Greece is headed for Hell in a handbasket (probably to take place in the very near future), economically speaking. Which will soon be followed by Spain and a number of other countries that thought it was a good idea to band together with all of the other countries of the European Union and jump on the Euro bandwagon (FWIW, if Warren Buffet says that having a single currency for a group of nations of varying economic strengths is a really bad idea, those in power should listen to him...but it is a bit late for that now).
Which brings us to the need for a strong local economy. And by local economy I mean strengthening economic ties to others in your community as well as doing for yourself as much as possible. The reason for this is that with economics on an international scale being so inter-dependant, when one (or a bunch) of foreign economies have a problem (like a depression or recession or a complete bankruptcy of an entire government(s)) this can quickly and drastically impact your own pocketbook. Not only will your 401k and other investments suffer a hit (these are often invested in international markets and in products that are very sensitive to foreign economic troubles) but your very lifeline--your job--can also be significantly impacted. And then how will you put food on the table and pay for junior's braces?
One way to face an uncertain economic future is to jump whole-heartedly into your local economy. Here's some ideas:
- Barter with others in your community for vital products and services. No matter what is happening in Europe or China, if you can trade a dental filling for a car repair, you can bypass the whole of the general economy and get what you need.
- Learn how to perform a vital service or produce a useful product. This way you will have something to barter and/or sell that other locals will need. Obviously start doing this as soon as possible because you don't want to start learning how to sell or trade your product after TSHTF. The more practice you get now, the better off you will be in a crisis.
- Then expand this to learning to perform a range of vital services and/or produce a range of useful products. If you are a wonderful artist, you shouldn't let your artistic skills wither because they aren't much in demand during tight economic times. Then again, you still need to put food on your table and/or pay the mortgage so you will need to be able to do/make other things that are more in demand during difficult economic times (maybe you can learn to re-paint automobiles--a completely different skill--but one that is more useful when people are keeping their old cars longer).
- Learn how to do for yourself. Unfortunately this in itself has a negative impact on your local economy (you aren't paying other people to provide services and products to you), but on the other hand, you can save a lot of money this way (by cutting your own lawn, repairing your own car, etc).
- Learn vital skills. This usually takes a while whether for official schooling and certification or simply for getting enough time and experience under your belt to be able to actually do something useful. When TSHTF there are some vital skills that people will spend their last dollar on. These include vital medical services (doctor, dentist, nurse), food (selling eggs, processing and selling beef/pork/chickens/etc), items necessary for survival (soap, natural medicines, etc), vital services (repairing leaky roofs, fixing broken cars), and services that are critical but that we think the government will always be able to supply (water, electricity, communications).
- Stockpile now. The local economy is great for most things but there are certain items that go very quickly after a disaster and/or are subject to drastic price hikes when there is a shortage and often times these items are not things that can be easily produced locally. Check this list for items to stockpile.
- Practice now. Over the past five years my own lifestyle has changed drastically. From living the high life and having a housekeeper, gardener, and buying anything I wanted, whenever I wanted, we have scaled back to an almost primitive level of living (but the significant drop in job stress and financial stress and the pure enjoyment of going back to basics more than makes up for this). Going out to eat is rare, cooking at home and using home-preserved foods in common. Our clothes are always line-dried (we could hand wash but I will wait for a crisis to necessitate this). The Goodwill and thrift stores are now my favorite place to shop. In other words, practice living as self sufficiently as possible now before you really need to do this in the event of an economic disaster.
- Get out of debt. It is much easier to make do and stretch your limited funds when you don't have a bunch of creditors breathing down your neck.
- Consider drastic ways to "go local" in the event of a major crisis that results in TEOTWAYKI. One of the things I miss most in leaving Seattle and moving to Las Vegas is that I know very few people here. While I don't tend to "band together" with militant survivalists who are waiting to spring forth when the end of the world nears, I was practically comforted with the knowledge that I knew a pretty good group of guys that would have my back any time, any place (and with significant skill and firepower to do this if necessary). In other words, when your local world is going to Hell, you will need to provide for your own security. Doing this by yourself will be challenging to say the least so it is a good idea to have a group of like-minded friends who will be able to act in a mutual-assistance fashion and help each other out as needed. There are also a number of other things that would need done that, again, you would be challenged to do by yourself. It's a good idea to know who you can rely on in a disaster (and the reverse, these people know they can rely on you as well). Start building this network now.
The bottom line is that you need to be prepared now for any eventuality. If you want to see what you may be facing when TSHTF, keep a close eye on news reports about how the situation is in Greece, Spain, and war-torn countries to see exactly what services and products are lacking so that you can prepare now in case this situation becomes a reality where you live.