Monday, September 17, 2018

18 Easy Ways to Save Money

Money Mondays continues (see index at bottom)...

Looking to save money to pay off debt, build savings, or buy prepper supplies?  Here are 18 Easy Ways to Save Money:

1- Avoid impulse purchases by shopping with checklists, and sticking to the lists.

(Many folks don't pay attention to impulse purchases because they tend to be quite small - only a few bucks -  but those small individual purchase add up to big money fast. Averaging just three dollars a day will add up to over $1,000 in just a year.)

2- See something you want that isn't on your list? Don't buy it. Write it down and add it to your list for next time. Chances are good that after you have had a day or two to think about it, the impulse to buy it will go away.

3- Avoid impulse purchases by paying with cash, not credit or debit cards. This way you will immediately see & feel the pain of the purchase.

(I'm harping on impulse purchases because I'm convinced most people greatly underestimate how much they really spend on these typically small purchases. This is an easy category to save money on IF you are willing to take an honest look at your spending habits.)

4- Avoid shopping for fun or entertainment. Don't go to the mall or shopping center just to have something to do.

5- Avoid social shopping with friends. People tend to talk each other into things, not out of them.

6- Do not watch infomercials or home shopping channels.

7- Do not catalog shop unless you are looking for something specific.

8- Shop for quality not quantity. Something that costs more because it is of better quality and therefore will last longer, will be cheaper in the long run than something that initially costs less, but will wear out or break much quicker. 

(I've bought cheap clothes at Walmart that literally started to unravel and even get holes in them after the very first washing. They may cheaper than better clothes, but that are NOT less expensive in the long run.)

9- Stick with classic styles and colors, rather than styles that are "in" at the moment. Avoid fads.

10- Consider renting something instead of buying it if you will only use it once or very occasionally.

(Examples may include things like carpet cleaners and pressure washers.) 

11- Cancel newspapers and magazines that you don't read thoroughly or truly need professionally. Most will even refund the unused portion of your subscription.

12- Make use of your local library for newspapers, magazines, books, DVDs and CDs. Only buy those that you cannot get for free at the library or that you will use repeatedly.

13- Use coupons whenever possible, but only for items you would buy anyway.

(I've found that generic and store brands are often cheaper than the name brand even when using a coupon. Example: on a recent trip to Walmart, I had a coupon for 50¢ off two cans of Barbasol Saving cream. The regular price of the Equate brand of saving cream was still cheaper.)
 
14- Use sales fliers and the Internet to comparison shop. Prices can vary widely from store to store on the same item.

15- Warehouse stores (Sam's Club, Costco, etc.)  are good ways to save money, but don't assume they are always the cheapest option.  Often times a generic or store brand elsewhere will be just as good and less expensive than a name brand at the warehouse store.

16- Avoid the use of credit cards, charge accounts, rent-to-own, and other forms of debt. You will not only save on interest and other fees, you will most likely buy less in the first place.

17- If you have credit card debt, be extra diligent to make payments on time. The late fees and higher interest rates due to missed or late payments add up fast.

18- Hang out your clothes to dry. Dryers are among the most expensive appliances to run in terms of energy cost.
--------------

This article is part of an ongoing Prepper Financial Series. Here are the other articles in that series:

*** Foundational Advice: Eliminate Debt and Build Savings 
*** Quick Financial Tips for Preppers (and Everyone Else)
*** How To Raise Money For Your Prepping Activities
*** Precious Metals and the Prepper

*** Taming the Family Budget
*** Prepper's Guide to Junk Silver (article from 2014)


Future articles in the Prepper Financial Series will come out on an almost weekly basis, typically on Mondays.
 ------------------

Please subscribe to this website using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

Follow me on GAB at  https://gab.ai/TimGamble

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TimGamble  

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Planning Your Escape: Considerations for Bugging Out



Most people's Plan A should be to "bug in" or "hunker down" during an emergency. But, things may become dangerous in your area (wild fires, power plant accidents, rioters & looters, government actions, etc.), so plan now for your possible escape, should it become necessary. When will you bug-out? Where you will go? How will you get there? What happens if your primary path is blocked? Do you know alternative routes? What should you take with you?  

Here are some considerations for planning your escape:

1- Know when to Bug-Out. This is probably the hardest part of your planning.  The best advice for most people in most situations is to stay put as long as possible. Hunker down where you are, unless and until it becomes too dangerous to do so. You don't want to face the open road during a highly chaotic and dangerous time unless you absolutely have to leave for your own safety.

To put it in simple terms:  Bug-out when doing so is less dangerous than staying where you are.  But, how to know when that is? How do you strike the balance between leaving too early and leaving too late? 

