Monday, August 27, 2018

How To Raise Money For Your Prepping Activities

Prepping can be expensive. I wish I had a magic solution to the problem of how to raise money to buy food,  supplies, guns & ammo, take courses, and make other preparations, including buying your own homestead or retreat (a goal of many preppers), but I don't. No one, not even Uncle Sam, is giving out free money for people to become more self-reliant. The only ways to raise money that I know of entail sacrifices of time, talent, effort, or property. Here is my list of ways to raise money:
  • Get a raise, or more hours, at your primary job. This is tough to do, I know, but it is a great way to raise extra money if you can pull it off. And it is certainly easier now, during good economic times, then it will be after the next recession hits (and there will be another one eventually).
  • Get a second, or third, job. I worked a second job for years at a B. Dalton Booksellers (during the 1990s), mostly on weekends. It only netted me about $60/week, but over the course of a year that is more than $3,000. In more recent years, I've worked part-time Christmas jobs at places like Khol's and Wal-Mart, which netted me a nice chunk of extra cash for a couple months' work. A second job will pay off a lot of debt or buy a lot of supplies.
  • Do odd jobs. Can you sew, tutor, mow lawns, bake, babysit, or do "handyman" jobs? Do you have crafting skills? Post or handout fliers around your community. 
  • Start your own "Man-and-a-Truck" business. If you have a pick-up truck or van, you can rent it & yourself out for a lot of odd jobs involving moving or hauling. Most people don't have a truck, yet most people will need to haul something somewhere at some point. And they probably need an extra pair of hands (or two). If you also have a dolly or hand-truck, you'll be especially popular.  Posting flyers around town and word-of-mouth are great ways to promote your business.
  • Collect money owed to you. If you loaned money to a friend or relative, it is time to collect. Asking a friend or family member to pay back money you've lent them is uncomfortable, and may lead to some icy Sunday dinners at Grandma's, but it is your money after all. And you need it.
  • Cancel your subscriptions. Most newspapers and magazines will refund the unused portion of your subscription when you cancel. It might not be much, but every little bit helps.
  • Hold a yard or garage sale. Get rid of your junk and unclutter your life while making some cash. If you live in an apartment, maybe there is a nearby flea market where you can sale your stuff, or ask a friend if you can hold the yard sale at their place.
  • Sell your stuff online.  Over the years, I've had a lot of success selling my stuff on eBay, both big ticket items and little. 
  • Sell big-ticket items in your local classified ads. This is a great way to sell individual items such as ATVs, exercise equipment, furniture, electronics, and so forth.
  •  Rent out a room. If you have a spare bedroom, consider renting it out. If you rent an apartment, consider taking a roommate. Be careful who you are renting to, of course, checking references and so forth. And be sure to use a written contract!
Remember: The single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now.
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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Four Things Preppers Should NEVER Do

Hoping to survive any future chaos? Here are four things you should never do, now or when the SHTF:

1) NEVER give up your personal sovereignty. You are responsible for yourself and your family. Never look to the government to protect you or save you, even in a major crisis. Especially in a major crisis. Remember the political saying "Never let a good crisis go to waste." Don't be naive about politicians and bureaucrats. Don't trade your freedoms for the promise of security.  Figure out now how to survive future chaos without going to the FEMA camp or blindly following the instructions of "authorities."

2) NEVER give up your ability to defend yourself.  Self-defense is a God-given right that neither government nor society has the right to take away from you. This includes the right to the tools of self-defense, such as guns and knives.  Strongly support the Second Amendment now, and resist all attempts to curtail it.  Avoid situations in which you are required to disarm (such as flying or entering a government building). Learn to defend yourself with your hands and improvised weapons in case you are ever forced to disarm.

3) NEVER stop improving yourself and your situation.  Never stop learning new skills. Never stop practicing old skills. Never stop adjusting your plans. Never stop developing your homestead or bug-out retreat. Never stop building your supplies. Even highly-experienced experts need to keep learning, keep practicing, keep planning. and keep preparing.

