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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

100 Ways to Be Ahead of the Crowd in a SHTF Situation (Part 8 of 10)

Sometimes ya just need to live below the radar.

71.  Make an effort to NOT take your cell phone with you everywhere you go.  Your every move is tracked via your smartphone and telling people to go out in the big wide world without it seems blasphemous but learning how live without your electronic tether is a good idea (and could prove useful in a post-SHTF world).  Be untrackable.  Note, this means leaving ALL electronic devices at home including your smartwatch, tablet, and anything else that can be used to track your movements.

72.  Pay cash for everything for a day, a week, or a month.  Again, everything you do all day long is trackable both because of your phone (see above) and your electronic financial transactions.  Could you go an entire day using only cash?  Could you go a week or longer?  Being able to make yourself untrackable by your financial transactions is a good skill to have.

73.  Try walking or riding a bicycle to do your errands, exercise, or go about your neighborhood.  Moving about in an untrackable fashion is a good skill to have, as noted above.  With GPS systems in cars/license plate readers/black boxes/etc, all of your driving activities can be tracked.  Make yourself more difficult to find by walking or riding a bicycle (this is a great way to get some exercise as well).

74.  Try bartering.  It's an old fashioned skill that most people have never tried before.  This is a great way to acquire the things you need without money OR a paper trail.  It can be as simple as trading a lawn mowing job with an elderly neighbor who likes to bake to something bigger, like trading up from a paperclip to a house.

75.  Start your own side hustle or small business.  This can be a good way to add to your stockpile of cash, allow you to afford more preps, and teach you valuable skills that will come in handy in a post-collapse society.  When your normal job vanishes during a time of social and financial upheaval, being able to determine the needs of people and meeting these needs in an efficient and effective manner can mean the difference between starving and surviving.

76.  Do a media/social media fast.  Can you imagine going an entire day, week, or month without any media or social media?  Between the manipulation and brainwashing that seems to be the entire purpose of the media and social media these days, avoiding all of this mess and enjoying your own thoughts (or a nice book, or a nice conversation) may be just the ticket to getting your sanity back, lowering your blood pressure, and exploring your own interests free of outside interference.

77.  Take extreme steps to avoid being tracked like using a burner phone, using prepaid credit cards paid for with cash, spending your time in rural places where there is much less tracking done, using mail receiving/forwarding services, changing your look and your habits,  going all-out with internet privacy tactics, etc.

78. Consider moving to a very rural location.  Everything you do in a city is subject to tracking.  Between using your cell phone, retail apps, your neighbor's security systems, store surveillance systems, etc, your entire day can be tracked with impunity by any agency who feels like gathering the data.  Living in a very rural location can cut down on this sort of surveillance considerably (minus, as mentioned earlier, cell phone activity).  Going off-grid completely can also make such things as your electricity use untrackable (with a small solar system), your water use untrackable (with a well), your television use untrackable (using an OTA antenna instead of having cable TV), etc

79. There are several ways you can cover your tracks legally and basically erase yourself from searchable records including legally changing your name, using cryptocurrency (which is marginally untrackable), setting up an LLC or trust in order to buy assets anonymously, using stealth wealth tactics, and doing the FIRE thing then taking yourself off to parts unknown.

80.  You can also live in ways that make you "invisible" or overlooked like being a grey man, living as a van-dwelling nomad, or literally disappearing.

See part 9 here

See part 1 here

Saturday, June 5, 2021

100 Ways to Be Ahead of the Crowd in a SHTF Situation (Part 7 of 10)

With major cyber attacks happening so frequently, this is definitely something you need to prepare for.

61.  Prepare for a financial cyber shutdown.  How would you get your money if all ATMS quit working?  Do you have all of your banking/investments/etc records backed up?  If you pay all of your bills online, how would you do this if all online banking is shut down?  If you get paid online, what would happen if payments didn't happen for an extended period of time?

62.  Prepare for an electricity grid shutdown.  This isn't as far-etched as it sounds, judging by the Texas storm grid-down situation last winter or the very good possibility of California power grids being shut down this summer to prevent wildfires.  Take a look at all of the ways you use electricity in your home and figure out what you would do if there was no electricity coming into your home for several days or even weeks.  Prepare accordingly.

