Showing posts with label unemployment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unemployment. Show all posts

Sunday, October 26, 2014

RE: Bayou Rennaissance Man: How to Prepare Under These Conditions

Bayou Reconnaissance Man wrote an interesting post How To Prepare Under These Conditions.

The basic highlights of the question:
I'm stuck with an unemployed partner and teenage kids who can't earn their own living.  We haven't been able to afford reserve supplies for an emergency, yet it's clear that even harder times are on the way.  I want to build up reserves for my family to help cope with them, so I'm selling a bunch of our stuff at garage sales and through Craigslist.  By mid-November I hope to have $2,000 to spend.  What's the best way for me to use that money?

(Peter's notes) A bit of background:  she lives with her husband and two kids, a boy of 15 and a girl of 17, in a small suburban home in a Missouri city.  The local crime situation wasn't bad until recently, but it's getting worse as economic hard times bite deeper.  The family owns one older car free and clear - they sold a second, newer vehicle when they couldn't afford the monthly payments.  The mortgage on their home runs about $650 per month, which isn't too bad if both of them are earning, but for the past year her husband hasn't been able to find work.  Her income isn't enough to cover all the bills.

Peter added his thoughts in a subsequent post. It is worth reading both of these posts before continuing.

Ryan here: 

We need to look at the issue of the family income and housing situation separately from the question of how they could potentially prepare.

Due to a limited amount of information I have to make some assumptions which will be based on general trends and may or may not be accurate for this particular person.

One particular assumption based on the tone of the whole conversation is that we are talking about a fairly small ($$$) wise gap between their current situation and making it. This assumption is largely because folks tend to buy homes slightly proportionately and we aren't talking about a $2,500 mortgage here, we are talking $650. Of course any income gap over basic expenses is an issue but this problem is more manageable than a much larger one.

The income/ budget/ housing situation can be broken into 4 main areas: income, income stimulus via selling stuff, overall budget and housing.

Income: First and foremost this family has an income problem. Dude (dad or male partner/ whatever) needs a job time now. Unless there is some information I'm not tracking, like he is paralyzed, has terminal cancer, etc, Dude needs to be a man and start providing for his family right blankety blanking now. End of story.

Since he has been unemployed for a year I assume things are not going well finding a job in his previous field in their area. Maybe Dude needs to seek lower prestige/ compensation work in his chosen field. A legitimate mechanic becoming the oil change guy at Quicky Lube or a journeyman carpenter fixing decks and building sheds won't feel great or pay as well but we aren't trying to get rich, we are trying to keep a roof over the families heads and food on the table. The advantage of this COA is that if he gets a foot in the door and proves to be a decent worker when a better job (that he is qualified for) opens up he should be a lock. A potential additional option for Dude exists if his skill sets lend themselves to odd job type work and he has the gear to do it on his own.

 Another option is to get a very low skill anyone can do it type job. Dude could be a temp worker at UPS and sort packages, mow lawns, dig ditches, sweep whatever. This is not the forever plan. The goal is to keep things going till he can get back into a better job.

Honestly Dude needs to get the first job he can find. I really don't care if it is swing shift mop boy at Show World. He needs a check time now. I'm not 100% sure he is in a funk but it would fit with the long term unemployment. Once he gets back to doing something, anything, hopefully he can get back into something better.

One could say you can put effort into job searching and be picky in relation to your options. If the family was making it on Momma's income then he has time to be picky and look for a job at his leisure. If they had a 50k safety net that would replace his income for a year I'd say he can be picky and have some lazy mornings or whatever. In this families situation I would say job searching is his job right now so he should do it from 8-4 every day. Given the inability to wait he has to take any job he can do.

Ditto for Dude potentially going to a different location from the family for awhile. Maybe dude needs to work someplace else for awhile to make the family budget work. Depending on his skill set(s) some parts of the country, specifically south Texas, the Gulf Coast and North Dakota are booming. Many of these jobs have employees work long days for a stretch then have more time off. Several weeks on and a couple off is not uncommon. This would work well for him to be able to stay busy (and not bored/ lonely) wherever employment is then spend some time at home.

Again I do not know the whole scenario and maybe there is a valid reason for this long term unemployment and not getting any sort of job but were I the spouse (of either gender) when the family is in this situation a serious conversation would have happened awhile back. This person needs a self esteem boost and a loving but firm push out of apathy in the right direction.

As to the kids. Personally as a father (of little ones) I am disinclined to tell school aged teens they have to get jobs to help the rents fill an income gap, doubly so when a parent is not working. However letting them know that we will meet their needs for shelter, clothing and good it might not be exactly as well as we (and they) would like.

