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.
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,