Sunday, April 26, 2015

Top 10 Skills You Really Need to Survive

This list is NOT the typical list of homesteading skills, wilderness survival skills or bush-craft skills. Rather, it is a list of real-world skills that will prove extremely useful in a future of economic and political chaos. (This list is in no particular order.)

1) Situational Awareness - Pay attention to the world around you - macro and micro.

Macro: Stay informed of the news (local, national, global). Know your elected officials in Washington, and keep up with what they are doing. Especially pay attention to the flow of money - who are their donors?, who benefits from their efforts?, how are they spending your money?, etc. Know your community and how it works: Who are its local politicians, important bureaucrats, community leaders? What are the local power & water sources? How well do you know the roads in and around your community? (hint: you shouldn't need GPS or google maps to find your way around where you live without getting lost.) Do you know the "bad areas" of town to avoid? Have you met your neighbors? Pay close attention to how well or not that your company is doing (layoffs are never really a surprise to those paying close attention).  Do you know how safe & stable your bank and insurance companies are? Pay attention to their bottom lines and management shake-ups to avoid nasty surprises. 

Micro: As you go about your day, maintain awareness of your surroundings. Are you parking in a highly visible, well-light location near the entrance to minimize chances of ambush & muggings? Pay attention to the people around you and what they are doing. Is anyone acting suspicious or nervous? Is anyone loitering, or otherwise looks out-of-place? Are you making yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car? Before getting out of a car or walking out of a building, do you look out a window first to identify possible dangers? Don't get so involved with your smart phone or I-Pod that you ignore your surroundings. Stay aware of your immediate surroundings and any potential risks and threats.

2) Urban Camouflage - No, I'm not talking about a new fashion trend. Rather, I'm talking about fitting in with the larger community, and not drawing attention to yourself as a potential victim or as a malcontent.This is sometimes called the "gray man" disguise, but it is more than that. You don't want to draw the attention of criminals & thugs by looking like a potential target (no flashy clothes, expensive jewellery, or high-priced car), or easy prey (wear practical clothes, walk confidently, head up; don't appear weak or timid, but don't act like you're looking for a fight either). Don't draw the attention of the government as a serious malcontent and potential trouble-maker (don't make personal threats; don't flout the law even when you disagree with it; etc.). Also, be very private and guarded with your personal information and plans. The idea is to not draw unwanted attention to yourself and your family. Don't overshare on social media!!!

3) Self-Defense - Yes, this is the "guns and ammo" skill set, but it is so much more than just that. Guns are just one tool in your personal security arsenal, and not the most important one. I do recommend that most folks own and learn how to use guns, and to carry on an everyday basis (know and follow the laws in your area.) If you do have guns, don't just target shoot at the range. You need to take a good self-defense firearms training course. Consult with your local gun dealer - they will be able to guide you to appropriate courses, and make you aware of local gun laws.

The first and most important tool for personal security is awareness. Awareness of your surroundings and the potential risks of your situation is essential (as explained above).

Everyone in your family should take a good self-defense course. A good self-defense course won't just cover self-defense, but also give tips and info on avoiding dangerous situations.

It is a dangerous world out there, and likely to get more dangerous as society continues to break down. We must be concerned for the physical safety of ourselves and our families, as well as the protection of our personal property. Today, this includes protecting against identity theft which can be as devastating to its victim as any mugging or home robbery.

Be sure to guard your personal records - driver's license & Social Security numbers, banking & financial information, medical records, etc. - as carefully and diligently as you guard your gold & silver. Be especially vigilant with your computer. At a minimum, always use a firewall, maintain an up-to-date anti-virus program, and regularly scrub your computer with one or more anti-spyware programs. Only do business online with well-established companies you know and trust. 

4) Budgeting & Personal Finance - Prepping can be expensive. And even if a complete economic collapse does happen, we need to be able to pay our bills until then. Having the ability to make, and stick to, a budget is essential. Personal finance is a skill set too often overlooked.

We all know the basics we should be doing financially. Spend less than you make. Get on a budget or spending plan. Avoid new debt. Pay off old debt. Reduce your expenses. Build some emergency savings. Get adequate insurance with a financially sound company. Plan for future expenses. Know how to invest intelligently. Improve your job skills and make yourself more employable.

All much easier said than done. Here are some articles of mine to help you get started:

Prepping 101: Finance - Get Back to Basics - a mega-article crammed with lots of information and details  .

Top Ten Ways To Save Big Money - These ideas will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.