(Slipping into the budget part because it makes sense to finish this small part here. I wouldn't ask them to put their part time earnings toward my mortgage problem. However they would be nicely informed, in as soon as possible, that their basic needs would still be met by us but any desire for fashionable clothes, cell phones, spare cash to go to the malt shop, etc all were regrettably going to be unfunded by the family budget. If they want these things in the near future they would need to earn the money to pay for them.)

Income stimulus via selling stuff: In his response Peter hit on this a fair amount. Admittedly part of the original question mentioned her selling some stuff to free up cash for preps so that is a big factor I imagine.

I do not find selling stuff to help with the economic situation to be a meaningful option unless they have some big ticket items like a 10k Harley in the garage, gun/ stamp/ coin collection sitting around it's not going to do much to close this gap.

As to selling stuff for preps. Selling unused items to buy preps is a fine idea.

Overall Budget: This has  probably been done already but it is worth relooking the budget. Things that used to fit might need to be cut out for awhile. The short term prioritization of food, energy, mortgage, insurance, bills is probably a good way to look at it.

Wifey brought up an excellent point. Since Dude isn't working he could look at it as his job to save as much money as possible. Cutting coupons, making bread from scratch, making lunches for people to take to work/ school instead of eating there, etc.

Housing: Peters comment about relocation are valid. If they want to stay in the area and want to try and make it work that is one thing but it doesn't seem like they really do. Additionally the potential implications of being come after for the balance of the loan are worth looking at though if the family is in effect judgement proof (no significant assets, big retirement accounts, etc) it is less of a concern than if they had 100k in an IRA and another property.

The amount of equity in the home is a big consideration here. If they have 50k in equity in the house  I'd say fight like hell to hold onto it at least long enough to sell and get that money out. On the other hand if they are underwater or have a few grand in equity that would be eaten by various home selling costs it's probably not worth the emotional struggle to prolong the matter.

The cost of other housing in the area (if they choose to stay there) is a consideration too. While home ownership has costs if the complete mortgage including taxes, etc is $650 and an apartment is $650 moving to one won't really save money.

Overall (again I do not know their income level, etc) it does not seem these folks bought an unreasonable home. It's not like they have a $1,400 a month mortgage and a $2,400 take home or something. These folks do not seem to have a house problem, they have an income problem.

Onto the prep discussion:

Really conflicted about this as I am pretty into preparedness and all that stuff. That being said I honestly do not think this family needs to be worried about making preparations for some SHTF or economic collapse scenario. It is my belief that they are currently in a pretty nasty situation that if handled wrong could potentially leave them 'outdoors' and that this gal, and by extension her spouse, need to focus their energy( emotional as well as physical), time and resources towards figuring out the situation they are currently in. All the way from the short term of next months bills, the mid term goal of them getting the income up enough to stay current on essential bills including the mortgage and the long term goal of replacing some or most of their income so they can get some breathing room, have some financial stability and get this stress out of their lives.

Also if they are intense and fix this problem in 3-6 months and are back to normal in a year think of the energy, intensity and resources they would be able to throw at preparedness,

Put it like this: Lets say there is a bear out in the woods near your home being a jerk and eating people but there is an angry wolf in the kitchen. Yes the bear is bigger and more dangerous but THE WOLF IS IN YOUR KITCHEN. The bear *might* be a threat someday but THE WOLF IS A THREAT RIGHT NOW!!! Also if the wolf kills them today it doesn't matter what great plans they have for the bear whenever it maybe shows up.

I cannot in good conscience recommend putting any meaningful amounts of money (if a few batteries, cans of food or a box of ammo for the family gun makes you feel better than by all means) into preparedness until the family is:
A) Current on basic bills. I do not care about a visa card but do care about the mortgage, water, sewer, electric, insurance and the like.
B) Making enough money to stay current with basic bills and life needs, even if at a new lower standard and.
C) They have $1,000 saved for Dave Ramsey's baby step 1

However since it is part of the discussion. 2k rough breakdown:
Food- $600 to start. Split between easy to eat stuff like canned goods, PB&J, etc and rice n beans.
Water filter- $150. Basic Berkey setup like a Go Berkey Kit. Or if handy you can do the bucket and black filter element  route. Total $750.
Alternate cooking source- $80. I would go with a basic 2 burner Coleman camping stove and several gallons of fuel. Purchased used these can often be had under $50. That leaves thirty bucks for fuel. Total $830.
Lighting- $90. A couple good candle lanterns and a bunch of candles. Say that runs $60. Spend $30 on batteries for whatever flashlights are already in the house. Total $820.
Medical- $80. We could square this a lot of says. Lets say they spend about $30 on some sort of decent basic first aid kit (or find a knowledgeable friend to help them assemble one) and the rest on OTC drugs and various disposables: band aids, Tylenol, benadryl, 3x5 gauze, etc. Total $1,000.

