Survival On A Budget: Prepping When You Live On Social Security

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Let’s face it, prepping can get expensive. I don’t care who you are, unless you have a rather sizeable income, trying to be prepared to survive a disaster is going to take e sizeable chunk out of your budget; that is, unless you are extremely careful with your money and know how to make the most of it.

Most of us who call ourselves preppers aren’t wealthy. Oh, there are wealthy preppers; but for the most part, they’re the ones who are buying their survival retreats in New Zeeland or buying a private island.

While they may read some of the same materials you and I read, their idea of prepping is a whole lot different, simply because they can afford to do things that you and I can’t afford to do.

“I would like to see a web page or series  on “the Poor Prepper”.  I am on social security and have very limited funds.  I would like to know what to begin with and where I should put my priorities.  I would also be interested in what gives the greatest reward for the money.”

Survivopedia reader

What if you are on a limited income; what do you do then? Is it still possible to be a prepper, even if you’re living on Social Security or some other form of fixed income?

What do You Need?

To start with, we’ve got to understand what we need to have, in order to survive. Otherwise, it’s real easy to get caught up in thinking we have to have the latest survival gadget.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

Granted, some of those gadgets are nice, but you don’t necessarily need to have them, in order to survive.

The basic survival needs are:

  • Maintaining your body heat – You can die from hypothermia (loss of body heat) in less than 30 minutes.
  • Drink enough clean water – The human body uses water for a lot of things; so you can only go about 3 days without water. It has to be clean water too, as many harmful bacteria and other microorganisms can be found in unpurified water.
  • Have enough food – You can live about 30 days without food; longer if you’re overweight. But survival is going to tax your energy, meaning that you’ll burn more calories than you’re accustomed to.

To provide yourself with these three basic needs, as well as taking care of some other basics, you’ll also need:

  • To be able to start and maintain a fire – We use fire to keep warm, provide light, cook our food and can even use it to purify water.
  • Take care of our health – This means treating injuries, treating sickness and personal hygiene, which is necessary to prevent disease.
  • Defend ourselves – There are two-legged predators out there, who would like nothing more than to steal what you have, especially in a post-disaster situation.

These six areas are your priorities, so when you make decisions on what to stockpile and how to spend your money, keep them in mind. Your first priority should be to make sure that you can keep warm in the winter. Then that you have a means of purifying water, and then that you have food to eat. The other things come after that.

The Big Challenge, Stockpiling

While you can spend a whole lot of money on survival equipment, you don’t really have to. I’ll talk more about that in a minute. Your real area of expense is going to be in stockpiling supplies; especially food. But with some judicious buying, you can even do that on a tight budget.

The first thing we have to take into consideration is that this is survival, not normal living. That means that we have to be ready to give up a lot of things that we enjoy, for the sake of surviving. Many of the things we enjoy in life are actually luxuries, not necessities. We might convince ourselves they are necessities, but they are not.

When it comes to building any stockpile, it’s difficult to do it all at once. Rather, try to build a small stockpile and then make it grow gradually. In other words, start out by building a one-month stockpile. Once you have that, work on increasing it to two months. That two months can then be expanded to three; and on and on, until you get to a year, or whatever end point you have picked.

Working on a stockpile slowly allows you to make it a part of your budget, spending whatever you feel like you can afford on prepping. Even if this is only $5 a week, that’s probably more than your neighbors are investing in their future. Five dollars can go a long way, if you use it judiciously.

Building a stockpile slowly allows you to spread the expense over a longer period of time. While you may feel an imperative to do everything right now, that’s really not possible. Rather, work on making your prepping a part of your life, where you are doing it little by little. Remember, everything you do improves your chances of survival a little bit more. So even if you don’t reach all your goals this month, you should be better off at the end of the month, than you were at the beginning.

Stockpiling water shouldn’t cost you anything. You don’t have to buy bottled water to build a stockpile of water. Rather, use the tap water from your home, storing it in whatever containers you can find. Plastic milk jugs work extremely well; but if you don’t buy milk in plastic jugs, you can use just about any sort of closable container, jars, bottles and jugs.

There are many ways you can save on food. Start by taking advantage of sales and coupons, buying whatever you can use that you can get at a discounted rate. Buying in bulk helps with this too, as part of what you are paying for is always the packaging.  Just make sure that it is food which will keep for a prolonged period of time.

The most expensive part of building any food stockpile is protein, specifically animal protein. This is the big challenge for most of us. You can start by using other sources of protein, rather than animal protein. Beans are an excellent source of protein and are very inexpensive. So, beans need to become a part of your stockpile.

For the rest, your best deals are going to be buying canned meats. I’ve found some excellent deals on canned chicken, more than any other meat. You can also do extremely well with Spam, potted meat and Vienna sausage. While these may not be your favorites, they will provide you with the nutrition you need.

Make Your Own

One of the best ways of saving money is by doing things yourself, rather than paying someone else to do it for you. I’ve made a lot of my own survival gear, from solar panels to knives, even firearms. This has saved me a lot of money, freeing up that money for other needs. If you’re on Social Security, you obviously have time, so why not use some of that time to make your own survival gear.

