Monday, August 3, 2015

How to afford being a prepper...

Being a prepper can get expensive!  There's lots of stuff you probably want to get - reference books, food, buckets & lids, first aid supplies, guns & ammo, knives, tools, pressure canners, jars, lids, dehydrators, backpacks, and lots of other gear. On top of all that stuff, you may need to move to a safer location and buy some land to homestead. Perhaps a pickup truck is on your wish list. You probably also want to get out of debt, build some emergency savings, and maybe buy some silver and gold.  And don't forget about the cost of learning new sills, such as first aid classes and self-defense courses. How on earth are you going to afford all that?

Think. Research. Plan. Then, Buy.

When faced with the stark reality of the problems we face, an understandable desire to rush out and buy a bunch of food, ammo, and other supplies often hits people. We feel threatened, and buying stuff makes us feel like we're doing something about it.

Resist that temptation. Instead, take the time to calmly think through your situation, formulate a plan, determine your actual needs, prioritize those needs, do your research, and then spend your limited money in a thoughtful and organized way. This will help you make fewer, and less costly, mistakes then if you just rush out on a spending spree.

Learn from the experiences of others. Prepper Webiste is an excellent source of current links to  articles and blog posts of preppers and survivalists of all sorts. Totally Homestead is a great source of links to various homesteading websites and blogs. Make use of these two resources.

Want a good idea of what might happen in an economic and political crisis? Learn from history. Although no two countries, and no two crisis, will ever be exactly alike, there are lots of things we can learn from past events. I HIGHLY recommend Fernando Aguirre's book The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse. Based on his experiences having lived through the collapse of Argentina's economy and the rise of a socialist dictatorship, Aguirre doesn't rely on theories of what might happen, but gives lots of concrete examples of what actually happened during and after an economic collapse.

Before making purchases, check a number of reviews to make sure that the item in question is what you want and expect.  I've posted a number of book and knife reviews on this website. There are lots of reviews on Amazon. You Tube is also a great source of reviews. 

A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned.

This maxim by Benjamin Franklin is very true. If you can find $25 worth of savings from you budget, then you suddenly have $25 more to spend on your preparations. It is as if you earned an extra $25. Most of us think our budgets are already fairly tight, so you may be wondering How can I save money? 

First, realize that small purchases add up to big money.  Money spent on little things - sodas, snacks, and impulse items of all sorts - can add up really quickly. A great example is a guy I used to work with who constantly complained about not having any money. Every afternoon he would head down to the break room and buy a Pepsi and a Snickers bar from the vending machine. It was only a $1.75, but he spent that money five days a week. Over the course of a year, that adds up to almost $450.

Ideas to Avoid Impulse Purchases:
  • Don't to pay attention to TV, radio, or print ads. Hit the mute button. or simply don't watch or read the ads.
  • Don't watch infomercials or home shopping channels.
  • Leave junk mail unopened. Recycle catalogs, fliers, and leaflets unread.
  • Don't use shopping as a form of entertainment or a means to relax. Don't go to the mall or shopping center just to have something to do.
  • Avoid social shopping with friends. People tend to talk each other into things, not out of them.
  • Shop only with lists, and stick to them.
  •  Don't browse Amazon, eBay, or other Internet sites. Shop them the same way you would a physical store - with a list.
  • Shop with cash only. Spending cash feels more real than using checks or credit cards, so you are apt to spend less.
  • If you do find an item you think you can't do without, wait at least 24 hours before buying it. Chances are the impulse will pass.
Second, look to big categories for big savings. This list may both inspire & horrify you:

1- Stop smoking. In my home state of NC, a pack-a-day habit will cost you more than $2000 a year. In many other states the cost is much higher (due mainly to taxes). Think how much food storage or ammo you could buy this year just by not smoking. Or how much debt you could pay off.

2- Conquer your other addictions. It is not just smoking which is costly, but all addictions - alcohol, gambling, drugs, etc. Not only are they bad for your health (physical and emotional), but they wreck havoc on your financial life, too.

