Tuesday, November 16, 2021

101 Ways to Save Money

Since the cost of, well, everything, seems to be rising exponentially these days, here are a bunch of ways to save a little money on your usual expenses:

  1. Mint Mobile has a great price for cell service at only $15 a month (prepaid for a year). Here's an even better deal for the first few months of service.
  2. An over-the-air antenna works great in many areas.  You simply buy the antenna for about $20, scan for local stations, and enjoy 50+ stations for free.  We cut cable TV years ago since we get so many stations for free.
  3. Check and recheck prices for internet.  Every year I check the price on our internet service in order to get the best deal.  The last time, instead of calling in and talking to someone, I simply went online to my account and saw that they offered a bunch of heavily discounted plans I could choose from (I got basically the same service for about half the price I had been paying for a year).
  4. Check and see if you can sign up for property tax exemptions from your county assessor's office.  Example here.
  5. Call around every year to see if you can get a better deal on insurance.  Often you can bundle home and auto insurance and get an even better deal.  People who are sourcing health insurance should check their state ACA insurance portal annually because these plans can change to include people who previously didn't qualify for subsidized plans.  FWIW, I recently changes home and auto insurance to a plan through Costco and it saved me a few hundred dollars a year.
  6. Pay your bills annually if this saves you money.  In our case, discounts for paying our auto insurance bi annually and our sewer bill annually saves a great deal of money over paying these bills monthly.
  7. Consider moving.  Obviously this a a pretty drastic step but I just don't understand people who don't want to leave a place like California, for example, with mediocre paying jobs and exorbitant housing prices when they can choose a state with a lower tax burden and much better housing prices vs average salaries.
  8. If you do decide to move, look at all of the variables.  Depending on your situation, things like states with no state income tax, states with better weather, states with lower property tax, states that welcome people who work from home, and even states that offer money for you to move there might be a good option.
  9. Buy your home instead of renting if possible. Not everyone wants to do this but by buying a home you get a basically fixed payment (get a fixed interest rate not an ARM!) instead of being at the mercy of landlords (some landlords in my city are raising rents by several hundred dollars per month even for long-term tenants due to the crazy rental market this year).  You also enjoy a generally appreciating asset and have the freedom to do what you want with your property.  
  10. Learn how to fix things yourself.  When you have a house, things are going to break.  When something breaks, calling a professional may be the most expedient thing to do but this is also the most expensive way to fix things.  There are YouTube videos and online resources to fix nearly everything so consider DIY fixes before calling a professional (obviously you don't want to DIY things that could kill you like fixing a broken garage spring or replacing a gas water heater, etc).
  11. If you do have a problem that requires a large expenditure of money, get several written estimates and ask friend for referrals for service providers.  Going the cheapest route with a fly-by-night company is a good way to waste your money and have to pay for a repair service to repair the service you already paid for.
  12. To save money on utility bills, there are dozens of ways to keep more money in your pocket by simply conserving and efficiently using things like gas, water, and electricity.
  13. Speaking of utilities, check your utility company's websites and see what goodies they offer.  We have received things like free home winterization kits, free low-flow faucets, and rebates when buying new appliances from our local utility companies.
  14. Sign up for a library card if you don't have one already.  Our library offers so many free things it's hard to list all of them.  From free music and movie downloads to free e-books for my Kindle, free movies and music events around the community, free classes on a range of topics, and some libraries even offer free passes that you can "check out" to visit local museums and local attractions.
  15. Have an emergency fund.  This can save you money in the long run if you have an emergency as opposed to "fixing" your emergency by putting the cost on a credit card (high interest) or worse, getting a payday loan (extortionate interest).
  16. Choose your vehicle wisely.  The type of car you buy can impact everything from overall price to maintenance cost (cough BMW cough) to registration and annual fee prices to insurance costs.
  17. Keep your vehicle properly maintained to avoid costly repairs later on.  Changing the oil and air filters and keeping the proper level of air in your tires are simple ways to keep your car running for a long time.
  18. Speaking of cars, consider from going from three cars to two cars or even from two cars to one car.  Each car costs a significant amount for registration, insurance, and maintenance.
  19. Save even more money on transportation by walking or bicycling to do errands, group your errands to lessen the amount of driving you do, working from home if possible, etc.
  20. Use preventive maintenance to extend the life span of, well, everything.  Get your teeth cleaned regularly and fix small dental problems before they become emergencies.  Do annual maintenance on your HVAC system and hot water tank to extend the lives of these appliances.  Have regular medical check ups instead of waiting for an emergency to happen.  You get the idea.
  21. Save money on kids.  There's a bajillion mommy bloggers who share tips on how to raise kids from birth to grad school on the cheap.  By simply googling things like 'how to save money on diapers' to 'making your own baby food' you will find thousands and thousands of pages of tips on how to do these and many other things the cheapest, most creative ways possible.
