Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Things are looking bad - What you need to do NOW

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, 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 supplies.

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. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

The War on Cash - Prepare for the End of Cash

There is a War on Cash happening, and we will see the end of physical cash within ten years or so. Maybe sooner. Bankers and economists in the US and around the world are now calling for the end of cash, and the establishment of a cashless society. Instead of cash, everyone will eventually be forced to use debit cards and other forms of digital transactions instead of paper money or coins.

Economist and ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has called for the elimination of large bills, such as the US $100 bill and the EU €500 EURO note. Norwegian academic, Communist politician, and anti-Israel activist Trond Andresen has put together a detailed plan to eliminate cash in favor of an all digital economy (click here to download a .pdf of his proposal). Sweden has already committed to eliminating ALL cash within five years. A similar law has been proposed in Denmark. Politicians, bankers, and corporations worldwide are starting to jump on board the cashless society bandwagon.

There are two main reasons behind this push to eliminate cash: 1) using cash makes it harder for governments and corporations to track and control your behavior, and 2) the bankers can't make money off cash that isn't deposited in their banks, and with the likelihood of negative interest rates in the future, people will be incentivized to keep cash on hand and not in the banks. Get rid of cash, and folks will be forced to use the banking system even with negative interest.

Of course, those wanting to go cashless won't admit the two main reasons. Instead, they say it will control crime, eliminate black markets, prevent tax evasion, help track terrorists and fight terrorism, and even smooth out the boom-and-bust business cycle. Folks who are opposed to a cashless society will be painted as anti-technology Luddites, and even potential criminals or terrorists.

Why Is Going Cashless a Bad Idea?
  • More power for centralized government and politicians.
  • A step closer for consolidated world government.
  • More loss of privacy, as government, banks, and corporations will be able to track every purchase made.
  • Government will be able to know who is buying and stockpiling guns, ammo, body armor, and other survival/prepper supplies. Makes future confiscation easier.
  • Government will be able to know who is buying and hoarding food. Makes future confiscation easier.
  • Remember the IRS scandal where Tea Party and Conservative organizations were targeted? 
  • Operation Choke Point - where government targets banks doing business with gun manufacturers and dealers - will be on steroids.
  • Probability for Operation Choke Points for anything government doesn't approve of...
  • Gives government one more way to regulate our lives.
  • Forces individuals to be bank customers even in a negative interest rate environment. 
  • Forces all charitable donations, including religious tithes and donations, to go through the digital system, giving government an in-road to track and even regulate such donations.
  • Forces folks preferring to use cash envelope systems for budgeting and personal debt control to quit using those systems, and become bank customers instead.

How To Prepare For the End of Cash

Some good news: cash isn't going away this year. When it does go away, it won't happen overnight. There will likely be a transition period of several years once the decision is made to go cashless. Large bills will likely be eliminated first, with smaller bills eliminated over the following several years. Some countries in Europe are already working on timetables of about 5 years or so for a transition. The US and Canada probably has about 10 years or so before the complete elimination of cash. This gives you some time to prepare.

The most important thing to do is to get out of the worldly economic system as much as possible (see my previous article Getting Out of Babylon!).  Buying land and setting up a homestead, where you and your family can be as self-reliant as possible, is a good way to go. Doing this with a community of similar folks also seeking self-reliance would be even batter.  Either move to a fairly rural area with lots of farms and country-folk, or get together with some other families and start your own self-reliant community!

Try to put aside at least one year's worth of food (more is better) before being being forced into the all-digital system. You than can keep your stored food "topped off" without it being as apparent to their algorithms that you are stockpiling (or in their terms "hoarding") food.

Get your financial house in order. Getting out of debt is very important. The fewer bills you have, the less dependent on the cashless system you will be (see my article (see my article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back to Basics, for more ideas).

I recommend you buy any guns, ammo, body armor, and other politically incorrect items sooner rather than later. Between the move to a cashless society and a probability of an anti-gun majority on the Supreme court within the next year or two, it may get very difficult, if not impossible, to buy arms and armor in the not-too distant-future.