Probably the best way of using that time to help you with prepping is to grow a huge vegetable garden and can the produce you grow. I imagine that once a major disaster hits and society breaks down, we’re all going to be doing a lot of gardening. Better to get a head-start on it and preserve some of that food for a time of need.

Make Use of Garage Sales

You can actually find a variety of different survival supplies at local garage sales, if you take the time to look. While you won’t be able to find everything, there are some key items that you are probably going to be able to get a great deal on, at one garage sale or another.

  • Candles – Candles are a time-honored source of light, which people have used for centuries. But buying candles in the store today can be a bit expensive. So instead, buy them at garage sales. I find candles there all the time. They can either be used as-is or melted down and remade into more practical survival candles.
  • Rugged Clothing – When you’re in survival mode, you’re going to be much harder on your clothes than you normally are. Make sure that you have a good supply of rugged “work clothes,” including some good hiking or work boots.
  • Canning Supplies – Canning is one of the easiest forms of food preservation to learn; and it’s extremely secure. If you are going to try your hand at gardening for food, something we all should do, then you’re going to need canning jars. Don’t pay full price for them; you can always find canning jars at garage sales.
  • Blankets – If you’re going to be heating with wood, then you may find that you have trouble getting your home as warm as you would like. The way our ancestors handled that was to pile lots of blankets on the bed. Extra blankets can also be put over windows, to act as insulation and help keep your home warmer.
  • Food – Yes, you can actually find food at garage sales, believe it or not. Often, this will be bulk food, which is ideal for your prepping needs.
  • Gardening Supplies – From pots to plants to tools, you can find all sorts of gardening supplies at garage sales, usually from people who have given up.
  • Hunting and Fishing Gear – It’s not uncommon to find camouflage gear or fishing poles at garage sales; ones that people either outgrew or replace with newer ones. That’s fine, you can use them.

For much of my life I was way down there on the income curve. Working as a missionary doesn’t exactly bring in a huge income. Yet even though we didn’t have much, we still managed to prepare for Y2K and other disasters. How did we do it? Following the steps that I’ve just mentioned.

Take them one by one and be ready to make the most out of anything. This is what real survival is all about!

This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia.

Do You Think You’re Financially Safe After Retirement?

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Of all the challenges facing us for retirement, financial challenges are very likely the greatest. Times have changed since our parents’ generation, and so most of us Baby Boomers don’t have the retirement packages that our parents had.

Oh, the companies we worked for might have talked a good talk, but when it comes down to it, what we thought we might get and what we will really get may not be anywhere close to the same thing.

So how are we going to make it though our retirement years?

The WHY? Question has a Simple Answer

Part of the problem is that the law has changed, affecting how companies handle retirement benefits. I distinctly remember when that happened, back in my teen years. Before that, even working for a company for a few years could qualify you for retirement. But after that, you needed a minimum of seven years to be vested at all and 20 years to be fully vested for retirement.

What does that mean? It means that if you worked for a company for seven years, you will get a minimal retirement, something like ten percent of full retirement. You have to have worked for the same company for 20 years, in order to receive a full retirement. How many of us have done that?

The truth of the matter is, it’s not just the way that employers handle things that have changed, but how we handle them as well. Few people work for a company for more than a few years, before moving on to another. What that means is that they are never fully vested for retirement in any company.

In my own career, I have worked long enough to be minimally vested in only two companies. I took a buyout for my retirement fund from the first one, as I was starting my own business and needed the money. So I only have retirement from one of those two companies; and that comes to a whopping $110 per month. Oh, and I left that company as an engineering manager, so you’d think that I would have more than that coming to me.

Many of my school chums are in even worse conditions than I am. They either didn’t have as successful a career as I did or they moved around more than I did. The result is that they have absolutely no retirement coming to them, from any company they worked for.

That’s a whole lot different than my father’s generation. He had 20 years in with one company and 15 with another. So when retirement time came around, he had some pretty good money coming in. Unlike our generation, he didn’t need to depend on Social Security for his retirement income.


Speaking of Social Security, you should probably take a look at your hole card and find out how much your expected benefits from Social Security are, if you haven’t already.

Currently, the maximum possible benefits from Social Security, for those who managed to rack up the maximum possible earnings for each year, including a FRA of 66 in 2017, is $2,687 a month. Not exactly something to write home about. But few people actually get that much. The average benefit paid out this year is just $1,342 a month.

Unless you have absolutely no debt and your home is paid off, that $1,300 a month isn’t going to go very far. Even if you and your spouse both receive that much a month, that’s still a touch shy of $2,700 a month; and Social Security benefits are taxable income.

Taking an Honest Look at the Cost of Retirement

The first question you have to ask yourself is how much retirement money you will have coming in. That figure includes Social Security, any retirement you have coming from companies that you’ve worked for, and any retirement funds you have saved or invested.

Sadly, few of us have much money set aside for retirement. According to the latest statistics I can find, the median average retirement savings for people 56 – 61 years old, is a mere $17,000. That’s obviously not going to go all that far.

But even if you’ve managed to beat the odds, and have a million dollars in the bank, that’s no longer enough to retire on, even though it was considered enough to retire on for decades. Assuming an annual salary of $50,000 per year (the nationwide average family income), you would have had to be putting $1,150 per month into your retirement savings, at today’s interest rates, in order to have enough for your retirement.

