out their garages or attics and give away things they don’t want, completely unaware that many of the items they donate are valuable to preppers. These items end up in secondhand stores […]

The post 25 Prepper Items To Look For at Flea Markets and Thrift Stores appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

5 Ways To Make Money For Prepping Supplies

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I don’t normally do this, but today I’m not sharing an article. Instead, I’m sharing a post from a forum. I recently googled “ways to make money for prepping supplies,” and found some interesting suggestions from a member of PrepperForums.net. He came up with 5 ways to make […]

The post 5 Ways To Make Money For Prepping Supplies appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

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

 

How I read for free

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Let me preface this by saying I don’t only read for free. On average, I spend about $25 per month on Audible ($15 for a membership, plus two extra Boxcar Children mysteries with the membership discount) and at least $40 on eBooks through Amazon. While this might seem like a ton to some people and nothing at all to others, I would absolutely be spending much more if I didn’t take advantage of free ways to read.

It’s simple to get books for free if you’re willing to do one little thing: write a review.

Reviews are not everything to writers, but they are important. Reviews are one of the best ways people discover new books. For indie authors, this is even more important since writers who independently publish through Amazon or Kobo don’t have the power and money behind them that a large publishing house offers.

So what makes a good review?

Saying what you think about the book.

Your review does not have to be:
long
in-depth
a book report
something that took you an hour to write

Honestly, it just doesn’t. And there are some authors who would protest this, but to be honest, just a brief “I loved the characters in this” or “this book really helped me to declutter” can mean the world to a writer.

And they’ll let other readers know that the book is good (or not), which can translate into more sales for the author.

So as long as you’re willing to write a review, you can get freebie books on just about any topic imaginable. While review copies are almost always digital, you can get print copies, too.

Here’s how.

Pitch authors directly
The fastest way to get a copy of a book you really want is to contact the author directly. You can usually do this through an author’s social media account: Facebook or Twitter. Let them know you want to review your book and ask if they would provide a copy for review. Not all writers do this, but most indie writers do and are happy to send you a copy. If an author has a publishing contract, they may not be permitted to give out copies, so don’t be too upset if they turn you down.

Also, to increase your chances of a “yes,” send a link where you have already reviewed a book, whether this be on Amazon or your own blog. Many writers, myself included, are nervous when it comes to new reviewers we haven’t worked for. Why? Some reviewers promise to review a book and never do! Unfortunately, this can ruin it for the rest of us! If you have already reviewed a book, send the link to the author so they can get an idea of what to expect.

Most of all, remember that you are never obligated to leave a 5-star review. Never. Just because you get a review copy does not mean you should lie in your review.

As a side note, if you have any interest in reading one of my prepper or minimalism books and you’re willing to leave me a review, please shoot me an email at thenerdysurvivalist(at)gmail.com. I am always looking for new reviewers for any of my published works and am happy to send you a copy if you’ll post your thoughts on Amazon!

Join NetGalley
Netgalley.com is a great resource if you like fiction books. I joined this site a few months ago and it’s very easy to use, but you do need to have an eReader app on your phone or tablet. I use the Kindle app on my phone and this interface is very simple. You request the book you want, and when the publisher or author approves you, they’ll send the book to your device. This helps reduce pirating (since you can’t share the file with your friends), but it also makes reading really simple. When you’re finished, you post your review on the site and anywhere else you like.

Book Look Bloggers
This is a Christian organization, which makes it perfect if you want to review Bibles (yes, that’s a thing), Christian literature, or homeschool materials. Unlike many websites, Book Look will send hardcover and paperback copies of some books. You have to apply and need to have at least 30 subscribers to your blog. (This can be Twitter followers or Facebook fans.) Apply at booklookbloggers.com.

Kindle Free Books
Finally, the simplest way to get books for free – that you don’t have to review! – if through Amazon Kindle’s top 100 free books each day. The top 100 books that are free change hourly! Additionally, you can browse individual categories to find free books on prepping, minimalism, or parenting. I check this regularly and have found some great books by my favorite authors on their freebie days.

Do you read for free? What’s your favorite way to find free books?

5 Ways to Save Money This Week

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Whether you live on a single income or you and your spouse both work, saving money can be tricky. Finding ways to minimize your spending isn’t always simple and learning to cut corners can honestly kinda suck, but there are many ways you can reduce your spending and start saving.

Remember that even if you only save $5 a week, that’s an extra $20 per month you didn’t have before. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up over time. No matter what your personal goals might be for saving, take some time this week to consider how you can save money and start to reduce your overall expenses.

Right now, my husband and I both work, but we still look for ways to reduce our spending. We primarily want to save so we can travel. Even abroad, traveling isn’t always cheap, especially when you have kids! (Many backpackers stay in hostels or crash on couches while they travel the world. This isn’t an option when you have two children!)

If you’re looking for simple ways to save this week that don’t involve a lot of stress or work, here are five easy ways you can cut costs.

1. Stop drinking
Whether your vice is coffee, alcohol, or soda, stop! Save those pennies this week. Even if you’re making vending machine purchases at work, those can quickly add up.

2. Plan ahead
What are you going to eat each day? Plan ahead and either bring snacks or coupons to minimize what you’re spending on lunch.

3. Walk instead
Save that gas and walk to nearby places like the grocery store or convenience store.

4. Wait on the purchases
Do you really need to buy that today? This week? Why not wait a few weeks? Sometimes when you postpone a purchase, you find that you don’t really need it or miss it.

5. Quit shopping online 
For me, shopping online is addictive. Take a break this week! You might be surprised at how many impulse purchases you make when you take just a short break from Internet shopping.

What other steps are you taking to save money this week? Leave me a comment or drop by my Facebook page to let me know!

Bartering: The Old-Fashioned, Time-Tested, Stress-Free Way To Get What You Need

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Bartering: The Old-Fashioned, Time-Tested, Stress-Free Way To Get What You Need

In ages past, bartering was not only an acceptable way to conduct business in the community, but the only way to conduct the business necessary to sustain a household.

The modern culture shuns bartering for goods or services. Credit is king in a world filled with unnecessary goods and a culture that pushes the use of services that are purely for convenience, not because of necessity. Those who propose to barter are often mislabeled as a miser, a cheapskate or a penny pincher.

But for those who are looking to escape the consumer-driven culture and focus on living a more self-sufficient lifestyle, the art of bartering can help lessen the financial burden. Bartering is, by definition, the process of exchanging a good or service for a different good or service. Relying less on cash, or on credit, to maintain any portion of a homestead is possible with careful and considerate bartering. With practice, successfully bartering to provide for the needs of the homestead may become an integral part of a well-devised financial plan.

Historic Overview of Bartering and Currency

The concept of bartering is evident in many ancient cultures. Trading goods in exchange for different goods within the local area and across borders was routine in ancient times. It was not until roughly 600 B.C. that the first currency was minted for use.

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Currency hastened the consumer process, allowing a greater number of goods to trade hands quickly. As currencies were developed around the globe, the demand for a currency-based financial system overpowered the natural social practice of bartering within and around the community.

Modern Day Bartering

Bartering: The Old-Fashioned, Time-Tested, Stress-Free Way To Get What You NeedMany modern day homesteaders are using their bartering skills to meet a wide variety of needs. From building materials, livestock and seeds, to skilled labor, any task or any good can be used as part of a successful bartering agreement. Though their stories are not in the headlines, many people have pulled back from the consumer culture and fully funded a portion of their annual budget by instead bartering.

If no currency is exchanged, how does a person determine if it is helping his or her bottom line? The value of bartering can be measured in time, as it relates to imparting knowledge, or measured by the exertion necessary in physical labor. Or, it can be measured by the amount of currency saved by bartering instead of paying outright for the good or service.

The most common item used for bartering is foodstuffs, both livestock and produce. In a world where naturally raised meat and poultry, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables are in increasingly high demand, the potential for bartering is greater. Even unexpected needs can be met through bartering. For example, I’m aware of a local holistic practitioner who has been known to accept organically raised poultry in exchange for medical care from careful and conscientious households.

World’s Smallest Solar Generator … Priced So Low Anyone Can Afford It!

In another case, a family was able to add an outbuilding and repair an additional building by being willing to exchange labor for receiving reclaimed building materials. In addition to this, meeting the wants of those in the community can also be easily accomplished through skillful bartering.

