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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bug In Contingencies

Original Article:
Bug In Contingencies

Though Katrina hit more than a decade ago, I remember it like yesterday.  Forty-eight hours before the pundits at the National Weather Service finally decided on a landfall location, the local grocery stores were already picked clean like vultures working a road kill.  I only wish I had taken pictures of the mayhem.  I walked the aisles just to see what a premier national disaster does to a localized population of scared people.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

The hurricane itself would hit land some 150 miles away from our town, but the impact would be felt locally for days, months and years.  Anything fresh was gone, all the fruits and vegetables gone.  Fresh milk, cold juices, bottled water, soft drinks, and most of the beer were gone.  A lot of the meat was gone unless you wanted calves liver or some other weird cuts.  Cold cuts, cheeses, and all that were emptied out.  There was nothing on the shelves that remotely resembled bread, rolls, bagels, crackers, English muffins or anything else you could spread peanut butter or jelly on.  Oh, all that was gone, too.  Virtually everything else in the store food and drink wise had been bought out.  It was a ghost land.  If you had not been in the first wave of panic shoppers 72 hours before the storm hit, then you were flat out of luck.  The question is now and have we learned our lesson that if we plan a Bug In during a SHTF are we any more ready today, than we were ten years ago?

Societal Woes Arrive

Before I get into the meat of prepping your Bug In location for a SHTF, let me relay what also developed in the area where I live as a result of the evacuation of thousands of people from the Gulf Coast in advance of Katrina.  As fast as they could get north on the interstate highways, we had hundreds if not thousands of people descend upon our city.  Every motel room booked quickly.  Local restaurants were overwhelmed.  Even their food stores ran short.  A fair ground building was set up as a help center to house and feed people.  That situation ended up lasting for weeks.  I visited the site after it was finally closed and it was a virtual trash pile.  You might remember what people did to the Super Dome in New Orleans.  We had the same thing only on a smaller scale.

You Might Also Like: SHTF Firearm Choices

To abbreviate the details, for several months, many of these refugees remained in the regional area.  Crime shot up 200%.  Construction, roofing, and clean up crews flocked into the area from all over the country.  Some literally preyed upon the citizens taking money, promising services, and then disappearing.  It took law enforcement and other authorities too long to get a handle on controlling all of this activity.  It left a really sour taste in the mouths of many, even those poised to help the honestly needy.

My point is, besides preparing your own property to withstand and survive any kind of a SHTF, you also have to prepare for the aftermath.  In fact, in our case the aftermath was actually worse than how the SHTF impacted the region.  At my own house and neighborhood we were lucky.  Sure we went five days without power in August, when temperatures went over 100 degrees but we unofficially bonded together as neighbors to watch things and maintain control over our residential area.  For days, I sat on the front porch eying trucks with out-of-state, out-of-county license plates file down the streets looking for opportunities.  Perhaps it was the AR lying across my lap in the rocking chair that deterred them from stopping at my place.  I hope so.

Home Assessment

You need to conduct a firsthand, thorough evaluation of your Bug In house and property.  If you live in a housing residential area, then look around your house and your immediate neighbor’s houses to get a complete understanding of access points, how outsiders might get to your back door, easy access windows, garage doors, or other points of entry.  You may elect not to harden these against oppressive entry because of the expense and hassle, but at least you will know your home’s weak points.  Today, they make all kinds of secure window and door entry covers to keep out everyone but the most ardent determined thug.  If those jacks want in, about all you can do is shoot them out a porthole.

Also Read: Do You Need An AR15?

Most garage doors you can lock down in a variety of ways.  However, like I mentioned above the really talented thieves will have a gas powered disk saw that will slice through an aluminum garage door or some steel home doors in a matter of seconds.  They can also cut through the roof, around window frames, through non-brick sidewalls and other suspect points of entry.  If you do not or cannot protect all of these points, then you have to devise a planning and train to defend yourself from inside.

Hey, Nobody is Home Here!

I’d love to hear from everyone in the comments below if you think posting a sign like that outside would have an impact on deterring any unwanted entry.  I have seen metal signs at gun shows that say things like “There is nothing in this house worth your life for breaking in” or whatever.  I am just doubtful such postings would deter anyone.  Perhaps a painted marking on the outside of the house as in post-Katrina that identifies the house as searched and secured as nobody being home?


