Friday, June 26, 2020

9 Steps to Secure Your Current Assets Before the Next Economic Downturn

By Timothy Gamble

Your home. Your car. Your cash. Your job. These are important assets for you and your family. Assets that are at risk in an economic crisis. Here are some ideas to help you secure your current assets before the next economic crisis:

1) Make sure the banks and insurance companies you use are financially healthy. There are rating services you can use, such as Bauer Financial and BankRate for banks and credit unions, and A.M. Best Company, Inc for insurance companies.

2) Pay off your mortgage if possible, or at least refinance into a fixed rate. For most people, their home is their largest and most important financial asset. Yet, in 2009 over 3 million families lost their homes to foreclosure.  Don't be one of those in the next economic meltdown.

3) Pay off your vehicles, and anything else that you are making payments on that you don't want to lose. Can't pay off your vehicle anytime soon? Then trade down and get out from under that car payment. That clunker you own outright may look embarrassing, but it will be of more use to you than that shiny new car that gets towed away because you missed a payment. Same goes for other things that your making payments on that might get repossessed in a crisis.

4) Pay your taxes on time and in full. The government has given itself extraordinary powers to seize your paycheck, savings, investments, and property to collect back taxes.

5) Put a portion of your savings into silver, gold and/or other hard assets. How much? Depending on which personal finance "expert" is talking, anywhere from 5% to 20%. I lean on the high side of that range. Remember, certificates that say you own X amount of gold or silver being held for you by some bank or investment company will only be worth the paper they are printed on during a severe financial crisis. Take physical possession of your gold or silver before the crisis hits.

Note: Bitcoin is NOT a hard asset, and doesn't go in this category. There is nothing wrong with investing in crypto-currencies such as bitcoin. Just keep in mind that there is some risk involved, and crypto-currencies can go down to zero.

6) Guard against identity theft. Identity theft is a $20 billion dollar a year industry, and it will only increase as the economy worsens. Be careful with whom you share your personal information. Shred or burn financial documents instead of just throwing them away. Be especially careful online, and keep your antivirus software updated daily.

7) Take steps to protect your current job. Check out the article Fifteen Commandments of Keeping Your Job. Don't give your employer a reason to fire you.

8) Get ready now to look for a new job. Don't wait until you are fired. Keep your resume constantly up-to-date. Make sure you have updated contact info for all your references. Start networking now - you will be more likely to find a new job through a friend or colleague than from the classifieds or even employment services. Building a network is essential career advice, good times or bad. 

You my also be interested in my article What To Do BEFORE Losing Your Job.

9) Learn new skills. Realize you may have to find a new job in a different field from your current job. Or you may have to go into business for yourself. Prepare by learning new skills. Take some classes at a local community college. Take a marketing and/or public relations class (surprisingly useful to most jobs/careers). Learn to sell (read the book SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham - considered a business classic). Brush up on your computer skills. Learn coding. Learn bookkeeping & accounting. Learn Spanish for the workplace. Consider learning a trade (electrician, plumber, welder, HVAC repair, etc.) as a back-up to your current career. The more you know, the more employable you will be. 

Don't wait until the next financial crisis hits to protect your assets. Start preparing now.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

THE Number-One, Top Long-Term Priority For Survival

By Timothy Gamble

Remember the near empty shelves at American grocery stores just weeks ago? Even the big-box stores like Wal-mart, with all their money and clout, were nearly out of food.  The stores are still not fully restocked.

The biggest long-term threat to our survival is hunger & starvation. It doesn't matter what event or events lead to disruptions in our food supply - pandemic, war, economic or political chaos, or whatever. The fact is our modern agricultural and just-in-time food distribution systems are precariously balanced, and the most  Americans are not prepared for wide-spread or long-lasting disruptions. What if the empty shelves don't start filling up again after only a few weeks? What if they go empty, and stay empty, for months next time?

The long-term answer really isn't food storage, though that does help in the short-term. Few people will realistically be able to store all the food they, their household, and their extended circle of family & friends, will need for the several years it may take for society to completely rebuild the agricultural system & food distribution infrastructure after a major SHTF event. You MUST be able to provide at least some food for yourself - gardening, horticulture, fruit & nut orchards, chickens for eggs & meat, goats for milk, cheese, butter & meat...

Your most important long-term goal is food production. Yes, even if you live in the city, there are things you can do. Here are some ideas:

Learn small plot gardening techniques. For city folks and suburbanites lucky enough to have a small yard, the good news is that you don't need a huge garden to grow a lot of food. If you have even a little bit of land, you can have gardening success. Check out my articles Small Plot Gardening Tips and Lasagna Gardening on this website.

I also recommend the books Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre and The Mini Farming Bible: The Complete Guide to Self-Sufficiency on ¼ Acre, both by Brett Markham. You'll be surprised how much you can grow on a small plot of land, even if its less than a quarter acre!