3- Brown bag your lunch. Many of us eat out for lurch during the week, but this can be costly, even if you stick to the fast food value meals. If you spend just $5 a lunch eating out (and you probably average more unless you truly do stick to the dollar menu at McDonald's), it will cost you over $1200 a year.

4- Skip the next version of your iPhone, iPad, and other electronic toys. It will cost you hundreds of dollars to impress people by having the absolute latest toy. Do you really care that much about impressing others? If so, why? Besides, there is rarely hundreds of dollars worth of improvements from one version to the next.

5- Drastically reduce your entertainment expenses. Watch a DVD at home instead of going to the movies. Get a library card (lots of free knowledge and entertainment). Have a family game night at home. Cut back on your cable/satellite TV package (going from the EVERYTHING INCLUDED package to a more basic package could save you more than $100/month, $1200/year).

6- Skip the expensive vacation. "Staycations" are the hot new trend anyway. Stay home, relax, and visit local swimming pools, parks, and museums. The savings will range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on your family size and what your normal vacation is.

7- Shop around for a better deal on your bank accounts. Fees vary widely between financial institutions. Be especially aware of over draft fees. Switching from a high cost mega-bank to a low cost credit union potentially could save you hundreds of dollars a year. Same goes for your car insurance, home owners insurance, and other financial products. If you haven't shopped around lately, you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars worth of savings.

8- Don't ever take a pay-day loan. These loans are stunningly overpriced, and borrowers often get trapped into constantly taking out these loans each payday. If you really need short-term cash, talk to your bank or credit union. Many have started programs similar to pay-day loans, but with a much less expensive interest rates. If you really are desperate for a one-time short-term loan, take the uncomfortable step of asking a friend, family member, or even your church for help.

9- Drop the gym bill. Unless you are a professional bodybuilder, there are cheaper ways to get the exercise you need. Walk, ride a bike, go hiking on the weekends, get an exercise DVD or two, do your own yard work (use a push mower), garden, buy a set of barbells or free weights (and use them), get a jump rope, do yoga at home (get a friend to join you)... Depending on what your gym charges, the potential savings is hundreds of dollars a year or more. 

Ways to Raise Money

I wish I had a magic solution to the problem of how to raise money for prepping, but I don't. No one, not even Uncle Sam, is giving out free money for people to become more self-reliant. The only ways to raise money that I know of entail sacrifice of time, talent, effort, or property. Here is my list of ways to raise money:
  • Get a raise, or more hours, at your primary job. Tough to do during bad economic times, I know, but a great way to raise extra money if you can pull it off.
  • Get a second, or third, job. In my twenties, worked a second job for years at a B. Dalton Booksellers, mostly on weekends. It only netted me about $80/week (this was 20 years ago), but over the course of a year that was more than $4,000. A second job will pay off a lot of debt or buy a lot of supplies.
  • Do odd jobs. Can you sew, tutor, mow lawns, bake, babysit, or do "handyman" jobs? Post or handout fliers around your community. If you have a pick-up truck or van, you can rent it & yourself out for a lot of odd jobs involving hauling.
  • Start you own side-business. Perhaps one you could eventually turn into a full-time business. Some ideas include gardening and lawn care, small engine repair, tinkering (repairing/sharpening knives, tools, and other small metal items), leather-working, wood-working, catering, making/selling gift baskets, auto-detailing, Camper & RV cleaning service... 
  • Collect money owed to you. If you loaned money to a friend or relative, it is time to collect. Asking a friend or family member to pay back money you've lent them is uncomfortable, and may lead to some icy Sunday dinners at Grandma's, but it is your money after all. And you need it.
  • Cancel your subscriptions. Most newspapers and magazines will refund the unused portion of your subscription when you cancel. It might not be much, but every little bit helps.
  • Hold a yard or garage sale. Get rid of your junk and un-clutter your life while making a few bucks. If you live in an apartment, maybe there is a nearby flea market you can sale your stuff at? Or ask a friend if you can hold the yard sale at their place.
  • Sell your stuff online. Half.com is a great place to sell books, DVDs and CDs. I have had much success selling my stuff there. Of course, eBay is also a great place to sell all types of stuff.
  • Sell big-ticket items in your local classified ads. This is a great way to sell individual items such as ATVs, exercise equipment, furniture, electronics, and so forth.
  • Rent out a room. If you have a spare bedroom, consider renting it out. If you rent an apartment, consider taking a roommate. Be careful who you are renting to, of course, checking references and so forth. And be sure to use a written contract!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Patriots' Prayers for 8-2-2015