  22. Look for free or cheap entertainment options in your community.  Local news sources, local bloggers, local FB/IG pages, etc. all post notices of free/cheap community events and entertainment options that can save you a lot of money over paying for top-tier entertainment.
  23. Consider bartering.  You can barter a lot of everyday skills from plumbing service to day care for the kiddos to food to furniture and appliance, etc.  This is a great way to save money, get what you need, get other people what they need, and make connections in the bartering community.
  24. Also consider things like dumpster diving, trash picking, thrifting, garage saleing, etc. to get the things you need.  I've done all of these things with varying degrees of success.  I will gladly stop to pick up something sitting along the roadside if it is something I need, something that can be resold, or something that can be given to someone else.
  25. Get out of debt.  This is a tried and true way to save money as any debt you have usually has interest payments attached to it.  Get "gazelle intense", work several jobs, and throw any extra money you have at your debts and you will be surprised at how quickly you can get rid of your debt for good.
  26. Get rid of any memberships/recurring charges that you don't need.  Do you really need Nextflix/Disney +/Apple TV+?  Do you NEED a gym membership or can you do some calisthenics at home then take a walk around your neighborhood every day?  Do you have recurring charges for things like apps you don't use anymore, magazine subscriptions that you can get for free from the library, etc?
  27. Stop shopping!  Some people use shopping in place of therapy, some people go shopping because they are bored, and some people are addicted to online shopping to the point that they are on a first-name basis with every Amazon/FedEx/UPS driver assigned to their area.  Have a shopping list, wait to make purchases, don't frequent online shopping sites, etc.  Do all you can to avoid spending money unnecessarily.
  28. If you must shop, can you buy the item you need at the dollar store?  At the thrift store?  Can you find it cheaper online?  Can you wait until the item comes on sale?
  29. Don't do stupid financial things like co-signing for a loan for someone, buying into a time share, paying rent-to-own prices for your appliances, falling for scams, etc.
  30. Never loan money to anyone.  If you can't afford to give the money as a gift with no expectation of getting it back, don't give your money away.
  31. Consider your technology needs and buy only what you need.  Most people don't need a screaming fast Intel I9 laptop, $350 headphones, and a $1700 cell phone.  Although these things are "nice to have", they are certainly not necessary for the vast majority of people.  Simplifying your tech needs and buying mid-range instead of high-range will save you a ton of money.  Also, being a "late adapter" instead of an "early adapter" will allow you to buy high quality tech after all of the bugs have been worked out and the price has dropped significantly.
  32. Control your money so it doesn't control you.  Have a written budget (go cash-only if necessary), make saving money a priority, choose no-fee ATMs, never overdraft your account, pay your bills on time and in full so you don't incur late charges, etc.
  33. If you don't know where your money is going, write down every penny you spend for a month or two.  This can be an eye-opening experience to see in black and white that a good chunk of your money is going to wasteful spending (cough Starbucks cough).
  34. Avoid any entanglements with the legal system.  Divorce, child support, drunk driving, shady business dealings, committing crimes...any time you end up dealing with the legal system it usually means your money will be going to fines, fees, and legal representation.
  35. Avoid any entanglements with the medical system.  The medical system is nearly as shady as the legal system so the more you can avoid being old, sick, fat, or injured, the better off you will be physically and financially.
  36. If you do end up needing expensive medical care be sure to: ask for a cash discount, ask for an itemized bill, ask about charity care programs which could reduce your medical bills significantly, consider medical tourism or alternative care option (like dental work at a university teaching program which is usually much cheaper than regular dental clinics). 
  37. Don't forget to shop around for cheaper prescriptions if needed.  Costco and Walmart pharmacies are often cheaper than other pharmacies (you don't need to be a Costco member to use Costco pharmacies), use apps like Good Rx, and look into other prescription assistance programs you can use.
  38. Sign up for any money-saving programs you qualify for.  Depending on your income you may qualify for free or reduced school meals for your kids, Medicaid, WIC, food stamps, etc.
  39. Consider the associated costs that come with your purchases.  Nearly everything you buy comes with extra costs.  The bigger your home, the more it costs to heat/air condition/furnish/insure/etc.  Buying a house with a pool?  That will mean higher costs for insurance/maintenance/electricity to heat the thing/replacement parts/etc.  Buy a horse/boat/RV/plane...the costs for maintenance and upkeep can be astronomical.
  40. Always ask for discounts.  Military discounts, senior discounts, locals discounts, kid discounts...all will save you money just for the asking.  And don't forget about freebies like these and these.
  41. Become a minimalist.  Minimalism is becoming a pretty big movement these days as people realize they don't need as much crap as advertisers try to convince them they need.  Need less, buy less, spend less.
  42. Aside from being a minimalist, keeping a clean, organized house can actually save you money.  If you have a spot for everything and everything is in it's spot, you won't have to keep buying items that have been misplaced.
  43. When you do buy things, buy quality, buy these "must have" items at a discount, and buy it for life.  I'd much rather buy $150 shoes (on sale, of course) over buying several pairs of cheaper shoes that won't last nearly as long.
  44. Speaking of growing movements, the zero waste movement will also save you money on many things.  This includes things like using rags and towels instead of paper products, using a bidet to save on toilet paper, carrying a reusable water bottle instead of going through several individual bottles of water per day, etc.