Do you live in an apartment or condo, and literally have no yard for even a tiny garden? No worries. There are still ways you can produce some of your own food. Consider container gardening indoors, and on windowsills, porches, and balconies. A lot food can be grown in containers, including all herbs, all lettuce varieties, all greens (spinach, collards, turnip, mustard, Swiss chard, etc.), tomatoes (both regular size and the mini ones), carrots, beets, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, and zucchini. In fact, almost everything can be grown in containers. The only drawbacks are that container gardens need more frequent watering than regular gardens, and plant size is limited by the size of the containers you are using.

For some ideas and inspiration, watch these two You Tube videos

There are a number of books available on container gardening. One that I think is particularly good is The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers. 

Another idea is to consider joining, or starting, a community garden. This is a good option for people who live where the communists running their home owners' association won't let them have a garden. Community gardens are plots of land that are gardened collectively by a group of people. Each person or family may be assigned a particular plot within the larger piece of land, or the whole garden may be worked collectively. Rules vary. You can find more information and locations of community gardens in your area on the American Community Gardening Association website. If there is not a community garden in your area, that would make a perfect project for your church, synagogue, YMCA, or other civic organization.

Try Rooftop Gardening. Like its name sounds, rooftop gardening is simply gardening on rooftops, using containers (which can be quite large if the structure can support the weight). Rooftop gardening has become quite popular in recent years. You can find out more by searching "Rooftop Gardening" in your favorite search engine (I like Duck-Duck-Go, which respects your privacy, unlike Google or Bing).

Need to improve the soil in your yard or community garden? Having healthy soil is critical to productive gardening and raising crops. An excellent article, Build Better Garden Soil, by Harvey Ussery, is available for free on Mother Earth News website. You may also be interested in my article, Plants That Build Healthy Soils. which is available on this website.

I recently watched, and was quite impressed by, the Back to Eden documentary. Here's the blurb from their website: "Back to Eden Film shares the story of one man’s lifelong journey, walking with God and learning how to get back to the simple, productive organic gardening methods of sustainable provision that were given to man in the garden of Eden. The food growing system that has resulted from Paul Gautschi’s incredible experiences has garnered the interest of visitors from around the world. Never, until now, have Paul’s organic gardening methods been documented and shared like this!" You can watch it on their website.
Another good gardening resource is Sunset Vegetable Gardening Illustrated.  Only 128 pages, this 1987 book is not currently in print, but you may be able to find one at a used book store. Heavily illustrated and easy-to-read, it covers all the basics, and then some. Beginners, especially, will find this book very useful. It also covers herbs and berries.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Spiritual Preparedness

By Timothy Gamble (August 13, 2019)

I've talked about this topic before, and I realize that some folks just aren't interested in it, but it is important. Here is what I want to share with my fellow preppers about Spiritual Preparedness:

I.)  Figure out your relationship with God.  This is the most important prep you can make, because the one SHTF event we are all guaranteed to face is our own death. Think about that for a moment. All the things we may be concerned about - an EMP attack, the collapse of the dollar, nuclear war, the Yellowstone super volcano, a worldwide pandemic, or whatever - may or may not happen in our lifetime, if it happens at all. But death is guaranteed to come for us all. We spend a lot of time and effort preparing for events that might not happen, so shouldn't we spend at least of little time and effort preparing for the one event that will happen? 

Not sure about God? I understand. It certainly took me a long time to figure out my relationship with God. I'm still figuring it out. My suggestions? Pray (a simple "God, if you exist, help me find you" will suffice for now). Read the Bible. Talk to a Bible-believing pastor or priest about your doubts. Make sure they don't compromise on the Bible being the inerrant Word of God. Too many modern (read: liberal) "pastors" and other "Christians" try to compromise with worldly ways by deciding that certain passages (the ones that they don't like or that make them uncomfortable) are irrelevant today. Run far from these fake believers.

II.)  All believers should pray daily. "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2). Prayer is the heart of our relationship with God. 

III.)  All believers should read/study the Bible daily. "It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,’" (Matthew 4:4, in which Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3).

IV.)  Keep the Sabbath. God created for six days, then he rested on the seventh day. Later, He engraved this pattern of one day in seven for rest in His Commandments. Set aside the Sabbath as a Holy day of rest, family, and worship. Join with other believers in worship on a regular basis. Christianity isn't meant to be a "do-it-yourself" religion. Christians are meant to be a part of the Church, supporting, encouraging, and helping one another.

V.)  Men, be the spiritual leader of your family. Leaders lead by example. Set the example of regular Church attendance, daily prayer and Bible reading. and living by God's ways instead of worldly ways. Institute daily family devotionals. Pray for your family. Pray with your family. Read the Bible to your family. Better yet, read the Bible with your family. Take responsibility for raising your children to be godly men and women. 

A real men is steadfast in his love for his wife and family. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). We are to put our wife and family first - even to the point of being willing to die for them. This means to put them above ourselves, our career, our friends, and our hobbies. Above even our own egos. [Questions: Men, do you pray for your wife everyday? When is the last time you lead your wife in prayer?]