What is wrong with America goes well beyond politics & economics. It is a spiritual sickness which infects the USA. No politician, no election, no piece of legislation, will cure spiritual sickness. We must appeal to a Higher Authority for that kind of healing. Patriots' Prayers is an ongoing feature appearing each Sunday. Please join me in praying for America.

 
1) Please continue to pray the Prayer For Forgiveness and Repentance of the United States

Save and protect, O Lord, these United States of America and have mercy on us. As a nation, we have turned our backs on you and have sinned. We have allowed our God-given liberties to be taken away. We have allowed the epidemic of abortion to fester out of control. We have allowed prayer to be eliminated from our schools, and Your Word and commandments to be banned from our public squares. We have allowed Your place in our nation’s history to be erased from our textbooks and our minds. We have turned our backs on Your teachings. We no longer look to You and Your Word for our standards of right and wrong, replacing those absolute truths with the whim of our own opinions.  We have allowed decadence and depravity of all sorts to become public and commonplace. Common decency has become a thing of the past. We confess these and all our sins to You and ask forgiveness for ourselves and our nation. Bring us to a state of true repentance - a returning to You - as both individuals and as a nation. We confess Your lordship over every aspect of our lives and our nation. Help us to follow You once again. Restore your mercy and blessings to these United States of America, and re-establish a hedge of protection around us. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

Supporting Verses: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." --2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)

"So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one." --Ezekiel 22:30 (NKJV)

2) Continue to pray these Additional Prayers
  • Grant, O Lord, blessings and mercies to all current and former members of our armed forces. Protect them and keep them safe.
  • Bless, O Lord, and have mercy on those who serve as police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, and other first responders.  
  • Remember, O Lord, and have mercy upon the whole clergy of Your Church, and grant them the wisdom and strength needed to boldly preach and do Your will during these perilous times. 
  • Bless, O Lord, and have mercy on President Obama. Grant him wisdom, so that he serves Your Will. Block any of his plots and schemes that run counter to Your good and perfect Will, or that threaten the inalienable rights You have given to us.
  • Save, O Lord, and have mercy upon the State of Israel. Shield it with Your love, protect it, and let it know peace. Send Your light and wisdom to its leaders, and direct them with Your good counsel. 
3) Watch Warwick Marsh's Prayer for America, and Pray with Him: 

 
4) Other Points to Pray About Today and Throughout the Week
  • Continue to pray that God uses the news about Planned Parenthood and the selling of baby body parts to convince people of the evil of abortion. Further, pray that God use this horrific news to motive Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • Continue to pray that the disastrous Iran nuclear deal be blocked by Congress, and that the evil Iranian regime be blocked from ever obtaining nuclear weapons. 
5) "Homework" Assignments for the Week
  • If you are not attending a local church on a regular basis, please begin to prayerfully seek one out. You may also wish to consider attending a home church, or starting one yourself.
  • This week's gospel reading is John 15: 1-17.
  • This week's epistle reading is 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13. 
  • This week's Old Testament reading is 2 Chronicles 7: 11-22
  • Check back next Sunday for next week's Patriots' Prayers!

 LET PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT PATRIOTS' PRAYERS!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Patriots' Prayers for 7-26-2015

What is wrong with America goes well beyond politics & economics. It is a spiritual sickness which infects the USA. No politician, no election, no piece of legislation, will cure spiritual sickness. We must appeal to a Higher Authority for that kind of healing. Patriots' Prayers is an ongoing feature appearing each Sunday. Please join me in praying for America.