Having said that, I think during any kind of a SHTF either natural or unnatural that you want to maintain a low profile around your Bug In residence, unless you and a survival team or neighbors actively conduct armed patrols outside in full view.  During the day, stay in the house as much as possible.  Use only one exit and entry, one that is more out of public view from the street.  At night, blacken a room you can stay in or keep all windows in the main living area securely covered permitting no light to be seen.  Go outside yourself to double check this. This approach of course is a point of debate.  Is it better to show a presence (armed) or maintain a discrete lack of visibility?  What do you think?

Bug In SHTF Supply Up

This becomes the hard and fast of the survival part.  You have to stock up enoughwater and food to sustain yourself for the long haul, while not even knowing what that means.  I think maybe we all hope whatever kind of a SHTF occurs, that at some point, hopefully sooner than later, that calm and public resolve will be returned to normal.  If you are optimistic, then I say plan on sustaining you and your family for a minimum of a month.  If you lack faith in the “system” then you might want to think in terms of six months.  I cannot imagine the efficiency, manageability, affordability, and space to keep enough supplies to hold out at a Bug In (or Out for that matter) for that long.  Perhaps I am self-deluding here?  What say you?

Related: Breaking The Law When The SHTF

I recall when attending the University of Missouri back in the late 60s and 70s that the library in the center of campus was a storage site for supplies in the event of aNBC (nuclear, biological, or chemical)attack.  Big drums of supplies, food, and water lined the basement halls and book stacks.  As I look back today, no way would all those supplies have lasted hardly any time at all for a campus population of say 25,000 students, not counting everybody else.  See my point?

So, anyway, initially think in terms of holding out for a month.  That alone will be taxing enough.  You may decide to go with plastic tubs, cardboard cases, or canisters of commercially available survival foods,MREs or other foods.  I can see that as a good option, expensive, but not a bad plan.

You other options made easier by Bugging In at your own residence is to supply up with tons of canned goods of all kinds to weather the SHTF.  I will not detail here nutritional requirements, quantities, calories, food prep, or such.  There are much better resources out there to study for this information, but do keep these ideas in mind especially how you will “cook” food on what and such.

Just keep everything in perspective in terms of how many people you have to feed, and what their general likes and dislikes are.  If you buy ten cases of potted meat, but nobody will touch it with a ten food pole, then you made a bad choice.  Water supplies could be a real issue.  It would be nice to hope that the sink tap water will continue to flow, but what if it does not or it is not drinkable?  Storing large quantities of drinking water is problematic.  I recommend filling milk jugs or other large gallon water containers to keep in the garage or basement.  Maybe this could be done at the Nth hour before a storm of any kind hits, like they recommend filling bathtubs for extra water.  I would plan on maintaining some water supplies though.  It will always take more than what you planned on.

Also Read: Networking After TSHTF

A survivalist friend of mine maintains a stock of 50 cases of 24-bottles each of plastic bottled water.  He rotates it by purchase dates.  He only has 2-3 people at home to worry about, so I would think this much water would last a while, but who really knows how long?  At least that is a start.

Now, make a list of all the other supplies you might need besides food and water.  A starting list might include medicines, OTC items, paper products, candles, cell batteries, solar panel re-chargers, clothing, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, extra eyeglasses, medical/first aid kit(s), back up heater(s), fuels, propane, charcoal,AM-FM radio(s)CB radioscanner, water filter, fire extinguisher(s), so on and so forth.

Bug In Defense

I hope at a future date to develop another article dedicated in more depth to this subject.  For now, just know and realize that you may not be WEVISIply huddle up in your Bug In home and hope to be left alone.  I suspect or fear for some preppers that are not inclined as many of us are to be aptly prepared to defend ourselves against unwanted intrusions to our domicile.  This can be a very scary situation even for those that think they are prepared.  It is just another reality of the SHTF aftermath.  Let’s be honest, few of us are really prepared to shoot or kill another human being, but it might come to that in defense of our family.  Scavengers are very likely to be about their business of robbing homes and businesses of anything of what they deem is valuable.

Remember the thugs pushing shopping carts down the streets of New Orleans in three feet of water loaded with electronics and other merchandise?  This could and likely will happen even in your quiet little neighborhood, too, depending on how out of control everything gets after the SHTF resides.  Expect it, prepare for it, and hope it never happens.  So, there is a very thin thumbnail sketch of some Bug In contingencies that you may have to deal with and prepare for.  We can sometimes see natural SHTFs like storms and severe weather coming somewhat in advance.  Societal collapses are more difficult to predict.  Some get out of hand so quickly it is hard to react, aka Ferguson, MO.  Of course, planning and preparation is the key to survival.