VI.)  Commit to live God's way, rather than by the world's standards. Learn and obey His commandments and teachings. A line from an Orthodox prayer puts it wonderfully: "Instill in us also reverence for Your blessed commandments." Don't compromise with modern world. Don't be embarrassed by accepting the authority of God's Word over the whim of public opinion as the standard for right and wrong. It won't be easy, but will be worth it!

Quick, can you name all Ten Commandments without looking them up? Do you know how Jesus' answer regarding the most important commandment fits in with the Ten Commandments? Hint: the first four tell us how to love God, the rest tell us how to love others.  

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Defining Dystopian Survival

By Timothy Gamble

What is Dystopian Survival? Dystopian Survival is my term for a new type of survivalism based on the realities of the changing modern world marked by rapid technological change, the centralization of  economic power and political authority into a small elite class, the loss of privacy and freedoms, and the decline of traditional Judeo-Christian and American values. I believe we are witnessing the slow death of the American Republic and Western Civilization as we have known it. Surviving these changes requires knowledge, skills, and attitudes that go well beyond the typical wilderness survival, homesteading, and stockpiling advice currently found in the prepper and survivalist community.

In science fiction, a dystopian world is typically presented as one in which a small class of elites use a combination of authoritarian government, powerful and wealthy corporations, and highly advanced technology, to rule over the common people. The world the elite create for themselves is one of extreme wealth, power, and privilege. It is created at the expense of a much larger underclass, who have slowly lost their personal freedoms, economic opportunities, and privacy rights. A deep network of unelected bureaucrats and corrupt politicians, financed by the deep pockets of the corporate elite, and often justified by a privelged academica, work diligently to entrench this new order into the regulations, laws and treaties governing their world. This results in a near Uptopia for the elites, and a growing Dystopia for the underclasses. Dystopia is rising.

Dystopian survival isn't like wilderness survival, or even disaster survival. The basics of survival may remain the same - air, water, and food that is safe, and the ability to deal with various threats - but the specifics are very different, and more complicated. In Dystopia, the threats to our survival include:
  • A Dysfunctional Healthcare System
  • A Dysfunctional Educational System
  • A Dysfunctional Jobs Market
  • Loss of Economic Opportunity and Mobility
  • Loss of Privacy
  • Restrictions on Our Freedoms
  • A Breakdown of Traditional Institutions (Marriage, Family, Church)
  • Identity Theft and Cyber Crimes
  • Terrorism and Active Shooter Situations
  • Political Turmoil & Police State Actions
  • Civil Unrest, including Riots & Looting
Notice any of these threats in the news lately? And this is only a partial list. Knowing how to build an emergency shelter or start a fire in the rain probably won't do you much good in most of those scenarios. Not that there is anything wrong with those skills. They are useful skills, and are worth learning. But there are many other skills that you will need in order to survive dystopia.

Also, there is another difference. In wilderness and disaster survival, we are dealing with a limited-time event. A hurricane or an earthquake happens quickly, then stops. Even getting lost in the woods has a finite end, when you (hopefully) get recused or otherwise find your way home again. Dystopia doesn't have a time-limit. It will go one for decades, generations, centuries... (Please check out my article Survivalist Myth? The Trigger Event, where I debunk the myth of sudden collapse scenario, after which order is quickly restored, the Republic saved, and our freedoms permanently preserved.)

Dystopian survival starts with awareness of potential problems and developing self-reliance, not only as individuals, but as families and communities. Building on this foundation of awareness and self-reliance, there are many other useful skills for surviving dystopia, including:

  • Situational Awareness & OODA Loop 
  • Operational Security/Privacy Protection 
  • Dealing with an Intrusive Government 
  • Dealing with busybody neighbors, landlords, etc. 
  • Being the Gray Man (fitting in and going unnoticed) 
  • Making yourself an unappealing target for bad guys (know how to not look like a victim
  • Life Mobility (the ability to pull up roots and move yourself and your family away from threats and towards opportunities)
  • Personal Mobility (your ability to walk, run, climb, dodge, and keep your balance)
  • Money Management & Personal Finance Skills 
  • Computer and Technology Skills (using technology to your benefit, while knowing and protecting yourself from the risks)
  • Self-Defense and Home-Defense Skills (more than just guns & ammo) 
  • Knowing what to do in an active shooter situation 
  • Knowing what to do if you get caught in a civil unrest or riot situation 
  • Health & Fitness 
  • Stealth and Alternative Medicine (you do not want to be dependent on the government/public healthcare system)
  • First Aid (including dealing with gunshot wounds and other severe trauma) 
  • Employability in an era of High Tech and Artificial Intelligence
This list is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg of needed skills. But, we need to do more than just prepare as individuals. the need to build self-reliant and resilient families and communities. We need to relocalize our economies and supply-chains.

All these things, and more, are what I mean my Dystopian Survival, and are the focus of this website. Please check out these articles for more on this concept:

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GorillaDrives are made from a special TPU compound with a metal loop, and are designed to be pressure/impact resistant (up to 250 psi), heat resistant (up to 225 degrees F), and water resistant (up to 65 feet). Although they list freeze resistance at 32 degrees F, mine did survive outside overnight in below freezing weather (mid 20s). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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