4) NEVER make a threat you are not ready, willing, and able to back up. No matter how prepared and skilled you are, the safest confrontation is the one you avoid. Never let your ego or over-confidence cause you bite off more than you can chew.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Quick Financial Tips for Preppers (and Everyone Else)

Hopefully, financial preparedness is a part of your overall efforts to become a more self-reliant. Regardless of where you are at in your efforts, beginner to advanced, here are some quick tips on financial preparedness to consider:
  • Spend less than you make, and make savings a regular part of your life. (Obvious, but many folks fail to do this one, and that leads to debt, stress, and even bankruptcy.)
  • Avoid personal debt. Except for perhaps a home mortgage, debt is never a good idea. Especially avoid high-interest consumer debt. The saying that debt makes the debtor slave to the lender is very true. Don't do it, even if it means doing without. 
  • Have a well-funded emergency account in a safe, well-established credit union or small bank. How much? At least six-months worth of expenses. Even more is better.
  • Keep a smaller amount of cash on hand (in a safe place) in case banks and ATMs are not working when you need it. How much? You'll have to decide for yourself, but I recommend at least $300, maybe more.
  • Have some junk silver coins as part of your preparations (but only after addressing other, more important, preparations first).
  • Learn to be entertained without having to spend a lot of money.  Have a picnic at a local park instead of eating out. Have a family game night instead of going to the movies.
  • Avoid participating in fads and joining in fashionable trends. Trendy clothing is expensive and quickly goes out of style. Trendy technology is VERY expensive and quickly becomes obsolete. 
  • Skip the next smart phone upgrade. New smart phones cost hundreds of dollars, and the "improvements" are rarely worth it these days.  Use your smart phone as a tool, not a status symbol.
  • Avoid impulse purchases.
  • Avoid financial gimmicks and get-rich-quick schemes. Be especially cautious with retirement savings.
  • Learn accounting to really understand the language of business.
  • A homestead and land may make a great investment, particularly if you are expecting major economic problems in the future. 
  • Insurance is a good thing. Make sure you are adequately covered, and make sure your insurance company is sound.
BONUS: Tips for Avoiding Impulse Purchases
  • Don't to pay attention to TV, radio, or print ads. Hit the mute button. or simply don't watch or read the ads. 
  • Don't watch infomercials or home shopping channels. Leave junk mail unopened. Recycle catalogs, flyers, and leaflets unread. 
  • Don't use shopping as a form of entertainment or a means to relax. Don't go to the mall or shopping center just to have something to do.
  • Avoid social shopping with friends. People tend to talk each other into things, not out of them.
  • Shop only with lists, and stick to them. 
  • Don't browse Amazon, eBay, or other Internet shopping sites. Shop them the same way you would a physical store - with a list. 
  • Shop with cash only. Spending cash feels more real than using checks or credit cards, so you are apt to spend less. 
  • If you do find an item you think you can't do without, wait at least 24 hours before buying it. Chances are the impulse will pass.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Turning Your Bug-Out Bag Into an INCH Bag Without Adding a Lot of Weight

The bug-out bag (BoB) is a prepper mainstay. Most of us know about them and have one. But what about the INCH Bag? What exactly is an INCH Bag? How is it different from a Bug-Out Bag? Who needs one? And does it really have to be an entirely different bag from the bug-out bag? 

INCH Bag = I'm Never Coming Home Bag

Unlike the bug-out bag, which is designed for short-term use (typically three days) and an eventual return home, the INCH bag is designed for much-longer use in situations when you expect to never return home. In the latter case, you will never again have access to the food, supplies, tools, documents, books, family photos & heirlooms, mementos, and other items you left behind when bugging out. All your worldly possessions will be reduced to what you took with you, and perhaps what you cached or prepositioned elsewhere.

INCH bags take these factors into account. Bug-out bags don't.