  45. Consider making household products from scratch instead of relying on the chemical-industrial complex.  These will usually save money as well as your health.
  46. Google around for assistance based on your demographic if needed.  Veteran's services, tribal services, disabled services, minority-owned business services, homeless services, immigrant services, scholarships based on your demographic...there are lots of programs designed specifically for certain groups of people, you just need to find them.
  47. Shop for food on sale, buy loss leaders, and use apps/coupons.  Then plan your meals around what is on sale.
  48. Source your food from many places: grocery stores, ethnic stores, farmer's markets, discounters like Aldis, etc.  As long as these stores are within a reasonable distance, shopping multiple stores with multiple sales can save money on your overall grocery bill.
  49. Grow your own food.  While the start-up costs can be high, if this is something you enjoy doing, growing a garden can get cheaper over time, especially if you save your own seeds.
  50. Cook and bake from scratch.  This is usually cheaper as well as healthier than buying processed, pre-packaged food.
  51. Do the food processing yourself.  Have you ever seen Lunchables?  For much less than the cost of this type of pre-packaged food, you can slice your own meats and cheeses.  Ditto pre-cut fruit and vegetables that you find in grocery stores.
  52. Keep an organized pantry/refrigerator/freezer and be sure to rotate your food as you purchase it.  This eliminates food waste from old food being forgotten in the back of the fridge/pantry.
  53. Go to extremes to save money on food like fasting, intermittent fasting, $1/$3 a day meal challenges, only eating two meals a day instead of three, etc.  Obviously if this will negatively impact your health (ie: you are diabetic, etc) don't do this!
  54. Speaking of being organized, consider making a price book for groceries and household supplies to ensure you are getting the best prices.  These days it seems like lots of products are shrinking yet prices are increasing while the packaging remains the same in order to make you think you are getting more product than you actually are (this is a particular problem at dollar stores where people get carried away with buying cheap items and only realize later that the item isn't as big as it would be in a regular store like half-size cake mixes).
  55. Consider preserving food yourself.  Freezing, canning, drying, making pickles or sauerkraut, etc. are all ways to preserve bulk food that you grow or find on sale.
  56. Have useful food-related hobbies.  Hunting, fishing, clamming, mushroom hunting, foraging for wild edibles, etc. are all inexpensive ways to provide food for yourself and your family.
  57. Consider buying cooperatively with others in order to buy in bulk and save money.  You can split the cost of a 50 pound bag of rice with a friend which would be cheaper than buying a small bag of rice for yourself.  You can go in with a family member to buy a whole cow and fill both of your freezers.
  58. If you must eat out, do so strategically: eat out for lunch instead of dinner which is usually more expensive, split restaurant meals with your SO (most meals are huge and include way more calories than a single person needs), order water instead of soda and skip dessert, hit up ethnic restaurants which are often cheaper and a more adventurous way to eat, etc. 
  59. Cook in bulk and freeze the leftovers.  It's easy to order out if you are tired and come home from work with no time/desire to cook anything.  With meals already cooked and sitting in the freezer it is easy to hit defrost and cook on the microwave and have a good meal ready in minutes.
  60. Pay attention to your taxes.  Make sure your withholdings are adequate (don't withhold to much or too little) and have your taxes prepared professionally if they are particularly complicated to ensure you get all of the deductions you are entitled to.
  61. Buy annual passes to save money on activities you will do often.  Things like annual National Parks Passes, state parks passes, children's museum passes, zoo passes, etc. can save you a lot of money over paying for each entry if you will visit these places often.
  62. Save on postage.  Our postal service is kind of a hot mess anyway these days but by paying your bills online and emailing gifts (gift cards and/or direct delivery of things you buy online for someone) you can save significantly on postage costs.
  63. Go for low-cost vacation options.  Visit friends or family so you will have free/cheap lodging, take the family camping instead of to a pricey resort, calculate the costs of flying versus driving, do a "staycation" instead of traveling far away, maybe use a house swap service, etc.  
  64. Be aware of the cost of pets before you get them.  A recent study shows that pets can cost more than children!
  65. If you can't afford to have a pet, consider taking taking the kids to volunteer at a local animal shelter--they get to walk dogs and socialize cats with none of the expense of owning a pet.
  66. Consider doing your own (or your SO's/friend's) personal services.  This can include haircuts, manicures, pedicures, hair coloring, facials, etc.  There are plenty of how-to videos online and with a little practice you can get really good at doing these things as well as save a lot of money over the cost of going to a salon.
  67. Pick up inexpensive hobbies.  Instead of golf, sailing, or horseback riding, consider hiking/walking, HAM radio, or these cheap hobbies.
  68. If you have expensive habits, figure out how to reduce the costs of imbibing.  Making your own coffee instead of hitting up the coffee shop, brew your own beer, roll your on cigarettes, etc.
  69. If you have bad habits, consider quitting them all together.  Gambling, drinking, smoking, drug use, etc. aren't good for you anyway so by quitting these habits you will save money and quite likely your life!
  70. Volunteer!  Depending on what kind of volunteer work you do, you may get free meals, free training, free gear or supplies, etc.
  71. Try a variety of challenges to save money. No Spend November, low spend week or month, no eating out for a month, etc.
  72. Take advantage of benefits your employer provides like matches for your 401k, employer-funded education, a cheap or free employee cafeteria, etc.
  73. Create good children.  With good parenting and an emphasis on education/good behavior/etc. your kids can save you money by not getting involved in legal trouble, not getting pregnant before they are fully educated and have a job, qualify for scholarships and even participate in simultaneous high school/free junior college programs, etc.
  74. Plan money-saving family events.  Taco night, family movie night at home, potlucks with friends, etc. are all ways to save money while still having fun with the family and friends.
  75. Rent or borrow tools and equipment you don't need to use very often.  If you have a big yard, it makes sense to buy a lawn mower but if you only need to power wash your deck once a year, renting or borrowing a power washer makes more sense.
  76. Take a part-time job just for the benefits.  People work part time at Starbucks just to get cheap health insurance, college students may work in restaurants because they get pay plus free meals, people even work at colleges so they or their children can get a free or discounted education.
  77. See if you are owed money.  There are class action rebates you may qualify for as well as several programs to help you find unclaimed money.
  78. Stay focused on saving money so you don't get off track.  Listen to Dave Ramsey until your ears bleed, read frugal blogs, participate in frugal discussion boards, etc.
  79. Reduce your use of consumer items.  Instead of a full cup of laundry detergent, I use half that amount.  Instead of a big glob of toothpaste like you see on commercials, I use only a small glob.  Instead of a whole paper towel, I cut down through the middle of the roll so I only use a half piece of a paper towel instead of a full piece.  Advertisers want you to use a lot of their product so you will keep buying more but you seldom need to use as much as they say.
  80. Cancel credit cards with annual fees or high interest rates and go with fee-free, low interest cards.  If your bank charges a monthly fee, see if you can get a fee-free account through a local credit union.  Refinance your mortgage if you can get a lower interest rate.  Drop PMI insurance as soon as possible. Use fee-free ATMs or withdraw extra cash from your debit card when paying for your groceries.
  81. Instead of paying big bucks for name-brand software, check out free options for nearly every software program on the market.
  82. Check out your local Craigslist, Facebook page, Offer Up, and Freecycle page to pick up all kinds of things (clothes, furniture, etc) for free.
  83. Get a college-level education for free.  Obviously you will need an actual college education if you want to go to med school or law school but if you are a business owner and want to learn about business accounting or if you want to learn programmer or IT skills, open courseware is the place to go.
  84. Go places on discount days or at discount times.  Matinee movies instead of evening movies can save you money, visit national parks on free-entrance days, and check out local pools/skating rinks/museums for discount times/days (our local Mob Museum offers free entry to the museum if people attend their monthly community safety forum which is also free to attend).
  85. Use free points for purchases.  Casinos give players free "comps" based on their play which can then be used for free meals, hotel stays, etc.  Credit cards often give cash back on purchases.  Using airline credit cards can accrue points you can use for free flights, etc.
  86. Keep control of your entertainment dollars by only bringing the cash you want to spend with you.  This applies to gambling, nightclubs, strip clubs, bars, and anywhere else you may be tempted to spend more than you planned.
  87. Spend money to save money.  If you will be drinking, take an Uber to and from the bar instead of driving and hoping you will be responsible enough to order an Uber for the ride home.  Buy in bulk if you know you will use the item and the cost is significantly lower than buying smaller quantities.  Pay more to live in a safer neighborhood.
  88. Live below your means.  This is fairly straight-forward but live in a place you can afford, buy an engagement ring you can afford, go on vacations you can afford, buy a car you can afford...living lavishly when you can't afford to is a sure path towards bankruptcy.
  89. Pick a good partner.  Find a SO who has similar values, similar frugal tendencies, and isn't someone you "need to fix" or has serious mental health/addiction/legal/financial issues.
  90. Pay attention to what is going on.  When you hear rumblings of shortages, stock up before the national news picks up on this and scares everyone into hoarding.  Buy at the bottom of the housing market, not when prices are topping out.  If a hurricane is days away, stock up on food and get gas as soon as this becomes a possibility not the day before the hurricane is set to hit.
  91. Go extreme: join the military for everything from free-ish college and medical care to a retiree pension starting at the ripe old age of 40.
  92. Go extreme: go to a foreign country for a free college education.
  93. Go extreme: live with little to no money.  Examples here, here, and here
  94. Go extreme: become a vegan.  Veganism is much cheaper than eating meat/dairy/processed foods and it makes you way more healthier too.
  95. Go extreme: sell yourself.  Not in the classic sense of the word, of course, but you can sell your hair, sell your blood, sell your sperm/eggs, etc.
  96. Go extreme: don't have children.  Kids are expensive!
  97. Go extreme: let someone else cover your costs.  Become a live-in nanny, a live-in caretaker, participate in medical trials, etc.
  98. Go extreme: live off-grid.  Build a tiny house, drill a well, install solar, install a septic tank, process your own trash, etc.
  99. Go extreme: rent out your vehicle on Turo, rent an extra room on Air BnB, take in roommates to save money on your rent/mortgage, etc.
  100. Go extreme: become an extreme couponer.
  101. Look for even more ways to save money simply by Googling 'how to save money', 'extreme money saving tips', etc.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Prepping Today