Getting Started

So, what do you do first? Perhaps there is a local general store, a diner or a pub where locals gather and agreements can be struck, but in most areas, this is no longer the case. Farmers markets, health food stores and the like are good places to start looking for potential connections. Come prepared with an idea of the goods or services that you could offer, but keep an open mind. Part of the art of bartering is learning the strengths and weaknesses of the community. Being prepared to fill a need in the community will provide ample opportunities to strike beneficial agreements.

Many members of the online community are also turning to bartering to fill the wants and needs in their lives; however, most are not utilizing the barter system as a way to promote financial independence. Caution is, of course, very necessary in negotiating any agreement online; nevertheless, there are avenues for securing legitimate agreements that benefit both parties. Practice good security measures to ensure everyone feels comfortable throughout the entire process.

Another aspect of the art of bartering is the building of relationships. Whether in person, or online, a relationship built with trust earned from satisfactorily fulfilled agreements promotes the overall wellbeing of society, as well as promoting financial stability for the individuals involved.

Add value to the community while lessening the financial burden of the homestead by practicing the art of bartering.

Do you barter? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

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
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Man Slays IRS, Gets Life Savings Of $153,907.99 Back

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Man Slays IRS, Gets Life Savings Of $153,907.99 Back

Image source: Institute for Justice

It is possible to fight the Internal Revenue Service and its forfeiture rules — and win. The agency has agreed to return $153,907.99 it seized from North Carolina convenience store owner Khalid Quran in June 2014.

The IRS took the money — his entire savings — simply because he was making regular withdrawals of less than $10,000, attorneys for the Institute for Justice said. The laws against multiple deposits and withdrawals were “designed to target criminals evading bank-reporting requirements” but have been used by the IRS to target innocent people, the Institute for Justice said.

He goes by the name “Ken.”

“I’m so happy,” he said. “The IRS never should have taken my money in the first place, but I’m so grateful that it has now done the right thing. I worked hard for that money. This is justice.”

Discover The ONLY Way Back To True Freedom And Liberty In America…

He told CNBC that agents simply walked into his convenience store in Greenville, North Carolina, in 2014, and pressured him to sign a document he did not understand. His business primarily dealt only in cash.

“He said, ‘You need to sign a paper,’ and I told him my English is not right,” he told CNBC. “Then he read it to me like you would read the newspaper and said you need to sign it.”

The Institute filed a petition for Ken in July 2015, arguing that the IRS should give him his money back under a new policy – adopted in October 2014 – that supposedly protects innocent people. But the new policy came after Ken’s money was seized. On Feb. 18, the IRS sent the Institute of Justice a fax stating that the money would be returned.

Ken was one of a number of small business owners who were victims of a federal program designed to stop “structuring” and prevent criminals from laundering money. Federal law requires banks to report cash deposits over $10,000 to authorities, but criminals sometimes get around the requirement by depositing and withdrawing multiple smaller amounts.

Unfortunately, many small business owners including convenience store operators had cash seized under the program. Civil forfeiture enables the IRS and other agencies simply to seize cash without criminal charges being filed. (Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth report on civil forfeiture here.)

“The IRS took Ken’s money without ever accusing him of doing anything wrong,” IJ attorney Robert Johnson said. “The IRS realized it was wrong when it changed its policies and it has done the right thing in giving it back. That money should have never been taken in the first place, and I hope this is just the beginning.”

What is your reaction to this story? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Tired Of Losing Freedoms — And Looking For Another Country? Read More Here.

What To Do With Some Money?

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If everything goes as it should I will have some money become liquid in the next month or so, between $15,000 and 20k. I am trying to figure out what to do with it. As such I am soliciting your input.

Ideas I have considered then discarded
-Beans, bullets and band aid’s. I am relatively pretty good there. Of course these are always areas we are working to improve but I have a bunch of guns, cans full of ammo, literally tons of food, etc.
-Various medium to large sized prep items. FLIR, silencers, a nice rifle scope or two, etc. Will get many of these in time in due time but I can handle them (except FLIR) on a save for a couple months then buy type plan. I try hard to be smart with the occasional times I get a big chunk of cash.
-Buying a(nother) house. With my semi nomadic nature buying a place I planned to live where I am working is a lot more space than I need, plus the costs of buying/ selling as often as we move add up. Buying where I might live later would leave me as an absentee land lord for a long time. Also that would involve debt which I really don’t like.
-Cash in the bank. I have an emergency fund and a vehicle replacement fund both in the bank now. Between the two that is as much exposure to that risk as I can tolerate. Still I included this in the poll on the right because it is a good ‘figuring it out’ short term option.

Ideas that remain with pro’s and con’s
-Buy land. Pro. BUG OUT SITE!!! Tangible and not going away. Will allow me to cache a bunch of stuff I have been hauling around. Like no BS I would set up a Terminator Cache!!!  Except technically a Terminator inspired cache as we should all know CONNEX’s are only designed to take weight on the top corners not on the roof or sides so literally burying one would require bracing, probably via poured cement but I digress. Will give me a place I could go and live real cheap if I need to. Con. I am in the bottom end of this being feasible price wise. Fixes me to a location. As I move every 2-3 years that it is a bit more complicated than buying land 30 minutes from home. If I don’t end up nearby when I settle down this could end up being a long distance thing which is not optimal.

-Buy gold/ silver. Pro. Inflation proof and (particularly silver) at pretty good prices these days. Transportable store of wealth. Con. Doesn’t solve any problems for me. Also leaves me trying to physically store more assets and a higher percentage of my net worth. My risk, relative to my overall financial situation, of a catastrophic break in is already about at tolerance level now.
-Replace the soccer mom SUV. It is still running fine now but isn’t getting any younger. I hope to get another year or 18 months out of it but am not totally sure that is realistic. Since I do not borrow money for vehicles this will be a major expense. Pro. Solves a significant financial/ life problem I have coming up. Con. This is the closest thing to a nest egg I have and using it for a short term (vehicles constantly need fixing/ replacing) problem seems penny wise and pound foolish. Used right I think this money could go a long way to setting me up in a decent spot. Also I feel like having the upcoming need to replace the vehicle will help me be disciplined in saving for that while I might not be so disciplined to put money back in the bank (or whatever) to replace what came out. Worst case if the vehicle I have now dies before I have the cash to replace it outright I could borrow from my emergency fund or get a loan for some of the money and pay it off in a hurry, which ever made the most sense.

-Something else I didn’t mention?

My gut says if I can make it work land is the preferred option. 

Please vote in the poll on the left and leave your comments here.

Getting bids, Doggie BOBs and local grocery store bought out.

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I had to get a lead paint survey done for the roofing loan and the people that did the survey were very helpful suggesting cheap ways to mitigate any lead paint chips so my critters would not ingest lead. Casa de Chaos only has a a couple of potential bad spots and it will not affect the work I want to get done via the city loan. Getting bids and doing the research on good contractors takes a lot more effort than I had anticipated. Thank goodness for the internet and computers making emailing the “scope of work” from the city easy to copy and paste. Plus having client ratings for the electrical, plumbing and roofers I’m authorized to get bids on the jobs makes getting the first bids a bit easier to start.  A $10 grand limit loan seems like a lot of money, but anyone who has contracted construction jobs knows that $10 grand won’t get a lot of work done using contractors.

All you construction pros please don’t take that in a bad way. Most of you are professionals and take a lot of pride in your work. Making/repairing homes is hard work and takes time, energy and knowledge I don’t have. You should be paid well for that, I just have to limit the jobs to that little bit of money I can afford to pay.  One cool thing is I may help the city and a couple of local contractors “hook up” with the city doing this sort of repair jobs.  The gal running the program and the building inspector are looking for good contractors for this program.  Overall I think I got in with a good bunch at the City of Nampa as well as people that want work as well want to do a good-great job. This is a program that needs to work and so far the contractors I have contacted are more than willing to work with the city and give bids in order to get the work done. Hopefully everything will work out to everyone’s advantage. The city will get a list of good contractors, I get a low interest loan to take care of my older house’s structural/safety issues. While 100 years is not a lot of time. I like the idea of fixing up historical areas and using modern materials that reproduce an era.