I've read many articles and watched many videos on INCH bags, and think that most make the same mistake: trying to extend the usefulness of their bags by simply adding more gear and supplies (and thus, a lot more weight), while ignoring some of the ramifications of never being able to return home again.

Leaving home to never return doesn't mean living in the wilderness for the rest of your life. The fact is you will return to civilization at some point - to your predetermined bug-out location or some other safe haven - just not to your current home. Perhaps your home was looted and burned. Or maybe it is permanently behind "enemy lines" in the case of military invasion or civil war.  Or perhaps radiation due to a nuclear incident (nuclear war, dirty bomb, or nuclear accident of some sort) has made your home unlivable.  Whatever the reason, you are barred from your home and all the stuff you had there, but not from civilization itself. 

This means, though you may need to prepare for more than 3 days, you don't need to figure out ways to survive permanently in the wilderness without resupply. The real long-term problem in an INCH situation is the irreplaceable stuff you're permanently leaving behind: important documents & records, family photos & heirlooms, personal mementos, etc. Eventually, you'll be able to replace most of the other stuff you leave behind - food, supplies, tools, gear, books...

The questions to ask yourself is "What do I really need to start over again? What is really important to me?"  Having a lot of stuff may be nice, but it isn't really necessary. My answer to those questions are: My life. My health. My relationships (God, family & close friends). Everything else can eventually be replaced or done without.  

So, with that in mind, here is my solution to the "everything but the kitchen sink" unrealistic approach to the INCH Bag. 

Convert the bug-out bag into a realistic INCH bag with a few minor but important modifications that won't add too much weight. 

I am assuming you already have a bug-out bag, so I won't go over what all you need in one. Instead, here is how to adjust your already existing BoB into an INCH bag.


1-  Water is the most important survival consideration, but it is heavy and bulky. Most bug out bags already contain some water and ways to collect & treat more water.  Make sure your BoB addresses this issue. My BoB contains two water bottles (I also have a canteen of the over-the-shoulder variety). Additionally, for collecting and treating water, I have the following: 
These items don't add much weight or take up much room in your BoB, yet greatly extend your ability to provide water for yourself. In my camping supplies that would go with me when bugging out by vehicle, I also have a LifeStraw Family Water Filter that can treat over 4,500 gallons of water. It is light-weight, but too bulky to go in a BoB. 

2- Food is another important consideration, and difficult to take a lot of it with you in your BoB. I personally don't use freeze-dried foods or MREs in my BoB because they are too bulky. Instead I use health & energy bars, and emergency ration food bars. This allows me to carry at least an entire week's worth (or more) of emergency food in the same amount of space as 3 days worth of freeze-dried foods. Additional compact options include foil-packs of  chicken, tuna, and salmon, as well as peanut butter (lots of needed fats, protein, and calories in a single jar). Supplement this with wild edibles by teaching yourself about them now, before SHTF. I also have a small fishing kit (a Ronco Pocket Fisherman) that I keep in my vehicle and can attach to my BoB if needed. 

3- Fire is an important consideration - for warmth, treating water, and cooking. Ferro rods & strikers are nice. I have one I can wear around my neck and a back-up in my BoB. But, they can be difficult to use unless you practice a lot. Frankly, lighters and water-proof matches are light-weight and compact, and easier to use. 