Metals, such as gold, silver, and even lead (in the form of ammo), will likely become the primary means of exchange for those wishing to avoid the digital system. The government may attempt to confiscate metals at some point (they done so in the past), but that may push our unsustainable economic system over the edge into collapse. At that point, folks will pay little attention to the failed government and its authorities.  (You may be interested in my article Prepper's Guide to Junk Silver.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

10 Outdoor Adventure Books Every Boy (and Man) Should Read

Here are ten books of outdoor adventures and wilderness survival that I think every boy* on his way to manhood should read. If you are already a grown man, but haven't read one or more of these books, I recommend you do so. They can be enjoyed by all ages.

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, is the classic "stranded on a desert island" book. The protagonist, Robinson Crusoe, "chronicles his daily battle to stay alive, as he conquers isolation, fashions shelter and clothes, enlists the help of a native islander who he names 'Friday', and fights off cannibals and mutineers."

The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling, is actually a collection of short stories by Kipling published in the 1890s. Set in India, the stories are actually fables in which talking animals are used to teach a moral. The most famous of these stories are about the abandoned "man cub" Mowgli - a boy raised in the wild by wolves.

Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss, is about a shipped-wrecked family that must survive and adapt to life alone on a tropical island. Written in the early 1800s, the book is somewhat "off" in certain details of natural history (for example, an impossibly wide range on animals are native to the island). However, this is still a classic tale of family adventure and survival.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is an American classic. Considered "controversial" in today's highly sensitive, PC-culture because of its honest portrayal or race relations of its day, including the frequent use of the word "nigger," this book should be mandatory reading for every school kid, but often avoided. However, the book's protagonist is solidly anti-racist, as is the book's overall theme.

Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson. Yes, this is the book the Disney movie is based on. A very moving story of a boy and his dog growing up together in the hills of west Texas.

Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, is the first of the Little House on the Prairie books. Sometimes considered a girl's book because it is told from the point of view of Laura Ingell, the story is really about the life and struggles of an American pioneer family in the 1870s. Pioneering life is hard, with plenty of adventures to keep things interesting.

The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both by Jack London, are  set in Canada during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s. Full of dogs, wolves, adventure, and survival, these fast-paced books will hold the attention of most boys, while teaching positive themes of morality and redemption.

Stormy, by Jim Kjelgaard, is a fantastic adventure story about a boy, Allan Marley, and Stormy, an abused dog accused of turning on its master. I won't give away too much of this story, but basically the two have some amazing adventures and ultimately save each other.

Big Red: The Story of a Champion Irish Setter and a Trapper's Son Who Grew Up Together, Roaming the Wilderness, is another book by Jim Kjelgaard (too often forgotten as a great author of young adult adventure books). The rather long title pretty much sums up this book. All of Kjelgaard's books are must-reads for boys, in my opinion.

Bonus Book

Not an adventure novel, but rather a wide-ranging collection of articles on topics of particular interest to boys, The Dangerous Book for Boys, by Conn Iggulden, is a book I wish I had when I was growing up. Topics covered include essential gear for boys, paper airplanes, the seven wonders of the ancient world, the 5 knots every boy should know, dinosaurs, making a bow and arrow, understanding grammar, famous battles, first aid, cloud formations, astronomy, navigation, the Declaration of Independence, building a workbench, and seven poems every boy should know, among many others.

There is a similar book for girls, The Daring Book for Girls, by Andrea J. Buchanan.

*Yes, girls (and women) can read and enjoy these books, too!

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

48 Hours Until The End - What are your final preps?

Imagine that you know for certain that a major economic & political collapse will happen the day after tomorrow, and that the world will never be the same again. This is the big one. It doesn't matter what will trigger the collapse, only that you know it will happen for certain in exactly two days. Assume, too, that must folks are unaware of the impending doom. You now have 48 hours, and only 48 hours, to make any final, last minute preparations. What do you do? What will be your last minute preps?

