Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Economic Collapse Preparedness: What to do?

It was during that conversation with Ray a few days ago that he nailed me with that question.
We had been talking for about an hour about how things went down here in Argentina, the similarities, inflation, how “shopping carts” keep getting more and more expensive, how crime affects your lifestyle. But what to do? The person now gets it, the person not only understands the wisdom in preparing for disasters large and small but comprehends that due to the current economic situation, life in general is going to change from now on, unemployment, inflation, loss of life quality in general, crime. But now what?

Step One: Mental preparation

Anyone that knows a thing or two about survival will tell you that survival is 90% mindset. While I agree with that survival is about embracing a certain mindset, I know there’s certain basic “always” gear that you must have to get through some situations, and that no matter how much mindset you have a person with 100 pounds overweight and no physical conditioning whatsoever is not going to walk 50 miles cross-country during extreme cold weather. Mindset doesn’t change the material reality.
Yet I agree, mindset is the most important part and its your first step towards dealing with the “What to do?” question.
1)Accepting there is an economic crisis to being with.
My grandma says it to me sometimes “ Look Fernando, all these people in restaurants, going out for dinner. And then they say there’s poverty.” The false hope is evident in her voice. A couple blocks worth of restaurants and busy bars does not compensate the square miles all around it of poverty and shanty towns. A small number of people do well (there’s always that) but the ever increasing number of poor accepts no debate. If every year there’s more poor, if every year shanty towns or Hoovervilles grow, then things are not getting better.
This is step one for you my friend. Accepting there is a problem and you should do something about it.
2)Accepting that things are different from now on and acting accordingly.
This will influence every aspect of your life. From understanding that you may lose your job at any time to knowing you can’t foretell how much your salary will be worth (its purchasing power) 6 months from now. There’s no “normal” any more. You don’t graduate, get a job and live happily ever after. You study a career which you enjoy because you know you’ll have to be very good at it, maybe create your own source of income. You understand that from now on you will have jobs, lose them, get fired no matter how good you are, and at time be unemployed for long periods of time. You have to be mentally tough so that this doesn’t get to you, getting depressed makes everything much worse. Its understanding your kids aren’t safe anymore. You know you can no longer just trust them and let them make their own mistakes. Mistakes get teens killed here. You can no longer afford to be adventurous, get off the main roads you know. There’s places here in Buenos Aires where you simply will be attacked, lose your car, your clothes or your life. The GPS wont tell you this, you have to know the areas and the risks they represent yourself.
Getting mentally ready for tough times involves all this and much more. The way you spend money. Can I afford to go on holydays? Can I afford to leave my house alone, or trust the neighbor to keep an eye on it for me? Its like Homers lion repelling stone he bought from Lisa. Your neighbor “keeping an eye on your house” has worked so far because there was no real threat to begin with. Your neighbor can’t watch over your place all day and criminals aren’t stupid, they’re just evil…
Ask yourself what would you do if you lost your job NOW. What would you do for money? What kind of home business would you start? Who would you call? You should check now if that person can or is even willing to help. What expenses would you cut? All these things, people are much better off if they plan ahead. If you review your expenses its not hard to cut it down a hundred bucks or two at he very least. There’s people that pay for cell phones they don’t use, subscriptions to magazines they never read. Go over your bank and credit card statement and see which are needless expenses. Even better, use cash instead and write down every single cent you spend on daily basis. I did this and I can’t begin to explain how it puts everything into perspective.
Start saving money. Yes, in spite of the crisis. If you can’t save 5-10% of your income then seriously review your lifestyle and expenses, maybe your job isn’t paying as much as it should. What would you do if your bank closed today, if ATMs have no money? Let me answer that for you. You are screwed. Exactly. Have a at least a months worth of expenses in cash at home. This is what you use when banks close their doors and everyone is running around looking for cash, going to the next town to see if they find an ATM with money. As of today, I’d say that you should put 25% of your savings into precious metals. More if you don’t have physical investments. Understand that as you read this, the purchasing power of the money in your bank is going down. Gold and silver aren’t going up in price. It’s the dollar that is slowly sliding down. Don’t panic but understand this. That’s why commodities in general are going up. Its not gold, silver, coffee and soy becoming expensive. It’s the fiat currency losing value.
Every rational decision made from now on will go through this mindset filter. From parking on certain areas of the parking lot (close as possible for a quick exit) to the groceries you buy (nutritious, easy to cook, long shelf life) Your goal is to achieve to do this without even thinking. There’s also another factor that comes into play: Commitment. Talking is easy, even spending money isn’t that hard if you have it, but if it comes along with a time consuming and even worse, physical effort, that’s where the line is drawn between those that do and those that don’t. Will you have the willpower to start going to the gym and lose that extra weight? Both for your physical health as well as strength for self defense training? Working out will build up your immune system, improve your health in general, sure it will save you thousands worth of medical problems that come along with a sedentary life style. The benefits are too numerous. Dropping the junk food saves money and helps you lose weight, can you restrain yourself next time you go to the supermarket or stop for gas?
Survival mindset wont cost you a single buck, but it’s the hardest thing to achieve. Not just thinking a certain way, but actually reflecting that with your actions and change of lifestyle.
That’s step one folks.

Step Two: Physical Preparation.

1) Your Body: Your body is in essence your most important physical tool. Buying guns wont change your ability to defend yourself bare handed. Buying a fancy “bug out” vehicle wont change your running speed or for how long you can walk. When was the last time you walked until you dropped? Do you have an idea of how long can you walk carrying a bag (+ a baby?) until you can’t go any further? This is strongly linked to your willpower capability, but all the willpower in the world wont help you overcome years of sedentary life, lack of strength and cardio endurance. There’s no other option but training, going to the gym, running, spinning, and working on that which you wish to improve.
I know people feel tired just by thinking of doing all this. The key here is associating these things with pleasure. If you think of spending a couple hours in the gym as a torture session you simply will try to avoid it. That’s the most natural thing. Instead if you associate it with pleasure, and working out does release endorphins, you will look forward to it. Its no longer a torture or unpleasant time, and you look forward to it and try to make time for it instead of coming up with excuses not to do it.
Your Gear: For anyone getting started into preparedness of any kind, some basic gear is needed. My advice is to do LOTS of research, this blog has countless reviews and posts about it, just click GEAR on the topic list on the left column. After looking at what you need, buy quality, cry once and don’t make the all too common mistake of buying junk. There’s affordable quality, you don’t have to spend a fortune.
For the person just getting started into this, the best way to go about is categorizing your items. EDC (everyday carry) will be what you keep with you at all times (again, check EDC on the Topics list) Your home kit is what you keep at home, and it may include a “bug out bag” in case you have to abandon your home (which you do only when you must) another survival kit should be kept in your vehicle and work place.
My quick shopping list for someone that is just getting started would go like this:
Buy a Glock 17/19 and learn how to use it. If you’re not a “gun person” and plan on not learning other than the basic safety rules, (I don’t recommend this attitude) get a 38 Special revolver for last resource self defense. You wont know much, but at least when you have an attacker closing in on you and wishing you had got better training and a better weapon, at least you’ll instinctively point the gun in the bad guys general direction and pull the trigger.
Stock up on food and water: 6 months minimum worth of food, two weeks worth of stored water (gallon per person per day) , more is better. I didn’t make it top of the list because people are more likely to buy food anyway than a firearm. Man, just trust me you need both. I’ve needed both at a time.
Camping gear: This will include a tent and sleeping bags for emergency shelter in case you have nothing else. A stove and cooking kit for preparing food (stock up on fuel as well, even if its just fuel tablets or fire gel) a water filter (very important) backpack, big knife, Swiss army knife, Leatherman Wave mutlitool. Also LED flashlights, get at least three of these, can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be able to see. Research disasters and you quickly understand the importance.
EDC: At all times on you. A folding knife, capable of being used for defense as well. Make sure you at least get one class on how to use such knife if you have to. An LED light and a multitool. I strongly encourage you to carry a bag at all times which allows you to have a bit more gear. Maybe you already carry a backpack in school or college, or a briefcase or laptop case. Include a small bottle of water and be mindful of keeping it full, a shemagh or large handkerchief (many uses), flat roll of duct tape. A couple energy bars ( not those sissy diet bars but ones that have calories in it), A small first aid kit, including a face shield, collapsible respirator and roll of Celox gauze. Hope you never need to use it but may save you if you suffer severe hemorrhage. These items don’t take much space in your bag. If you don’t carry one everyday you might want to start.
Gear isn’t just about having, you must know how to use all of this as well.