From the water main fiasco I would recommend you ask to see all work permits from the city and refuse to pay the last bit of money to any contractor until the final inspection is done by the city code inspector.  I have no problem giving a contractor 1/3-1/2 of the money on a contract for materials once they get the permit and then paying the rest on city inspector’s okie dokie.  Sorry, construction guys the bad fly-by-night jerks make that a requirement for me. I can’t afford small claims court and the bad guys/ripoff artists will just set up business under a new name when sued. I have to say after getting job bids for my little project I have gained a lot of respect for general  contractors. Getting bids and lining up workers on a time line is not easy.

I’m building up the Doggie’s BOBs. I’m feeding Pedigree soft canned dog food but I’m adding Pedigree soft/wet food pouches to the doggie BOBs to save weight.  Changing any pet’s diet can cause stomach upset so it is best if you have at least a few days worth of their normal feed and a bit more to mix with the “new normal” feed if you have to bug out.  I have added brushes, combs and nail clippers along with some basic bandages and OTC meds to help keep the pets happy and healthy. Leashes and backup collars so the animals will not run off along with enough small kennels/carry boxes that will give the critters a safe place if I need to bug out. I added  a couple of  metal water bottles, I want to get a small Sawyer water filter just for the critters bug out bag.  I am still testing out a few ideas for water and food dishes. I’m looking for a compromise on weight, storage size and ease of cleaning.

Paul’s a local grocery store was just bought out by Albertson’s and I’m a little peeved. I try hard to support local business but I also know most grocery stores operate on razor thin profit margins.  I can’t really blame people going for the cheapest price when money is tight. But Paul’s was sort of like a poor man’s whole foods for buying local. Some good news, I saw a cashier from Paul’s in Nampa get hired by Albertson’s.  I know there will be some downsizing and consolidation but it is nice to know that Albertson’s is giving some of the workers from Paul’s a job.

Mom and and I must get out in the country and at best it will take the rest of 2016 just to get all the equipment and tools we need just to make the attempt of going country.  This is not our first rodeo, we know making a go in Owhyee county will take a lot of work. We are trying to get all of the tools on hand as cheaply as possible before we move. But with Mom’s divorce dragging out I suspect we will need to hang out here in the city for another 10-12 months.

Don’t worry about us as the Casa de Chaos is getting a new roof and a few electrical and plumbing jobs done.  Oh we may hate we that we are stuck here for a bit.  But I got the new hard side green house and a soft side on hand and ready to set up.  I’ll add a 300-500 gallon water tank next month.  While Mom is a bit frustrated about the divorce going into it’s 15th month.

I am working to get Casa de Chaos fixed up and set up for a perma-culture/food forest and ready for the real estate market.  Will it work? I don’t have a clue. but I know doing nothing, won’t work.  If you are  standing still, you are a target at best or tend to get run over at worse. As a wise person said ” Get busy living or get busy dying. Your choice!

 

 

 

 

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

 

Book: Possum Living

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See larger image Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money (Revised Edition) After being out of print for decades, Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and (Almost) No Money is being reissued with an afterword by an older and wiser Dolly Freed. In the late seventies, at the age of eighteen and with a seventh-grade education, Dolly Freed wrote Possum Livingabout the five years she and her father lived off the land on a half-acre lot outside of Philadelphia. At the time of its publication in 1978, Possum Living became

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Learn about UK Junk Silver Coins

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Some interesting info worth remembering. When it comes to British coins, Pre 1920 coins are sterling silver, meaning 92.5% silver content. From 1920 to 1946, these are known as Pre-1947, these are 50% silver.
For more information, examples and a couple other things a junk silver buyer should know, check the video below!

FerFAL

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

 

 

 

Money Mondays: How to Find Extra Cash from Bills

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We want to add to our preparedness fund, but the budget is tight.

I mentioned in an earlier post we cancelled cable and found several free or lower cost alternatives. It’s been a couple of years and we do not miss it at all. I actually wish we had done it sooner.

Now we are reviewing every bill line by line to see if we can either lower them even more. Continue reading

The post Money Mondays: How to Find Extra Cash from Bills appeared first on Apartment Prepper.

The Hidden Cost Of Credit

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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.

credit dietThis 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 dealerresourcegroup@gmail.com 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.

The post The Hidden Cost Of Credit appeared first on American Preppers Network.

HUD loan application looks good

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The gal that helped me with the HUD paperwork said everything looked good.  My income level is low enough for a possible 0% and deferred payments until the home is sold.  I was surprised how quickly the people at the city moved to get all of the paperwork done.  Of course the paperwork will take time to work through the government system.  I suspect that it is difficult to find a low income person that needs major repairs done, but still has a good debt to income ratio and credit rating, it can be very expensive to be poor and in debt. Thankfully I have had time to learn how to live frugally and most of the improvements I have made save me money every month.  I still need to see the loan paperwork and read the fine print before I sign all the loan paperwork as there might be a government “poison pill” that makes the loan unacceptable.  Worse comes to worse, I’ll get a small signature loan from the credit union like I did for the fireplace.  The interest rate will be a lot higher but I won’t lose my house if my income gets cut.

I have been rethinking the idea of getting a used ATV this year. I could buy a used small yard tractor/mower for a lot lower cost and I could use around my house right away.  With the garden wagon attached to the lawn tractor we could move heavy loads but not invest as much cash upfront. Plus a small yard tractor would be useful on the “future farm” until we could afford the used ATV. I might be able to afford a small trailer and install a trailer hitch on the Kia for around a $1000.00 as a short term work around for buying the truck.  Plus it won’t hurt to have a trailer for the farm after I get the used pickup.  For the used 1/2 ton 4×4 pickup I am looking at a cost around $3500.00 for a dependable older vehicle.  It will take time to save up that much cash for the pickup, but once I have the truck I can put it to use right away hauling in rock, soil and other bulky items needed here at Casa de Chaos.

I need to keep adding more solar panels as they go on sale as well as adding some smaller panels and “power packs” that charge small electronics. Here at Casa de Chaos I have made a rule that things that need electrical power must not add to my power bill. So far Solar power seems to be the most practical backup electric power system for my budget.  I don’t think I can power the whole house but I should be able to keep a few lights on and power a small fridge and freezer along with a few small electronic items.

Last but not least I’m reworking the monthly budgets to have a monthly focus/goal. For example January seems to have a good sale on tools and I already got the rigid side greenhouse. February is shaping up for buying soil and planters for the green houses I will need to get the plants started. In March looks like getting the cistern/water tank will be the major purchase for the month.  April will be adding a few dwarf fruit trees and then May is planting the garden.

I consider myself a prepper, but I also seem to have a “homesteader” bent,  that needs to find a spot in the country.  This year I will be gathering the tools, skills and knowledge that will help me when I find a place in the country.  I have been blessed with having enough time to work and programs that have make things possible.  I want to make a small “food forest” on my city lot. Having Mom’s chicken house and run ha shown me how to raise birds.  I have made a lot of mistakes with my raised bed gardens but I have also learned a lot about raising plants. I have learned a lot about making minor repairs around the house and have been getting the right tools for the job.

I am an optimist, and I see how far I have come in the last few years. I’m in good shape on my preps and on most of my finances. I still have a bit of work to do but overall I’m very pleased with my progress.

 

 

Paperwork for the HUD loan collected

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I got the last of the paperwork needed for the HUD loan finished up today. The loan repayment would be in the $85.00-$100.00 per month if I could not defer the loan until the house sold.  I’m a bit leery about deferring government loans as the compound interest keeps building, that can eat up any profits very quickly.  Since I have used my VA loan for this house, I need to sell at a little profit so I can make a 20% down payment via a conventional loan to eliminate any mortgage insurance cost. Worse case scenario on the loan is my payments for the house will be around $500.00 per month. I can afford that loan cost for housing and I’m about 33% monthly debt to income ratio. At best it will take 2-3 months for the paperwork to go through the bowels of government.  Perhaps in March-July I might have loan approval for fixing/replacing the roof.

I got good news on my credit score getting bumped up to 760 and above for any loans.  It has taken a few years since I got smacked to rock bottom financially speaking when I got disabled.  But I have repaired my credit rating without getting credit cards or going into a lot of debt. I got a small revolving credit account at Les Schwab and got a small personal loan via the Credit Union for the fireplace that I paid on time/paid off a little early. I’m living proof you can rebuild your credit rating without resorting to credit cards or expensive (high interest) loans. Speaking for myself, I suck at using credit cards as it is just to easy for me to rationalize using credit because I need something or it is on sale.  Well if you you can’t pay off the credit bill every month all of your “savings” will get eaten up in compounding interest payments.