Of course, to do that, you probably wouldn’t have had enough to keep shoes on your kids feet and a roof over their heads. So it’s rather unlikely you managed to do anything close to that, unless you made a whole lot more money than the average.

The other side of the calculation is how much money you need to have, in order to pay your bills, once you retire.

Fortunately, your kids and mine are grown up by now, so you don’t have their expenses. So that saves a little. But most of your expenses are probably pretty much the same as they have been for a number of years, unless you’ve moved, stopped driving a car or stopped heating your home.

So sit down and write out a retirement budget. Actually, write out two of them. One should be the retirement budget that you need to have, in order to keep living like you are right now. The other should be bare bones, seeing how much you can cut out and still survive.

Don’t forget medical expenses in these two budgets. Unless you have some sort of medical plan through your work, that continues through retirement or you’re a veteran and will be taken care of (albeit not necessarily all that well) by the government, you are going to have some medical expenses. Even in retirement, Medicare will cost you something. On top of that, you may have medical expenses which Medicaid won’t cover.

There will probably be a discrepancy between how much you will have coming in and how much you need to meet your bills. That’s what you’re trying to find. You need to know how much that discrepancy is, so that you can figure out a plan for dealing with it.

One Option – Downsizing

Probably the single most common way that people deal with the discrepancy between their income and their outgo in retirement is by downsizing. Mostly this means selling their home and moving into a smaller one. That might make sense if it will save you money; but that’s not always the case.

There are really only a few ways in which selling your home to buy a smaller one can save you money:

  • You have a mortgage and downsizing will allow you to buy a home for cash. This requires having enough equity in the home to cover the cost of the smaller home.
  • Your smaller home will be less costly to heat and cool.
  • You’re moving into a camper or tiny home, that you will be able to take north in the summer and south in the winter.

Of course, downsizing doesn’t have to mean just your home.

You may have other monthly expenses that you can do without, such as car payments on large vehicles that you no longer need to have, because you are no longer hauling kids around. You might also have other expenses, which you felt you needed to have for your kids, but no longer need.

The Other Option – Increase Your Income

Unfortunately, few companies want to keep people on the payroll after they hit retirement age. Nor do most companies want to hire people who are that age. There are a number of reasons for this, but they all boil down to economics. It’s cheaper for companies to hire younger employees.

So it’s doubtful that you can find a job to increase your income. It’s not impossible, but it is doubtful. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no way that you can earn extra money to fill the gap between your expected income and your expected expenses. There are a number of things you can do; mostly things that involve being self-employed in one way or another.

There are some major advantages to being self-employed; advantages that tie in nicely with retirement. The top two are that you can set your own schedule and you can work from home. While working from home requires discipline to avoid distractions, it is generally a much more comfortable place to work.

What you ultimately decide to do will depend a lot on the skills you have, your health and how much time you decide to dedicate to work during what are supposed to be your retirement years. As always, the more skills you have, the more options you have, so a good starting point is taking an inventory of your skills, with an eye towards how you might use them to augment your income.

Without going into a lot of detail, here are some basic ideas about how you can turn your skills into cash:

  • Freelance work – There are several platforms online, which allow those who are looking to do work on contract. This is advantageous to companies, as it allow them to hire people to do work on a part-time hourly basis or by the project. All sorts of professionals and para-professionals do work via freelancing online.
  • Handicrafts – If you are a crafty sort of person, you could make craft items for sale. I know people who are making well in excess of a thousand dollars a month, monetizing their hobby. The best place to sell these crafts is through Etsy, an online store. You could also sell through local gift shops.
  • eBay or Amazon Store – Both eBay and Amazon have created amazing opportunities for those who wish to start their own business, selling just about anything online.
  • YouTube Channel – If you are an expert at something that people want to know about, start recording videos and creating a YouTube channel. There are currently thousands of these, with the top channels making millions of dollars per year, simply for the advertisements that are attached to the videos by YouTube.

These are just a few possibilities. There are many more, such as blogging, which can make money off of advertising and more starting an online store, drop shipping products to your customers. The really great thing about all these ideas, is that they require very little investment on your part, other than your time.

In the end, it’s all about the skills, as they are the only valuable that nobody can ever take away from you.

This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia.

How To Recover Gold And Silver From Scrap

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If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a gold bug, or maybe a gold digger. Either way, you probably don’t know that in 100,000 cellphones there’s about 2.4 kilos of gold to be collected (as in recuperated) by a competent gold digger.

Yes, I know – 100,000 cellphones is quite a lot of old hardware. Besides gold, you’ll also find 25 kilos of silver and more than 900 kilos of copper (that’s almost a metric ton).

Considering the fluctuation in market prices, all that stuff combined makes for a cool quarter million dollars, give or take. The problem is, where on Earth can you get 100,000 cellphones and how can you get the gold out of those darn circuits?

How to Recover Gold from Electronics

Recycling electronics can be a lucrative business provided it’s done on an industrial scale. For regular folk, this kind of enterprise is quite difficult and time consuming, especially if not done nice and proper. Now, if you want to make your own personal scrap fortune, today’s your lucky day, so keep reading, I’m giving pearls here folks!