Photos By:
Apocalypse 101
Dan Davis

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lock Picks in Your Survival Pack

Original Article:
Lock Picks in Your Survival Pack

Picking Locks as a Survival Skill

By James C. Jones EMT/CHCM

Certainly we all regard lock picking as a rather nefarious activity used by criminals and spies, but under true, live-or-die survival situations including this skill and the necessary devices in your survival kit may be worth consideration. In a large-scale disaster there will be plenty of abandoned commercial, industrial and residential structures. Even sheds and barns can provide emergency shelter that is far superior to tarps and tents.

While breaking into someone’s home or business is not something we want to do, it may be absolutely necessary to get out of the cold, wind, rain and other hazards. Entry should be achieved with the minimum of noise and damage. A broken window or door will attract unwanted attention. Carrying a lock pick gun and/or small pry bar in your survival pack may be worth the weight. If you enter someone’s home be respectful of their property. If you must “borrow” food or other items to survive leave them a note and an IOU for future reimbursement. Just because civilization has broken down does not justify your becoming a looter. Most importantly: be sure it is truly an unoccupied structure before approaching or attempting entry. Carefully observe, call out and even knock first. Going from a desperate survivor to an intruder could result in disaster for you and the occupants.

The lock pick gun below with its instruction should get you past most locks, but you should practice ahead of time. Lock picks alone are much smaller and lighter than this gun, but take longer to learn. There are also special master keys and jiggle keys made for padlocks and automobiles. You can get these devices online and through many survival supply catalogs. The one below is made by Scorpion Defense Products and is sold by for $49.99. Plain picks are just $9.95 while jiggle keys go for $19.00

This Transcription is available for copy under the Creative Commons By-ND license.  You may copy and repost this transcription in its entirety as long as original links, affiliate links, and embedded video remain intact, including this CC notice.

The post Lock Picks in Your Survival Packappeared first on American Preppers Network.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Beast System Arises: The Largest Bank In Norway Calls For The Elimination Of Cash

Original Article:
The Beast System Arises: The Largest Bank In Norway Calls For The Elimination Of Cash

The biggest bank in Norway is calling for the complete and total elimination of cash. Many local bank branches in Norway already don’t deal in cash, but that is not good enough for DNB. They want a blanket ban on the use of cash, and they are selling this as a way to crack down on criminals and money launderers. But in the end, the truth is that they want to be able to force everyone in society to use the banks and it would enable them to collect fees on almost every transaction. It is an agenda that is being driven by greed, but it could also open the door for great tyranny. Unfortunately, we are not just seeing aggressive movement toward a cashless society in Norway. It is also happening inSweden, in Denmark and in many other nations all around the globe. The Beast system is rising, and yet very few people out there even seem alarmed by this.

When I first learned about what was happening in Norway, I was absolutely stunned. I have ancestors that came over to America from over there, and I had no idea that this was happening. The following comes from the International Business Times

The largest bank in Norway has called for the country to stop using cash, the Local reported Friday. This comes as the latest move in a country that has been leading the global charge toward electronic money in recent years, with several banks already not offering cash in their branch offices and some industries seeking to cut back on paper currency.

Of course this idea is being sold as something that will be really good for Norwegian society. DNB promises that eliminating cash will help authorities crack down on criminal activity and money laundering. Here is more from the International Business Times

“Today, there is approximately 50 billion kroner in circulation and [the country’s central bank] Norges Bank can only account for 40 percent of its use. That means that 60 percent of money usage is outside of any control. We believe that is due to under-the-table money and laundering,” Trond Bentestuen, a DNB executive, told Norwegian website VG, the Local reported.

There are so many dangers and disadvantages associated with cash, we have concluded that it should be phased out,” he added.

But in addition to catching more criminals, there are many other reasons why governments really like the idea of a cashless society. It would also mean that no financial transaction would escape taxation, and it would also enable them to watch, track and monitor everything that we do much more closely.

And banks would be absolutely thrilled with a cashless society. Every member of society would be forced to use the system, bank runs would be eliminated, and every time we swipe our cards they would collect a fee.

In addition, there would be absolutely no escaping the bank bail-ins that are coming in Europe. If there was no way to pull your money out of the system, there would be no way to avoid the kind of theft that has now been institutionalized by European authorities. I covered the brand new bail-in rules that went into effect in Europe on January 1st, 2016 in a previous article

If you have a bank account anywhere in Europe, you need to read this article. On January 1st, 2016, a new bail-in system will go into effect for all European banks. This new system is based on the Cyprus bank bail-ins that we witnessed a few years ago. If you will remember, money was grabbed from anyone that had more than 100,000 euros in their bank accounts in order to bail out the banks. Now the exact same principles that were used in Cyprus are going to apply to all of Europe.