Some folks are great at using credit cards. They pay the bill in full monthly before the interest kicks in, they gain all those “bonus points” and savings.  I’m just not that good, as the same idea of getting some thing on sale this month tends to put off paying off the card the next month. If you pay off your card monthly, I say more power to you because I know the credit card companies “hate”  you and would much rather have a credit card user like me that buy on sale and then pay the min. payment so the interest builds.  If you suck at using credit cards like me (rationalizing) buying on sale or making min. payments. I suggest you stay away from those cards.  A Visa or Master Card debit card will do most everything a credit card does, but without going into debt.  For me going to cash and not using a debit card while shopping made me save money.  I am pretty tight with my shopping money but there seems to be a big difference to me sliding a debit card or breaking a $20.00, $50.00 or $100.00 bill. Debit card spending does not feel quite real to me, but busting a $100.00 is very real and I get immediate feed back of what I have just spent.

I don’t think I am a “Juggernaut” but I can be very relentless in attaining a goal I have set for myself.  It may not happen quickly, heck I spent over 18 months waiting for the Kia mini-van to replace the PT cruiser. Over 3 years of planing for installing the wood fireplace. I’m not afraid to spend another year or two here at Casa de Chaos and getting thing fixed up to sell. If the bottom drops out of the real estate market again, at worse I will have a solid home/shelter and a pretty good setup for growing some food to augment my supplies and plenty of water after adding the greenhouses and water cisterns. Plan for the worse and hope for the best is my goal.

Sometimes the best plan is to just sit and not do anything and see how things shake out.

 

Working on loan paperwork, plumbing and a carpet cleaner

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Things got off to a good start this Friday, first stop was Harbor Freight buying the green house.I was a little surprised that they only had four in stock for the sale. I am glad I got there early as I have missed out on several greenhouses “selling out” before I got to the store.  We now have two walk-in greenhouse though one of the “houses” is one of the cheap plastic over a metal frame type of greenhouse.  The two walk-in greenhouses should give us plenty of space to start plants for the garden this year. This will save us a lot of money compared to buying plant “starts” at the local farm store.

I need to add a four more heavy duty tomato/potato cages for my growing vertical experiment. These cages should also work for any garden out in the alkali/hard pan soil of Owyhee county.  Based on trying to grow stuff on Mom’s first place, it will much easier to start with raised bed gardens and then work the slow process of improving soil naturally.  One of the big reasons I need a pickup and ATV is to haul a lot of compost and mulch around any future homestead. Trying out a few hugel-culture raised beds could be a worthwhile experiment to direct water as well as add more growing spaces.

About the March time frame a 300-500 gallon cistern should be do able. I already have several rain barrels, though my water delivery system needs work.  Now theoretically a 1000-1200 square foot roof should “capture” nearly 3000 gallons of water per year based on average rainfall here in SW Idaho.  The problem is not lack of water, but getting water at the right time and having a way to store it safely until needed. Stagnant pools or ponds are a no-go because of insects breeding and West Nile virus in the area.  The only solution I see is a rain catchment system that can be closed to prevent any insect breeding. Especially since many of the properties I have looked share a well and drilling my own well would break my budget.

That is a start on the food and water problems my homestead will face. By starting small, making effective use of my city lot, I am gaining equipment and skills that will transfer to the new homestead.

I had to fix a leaking bathroom drain. I had installed a “modern” drain and plug, what was needed was old school plumbing.  I still don’t trust the concept of compression fittings, but so far so good. No leaks and I think the old fashion type drain and plug will be much easier to keep clean.

Mom’s Bissel carpet shampooer died but I was able to fix it.  The problem was the water pump stopped working, it seems the belts that move the beater bar also help pump the cleaning solution. Once we cleaned out all of the hair on the pulleys the belts attach the pump started working again.  It seems the hair allowed the belts to slip.  When things break I try and fix them. Since I can’t really break it more, I might as try to fix it. I can always throw it away if I can’t figure out how to fix it.

 

How to Survive a Stock Market Crash

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How to Survive a Stock Market Crash CNN said that the stock market has hit the lowest 4-day numbers since…well, ever. George Soros has warned that this is big – a crash to rival the one in 2008. Doomsdayers have been warning of an impending collapse for quite some time. The Chinese market has closed …

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Moving to the country will happen, how quickly is up for debate

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First things first, Casa de Chaos will need a new roof and some minor electrical and plumbing work. If I sell the house or Mom and I need to stay here longer we will need a good solid roof over our heads.  Luckily Nampa City has a 0-3% loan/grant program for those type of repairs and the loan might be deferred until the home is sold. I talked to the city today and it looks good for me as a candidate for a loan. I seem a bit unusual in that I have a good credit rating even though I don’t have a lot of income. Thank goodness I did not over mortgage myself when I bought this house and when I refi-ed the house I just wanted a lower payment and interest rate.  If I get approved for the loan the little house should be in great shape to live in or sell in the next year or two.

I will buy a rigid panel, 6×8 greenhouse at Harbor Freight. The greenhouse can be moved to the new place but it will useful here at Casa de Chaos extending the growing season. The last couple of years I have been a bit late on getting the garden plants started so I end up playing catch up and then getting overwhelmed at harvest time.  For a house in the city, this place does have a good set up of fruit and nut trees, grape vines and several different micro-climate garden beds that do a good job supplementing the food budget/pantry.

I have seen a few Owyhee county small acreages in the $70,000-$100,000 range that might work out for mom and I. Both of us need a place around $80,000 so we can put a 20% down payment to avoid paying mortgage insurance. We also will need to have some cash on hand to buy a couple of used ATVs and pickup trucks for work/farm vehicles.  I have a good set of tools for working the soil here in town but I remember digging post holes for a small horse corral via a post hole digger because the hardpan broke most augers.  I was a lot younger and physically healthy at the time. I sure can’t do that sort of physical work now!   I have aged a bit and I like to think I have learned to work smarter rather than harder, plus I cheat a lot to save my physical energy.

So far what I have come up with as a plan of attack is:

  1. Get a low interest loan or grant via the city of Nampa and fix up my house for the future and or selling it for enough money to pay off the mortgage and have money for a 20% down payment plus a buffer of few grand for any emergencies that will arise.
  2. Buy a used ATV and small pickup for working any future farmland/homestead.
  3. Start checking out properties in Owyhee County and touch base with some of the people we know that remember Mom and are willing to give us a head’s up on any good deals.
  4. Buy a Cistern we can use at my place or move to the new homestead that will hold rain water as a backup to the city water system or well.
  5. If possible start inviting like-minded preppers/starting homesteaders along with working with the local FFA and 4-H groups or trading/renting a bit of land for the physical work we can’t do daily.  It can be terrifying to strike out and become a homesteader and it is not the thing for everyone. Perhaps renting a bit of land with someone you trust might be a good way to get your feet wet on homesteading. Without completely pulling up stakes and moving before you are ready to make that sort of commitment.

The plans are still very preliminary but when I set a goal I tend to make it happen eventually. I only dread draining my water barrels if I have move.

Check Your Change And Piggy Bank Right Now! You Could Be Sitting On A Small Fortune

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Check Your Change And Piggy Bank Right Now! You Could Be Sitting On A Small Fortune You may want to search the couch cushions and empty your pockets! Spare change is often overlooked, forgotten in the bottom of your purse or thrown on top of the bedroom dresser. However, according to various sources, these eight …

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How To Make A Living While Living Off The Grid

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How To Make A Living While Living Off The Grid Living off grid evokes memories of a humbler time, when we took care of ourselves using the resources found in our immediate surroundings. Taking the leap required to live either entirely or even partially off grid requires a significant amount of planning. Before packing your …

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7 Off-Grid, ‘Un-American’ Ways You Can Save Money This Year

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7 Off-Grid, ‘Un-American’ Ways You Can Save Money This Year

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Going off-grid isn’t cheap and certainly not something to jump into without research. Even if you can’t leave the grid right now, there are ways you can save up for that future by cutting your living costs today – ways that most Americans wouldn’t even consider.

Here’s seven:

1. Get rid of your cable

According to statistics, the average American spends roughly $65 a month on cable. Americans over the age of two, on average, watch about five hours of television a day, according to data collected by Nielsen. Not only is cable expensive (and will continue to increase in price) but it is often a waste of time. Sure, there are educational programs on some channels and sometimes it’s nice to sit back and enjoy a show or movie, but there are probably better uses of your time and money.