Defense- $600. There are a lot of ways to go here. I laid some out in my Basic Guns series. Peters recommendation for a good basic pump shotgun like a Maverick 88 or Mossberg 500 is sound. Personally I would try to get a handgun. That is a whole nother ball of wax. I like revolvers but if you don't care about common calibers a Makarov or whatever commie nation clone in 9x18 can be had for under $200 USD and ammo is dirt cheap. If you want to stick to wheel guns and are willing to shop a serviceable (I would ask to test fire) Taurus or Rossi .38 can be had in the same price range. Toss in some ammo in 9x18 or .38 special [Incidentally Lucky Gunner has a case of CCI Blaser .38 special ammo for $329/1k] and call it $250.

Used pump shotgun such as a Maverick 88 or Mossberg 500 in 12 or 20 gauge. Factor in about $200 for the gun, $70ish for a case of bird shot to get everyone familiarized, some buckshot at least 100 rounds though 250 rounds of buckshot would be even better, a  few slugs and that closes out defense.
 Total $1,600

Additional Fuel- $225. Fill up whatever gas cans they have, ditto the BBQ grill. Maybe get an extra 5 gallon gas can and fill it up or extra fuel for the Coleman stove. If there are decorative storm lanterns in the house get some fuel for those. Whatever is left after that goes to batteries for flashlights, the ambiguous AM/FM boom box, etc. Total 1,825.

Hardware This and That- $100. A roll of clear plastic to temporarily replace a broken window, a tarp, some duct tape, a but of rope, etc. Logically fill some shortages in existing tools and stuff. Total $1925.

Comfort Items- $75 (Remaining Balance). During hard times it is nice to have some comfort items. Mom likes tea or coffee so get some. Dude likes salted pretzels so get a few bags. Kid #1 likes gum so get some. Kit #2 likes chocolate so get a couple big bags of M&M's.

Total 2k. (Edited to include: Think I messed up the math on this by a C note. It's too late and I'm too tired to go back through it. If that is the case pinch a few bucks from each category to get it back to 2k.

So those are my thoughts on that. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ruminating Thoughts On The Coming Year

The Sun will continue to rise and set. Basically I expect a slightly worse version of this year.

Taxes- Taxes will go up. Part of this will be strait forward rate increases but most of it will be increases in 'fees', eliminations of various loopholes and such. The bottom line is that more money will flow from your pocket to multiple levels of government.

The Economy- I am not sure about our economy. My initial thought is that the lost decade our current jobless, non housing inflation and cheap money fueled recovery will continue. In this regard I expect a bit worse version of 2012. Then again who knows.

The European Sovereign Debt issue could well reemerge. With China's unsustainable growth rates turning to inflation and the economy slowing the US may well be one of the better looking horses in the glue factory this coming year.

I suspect artificial manipulation of gold and silver prices to continue. Silver will probably continue to be a pretty good buy over the coming year. Once our food storage goals are met we will put away some more PM's for sure.

Inflation- Hidden inflation will continue. The current CPI calculation seems manipulated to suit political aims inaccurate on how inflation affects normal folks. Most of this inflation will be covered up by smaller packages, less food by weight and the usual tricks. Expect your income to purchase fewer goods and services than before. 

Gun Control- I think that gun control could go many ways.  Were I forced to take a guess something will probably happen next year. The Dem's will do something, potentially via executive order if needed, to get a symbolic victory. It could be as benign as mandatory reporting of certain behaviors by medical professionals and maybe import limitations on certain guns like Siaga 12 shotguns and AK's or could be worse.

Crime- It ain't gonna get better. The flat lined economy will push some marginal folks towards crime. Also as state and county agencies try to make budgets work they are going to continue or increase prisoner releases. Yes these folks will generally have been arrested for nonviolent offenses but that is just what they were caught for. Plenty of violent criminals are incarcerated for various minor offenses and some of them will inevitably be released.

Down here in the South West I think the Reconquista downward spiral of drug/ cartel violence and unchecked illegal immigration will continue.

I wish that it wasn't my opinion that the partisan nature of politics in the US will get worse. Identity politics and hate mongering to suit various agendas will continue. There is potential for short flashes of localized violence being orchestrated to suit specific purposes. Think twitter flash mobs against political opponents.

Afghanistan- It isn't going to get better. The writing is on the wall that we are leaving. Expect limited conflict to support political goals. Think 'Nam in about 1971.