Besides cellphones, gold and other precious metals can be found in almost all types of electronic circuits, ranging from computer main-boards to processors and what not.

The idea is that instead of throwing your old gear in the garbage, considering that there’s a small amount of gold in all types of circuits, how about putting that gold in your pocket instead of making some scrap metal company rich?

Phones, laptops, cameras and the like are packed full of gold-plated circuit boards, due to the precious metal’s excellent conductibility. Even scanners and printers have silver, gold, copper, and sometimes platinum inside their guts.

Besides being pretty expensive, as in precious, gold is a highly conductive and pliable metal which was used for thousands of years by humans as a highly valuable commodity, as it retains its value better than almost any other commodity.

Until Nixon nixed (pun intended) the Bretton Woods system in 1971, even the US dollar was backed by gold. Since then, the dollar lost a lot of its value, i.e. $1 in 1971 had the same purchasing power as $7 today (official figures), but take a load of this: back then an ounce of gold was $35, now it’s like what, $1200 (it was almost $1900 at some point)?

So, you do the math and ask yourself if scrapping gold from old electronic gear is worth your time and effort. I am digressing – of course it is!

Let’s recap: due to its excellent properties, gold is the material of choice for manufacturing various electronic parts in computers, cellphones and what not.

Removing the gold from scrap parts requires access to various equipment and it’s a pretty complicated process. However, if you’re well-armed with the right tools and knowledge, you can extract, refine, and maybe sell scrap gold, provided you have enough raw materials to extract it from.

As a general rule of thumb, considering that you’ll have to deal with highly corrosive acids, you should perform all these operations outside and always use protective gear, such as gloves, goggles and even a respirator.

Start your own woodworking business – $9500 per month guaranteed! 

Here’s a short list for starting a gold recovery enterprise:

  • rubber gloves
  • goggles
  • a rubber apron
  • hydrogen peroxide 3% from your local pharmacy
  • muriatic acid 31% (it’s available at hardware stores)
  • methyl hydrate (this is basically 99% methyl alcohol) available at automotive supply stores or hardware stores (it’s used for fuel line antifreeze)
  • a couple of large glass-made containers (a coffee pot would do the trick.
  • a funnel filter (a drip-coffee filter)
  • a stir stick made of plastic or glass
  • a blow torch powerful enough to hard solder
  • an accurate weigh scale (at least to one tenth of a gram)
  • borax
  • clay bowls or anything that has a melting point above gold
  • a measuring cup
  • and of course, a lot of scrap electronics.

The general rule is that you should collect any type of electronic scraps which are prone to contain gold inside, including computer processors, jewellery, gold tooth crowns, and old telephone wiring with an emphasis on outdated electronics, which may contain parts with a higher level of gold than modern ones.

Video first seen on indeedItdoes

In the first step, you must sort the gold into gold-plated parts: circuits which require cleaning, gold fingers, gold plated pins and so forth and so on.

Before working with chemicals, don’t forget to put on your safety gear.

In the second step, you must put the clean circuit boards and the gold fingers  inside the coffee pot. Using a different container, mix one part hydrogen peroxide with  2 parts muriatic acid and add the mixture to the coffee pot until it just covers the gold-containing stuff inside (gold fingers for example).

You’ll have to wait for about a week for the process to complete and don’t forget to stir your concoction on a daily basis.

After 7 days have passed, it’s now time to collect your gold. You’ll see that the acid has darkened and there are flakes of gold floating around inside the coffee pot. If you pour the acid through the coffee filter, the gold flakes will be captured by the filter.

Save the acid though, don’t dump it. The remaining circuit boards/gold fingers must be checked out, the clean parts thrown away, and the uncleaned parts saved for re-dipping.

Now, pour some water through the filter and then flush using methyl hydrate to clean it.

In the next step, you’ll have to add borax to your “mined” gold. Borax works by reducing the melting point of gold from its regular 1063 Celsius. By adding some borax to your cleaned gold flakes, you’ll be able to melt your gold out of the heavy mineral concentrate to salvage it.

Next you’ll have to heat the clay bowl (don’t worry if it splits or cracks) and add borax. When the borax melts, put the gold flakes in too and add more borax, then heat it continuously until you end up with a nice bead of gold. Let it cool and weigh it. There you have it, your own gold from scrap electronics.

That’s one method, the simplest actually.

Here’s an interesting tutorial about the top 10 most valuable computer processors, as in the ones with the most gold inside for recovery by weight counted down.

Video first seen on eWaste Ben

Here’s a detailed hard drive tear-down video tutorial, teaching you how to look for precious metals (gold, silver, palladium and aluminum) inside your old hard drives.

Video first seen on Rob The Plumber

Good luck and scrap hard!

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

Why To Invest In Food Instead Of Silver Or Gold

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Invest in food

Many people talk about a recurring economic crisis in US, and look for means to place their money so their investment won’t become useless once the economy hits the ground. For example, a reader recently wrote:

“I am a fan of Survivopedia and I love your articles. I just read your article “Top 4 Things to do Prior to the Dollar Collapsing” and it is the first thing I have read that is helpful. Everything else is for millionaires to get off shore banking, get lots of gold, buy real estate and on and on. I don’t have that kind of money… only a few thousand dollars as an emergency fund… I am 72. It seems to me it is stupid to hand on to the money if it is worthless. Is there some other means of currency exchange that those in the know are doing instead?”


