Monday, July 23, 2018

The Dangerous Line Between Prepper and Hoarder

Why Too Much Stuff May Get In The Way of Survival

This is a counter-intuitive article, because we all know that the more food, water, first aid supplies, and other supplies and gear we have, the better off we will be in and after SHTF. But, maybe not. Let's play devil's advocate and challenge the prevailing wisdom.

Is it possible for a prepper to have too much stuff - too many supplies? Would downsizing be a smarter strategy than stockpiling? Consider, if you will, the following: 

1) All those supplies cost money. Money which perhaps could be better used in others ways, such as paying off debt and setting up an emergency fund. Or buying training. Or as a down-payment on a homestead or bug-out location.

2) All those supplies take time, space, and effort to acquire,  organize and maintain. Next to the cost of prepping, this is the complaint I hear most often from folks. Where do I store all this stuff? is a common refrain in the prepper community. Lots of articles have been written, and products recommended to buy, attempting to answer this question. 

3) Too much stuff stored creates the problem of trying to find it. Clutter is a problem. Are you ever not able to quickly find something you know you have? Maybe a tool, or a book, or whatever? You know you have it somewhere but just can't find it. There's a saying: "If you can't put your hands on something you own within five minutes, then you don't really own it.

4) Clutter creates other problems, too. Fire hazards. Trip hazards. Pest problems. Or even something as simple as making it harder to clean the house.

5) Too much stuff will NEVER be enough stuff. There will always be more to buy and stockpile. Got a one year supply of stuff? Gotta get more stuff in case the collapse lasts more than a year. Got two years worth of stuff? Gotta get more, just in case it lasts longer. And so forth, ad infinitum. You will never acquire enough stuff,to last you forever. 

6) Too much stuff will NEVER be enough stuff. It is worth saying again, this time differently: You will not be able to anticipate your every need in during a collapse and in the years following. Sure, you'll need food & water, first aid & medical supplies, extra batteries, and supplies for cleaning, sanitation, and hygiene. But what else will you need? Spare parts? Barter items? Clothing for when yours wear out? Clothing for when your kids outgrow theirs.  educational materials? The list of what you might need goes on and on and on... In fact, "Have You Thought About This" articles are quite common on prepper websites and blogs, each with different items that you might potentially need.

7) Too much stuff may make you a target. Try as you might to maintain operational security, some people are going to figure out that you have a lot of valuable stuff.  Thieves, looters, pushy neighbors, or even the government may decide they want some (or all) of it. 

8) Too much stuff may bog you down. Let's face it, when it comes time to bug-out, you are not going to be able to take all that stuff with you. Reluctance to leave all that useful (and expensive) stuff behind may cause you to hesitate in an emergency, at a time when delays may be deadly.

My Bottom Line: I am not saying not to stockpile stuff. We obviously are going to need food and supplies. But the question is How much do we really need? Considering the potential negatives I've mentioned above (and there are probably more I haven't thought of), I don't think the "more is always better" answer is necessarily the right answer. 

In my own life, I've begun the process of re-evaluating all the stuff I've accumulated over the years. For example, my library contains over 1,500 books. Most of those I've never read and never will, so why keep them all? My goal is to get down to a much more manageable library of only a handful of really useful reference books and a handful of "entertainment" books for my enjoyment.

I am also an avid knife and multi-tool collector, with way more than I will ever need, so why keep them all? Why keep buying more? And there are still other areas of "stuff" that I plan on going through and downsizing.  The idea is to get much more "lean and mean" than I currently am. This will also have side benefits of raising money and making me  much more mobile.

Watch for future articles on downsizing.
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Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Worst Prepper Advice I've Ever Heard

For the best prepper advice I've ever heard, click here for Tuesday's article.

The Worst Prepper Advice I've Ever Heard

I've told this story before, but it sets up perfectly what I want to say:

Many years ago I was the owner/moderator of a survivalist forum called Surviving the End. One of my group members offered his plan to prepare: He was going to rack up as much credit card debt as possible buying supplies to survive an economic collapse caused by peak oil. He believed such a collapse would happen "within the next 2 or 3 years," which he believed would lead to economic collapse, civil unrest, and even political collapse.  In the ensuing chaos, banks and other lenders would be unable to collect on debts owed to them. He also planned to stop paying his mortgage "about 6 months before the collapse." I'm not sure how he planned to time the event so precisely, but this was his plan, and he was offering it up to others to follow. This was in 2006. It is now 2018 - twelve years later - and the banks are still collecting on mortgages and other debt. If he truly carried out his plan, he and his family suffered absolute financial devastation years ago.

My advice: Getting out-of-debt and improving your financial position should be a part of your preparations for a major collapse, instead of planning on a collapse to get you out-of-debt. A major collapse can be survived, but it will NOT be a good thing. The chaos,  suffering, destruction, and death surrounding such an event will be devasting to everyone, and no one should be eagerly looking forward to experiencing it, or thinking that they can somehow benefit from it.  

Yes. I am preparing to survive such a major event, which I think is likely within my lifetime.  But I pray to God that I am wrong, that it doesn't happen, because I know how difficult it will be, even for those of us who are prepared.

Bottom line: Don't plan on a collapse to get your life in order. Get your life in order so you can survive the collapse. 
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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Best Prepper Advice I've Ever Heard

I've been around the prepper/survivalist community for 15 years. During that time, I've heard and read a lot of advice for prepping for future crises. Some of that advice is good. And some is not so good. In today's post, I reveal the absolute best piece of advice I've heard. On Thursday, I will revel the absolute worst.

The Best Prepper Advice I've Ever Heard 

Preparedness is about your attitude. Its not about tools, or supplies, or even skills. It is about your mind, the way you think. It is about developing a self-reliant mindset. A mindset which says - I am responsible for myself and my family - not government, not corporations, not society, not "experts" or anyone else. Me. I am responsible.

It  is an attitude that says "I need to be informed, therefore it is my responsibility to get informed.  I need to know myself and what I want out of life, and not just go with the flow or otherwise just drift aimlessly through life.  I need to think for myself, and not rely on others to do my thinking for me. I need to make my own decisions, and I need to act on those decisions. I need to adapt to changing circumstances and not just whine when things get difficult."

In many ways, its the exact opposite of the modern way of thinking. Its about not being one of the sheeple - waiting around for some imagined "authority" or "expert" to tell us what to do and when to do it. Its about not worrying what others think or about being liked. Its about not being intimidated into inaction, failing to make decisions and take actions, for whatever reason, be it fear, uncertainty, lack of confidence, or whatever.

Think ahead. Ask yourself "What problems and difficulties might I face in the future? What can I do now to help myself and my family overcome those problems if and when they do occur." Find the information you need. Make plans based on that information. Take actions to make those plans reality.

The most important thing you can do to survive and thrive, in good times and bad, is to start taking personal responsibility now for your own life and the lives of your family. This is the attitude you need, and it is the best advice I've ever heard.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Building Community in Your Neighborhood

Want community? Many preppers do. Here are some tips to find and build community right where you live:

You have to play the hand your dealt. It is not a perfect world, and no neighborhood is perfect - mine included (and don't I know it!). But your neighborhood is where you live, for better or worse, so you might as well make the best of it. Sitting around wishing for things to be different is counterproductive.

You don't need everyone.  Not every neighbor is going to be like-minded, or even friendly towards your efforts. That's okay. You don't need to get every single person in your neighborhood on-board with your plans. Its not all or nothing. There will always be a few malcontents you will never be able to reach. Ignore them and build community with those you can. Some community with some folks is better than no community at all. 

Knock on doors. Or at least wave at mailboxes. In other words, you have to take the first step. Waiting around for your neighbors to come to you won't work. Go. Introduce yourself to them. 


Avoid religion and politics, especially in the early stages. Basic preparedness doesn't depend on religion or politics. You don't need to be of a certain religion to store food and water. You don't need to have a certain political viewpoint to learn first aid. You don't need to have the exact same religious or political views to encourage and help your neighbors. 

Don't talk prepping, at least at first.  The preparedness talk can come later, for now simply get to know your neighbors. Find out what you might have in common. As things progress, you can start dropping prepper lines and see how they respond.  

Form a Neighborhood Watch. It can official (working with your local police, posting signs, etc.) or informal (exchanging phone numbers and agreeing to keep an eye out for strangers or anything else suspicious in the neighborhood). The point is you and your neighbors will begin getting to know one another and watching out for each other. You can build from there.