Wellthose are, for whatever they are worth, my thoughts on what is coming in 2013. Hopefully they give you something to think about. Again in closing I expect it to be a lot like last year but a bit worse.  Good luck,

What are your thoughts on the coming year?


Saturday, April 2, 2011


Things are not great right now. Our economy is at best floundering and will take several years for a full recovery and at worst, well I hope you have bullets, beans and bandaids. I think it is important to keep a sense of perspective and a positive attitude. First of all Americans, even 'poor' Americans are rich by world standards. If you can turn on a faucet and have all the clean water you want you are rich and most of us can do that (the ones who can't have chosen not to for whatever reason). Seriously we all have our wants and struggles but we have it pretty darn good. Attitude is just so darn important. A person who ends up in a bad situation with a good attitude and the willingness to move forward and deal with the new reality is always better off. There are numerous cases of people who are well prepared and essentially die of giving up and other cases of people who are in horrible situations and get through almost exclusively on good attitude and willingness to do what must be done. For Americans and most likely other folks it is really hard to accept reality and a change in standard of living or life patterns. Unfortunately the idea that you cannot have a 'middle class' lifestyle is tantamount to accepting defeat and failure as a person. I encourage you to ignore what other people think. Other people are poor and have seriously skewed values.

Also I think it is important to remember that broad trends are made up of a very large amount of individuals. I think we are facing an overall drop in quality of life of the American middle class. Call it whatever you want, inflation, market cycles, changes in labor patterns, depression, etc but it seems to be the situation. I urge you to work to either move against this trend or at least mitigate its effects on you and your family. Just because there is an overall 20% decline in standard of living doesn't mean it has to happen to you. Or in a more extreme case if most people lose everything and you just lose something you are better off. I think it makes sense to work along both traditional lines of effort such as good financial choices, increasing your earning power, etc as well as more preparedness oriented ones like tangible stores of wealth, primative and survival skills, alpha stragegy type purchases and the 3 B's. In the real world your finances and other boring stuff are almost surely more important for your ability to deal with realistic situations then the kind of semi automatic rifle you choose, the bullets that are in your handgun or whatever.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Does Preparing For TEOTWAWKI Cover All Other Scenarios?

I have heard it said that if you truly prepare for a genuine full on mad max scenario all the other scenarios are covered by default. I used to say that wasn't quite true. Now I would clarify by saying that it covers you for a lot (versus all) other scenarios.

Obviously if you are prepared for a genuine end of the world event then a power outage or even a Katrina like mid length regional disaster is just a practice drill. Having serious depth in food you normally eat will let you wait till sales to resupply and thus get more food for less money. If you have 15+ mags per gun, cases and cases of ammo as well as plenty of spare parts you are well positioned for any sort of gun ban.

However it is also worth noting what the TEOTWAWKI plan doesn't cover.

It completely ignores all sorts of highly likely financial/ unemployment/ slow slide issues. That Cold War mentality where the only option is that everything will go just fine until the world ends misses this one. You need to be concerned about your overall debt as well as savings for a rainy day. Can you afford your super spiffy retreat if you lose that high paying job? Even if your 'retreat' is paid off it is only yours so long as you can pay the property taxes.

Also I have a concern that this sort of planning can lead one not to worry about the progressively more violent world we are living in because you'll just carry a rifle everywhere if TEOTWAWKI happens. That sort of mentality isn't realistic. My real concern with this bionary approach is that it heavily weights things like owning rifles and stashing sand bags n barbed wire against more practical concerns like concealed carrying a pistol whenever possible and other more realistic home/ personal defense stuff.  You need to be worried a lot more about 2-3 armed criminals who are probably on drugs breaking into your place tonight a lot more than EU/ Russian/ Mexican soldiers enforcing world government upon you.

I think that if you keep a solid financial footing and put plenty of effort/ energy into preparing to defend yourself today then there is nothing wrong with the majority of your energy going toward the kind of worst case scenario deserving of a fiction novel.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jim's Quote of the Day

I know some of you, for whatever reason do not read Survivalblog so now and again I try to hilight things from there which pop out at me. Jims Quote of the Day is one of them so read it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why Do People Fail To Adapt?

1. Not seeing what is happening. Sometimes folks just aren't informed on what is going on. Hard to make logical conclusions and adapt to them if you don't have the information.

2. Refusal to accept the new reality. Folks will just stick their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away. Often this happens with a family who simply can't afford to maintain their current lifestyle. They will try to borrow and juggle bills and try to hold onto the greased string as long as they possibly can. Like tearing off a band aid going slower just makes it worse. Better to have a couple really rough months than a couple pretty rough years.