With the 48-hour countdown, it is too late for any long-term plans or ideas. If you've been thinking about buying some land in the country to start homesteading, but haven't done so yet - too late. You have to figure something else out. Been planning to address your health issues, lose weight, and get into shape? Too late. You'll have to face The End with your current level of health and fitness. But there is time to do plenty of other last minute preps.

Here's what I will do during the last 48 hours:
  • Get all cash out of my bank accounts, and collect the contents of any safe-deposit boxes.*
  • Refill any prescriptions for me and my family.
  • Make sure both my vehicles are fully gassed-up, and check oil, tire pressure, etc.
  • Make sure my extra gas storage is full (I keep five 5-gallon gas cans safely stored on my property away from my house). I would buy additional cans/gas to add to this storage.
  • Purchase an extra  case or two of motor oil (future supplies may be limited).
  • (I don't use propane or heating oil, but if I did, I would make sure I had full tanks.)
  • Make sure that my water storage is full and fresh. Would make some last minute extra purchases of 5-gallon water cans and/or several cases of bottled water to add to my water storage.
  • Make a quick check of my food storage, to see to if I'm running low on anything.
  • Go to local grocery stores, Wal-marts, etc. and buy as much canned & dry foods as possible (including extra food for my dog), also cleaning supplies, unscented bleach, sanitation and hygiene supplies, matches, charcoal, etc.
  • Go to local stores & shops that sell ammo (I've already made a list of all within 25 miles of my home) and buy as much as I can of the types I use.
  • Go by my local coin dealer and two local pawn shops that sell silver coins (again, I've already made a list of silver dealers in my area), and buy as much junk silver as possible. 
  • If I have any cash left at this point, I would buy extra tools & spare parts (spark plugs, duct tape, etc.) that I may need.
  • Wash the laundry! (Power and/or water may be interrupted for awhile. Might as well get caught up on the washing while I still can.)
  • Review with my family, and others as appropriate, our plans for bugging in security & safety, and when/how we will bug out if necessary.

Bugging Out

I plan to "bug in" at my current location unless and until it becomes too dangerous to do so. Then, I have planned two options for bugging out. To make sure I'm ready for those options, if I need them, I will make sure my vehicles are full of gas, as wel as check the tires and oil. I will also review my bug out plans, make sure I have the needed road maps, and even pre-pack my vehicles to the extent I can so that when I'm forced to bug-out, I can do so as quickly as possible.

If your "Plan A" is bugging out immediately, then do so as early on as you can to avoid the traffic jams and confusion of the last minute escape. Once you arrive at your bug-out location, you can continue with whatever last minute preps you can.

Extreme Ideas

These ideas aren't legal right now, but in a full-fledged collapse like we are considering in this exercise, there will be little or no government or law enforcement to deem things illegal.

Visit the local library and check out as many books as possible that might be useful - homesteading, first aid, alternative medicine, country skills, canning & food preservation, fish & game cookbooks, books for homeschooling, etc.  Once the collapse happens, they'll be no one to return the books to, so Free Books! 

Max out the credit cards buying food, tools, ammo, supplies, even junk silver if you can find any. In a full-fledged economic & political collapse, the banks and financial institutions will collapse, so they'll be no one to collect on the debt. (But be careful, if it isn't a full-fledged collapse, you'll have to pay the bills.

A Final Note

*In his excellent book, The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse, Fernando Aguirre states that once the banks re-opened following the economic collapse in Argentina in 2001, people found that the contents of their safe-deposit boxes were missing, having been confiscated by the government and/or stolen by bank management. That is why I include reclaiming the contents of safe-deposit boxes before the collapse happens. I love Fernando's book because t is full of such tidbits of what happened in Argentina's collapse, which gives us a good idea of some of the things that may happen in a similar collapse in the USA. I highly recommend his book.

What Would You Do?

What would you do? Have I left anything off my list? Put your ideas in the comments section: