Things are starting to look really bad worldwide in terms of economics & geopolitcs, and even for our freedoms here in America. I don't know if "the end of the world as we know it" will happen anytime soon or not, but it is definately a good idea to get prepared now in case it does. Here is what you should be working on NOW:
1) Develop Good Health and Fitness - This is a touchy subject for many people, but improving your health and fitness is one of the most important things anyone can do to increase their chances of survival during a disaster or in a post-SHTF world. This should be on top of everyone's To Do list, even above stockpiling food, water and ammo. Lose weight. Get into shape. Stop smoking. Eat healthy. Visit your Doctor for a checkup. Visit your Dentist and go ahead with any dental work you need.
2) Develop a Good Mental Attitude - Mental attitude plays an enormous role in overcoming adversity, so develop good mental health. I suggest starting with your spiritual side, according to whatever spiritual beliefs you may have. Some suggestions: Pray. Read scripture. Go to Church or Synagogue. Get right with God.
While you're doing that, work on other aspects of your mental health and attitude. Reconnect with nature, family and friends. Work on building new, positive relationships. Don't be afraid of "weeding out" toxic people from your life. Reduce stress by taking up a fun hobby or two, and learning to relax. Be a life-long learner by reading, taking classes, learning new skills...
3) Overcome any addictions in your life. Are you addicted to tobacco, alcohol, legal or illegal drugs? Struggling with pron or gambling addiction? Work on overcoming your addictions as quickly as possible. Yes, I know - easier said than done. But you don't want to be dealing with an addiction in the middle or just after of a SHTF event. You will have enough danger and stress just from the event, without having to add the dangers, and distractions of your addiction on top of that. Especially since you may not be able to "feed" your addiction after the event, and therefore will be dealing with withdrawal, which will have both emotional and physical complications.
4) Reduce Your Consumption of Everything - Adopt a simpler lifestyle. Live well within your means. Be a Saver, not a Consumer. If you had to, could you survive on less than half your current income? You may have to one day...Develop and get used to a simpler, less materialistic lifestyle now. It will be easier on you and your family in the long run.
Yes, this probably means lowering your standard of living, but it needs to be done. Greatly reduce your spending, especially on lifestyle items such as eating out, entertainment, vacations, new cars, designer clothes, and so forth. Consider eliminating your cable or satellite TV, or at the very least subscribing to only the basic package. Downsize your cars to get out from under your car payments. Having a couple of "meat free" days each week can save you big bucks over the course of a year. Take leftovers to work for your lunch. Use coupons, shop sales, compare prices, do whatever it takes to reduce your expenses. If you smoke, stopping will not only be better for your health, but will save you big bucks over the course of a year.
5) Get Out of Debt and Stay Out - Use the savings generated by reducing your consumption of everything to pay off your car loans, credit cards, student loans, payday loans and other consumer debt. If at all possible, pay off your mortgage or at the very least refinance into a lower fixed rate.
Check out Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball Plan on his website.
6) Secure Your Current Assets - Make sure the banks and insurance companies you use are sound (there are rating services you can use, BankRate.com is one, but most importantly ask questions and pay attention to the news). Put a portion of your savings into silver, gold and/or other hard assets. Again, pay off your mortgage if at all possible or at least refinance into a lower fixed rate. Guard against identity theft. Pay your taxes on time and in full (government has extraordinary powers to seize your savings, paycheck, investments, and property to collect back taxes).
7) Become Self-Reliant - Don't wait around for the government, your parents, union leaders, community organizers or anyone else to take care of you. Don't sit around whining that life is unfair, or that someone else has it so much better than you. Learn to take care of yourself. Self-reliance is not anti-social or selfish. In fact, building self-reliance may be one of the most generous things you can do, because the reality is that you will be of no help to your family, friends or neighbors if you are the one in need of help.
For more on Self-Reliance, see my articles What is Self-Reliance and Self-Reliance Mindset.
"Do It Yourself" should become your motto. Learn to grow, make and
repair things, and have the tools and supplies you need to do so. Learn
to garden, and make sure you have all the hoes, shovels, seeds, rich
dirt and other supplies you will need to do so. Learn to can and
preserve food, and make sure your have the equipment and supplies you
need. Learn to sew, and make sure you have the scissors, cloth, thread,
needles and other supplies you need. Learn how to do basic home
maintenance, including plumping and electrical work, and basic auto and
small engine repair. Make sure you have the necessary tools and
See my article Basic Starter Tool Set if you're new to D-I-Y.
8) Stock Up - Here is where most preppers start, but it is number eight on my list. Stock up on food, water, medicine, first aid supplies, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, and other items. Imagine that, for whatever reasons, you are unable to buy anything from any store for a month. What will you run out of first? Second? What else will you eventually run out of?
BONUS STEP: Take Security Seriously - Own and learn how to use a gun (obeying all pertinent laws, of course). Learn situational awareness. Pay attention to what's going on around you. Everyone in your family should take a good course in self-defense. Everyone in your family should learn first aid. Consider moving if you live in or near a bad neighborhood or if your neighborhood is going downhill. Harden your home against outside threats (steps might include installing heavy-duty safety doors, dead bolt locks, burglar bars on windows, additional outside lighting, getting a dog, planting thorny shrubs under windows, etc.). Discuss with your children how to deal with strangers in various situations.
Shooter's Bible Guide to Home Defense: A Comprehensive Handbook on How to Protect Your Property from Intrusion and Invasion
Shooter's Bible Guide to Concealed Carry: A Beginner's Guide to Armed Defense