Also there are those starving farmers in Africa. Ya know the ones you always see on the aid commercials. The ones who keep planting pathetic little gardens on their 1/2 of an acre farm in the Sudan where 9/10 years there is a drought that kills all the crops.

3. They limit their options. They refuse to try the kind of food that is available and starve instead. They refuse to move to find work. They hope old jobs will come back instead of focusing on retraining and finding new employment.

4. They give up. Adapting, at least in the context we are talking about, is usually unpleasant. Like any other human situation there is a huge psychological factor. When something bad happens I am not saying you shouldn't be sad. Eat a carton of ice cream, or drink a half bottle of booze or whatever it is you do. Go to sleep, wake up and get the heck on with your life. It will eventually get better.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Thoughts On Fitness, Finances and Life

I wish people would realize that if your body doesn't work you don't have jack squat. My current sickness has been a big reminder of this. No matter what preparations I had made when I was down for the count it didn't matter at all. People who try to do all sorts of great stuff but have significantly limiting medical issues that are at least slightly lifestyle based are missing the point. They can have all the pre positioned supplies and skills but without the functional use of their body it is all for not. Instead of working to shoot a squirrel in the butt at 800 meters work on being able to maneuver wearing full kit. Instead of focusing on (while wonderful) redundant food storage and production capabilities think about being able to carry a pair of 5 gallon buckets full of food up the stairs from the basement.

Common sense says most people aren't 25-30 with perfectly healthy bodies. Of course if you are older or have some injuries or whatnot it isn't easy. However you must be brutally honest to figure out what sort of conditions and past injuries you can improve upon. Many "pre existing conditions" and "life long injuries" are miraculously cured by moderating your caloric intake (particularly fat and booze), exercising regularly and getting to a reasonable body weight.

Without the capability to use your body you are screwed plain and simple. Do whatever you can to improve or keep that capacity.

As for money today. It seems that things are just sorta slogging along. The boat has a slow leek that the bilge pumps can keep up with and the engines are making nasty sounds but still working. No clear and definite stuff seems to be happening, certainly not positive stuff. Some ominous things that could be bad but like anything else if you look hard enough for it you will find something. I think a lot of us look that hard and claim it as clear indicators that doom is days away.

Unemployment is high and shows no signs of getting better. Business owners and corporations are scared that some crazy regulation is coming down the pike (it may well be) so they are staying lean and holding cash instead of putting it back into operations. As this is not likely to change soon I don't expect the unemployment situation to improve dramatically for some time.

However despite all the gloom and doom we read and often pass on most folks are still working and all that jazz. As for what to do I think a lot of common sense personally conservative stuff still applies. Your mortgage/ property taxes or rent payment aren't going away. Sorry but lets be real. It makes sense to try and get out of debt because even if inflation may be looming increased costs of everything, inflation (arguably the same thing but you know what I mean) and potential future job losses may make those somewhat cheaper dollars harder to get.

Even if you are fortunate (don't believe the hype 9.5% unemployment [we could discuss the validity and significance of reported unemployment numbers but lets just rock with it for this discussion] means 91.5% of people are employed) enough to keep your current income there is a real likelihood that not so long from now it will buy significantly less. Maybe you will keep the exact same income and it will buy less or maybe your income will drop a bit, who knows. Think about what you would do if you lost 10, 20 or even 30 percent purchasing power.

Maybe you want to live cheaper now to get ready for what may come but darn sure you want to have the capacity to live cheaper pretty darn quick. It is easy to buy steak and shrimp this week then beans n rice next week, particularly if you are used to producing and consuming decent tasting food from cheap staples. Same thing with going out to a fancy night on the town this week and having a DVD at home next week. However it is a lot harder to ditch the payment on the new fancy car you need to get to work, the Visa bill or heaven forbid a home you can't really afford. If by good choices and some luck you are still in a comfortable position by all means enjoy the benefits of it. I am not classist and don't begrudge you anything. Just saying that it is good to be in a position where you can drastically (I think a 30% change in purchasing power would be pretty darn drastic) change your normal operating expenses.

Personally we can eat pretty decently with good healthy food we are used to eating for very little money. Also I am working on home brewing which helps.  I love Chimay but it is expensive even in the best of times. I can have good quality beer for less than the cheapest commercially produced stuff which is pretty cool.