This is a very good question that Dianne asks. Before answering, let me say that I am not a professional financial counselor; all I am is a man who tries to do his best.

Having said that, the standard in the financial investment community is to put your investors money beside your own, taking the same risks and receiving the same benefits. So, based on that standard, the best I can do is to tell you what I’m doing myself.

What a Financial Collapse Isn’t

Let me start by saying a couple of things about what a financial collapse isn’t.

  • It’s not a total breakdown of society. While we can expect crime to increase, as desperate people try to meet their needs, the police and the courts will still be working, trying to track down criminals and put them in jail.
  • Secondly, a financial collapse doesn’t mean a government collapse. Our government, like all governments, is a parasite. As such, it will keep itself alive, even if that means killing off its host. That means that they will be continuing the poor fiscal policy that is causing the collapse in the first place, taking the money that you and I need for recovery.
  • Finally, a financial collapse is not permanent. Most only last a few years. Even the worst collapse in history, the Great Depression, was over in ten years. So it’s reasonable to assume that any future collapse will end as well, probably after a few years.

Why Regular Investments Won’t Work

The advice that the reader mentions for the millionaires may not even work in the face of a financial collapse. Moving money offshore doesn’t guarantee anything. In fact, the 2008-2009 housing collapse affected the economy worldwide, not just here in the United States. The same happened in the Great Depression.

The fact of the matter is that the U.S economy is the world’s largest. Even China’s economy, which has been growing to the point where it is now the world’s second largest, is less than half of the U.S. economy. So, anything negative that happens to the U.S. economy is going to have international effects.

There is no safe place in the world’s financial markets for money, including putting it in foreign money.

I would have to put electronic money, like Bitcoin in the same category as foreign currencies. Supposedly Bitcoin is totally independent of the dollar, but I’m not so sure that’s true.

People buy Bitcoin with dollars, so there is a connection. As there has never been a test of these alternative forms of money in a serious financial collapse, I wouldn’t put my trust in them.

Even a savings account is unsure. In both Greece and Cypress, the respective governments directed banks to skim off of people’s savings accounts. That could very well happen here. So the last thing I would do is to keep more money in the bank, than what I need to pay the bills.

Inflation is so low right now, that a savings account is a joke anyway. You may as well take that money as cash and stuff it in your mattress, like the gangsters of old. Better yet, find a place to hide it that criminals won’t suspect. Avoid the master bedroom, as that’s the first place they look.

So What Can You Invest In?

Okay, so let’s say you have a few thousand dollars that you want to invest for a rainy day. What can you do? The most secure investment on the face of the Earth has always been precious metals, and I’d have to say that it won’t change.

If you’re like Dianne, you’re probably thinking that you don’t have enough to invest in precious metals. I used to think that way too. That was when I was thinking of investing in gold.

It takes quite a bit of money to buy even one ounce of gold. So, if you’re going to invest in it, you need a good pile. But silver is another matter. I like to think of silver as the working man’s investment, because you don’t need as much money to get started.

Historically, silver has actually been a better investment, with better returns, than gold. That’s why the little bit of investment money I have is in silver and not gold. For $100, I can buy several ounces of silver, enough to make it worthwhile.

I’d recommend buying silver coins, rather than silver ingots. Back when it was illegal for Americans to own their own stocks of gold, an exception was made for gold and silver coins. You couldn’t own ingots, but you could own all the coins you wanted. If such a law were to be put into effect once again, I imagine it would have pretty much the same restrictions.

One of the things we can expect in a financial collapse is that people will turn to bartering goods, and turn away from money. That’s typical in such cases. When that happens, silver coins may very well become the underground coin of the realm.

While gold coins will be worth so much that they are impractical as a means of exchange, silver won’t be. It’s value might make it ideal for people to use.

My Favorite Investment

Food Bartering My all-time favorite investment isn’t gold or silver, it’s food. That may sound a bit strange as an investment, but I’m basing that on the current state of the economy, as well as what I’ve seen happen in other countries which have suffered a collapse.

People always need food. So, regardless of what happens in a financial collapse, they will be looking for food.

Unless you live in a rural area, where people do a lot of farming and gardening, you’ll probably find yourself surrounded by food shortages. In such a case, the value of food will increase exponentially.

This has happened in Argentina, Greece, Cyprus and Venezuela, amongst other places. It even happened in occupied Europe during World War II. People in the cities were so desperate for food, that they would fill their suitcases with the family silver and head for the country, to visit “relatives” on the farm. There, they would find an amiable farmer and trade their silver for hams, sausages, cheeses and butter.

In Argentina hundreds of bartering co-ops rose up in the midst of their financial collapse. While they varied in their form, they all shared one thing in common, the most common items bartered were food items. Food was in short supply in the city, even though there was plenty of it in rural areas.

But food isn’t just good as an investment against an economic collapse, it’s also good as an investment against inflation. Currently, the official government statistics put inflation at less than one percent, and have had it there for some time.