4- Copies of important documents should be included in your expanded BoB or INCH bag. These can be digitized and loaded on an encrypted USB memory stick. I have one on my key chain and a back-up in my BoB. Very small and light-weight. However, in a SHTF situation, you may not have ready access to a computer, so it might be wise to have hard copies of some documents. I have two 9x6 clasp envelopes containing documents that fit easily in my BoB without adding a lot of weight or taking up much room. Insert them in a plastic zip bag for waterproofing. Documents you might want to include: 
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Death Certificates
  • Copies of credit cards, bank numbers, and other financial info
  • Contact information and account numbers for insurance, investment accounts, utilities, etc. 
  • Tax and other financial records
  • Copies of your driver's license and social security card
  • Passports
  • Medical and immunization records
  • Title & Registration information for your vehicles
  • Pet Records (registration, vaccination, etc.) 
  • Copies of your high school diploma and collage degrees
  • High School and College Transcripts
  • Military discharge papers
  • Contact information for family, friends, co-workers, etc.
  • Home and Property deeds
  • Mortgage information  
This is only a partial list of possible documents you may want to keep. Decide for yourself what you should keep for  your circumstances. Remember, you can keep everything in digital form, but only some hard copies in your INCH bag. For example, When I recently refinanced my home, the mortgage paperwork was over 160 pages long. No problem on a memory stick (the mortgage company emailed me the entire package), but I'm not lugging a hard copy of all that around with me. instead, I put the two-page summary (which has all the important numbers and info) in the 9x6 envelope I previously mentioned. 

5- Family photos, personal mementos, and family heirlooms is another category of stuff you will lose when you never return home. This is where developing the right attitude comes in handy. Remember my earlier comments on figuring out what is really important - our lives, our health, and our relationships. It may hurt to lose stuff for which you have sentimental attachment, but better to lose that stuff than our lives. 

There is some good news - scrapbooks and family photos can be digitized, as can genealogy records. Personal awards, articles, certificates, blue ribbons, and even trophies can be scanned or digitally photographed. Some family heirlooms may have to be left behind and lost forever, but even they can be photographed. No, it is not the same as still having it, but it is better than nothing.  

The bottom line of this article, is that you can easily turn your bug-out bag into a real INCH bag without adding too much weight and bulk. Just keep in mind what INCH really means (it is not living in the wilderness forever) and think through what you really need.
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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Precious Metals and the Prepper

Silver and gold are often discussed within prepper and survivalist circles. Here are my thoughts on the subject: 

Silver and gold are very unlikely to help you survive in the midst of a disaster of any sort. Bottled water, food, and warm, dry clothes, shoes, & blankets will likely be much more important, and a “currency” in much greater demand, in the midst of any disaster. Look at the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – people were desperate for clean water and dry clothes, not gold or silver.

However, silver and gold may make a good hedge against inflation in a mostly “business as usual” atmosphere. Also, in the long-term aftermath of a major disaster that includes an economic and political collapse, gold and silver will likely prove to be extremely important as a currency, but only as society begins to reorganize and looks to stores of wealth other than devalued and worthless currencies, and collapsed credit markets.

Another thought: In the aftermath of an economic collapse, it will be virtually impossible to enforce any certificates or other paperwork that say you own gold or silver that is being held for you by a broker, financial intuition, or anyone else. Any gold or silver you own that is not in your physical possession will most likely not be recovered by you if a complete economic and political collapse occurs. If you believe an economic collapse is likely, take physical possession of your gold and silver before the collapse occurs. Naturally, keep your gold and silver in a safe and secure place, and make sure as few people as possible know you have it.

So, how much should you invest in precious metals? It depends on your situation. First, make sure your other basics are covered - including paying off your consumer debt and setting aside an emergency fund. Once that is done, many financial experts recommend folks keep about 10% of their money in precious metals. I personally would recommend at least 20%, given the state of world affairs. Again, this is only after you have covered your other financial and preparedness basics. Decide for yourself what is best for you. 

I hope this article has given you some "food for thought" on this topic. You may also be interested in my article, Prepper's Guide to Junk Silver, from 2014. It includes a lot of technical information on the topic. 
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Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Three Existential Threats To America and Western Civilization

If you follow me on GAB, you probably already know what I'm going to say because I document these threats on a daily basis. If you don't, you should follow me at https://gab.ai/TimGamble.

There are three interrelated existential threats* to America and Western Civilization. These threats all have the potential to end the world as we know it, replacing it with something far worse. 

