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The purpose of The Prepper's Guide is to educate, motivate and provide practical resources to support the prepared lifestyle without encouraging panic, dissension or sensationalism.

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Archive for June 2012

Coping With Unemployment Before it Happens

The one thing about a “secure” employment situation is that there is no such beast.  At anytime a person can find themselves out of a job, even if you are excelling in your position, even if the boss likes you, even if you are a company asset.

The recent “economic downturn” showed us that.  Companies that had been successful for years found themselves laying off employees who thought they had found a company home.  Even large corporations like Microsoft, Boing and Intel laid off thousands of employees with almost no notice.

No matter how safe you think your job is you should expect the unexpected.  This means you need to have a plan, an “exit strategy” if you will.  This plan should include:

  • 6 months of salary put away to cover expenses, if you are laid off.
  • Keep your resume current.  Add potential referrals, new skillsets, a good job description of your current job.
  • Stay up to date with your industry and your profession by adding certifications and training to your resume.
  • Keep any letters of commendation or testimonials from clients or customers in a file.
  • Decide now if you need to adjust your career trajectory by getting additional training in your field or perhaps training in a new or related field.
  • Accept new assignments that allow you to stretch yourself.

You may even consider whether or not you might like to go into business for yourself.  I know more than one hilariously successful business owner who started up a business working from home because they were laid off of their job.

What Color Is Your Parachute?There is a great book that everyone who wants to be prepared for unemployment should definitely read.  It is “What Color Is Your Parachute?”  by Richard K. Boules.  This is not just about getting a job.  It is about career development and how to do what you need to do to be prepared if you either want to change careers, are preparing for a career or are looking for work.  This is considered the employment bible by most employment specialists out there.  Must have reading for your preparedness bookshelf.



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Provident Living – Use It Up, Wear It Out…

We live in a throw away culture.  Disposable is the catch phrase nearly guaranteed to sell a new product.  Only slightly more used is the word Recycleable.  The thing is that recycling is not a new concept.  Re-purposing materials was the rule rather than the exception not that long ago.

There was a time when cities didn’t need such huge waste storing facilities.  People just didn’t throw that much away.  Organics were either fed to the farm animals or ended up in the compost pile.  Non organics usually just found a new life in a different function.  Old clothes were cut apart and resewn into new garments.  When you couldn’t do that anymore they were used for making quilts.  And when they weren’t even good for that, you used them for rags or stuffing for a home made doll or a scarecrow.

My grandfather had a saying:

“Use it up or wear it out.
Make it do or do without.”

I believe he probably learned it from his mother.

There are two approaches to a provident lifestyle that I try to follow,

1. Buy things of good quality and take good care of them so they last a long time and are worthy of your investment.

2. Learn to repair and repurpose what we already have.  Either find it a new home with a group such as FreeCycle.Org or find a new use for all or part of it or donate it to a charitable organization.

 The less that ends up in the landfill the better for all of us.

Now that doesn’t mean we have to be pack rats.  What it does mean is we should carefully consider before we make a purchase how quickly it will end up in the dump and whether it is worth exchanging for a piece of our life.

What do I mean by that?  Every day, no matter what we do to earn a living, we trade a certain number of hours for a paycheck.  We then take that paycheck and exchange it for goods and services.  Every time we spend any amount of money, we are spending a piece of someone’s life.  Are the chotskies and thingamabobs we purchase actually worth that?

Only you can determine that, but you may ask yourself:

  •     Do I need this?
  •     If I don’t need this, is the benefit of the purchase worth the price?
  •       Will it change my life for the better?
  •     Is there a less expensive alternative?
  •     If I didn’t purchase it, would anything bad happen?

So many people say they don’t have enough money to invest in a savings account, but just not spending money a few times a month on something we truly don’t need could give us the money to invest even $20 to $50 a paycheck.  Over a year or two, voila!  You have an emergency fund.  Maybe not a large one, but a good start.

Learning skills like how to repair a car or do household repairs and maintenance can save you thousands of dollars over time.  Learning skills like how to do carpentry or sewing allows you to create better quality products than you could otherwise afford to buy or hire done.

Putting these things into practice and making them an important part of your preparedness plan will pay large dividends over time and can be very personally satisfying.

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Why Food Storage?

Why Food Storage?

Not so long in the past it was considered a normal thing to have some food “put by” and stored in pantries and root cellars or even on a back porch.  This store of good food, often canned, dehydrated and preserved in the home was a source of pride and comfort, just as important as a savings account when saving for a rainy day.

