Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest – Steve
Avoiding loss of one’s ‘wealth’ from whatever crises may befall you and/or your family seems paramount to helping avoid or at least mitigate the negative consequences that accompany emergencies and disasters, or even the general decline of civilisation. With currency devaluation, government overreach, civil unrest, bank bail-in legislation, labour strife, market corrections, negative interest rates, geopolitical uncertainty, economic decline (perhaps even collapse), it seems almost impossible to protect one’s wealth completely without even worrying about everyday calamities that can place financial stress upon an individual and/or family. The following suggestions seem the most likely way to prepare for an uncertain world, and avoid some of the more dire consequences of increasing volatility and possible confiscation by the-powers-that-be (a concern that must be considered as governments become increasingly insolvent).
It also seems prudent to reduce dependency on complex systems that are prone to disruptions over which you have no control, such as distant supply chains or infrastructure frailties–that is why I believe at the base of your thinking should be a desire for yourself/family/community to become more resilient and self-sufficient. (Note: I have included links to articles found on The Survivalist Blog only to keep the discussion ‘in-house’; and, the information that follows is not meant to be investment ‘advice’ but one person’s thoughts on how to prioritise ‘investments’.)
A common question that arises when contemplating emergency/disaster planning is where to start?
First, focus on yourself and basic survival gear.
Skills and knowledge you acquire are the most difficult to be taken from you. First Aid courses. Fitness/healthcare-oriented activities. Hunting courses. Archery/gun use. Gardening/food production knowledge. Survival training. ‘Handyman’ skills. Building a ‘survival’ library. Activities, training, and literature that can help you and your family cope with unexpected crises are perhaps the wisest ‘investment’ and can’t be confiscated by the-powers-that-be. These should likely be a priority.
Basic ‘survival gear’ is necessary to stay alive in the face of a crisis: water, food, medical supplies, and shelter are the four primary components here.
Having access to potable water is a must. A water filtration system, rain barrels, well, bottled water supply, etc. that can provide back-up to government-provided system.
Access to food is also a must. A well-stocked pantry, greenhouses, garden beds, seeds, fruit trees/bushes, seed propagation supplies, food preservation equipment, hunting/trapping gear removes the need for reliance on distant supply chains that can be disrupted in any number of ways.
Accidents happen. Having some medical/first aid training and supplies will help avoid the consequences that can accompany the most benign of medical emergencies.
As for shelter, if you own your own home, great. Make sure it is maintained and can withstand your region’s weather volatility (e.g. adequate insulation and wood-burning stove in northern climes). If you don’t own your current shelter, look towards purchasing something suitable with extended family members or like-minded friends. If you believe security of your residence could be an issue, invest in ‘fortifying’ it.
I would add to this list of ‘personal’ investments the notion of investing in your local community. You are likely to increase your chances of ‘surviving’ a broad-based disaster if your neighbours are equally prepared and like-minded. Do you have a skill or trade that you could teach/share with others? Does your community have a disaster-preparedness plan? What can you do to help prepare your neighbourhood/town? Don’t preach, but teach.
Second, if you are fortunate enough to have the above relatively covered and still have ‘wealth’ to invest, look at and evaluate your ‘investments’ within the current monetary/financial system. Having no education or background in any fiduciary capacity, I would not begin to advise others around business or market investments. That being said, there are some basic precautions I would suggest contemplating.
The fiat currency/monetary system we have been forced to participate in is a relatively recent experiment in human history and history-to-date has not been kind to the attempts by central planners to control financial/market interactions as they wish for very long. Economic decline/collapse has been a recurrent theme in large, complex societies and there is little evidence to justify a belief that ‘this time will be different’ for our civilisation. Despite a lot of people attempting it, predicting which way a complex system of this nature will go or behave is pure guesswork. Just knowing, however, that history is ripe with failed (and similar) experiments is enough to warrant extreme caution and prudence.