Prayer For Forgiveness and Repentance of the United States

Save and protect, O Lord, these United States of America and have mercy on us. As a nation, we have turned our backs on you and have sinned. We have allowed our God-given liberties to be taken away. We have allowed the epidemic of abortion to fester out of control. We have allowed prayer to be eliminated from our schools, and Your Word and commandments to be banned from our public squares. We have allowed Your place in our nation’s history to be erased from our textbooks and our minds. We have turned our backs on Your teachings. We no longer look to You and Your Word for our standards of right and wrong, replacing those absolute truths with the whim of our own opinions.  We have allowed decadence and depravity of all sorts to become public and commonplace. Common decency has become a thing of the past. We confess these and all our sins to You and ask forgiveness for ourselves and our nation. Bring us to a state of true repentance - a returning to You - as both individuals and as a nation. We confess Your lordship over every aspect of our lives and our nation. Help us to follow You once again. Restore your mercy and blessings to these United States of America, and re-establish a hedge of protection around us. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

Verse of the Week: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." --2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)

Additional Prayers
  • Grant, O Lord, blessings and mercies to all current and former members of our armed forces. Protect them and keep them safe.
  • Bless, O Lord, and have mercy on those who serve as police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, and other first responders.  
  • Remember, O Lord, and have mercy upon the whole clergy of Your Church, and grant them the wisdom and strength needed to boldly preach and do Your will during these perilous times. 
  • Bless, O Lord, and have mercy on President Obama. Grant him wisdom, so that he serves Your Will. Block any of his plots and schemes that run counter to Your good and perfect Will, or that threaten the inalienable rights You have given to us.
  • Save, O Lord, and have mercy upon the State of Israel. Shield it with Your love, protect it, and let it know peace. Send Your light and wisdom to its leaders, and direct them with Your good counsel.
Other Points to Pray About Today and Throughout the Week
  • Pray that God uses the news about Planned Parenthood and the selling of baby body parts to convince people of the evil of abortion. Further, pray that God use this horrific news to motive Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • Pray that the disastrous Iran nuclear deal be blocked by Congress, and that the evil Iranian regime be blocked from ever obtaining nuclear weapons. 
"Homework" Assignments for the Week
  • Share this week's Patriots' Prayers with at least two other Christians this week. Pray together if possible. 
  • This week's gospel reading is John 3: 1-21.
  • This week's epistle reading is Ephesians 6: 10-18. 
  • This week's Old Testament reading is Psalm 51. 
  • Check back next Sunday for next week's Patriots' Prayers!

 LET PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT PATRIOTS' PRAYERS!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Basic Starter Tool Kit

When I was living in apartments back in the day, it surprised me how many of my neighbors had no tools whatsoever. I know this, because wherever I lived, I quickly became known as that guy with the tools - that my neighbors would constantly ask to borrow! Even basic tools like hammers and screwdrivers were in short supply with many of my fellow apartment dwellers. This post is for those folks who are completely new to the do-it-yourself world of self-reliance, as I explain what should be in a basic starter tool kit everyone should own. 

First, start with a basic Claw Hammer. Hammers are for, well, hammering, usually nails into things. The claw part on the opposite side from the head is used for extracting nails. Hammers can also be used to knock things apart, which can be a rather fun way of relieving stress, though that is strictly an "off-label" use!  For your starter kit, I suggest a 7 oz. hammer, though as you build your tool kit you'll want to add a heavier hammer and perhaps specialty hammers at some point.

Next, you need some screwdrivers. At a bare minimum for your starter set, I suggest four - two Phillips head (the ones that like kinda like a cross) in sizes #1 and #2, and two flat head screwdrivers (the ones with a straight edge) in sixes 3/16 and 1/4. You can buy screwdrivers in various lengths, but you'll probably start with six-inch ones. As you add to your tool kit over time, you'll probably want to add different lengths, sizes, and styles (yes, there are many more styles than just the most common Phillips- and flat- head screwdrivers). You can also buy screwdrivers with interchangeable bits, whcih can be a space saver.