If you or someone in your family doesn’t want to give up television, you can switch to streaming services like Netflix or purchase a Roku box for you TV. With the latter you can still access many stations and TV programs, and some are available at no cost. Or even better, you can read a book.

2. Downgrade your cellphone and plan

The average American cellphone plans costs only slightly less than cable – coming in at about $63 a month. And just like cable, the cost is expected to continue to climb.

Some people rely heavily on their phones for checking email, making calls, video calling family, etc. If you are someone who can’t give up your phone for whatever reason, then you can look into a less expensive service. Nowadays there are more no-contract options and some cell phone companies boast rates of $50 a month or less.

Get The Best Deals On Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds Right Here!

You also can downgrade your phone to one without Internet and email access, which will lower your cellphone bill even more. Being able to make phone calls and send a text message might be all you really need.

3. Limit going out to eat

This year, for the first time, Americans spent more money going out to eat than buying groceries for cooking at home, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Going out to eat is nice as a treat but is an incredible waste of money if you rely on restaurants for regular meals. Eating at home not only saves money but is better for you, so why not improve your bank account while staying healthy? Save even more money by starting a garden, planting some fruit trees for future harvest, raising some livestock, etc.

4. Get rid of your old stuff

7 Off-Grid, ‘Un-American’ Ways You Can Save Money This Year

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Americans are pretty obsessed with “stuff.” It’s interesting how a country that can be so wasteful when it comes to food and produces so much trash also can have a packrat mentality. It’s pretty incredible just how much the average American keeps around.

One very shocking statistic is despite the average American home being about three times bigger than it was 50 years ago, about one in 10 people still have to rent offsite storage, according to the Self Storage Association.

You can find more interesting statistics on minimalism here.

Taking on a more minimalistic mindset when it comes to material objects is going to save you money. From a homesteading point of view, this means not cluttering your property with objects you never use but also looking at objects you may have with repurposing in mind.

5. Reduce the amount of water you use

Using flush toilets, taking 30-minute showers and soaking in giant, full bathtubs might be nice but they do waste a lot of water. Where water is a precious commodity, it would be crazy to use it to flush away human waste. Yet many Americans would find it odd to use something like an outhouse when a toilet is available.

Regardless of where you live, you can probably adopt better ways of water conservation when it comes to hygiene and bodily functions. Composting toilets are a wonderful idea and very versatile – some are even made specifically for RVs.

As for showering, you can go super basic by using heated water and dumping it on yourself (in a tub) or look into other options like solar showers. Also, whether you are bathing inside or outside, use the leftover water as grey water for your plants or garden.

6. Choose alternative light sources

When the power goes out it can be surprising to learn how much you rely on the ease of flipping a switch to light up a room. Most people already have flashlights around but in preparation of going off-grid and to reduce electrical bills, you’re not going to want to just rely on them at night.

New 4-Ounce Solar Survival Lantern Never Needs Batteries!

There are many ways of lighting your home while off-grid. You can use lanterns, candles, a solar light system or even solar-powered outdoor lights you bring inside at night.

Going off-grid can be done in stages, and even just reducing household expenses without the goal of going without the grid is still very beneficial.

7. Create an off-grid kitchen

Cooking in a modern kitchen uses quite a bit of energy. Making an off-grid kitchen is a great way to start learning more primitive cooking skills and reduce your bills. There are many ways to cook without power. It really depends on your home and what you find to be the best way for you.

For example, a wood stove is a great method of making a meal in the cold months while also heating your home. In the warmer months, it is best to take your cooking outdoors to keep inside as cool as possible. Even if you are in an urban environment, you may still be able to have a wood stove set up outdoors or use another style of oven for cooking.

What money-saving tips would you add to this list? Share them in the section below:

Every Year Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

Here’s How Experts Make Thousands Of Extra Dollars On The Homestead

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Here's How Experts Make Thousands Of Extra Dollars On The Homestead

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Earning some extra income from your livestock can be easy if you give some thought to it and do a little research. It can be as simple as raising an extra calf to sell, or selling your excess eggs to a neighbor.

Here are some ideas that I have used over the years — as well as observed others using — to earn a few hundred dollars from livestock on the homestead.

As with any business venture, make sure you understand any regulations that may be in place so you don’t end up finding yourself in a bad situation with local agencies, such as the board of the health or township trustees.

For this article, I’ll discuss ways to earn money from selling live animals. This is the easiest way to cash in on livestock without running into a tangled web of regulations. Let’s look at two popular livestock: pigs and chickens.

Money From Pigs

An obvious one here is raising one pig for yourself and one pig for a customer. Pigs are gregarious by nature and will grow and thrive much better with at least one other pig.

Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth: The Best All-Natural Wormer For Your Lifestock

Start with friends and family and you’ll quickly find people who would love to have you raise a pig for them to put in the freezer. I usually have more people that want me to raise them a freezer pig than I can handle.

Here's How Experts Make Thousands Of Extra Dollars On The Homestead

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Another great way to earn some extra cash is to purchase a couple of gilts, breed them, and sell feeder pigs. Here in the U.S., small farm feeder pigs are a scarce commodity in many areas. If you don’t want to keep a boar, use artificial insemination. It’s easy to perform and most places that sell semen will give you advice and they have video tutorials on their website.

You can also keep a few piglets and raise them for roaster pigs. A 180-200 pound pig is the optimum size for most pig roasts. Find some companies or individuals who have a hog-roasting business and supply them with a few pigs.

Time your breeding so that the pigs will be about the right size in time for graduations and other summer holidays and celebrations. May and June are huge for weddings. This will ensure you have plenty of demand and can charge premium prices.

A 10-24 pound pig is called a suckling pig. These are largely a product for the ethnic market, although many high-end chefs are now touting the suckling pig as a delicacy not to be missed. I’ve sold 15-20 pound pigs for as much as $150 each for this market.

Cash in on Your Chickens

Selling chicken eggs is one way to help offset the feed bill for your layer flock. In the spring and summer you’ll see an abundance of “eggs for sale” signs along country roads. In the winter, that’s another story. Start a new flock of pullets in the fall and you can be producing a good supply of eggs when customers are having the most trouble getting them. They sell fast and at a premium price.

Have you ever considered purchasing an incubator and selling chicks? Another option is to sell fertile eggs for others to incubate. This works especially well with a rare or specialty breeds.

All The Answers To Every Chicken Question And Quandary …

I’ve sold spent laying hens to an “all-natural feed” dog kennel several times. They come, pick them up, and take them to the processor. I collect the money and wave goodbye!

Where You’ll Find Customers

There are two kinds of customers who will purchase your livestock or homestead products — those who will pay premium prices, and those who won’t.

It makes sense, then, to focus your efforts toward the customers who are looking for premium value rather than the cheapest price.

The best prices are obtained from marketing to customers who would like to buy from a small farm or homestead rather than the local giant chain store.

Here’s a list of what these customers may be looking for:

  • Locally produced.
  • Supporting small or independent producers.
  • Transparency – Knowing your methods and procedures for producing your products.
  • Health – Products that are free from harmful additives.
  • Integrity – Knowing your products are made with integrity, even if it costs more.
  • Hard to find – Products that can’t be purchased at the local chain store.
Here's How Experts Make Thousands Of Extra Dollars On The Homestead

Image source: Pixabay.com

While there are other reasons a customer may decide to purchase your products, these are some of the most common. Weave these messages into your marketing. Notice that this type of customer doesn’t consider price as the first criteria for purchasing.

So, where do you find this type of customer? It’s not as hard as you might think. They are looking for you! If you are remotely close to a major city, why not advertise your products in the newspaper and make sure they include your ad in the online version?

Go the Extra Mile

If you have a product that can be shipped for a reasonable cost, delivery is no problem. If you sell something that can’t be shipped easily, then have customers come and pick up their products or deliver it to them.

If you or a family member works in town, then you can set up deliveries to a central place and have several customers meet you at the same time.

Everything You Need To Know To Keep A Cow Healthy, Happy, And Productive…

For years, I hauled various products to town every week and delivered them to co-workers. Eventually, I had several other customers meet me at the end of the workday to get their products. I supplemented my income by several hundred dollars every week — which added up to thousands for the year.

