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1,317 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Reposted from an original post in 2006 on Frugal Squirrels website. I think this is very applicable to our current economic situation-

Economic Survival

Just reading Beck's thread about a possible recession on the GPD, thought it would be interesting to start a thread regarding preps for economic survival.

I can remember being around 17 years old and having a survivalist friend of mine talk to me about an economic collapse. Now I was young and dumb and proud and all I was worried about was social unrest (this was about the time of the LA riots) and years before that, "Red Dawn." Needless to say I had given no particular thought to the economy. Speaking in terms he knew I would understand (we always seem to seek a "bad guy" as survivalists) he asked me "who do you FIGHT when the economy collapses?" I was dumbfounded! HUH? Does he mean fighting bankers or something? I was like most fairly new survivalists, I figured I had all the answers when I really didn't. Needless to say that has been one of my "pet" scenarios to plan and prepare for since that day.

The way I see it economic depression is going to be one of the hardest things to prepare for. Why? Cause most of us won't see it coming or won't believe it's coming. Look at all the arguements that spin around any economic thread that surfaces here. Seems like it's always about half and half. Half say we are in a downward spiral of doom, the other half take the "stuff's getting better. Stuff's getting better every day" (Postman) approach.

Wether you believe we are heading for it or not, it's prudent to plan and prepare for the worst.

The last minute preppers are going to be the ones that suffer the most from this type of scenario. In an economic downturn ala "slow depression" scenario you will slowly lose the purchasing power of your money. Sound unbelievable? Did $20.00 fill up your gas tank in 2002? Will it now? (keep in mind this was all written in 2006)That's the sort of thing I'm talking about. That's where losing the purchasing power of your money WILL affect the "I'll run out and prep at the last minute" folks. The rice you can buy 50 lbs. of now for $12.00 might cost you $20.00 then. So for the serious survivalist, the choice is 100 lbs. rice now or 50 lbs. rice later. Can't make it more simple than that.

First and foremost in my mind when it comes to preps for this sort of thing is your food storage. You absolutely have to have at least a 1 year supply of the "basics" (wheat, rice, beans, salt, sugar, etc.) for your family. I'm not a big fan of credit card debt, but plastic isn't tasty, no matter how it's cooked. If you have to go into debt to make sure your family eats, that's a choice you will have to make, I cannot make it for you. I know the choice I would make....

Secondly, a cash reserve of 3-6 months living expenses would be important. Even the big financial planning/debt reduction people are pushing this now a days. Dave Ramsey, Crown Financial, even Suze Orman will all tell you similiar numbers. Have that cushion. Start with a month if you need to, but have something. Keeping it in cold hard cash would be very handy. PM's are a different animal and not as easy to convert to cash quickly. Keep PM's if you want, but keep a cash reserve also.

I know a lot of folks are going to argue that 1. The economic may collapse overnight, somehow making dollars absolutely worthless. 2. The gubmint may outlaw dollars or declare a new currency, etc. Realize they can do the same with PM's (making them outlawed). Didn't Roosevelt outlaw private gold ownership during our last major economic mess? There is a place for PM's, but there is also a place for some cash in your economic preps.

Simplify your living. Do you REALLY need some of the things you keep around your home? Do you really use that jetski? Are you USING that gym membership? Any TV subscription service is out that alone ought to save you $30-70.00 dollars a month. Get used to doing without these things now, your life will be easier later for it. Learn to use your storage food and cook it regularly. You'll save money, learn how to really "live" off those foods and your body will get used to it. Start working outside regularly- gardening, doing lawn work, projects, etc. Get your body prepped for tougher living times.

Prepare your family along these same lines. If your a two nights out to eat type family, cut back to two a month. If your child gets a toy every time you go to the store, teach him that this isn't always possible. Teach them to save money and why that's important. Lead by example. Show them that Mommy and Daddy don't always have to have the newest, hottest items and therefore Jr. doesn't have to also. Conserve, use less.

How secure is your job? It's been my observation that people tend to think there job is more necessary than it really is or that they are more necessary than they really are. Don't kid yourself, even if your in a depression proof line of work, have the cash reserve set aside mentioned earlier.

Some of the recommendations in this post will be applicable to either a full scale economic collapse or the above mentioned economic downturn aka "slow depression." The gas you will store will be useful both in a total collapse or in a "slow depression" if you have to drive regularly for work or to find work. While gas is $4. or $5. a gallon and/or scarce you will have the fuel necessary to work your trade.

In a slow depression scenario their will be some work. Having the ABILITY to work is what's important. If getting work means driving 20 miles to it and you have no gas, you'll have no work. A 200 gallon fuel tank goes a long way towards keeping you working.

I'm afraid in a "slow depression" type scenario it isn't going to fall out immediately into a full scale TEOTWAWKI type deal right off the bat. I feel that this type of scenario is far more possible than an overnight type full economic collapse.