We have come a long way in so many areas.  Our supermarket shelves are well-stocked, or so it appears.  However, in the case of a natural disaster or other large scale emergency, the shelves can clear very quickly of needed items.

To get started, just buy an extra bag of rice or an extra bag of beans.  Now you have a couple of days of extra food and it didn’t inflate your grocery bill hardly at all.  Next time buy a few cans of stewed tomatoes and some kind of canned green veggies.  Now you have a couple days of balanced meals and the tomatoes will give the beans some extra flavor.  Add to that a bag of popcorn and now you have a couple weeks of healthy snacks.  Do you see how that goes?

Over time you can pick up a few extra items every time you shop.  This little store can quickly grow and is wonderful to supplement things when things get rough and money for food is scarce.  Be sure to buy things your family will actually eat and then rotate the older items out of storage and replace them on a regular basis to keep your supplies fresh.

Planting a garden and preserving what you don’t eat right away is another great way to inexpensively add to your food storage.  Food can be dehydrated (see our article on building your own solar food dehydrator) or canned or frozen.
Remember about frozen food, although frozen is probably the best for you and the most palatable, in the event of a power outage, frozen food may become more of a liability than a help unless you have some way of supplementing the power.  You are also limited by the size of your freezer.

One other way of putting together a goodly supply of food for a difficult time is to buy specially preserved food from a good distributor.  These supplies usually come either dried or freeze dried and are easy to prepare as long as you have clean water and some way to cook (see our article about a solar oven you can buld yourself using materials available in a dollar store).

In future articles we will talk about the advantages of each method with some great tips on how to build up food storage on a budget, optimized storage conditions and different ways to preserve food you grow yourself or buy in quantity during the season.  We will also have recommendations on how to balance nutrition to provide a healthy diet during otherwise stressful times.

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A Long Term Preparedness Plan

Life throws a lot of unexpected things in your path.  Some are really wonderful, even if unexpected; a new baby, a raise, a bonus, a wedding or even winning the lottery.  Oftentimes, however, we get new challenges; loss of a job, a death in the family, catastrophic illness, a house fire or  just an “economic downturn”.

Whenever possible, when we plan ahead we can sometimes prevent a nasty surprise, but most of the time the best we can do is to prepare ourselves to be able to make the best of a bad situation.

This is where having a long term plan comes into play.  There are many things you can do to prepare for the more obvious possibilities.  The emphasis here is on “can”.  It is possible to make long term preparations for both the expected and unexpected exigencies of life.  Some people feel uncomfortable thinking about these things, but in the final analysis no one ever looks back on a difficult time and says, “Man, I sure wish I hadn’t prepared so much for this.”

So what are some key things we can put in a long term preparedness plan?  Some suggestions are:

  •     Food and fuel storage
  •     Emergency supplies such as a 72 hour kit
  •     An emergency savings account
  •     Life, home, auto, pet and medical insurance
  •     A living will
  •     A will
  •     Burial insurance
  •     A health and fitness program
  •     Elderly care insurance
  •     Alternative living space (such as an rv)
  •     Learn how to repair the things you own
  •     Backups for your computer data
  •     Learn how to build things out of raw materials
  •     Alternative energy possibilities

And there are many things I left off of the list.  The trick is to start where you are.  Play the what if game and see what things you are already prepared for.  Then look at the list of things that you are not prepared for and start with the easiest and quickest one to fix.  We will be doing articles in the future on many different things you can do and how to do them inexpensively and easier than you think.  Stay tuned…

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Want To Go Solar? Start Small…

Most people think of solar energy as a big expensive renovation of their home.  Pricey and not necessarily worth it.

However, you don’t have to do a complete solar redo to benefit from many types of solar energy and begin to save money right away on your power bill.

First of all there are tons of DIY solar projects using passive solar energy.  You can find plans and instructions on blogs, on Facebook, YouTube and through searches on the internet.

Secondly, there are a lot of ready to go out of the box solar solutions for everything from charging your laptop or your cell phone or both to recharging batteries or lighting up your home.  As research brings us more and more solar powered or solar rechargeable devices, we can rely less and less on the power grid.

Fair warning, though, using the various peripheral solar devices can become addictive and you may find yourself doing that solar reit after all.  Therefore, we will be doing several articles in the near future about everything from reviews of the latest solar gadgets to how to solarize your home once and for all.  It should be (ahem) an enlightening experience.

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