There are several things you can do today to ensure you are adequately prepared for the rest of the year...

  • For most of the US, you should have set your clocks back an hour early this morning, signalling an end to daylight savings time.
  • Today is also a good day to change out your furnace filters and make an appointment to have your furnace maintained if needed.
  • If your chimney hasn't been cleaned recently, get this done before you use your fireplace or wood stove for winter heating.
  • And don't forget to change the batteries in your smoke detectors today too.
  • Check your fire extinguishers to ensure they are still fully charged.
  • You may also want to complete these financial tasks prior to the end of the year.
  • Make sure your BOB is ready for winter (dump it out, check all batteries and devices, replace food, make sure your clothing is adequate for winter weather, etc).
  • Consider growing a winter vegetable garden.
  • Register to vote if you haven't done so already (the 2022 mid-terms should be rather interesting).
  • Get your home ready for winter (the last thing you need is burst pipes or a dead furnace in the middle of winter).
  • Prepare for power outages, water disruptions, and plan for alternate ways to heat your home in an emergency (remember the Texas storm last winter?  Don't let this happen to you).
  • As usual, continue to rotate and stockpile food (it certainly isn't getting any cheaper or more plentiful these days).

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Prepping for Poor People

Even though the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket, that is no reason to stop prepping for current or future disasters.  Many of the people who are just now getting into the prepping game are doing so because they are just reaching adulthood and need to start prepping for their own needs and/or have considered themselves too poor to prep in the past and are now realizing they need to do something to help mitigate the circumstances everyone is finding themselves in now.  If you think you are too poor to prep, think again.