Many times the biggest obstacle for potential customers is not knowing how to purchase from you. Go the extra mile with customers who have no experience buying direct from the source.  Remember, most people go the store, find what they want, and buy it. They have no idea about your process for purchasing and receiving your products.

Selling products from your small farm or homestead is an education process. Educate them on how your product compares to the mass-produced counterpart they can get anywhere. Give them a sample product, or share with them how to use it, cook it, etc.

Here’s one final tip …

Think about products you can sell around holidays. This can be pumpkins and gourds in the fall, hams and turkeys around Christmas or Thanksgiving, and flowers for Memorial Day, weddings and graduations. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination.

With only a few simple advertisements and some word of mouth through friends, family and co-workers, you can earn some significant extra income doing what you love!

How do you make money on the homestead? Share your tips in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

Shopping today and snow!

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Woohoo!  shopping at Harbor freight today and I had coupons for several good deals on stuff for the house.

With the first good snow coming in I added a 24 pack of AA batteries and a 6 pack of D batteries for all the flashlights and the Ds work in my shower water pump and the smokeless ashtrays.  I really like the new LED type flashlights,  even most of the cheaper ones have a great battery life. The big hand held spot light is great as it has it’s own battery and can be charge via house current of via 12 volt cigarette lighter.  I filled up two of the railroad type safety lanterns and both of them leaked oil, not good! So the lanterns are empty and in the shop to have the wicks and glass globes parted out. I have two large hurricane lamp, several windup and battery powered lanterns along with mirrors to help augment the light. Once you add in Mom’s candle gardens, I can say the lighting is still in good shape after losing the use of those two lanterns.

I got a couple of the small ammo boxes at Harbor Freight. These boxes are a good size for grabbing a couple to go to the range or plinking. You could use these boxes for storing ammo in several locations/cashes. I have not tested the boxes for water proofing but they do seem to have a good lid to box fit and the box has a spot for a padlock.  The real nice buy I got was on a 4 tool boxes for just $20.00. The largest box is huge at 22 inches long by 11 inches wide and deep. The next box is 20 inches by 8 inches wide and 9 inches deep. I want to make one of the larger size tool boxes, a shooting range box for my pistols. It would be nice to have all my range stuff in on easy to handle box rather than have to make several trips or try and juggle my shooting supplies. With the three leftover boxes I can finally get all of my small hand tools organized so I can find them without a lot of searching.

I got a couple of the solar yard light string/tubes to test out for the front yard.  I want to add these lights along the handrails of the front porch and if the are long enough to add a light border to some of the sidewalk.  I want lighting for security as well as some that adds a little curb appeal to the house. I don’t want to add to my electric bill so all outdoor lighting must be solar powered!  Actually any additional items that need electrical power I am going solar or some other renewable/off-grid power source.

Shopping at the local True Value store I got a small wireless weather station for only $20.00. It has a very nice setup for tracking temperatures and  humidity though it is lacking a barometer for measuring pressure.  I like it, as I can sit at the computer desk and get both indoor and outdoor temps and humidity levels.  My analog type thermometers tend to vary a lot because one is in shade and one is out in the south facing sun.  I don’t have a wind gauge but I have a couple of pinwheels in the yard and they give me a good idea on the wind and direction.  I picked up a small utility knife that uses plain safety razor blades and is lockable at several angles.  After several box cutter type blades this utility blade is a joy to add to my tool box.  Plus safety razor blades tend to be a lot less expensive to buy compared to most box cutter blades.

Snowed most of the day but it looks like we will only get a few inches.  I put salt on the front side walk last night and it did a good job of melting the snow until the afternoon. I like putting down a layer of salt before any winter snow as it makes shoveling the snow off the sidewalks much easier.  We tried out the “pet safe” salt on the backyard sidewalk. The pet safe salt did not do as well as the regular sno-melt salt but I think overall it was a good trade off between safety for the animals and a safe walkway.  Both Mom and I cleared the sidewalks but her metal shovel seem to skim off the snow leaving a layer behind and my plastic shovel did a better job clearing the sidewalks. Mom thinks it might have been the loose nut operating the metal shovel, but I think it might be the difference of how metal and plastic conduct cold. It might be best to have a couple of different types of snow shovels.  A lightweight plastic shovel for moisture heavy, but warm snowfalls and a solid metal snow shovel that can stand up to dry snow fall and chip away at any ice build up.  This is the first year I have used a plastic snow shovel but the difference in results seem significant to me.

I have a bit more food shopping left to do as Albertsons has a good sale on chicken thighs and legs for $.88 per pound and Fred Meyers has a New York roast for $4.99 per pound that I’d like to add one roast to the freezer. This a great time to stock up on those loss-leaders in the mega-marts especially if you can hold back a little cash to take advantage of sales.

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.

21 Things You Can Do To Prep That Are 100% FREE

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I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again: You don’t have to be rich to be a prepper. Yes, you’ll have to save up and spend some money, but there is much more to preparedness than buying survival supplies. In the following article, Dan Sullivan proves this […]

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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.

Could A $15 Minimum Wage Ever Work In America?

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November 9th, 2015

Video courtesy of The Employment Policies Institute

The EPI went to the streets of New York to ask people if they thought a $15 an hour minimum wage was a viable option for America.

What do you think would be the results of almost doubling the current minimum wage?

 

Read This Book To Learn The Skills You’ll Need To Survive When There’s No Electricity

 

Previous Video

Plastic panels installed over the chicken pen, Update cutting mill ends via the circular saw.

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I scavenged several plastic roof panels from a neighbor that were renovating.  The original plan was to cover the wood area but the panels were a bit old and heat cracked, plus the roof over the wood area needs to be re-built.  Mom and I decided to use the roof panels over the chicken pen and then place the tarp over the top of the panels to cover any gaps.  We hope having the roof panels under the tarp will eliminate water pooling, causing the tarp to sag and will keep the chicken pen area clear of puddles and ice this winter.  I think the pen roof looks much better for shrugging off the weather.  We had 30+ MPH winds for a couple of days few days and the “new” roof did very well in the wind. Now we are waiting to see how the roof panels hold up during the rest of the fall weather.  I was a bit surprised by how quickly Mom and I got the panels and then covered every thing with Mom’s big tarp. Overall the tarp is  taut covering the roof panels, we used zip ties on the sides and bungie cords on the front of the tarp.  Hopefully the roof will flex a bit in windy weather but have good strength shedding any rain or snow.

I used the little B&D circular saw to fill two of the wood buckets. I did a lot better physical energy wise as I’m learning how to use the saw properly. It has taken me a bit of time and practice learning the correct way to use some of my tools. A great side effect of cutting up mill ends is I am learning how to cut wood with out wasting  good lumber. Speaking for myself, I sort of thought you cut the wood you needed and never give a thought about working with the grain or against the grain cutting wood.  Yes, I was a bit slow on figuring this out.  I have a coupon from Harbor Freight for the 10 inch miter saw $88.88 and the 12 inch compound miter saw $139.99 double h recommended. Either saw should should be a good compound miter saw for cutting up my mill ends plus built in shelves to turn my front bedroom into a library.

I had a kind of strange reaction to saving a bit of cash this month. I have been preaching about paying a few critical bills ahead if you can afford it.  I have worked hard to try and get a bit of ahead on paying my basic bills ahead and this month I finally made it happen. I have the cash on hand to buy the miter saw but I don’t want to spend the money on the miter saw until I have more cash on hand.

I’m saving a bit of cash, and it is simple if not easy. I’m slowly getting ahead of the power curve, paying my bills ahead of the due date.   I can’t say I’m free, as I still have my house debt, but I have broke free of living paycheck to paycheck  and paying late fees because of timing of my checks. Now I’m working on  cash for an”emergency fund” rather than just falling back on my storage if an emergency blind sides me.

The  50 cent, $10.00 rolls of coins are a great for my little “mad money” fund work great for yard sales and the Xmas bazaars, since most folks selling don’t have cash on hand for breaking large bills.  Plus 50 cent coin roll might contain a pre 1964 90% silver coin or a 65-69 40% silver coin. I have not got lucky finding a silver coin but I’m not losing out as all coins do have a face value of 50 cents.

 

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!