The key is applying situational awareness and the OODA loop (link to my January article) to the developing situation. Pay attention to what's happening, not just on the national level, but especially what's happening on the local level. Local news & talk radio will be more useful to monitor during a crisis than national broadcast and cable news channels. Having the ability to monitor local police and emergency dispatch will also be very useful. Check out Broadcastify for a way to monitor local dispatch via the Internet. Other apps and websites are available. You can also get a hand-held or desktop radio scanners for when the Internet is out.

Use commonsense and rational thinking (don't be overly emotional) to analyze what is going on in your area. The goal is to bug-out when things are obviously going south, but haven't yet spiraled completely out-of-control.

"But what if my Plan A is to bug-out?"  Okay. I get it. Many people feel they have to (or want to) live in a big city or other unsuitable location for riding out TEOTWAWKI.  If your Plan A is bugging-out, then do so as early as possible to avoid the traffic jams, limited fuel supplies, and chaos of the last minute escape.  In your case, it is etter to bug-out too early, then to bug-out too late. You can always return home after you realize it wasn't SHTF after all.

2- Plan a Bug-Out location. Obviously, the best bug-out location is one which you already own and have developed for your needs. But for most of us, that is difficult to do. The next best choice is probably a friend or relative's place. 

Maybe your Uncle George has a fishing cabin in the mountains. Or Great Aunt Ida lives alone in that huge old house on the outskirts of a  small town in the Ozarks. Or Cousin Eddie has a small farm in Kentucky. Talk to them about using their place as a bug-out location. You could even stockpile some food, clothes, and other supplies there ahead of time. You don't even have to move into the house with them. Perhaps you could park a camper or RV in their driveway or backyard.  

Other potential bug-out locations include national or state parks, church retreats, and for-profit campgrounds. 

3- Know how to get to your bug-out location. This means knowing how to get there using at least two different routes (in case one is blocked for some reason) without using GPS or google maps. Practice driving all routes before you need to bug-out for real. Keep directions, maps and a road atlas in your vehicle.

You should also learn the potential "hot spots" in your local area, and along the routes to your bug-out locations. By hot spots, I mean areas that are more likely than others to be dangerous. Examples include heavily urban areas and college campuses which will likely see looting and/or rioting early on. Bad neighborhoods, already dangerous high crime areas, will only be worse during SHTF. Areas with a heavy Muslim population, or near mosques, will be dangerous for non-Muslims (forgive my political incorrectness).  Busy intersections and areas where traffic already snarls during normal rush hours, will likely be impassable during SHTF. Road construction is another potential hot spot, as one or more lanes may be blocked by equipment and materials. 


4- Make sure your vehicle is in good shape, and fueled up.  You're bug-out plans will fail if your vehicle breaks down, or if you run out of gas. Keep your oil changed on a regular basis, and quickly make any necessary repair. Make sure your tires, including spares, are in good shape. Check out my article Preppers' Auto Maintenance Schedule for more on this topic.

5- Put together a small emergency kit for your vehicle. Include things to keep your vehicle running (extra oil, transmission fluid, jumper cables, fix-a-flat, etc.). Include a good flashlight with extra batteries. If you can do basic auto repairs (a great skill to learn), keep some useful tools and spare parts in vehicle. Also include things you might need in an emergency (a first aid kit, a warm blanket, bottles of water, power bars or other food, etc.)

6- Have a Bug Out or Evacuation Bag already packed for each member of your family. Include a change of clothes, some food, water, personal hygiene supplies, individual first aid kit, a compact New Testament or prayer book, flashlight and extra batteries, emergency poncho, and whistle in each bag. Adults and teens should have additional items such as a knife, multi-tool, matches or lighters, duct tape, outdoor survival gear, sewing kits, etc. In the bags of children, be sure to include written information such as name & age of the child, family contact info, and lists of any allergies, medications & health conditions, should the child become separated from the rest of the family. Also include a favorite toy, coloring books, crayons, and/or a few other distractions for the kids. In your bag, be sure to include copies of insurance policies, deeds, birth certificates, vaccination records, medical records, bank numbers, passports, and other personal records (ideally in a small notebook or envelope, and possibly on a USB stick or other digital storage). 

7- Decide what to pack. You may only have time to grab your bug-out bags and go. But, should you have more time to pack your vehicle, decide beforehand what you want to take with you. Possibilities include extra food, water, and clothes, cleaning and hygiene supplies, tools (hand and/or gardening), reference books, camping gear, and even sentimental items such as family photos and heirlooms. Thinking about where you will bug-out to will help you determine what extra items you should take if there is time.
------------------

Please subscribe to this website using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

Follow me on GAB at  https://gab.ai/TimGamble

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TimGamble  


Friday, September 14, 2018

Largest House Church in Beijing Shut Down by the Government


International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on September 9, more than 20 officials from the Chaoyang District Ethnic and Religious Affairs Office and Civil Affairs Bureau raided Zion Church in Beijing. The head pastor, Jin Mingri, was taken away for interrogation and released later on the same day.