63.  Prepare for your water system being shutdown with no warning.  If you are on a well, in most cases, your water system will be just fine (barring an electrical shutdown which would stop your well pump), but for the vast majority of people who rely on municipal water systems, things like cyber attacks or even emergency boil water orders can happen without warning.  Are you prepared with multiple sources of water that don't rely on your tap?  What would you do if this was a longer-term situation

64.  Prepare for a medical records hack.  Recently a couple Florida hospitals went back to using pen and paper due to a major cyber attack.  If you had a medical crisis and showed up at your local hospital which suddenly had no access to your medical records, what would you do?  Consider always carrying with you a list of your prescription/non-prescription/over the counter medications that you take.  Include other important information such as doctor's name, allergies, and medical history (major illnesses/outcomes, any surgeries or other hospitalizations, chronic medical conditions/treatment, etc).

65.  A rather new type of cyber attack took place on a meatpacking plant recently.  Our food system is highly dependent on computers these days--everything from planting and harvesting machines to packaging and shipping systems rely on computers to function--so consider what would happen if a more wide-spread attack were to happen to our food systems.  What could you do to prepare for such a possibility?  Maybe grow a garden?  Stockpile food?  Raise your own animals for food?  Go fishing and hunting both for subsistence and as a hobby?

66. Attacks on our transportation systems are an ongoing concern.  As we saw during the Colonial Pipeline attack and the MTA attack, you can be going about your business and with no warning there can be a run on fuel which leaves you stranded with no option for getting gas for your vehicle or taking a train which could suddenly be taken over by hackers (thankfully they didn't get that far this time).  Even individual vehicles can be hacked (although, to date, widespread hacks of this sort haven't happened.  Yet).  Do you have multiple ways to get home, aside from your usual method of commuting?  Are you able to get to the services you need (groceries, bank, medical services) without the use of your vehicle or public transit?  This is definitely something to plan for as it doesn't look like these sorts of hacks are slowing down any time soon.

67. Data breaching is so widespread that it pretty much isn't if but when someone will get your data or even steal your identity via hacks into companies and systems that keep your personal data.  It is a frustrating and time consuming process to regain your identity after it has been stolen, so always have a back-up plan and a back-up plan for your back-up plan in the event such a thing happens to you.

68. Location-specific, critical infrastructure cyber attacks are another possibility to plan for.  Hackers have tried to attack dams, chemical plants, railroads, and airlines, among other entities which can range from dangerous to deadly for the average person who happens to become a victim of such an attack.  Again, consider how such attacks could affect you and your family based on where you live, what's around you, and what activities you normally partake in.

69. Internet/website attacks are pretty common.  Whether it is a DDoS attack, an attack that takes out undersea internet cables, or an attack on a major website host like AWS, our entire online life--from downloading library books to our Kindle to ordering stuff from Amazon to calling an Uber and much more--relies on the internet and the websites we need to be functional.  What would happen if a large swath of the internet suddenly goes down for an extended period of time?  For most of us, we would be annoyed and then maybe go outside and take a walk but many people rely on the internet to work 100% of the time.  Critical medical services like this one, this one, and this one, can cause serious or even deadly repercussions if the app/website/internet suddenly goes down.  How would a major internet shutdown affect you and how can you prepare for such a possibility?

70.  Finally, one of the most common items we use everyday can easily be hacked or shut down for an extended period of time.  Yep, our cell phones, which are most people's entire life, have been hacked in the past.  From cell tower hacks to your cell network being hacked to your actual phone being hijacked, consider what would happen if you couldn't use your cell phone for an extended period of time.  Many of us remember the time before cell phones became ubiquitous, but there are a couple of generations now that have never NOT had a cell phone. Are you prepared for a communications system shutdown that would rendered you unable to communicate with anyone?  HAM radios may be one option.  Consider other ways you could communicate with others if there is a complete cell service shutdown.

See part 8 here

See part 1 here