1) The Internal Threat - Western Elites (aka Globalists, the Ruling Class, the 1%, the 2%, etc.) want to destroy America and Western Civilization to create their version of utopia (for them). They believe Western Civilization and culture is bad, that America in particular is evil, and that Judeo-Christian values and ethics are too restricting (for them). They hate capitalism, even though they have greatly benefited from it. They look down on the lower and working classes with great disdain (we are uneducated, unsophisticated, vulgar...).   

The Elites want to create a world with no borders (for them), where they are basically global citizens unrestricted by normal laws and ethics. They desire a large underclass (they need workers), only a small middle class (they need a few working professionals), and an upper class made up of themselves and their fellow elites. An elite class who, by virtue of their obvious superiority, have absolute rule over the lesser classes. 

Over the decades, the Elites have already done great damage to traditional Western Civilization. The introduction of centralized banking & fiat currency is one example. Destroying traditional Western education is another. Current attempts to restrict Free Speech and Free Press comes straight out of the Elites desire to control the lesser classes, as does their desire to eliminate the Second Amendment and greatly restrict parental rights. The attempt in recent decades to recast the broad Freedom of Religion our Founders gave us into the much more narrow Freedom of Worship is very much a part of their attempts to overcome traditional Western Civilization (see my article on the difference between Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Worship).

The Deep State, made up of powerful career politicians and bureaucrats, along with their corporate allies, have sold out to and work for the Elites. 

2) The Hijra (Conquest by Immigration) - The active invasion of Western Civilization by Muslims through "peaceful" immigration, along with increasing demands for various accommodations, special legal status, and the acceptance and even imposition of Sharia Law, is both intentional and well-organized. Add to this the much-higher birth rates of Muslims compared to native Westerners, who have been convinced that large-families are a bad idea, and you have a situation where Western civilization is slowly dying. 

This stealth invasion by immigration is being fostered by Western Elites, and political correctness, which have become so anti-Christian, anti-capitalism, and anti-traditional values, that they are willing to allow anything that might bring down traditional Western Civilization, so they might re-make it to their liking. 

See the book Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad, by Leo Hohman, and Modern Day Trojan Horse: Al-Hijra, the Islamic Doctrine of Immigration, by  Sam Solomon and Elias Al Maqdisi, for more on this topic.

3) China - The current trade war with China is only a prelude to what is coming. China is preparing for an inevitable "hot" war with America within the next 5 - 10 years. China is convinced this war must happen because of a concept known as The Thucydides Trap (google the term to learn more).  

The Thucydides Trap isn't some conspiracy theory twaddle, but is a well-studied historical concept heavily discussed in academic and diplomatic circles. Very simply, the Thucydides Trap states that when a rising great power (China, in this instance) threatens to displace an existing great power (America), war that will likely lead to the destruction of one of the great powers is almost always inevitable.

The Chinese are very aware of this concept, and are making policy based on it. It is the basis of their ongoing massive military build-up, as well as their interference in North Korea (the Chinese have always assisted North Korea with their nuclear and missile programs, and are pushing Kim Jong-un to stall in regards to his  promised denuclearization). It is also part of the reasoning behind their aggressiveness in the South China Sea (control over vital trade routes), and economic & diplomatic push into South America and Africa (the later which includes a growing military presence), to obtain various resources. 

Pay Attention to Current Events and Prepare

If you have doubts about any of these three existential threats, just pay close attention to current events for a few weeks. Also, as mentioned above, I do document these threats on a daily basis on my GAB account.  

We can prepare for these threats. Building our self-reliance and removing ourselves from dependence on the current worldly system as much as possible will go a long way in protecting ourselves and our families. But this doesn't mean hiding from the world (please read my short article Being a Prepper Doesn't Mean Hiding From the World) and not fighting the forces threatening us.  