We have a house guest right now. Wifey's Vice Sister who will hereby be referred to as  Miley came to help out for awhile when Walker comes. Interestingly enough her father has been our only other house guest in Germany to date. Other then the realization that I can't walk to or from the shower naked (well I could but it would be sorta awkward) it is cool. Wifey has really enjoyed her presence while I was gone and is just ecstatic that she is here.  She has said before that she needs a wife and proclaimed earlier today that Miley is filling that role nicely. Though I have spent a good amount of time around Miley it is always at those busy family things where there are a ton of people and lots of stuff going on. I am enjoying being able to hang out with her in a less hectic situation.

Anyway back to the point somehow we got to talking about gold yesterday. It occurred to me that we have at least theoretically (since it doesn't pay dividends or benefit from compound inflation and we aren't going to sell it) we have made good money on the gold we purchased a couple years ago. Not a couple points or an above average 10 percent but about 70 percent. We could sell and have done far better than we would have anywhere else over the same period of time. Heck I ordered some silver about a month ago and the price has gone up a couple bucks an ounce since then. I think there is money to be made right now if you have the cash and some tolerance for risk. Personally I have a bit of cash and a decent tolerance for risk, if just because my investment time line is so long.

I think in a way this whole economic crisis is good for us. It is kind of good for America at large because hopefully it will remind people to live in a reasonable fashion somewhere below their means and save a bit for the future instead of being in some sort of home equity/ credit based drunken orgy of consumer spending. Furthermore I think it is good for survivalist/ preppers to learn or be reminded that we need to be realistic and prepare for numerous likely scenarios as well as stockpiling bulk grains and semi automatic rifles. The sort of cold war era/ Y2K preparations that skip all kinds of likely issues and goes strait to Mad Max modern world is gone and we're all killing each other over Krispix thinking is seriously and fatally flawed. A reminder to also cover the more realistic bases is a good thing.

I am bored of writing for tonight. Going to drink a glass of water and have some home made pizza then go to bed.

Fun With China

“China gets 10pc growth: the US gets 10pc unemployment. That doesn’t seem the basis for a happy marriage,” said Prof Fergusson

Read the rest of the article here

Employment Patterns Are Changing; These Jobs Aren't Coming Back

It was unpopular but completely true when John McCain said it. 

The 10 American Industries That May Never Recover

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oh the News

I think it is amazing how the MSM just keeps trying to talk about how we are in a recovery. Yeah we are in a jobless recovery where the stock market is pretty flat, and housing is still in the dumpster. That would be sorta like saying you were sober last night even though the facts are that you drank a case of beer, got kicked out of the club, vomited on the side of the road on the way home and passed out. It doesn't matter what you call it, it matters what the actual facts are.

I don't know where things are going. I suspect that significant joblessness will be an issue for some time. With so many people unemployed it is easy to replace workers so security will be lacking for many people. I don't know where the bottom of the housing market is but until the foreclosure mess is over and banks get all the foreclosed houses off their books things won't be in an honest place. Banks will try to hold onto these homes until prices come back but there are just too many of them for that to work.

From roughly 2008 at least partly into 2009 was really circle the wagons time. Things are better now but not necessarily good. Even if almost 1 in 10 is out of work most of us are still employed and a lot of the uncertainly has gone away. You can probably let up a little bit but I wouldn't go crazy. If you can afford it then by all means go out for a nice dinner or take a weekend vacation to the beach. However I would still hold off on getting your dream boat or touring Europe for a year. For the purposes of short and mid term planning right now I would sacrifice some return in order to have liquidity. A CD that earns an extra tenth of a percentage point but locks your money in for two years is not something I would go for right now.

It might be a great opportunity to get some great deals on stocks. If you have the appetite for risk and are looking at the long term. Personally I meet those characteristics and am buying. Wheat and tube socks do not benefit from compound inflation while investments do.

My point is that the news isn't everything. Especially the propaganda headlines. Look for stories with facts from places you trust. Look at what is going on in your community and with people you know.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The economy is so bad that:

I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

I ordered a burger at McDonald's and the kid behind the counter asked,  "Can you afford fries with that?"

CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

If the bank returns your check marked  "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.

Hot Wheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.

McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

Parents in  Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.

A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into  Mexico  .

Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.

Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore.

The Mafia is laying off judges.

Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.
Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Oh Great!!   The guy who made $50 Billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 Trillion disappear!

And, finally...
I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc.,  I called the Suicide Lifeline. I got a call center in  Pakistan , and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What To Do?

I was talking with a friend recently. We were talking about preps and money and he said "I just don't know what to do". As I lay in bed waiting to fall asleep I thought about that. It has been in my head for a couple days now.

What to do? Well first I have to say that I do not have a crystal ball or anything. If I did we would have won several hundred million dollars in Powerball. Our time would be split between a little place near our families, our retreat and our awesome sail boat. However since I still have a job and no awesome sail boat this obviously isn't the case. [I guess it is probably smart to have an explicit disclaimer. I am just a guy who writes a blog, not a financial adviser or an accountant or whatever. You're an adult and you make your own decisions.]