5) Employability - The ability to make a living, working for yourself or someone else, is absolutely key to future survival. To make a living, you have to have the skills needed to convince someone to pay you to work for them directly as an employee of theirs. Or, to convince them to pay you for the goods or services you provide if you are self-employed. The ability to sell will always be important, as will the ability to negotiate. Having the ability to make, repair, or do something useful is crucial. Learn a trade, in addition to professional skills. Have a back-up career in mind. Have a hobby that could be turned into a business if needed. Soft skills - good work ethic, positive attitude, good communication skills, the ability to get along with co-workers, time-management, etc. - are more important than many people realize. Work on improving them. Take some classes at a local community college. Brush up on your computer skills. Learn bookkeeping/accounting. Learn Spanish for the workplace. The more you know, the more employable you will be.

Check out these two articles on my website:

Fifteen Commandments of Keeping Your Job 

What To Do Before (and After) Losing Your Job

6) Home Security - Both the situational awareness skills and personal security skills discussed above can and do fit into this category. However, here I am particularly talking about making your home safe - "hardening" it against criminals, looters, and other thugs, as well as protecting it against fire and other disasters. Items that fit under this skill set include anti-burglary measures such as alarm systems, cameras, steel security exterior doors, fences, burglar bars, etc. It also means performing home safety inspections on a regular basis, having fire & smoke detectors (with fresh batteries), fire extinguishers, first aid supplies (and knowledge), flashlights with fresh batteries, and other safety equipment and supplies on hand.

7) Self-Reliance/DIY -  Take responsibility for your own life and success. Your company isn’t going to protect you. The government is going to take care of you. You family and friends have enough problems of their own. Don't wait around for the government, your parents or anyone else to help 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 little help to your family, friends & neighbors if you are the one in need of help. A major part of building self-reliance is gaining knowledge, learning skills and taking responsibility for your own life. The more you know, the more you are able to do and the more you are actually willing to do for yourself, the better off you will be.

8) Resource Management - Managing your money, time, and material resources is an important skill, and involves more than just stockpiling food and water. It means protecting your resources, and using them efficiently. Make your home energy efficient. Use less fuel. Avoid wasting precious water by fixing leaks, taking shorter showers, etc. Remember the saying "Waste not, Want not." DON’T EVER THROW GARBAGE OR POUR CHEMICALS INTO A STREAM, RIVER OR LAKE. Report to the authorities anyone you see doing so. Adopt a simpler lifestyle. Reduce your personal consumption of everything. Remember the mantra "Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle." Plan ahead. Remember the saying "Measure twice, cut once."  Be a saver, not a consumer.

Please check out my articles on Resource Management:

Saving Energy 

Three Changes to Save Big on Gas

9) Healthy Living - Being healthy is important to our ability to prepare for and handle emergencies. More than that, our healthcare system is an expensive mess, and will only get messier and more expensive in the future. Getting sick can ruin a person financially and destroy even the best-laid plans. Under the broad skill category of healthy living, I include eating right, getting and staying fit, avoiding getting sick, and knowing first aid and CPR. Being aware of alternative medicine to promote wellness and healing will become increasing important as expenses rise and traditional medical treatment becomes rationed. We also need to address any addictions we have now (smoking, abusing drugs or alcohol, etc.) before any SHTF event.

For more information on healthy living, check out my articles Improve your health, fitness & vitality and Eating for Good Health: Anti-Cancer Foods.

10) Mobility - Naturally, this includes "bugging out" to a safer location should your present home become too unsafe. Knowing where you are going (your bug-out location, and a back-up location or two) and when you'll go is important. Being ready to go means a packed bug-out or INCH bag. It means knowing what else to grab and stuff into your vehicle if you have time. And it means having a vehicle in good condition when its time to go. An emergency is not the time to have to deal with a flat tire, bad transmission, or worn-out brakes. All this stuff needs to be planned out ahead of time!

But, mobility might also mean being ready to move to a new location in order to follow job opportunities and other considerations. If the economy slowly gets worse, you might have to move in order to make a living, or just to find a safer place to live. If a civil war breaks out, as some preppers think is possible, things will be chaotic and unpredictable. What if your home ends up being behind enemy lines, or a FEMA camp is set up next door? A possible viable alternative to homesteading is to adopt a gypsy-like lifestyle, emphasizing the ability to escape danger and follow opportunity. Just something else to think about.  

Bonus Skill: A Second Language - Like it or not, we are living in a much more global society these days, and borders are becoming a quaint, old-fashioned idea. Knowing a second language (or even a third) will become an increasingly valuable skill to have. Being able to communicate in multiple languages will help you in your everyday life, and will even help make you more employable. For most English-speaking Americans, Spanish is the obvious second-language to learn. However, your chosen career field or other circumstances may dictate a different choice for you.

In the coming weeks, I will be posting articles expounding on each of these skills in more detail. Please bookmark this website ( and check back often, or follow me on Twitter for updates. You can also subscribe by email to this website (see the subscription box in the right-hand column).