You will also want a pair of needle-nose pliers (six-inch) and regular pliers (six-inch). Pliers are great for gripping, holding, bending, and twisting things (which can be surprisingly useful activities). The needle-nose pliers typically also come with built-in wire cutters/strippers, which can also be useful. Both regular and meddle-nose pliers come in various styles and sizes, and you'll be adding to your starter kit over time.

An adjustable wrench should also be part of your starter tool kit. Like other tools, they come in various sizes, and you'll probably get a larger one at some point (the big ones can get surprising expensive), but you should be okay starting out with the standard six-inch in length with a 3/4 inch opening.

A retractable tape measure will prove to be an invaluable addition to your starter tool kit, provided you use it, as it wil keep you from making too many mistakes. You can get them in almost any length imaginable, but I recommend a ten- or twelve-foot one for your starter kit. You can get longer ones later, if you need to...

A bubble level, sometimes called a spirit level, will help you make sure that pictures frames, tables, and other items are level. You could use a marble, but a level really is more convenient.

An Allen wrench set, also called a hex-wrench set,  are those weird-looking, L-shaped, hexagonal pieces of metal, that are surprising useful for putting together those some-assembly-required pieces of furniture you buy at the big box stores, among other things. They come in both SAE and metric sizes, and you'll want a set of each.

You'll also want to add a good utility knife/box-cutter to your starter kit. Great for cutting things. I also find a good, sturdy pair of scissors quite useful.

A final item to consider for your basic starter tool kit is a set of precision screwdrivers. There screwdrivers are especially deigned to fit very small screws, like those found on eyeglasses & sunglasses, and in watches & various electronics. Like regular screwdrivers, precision screwdrivers come in various lengths, sizes, and styles. For your starter tool kit, just get a basic set.

At this point, your most basic starter tool kit is complete.You'll probably want to add a bag, box, or case of some sort to store your tools in, to keep them together so you can actually find them when you need them.

You'll also find it handy to go ahead and buy a variety of hardware (items like nails, screws, bolts & nuts, picture-hanging wire, etc). You can typically find small kits of various hardware at the big-box stores. Don't forget duct tape!

For a more complete discussion of tools, see I recommend the book by James Wesley, Rawles Tools for Survival

As you build your tool kit and workshop. don't forget about safety equipment like protective eye-wear, gloves, aprons, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and first aid kits! (Seriously, safety is important.  See my article Prepper Workshop and DIY Safety.)




Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Getting Out of Babylon!

In my Six-point Plan for Taking Back America, one of the points is for traditional Americans* to not participate in the Fall of America and Western Civilization. This idea has been given in many different ways by many different people: Get out of Babylon. Don't feed the beast. Go Galt. Be in the world, but not of the world. In other words, get out of the system.

Make no mistake - the new system that is being established by the Elites and progressives is unsustainable and will ultimately collapse. This system will be especially harsh for Christians, Jews, and traditional Americans, who will eventually experience open persecution from the new system (and will be initially blamed when its inevitable collapse comes.

If you are a Christian, Jew, or traditional American of any stripe, you need to get out of Babylon (the system) to protect yourself and your family. By getting out of the system now, you will be less controlled by the elites and less exposed the dangers of their system. You will also be denying them the resources, opportunities, and influences they need in building their system. And by surviving the coming collapse, you will be in a position to help restore traditional America, and even to build a better system for your children and grandchildren. But this begs the question,  how can you get out of the system? Here are some ideas:

Get out of the cities and suburbs. It may be possible to live in a big city without being tainted by Babylon, but it would be incredibly hard, and you are putting your family at risk. Move to more rural areas of the country. Set up an off-grid homestead (or at least as off-grid as reasonably possible) in an out-of-the-way location. This doesn't have to be an isolated mountain retreat, but it defiantly isn't in a city. The outskirts of a small ton in a rural part of the country, with no mega-cities nearby, may be an excellent location to build a new life. Preferably build it with a community of like-minded traditional Americans, even if you have to create that community yourselves.

