Sunday, April 18, 2010

Are You Prepared for a 30 Day Shut-Down?

And when I say you, I mean you (and your family) personally, and your business if you have one. If you have been watching the news, you know about the volcano that's been spewing ash all over Europe for the past week. The airlines are unable to fly through the ash so tens of thousands of flights have been grounded. Now, the airlines can be flexible for a day or two but by today, day four of this situation, the airlines are pressuring the powers that be to let them fly because they are losing so much money. Scary thought. Money to not go bankrupt or passenger safety...hmmm...
This is a situation that is all too common because people (and businesses) have lost the ability to weather the types of storms that can mean the difference between solvency and bankruptcy. A century or two ago, people planned annually and seasonally. If they didn't have food coming in for a month, they certainly had stored food that could see them through the lean times. If they did not have cash coming in for a month, they had cash in savings that could see them through a financial dry spell. These days, everything in done on the very tightest of margins. For many families, missing even one single paycheck could mean homelessness. If a business cannot ship containers of food on a daily basis, grocery store shelves will literally be empty within a couple of days. There simply is no backup without just in time delivery or just in time earnings.
Which brings us to the point of this post. Say you cannot work for 30 days, the health officer quarantines you to your home for 30 days due to a deadly disease outbreak, or the grocery stores are empty for 30 days. Could you survive? For most people, the answer is simply no. For most people, they think such a thing could NEVER EVER happen so they don't even plan for it (besides, they know the government would come in and save them). For other people, this thought has crossed their minds more than once and they have some sort of plan in place to deal with it.
Here's what you need to do to prepare for a 30-day shut down:
  • Have the money to pay two months of normal expenses put aside in savings. Even if you are only shut down for 30 days, it may take a bit extra to get ramped back up.
  • Have an extra 30 day's worth of food stored at your home. If you end up not using it, you can always throw a huge summer event and feed all of your guests or donate the food to charity and restock.
  • Have an extra 30 days worth of supplies stored at your home (laundry soap, bath soap, toilet paper, etc.).
  • How much debt do you have? The difference between paying your minimal living debts (water, lights, garbage) versus paying the monthly bills for a dozen credit cards and huge mortgage and car loans really makes a difference in how comfortably (both financially and psychologically) you can survive a shut-down.
  • Have an escape plan for a 30 day period. Some people never take more than a week's vacation per year which is sad (and another post). If you have never taken a vacation for a 30 day period of time, it can be quite disconcerting, but if you had to bug out for a month, consider how you would prepare for this. Could you still work remotely? Do you have a place or two in mind that you would like to go? How much would it cost for food and shelter in your desired location? What would you take with you? How would you get there?

That's basically it. If you can eat, have shelter, have necessary supplies, possibly earn a living, and definitely pay your bills, for an extended period of time when a major financial/social/political disruption is occurring, you will be miles ahead of the masses in terms of preparedness.


  1. Insight, this is becoming a systemic problem. Humanity is getting this thought in its collective head that things can always be solved by someone else. The driving force behind socialism, communism, and other similar state-controlled ideas is that things will continue as-is, and that individuals need not prepare as the entire collective will be 'taken care of.' We seem to, more and more, believe that we are above Mother Nature, or at the very least are able to overcome the regular 'problems' she causes. However, this only leads to, as you illustrate in your blog, a movement away from preparation and towards dancing upon the knife's edge by so many. Just one tip in either direction is enough to bring the entire system to the ground. This belief in the infallibility of mankind and the system we have developed is extremely dangerous and hinders one's ability to conceive of a day where such a system collapses around them.

    Thank you so much for the insight, and as a young graduate student, I am certainly taking your advice to heart as I prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and bust my butt as hard as I can in the mean time.

  2. What is even more alarming is the threat of food shortages because the particles from the volcano may damage crop.

  3. CNI: Another good post. I'm sure most folks reading here are far more prepared then average. ( I know I am ) But, the recent news is a good lesson for everyone. If one Volcano can do this, what about about dozens? What about a big rock hitting the earth ? I have thought about fight delays, but not complete flight stoppage. Maybe not just days, but months, or years. This is another event to put in the "what if" column. If it can happen once...

  4. We would be set pretty well. The only thing that I could think of was TP, and I stocked up this weekend. After all, it never spoils!