Sadly, we are now witnessing a major push toward a cashless society all over the planet.

It is happening in China, in India, and all over Europe. In fact, some nations in Europe have already banned cash transactions over a certain level. Here arejust a couple of examples

As I have written about previously, cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.

Little by little, cash is being eradicated, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning. 417 billion cashless transactions were conducted in 2014, and the final number for 2015 is projected to be much higher.

Of course the epicenter for the transition to a cashless society continues to be northern Europe.

Denmark intends to entirely eradicate cash by the year 2030, and the transition to a cashless society in Sweden is now almost complete

Did you know that 95 percent of all retail sales in Sweden are cashless? And did you know that the government of Denmark has a stated goal of “eradicating cash” by the year 2030? All over the world, we are seeing a relentless march toward a cashless society, and nowhere is this more true than in northern Europe. In Sweden, hundreds of bank branches no longer accept or dispense cash, and thousands of ATM machines have been permanently removed. At this point, bills and coins only account for just 2 percent of the Swedish economy, and many stores no longer take cash at all. The notion of a truly “cashless society” was once considered to be science fiction, but now we are being told that it is “inevitable”, and authorities insist that it will enable them to thwart criminals, terrorists, drug runners, money launderers and tax evaders. But what will we give up in the process?

The potential for tyranny is what has me concerned more than anything.

Just imagine a world where you could not buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without participating in “the system”.

If you chose to opt out, how would you and your family survive?

And it would be way too easy for the government to set requirements for participation in the system. For example, they could make it illegal to sell to anyone without the proper government-issued form of identification, or they could require some form of loyalty oath as a pre-condition for enrollment.

The war on cash is a direct assault on the fundamental liberties and freedoms that we enjoy today. They may promise us that a cashless society will make our lives better right now, but tomorrow I am afraid that it could open the door to tyranny on a level that most of us would have never even imagined.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

70 Tips That Will Help You Survive What Is About To Happen To America

Original Article:
70 Tips That Will Help You Survive What Is About To Happen To America

You may have noticed that things are starting to get crazy. Financial markets areimploding, violent crime rates are soaringin our major cities, and we have witnesseda truly unusual series of natural disasters in recent months. War in the Middle East continues to rage out of control, and Islamic terror continues to spread all over the globe. And many believe that 2016 is going to be a year of political shaking, civil unrest, governmental crackdowns and great economic chaos in the United States. All it is going to take to plunge our society into full-blown panic mode is a major “trigger event” of some sort. Another 9/11, a new “Lehman Brothers” moment, a massive EMP burst from the sun or a historic seismic event are all examples of what this “trigger event” could look like.

So are you ready for what is about to happen to America? In previous articles, I have urged my readers to focus on the five basics – food, water, shelter, energy and self-defense. If you focus on those five things, you will probably be in pretty good shape during any major disaster or emergency.

In this article, I want to dig a little deeper and give people some more specific tips regarding what they can do to prepare for the times that we are now entering. The following are 70 tips that will help you survive what is going to happen to America…

1. A lot of the “experts” out there are urging people to get rid of all of their cash. That is a huge mistake. You are going to need cash to pay your bills – especially during the initial phases of the coming crisis. Today, 63 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and millions of them will be severely hurting almost immediately once they lose their jobs or their businesses go under during this new economic downturn.

2. Get to know your neighbors. As the coming time of trouble unfolds, you are going to want to have people around you that you can trust and depend on.

3. Learn how to grow a garden. Food costs will continue to rise and our food distribution system is far more vulnerable than most people would dare to imagine. Any way that you can become more “food independent” would be a good thing.

4. At this point, you should already have several years of emergency food stored up for each member of your family. And don’t forget to store additional food for friends and family members that haven’t prepared and will need to come stay with you.

5. Make a “bug out plan” for your family, and make certain that every member of your family knows what the rally points are in case you all get separated.

6. Every member of your family should have a “bug out bag“. These should contain everything that they will need in the event of a major emergency.

7. If you are going to “strategically relocate” before things get really bad in this country, hopefully you have already done so by now. If not, you are working on borrowed time.

8. When civil unrest starts really spiraling out of control, it would be in your interest to avoid “America’s death zones” if possible.

9. Always have the gas tanks in your vehicles at least halfway full. You never know when you will need to hit the road in an emergency situation.

10. Put away some extra fuel for your generator while fuel costs are low.

11. Think ahead about what medicines and medical supplies you and your family will need during a major crisis.

12. Try to stock up on things that will make good barter items when the overall economy begins to totally break down.

13. There are non-electric versions of various appliances. Some examples includewashing machines and coffee makers.

14. How are you going to cook your food when the power goes out for an extended period of time? You may want to consider asun oven if you don’t have one already.