Step Three: Gaining the Basic Skills.

If you truly understood the need to be self reliant as a matter of principle you’ll soon want to be able to know how to do things for yourself. There’s people out there that can’t change a tire, let alone fix a leaking faucet, know basic first aid, what to do with different types of penetrating wounds and hemorrhages. What’s a sucking chest wound? What’s happening in the victim’s body, on the inside? Is there something you can do, other than wait as someone dies in front of you, with simple things you carry such as a small first aid kit, some duct tape, a plastic bag and a pocket knife? How about defending yourself with your bare hands and the weapons you carry? Do you even have the mindset to carry a weapon or do you still think that is over reacting? Perfectly normal people carry a gun every single day and there’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, with the crime levels already becoming common in USA, it’s the smart thing to do. The bare bone basic skills you should cover are first aid, self defense and defensive/evasive driving. Take basic or beginners course on each and specialize as money and time allows. There’s of course lots of information on line, but its no replacement for face to face instruction and hands-on practice. First aid classes provided by the red cross are free, though you want to learn how to treat more serious wounds, hemorrhages, penetrating wounds and fractures, this will cover gun shot wounds as well. As for firearms, again, you can’t learn to do it just by reading, it’s a skill that must be acquired through instruction and repetition. Occasionally there’s free classes by some well recognized schools. Even if you have to pay for it, its one of those things you just have to do and its well worth the money. Defensive driving is a bit more difficult to come by since its not as common, but you must know what to do and how to react when chased, attacked by carjackers or dealing with an angry mob.

Quick list:
1) Sit down and read this once again.
2) Go out now, or as soon as possible and buy the essential basics I mentioned, start with the gun and a couple boxes of ammo. Cross your fingers and hope you never need it. Don’t worry, if you buy a Glock you might as well buy gold, its not going down in value any time soon. Stop coming up with excuses for not having one. If that’s a concern for you, a gun vault or gun safe is still affordable and no one will have access to the firearm.
3) Go buy food, canned, long shelf life. If you want to start a garden knock yourself out but the thing to do right now is to have a supply of food. You’re not throwing a single cent away with this, you’ll end up eating it anyway. In fact the same canned food you buy now and eat 6 months later is likely to be more expensive.
4) Don’t forget the basic emergency supplies, including a stove and fuel, tent and sleeping bags, first aid kit, water filter, LED lights and lots of batteries.
5) Get some money out of the bank and keep a cash stash, put 25-50% (your call) into gold and silver. This %, is the only thing I can guarantee you’ll be saving if the economy collapses. Silver is a good alternative if you don’t have enough money for gold.
Once you have these basics covered you can relax. At the very least you’re better off than 99% of the population and you can start working on other long term goals.
Take care everyone,



Anonymous said...

I would add Water Gel for burns.

Anonymous said...

Good quickie intro, Ferfal. It will stop people from feeling overwhelmed like "what do I do first" or "I can't do all of those."


Anonymous said...