At the same time, food has gone up in price an average of 8.5% per year. That means that if you buy $1,000 worth of food today, in five years it will be worth $1,500! That’s a good investment, any way you look at it.

You don’t even have to sell that food to cash in on that investment either. All you have to do is consume it, taking the money you would otherwise have to spend on food and using it for other needs. Doing it that way would be just like cashing in any other investment.

Prepare for a Barter Economy

I’ve mentioned that countries which have suffered economic collapses ended up with a barter system taking over for their failed currency. I’ve also mentioned how Europeans traded silver and other valuables for food during World War II. Many a farmer came out of that war a whole lot richer than they went into it.

The thing is, any economic collapse will eventually end. We may not see things go back to normal, but there will be a “new normal” which will emerge, just as it did in Europe, after World War II. When that happened, the farmers dug up all the silver they had buried and sold it off, making a huge profit. That can and probably will happen again.

If you have the foresight to invest in enough non-perishable food to use it as trade goods, the financial collapse will give you the opportunity to barter that food for other things of value. Basically, the value of those things will decrease, because they are not useful for survival, while the value of your food will increase, because people will need it to survive.

When the economy settles at a new normal and people aren’t worried about starving to death, the silver and jewelry will gain in value once again, while food will return to a more reasonable price.

I’d also add alcohol, tobacco and key essentials like toilet paper and personal hygiene supplies to your bartering stockpile. The hygiene items will probably become as hard to find as food will, making them equally valuable. As for the alcohol and tobacco, sales of those always increase in a time of crisis. It seems that people want to escape from their problems, rather than facing them.

Tobacco in the form of cigarettes doesn’t store well for a long period of time. But tobacco alone will, especially if it is packed in sealed containers with oxygen absorbers. Add some rolling paper, and you’ve got the means of people making their own cigarettes, just like they used to roll them in the Old West.

The key to making a profit off of bartering isn’t just stockpiling food, but is knowing how to value the items that you will be receiving in trade. There’s an awful lot of fake jewelry around, which looks quite real. So, you’ll have to know how to tell the difference. That doesn’t just go for the gold and silver, but for the stones as well.

The other part is establishing a value for the jewelry, silver or other valuables, based on the mid-collapse economy. That’s going to be a little harder. You’ll need to keep your ear to the ground, so that you know what others are doing. You’ll also need to be able to read the people you’re bartering with, so that you’ll know how much they are willing to give up, in order to get your food.

Remember, you have the upper hand; and while you don’t want it to be a heavy hand, you want to be fairly compensated for your investment. So you need to figure out what makes it a good trade for you. If they don’t want to trade, then you can much more easily wait for another day, than they can.

When it comes to that, there will be an element of risk involved. Whatever you have invested in the food will be at risk. But in reality, that’s a pretty small risk. As I already said, you merely need to hold onto the food for it to go up in value.

The bigger risk is of people who might want to take what you have from you by force. You’ve got to be ready for that, ready to defend yourself, and ready to defend your profits.

But then, any investing is risky, even though the risk doesn’t usually include looking down the muzzle of someone’s gun. All you have to do is be prepared, and you can turn the tables on anyone who wants to take advantage of you.


This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia. 

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Could the Government Seize Your 401(k) Or IRA Money?

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47220974 - jar with label 401k and money on the table.

Is it far-fetched to wonder if the government could take control of your retirement savings in 401(k)s and IRAs? Or is that just a paranoid conspiracy theory?

The fact of the matter is that it’s not far-fetched, or a conspiracy theory. The groundwork has already been laid.

And the government already gave banks the green light to seize your bank accounts, as I’ll demonstrate in a moment.

Read on for the facts – and I urge you NOT to discount the importance and urgency of this issue affecting your hard-earned savings…

The Government Has BIG Plans for Your Retirement Savings

An article in American Thinker titled “The Feds Want Your Retirement Accounts” revealed that, “Quietly, behind the scenes, the groundwork is being laid for federal government confiscation of tax-deferred retirement accounts. Slowly the cat is being let out of the bag.”

And Bloomberg reported that, “The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is weighing whether it should take a role in helping Americans manage the $19.4 trillion they’ve put into retirement savings.”

For the past 18 months, the Treasury Department has been testing the “myRA” program – which Obama created through executive order – no Congressional approval needed. The myRA, which stands for “My Retirement Account” supposedly “guarantees a decent return with no risk of loss.”

And the only investment allowed in this account is a low-yielding Treasury security.

Of course, the Treasury wants to get more people signed up for this program, because it means more funds flowing right back into the U.S. Treasury to help the government meet its voracious borrowing needs. How convenient…

The Obama administration has also floated budget proposals that would limit how much you can accumulate in IRAs, 401(k)s and other qualified plans. The government’s rationale: “Some individuals are able to accumulate… more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.”

So Now the Government Is Even Trying to Tell Us How Much Money Is “Too Much”!

Why are government-approved retirement plans such an attractive target for government control and ownership? For the same reason notorious hold-up man Willie Sutton gave when he was asked why he robbed banks: “That’s where the money is.”

Because the government created these plans, they know where your money is and how much you have there. And nobody knows what the next administration has planned for us.