15. Don’t have all of your eggs in one basket. That includes not having all of your money in one location. If you have a bank account, consider spreading that money around to two or three different bank accounts.

16. You will want to keep at least some cash at home in case you are not able to access ATM machines during a major crisis.

17. If you can get out of debt without jeopardizing your other preparations, you should consider doing so. Those that are “lean and mean” financially will be in much better shape – especially during the initial stages of the coming crisis.

18. Physical gold and silver are good ways to protect your wealth over the long-term. As I have warned repeatedly, we will continue to see big ups and big downs for precious metals, so if you are going to invest you have got to be able to handle the ride.

19. Reduce your expenses and get accustomed to a more minimal standard of living. Now is not the time to be spending lots of money on fancy new toys.

20. If you have the time and energy, starting a side business may not be a bad idea. That way if you lose your job, you still have some income coming in.

21. You need to have a plan for fresh water in the event of a major emergency. Without water none of us can survive, and is imperative that you have a plan to provide clean drinking water for your family when disaster strikes.

22. If you can afford to get partially or totally “off the grid”, that would be a very good thing. Many preppers are discovering that they can do amazing things with wind, solar and water power.

23. Anyone that has spent more than a few hours without power knows how frustrating this can be. You need to have a plan for how you are going to provide power to your home that is independent of the power company.

24. Rotate your food supplies. Eat your oldest stuff first even though it may be tempting to dig into the stuff that you just purchased.

25. If you have a baby, don’t forget the special things that your baby will need during a major crisis.

26. Many preppers totally forget about their pets. You should store the food and supplies that they will need during an extended emergency.

27. This may sound trivial, but the truth is that our entertainment-addicted society would become very bored and very frustrated if the grid suddenly went down for an extended period of time. Card games and other basic forms of entertainment can make enduring a crisis much easier.

28. In the years ahead, being able to defend your home is going to become increasingly important. When the economy crashes, people are going to start to become very desperate. And desperate people do desperate things.

29. No plan ever unfolds perfectly. When your plan is disrupted, what will you do? It will be imperative for all of us to have a back-up plan and to be flexible during the years ahead.

30. Do not go around and tell everyone in the area where you live about your prepping. If you do, then you may find yourself overwhelmed with “visitors” when everything falls apart.

The following are items that are commonly recommended by survivalist experts that you may want to consider storing in case they are needed during a major crisis or emergency…

31. Blankets

32. Warm Clothing

33. Gloves

34. Extra Flashlights

35. First Aid Kits

36. Lighters

37. Matches

38. Duct Tape

39. A Shovel

40. A Tent

41. Knives

42. Mylar Blankets

43. Body Armor

44. Salt

45. Propane

46. Vitamins

47. An Axe

48. A Can Opener

49. A Battery-Powered Radio

50. Extra Batteries

51. A Fire Extinguisher

52. A Sewing Kit

53. A Tool Kit

54. Comfortable Shoes Or Hiking Boots

55. A Map Of Your Area

56. A Compass

57. Sleeping Bags

58. Candles

59. A Camp Stove

60. An LED Headlamp

61. Lightsticks

62. Heirloom Seeds

63. Clorox

64. Wood Socks, Sweaters And Mittens

65. Personal Hygiene Items

66. Ziplock Bags

67. A Watch Or Some Other Way To Tell Time

68. Extra Copies Of Your Financial Records

69. Spare Glasses

70. Prescription Medications

Are there any additional tips that you would add to this list?

Please feel free to share your knowledge with the rest of us by posting a comment below…

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Why Bargain Stockpiling is Not Emergency Food Storage

Original Article:

Do you ever watch those programs on television about extreme couponers? I am not much of a TV-watcher, but I’ve seen a couple of these. It is astonishing to watch people load up a heaping grocery cart, then give the cashier a thick wad of coupons and walk out of the store paying $3.11 for everything.

I imagine you could build an enormous stockpile of goods this way, but is it really the best way to build a preparedness supply?

Bargain Stockpiling vs. Emergency Food Storage

I get the greatest ideas from my readers.  I am very grateful never to be short of subjects to write about because of your wonderful questions and suggestions. A while back, I received this in my inbox from Karen:

Stockpiling is based on the principle that if you buy large quantities at
rock bottom prices you will build a stockpile and essentially “shop at home”
to avoid ever paying full price due to running out of something.

