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Monday, April 20, 2009

10 steps to improving your current situation...

Following up on the last couple of posts, this will be my last motivational blurb for awhile. Some of the points have been mentioned recently, but they bare repeating due to their importance. The information which follows is my personal belief and reflects one way to improve your quality of life. As with all of my postings, I am but one man. What I present is the best information I can assemble through personal experience, research and advice from respected sources. I am not a financial advisor, a lawyer, in anyway involved in law enforcement nor am I the final authority on any subject. If I make a mistake, let me know and I'll correct it. If I post that the price of silver has dropped $1.50 in the last week I am not directing you to take any action whatsoever. You must always make your own decisions based on your personal situation and what is in your best interest.

10 Steps to improve your situation:

1) Debt is the shackle of the masses. When you owe money, you have abdicated some control of your life to someone else. The Banker says, "Pay me, or I will throw you out of your house!" If you are in debt, you are not in complete control of your own fate. You must get out of debt as quickly as you can. All that interest you are paying is money that should be in your pocket. You can save tens of thousands of dollars by making mortgage payments every two weeks instead of once a month. Same amount, each month, just paid in two half's. Since no one can see into the future, no one should be betting on their continued financial/medical stability for the next 25 years. You should take out a mortgage for a term no longer than is necessary to aggressively pay it off completely. I would suggest no longer than 10 years. If you can't be mortgage free within 10 years, you are not putting enough money down or you are buying too much house for your current income. Your money should be working for you, not for a money lender. It is foolish to assume that you will for sure be able to sell your mortgaged property for more than you paid or even owe on it at any given time.

2) Store Food & Water. Your body is like your car - if the gas runs out, the car dies. If your body runs out of fuel, you die. Food and water are not commodities. They are the most basic requirement for you and your family to continue living. Something of such importance should not be gambled with. All your life, food has been just down the street at the grocery store. I expect it will still be there tomorrow and the day after...Will it always be there to provide you the nutrients we all must have? Will you always be in a position to buy the nutrients we all must have? I do not know for sure - and either do you. You must take steps to ensure that you can continue to eat and drink if for any reason food and water become unavailable to you through the regular sources.

3) Plant a garden. It doesn't have to be a big garden and it doesn't have to be a lot of work. Everyone needs to know how to and have some experience growing food. The knowledge you will acquire is that same knowledge that our grand parents knew and indeed relied upon to improve their lives. Today, our modern conveniences have removed from most families that connection with the land and the know how to work it to provide for us. Start small. A 4x4 foot raised bed or section of your back yard is all you need to get started. Not much soil preparation, not too big to weed, easy to water, you can reach everything from the sides, no big tools or machinery needed. Plant some lettuce, a tomato plant or two, carrots, radishes, beans and some peas. Have some family fun turning dirt and seed into many salads and side dishes for dinner. Plant an apple tree in your yard and in a couple of years, enjoy "organic" apples right out your door. Learn to can apple sauce and you'll learn another important skill, preserving the food you grow until you have a chance to eat it. Live in an apartment or have no yard? You're not off the hook, you can plant all of the above in containers (pots) and put them on your balcony. Maybe the landlord will give you access to the roof (if it's flat) for your pots.

4) Understand probability. As we travel from birth to death, we make plans. Some short term and others longer term. Often our plans need to change because something happens. These happenings are sometimes pleasant and sometimes not so pleasant. Many situations we have no control over. Yes, a massive asteroid can land in the centre of Ontario but it's not very likely. Yes, there can be a giant solar flare that cooks the Earth, (this will probably happen some day), but not likely in our life time. You need to assess the probability of any occurrence from your own perspective and not from the effects of the occurrence. It is more likely that you will face a job interruption or a death in the family than you are to be subjected to a terrorist attack. You are more likely to be involved in a car crash than you are a plane crash. You may be more likely to have your basement flooded from a broken water pipe than an overflowing river. When planning your path in life don't ignore the improbable but do give more consideration to the happenings that are most likely to directly affect you. Besides, it's always a good idea to have a plan for when you finally win the lottery.

5) A "Bug out bag" for everyone including Fido. Do yourself a big favour - Put together a kit for every member of your family that they can grab at anytime and head off on an adventure for three days. It is possible that someday there will be a knock on your door where you are informed that you need to leave. Your safety is in peril as is the safety of your loved one's if you stay where you are. Be able to grab your "bug out bags" and go. The anxiety of having to suddenly leave is bad enough. Trying to grab some stuff at the last minute will undoubtedly lead to poor choices of things to take and it uses up valuable time. Time you might not have. Eliminate all of the decisions that would need to be made by making them now and putting everything together ready to use whenever it's needed.

6) Think about "Bugging in" and "Bugging out". Before something happens that causes you to think about staying or going somewhere else, consider what needs to done to allow for either scenario. Think about where you would go or what you would need to stay where you are. Some situations don't afford such a choice, so it's best to have considered both options. After you've thought about this for awhile, talk to your family and make a written plan for staying where you are and one for when you have to go.

7) After you are out of debt, consider purchasing a rural property not so close to where you are now that you could go to if you had to to leave your current address. This can be a 6 bedroom home with nice landscaping or it could be an acre of bush with a pop up trailer sitting on it. You decide what works for you. If nothing happens and you never need to go there, you have another investment that has some value and that value will improve your situation. If bad stuff happens, you own someplace else where you could live.

8) Diversify your investments. No matter how much or how little you have invested, I'm certain you can't afford to lose any of it. Investment is another word for risk. Some investments expose you to very little risk, others to significant risk. Never should all of your investments be in one place - be it the stock market, mutual funds, RRSP etc. You need to have quick access to cash if for some reason you suddenly need it. Some of your money should be in tangible investments such as gold/silver holdings. Some of your money should be in very low risk bonds and GIC's. With the bases covered on the low risk end of the scale, you may now expose some of your money to higher risk and higher returns. If you don't know exactly what you are doing, please seek the advice of a financial planner before going forward.

9) Learn to defend yourself. Part of our biological imperative programming is the fight or flight response. If you don't know how to fight, you only have one real option. I'm not advocating that we need to be running around the countryside in cammo battle dress practicing advance to contact drills with the cows. However, you do need to know how to get yourself out of a sticky situation should you stumble into one. The drunk on the bus who insists on sitting too close, the pan handler that is too aggressive and wont take no for an answer or even the group of kids who demand your ipod. Having the skills to defend ones self if need be, increases your confidence. Increased confidence reduces fear. Reduced fear allows for better thinking and reasoning to take place. Better thinking may even allow you to talk your way out of the situation. But if push comes to shove, you need to be able to shove better than the other person or you're going to get hurt.

10) Understand that everything you do matters. Realize that if you do one or all of these things, your life will be better off for having done them even if nothing catastrophic happens. Your actions make it possible for you to improve your situation from today onward. If something bad happens in the future, it doesn't really matter, because you are able to control your own fate. You aren't beholden to the Bankers. You don't owe the Government any taxes, you can eat because you stored food and you know how to grow more. You have a place of safe refuge and all of your money isn't in risky investments, life is as good as it gets - because there are no guarantees, good or bad.

[What have you done today to prepare?]



  1. Learning Earth Day lessons....
    whether you want to or not.How one grandson taught his grandma a lesson in loving the earth.

  2. A lot of very intereting and practical information. We need to realize that it is up to each of us as individuals to prepare for whatever life throws at us. Too many times we rely on others (especially the government) to bail us out when a little bit of planning and preparation could have either prevented or at leasst alleviated the situation. Thanks.