Cutting up wood for the fireplace. Shopping some good and some bad

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It has not been all that cold yet, but both Mom and I like using the “mill ends”/box wood for a hot, fast fire that takes the chill off in the house. I filled up the porch small wood rick/wood pile with a mix of the old and new wood. I cut down a few older chunks of wood that were a bit large for the wood stove using the electric chain saw. I replaced the old circular saw blade on the Black and Decker circular saw and it work darn good on the “mill ends” filling up the 18 gallon buckets of wood.  Your saw should cut wood without a lot of pressure applied.  If you are forcing the cut it is time to buy a new blade or sharpen the blade. I filled 2 of the 18 gallon buckets, but I’m feeling the extra effort using the circular saw compared to a table saw.

I used the electric chain saw to cut down a few over sized chunks of wood.  I filled the little wood rick/ holder to the top and then some as well as two 18 gallon buckets of cut mill ends. Mom makes the fire first in the morning.  I tend to top off the fire at night if needed. But I need to find the “sweet spot” on burning wood.

Dad gave me a great Hobart table saw from his Dad.  It is great, but I’m having a   heck of a time finding any info, about proper blade  replacement. I can’t find a model number because of age. The blade is a circular 8 1/4 inch blade but the arbor is well above the  standard5/8ths arbor. My guesstimate on the arbor is in the 3/4 or 7/8″ range.  I know it might seem another “duh” moment but a sharp blade/chainsaw is something you need on hand to make quick work of your cutting jobs.  I really want to get a good miter/table saw for cutting the box wood quickly and for my future wood building projects.

I stopped by the local Ross store to see what they have and I was a bit surprised by how they have expanded from just clothing.  I picked up a set of those little doggie steps ($10.00) that help older dogs get up on beds or a couch as they get older and less mobile. I did not find the flat sheets I wanted, but Ross did have some nice sheet and blanket sets for a good price.  I found a couple of the larger jute/rubber door mats I  I got a jute/rubber mat for the backdoor and a rubber sort of an open mesh mat that I placed over the sand area in front of the chicken gate so the area drains. Each mat cost about $7.00, which is a pretty good price. Getting the door mats should give us a place to get rid of most the leaves,  dirt and other unpleasant items without having to “deface” some of my big decorative rocks by the back door. I don’t have pics but I think one of the bigger rocks shuddered with revulsion when we used it to scrape our boots.

The $4.99 can of coffee at Fred Meyer’s was a bust as they have shrunk the cans again, this time down to 24 oz. I’m so peeved by this nonsense, as a big can of coffee used to be a full 36 oz.  I had a feeling that last month’s sale of coffee was a setup/clear out of old cans to introduce “a new and improved” smaller can of coffee.   I understand grocery stores operate with razor thin margins but this sort of pricing irks me and it feeds into the US government paradigm that there is no inflation because a can a coffee only costs $4.99 yet that can of coffee is less than 2 pounds now compared to 2.5-3 pounds back 2-4 years ago.  Yes, I am that anal-retentive that I notice how all the packaging has shrunk, then we get a “sale price” on the new and improved item and in about the month the price will hike again to the “new” normal price.

I’m starting to get ahead of the power curve on the house payment and having a bit of cash on hand. Mom has been great for motivation on saving money for the “emergency fund.  I’m buying  $10.00 rolls of 50 cent  coins as my cash savings and hoping for a silver coin year of 40-90% silver.  So far no luck on silver but saving the coins is helping me to save cash for the future.

Great news Smokey the cat is coming  out more and Tucker the peke is starting to follow verbal commands. It’s not perfect yet but things are getting better via the pets behaving.

 

Penny Pinching Projects!

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Penny Pinching Projects for Preppers…
D.J. Cooper “Surviving Dystopia

Penny Pinching Projects for Preppers Hold PennyWell now isn’t that a tongue twister? But seriously, a great topic I think. After last week’s chat about others around us not agreeing with why we prep. It seems only fitting that we discuss some things to help us prep without breaking the bank.

There are many ways that we can increase productivity or create our own products, gadgets and doodads that will assist us in being prepared. After all, there was once a time when our grandparents did everything this way. They milked the cow then churned butter by hand with a churn they built themselves or pressed the curds into cheese on a press they built.

Penny Pinching Projects for Preppers windmillI have found a few things that I really liked from hidden storage ideas to a homemade windmill generator. Thinking about this not only can you save money on your preps by means of DIY and ingenuity but also save money on everyday things and bring that scoffer into the fold by showing them just how much it can help.

10-28-2015 doodadThere are so many things and ways that we can do things to not only aleviate the cost of preparing but also help with costs for everyday items. An example of this might be soaps (especially laundry soap), go to the grocery store and check out the price of some laundry soap… Some soap can be upwards of twenty bucks!!! When you can make laundry soap that not only costs a fraction of that for more product but it works better at cleaning the laundry! You are now the hero for saving the family roughly sixty bucks per month!!

Stop in at prepperbroadcasting.com and join us in the chat to discuss your penny pinching ideas. Call in and be part of the show!
Up Next week: What about co-op or buying clubs?
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Superyacht Getaway Subs And Luxury Bomb Shelters: The Elite Are The Most Paranoid Preppers Of All

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Superyachts - Public Domain

By Michael Snyder – The Economic Collapse Blog

When it comes to “prepping”, many among the elite take things to an entirely different level.  As you will see below, the elite are willing to pay big money for cutting edge home security measures, luxury bomb shelters and superyacht getaway submarines. Some of the things that the elite are demanding for their own protection go beyond even what we would see in a James Bond film, and serving the prepping needs of the elite has become a multi-billion dollar business.  Meanwhile, the media outlets that the elite own continue to mock the rest of us for getting prepared.  All the time we see headlines like this one that appeared in a major American news source: “Preppers: Meet the paranoid Americans awaiting the apocalypse“.  Well, if we are paranoid for setting aside some extra food and supplies for the future, what does that make the people that you will read about in this article?

The elite live in a world that is completely different from the world that you and I live in.  In wealthy enclaves of major global cities such as London, elitists are willing to shell out massive amounts of money to ensure that everyone else is kept out.  The following comes from an article that was just published a few hours ago by the London Evening Standard entitled “The paranoid world of London’s super-rich: DNA-laced security mist and superyacht getaway submarines“…

Business is booming because billionaires are a paranoid bunch. Take one who recently moved to Mayfair. ‘He wanted everything, from protection from cyber hacking through to physical intrusion and kidnapping,’ says Bond Gunning. ‘We ended up installing fingerprint-activated locks for family members and programmable keys for staff that limit the time they are allowed into the property and the rooms they are able to enter and exit.

‘Inside and outside we installed 24-hour monitored CCTV cameras that are so hi-tech they can tell the difference between a dog, cat and a person. In the garden there are thermal-imaging cameras that can detect heat sources in the undergrowth. One thing intruders can’t hide is the heat of their bodies.

‘Should an intruder evade the cameras or ignore the warnings they automatically broadcast, the property itself is protected by bulletproof glass and alarm sensors in all rooms. There is a bullet, gas and bombproof panic or safe room, with its own food and water, medical supplies and communications, and an impregnable supply of fresh air. Just in case the family cannot make it there in time, key rooms are sealed by reinforced shutters.’

But for many elitists, those kinds of extreme security measures are simply not enough.  That is why sales of “luxury doomsday shelters” are absolutely soaring.  If “the end of the world” arrives unexpectedly, high net worth individuals want to know that there will be somewhere for them and their families to go.  The following is an excerpt from an article about one such facility located in Indiana

Continue reading at The Economic Collapse Blog: Superyacht Getaway Subs And Luxury Bomb Shelters: The Elite Are The Most Paranoid Preppers Of All

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.

Today, Michael is best known for his work as the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and The American Dream

Filed under: Prepping

The house feels different after caulking the windows

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Perhaps there is a “placebo” effect, that the house feels warmer after caulk and foaming all the gaps.  Mom stated that the house feels less damp and the backrooms are much warmer via thermometer Mom installed last year and I’m not seeing as much sweating/moisture around the windows in the back part of my house. I know it is early days yet for this little test/maintenance job.  But I feel like an “acid minded moron” for not caulking and sealing up holes around the house when those products are so cheap.

Mom and I still need to finish caulking all of the south side windows and put up the window insulation kits/plastic. I think we have eliminated much of the moisture and drafts coming through the windows. I managed to get the ladder setup and we have some sunny days coming up this week so we might be able to finish up the last three windows.