Banks Already Have the Authority to Seize the Money in Your Accounts

Few people I’ve talked to are aware that the 2010 Dodd Frank Act ensured that financial institutions will not be bailed out by taxpayer dollars in the next crisis. Instead, they will be “bailed in” by shareholders and anyone unlucky enough to have deposits in those banks.

The bottom line is that the next time your bank fails, you become a shareholder, NOT a depositor – and your deposited money will be used to save the bank. Your money won’t be insured by the FDIC then, either.

So How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Hard-Earned Savings?

The solution is to keep very little money in the banks – only enough to pay for current expenses.

All excess cash flow should be swept into an alternate savings vehicle that gives you safety, privacy and control of the money you put in it. (Yes, these vehicles do exist, but you won’t hear about them from Wall Street or the government.)

Carefully weigh how much money you’re willing to put into government-controlled retirement accounts (IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, etc.).

Because once you put your money into those plans, the government controls it, not you! And the government can – and does – change the rules and restrictions anytime they want. And you have no recourse.

There’s no telling what politicians may be scared or intimidated into doing in the next financial crisis.

Video first seen on Bank on Yourself.

Is Your Money Frozen in Your Retirement Plan?

One of the biggest problems with government-controlled retirement plans is the total lack of liquidity. The money you’ve socked away in your conventional retirement plan is about as solidly frozen as the iceberg that sank the Titanic!

Here’s the critical question: How quickly and easily can you get your hands on all the money in your retirement account if you need it before age 59½? We all know life happens. Cars break down. Roofs need replacing. A tough medical diagnosis can create mountains of unexpected bills to pay.

Every year many participants in employer-sponsored government-controlled retirement plans make early withdrawals for a number of reasons. And every year, the IRS collects penalties related to those early withdrawals – $5.7 billion dollars in one recent year alone!

Putting Your Money in a Conventional Retirement Plan is Like Putting it in Prison

If you withdraw money early from your government-controlled retirement fund, not only will you have to pay taxes on money you withdraw, you’re going to pay penalties, too.

And remember that if it’s really an emergency and you absolutely must get the money immediately, you’ll get hit with a double whammy. First, you’ll have to sell the very investments you were counting on for growth. And to make matters worse, if markets are down when you sell, you’ll have to bite the bullet and take a loss.

Not all plans permit borrowing, but if yours does, there are strict government-imposed limits on how much you can borrow, how long you can borrow it for, and how you must pay back the loan.

And if you lose your job or leave your company for any reason – and you’ve not yet reached the magic age of 59½ – you need to pay your loan back in full and with interest within sixty days. If you don’t, you’ll be forced to pay income taxes on all the money you borrowed plus a 10% penalty.

Wait! Isn’t This Your Money We’re Talking About?

Forget about the potential penalties and taxes for a moment. The New York Times reported that a 35-year-old with a $20,000 plan balance who takes out two loans in fifteen years ends up with about $38,000 less at age 65 than someone who never borrows – even if they repay the loans on schedule and without penalty.

It’s even worse if you default on your loan. None of us plans to default on a loan. Yet at least 75% of workers who have an outstanding loan when they leave their jobs end up defaulting and getting stuck paying penalties and taxes. That is most workers!

For most Americans, the vast majority of their assets (other than their homes) is tied up in their retirement plan. But because of all the restrictions and penalties, you really should consider your government-controlled retirement fund a non-liquid “frozen” asset that you absolutely should not touch until age 59½.

Free Report Reveals How to Get Your Retirement Plan Assets Out of Prison

There is one little-known, but proven 160-year-old safe wealth-building method that gives you an unbeatable combination of benefits – including safety, liquidity, control, predictability, privacy, guarantees and some juicy tax advantages.

Get all the details in Pamela Yellen’s FREE Report, 5 Simple Steps to Bypass Wall Street, Fire Your Banker, and Take Control of Your Financial Future. You’ll also get a free chapter from Pamela’s latest New York Times best-selling book, The Bank On Yourself Revolution.


Grab your FREE Report and book Chapter here right now!

This article has been written by Pamela Yellen for Survivopedia.


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7 DIY Safe House Projects To Hide Your Valuables

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Survivopedia hidden safebox

You know that old saying that everyone’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey? Well, nowadays even my monkey has something to hide, so we put up today’s article about DIY safe house projects.

When speaking of things to hide, I am not referring to your dirty past, but valuables, stuff like jewelry, cash, sensitive information/documents or even gold which may very well be subject to confiscation.

It was in the past, if you remember the good old pre-World War 2 days and 1933’s Executive Order 6102. If you don’t remember, well, it’s time for a reality check, because history has a bad habit of repeating itself, whether you’re a scholar or just the average Joe Public.

Now, regular folk tends to keep their valuables in a bank safe box or at home, under a cipher lock or something similar, in case they can afford such luxuries.

However, keeping your stash in a bank safe deposit box is not the best idea in the world, if you’re familiar with the notion of bank runs or the aforementioned confiscation policies, in which case your valuables will disappear like fresh driven snow in the Kalahari Desert.

The other option is to keep your valuables at home, in a classic safe box, but these things tend to be really expensive and also they draw attention, if you know what I mean.