What should you do to prepare for the future. Here are some thoughts in no particular order.

1. Make yourself as employable as possible. In more situations than not our current economy will be functioning in some form or another. You are going to work to get money to live. If/ when unemployment goes up even more less qualified people will find "crap jobs" as their only options.

2. Stay out of debt as much as possible. In particular avoid adjustable interest debt.

3. Diversify. I don't know what is going to happen but I think it is going to be a wild ride. Compound interest working in your favor is good. Having some gold and silver is good. Real estate if done in the right way is good. Having a few things you could barter if need be is good.

4. Don't get too attached to anything. If the area you are in goes down the tubes in terms of crime or the job market then consider moving somewhere else. Saying "but I live here" isn't much conciliation when it is hard to get a job at McDonalds because unemployment is 25%. I have a distinct feeling that economics and or crime  will make some regions of the US undesirable places to live. [I don't think the odds are long that economics are going to continue to drive people out of the rust belt. However if I had to wager one trend I would say that people will start moving away from the Mexican border/ Southwest in the coming years.]

5. Going along with the last one. Do not be afraid to act decisively. If it is time to convert one currency to another or get the heck out of dodge a couple days (heck even a few hours) can be the difference between preserving your wealth or safety and being left broke or stuck in a bad place.

6. Save, Save, Save. I think the next decade is going to be a wild roll a coaster of a ride. Periods of income disruption and unemployment are going to become more common. Unemployment will go up (probably then back down then up again, etc).

7. I say this one last because it is pretty much survivalist bread and butter. Have the means to feed, protect and generally carry on as normal of a life as possible for a reasonable period of time (if not longer).  

What are you going to do?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Risk Assessment

Discussion on my post a couple days ago made me feel like expounding on something. At work we do risk assessments. [To be honest they are almost always a bunch of BS. For example lots of people die in vehicle accidents, mostly because they are tired and have been driving for too long. Instead we create "controls" like radio checks and assistant drivers instead of actually making sure the drivers get a good nights sleep and have them switch out or split real long non mission essential (say 3rd ID's march to Baghdad) drives into more realistic and manageable sections. Anyway tangent finished.] Anyway what is important is to consider not just how severe the impact of a certain scenario would be, but HOW LIKELY IT IS. The chart below is a good visual for this.

The values for likelihood are pretty easy to conceptualize. You could define the values for severity/ impact in pretty much any logical way. In terms of physical injuries I would say minimal would be something that could be fully treated by a normal person with a modest first aid kit. Minor might be something requiring medical attention, say a few stitches or a sprained ankle. Major could be needing hospitalization. Serious might be limb or eyesight and catastrophic would be death. Follow where I am going.

So lets get back to that hurricane. If you live in the coastal south east a hurricane is a highly likely scenario. If you live in Colorado a hurricane is extremely improbable.

A flat tire is probably a minimal impact (unless you are ill equipped and on a lonely road during a blizzard) but it is a near certainty. I imagine over the course of most peoples lives they will have at least a few flat tires. Thus to that guy living in Colorado it makes sense to prepare more for a flat tire than a hurricane even though the impact of a hurricane would be major (of course it would vary by hurricane and how those individuals fare in it but just go with me) and the impact of the flat tire would be minimal.

Getting struck by lightning would really suck. Unless you make a habit of standing on top of really tall stuff or waving around metal poles in open fields during lightning storms the likelihood of getting struck by lightning is extremely improbable. Thus there isn't much reason to worry about getting struck by lightning.

To me it makes sense to look at how likely a situation is and how severe the impact would be when figuring out what scenarios to allocate our time and resources towards preparing for. This is why I see something like say, a financial emergency or a robbery/ home invasion as more pressing than Zimbabwe style hyperinflation or those Russian troops the UN has secretly been sneaking into the US coming to your neighborhood to enforce the edicts of the UN/ Trilateral Commission/ Illuminati/ Bildenberg's.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

quote of the day

"At the very least, though, we should make the return to a more normal jobs environment an unflagging national priority."
-Don Peck

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Well It's 2010

We have had a nice pretty quiet day. Ran some errands then went to the library for books and DVD's. Their DVD collection is pretty decent. Certainly not a rental store but good for just getting something to break of the monotony of bad TV. Spent the rest of the day hanging out at home. Had dip and chips for dinner which we enjoy and then went for a long walk. Saw the ball drop on some Spanish TV network and watched the fireworks from our window.