Most folks are normally 25% dehydrated. In an emergency situation, dehydration is your worst enemy. One should consume a minimum of 1 quart for every 50 pounds of body weight and carry a day's ration of water or more. If you are not going to the bathroom several times per day, you may be dehydrated, sluggish, and constipated. Constipation and subsequent bloating can lead to back injury as well as fecal impaction. Enema anyone? Traveler's diarrhea, or diarrhea from stress and illness and unusual food sources speed up the process of dehydration. Do you know where your next water hole is? Leave with a full tank and top off frequently.

There is an important difference between a water filter and a water purifier. The water *filter* removes bacteria. The water *purifier* removes the sub micron or much smaller virus and larger bacteria and some types of contaminates. Turbid or cloudy water contains more contaminates than clear water. In an emergency situation where one's movement is restricted and hasty, water from any source, include your boot print, may be necessary Carry and use a long piece, 2-3 feet of surgical tubing or similar or cloth that can soak up the source such as a cotton bandanna. Water can be found on or in any hard surface, or crevice if desperate. It is likely filthy and may contain toxic materials, yet if dying of thirst, pick your poison. This anticipated source could justify the best purifier you can afford. Always pre-filter with at least 5 layers of cotton material or similar if the water is not clear. Pre-filtering can prolong the proper operation of your filter or purifier.

In more populated areas, virus is more likely to be in the water as well as bacteria and contain a wider variety and higher concentration of contaminates making the use of a *purifier* necessary. An outbreak of disease in a city or area makes removing virus critically important. If you cannot afford or do not have a filter or purifier with you, then boiling is the best option, yet it must be done correctly.

Pre-filter if the water is not clear. Use your under shirt if necessary. Boiling the water at a full, maximum or 'rolling' boil for 3 minutes will sterilize any water at any altitude, including water that may eventually clog a filter or purifier if not pre-filtered' When boiling the water, make sure the lip or edge of the container used to boil is exposed to the heat source directly for the same length of time, and temperature. For example, if a metal bottle styled container is used, the 'lip' is not well exposed and it may be advisable to tilt the bottle shaped container until the opening or lip is exposed directly to the heat source. A straight walled container has lip that is exposed if enough flame is present, and the stainless steel G.I. cup has a lip that is rolled outward and is ideal. Bacteria and virus can remain on the lip and recontaminate the boiled water or your mouth as you drink. To double the speed one can process water, use two or containers, pouring the hot water in the second container and allowed to cool. If all you have is a plastic container, one needs is an empty food tin or any metal container. A little rust is fine. All else will be sterilized in the fire. a

Anonymous said...

Glad you're pointing out what ought to be obvious but most miss: Gold/Silver are not gaining in value, fiat currency is LOSING value despite what the MSM screams daily.

I've been listening to the "Gold is a loser" argument for 30 years.

Live in a very well-to-do area. Seems nice... and another break-in at a local store at night. Thugs trashed the place, took a camera and some petty cash. Signs of the times, even in a "good" neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Great concise guide to getting prepped for the newbie. I would also add a pump shotgun though to the preps. And a good SOLAR battery charger for those LED lights.

Maldek said...

Great post FerFal - very helpful!

Anonymous said...

I disagree with item #5 put 25-50% of your cash into gold/silver.

Seems like you've mentioned your own conflicting point of view on the blog before, which if I remember correctly, you can't eat gold and silver, and you certainly can't go buy stuff with it.

It takes time and special sources to trade precious metals for cash, which you can then use to pay bills, buy food, pay rent, etc.

I would argue that unless there are strong indicators of an impending currency crisis, cash is still the best money supply to have on hand.

It can be traded with common people for things of value, it doesn't require knowing the proper exchange rates to avoid getting screwed, and most importantly, you can use it to buy anything.

In the end I believe the practicality of cash outweighs any real or imagined weaknesses due to a currency crisis.

FerFAL said...

Anonymous said...

Seems like you've mentioned your own conflicting point of view on the blog before, which if I remember correctly, you can't eat gold and silver, and you certainly can't go buy stuff with it.
I'm sure I never said that, of course you can't eat gold, why state the obivous? But gold does protect you from the collapse of a fiat currency.