The downside is that people stockpile a lot of non-food items that aren’t
really useful in a disaster. And shelf-stable items that are only stable for
about a year. And also items that require perishable food to make, such as
Hamburger Helper.

You are the expert on food storage for emergency. It needs to be mostly
food, and be stable for 5-30 years, roughly.

My concern is the proliferation of these eye-catching stockpiles on the
Internet and Pinterest in particular. Could you imagine a new person confusing
a stockpile with emergency food storage?

Karen is absolutely right in her assessment.

While couponing, price matching, and comparison shopping are valuable tools that can help you acquire needed items inexpensively, don’t be fooled. There is a huge difference between bargain stockpiling and emergency food storage.

So What is the Difference?

The major difference between a bargain stockpile and an emergency food supply is the purpose. Let us take a closer look at each type of supply.

A Bargain Stockpile

A bargain stockpile is a collection of items purchased at the lowest possible price, often pennies on the dollar. While these items can be very useful and a boon to your budget, they can also sit there unused because they are simply not foods you would want to eat, or, as a standalone item, need additional ingredients to make a complete meal.

Have you ever gone into the kitchen to make dinner and found that although there is plenty to eat, you don’t have the right ingredients to make anything you normally prepare? Maybe you don’t have the meat that you’d prefer to cook with the vegetables you have on hand. Maybe you are missing a vital ingredient for your famous beef stroganoff. Perhaps you are thinking of cooking up a big pot of chili, but you used the last of the seasoning with the last batch.

Often a bargain stockpile is exactly like that. You have only part of what you need to create a meal. This necessitates a trip to the store, which is not going to happen in the event of an emergency.

Another concern with the bargain stockpile is that it often consists of unhealthy, highly processed foods. You don’t get coupons for healthy unadulterated items too often. You get coupons for Pop-Tarts, macaroni and cheese in cardboard boxes, just-add-meat meals that are loaded with MSG, or boxes of sugar-laden cereal.  These are hardly the foods you want to fuel you through an emergency.

And finally, these foods, although they are considered shelf stable, don’t have a long shelf life, at least not by prepper standards. Particularly if they are left in their original packaging, you cannot expect to get more than a year out of most items. Many deeply discounted items are already precariously close to their “Best By” dates.

That is not to say the “best buy” dates are equivalent to “time to throw out dates”, but many packaged and processed foods are not impervious to moisture and humidity and will suffer degradation over a short period of time.  (You can read more about food expiration dates in What You Need to Know About Eating Expired Food.)

 Even though you can probably still consume stockpiled packaged foods past the date, you won’t be able to stash these items away for years.  Although I am just guessing, I imagine that there could be a fair bit of waste from expired food from some of those bargain stockpiles that look like Wal-Mart is using a corner of the basement for overflow storage.

On the bright side, a bargain stockpile can come in very handy for items that don’t expire. Things like band-aids, lotion, soap, laundry supplies, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and toothpaste, for example, can be stacked to the rafters and used for years to come.

Emergency Food Supply

An emergency food supply is made up of items that have been specifically chosen for qualities like longevity, nutrition, and ease of cooking without a power supply.

Normally, great care is taken with the storage of an emergency food supply. Items are packed in Mylar, with the proper desiccants or oxygen absorbers, and then stashed away in a food safe bucket.

More attention is paid to nutrition in an emergency food supply. Preppers are careful to ensure that they have an adequate balance of bioavailable nutrients, such a protein sources, fruits and vegetables, and carbohydrates. This helps meet the needs of a hard-working family during an emergency.

An emergency food supply can stand on its own, without the need to add fresh foods to make the meal tasty and balanced. In an emergency, you won’t be able to pick up a pound of ground beef to go into your Hamburger Helper, nor will you have the makings of a salad in the crisper drawer.

Finally, an emergency food supply takes into consideration the limitations of an emergency. You may not have power, so many of the foods in an emergency supply only require the addition of boiling water. While things like beans and rice are stocked, it’s understood that these foods may not be usable in every situation because of their lengthy cooking times.

Items you might find in an emergency food supply are canned goods, freeze-dried meals, whole grains, and dehydrated fruits and vegetables.

You Need a Plan to Build an Emergency Food Supply

Clearly, if your intention is to get prepared, you need to be focusing on an emergency food supply. Every situation is different. Before you begin building your supply, consider the following questions:

How will you cook in an emergency?Do you have a good back-up water supply for an emergency?How much space can you dedicate to your supply?Do you have any special climate concerns for food storage? (For example, is your climate damp? Extremely hot or extremely cold? All of these affect what type of storage will work best for you.)How many people are you preparing for?Do any family members have special dietary restrictions?