Having a retreat is important. And it's definitely important to work towards as much self-sufficiency as you can attain. But unless your already retired or have ample financial resources, your going to have to work. Understand that your stay at your retreat might be years. If you are not prepared to take on work in/near that area, you'll likely be forced back to the cities due to financial pressures.

This is the problem with the "slow depression" type scenario- your going to need money at some point. Even if you are completely debt free, have plenty of stocks of food and other supplies- Things break, retreat infrastructure needs maintenance, etc. You must maintain some sort of income as long as you can. Even if it's via Ebay, flea markets, etc. Although I would tend to bet that these will lessen as marketplaces if the economic conditions are that bad. Point is still the same, have SOME way of making money.

Doesn't fit nicely into the cutesy picture of just arriving at your retreat, locking the gate and saying to heck with the rest of the world does it? I know, I think it su$ks too! LOL

Yet this is really the more likely of the two scenarios- a slow slide downwards. It's the whole frog in a pan of boiling water thing. Problem is most people are not going to see it coming for what it truly is.

The beauty of it is that most of the preps necessary are common sense stuff and the physical items are usually things you will get use out of in normal times.

so far we've looked at having a food storage backup, to guarantee that no matter what, you can feed your family. We've looked at having a cash reserve of 3-6 months of living expenses. We've talked about lowering your debt load and folks have shared some great places to get help with that. I personally like

and can attest that there common sense programs work. Both are fairly simple.

We've looked at how reducing our materialistic mentality can help us both save money and help us to learn to live on less. Putting this into practice isn't easy, but is necessary for pretty much all scenarios (not just economic) that we look at. I've met a lot of survivalists that "had" to have TV. "had" to have AC, etc. even at there survival retreats in order to make there families "comfortable" enough. Let me say that I'm not for living at the lowest level for no reason, but for people to balk at surviving simply because they can't watch Oprah and hold down the couch while in 70 degree AC is ridiculous.

Talking to folks that lived in the Depression, they had to learn to live on less, most had no debt, they had to strive for work. I have talked extensively with my grandpa regarding this time period.

Will things be different this time around? Not doubts there. Debt levels are exponentially higher now than they were then. People are weaker (I know this one will bring a flame, but it's true, goes for myself also).

Having the ability to continue your work or business is essential, as we started to discuss earlier. This starts first and foremost with having the ability to market yourself.

How many times have you been somewhere and seen someone drop off a job application? Or watched an interview? Never seems to me the people REALLY want the job. They are not marketing themselves, at least not in the correct terms.

A business manager/owner/HR manager wants to hear what you can do for the company, and wants to see that you are eager and ready to work.

Had an interesting thing happen in a sales class in college years ago. Our prof asked me up to the front of the class, took his watch off and told me "sell me this watch." OK, I went into super sales mode.... "Look at the great features on this watch blah blah blah.... Oh how the Missus will love this on you blah blah blah blah.... The watch is normally $300.00 on sale right now for $75.00 blah blah blah..... He let me go on for a few minutes, all the while giving me subtle buying hints. I finally ran out of things to say, stopped and asked "How did I do?" He replied "Fine, but you never ASKED ME TO BUY IT."

Similiar things happen sometimes with job interviews. You go in dressed for success, you act enthusiastic, talk up your resume blah blah blah for a while, then the HRM guy says "we will let you know." You thank him and leave. Why didn't you ask him to buy? I always went with what sales people call "the assumptive close" by saying "So when do I start?" I haven't had a lot of regular jobs in my life (I'm self-employed) but this has worked with EVERY regular job I've had. Why? Because most people DON'T WANT TO WORK. Managers are used to lots of turnover of employees. So naturally they are looking for people eager to work. They are also open to sales techniques like any other human is.

My grandpa told me that people that really wanted to work could find it during the depression. It might not have been sitting in a big comfy desk having your secretary, sorry administrative assistant bring you Latte's, but there WAS WORK.

Further on that point- Humbleness. Pride will be a detriment to a lot of people if/when the economy ever goes really bad. If your now that exec that's used to someone bringing you a latte in your big comfy chair, you might figure it's "beneath you" to shovel out chicken pens for $8.00 an hour.

I didn't care for a lot of the messages in the movie "Fun with **** and Jane" but he experienced something similiar to this as far as being unwilling to humble himself and take work different than what he was used to doing. He lost several months of income while he choose to ride the "high horse" thinking that working at StuffMart was "beneath him." Point is be ready to work, even at a lesser rate.

When we get into a "slow slide" or "slow depression" situation, ANY money coming in will be better than nothing. Not saying you shouldn't keep looking for something better. It's just simple math- 3 months out of work with no money coming in while you are looking for "good" work equals 3 months of your savings (the cash emergency fund we talked about earlier) GONE (possibly for good). Whereas if you have a lowpaying job and are making SOMETHING you can cover at least a portion of your expenses and have not lost all of your 3 months expenses. Does this make sense?