  • Focus on your health and fitness.  This can be as simple as walking everyday and doing calisthenics in your home.  These things are simple, free, and easy to accomplish.  Also, focus on your food.  You have to eat so you might as well eat healthy food instead of unhealthy crap.  Bags of lentils and beans are $1 at the Dollar Store and can easily make several (healthy) meals out of one bag. 
  • Learn to cook, it's easier than you think thanks to YouTube.  Since you need to eat and you need to save money, cooking your own food can save big bucks over eating out, eating prepared/processed food, and hitting up the fast food dollar menu.
  • Spend just $5 stockpiling food every week.  Again, you can hit up the dollar store or shop sales/coupons/use the store's app to buy cheap yet filling food you could eat in an emergency.  This week I picked up a few bags of beans (black, pinto, Great Northern) and two cans of Chunky soup (97 cents a can on sale) to add to our stockpile.  Over time this can add up to a massive amount of stockpiled food to use in an emergency (or better yet, to rotate into your normal food supplies).
  • Sign up for your neighborhood CERT class.  I took this class when I moved to a new city and even though it was very basic prepping info, it was worth the time spent because at the end of the two-day class, all attendees received a big backpack full of free emergency supplies (flashlight, work gloves, goggles, first aid kit, utility shut-off wrench, and lots more stuff).
  • See what else is available for free/cheap in your community.  Some fire departments offer free smoke detectors for your home, utility companies often give away things like free home weatherization kits, gas shut-off wrenches, low flow faucets, etc.
  • Get all of the free/cheap training you can get.  This can range from becoming a volunteer EMT (usually the training is provided for free if you agree to volunteer for a certain period of time) to volunteering with your community search and rescue organization.  Events like community health fairs may offer free CPR and basic first aid classes, health departments may offer free basic vaccinations, and I've volunteered at prepper-related conferences which allowed me to attend many of the training sessions free of charge.
  • Learn skills online then go practice these skills.  YouTube has an unlimited number of videos to teach you every survival skill you can think of.  How to start a fire, how to camp outside over night, how to can and preserve food, how to use a HAM radio, etc.  First learn, then practice.
  • Check out local clubs to learn prepper skills.  HAM radio clubs, orienteering clubs, hiking clubs, gardening clubs...there are dozens and dozens on community organizations and clubs to both teach you useful skills as well as connect you to the local community where you can grow and improve your skills.
  • If you need gear, go about acquiring it for free or cheap.  Ask friends and family if they have gear (camping, backpacking, canning, shooting, etc) that they no longer want.  You can also find used gear for free or cheap on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Offer Up, etc.  Check out thrift stores, shop discounters online (like www.steepandcheap.com) and shop sales (both online and at brick and mortar places) to find the gear and supplies you need at super low prices.  Dumpster diving may also yield some cool and useful finds.
  • Make a bug out bag.  It doesn't need to be expensive or fancy but putting together a gear bag that you can grab and go in an emergency is a great way to start prepping.  Get a daypack (I've seen these sell for a couple dollars at the Goodwill), add a couple granola bars, an empty water bottle than can be filled when needed, include a complete change of clothing, maybe a cheap Mylar blanket, a large garbage bag...and these inexpensive items
  • Have an emergency fund.  Things like a short-term temporary job, mowing lawns or shoveling snow, selling blood, or doing a few odd jobs will get you some fast cash that you can squirrel away until you need it for an actual emergency.

With more effort than money, you can make significant strides towards being better prepared for a disaster.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Watching the World Burn?