Once you have determined the answers to these questions, you are ready to start building your supply. Focus on these qualities when building your emergency food supply.

Quality of nutrients – get the very best quality of food you can afford, instead of the GMO, sugar-and-chemical laden, cheapo offeringsEase of cookingLongevity on the shelf – I really like number 10 cans and Mylar packed in bucketsCompact food – freeze dried food takes up far less space than canned goods, and is light and easily portableAmount of water you will have available – freeze dried food uses tons of water, whereas canned food often contains extra water to help keep you hydratedDietary restrictions – you may need to avoid things like gluten, lactose, peanuts, or other allergens. An emergency is no time to risk a bad reaction to foodStorage requirements – take the time to pack your food away carefully, defending against the enemies of food storage.

Of course, this is just brushing the surface. There is a lot more to building a food supply, so if you would like more detailed information about building an emergency food supply, you can find it HERE.

The Final Word

While both bargain stockpiling and emergency food supplies have their places in preparedness, don’t rely on only bargain stockpiling to prep for an emergency. Nearly everyone has a limit to how much they can store. Do not waste your precious space on things that will be useless in the face of disaster.

With careful planning, you can work bargains into your well-thought out supply, but don’t buy things you don’t need, just because they are cheap.

One Missed Paycheck From Disaster

What would it mean to you if you had an unexpected trip to the emergency room? If your car required an expensive repair? What if your income was interrupted for a week, or two weeks, or even longer? Do you have an emergency fund built into your budget to see you through these everyday calamities, or are you only one missed paycheck from disaster?

According to a recent survey released by Bankrate, 63% of Americans do not have the emergency savings to take care of a crisis that costs $1000 or more. How do people handle unexpected expenses? According to the survey:

40% would use savings23% would reduce other spending to cover the expense15% would use credit cards15% would borrow from friends or family

Many said they had no idea how they would cover an unexpected expense of this magnitude.

So what about you? Do you have an emergency fund? It’s really just one more prep that you should put aside for a rainy day.

An emergency fund is a vital prep

When your finances are tight, sometimes your first impulse is to spend every dime.  Many people focus on things like paying off debts, stocking up on food and supplies, or paying more than the minimum payments on bills.

However, that may not be your best bet.  Don’t get me wrong – paying off debt is absolutely vital,  but most experts recommend establishing an emergency fund as the first step back to financial security. There are several reasons why this should be a priority for you:

What if you suddenly lost your job and it was 6-8 weeks before unemployment payments began to trickle in?What if your child suffered a medical emergency and you needed to purchase an expensive medication?What if your refrigerator began making a death rattle and you needed to buy a new one immediately in order to save your expensive frozen food stockpile?What if your car, that you needed to get back and forth to work, required a costly repair?

The reasons you might need to tap into an emergency fund are as varied as the news headlines – there are many different disasters that can arise, and nearly every single one of them will require that you have some additional funds available.  You simply cannot call yourself “prepared” if you don’t have currency on hand to see you through the rough spots.

It’s important NOT to rely on credit cards, overdraft, and lines of credit for these unexpected events – these things will cost you far more in interest in the long run. Credit cards are NOT an emergency fund. An emergency fund is currency that you have on hand that will not cost your interest. Don’t make your personal disaster worse than it already is by paying compounded interest on it for the next two years.

How much should be in your emergency fund?

This is one of those numbers that will vary with different families. Most experts recommend a starting point of 1-3 months of expenses. And by expenses, I mean everything from house payments to car payments to projected utilities to food costs.

Don’t underestimate how much it takes to run your household every month – be sure to account for all of the regular expenses you might need to cover during an emergency situation.

In addition to an emergency fund in cash, other prepper items can help see you through a rough spot. Your general supply stockpile and your food pantry mean you have to spend less money on day to day items when times are tough.

When budgets are tight, how can you bankroll your emergency fund?

If you don’t have some rainy day money set aside, it is of the utmost importance that you fund this right away It’s time to change your financial lifestyle.   This isn’t really fun, but the economy is continuing to freefall (despite the blithe reports from the White House and mainstream media). Hardcore frugality is the answer. If you don’t have enough money set aside to weather a crisis, then you need to cut your spending to the bone until you do.