Dave Ramsey says in "Total Money Makeover" that he realized the difference between "looking good and being good." "Looking good" generally means overspending and having loads of debt to keep up with the Joneses (the Joneses are broke as a joke by the way). And "being good" means lowering your debt load, providing for your family (Storage food, cash reserve, willingness to work no matter how humble the job) and learning to live on less.

Here's a controversial one a lot of folks might not agree with but has personally saved me a LOT of bucks over the years.

Raise all your deductibles to the highest level you can afford. Do this and watch your insurance rates PLUMMET! Years ago I watched a $1,200. rate drop to $700.00 by raising from $500. to $2,000. deductible.

"But then I'll have to pay more if something happens." Yes, but how often does that REALLY come up? Let's see, using my above example that's saving $500.00 every six months, so within 1 1/2 years you've broke even- you raised your deductible $1,500.00 and saved $1,500.00 you can now "self-insure" yourself for the deductible.

This works IF, your not the kind of person that has to have a minor scratch fixed every time your vehicle gets one and your unwilling to pay for it.

Folks get used to USING there insurance more than necessary and it costs them in the long run. I've got our auto insurance down to around $350.00 after aggressive negotiations (no lightsaber needed , by driving right and by keeping our deductible maxed out. That's an immediate and easy way to save big bucks RIGHT NOW on your expenses. Call your insurance guy today, get a quote, better yet, get a quote online first, then call your insurance guy, tell him your going to switch to save money, ask him to raise your deductible and get his price. Then ask him for $20.00 off of that. Tell him your "checking quotes" and really want to stay with him but that's the price you need, money is tight, etc. Any decent salesperson will likely meet your price if it's close to what you've been paying.

Nothing wrong with telling someone your dealing with "I'm thinking of switching, if we can get this down $20. I'll stay with you." What's the worst that can happen, they will say no, big flippin deal! Just remember to STAY QUIET after you ask for the reduction. Make them be the first to talk and then make him justify his position if he is unwilling to discount.

You can usually save some more money (if your paying monthly or quarterly) by pre-paying six months or a year at a go with your auto insurance. I think our savings is about $50.00 doing this.

Gotta start hunting those deals and negotiating. Just remember that most places WILL give you the little concessions- $10. type discounts. If you get greedy and start asking for deep discounts you'll likely get shot down.

Every dollar you save can goes towards becoming debt free and building your preps. It's a buyer's market out there in just about everything right now, make the most of it!


originally posted at

August 30th, 2006.

What are some of your plans/ideas regarding economic survival preps?

1,231 Posts
The upside I see to the coming situation, is our children will learn to live with less. They'll grow up more like our grandparents than like us.

Great post!

Agent of Influence
1,938 Posts
That's a very useful post, thank you.

I am thinking that we are facing an economic crisis, a grinding downturn of compounding problems rather than an immediate civilisational collapse so depression era survival information is crucial.

1,317 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I remember talking to my Grandma and Grandpa about the depression in 2000. My Grandma was still alive then.

Now they had pretty much always lived in the city- rural midwest cities.

We were talking question and answer type format. Now my grandparents were always really stoic type people- not a lot of emotion shown, that sort of thing. The part of the discussion I remember most went like this-

"Did you all grow a garden then?"

Reply- "Sure, everyone did, that's part of how you got by."

"Did you all have chickens?"

My Grandma started laughing- almost a cackle actually- then my Grandpa chimed in also with laughter as they glanced back and forth at each other. They replied-

"Oh no, we were in the city."

I said "Well when I lived in Florida I lived in the city but had chickens, rabbits and sometimes ducks."

My Grandpa who always had a really dry but good sense of humor says

"Well I bet your neighbors just LOVED you!" LOL

I asked them if they thought thing would be different if another depression happened. My grandma, someone who was hell on people that took gubmint handouts said-

"It will be much worse because people are lazy now and don't want to work."

Some of my most fond memories about my grandparents revolve around the laughter I heard from them that day when I asked them if they chickens. :)


1,317 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The post was nice, but does everyone think that a world collapse of all economy is really going to happen?
The OP had nothing to do with speculation on that happened nor did it attempt to predict anything.

A lot of people have gas masks, but very few (myself included) really think we will ever use them.

The advice given in the OP is helpful regardless of whether anything happens with the economy or not.

156 Posts
In the town where i grew up . We had a known very poor family and i befriended a couple of the kids. Imagine my surprise when i sat in the living room one day three houses from the main center of town talking with them and i heard some hogs squealing. After a few moments i asked wtf was up . They took me down the makeshift ladder into an old crawl space about 6 foot high and they had several hogs, a flock of chickens and a couple goats and this was no where near depression number one or y2k , they was just doin what they had to do to survive...

You would not hear of these things in the city these days.

Intemporaliter Fidelis
282 Posts
I asked my Grandparents some of the same questions. Grandfather said they just switched from growing tobacco to growing veggies. Not much difference during the depression. of course they were poor ******* farmers to begin with. I guess sometimes it pays to be country folk.
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