I just realized it's been a while since I have blogged here.  I suppose now is as good a test as any when it comes to the preps we have made over the last many year since the world seems to be a dumpster fire at the present time.  To wit, 

Friday, August 20, 2021

The Fall Checklist: 20 Things to Do

It's been a fairly quiet summer (minus the increasing covid number, the Afghanistan mess, our president losing his mind, etc) but now that fall is just around the corner, it is a good time to get these tasks done:

  1. Prep your home for fall.
  2. Prep your car for fall.
  3. Review and restock your car emergency kit.
  4. Dump your bug out bag, make sure it is stocked for cooler weather, and rotate perishables.
  5. Get your kids ready to go back to school (taking special care with the current pandemic situation).
  6. Prep for fall weather in your area (also be prepared for unusual weather situations).
  7. Go on a couple fall hiking or camping trips.
  8. Speaking of which, there are still a few fee-free National Park Days coming up.
  9. Or better yet, pick up a National Park Pass so you can visit when parks are less busy (there are several free-pass categories for seniors, military, and even 4th graders).
  10. For another fee-free activity, pick up free museum tickets for Museum Day.
  11. On a different note, consider refinancing your mortgage while rates are historically low.
  12. In fact, getting out of debt all together is the best option during times of financial upheaval.
  13. Consider volunteering.  It's a great way to serve your community as well as learn good prepper skills (examples here, here, and here).
  14. With the wide range of shortages popping up all over, be proactive and buy things before you need them.
  15. Consider stockpiling even more food than usual as food shortages are predicted for at least the rest of this year.
  16. Speaking of shortages, prep now for the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc) as toys and other supplies are expected to be in short supply this year.
  17. Check your free credit report (there have been several data breaches lately, you don't want to unknowingly have your credit messed up when you need it).
  18. Consider taking a day or even a week off from ALL media--both social media and regular media--every once in a while.  With the constant barrage of negative news, taking time away from it all is a very relaxing and restful thing to do.
  19. Prepare accordingly for covid--it appears that it won't be going away any time soon.
  20. Also take some time for long-term planning--with global warming, things aren't getting better in that area either.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

100 Ways to Be Ahead of the Crowd in a SHTF Situation (Part 10 of 10)

And a bunch of other stuff...

91.  Make a "missing person kit" for each family member.  If there is a major disaster and a family member goes missing, it is a good idea to have all of their information that you would need to have on hand to find them stored in a secure location.  Hopefully you would never need to use this kit, but it always pays to be prepared.

92.  Have useful hobbies.  Having hobbies that teach you skills and use equipment that would be useful in a SHTF situation is a good idea.  Things like drones, metal detecting, orienteering, adventure racing, HAM radio, etc. will provide you useful skills, camaraderie, and equipment that would be useful during a disaster.

93.  Read this then put yourself in this guy's shoes.  I'm not saying our country is going down the shitter...but it seems like our country is getting close to circling the drain.  "But we aren't a third world country" "but we will never be in that predicament"...that's what a lot of people say right before their country goes toes up.  The article is textbook lawlessness which happens all over the world, everyday, and if you haven't experienced being in such a situation, it's quite the eye-opening experience.  Note that having good interpersonal skills and a range of skills in general can be more useful that all the purchased preps in the world when this sort of situation happens.

94.  Make a 'SHTF tablet'.  Or a SHTF phone or laptop.  I'm partial to small tablets which are easy to carry, easy to use, and can be stuffed full of all of the information you need during and after a disaster situation.  Obviously printed info in the form of books and printed manuals are a good idea but they are unwieldy if you need to bug out.

95. Study up on covert ops skills, they may come in handy some day.  Examples here, here, here, here, and here.

96. While our country is still (marginally) functioning, make it a point to know your legal rights.  Examples here, here, and here.

97. Develop "manly" skills.  These used to be called basic, everyday skills but many have sadly fallen by the wayside.  Here's a good place to start.  Note that every man, woman, and child should learn these skills, not just men.

98. Purchase hard assets as the opportunity arises (ie: during sales, at thrift stores and garage sales, in bulk, through various sellers both in-person and online, etc).  Our current economic situation looks like a mix of increasing inflation and mass shortages of consumer goods.  Buying hard assets--everything from homes and cars to guns, outdoor gear, and food--is a great way to make your money work for you instead of against you.

99. Teach others.  The best way to have a "tribe" during a time of hardship is to extend the opportunity to learn to others who are interested in being more prepared and proactive before TSHTF.  Sharing skills is a great way to learn more yourself, teach others who you may one day end up relying on, and ensure a larger and more prepared group in general.

100.  Remember to take some time out each day and enjoy living in the moment.  Living 24/7 at THREATCON Delta isn't good for your physical or mental health, and waiting for the sky to fall can be both tedious and stressful.  Evaluate each situation that arises and even in the middle of a disaster, there are still ways to make lemonade out of a lemon-ish situation.  