Have a community yard sale. We have been doing this in our neighborhood for a few years now. About twice a year we'll get together and advertise a community yard sale on a Saturday. Not every household participates, but many do. Even many of those that don't participate in the selling walk around looking at what others are selling. Curiosity gets them out of their house. I've actually met several neighbors this way that I otherwise never would have met.

One by one. Two by two. Everyone doesn't have to get together at the same time. A neighborhood-wide barbecue may be too much to put together, but you can host a barbecue maybe once a month and invite one or two neighborhood families over. Invite different families each month. Barbecuing not your thing? Try a Game Night instead. Or a movie night.

Advance slowly but surely.  Turning your neighborhood into a community is a one-step-at-a-time activity. Get to know each other. Then work on building friendships with those who seem willing. Then start talking preparedness with those that seem receptive. 

Building community is about more than just preparedness. Preparedness for some future crisis might be your ultimate goal, but it cannot be your only goal, otherwise you'll scare people off. Community is about building friendships and relationships of trust. Community is about watching out for each other, encouraging each other, and helping each other. The cold fact is that you are extremely unlikely to get your neighborhood converted into a 100% prepared for doomsday survivalist community. But the more of a community that you're neighborhood is, the better off you'll all be if and when the SHTF.
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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Understanding Preparedness - Loss of Comforts of Civilization

Sweden recently issued a "Prepare for War" booklet to all Swedish households.  In it, they ask the rhetorical question What would you do if your everyday life was turned upside down? They go on to say "In just a short time, your everyday life can become problematic.

Problematic? Really? For the scenario the Swedes seemed concerned with, a civilization-altering world war possibly including the use of nukes, problematic doesn't even begin to describe it. Try "your everyday life as you have known it will become impossible."

This goes not only for a possible nuclear war, but for other widespread disasters, including natural disasters (plagues, super-volcanoes, CMEs, etc) and man-made disasters (widespread civil unrest, attempted coups, civil war, economic collapse, etc.). Life as we currently know it could change drastically and suddenly.

Results of a Major Disaster

A major  disaster usually will result in the temporary or permanent loss of many of the “comforts of civilization” we are used to enjoying. Comforts of civilization are those things that are provided to us by modern civilization that we take for granted. So much so that we don't even consider them comforts or luxuries anymore, but rather basic necessities. It would be difficult for most modern people to provide most of these things for themselves, especially without learning new skills, having access to stockpiles of tools and supplies, and preparing well in advance for their loss.


These comforts of civilization we would likely lose include:

  • Readily available running water that is safe to drink.
  • Readily available food from stores and restaurants.
  • “Flush and forget” human waste disposal.
  • Modern medicine and health care.
  • Readily available electricity for lighting, heating, cooling, cooking and hot water.
  • Readily available natural gas for heating, cooking and hot water.
  • Readily available fuel for cars, trucks, tractors and planes.
  • Public transportation (trains, buses, subways, taxis, etc.).
  • Instant long distance communication (phones, email, etc.).
  • Ready access to education (schools) and knowledge (libraries, the Internet, etc).
  • Ready access to emergency services such as fire, police, and paramedics.
  • Most modern luxuries (television, IPods, mobile phones, computers & the Internet, etc.).
  • An economic support infrastructure (electronic funds transfers, shipping & delivery, etc.).
  • Ability to spend money without having it (credit cards, mortgages, installment plans, etc.)
Disasters can also lead to the loss of certain fundamental (inalienable) rights. This loss would, of course, be both immoral and illegal, but may occur because of the imposition of political correctness, a police state, martial law, or even the development or imposition of a dictatorship. The rights which may be lost include:
  • Loss of Privacy.
  • Loss of Freedom of Speech.
  • Loss of Freedom of Religion.
  • Loss of Freedom of the Press.
  • Loss of Free Assembly.
  • Loss of Freedom of Movement.
  • Loss of Self-Defense Rights.
  • Loss of Due Process.
  • Loss of Parental Rights.
  • Removal of children from your home.
  • Confiscation of land, firearms, knives, personal property, or even your stored food, water, and other supplies.
Understanding what a major disaster will likely entail will help us to better plan for such frightening scenarios. Ask yourself questions about how you could realistically handle the loss of these comforts of civilization and even these basic rights.

Detailed planning, rather than hit-or-miss stockpiling of food, guns, and other stuff,  takes time and effort, but will go a long way towards ensuring the survival of you and your family & community.

