Living in the world we’re in

In yesterday’s blog post I rambled my way through a bunch of topics, so I’m going to try to zero in on why I disagree with so much of the “stock-up until you drop” emergency preparedness advice. It’s not that I believe stocking up is a bad idea or that the economic situation isn’t serious or that major economic crises aren’t heading our way. My problem is that America consumerism culture permeates everything we do and running around buying everything you can to stockpile food is not a plan to be prepared for emergencies – stocking up is part of a plan, and yes, a very important part, but to develop a preparedness mind-set and lifestyle takes a lot more than shopping and buying as much as you can.

Millions of Americans aren’t prepared for even a smaller personal emergency, like their car breaks down, let alone dealing with a serious economic crisis. Here’s a CNBC report:

“For 2021, 25% of survey respondents indicate having no emergency savings at all, up from 21% who said they didn’t have any in 2020. Another 26% say they have some emergency savings, but not enough to cover expenses for three months.”

It’s true that having even $500 can turn a lot of life’s little emergencies into just inconveniences and the more you have in savings, the larger your buffer zone. If you have enough money in savings to cover three months or six months worth of your living expenses, you could weather something serious like a job loss a lot easier than if you didn’t have any savings. Now, if you couple that savings with a well-thought out, stocked up pantry and emergency water supply, your level of preparedness grows by leaps and bounds.

I’ve heard some prepper people online talk about getting your finances in order, but it seems kind of crazy to me that facing massive inflation and growing shortages, so much of the advice only focuses on the stocking up part.

The hard truth is there’s no way to avoid all of the pain of soaring inflation and shortages and that’s why I believe assessing your personal financial situation is the most important first step.

A lot of people are struggling right now to make ends meet and most people will have to make some lifestyle changes to cope with rising costs, especially with discretionary spending choices. Paying off debt frees up your money and gives you more flexibility and living below your means can create a bit of a buffer zone,

While planning for worst case scenarios isn’t a bad thing, if you’re not prepared for even the more common and likely emergencies, chances are you won’t cope with the worst case ones very well either.

Trying to get your finances under control is important anytime, but it’s crucial heading into a serious economic downturn. Unfortunately, so much of the prepper advice I see online is hysterical, worst-case scenario advice – preparing for a total collapse of the financial system. Frankly, if you have the funds to invest in precious metals, that’s great, but if you don’t have emergency savings to pay to have your AC fixed in mid-July in the South, life can become very awful, very quickly.

This goes for buying barter items too. I suspect a lot of people listening to prepper advice online have more invested in barter items, precious metals and other doomsday type supplies than they do in being prepared for the ordinary emergencies that you can definitely count on happening.

You need to be able to prepare for and cope with everyday emergencies, because if you’re totally unprepared for everyday emergencies, you’ve missed the first turn onto the road to emergency preparedness.

I believe it’s more sensible to build up some savings for everyday emergencies and work on getting your personal finances in order, before running around worked up by every bit of news and online rumor mill about “our food supply is under attack” or the next looming shortage item. However, due to the shortage situation likely getting worse, like I said in my last post, I think it makes sense not to stick to the Dave Ramsey, living on rice and beans, bare bones approach to the letter. Right now, I think it’s more sensible to assess your budget and take any extra money, after paying bills and split it between building up emergency savings and stocking up your pantry. This is strictly my opinion.

I said this in my last post and I believe it’s true, we have to live in the world we’re in everyday. Being prepared for dire events isn’t a bad thing, but if you only focus on the most extreme events, spending money on all sorts of supplies to prepare for those, while not even being prepared for the everyday type emergencies, I think your personal preparedness plan has some serious gaps in it. I read comments online a lot and I’ve read quite a few comments that made me think a lot of people get caught up in the prepper lingo – like “buying barter items” and invest more time thinking about the worst case scenarios than they do about the here and now and being prepared for more likely emergencies.

Afterthought, as usual: No matter where you’re at on your emergency preparedness journey, it’s a good idea to step back and see if you have the basics in place to handle the more common emergencies and build up some emergency savings. A lot of experts recommend having enough to cover three months of your living expenses.

Heading into serious inflation – I think it makes more sense to eliminate as much personal debt as you can, as quickly as you can and don’t accumulate more debt. Definitely, don’t charge up “prepper” supplies, because personal debt can bury you anytime, but especially with inflation soaring.

I think it’s sensible to plan out basics to stock up for your food pantry and emergency water, then build your way outward on supplies. Truth time here – I stock up a lot of food ordinarily and wish I had taken the time to plan better.

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Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest

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