See part 1 here

Sunday, June 20, 2021

100 Ways to Be Ahead of the Crowd in a SHTF Situation (Part 9 of 10)

Sometimes you need to take your preps to the extreme...

81.  Consider obtaining dual citizenship in another country.  If all else fails and you need to leave your country, where else would you (legally) be able to go?  If you have a secondary citizenship in another country (and you are able to travel there) you will be miles ahead of the refugee hoards.  There are several websites like this one that explain how to do this.

82.  Also consider just buying property and building a second home in another country.  Note that this is fraught with complications so YMMV.  Here is an overview of the process.  Also note that your ability to travel there and remain there for any length of time can change depending on several things including travel restrictions due to the pandemic, the current political situation, the current level of geniality between your current country and your destination country, etc.

83.  If you want to stay closer to home, consider buying a home/land in a location away from your current home to use as a bug out location.  This can range from basic (an acre deep in the woods where you could camp) to extravagant (an entire second home on property a good distance from where you usually live).  As per usual, there are several things to consider when you do this including your ability to get to the property when TSHTF, the initial cost to purchase the home/land, maintenance and upkeep, keeping squatters out, etc.

84.  A happy medium might be purchasing a van or travel trailer to use as your bug out vehicle/shelter in the event of a SHTF situation.  There are literally millions of videos on YouTube that show how to do this.  Some people make a simple build in a minivan and call it good, while others build out Ram ProMasters with everything they would need to shelter in their vehicle for days or even weeks/month/years.  Again, you will have to look at the feasibility of doing this when it comes to cost, storage of the vehicle, places you could bug out to in your vehicle (thinking you can just park "out in the woods" isn't good planning as people often own property out in the woods are aren't all that happy to see refugees setting up shop on their land).

85. Become a ghost.  On the flip side are people who decide to basically be untracable.  Their only ID may be a passport, their address may be a mail forwarder, they own no property, no vehicle, in fact they may only own what they can carry in a backpack.  Yes this looks a lot like being homeless but they do this intentionally for many different reasons (examples here, here, here, here, and here).

86. Another alternative may be to become a digital nomad.  While not completely off the grid, these people choose a life of permanent travel while working remotely.  They may set up a "home" of sorts in hotels/hostels/Air BnBs/friend's homes/while housesitting/etc. so that they can be mobile while earning enough to support themselves along the way.  On the one hand, this lifestyle offers less stability (many were left scrambling when everything suddenly shut down due to the pandemic), on the other hand this is a great way to not be tied to one area (hurricane season coming up, change locations.  Winter is coming, move to a warmer area.  Civil unrest has become a daily occurrence where you live, leave.)  There are a bazillion videos on this topic on YouTube.

87. Do you have the means to exit the country in an emergency?  Are you prepared to do this by legal means (with a passport and if necessary visas, with an expensive plane ticket, etc) and by less than legal means (do you have a pilot's license and a small plane, do you have a boat and experience boating in the ocean, do you live on the border where you could walk into another country if necessary)?  The worst thing to be in a disaster is a refugee, on the other hand, I've never met a refugee who planned to become one but due to war/famine/political coup/etc they were forced into the situation.

88. Diversify your money.  This means having a variety of currency not just a stack of dollars.  Having cash, credit cards, an investment portfolio, and good credit so you could get a loan is a good prep but you also need things to barter (guns, ammo, food, tools, etc), some cryptocurrency, some foreign currency on hand, some gold, some silver, and a shit ton of useful skills you can trade.  All of these items have positives and negatives so in order to not "have all of your eggs in one basket", diversify, diversify, diversify!

89. Kick bad habits.  Bad habits are just that, bad for you, bad for your health, bad for your safety and security, bad for your finances, etc.  Smoking three packs a day will cost a fortune and ruin your health, so stop (yes, much easier said than done).  Ditto drinking, drug use, spending yourself into debt, and other sorts of addictions.  By breaking these bad habits you will be healthier, wealthier, and in a much better position to respond to whatever SHTF situation that arises.

90.  Adjust your mindset.  Again, easier said than done, but most people are on auto-pilot most of their lives.  Every day is pretty much the same so their awareness level is low, their ability to respond to a dangerous situation quickly is not that quick, and their willingness to change their lives due to current circumstances in nearly non-existent without significant force.  Improve your awareness, response, and reaction skills daily. 

See part 10 here

See part 1 here