Officials posted several notices at Zion Church’s headquarters, located at Longbaochen Commercial Building in Chaoyang District, accusing the church of “conducting unauthorized activities and disturbing social order under the name of civil organization.” As a result, the District’s Civil Affairs Bureau legally banned the church and the use of its “illegal religious venue,” while also confiscating its “illegal promotional material.”

According to Asia News, Zion Church had enjoyed a certain degree of freedom until recently. In April, when the 1,500-member church refused to install closed-circuit television cameras, the government briefly turned off the church’s water and power supplies. Last week, the rented hall the congregation was using became off limits.
“Unlawful dark forces vandalized Zion Church’s sign, but it will not destroy the church that everlasting God has built!”
After seeing the church’s sign destroyed yesterday, Pastor Jin sorrowfully said, “Unlawful dark forces vandalized Zion Church’s sign, but it will not destroy the church that everlasting God has built!”

In response to the crackdown against Zion Church and other Christian communities, hundreds of house church pastors and Christian leaders from around the country signed a joint statement on September 1, publicly expressing their faith and their stance against the government’s denial of religious freedom. The crackdown has included demolishing crosses on church buildings, violently removing religious symbols from Christians’ homes, forcing and threatening churches to join religious organizations sanctioned by the government, forcing churches to hang the national flag or sing secular songs praising the government, banning children from entering churches or receiving religious education, and depriving believers of the right to gather freely.

As of September 7, 305 Christians have signed on to this statement, prepared to bear the potential consequences—even the loss of their freedom and their lives.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The banning of Zion Church, along with the intensified crackdown against Christians in Henan and other provinces in China, demonstrates the government’s absolute disregard for religious freedom. The future awaiting China’s house church Christians should be everyone’s concern. We urge the international community to speak up for persecuted Chinese Christians and be their voice as Beijing tries to mute them and alter their faith to fit into communist ideology.”

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC), You can visit their website at  https://www.persecution.org/ 

Egyptian Christians Report Rising Persecution

Egyptian Government Complicit in Increasing Anti-Christian Violence
 
International Christian Concern (ICC) documented a sharp escalation of attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt within the last two weeks. During these incidents, the violence grew as a result of an absence or delayed presence of security forces. All of the affected churches were seeking official recognition, which sparked the wave of violence. Furthermore, in an attempt by authorities to avoid equally enforcing the law, the affected communities reported an increase in pressure to participate in reconciliation sessions with their attackers.

In Sultan village, three Muslims were arrested on August 24 after trying to burn the church. This is the fifth attack against the village’s Christians since July. The escalation began after Christians began praying in an adjacent church building constructed more than two years ago. 

A Muslim who participated in the mob attack told ICC, “What makes us angry is that when they were building the building where they are praying now, we asked the priest, ‘Is this a church?’ The priest said, ‘No… the owner is building for his kids.’ Now it is as if we have been foolish… we are writing a complaint and we don’t want this priest here in the village.”

It is believed that the situation in Sultan has contributed to the rise of violence against Christians elsewhere in Egypt. A statement issued by the Minya and Abu Qurqas Diocese said, “The extremism in the neighboring village of Sultan has been experienced for weeks because of the lack of deterrence. The infection has spread to this village… [There is] the possibility of spreading your grief to other villages because there is no punishment to the instigators and deterrence to the aggressors.”

The village of Demshaw Hashem experienced an attack on August 31 that left four Copts injured and has continued to escalate. The attackers were protesting the church, which was subsequently closed. Congregants were forced to hold funeral rites in the street on September 6 for an elderly member because of the church closure. On September 9, Christians refused to attend a reconciliation session on the grounds that they want the law applied to the situation.

“We are worried and hope that the new governor will solve our problem,” Mina, who lives in Demshaw village, told ICC. “We are oppressed and cannot express our opinion. The government is controlling the village. The attack has affected the eastern side rather than the western side because of the existing Christian minority, and is currently puzzled by the continuation of these problems for years.” 

Isaac Ibrahim from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, told Watani, “What happened in Damshaw Hashim is not the only one of its kind, but a recurrent pattern in a number of provinces during the recent period in order to shut down existing churches and to make them unsuitable.”  

Meanwhile, in the village of Esna, Christians are still struggling with the consequences of an August mob attack against the church. Five Christians were arrested despite being the victims of the attack. On September 6, the Christians’ jail sentences were extended for another 15 days.