P.P. Mazzini said...

I liked this post Fernando.

No one has all of the answers, but of all of the bloggers out there, you are, IMHO, pointing people in the best direction. In the regular old economy everyone has a different role and unique circumstances. Some do well, some find great challenges, and some get crushed. Likewise, in an economic collapse, everyone is going to be impacted differently. If you happen to possess skills and resources that are in greater demand post-collapse, there is a strong probability that your prosperity is going to actually increase, particularly in a relativistic sense.

However, as you point out, the one change that will affect everyone is the increased level of social disorder and the attendant violence. Having experienced it first hand, you know that physical security is going to become a matter that requires greater attention, the further we descend into economic crisis. The one point I would make, and I intend to expand upon this in my blog, is that there is much more to physical security than buying a gun. This might not be apparent to you because Argentinians are more accustomed to greater social dislocation. But, in North America I commonly run across people who are deriving a false sense of security from their ownership of firearms. They keep a loaded .357 magnum under the pillow but don't have an alarm system, have flimsy doors, no bars on the windows, open the door to anyone who knocks etc. Much better in my opinion to attend to some very basic physical security precautions first, then having to reach for the gun first. Once you start that draw stroke, the situation has started to move out of your control, and really becomes a question of probabilities. I think that this is true from a practical, legal and moral perspective. Just my 2 cents.


Anonymous said...

Mazzini -

You're right about the dismal state of security in American homes--even with a secure front door, how many places have sliding glass doors? More than half of apartments I'd wager.

But Fernando is still right that the gun comes first. It comes first because it comes with you.


Anonymous said...

Great post. Other very important items to add to your gear or EDC are:

- Pocket AM/FM Radio: You want to know what is going on during an emergency. Add a small and light radio to your EDC. I would also buy a shortwave radio for your home.

- Water purification tablets: Filters are good but they are bulky and they have moving parts (they break). You want something light and reliable. For your EDC, water purification tablets makes more sense. Look for a reliable brand like Katadyn Micropur Water Purification.

David said...

In 2001 a Glock in the USA cost about 2 oz of gold. Today a Glock costs about 2/5th of an oz of gold.

In 5 years a Glock might cost an oz of gold again, or not. There is no way to know for sure. Their sales or importation might be outlawed by then, or you might be selling whatever is nailed down in order to get dollars with which to pay for electricity, food, and heat.

One thing for sure: statements that unequivocally tell you that something is absolutely certain are useless. No one knows the future, and often what people expect with the greatest conviction does not occur.

Before you take your scarce savings and trade it for gold at $1300/oz, decide what would happen if you lost your job and gold's dollar price fell in half. Gold may zoom to $5,000/oz or it may drop to $500/oz, and no one knows for sure which it will hit first. Trust me, no matter how sure you are that it will hit $5k, if it first drops to $0.5k you'll want to beat your head against a wall, and might sell out at a loss in desperation.

Don't position to take an unrecoverable loss if at all possible.

Anonymous said...

Great post Ferfal! I've read your blog for a long time and recently read your book. This really got me off my butt and got me to do stuff NOW.

Any chance you will be writing a follow-up book based on this post?

FerFAL said...

Hi Anon, I'm working on another book and will include lots of good info. :-)
No idea when it will be ready though.


FerFAL said...

Hi PPM, thanks. One doesn't replace the other and you really need all of them. A house that isn't easy to break into give you the time needed to take action, but you also need the gun so as to protect yourself if the intruder doesn't matter if you're inside or not.

P.P. Mazzini said...

Fully agree Ferfal. You need both to possess effective security. The above posting about the invasion of Dr. Petit's home (and the ensuing dicussion in the comments) make that very clear. My point is that there are many people who don't have both, due to the false sense of security brought about by firearms ownership. I suspect that you, and most of the commentators will agree.