Wifey is on the phone to her mother 'from the future'. I am sitting here reflecting on the last year. In some ways it was better than 2008 but in many others it was worse. Honestly in Aug-Oct 2008 there were a couple times I thought our economy was going down. I remember one day when the stock market dropped something like 500 points and a few banks failed. After watching the news on the TV at work I quietly excused myself to go get all the cash the ATM would give me, from two separate accounts. I did that to add to the cash we already had lying around. At that point I probably would have given a 30% chance of a banking holiday over the weekend.

2009 was in many ways a surprisingly anticlimactic year. It was bad but not in a things go all Mad Max sort of way. It was more of a "you might loose your job and taxes are going up left and right while banks continue to randomly fail" sort of way. There was no shooting neighbors to protect your cereal, just a good old fashioned depression. I know that is a technical definition that some economists will give after the fact but a depression by any other name........

We got a new President but as they said in the song "Only the names have changed." There were lots of plans and discussions and hope but little if anything was actually accomplished. The try and pass everything at once plan created a bottleneck where nothing got passed. We started 2009 in two wars and left it still in two wars. The year saw about a eleventy hundred gazillion dollars borrowed and a few gazillion more just printed. Probably more importantly a lot of people lost their jobs. The official numbers are a bit above 10% so once underemployed and such are factored in it is probably more like 15%. The dollar isn't worth much while gold and silver have gone up in price significantly. Our debt to China is becoming a joke that isn't funny because it is so true.

What will happen in 2010?

Maybe the log jam effect of political plans and programs will clear up and some of that stuff folks like me are worried about will get passed. It looks like some sort of health care bill is going to be passed. It will lead to more government control and windfall profits for insurance and drug companies. I imagine in the short term precious metals prices will adjust downward but after that who knows. They will then go up and stay the same for awhile, then go down, then up, then stay the same and then go down again. I think the dollar is going to go up some in value. Not so much because the US is doing awesome (our massive surplus binge doesn't seem likely to end) but because of the recent problems in Dubai and Greece plus looming debt concerns about the UK. It is becoming apparent that other countries did all the stupid stuff the US did though maybe less dramatically and a bit later.

It seems that Iraq is going pretty well though what could happen when we really start drawing down is anybodies guess. Iran's recent power play plus concerns over sectarian issues are all looming. This might however be more like 2011-12 time frame. Afghanistan is the real question mark but we will just have to see how this surge goes. We will likely have a very good idea what the outcome is going to be by fall 2010. Terrorism is going to continue to be a mobile, nation less and motivated threat.

I think the 2010 mid term elections could be very interesting. A swing of the pendulum back towards the right is quite possible. It is a distinct possibility that the Dem's will loose the coveted 60 votes in the Senate.

Personally I think you should keep the proverbial wagons circled. At a minimum keep expenses reasonable and try to pay off as much debt as possible while stashing something just in case. Don't stop living your life but it probably isn't the time to take that two month long epic 5 star trip through Europe or buy a shiny new sports car or do the dream remodel to the kitchen. Buying some guns and ammo if you are in need and working on your food storage and all of that common sense stuff still applies. However being ready for a drastic and potentially long loss in income is probably more useful than say, building a fighting position in the front yard to protect from the Johnson's frontal assault to get your Crispix. It will probably be a boring year of depression.

Maybe I am completely off base. I know for a second I would not have imagined President Obama being elected so it is anyone's guess. We can talk about what happens next year.

Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Top 10 Cash Strapped States

Read the article here. It strikes me that none of these states are seriously cutting spending. They will furlough employees for a day or two a month and make some other mainly cosmetic 'cuts' but won't really accept that they can't spend like they could a couple years ago. I know sometimes Wifey and I spend more than we should and deplete the checking account more than is ideal or maybe even prudent. Sometimes a bunch of expenses come up at once and sometimes we just spend too much or decide to take a spur of the moment weekend trip. We fix these problems by adjusting our spending downwards to get back within our means at a maintainable level.

Conversely at other times it seems that we are just rolling in money. In these times we might splurge a little and go on a trip or buy something we have really been wanting and generally are a bit more free than normal with spending. The thing is that we realize these times are not permenant so we don't permenantly change our spending with commitments we will not be able to make at more normal income levels. It is easy enough to not to out to a nice dinner or whatever but it is a lot harder to say pay half of the loan on your fancy new car. The issue here is that we can make choices in that way and adjust our spending as needed while government (at any level) has a very hard time doing that. They can look at funding some building or repairing some stuff but many (pet socialist) programs which get started 'temporarily' are difficult or impossible to stop. As they say there is nothing more permenant than a temporary government program.
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