***You might also be interested in my article Sweden Distributes ‘Prepare for War’ Booklet to All Swedes - Here's What It Advises
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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Precepts of Scriptural Survivalism

I use a notebook to plan out my prepepr and survivalism activities. This is the first pages of that notebook, the foundation upon which everything else rests. The Bible actually says a lot about preparedness, both spiritual and physical. In these precepts I attempt to summarize those teachings.


Precepts of Scriptural Preparedness

1- In all things, God first and foremost. Our relationship with God is by far the most important preparation we can make. Everything we say, do, or even think should rest on, or point the way to, that relationship with God. God is our first priority.

2- Follow God's ways; Reject worldly ways.
It isn't about survival at all costs, but rather about following God in the ways He would have us follow Him. This means living by God's Commandments and teachings, not by the current (and constantly shifting) worldly ways. We are to actively reject political correctness, popular opinions, modern "societal norms," secular wisdom, and even legal and governmental authority when those are opposed to God's Word. There is no compromising with the modern world for God's people.
We are to live to please God, not man.

3- Agrarianism is God's intent for His people. Humans were originally designed by God to live in and tend to the Garden of Eden. Later, after the Fall, we were commanded by God to till the soil and to raise our own food. Throughout the Bible, there are numerous examples of God telling His followers to avoid large cities (a Worldly invention), to live in the mountains and other rural areas, and to basically be "simple country folk" (in my words). Biblical agrarianism doesn't  mean everyone must be a farmer or homesteader - after all, there are plenty of support functions that must be done - but that as God's people, our lives/culture/economy/civilization should reflect the primary importance of agriculture.

[Tim's Note: I am aware of others using the term "Biblical Agrarianism." For the sake of clarity, I am not a part of that group and am not familiar with all their teachings. My use of that term is coincidental, and is limited to what I have written here.]

4- Hard Work is Good. In fact, hard work is ordained by God. His example of Creation, six days of work and one day of rest, is the template we are to follow. 

5- Preparedness & Self-Reliance are Biblical concepts. Not only is physical preparedness allowed, it is in fact commanded by God. Multiple times in Proverbs (6:6-8 for just one example), God points us to the industrious ant's example, who constantly prepares for the future. In Galatians 6:1-5, Paul teaches that we are to both help one another AND to not be a burden to others (self-reliance).

A host of other verses could be quoted also, including Proverbs 27:12 (its prudent to prepare), Genesis 6:21 (food storage), Genesis 41:47-57 (food storage), Exodus 22:2 (self-defense), Psalm 144:1(self-defense training!), Proverbs 21:20 (store food & oil), Proverbs 22:7 (avoid debt), 1 Corinthians 16:13 (stay alert, be brave, be strong), Luke 22:36 (self-defense), 1 Timothy 5:8 (provide for yourself and your family), 1 Thessalonians 5:6 (stay alert, situational awareness), Hebrews 11:7 (points to Noah's example of preparedness to save his family), and Matthew 25:1-13 (the wisdom of the five prepared virgins compared to the foolishness of the five ill-prepared virgins).

6- All human life is valuable. All human life is created in the image of God. All human life belongs to God, not man. Murder, which is biblically-defined as the taking of innocent human life (intentionally or through negligence), is forbidden by God. 

7- Self-defense is allowed by God. God has granted us the right to kill in defense of ourselves or others, and in a few other very limited circumstances.  However, we are never permitted to kill for revenge or out of a sense of vengeance. 

8- There is but one race - the human race. All humans, regardless of the shade of their skin, belong to the same family, the same race - the human race. All people are descended from Adam and Eve, and later through Noah and his wife. There are ethnic and cultural differences that have developed over the centuries, of course, but there are no racial differences. Racism is a worldly (Satanic) concept.

9- The traditional family unit is the building block of civilization. This includes traditional monogamous marriage,  traditional gender roles, sex only within marriage, honoring your father and mother, etc.

10- Our Rights come from God, not from Government, or even by majority vote. Therefore, no government, nor any voting majority no matter how big, may take away any of those God-given Rights.

11-Debt is slavery.
"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." -- Proverbs 22:7


12- Remember the Golden Rule. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus teaches "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Common decency should definitely be a part of our everyday lives, including in the area of preparedness. We are to help one another, according to our abilities to do so. We are even to defend the poor and defenseless (Psalm 82:3) to the extent that we can (God never expects more from us than we are able to give). 
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