Samuel, a graduate student living in Minya, shared with ICC, “We are living in a no-law state and survival of the fittest. The Christians have great naiveté, so the state treats them as slaves, that’s easy to make them waive their rights.”  

Mohammed, an engineer from Minya who supports violent efforts to close down churches, told ICC, “We do not consider the churches as God’s house… it is a place where polytheists are performing prayer. They are not praying to one God and we would not permit to have such a building among our villages.” 

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “As these attacks demonstrate, an absence of law and security only encourages Islamic hardliners to continue targeting Christians. Rather than working to protect the rights of Christians, the authorities are instead compounding the problem through neglect and a lack of diligence. This combination creates a false sense of legitimacy to the violence facing Christians. The authorities must take a firm stance that it values its citizens equally, regardless of religion.”  

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC), You can visit their website at  https://www.persecution.org/ 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Taming the Family Budget

Having trouble making your budget fit your paycheck? Here are a few ideas that you may find helpful.

Small Purchase = 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. 

We tend to dismiss small purchases as being insignificant - its only a couple of bucks - but when we make a lot of small purchases, those couple of bucks add up to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over time.

Entertainment and Eating Out

 
We all have busy schedules, and eating out is quicker and more convenient than making a meal at home. But it can be expensive, and it really adds up over time. Eating out is a huge piece of most people's budget. A piece that can be easily reduced.

Taking a bag lunch of leftovers to work with you instead of buying lunch at the local fast food eatery will save you big bucks over the course of a year. How much? If you spend five dollars a day for lunch, that is over $1,200 a year. If you are a two-income family with both of you eating out at lunch, this doubles to over $2,400 a year. And we haven't even talked about family dinners out, yet.

Entertainment is a purely optional budget expense. Eliminate it. You can be entertained without spending much, or even any, money. Learn (or re-learn) how to have a good time for free or nearly free. Take a walk with your spouse or with a friend. Start a family game night. Play with your kids in the backyard. Invite friends over for a weekend cook-out, or a movie night (with the DVD checked out from your local library for free). Next week they can invite you over.

Read a book (checked out from the library for free, of course) instead of going to a movie. Libraries are a wonderful source of free entertainment. In addition to books and magazines, many libraries today also offer audio books, movies on DVD, music CDs, and even board games that you can check out. Many have story times for young children and lecture series for adults you can attend for free.


Telecommunications is THE Modern Budget-Buster

When I was a child (the 1970s) the only telecommunications expense my family, most families, had was the telephone, and that was a land line, of course. TV programs were free over-the-air, and there was no Internet. Today, many families pay for a land line, multiple cell phones, texting privileges, special ringtones, cable or satellite TV subscriptions, extra movie channels, Internet connections, gaming and movie subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, etc.), special apps for their $500 (or more) smart phones, even satellite radio subscriptions. For most families major savings can be found in this budget category.

Do you really need a smart phone? Do you really need the absolute latest (and most expensive) version of your smart phone? I have a regular cell phone myself, but it is the basic model that only cost me $19.99 (and I didn't have to commit to a plan). I can text and make phone calls on my cheap phone as easily as you can on your smart phone. A cell phone may be a necessity for many today, but all the expensive bells and whistles are luxuries you probably can do without.

We have allowed them to make us addicted to our smart phones and other electronic devices. Maybe its time to overcome our addictions and spend our money on getting ready for the future instead of funding those million-dollar bonuses of telecom executives.  

The same thing goes for cable or satellite TV. Do you really need to have all the movie channels? Do you really need all the HD channels? Do you really need the expanded package with all the sports channels and all the music channels? Or can you get by just fine with the much less expensive basic package?

Or better yet, do away with TV altogether. Radical idea, but somehow humanity survived for thousands of years before TV, so technically it is possible.

Drop the Vacation

Vacations can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Staycations are a hot new trend. Instead of heading for the beach, or Disneyland, or wherever, stay home. Spend a week visiting local museums, zoos, botanical gardens, historical sites, parks, or wildlife refuges. Go on a picnic or nature hike. Go fishing at a local lake. Play frisbee with your kids in the backyard. Or just relax at home, thinking of all the money you are saving.
--------------

This article is part of an ongoing Prepper Financial Series. Here are the other articles in that series:


*** Foundational Advice: Eliminate Debt and Build Savings 
*** Quick Financial Tips for Preppers (and Everyone Else)
*** How To Raise Money For Your Prepping Activities
*** Precious Metals and the Prepper

Future articles in the Prepper Financial Series will come out on an almost weekly basis.

 ------------------

Please subscribe to this website using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

Follow me on GAB at  https://gab.ai/TimGamble

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TimGamble