Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Commonalities in Survivalist Finances and Lifestyles

The topic of budgeting for and otherwise managing to find money to prepare came up recently. In the past other folks and I have talked about some little things that we do to make it work but the desired understanding often does not seem to translate. Today I want to try it from another angle. I know some very prepared survivalists pretty well. Some are invisible friends and with others I have more personal connections. I have noticed some commonalities in their finances which are worth noting.
-They tend to have average incomes. There are a few outlyers who are pretty well off but not what I would call rich and a few who have modest, almost poverty level incomes. That pretty much blows the "you have to be rich to be prepared" idea out of the water.
-They have a significantly below average debt load. Typically they may owe on a home/ homestead (that is fairly modest for their situation) plus MAYBE a vehicle or something else small. Certainly not a second mortgage, 2 car loans, a line of credit and 4 credit cards.

- They live pretty modestly. Vehicles are more likely to be a decade old with dings and a bit of rust then brand new and shiny. They don't have 60" flat screens in general, let alone in every room. Clothes and stuff is generally used until it is no longer servicable, well beyond the peak of technology or fashion. Many items are purchased used or at significant discounts.
- They rarely have expensive hobbies except survivalism. You don't see golfers, experimental balloonists, collectors of rare art or whatever. Though I think there are a couple pilots floating around.
- They travel rarely. You don't see many Mediteranean cruises or trips to hang out on the beach in Thailand. I am an exception to this as we travel a decent amount. Travel is important to us and we are also currently in Europe. When we go back to the states our travel budget will plummet.

- They continue preparing for a long period of time. They may have a bad season when laid off or whatever but over the long run they continue making progress.

As with a lot of things if you are having issues it is usually worthwhile to look at folks who have done what you want to do. My goal here was to try to focus on positive characteristics of people who are at least fairly successful in preparednes. I did this intentionally instead of being negative or accusatory of those who are less successful. It may be better to focus on positives and maybe it is a message folks can be more receptive of.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Define "average income." I assume that everyone being mentioned falls into the middle class, which covers a lot of ground. You can have a household income of $40k or $120k and still be called middle class, yet the latter income will obviously allow for someone to undertake more elaborate preps. I'd be interested to see how many "average" income people who are well prepared are closer to the $40k end of the spectrum than the $100k+ end.

Ryan said...

@9:52, I said average income instead of the incredibly vaugue and almost meaningless phrase "middle class" intentionally. In 2010 the median household income in the US was about 50k. Figure a standard deviation probably takes you from 40-60k or so. Most of the folks I am thinking of were in that range.

Talk of income is further complicated by location, family situation and life choices almost to the point where it is not relevant. It is so situationally dependent. Obviously Wyoming has a lower cost of living than Southern California. A single guy has a much lower cost of living than a family of 6. Also lifestyle choices are a factor. A guy who lives in a small home he purchased as a fixer upper/ foreclosure and drives a decade old Toyota truck has a lot more free cash than somebody who has a mortgage that is 40% of his income (not take home) and a loan on a newish SUV.

Sam said...

Being a well-rounded and prepared survivalist is an expensive hobby. And multifaceted "hobby" is how I look at it after 25 years. Lots of time and money initially to reach a basic level of general preparedness, then training and more equipment to mitigate specific threats, upgrading as technology changes, ongoing maintenance/upkeep of both skills and equipment, and replacement of expired/outdated items. Preparing to survive a two-week natural disaster or 6 months of unemployment with some level of comfort is fairly inexpensive, but having any degree of preparedness against a nuclear, biological, or chemical threat is another thing entirely. Failure to replace, upgrade, and maintain means you slip backwards in your preparedness level over time. Prepare for a broad enough range of potential events for a long enough time and it can turn into a vicious (and expensive) circle. Guess what I'm trying to say is, what level of preparedness defines a survivalist? Having the proper mindset, some skills, and a stocked pantry is cheap - start dropping expensive electronics into faraday cages and rotating a couple grand in medical supplies every few years and you're talking some serious bucks required.

Anonymous said...

"I have noticed some commonalities in their finances which are worth noting."

The 'millionare next door', baby.
I think another thing they're comfortable doing, is taking (no kidding) "baby steps" in their preps. Buy 5 or 6 junk silver dimes/week. Get one extra mag/month. Tag $100/month extra onto your mortgage payment. Once it becomes a habit you'll never miss the small expense, and you'll be amazed how fast you build-up your safety cushion.

Snoop-Diggity-DANG-Dawg

"Live like nobody else so that someday you can live like nobody else.
" -DR

Chris said...

Good to see, I think we generally fit that description!!!

Regarding hobbies, we specifically made a choice to have useful hobbies (for the most part). At one point I said, "Self, I am so busy with work that I can't have a lot of hobbies. So I'm going to make sure that my hobbies are also useful and spend my time and money wisely."

So we do hiking, camping, shooting, fishing, and outdoors stuff. Those activities build skills and physical fitness and are also fun.

Many people won't make that conscious choice to pick up useful hobbies, or they're not willing to stop putting limited time and effort into particularly useless endeavors. There's only so many hours in the day and only so much stretch to the budget.

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