Another thing to contemplate if you’re a proud safe-owner is that a burglar who was tipped that you have such an abomination on your premises will be perfectly able to force you at gun point to open it; you know what I’m talking about, right?

Basically, could be pretty hard to maintain OPSEC when you have installed a safe-box in your house. I’m not trying to downplay the notion of safe-boxes, they sure as Hell have their uses, but a smart prepper (especially a prepper on a budget) should look at alternative means to hide his/hers valuables.

Now, from what I’ve learned about the psychology of a home invader, whether he’s a police officer or a burglar, I discovered a modus operandi which can be summarized in three basic rules: home invaders first look for openly displayed valuables, after that they look for juicy-looking (as in appealing) storage spaces (like classic safe boxes) and after that they’ll look at any other type of place which may be harboring valuable things like cash and jewelry.

Basically, all home invaders follow this simple algorithm for maximizing their chances of success, given the fact they only have a limited amount of time to spend in your home.

And here our DIY safe projects thingy comes into play, as they look inconspicuous generally speaking, making them the ideal choice for storing your valuables, sometimes even in plain view. And you know, stuffing money inside your mattress is getting old, get over it and keep reading.

The Lego Safe Box

My first project is about how to build a safe box (yes, you got that right) using your old/left-over Legos, thus turning them into a hidden/secret/magnetized/whatchamacallit safe. It sounds pretty darn’ interesting, doesn’t it?

The beauty of this project is its “in your face” simplicity. I mean, who would think that you’re hiding cash or jewelry inside a Lego block? All kids have Legos and that means you’ll draw next to zero suspicion hiding your valuables inside a Lego-made safe box, right?

Another cool thing about this project is the fact that you’ll not require spending lots of money on materials and tools and you probably already own a Lego set. It doesn’t get any better than that, believe me folks.

Now, just take a look at this video and learn how to turn your left over Legos into a magnetized safe. By magnetized I refer to attaching a bunch of magnets to your safe, making the secret drawer accessible only if you already know where the internal magnet is located.

The general idea is that you’ll be creating a Lego structure which features a hidden drawer inside, the perfect place to hide some cash or your engagement ring (use your imagination, ok?). The magnet gizmo makes the secret drawer to open only when using another magnet.

Video first seen on HouseholdHacker.

Pretty cool concept, don’t you think?

Hidden Wall Safe

Moving along with the article, the next DIY project is a secret/hidden wall safe. You may be familiar with the concept or not, but just take a look at this cool instructable video below and you’ll learn how to securely hide your cash/other valuables almost in plain sight via an easy to make wall-safe box which comes handy for storing even things like guns and ammo.

This particular project uses a fake wall-socket which masks a relatively small safe-deposit box behind, the perfect spot to hide some money and jewelry, but the limit is your imagination when it comes to hidden wall safes.

You can make them as big as you want, for example building a secret (and very big) compartment behind your TV using the same principle.

Video first seen on PostmasterPrepper.

The Fake Air Vent Safe Box

Another idea is to build a secret compartment/safe box using a fake air vent as a cover. The idea is basically the same, making for a clever and inexpensive way to hide your valuables in plain sight.

Obviously, you can use all these different ideas for keeping your stash safe, as in “don’t put all your eggs in the same basket”. Redundancy is the name of the game.

Check out the video and you’ll learn how to install your fake air vent securely using just a hot glue gun, screws, a jig saw and sheet rock saw, it’s a fairly easy project which may be completed in a couple of hours.

Video first seen on DIYeasycrafts.

The Floating Shelf Safe Box

How about a floating shelf featuring a secret compartment? I know, the idea is not new, I’ve already seen dozens of movies in which the hero draws a gun from a secret compartment inside a shelf and stuff like that, but that’s hardly a problem.

Video first seen on Moy perez woodshop.

I mean, can you think of a house where there are no shelves around? Shelves are ubiquitous, they’re an intrinsic part of the American culture and way of life sort to speak. And that makes them the perfect place to secretly store your valuables, don’t you think?

The Hollow Book Safe Box

Another idea for secret compartments to stash your valuables/guns or whatever is also borrowed from the movies: a hollow book (usually a Bible) and this one is a true classic. And the best thing is that you can find a hollow book for sale almost anywhere, they’re that popular.

However, here’s a video about the DIYing just in case.

Video first seen on Von Malegowski.

The Keyboard Safe Box

Now, if you’re a PC owner, you can create a small secret compartment in the unused portion of your keyboard, the Number Keypad respectively, as per this video. This is as cool as it gets, the bummer is the space is relatively small.

Video first seen on kipkay.

The CD Safe Box

Last but not least, this is one of my all-time favorites: how to build a secret safe using old CDs. Provided you’re old school, just like yours truly and you’re still using CDs, you can easily make a  secret-safe-hidden-in-plain-sight by using a cake box full with DVDs or CDs, whatever you have lying around the house.

The idea is to cut their inner hole and then glue them together, thus creating a secret hiding space inside where you can keep diamonds, rubies or some cash.

Video first seen on Shake the Future.

Try one (or more) of these clever methods to protect your cash or your valuables, use your creativity and get back to us with a comment in the dedicated section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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