Bad news I think I need a new roof and new siding because many of the cheap lap panels are pulling loose from the basic structure of the house.  I figure it will take about $15 grand in repairs to make the house right long term. I can’t complain as this is a house built in 1940 and I ignored a few problems due to a lack of money to fix thing properly. So far I am doing stop-gap repairs to keep things from getting worse. The financial plan of attack is to keep working on the “emergency fund” and then take out a short term loan next year for each job. The roof should cost about $4-6 grand and I hope the siding will be about the same cost wise.  I’ll get one job done and paid off then get started on the next job. Nampa city has a low interest loan program that might be a good option for getting the jobs done.  Right now I am just doing research on the total cost of the repairs and the best way to pay for them. I really hate the idea of going into more debt on the house.

Gosh Jamie what if the “Zombie” Apocalypse happens while you are in debt?  Well, if it happens it happens and perhaps those contractors will work for beer, bread and silver.  I can’t stop taking care of stuff/ planning for the future just because I think an Economic collapse “might” happen in the near future.  I try to use debt in small chunks and get the best deal possible. But if a repair job costs over 5-9 months of your yearly income you almost have to go into debt to make the repairs.  It’s just another one of those thing that proves that being poor in the USSA can be darn expensive.

Something will always go wrong in your planning and you will have to deal with it. It might be an appliance that dies, a tooth ache or vet bill that blindsides you. That is why building that “emergency fund” is so critical to your preps.

Good news!  Smokey the cat is moving about the house and is not treating all dogs as evil incarnate.

 

 

Caulking the windows for winter and drying veggies.

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My gosh, some of my windows had some big gaps and it is no wonder the house felt a bit drafty.  While caulking the windows of an older home takes some time and physical energy, I think it worth the effort.  Caulk is cheap and works great for all kinds of water/weather proofing jobs. Based on what windows Mom and I got caulked, you should be able to caulk the average size window exterior (30 in. x 36) with about a 1/3 of a large tube of caulk.  DAP brand caulk  was much easier and faster to use and get a clean “bead”, compared to the generic version caulk from Home Depot.  I recommend you spend the extra quarter per tube for DAP caulk rather than get the cheap generic caulk.   I used a cheap $2.00 caulking gun and Mom used a contractor grade gun and there did not seem to be a lot of difference in the quality of our work.

For me I got a bit better at caulking in practice and then my body got tired and I just wanted to finish the job no matter how it looked.  Cualking your windows should not be a huge job for some one that is physically capable and somewhat fit.  If you are disabled, caulking can be a bit of a challenge. Now we are looking for the correct paint color to touch up around the caulk.

True value has a great deal on some of that expanding foam $2.99 a can this week. I picked up 3 cans though I only used about half of one can filling in the bigger cracks around the house. One thing bad about the cans is they tend to clog up, I found using a bit of acetone to clean the nozzle worked very well. My hope is the can foam won’t go to waste.

A tool every prepper  needs is a good ladder you feel safe using!  While my multi-function ladder is a bit heavy compared to most ladders. I have used it cleaning out rain gutters to replacing light bulbs in my shop and I’m very pleased about the ladder’s functionality doing jobs around the house.

Dehydrating veggies: Mom got the roma tomatoes drying and I got all of the celery cleaned up and most of the leaves dying.  Home grown celery, knocks the socks off (flavor-wise) compared to any store bought celery I have used.  I dry most of the leaves and cut the celery stalks as needed through the summer. The new/old Magic Chef dehydrator is working great since we have learned it’s little bugaboos.

I know many people are afraid to try different methods of preserving food because they fear wasting food. I have screwed up on preserving many items and I have had a few little victories.  Now is the time to try new ways of preserving foods as you have the local mega-mart as backup. If you screw up and thing work less than well. Simply chock it up to learning and move ahead to the next thing.

I started out with food for two weeks goal at first, and keep slowly expanding my preps and skills. Now I spend more on tools and supplies to get repairs and maintenance jobs done around the house. Lumber is a low cost item to prep right now. Fiber/MDF panels are under $10.00 per 4 x 8 foot sheet and 8 foot 2 x4s about $2.50 each. My plan is to add a few full size panels plus have the big box store cut a couple panels same size as my windows just in case I need to do a quick window repair.

Last but not least, I’m trying to coax my cat back indoors and mouse the house.  Tucker, the peke is hell bent on chasing the cat. So far Smokey is starting to feel more comfortable and moving around the house at night, now that Tucker is restrained by the baby gate blocking off part of the house.  Between closing up holes in the exterior walls and getting Smokey the Cat patrolling the house, we can get rid of the the mice we have seen around the house.  I did catch one mouse using the sticky mouse trap.

 

 

40 Dirt-Cheap Items That Will Be Priceless After The SHTF

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Although some survival supplies can be pretty expensive, most of the things people will need after the SHTF are dirt cheap. For example, right now toilet paper only costs about 50 cents a roll. But once the store shelves are bare, most people will trade a lot for a single […]

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Big score at the thrift shop and shopping this week’s ads

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The local thrift store did not have any sheets, but I finally bought a Romertopf, terracotta casserole dish/cooker.  The Romertopf is a an unglazed terracotta cooker that sort of recreates cooking foods wrapped in clay and tossed on hot coals of a fire. It is a slow cooker that works in an oven. What is great about using a romertopf is most meals require very little oil or water to make a dish and a make and forget sort of meal that can cook slowly in an oven.  You have to heat the terracotta slowly but the energy use should be very low for the pot.

I got a Magic Chef  dehydrator and need to get busy on drying the tomatoes and other veggies.  Mom did not have much luck dehydrating tomatoes.  With the new “Magic Chef” fan driven dehydrators, drying  the harvest should work faster/ better for storage.  I am learning and sometimes that includes wasted food as I learn.  Since I grew the plants,  I don’t have a big problem with it getting “wasted” and chucked in the trash/ compost bin if I screw up on preserving it. I screw up a lot and that is how I learn.

Albertsons has some great buys this week.  I picked up some shrimp, two pound bag for $10.00 and I had a coupon for butter $1.88 per pound with a limit of 2 pounds per coupon.  I have to make a few more trips to Albertsons to stock up on butter at this price. I’m not sure of why, but wholesale butter prices are starting to spike up.  Last week,  zerohedge.com reported that butter “futures” were up to $3.10 per pound. I think that butter is a great prep item to stock up. You can freeze it, bottle/can it for longer storage. Butter is natural fat plus a little bit of butter adds a lot of flavor to meals or bake goods.  Albertsons now has the tall bic lighters 5 for $5.00. I love bic lighters and from what I have read from  Selco (Survivor of the 1993 Bosnian war) and ferfal (surviving the economic collapse in Argentina) good lighters tend to be a great barter item.  I want to stock up on the lighters just for my own use and have plenty of extras for possible barter.

My sister loaned me a super sized tarp to cover the wood pile this winter. The tarp covers the wood pile area and will give me time to buy all the materials to replace the roof properly for a long term fix. I complain about how the roof was installed but it did an okay job protecting the area from rain for almost 10 years. Once I get the new roof installed it should last for another 15-20 years.  I am looking at adding a rain gutter system to keep the water run off out of my neighbor’s yard and should  re direct water part of my alley garden I have been working on this year. I ordered one more cord of wood to be delivered next week since I’m not sure how much I will use of this new wood if the winter gets cold.   Worse thing that could happen, is I have enough wood for a cold winter. Best outcome is I have a nice stock of seasoned wood for next winter. One of the things I did not think about heating with my wood stove is how much stacked wood I need to have on hand for a cold winter because I went cheap to start with the mill ends, augmented that with buying a quarter cord “box” of fruit wood and last year my aunt gave me free elm wood that Dad cut and split but I got a literal wood pile and I did not make a good stack of wood to estimate my usage over the winter months.

I got Mom’s laptop loaded with a nice bit of anti-virus software from Comodo , updated her  email contact list and updated to Service pack 1 finally on both laptops without a glitch.  So far, I really like Windows 7 OS as it seems to work well with my old Office 2003 install. Plus the desktop is not all that different compared to Windows XP. As far as I know I can’t create my own restore point in  Windows 7 like I did in Win XP. But the Win 7 software seems to create restore points that are solid. After using the laptops for a couple of weeks I would recommend both as good buys as a laptop for prepping/survival as well as a basic PC for most people.