*For those who might not know, an existential threat is something that threatens our very existence. An existential threat, if it becomes reality, would literally be the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI). The Earth being hit by a large asteroid is an obvious existential threat, but one that is highly unlikely in the near future. Besides, there is little we can do to prepare for that threat. However, the existential threats I outline in this article are real, are happening now, and are events we can prepare for and survive. 
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Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad, by veteran investigative journalist Leo Hohmann, documents  a well-defined strategy for conquering America, not necessarily with violent jihadist attacks, although we should expect those to increase, but through more subtle means collectively called "civilization jihad." 





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Friday, August 3, 2018

Small Town and Rural Looting?

We know that big cities and major urban centers will likely experience large-scale riots and looting during and after a political or economic collapse or other major SHTF event. The looting will likely spread to the suburbs  immediately surrounding these areas as people become desperate and attempt to flee the cities. But what about small towns and rural areas well-away from the large cities? Will they be safe from riots and looting? My answer is yes. And no. Let me explain:

Yes. Small towns and rural areas well-away from large cities will be relatively safe from large-scale riots and looting of the big cities. Looters will not spread out of the cities very far. They won't be able to because: 
  1. gasoline supplies will disappear within the first 24-hours of a major SHTF event and will not be replenished
  2. looters are not preppers, and haven't stored any extra gas or even topped off their tanks, severely limiting how far they can drive away from the city
  3. roadways will quickly become undrivable anyway, as vehicles break-down and run out of gas, clogging up the roadways
  4. most modern Americans are overweight, unhealthy, and out-of-shape, therefore will be unable to hike out of the cities very far 
  5. most who try to leave the cities on foot will die of violence, heart attacks, heat strokes, dehydration, etc.
No. Just because you happen to live in a small town or rural area far away from a big city, and therefore insulated from what is happening in the cities, doesn't mean you will be completely safe. You will still have three areas of concern:
 
A few city folks - Although the vast majority of the rioters and looters will be stuck in the cities for the reasons given above, a handful of particularly lucky or resourceful individuals will make it out, and they will be desperate and dangerous. Fortunately there won't be many of them, so you should be able to defend against them. That is if you and your group or community have planned ahead for such a defense. See the book Retreat Security and Small Unit Tactics by David Kobler (Southern Prepper 1) and Mark Goodwin for more information.

A few local folks -  Yes, a few local folks may become problems for the community. There are always a few bad apples in any community who will try to take advantage of any situation that presents itself. And there will be others - good folks who just aren't prepared - that will eventually turn to looting and other crimes out of desperation. Think ahead about what (if any) help or charity you will be willing to give friends and neighbors, and how best to do so. You may be interested in my article on Post-Collapse CharityYou also may need to  prepare yourself for the possibility of having to defend yourself and your property from someone you know should things become really desperate. 

Local Government and Law Enforcement - In a true long-term crisis situation, local authorities, well-intentioned or not, may attempt to confiscate food and supplies for re-distribution within the community. They will have a long list of reasonable sounding excuses for doing so, will have the backing for any local media that may still be operating, and will have the overwhelming support of the locals in need because they weren't prepared for a crisis. Having government take other people's stuff and give it to you is very popular these days. You need to decide now to what extent you will cooperate with or resist such efforts.  And if you plan to resist, how?  Options include pretending to be among those in need (are your supplies well-hidden?), turning over a token amount of food and supplies (again, are the rest of your supplies well-hidden?), or physically resisting when they come to your home to inspect it for supplies you have "hoarded." If you choose the last option, are you prepared for a gun-battle with the local authorities, who will be at least as well-armed and well-trained as you and your group, and probably more so?  

Preppers concerned about a major SHTF event need to think through these issues, making plans and preparations now, rather than wait until its too late.
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Retreat Security and Small Unit Tactics by David Kobler (Southern Prepper 1) and Mark Goodwin, "will teach you how to organize your team or neighborhood into a force to be reckoned with. You’ll get tips to harden your home and protect your family, life and property, both now and after the stuff hits the fan."


 
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