Most of us have some places that we can cut the budget. To put it into perspective, a fancy frozen coffee concoction from Starbucks is about $6.  Today,  the price of silver is just under $20 per ounce.   Three and a half days without Starbucks =1 ounce of silver.  Exercise some “tough love” and strip your budget down to the bare bones until you have a months worth of expenses put aside.Sell something.  Do you have a basement full of unused relics? Exercise equipment, old furniture, unused appliances -all of these things taking up valuable storage real estate can help you to establish your emergency fund.  Hang on to things like gold and silver jewelry, though – it will increase in value.Get a second job. You don’t have to plan to work two jobs indefinitely, but spending one day a week babysitting or taking on a different part time job can help you get your savings into the comfort zone.Make only your minimum payments.  I realize this is not the standard financial recommendation, but until you have a one-month rainy day fund set aside, you should forgo making the extra payments even on interest-bearing accounts.Eat cheap for a few months.  If you can manage one cheapo meal a day, this can result in massive savings. Look into different meals that are less than a dollar per serving – generally these will be vegetarian offerings like beans and rice, a bowl of cereal, or eggs and toast. Soup is also a great budget-stretcher.  Cheap doesn’t have to mean unhealthy – we never eat things like Ramen noodles in our family but we manage to have frequent low-budget meals that are tasty and filling. For the love of Pete, don’t eat out – the cost per serving is 5-10 times the cost of making the same dish at home.Get rid of some fixed expenses. If you can get rid of some of your monthly fixed expenses, you can build your emergency fund very quickly. Cancel gym memberships, extracurricular activities, phones, satellite, cable and internet.  Funnel all of that money towards your emergency fund. Once the fund is built, you may discover you didn’t really need those services as much as you thought you did.

What constitutes an “emergency” worthy of dipping into the fund?

Once you have your emergency fund established, you might wonder, “What can I spend this on?”

Ideally, nothing. The goal is never to spend this money.  This little safe full of money squirreled away is there for situations that cannot be addressed with your regular income.

Here are some things that are NOT emergencies:

Trips to the mallConcert ticketsVacationsYour 346th pair of shoesA celebratory dinner at a nice restaurantCell phone bill

As yourself a few questions. Will it cost me more money if I do this later rather than sooner?  Is the expenditure related to a safety issue?  Is the expenditure related to a health issue? When will you have the money to pay for this out of your regular income?

RefrigeratorCar RepairMedication/Medical BillWashing Machine (not in all situations, but if you have a baby in cloth diapers it’s pretty vital!)Utilities that will result in reinstatement charges

Only you can judge whether or not an event constitutes an emergency.  If you must use money from your emergency fund, make it a priority to replace that withdrawal as quickly as possible.

Make this the year you get your finances under control

If you don’t have an emergency fund, take your preparedness to the next level.   Get financially prepped for those unexpected “rainy day” moments. Then, make a concentrated effort to reduce (or completely get rid of) debt. If a financial disaster were to strike, the less debt you have, the fewer payments you would have to make until you got back on your feet.  Other preps will go a long way toward helping you through a financial emergency, too. Never underestimate the value of a fully loaded pantry.

For those of you with a little bit of money squirreled away,  have you ever experienced an event that made you relieved that you had an emergency fund?  Your comments can be very inspiring to those who are new to preparedness

You Don't Have to Spend Money Every Day

Having a budget, in principle, means that you’ve set limits for how much money you’ll spend on certain things. Instead, we often treat as an optional goal. Because, really, you can’t stop yourself from spending money sometimes. Right?

As personal finance blog Enemy of Debt points out, not really. Aside from recurring bills and necessary expenses, it’s not really necessary to spend money every single day, or even every week. Many of us will applaud ourselves for not eating out this week, when this could easily be the norm:

I’m not going to pretend for a minute that I can go through daily life without spending any money. There are bills to pay, and necessities to buy. But outside of just the basic cost of living, why do we expect to spend money? After the basic cost of living expenses are taken care of, I have a warm home, food in the cupboard, clothes in the closet and countless ways of entertaining myself.

Yet, I enter the weekend with the full expectation of spending money. In fact we go looking for ways to spend money. My wife and I actually have discussions regarding what we want to do. It’s almost like we brainstorm ways to spend our money, and we always succeed. Most of the time we find ourselves with more ways to spend our money than we have funds. We determine which activities would bring the most value to our lives. Which is all well and good, but do you know what has never happened?

We’ve NEVER come to the conclusion that NONE of the ideas for a given weekend were worth of our hard earned cash.

The option of simply not spending money often fails to occur to many of us. We may look at two different options for a night out—say going to a fancy restaurant, or simply getting chinese food and watching a movie—but no matter what your choices are, there’s always the third option: don’t spend money. Find something to do in your own home (or a friend’s!) that’s cost-free. Obviously this mindset doesn’t apply to bills, but when you consider it for your extraneous expenses, it can change how you view the real cost of your spending.

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