This and the other ideas presented here will be difficult to accomplish, and will require hard work and sacrifice to achieve. But the time of business-as-usual is past. You family's survival is worth the effort and sacrifice.

Get out of the pop culture and entertainment system. Cancel your cable or satellite TV. Seek out wholesome entertainment, and learn to entertain yourselves. Take a walk with your spouse or with a friend. Play with your kids in the backyard. Invite friends over for a movie night (with the DVD checked out from your local library for free). Next week they can invite you over. Have family game nights. Have a cook-out with your neighbors or fellow church members.

Get out of the doomed financial system. Stop using credit cards and get out of debt. Remember the saying "The borrower is slave to the lender." Greatly reduce your expenses. Get you finances in order (see my article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back to Basics). Develop useful skills that you could turn into your own business. Begin moving to a barter and cash-only basis as much as reasonably possible, minimizing your dealings with large banks (prefer credit unions and small regional banks for what banking needs you have). Turn some of your money into junk silver (or even a few gold coins if you have the money).

Get your children out of the public school system. Homeschool your children, or at least send them to a good private or parochial school. Separate your family from the failed public school system. Public schools, even the few good ones, are little more than indoctrination camps for the new system being built by the elites and progressives.

Get out of our failing healthcare system. Take care of your health. Learn to eat simple, healthy foods. Avoid over-eating (Americans typically eat huge serving sizes which is a major cause of the obesity problem). Get fit. Have a physically active lifestyle. Get adequate sleep on a consistent basis. Learn about herbal and alternative medicine.

Get out of liberal/progressive churches and synagogues. Many of our churches have tried to adapt themselves to the modern world system, compromising the Gospel message in the process. Does political correctness reign supreme at your church, or does the Lord Jesus Christ reign? Is right and wrong determined by the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus, or does your church look to "modern sensibilities" in issues of right and wrong?

Other Tips: 

Become a part of a home church, even if you continue to participate for now in your larger church. Future crackdowns on traditional-values churches by the government are likely in the coming years. Having a small group bible study that could become a worship group (home church) may be very useful should the church in America ever be forced underground.

Build Self-Reliance (see my articles What is Self-Reliance? and Three Foundations of Self-Reliance). Learn skills. Especially learn useful skills that you could turn into your own business (yes, this is the second time I've mentioned this point - it is important). Get prepared for the worst that may happen (see my article A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End).

Reuse. Repair. Repurpose. Recycle. Reduce. The less you need from sources other than yourself and your family/community, the better off you will be.

Reduce your "stuff." De-clutter your life. Selling off your unneeded junk can help you pay off debt and raise money for more important matters. You'll be surprised by how much this will uncomplicate your life. It also opens up storage space for important supplies, like food and water.

Grow as much of your own food as possible. New to gardening? A good resource is Daxton Brown's book Going Galt: Survival Gardening.

Stockpile food and water.
Same goes for medical and first aid supplies, cleaning and sanitation supplies, personal hygiene supplies, clothing, batteries, ammunition, etc. This will limit your exposure to our just-in-time manufacturing, distribution, and inventory systems.

Develop a taste for a simpler life.
Simply your lifestyle and reduce your spending. Separate yourself from the system of rabid consumerism. The simple life is less costly, more wholesome, more enjoyable, more honorable, and allows you to retain more control of your life. Be less materialistic, less trendy, less fashionable, and more happy. Get your priorities in order - God and family first. Focus on Jesus and his teachings. Don't try to "keep up with the Joneses." Care much less about what others think.

NOTE:
An interesting You Tube video to watch on this subject is by Joe Fox (VikingPreparedness): "Come out of her" - what's that even mean? (link is to the video on You Tube).

* I define Traditional Americans as those folks who still believe in the Constitution and the founding beliefs and values of our country, including Judeo-Christian ethics and beliefs, hard work, self-reliance, personal accountability, free-market capitalism, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, and the traditional family.