Pay off debt. Debt has a cost. Even though interest rates may never ‘normalise’ again, the interest that must be paid is a burden on future income–something I wish our governments would pay heed to.
Minimize paper ‘wealth’. Money in the bank or other financial institutions can disappear in a heartbeat; look at Cyprus and Greece for recent examples. It can be confiscated by the government or by the institution itself. Increasingly, governments are passing bail-in legislation, opening the door to depositor funds being taken to recapitalize insolvent banks. You could lose your deposits completely or be forced to receive bank ‘equity’ in lieu of your savings so reduce your exposure to these risks.
If some of the more likely scenarios arise, it seems important to have some cash/fiat currency on hand. For example, capital controls that limit withdrawals are becoming more commonplace, as are negative interest rates that eat into the purchasing power of your currency. Of course, the simple pursuit of inflation by our central banks ensures our fiat currency loses purchasing power everyday.
Purchasing precious metals is another possible means of protecting wealth and one advocated by numerous people. If this is something you wish to pursue, I would avoid paper forms (i.e. exchange-traded funds or certificates) and stick to physical delivery, storing the bars/coins in a secure, nearby location. Even precious metals can be confiscated, as FDR did in the 1930s, so possession of them is not foolproof (this caveat could almost apply to any of the wealth-storage mechanisms discussed here–history is replete with examples of insolvent governments going to any length to steal wealth from its citizens; including murder and redistribution of lands and money).
The above ‘advice’ is what I’ve learned as I’ve stumbled through my own awakening or fall into the rabbit’s hole of emergency preparedness and kept abreast of world issues. No one knows what the future holds. However, I believe the best evidence for what may occur ‘tomorrow’ is what occurred ‘yesterday’. I completed a post-graduate degree in anthropology/archaeology (before going into education for my career–since retired), and if there is one recurrent theme in our pre/history, it’s that all civilisations eventually decline. That decline may be relatively slow, as displayed by the Roman Empire, or relatively quick, as seen in the two to three generations of collapse on Easter Island. Even a slow degeneration can be accompanied by episodic catastrophes; imagine the chaos if the electrical grid were to suddenly cease functioning–and we don’t require an EMP incident for this to happen as experienced during the 2003 Blackout.
We live in a complex, globalised world where a coalescence of small failures can snowball into a crisis of epic proportions because of the interconnectedness of the various subsystems we depend upon. And this doesn’t even take into account a Black Swan event that could completely send all previous assumptions sideways in an unknowable direction. I honestly don’t know if there is any absolutely right or wrong way to create or preserve one’s wealth. A lot will depend upon personal abilities, preferences, and comfort level. Do what you can and are able to do while feeling comfortable in your choices. Every small step on the road to self-sufficiency and resiliency brings you and your family more freedom and independence, and increases the likelihood of successfully weathering the unpredictability of the future.
Prizes For This Round Include: (Ends July 29, 2016)
- Gift certificate for $150 off of Handgun Ammo courtesy of Lucky Gunner.
- WonderMill Electric Grain Mill courtesy of WonderMill.
- 72 Hour 1 Person Kit courtesy of Augason Farms
- WaterBoy Well Bucket and Tripod Kit courtesy of Well WaterBoy Products
- 72 Hour 1 Person Kit courtesy of Augason Farms
- MRE-Star Case of 12 Complete MRE Meals.
- LifeStraw Portable Water Filter.
- One can of Yoders Fully Cooked Canned Bacon
- One Jumbo Roll Toilet Paper / Toilet Tissue – 2000′ all courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.
- Five Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate 16 oz – Beef Kosher courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Ebook copy of The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving TEOTWAWKI.
- Ebook Copy of The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook.
Please read the rules that are listed below BEFORE emailing me your entry… my email address can be found here – please include “writing contest entry” in the subject line.
The more original and helpful your article is, the deeply and less basic it is, the better the chance, that I will publish it, and you will win. Only non-fiction how-to-do-it type articles, please.