Opinion, Survival

Surviving the Hard Times in Life

depressed man

If you are reading this article, and are on this site, you are probably more than awake to the fact that life can throw some pretty nasty curveballs your way. Sometimes it seems random, bad luck, and other times you’d swear that God had it in for you personally.

That’s why we are all here, and all do what we do to prepare: we want to be ready to meet those crises head on and prevail, or if we can’t do that at least minimize the damage or just get out of the damn way.

Natural and man-made disasters, civil unrest, disintegrating culture and outright collapse of empire are all serious existential threats that most of us are all too aware of.

But there are other kinds of disasters that life can throw at us, ones that are very personal but no less devastating. The kind of disasters that don’t burst forth with sound and fury but instead seem to lie in wait for the unwary like a tar pit; unforeseen and unforgiving.

I’m referring to things like job loss, a major health crisis and family schisms. The things in life that, sadly, many of us will go through at some point.

We all know people, friends or family, who have endured these things and come out the far side changed, and not changed for the better. In this article, I will be departing somewhat from my usual content to talk about how you might best prepare for these all too personal disasters.

People, and the Bad Things that Happen to Them

I could go on for hours writing just about all the bad and terrible things that can happen to people. Good people, bad people, the innocent, the guilty, none are truly immune from a twist of fate, and all the guises that it may take.

I am not making too broad an assertion when I say that we all know someone whose life was turned upside down by an event that would never, not in the most liberal definition, ever qualify as a real “disaster.” Funny that, cause the destruction and dysfunction left in the wake of such events may reap no less terrible a toll than one.

If you have yourself or someone you know lived through one of these events- unemployment, a financial meltdown, a health crisis, even homelessness- you can attest to the life-altering stresses brought to bear.

Racing thoughts, panic, crushing hopelessness and fear, ever-present fear. Fear of what might happen to you, or your family. Fear of what people will think of you and your perceived failing or shortcoming. Fear of an uncertain and unknowable future. Guilt. Shame. Anger. As far as toxic emotional cocktails go, this can be among the worst.

It is in many ways easier for some to grapple with a clearly understood phenomenon like a natural disaster, no matter how awful, than the nebulous and uncertain doom that can result from a tumultuous life event. Those threats are all clearly external, not internal, in nature.

While a feeling of helplessness can always result from falling victim to any kind of extreme and life-threatening/life-changing event, this is often more likely and more insidious when it results from an internal instance.

If you or a loved one have a serious health crisis on your hands, one that perhaps requires the most specialized (and expensive) care to treat, you may rightly feel entirely inadequate to the task.

You are reduced to a bystander, or at best a caregiver. If you are the one suffering from the health problem you may be enraged and scared that your own flesh could betray you so. Talk about a massive ding to your confidence in your own capability.

Job loss and chronic unemployment can severely threaten the integrity and survival of person or family. Money may not make the world go round but it makes the turning tolerable.

Especially for those with dependents- spouses, children, parents, etc.- the inability to provide for them and the feelings stemming from that coming and going are nothing short of crushing. It is an ugly thing, but this more than many others can drive stress levels into orbit and sunder relationships.

A big part of any leader’s responsibility is to Provide, not just Protect. A lack of financial resources means sacrifice, then lack, then going without. Ultimately you are talking homelessness and malnutrition or even starvation. That is reality staring back at you.

Even with steady income, an ever-rising cost of living- food, housing and other commodities- means that your dollars do not go as far. It always seemed best to me to imagine your money shrinking if it wasn’t working.

Saving for a rainy day is fine, but if your money is not put to work making more money, at the very least to offset inflation, then your nest egg may be a jellybean before you know it.

This constant need to not only produce but to expand, grow and add income is a huge stressor for nearly everyone. It is not enough to hang on, to have enough, to get by; entropy is real, and if you are not outrunning it you will be nibbled away to nothing by it.

And then of course you can get the whole symphony of despair. I call it disaster dominoes, and it is the stuff that all great country and blues songs are made of. You lose your job and you can’t find work.

What meager savings and credit you have is quickly spent. Your spouse leaves and takes the kids. You know another, better suitor is waiting in the wings to poach them away from you.

Your vehicle is repossessed, the bank forecloses on your house and now suddenly, so suddenly, you are dispossessed: no family, no home, no vehicle and no hope, heck, not even a prayer from where you are sitting.

All you have left is your wits and your grit to rebuild your life. It happens all the time.

A Practical Approach to Dealing with Personal Disasters

Now, I have been through some rough, rough patches in my life. We all have, I know that. I am not of the mind to swap stories and compare scars. One man’s or one woman’s trial of a lifetime may be a simple study in perseverance for someone else. Context matters.

Furthermore your resources and resourcefulness matters. Your “wiring” matters; some people are almost suicidally brave when facing down personal, mortal danger, but go to pieces when a loved one is threatened with disease.

Many parents can attest to the ferocity and bravery that materializes when a child is imperiled, but they would otherwise describe themselves as not particularly courageous.

But, believe it or not, it is entirely possible to prepare for these kinds of personal life crises the same way as you might some typically discussed and fussed over natural or man-made disaster. It may seem a little strange to consider these highly personal events in such subjective light, but I can assure you can.

If you are a seasoned prepper or a gritty veteran survivalist, I know you already have the planning and procedure part of doing so down pat. The hard part is broaching the subject, even with yourself!

Let’s get real: when considering such things as relationship crisis or job loss, most of us are of the Honorable Ostrich School of Emergency Management. Stick your head in the sand and wait for the ominous, scary feeling to pass. With a little luck, it won’t happen to me.

Cue the dramatic sigh. Sadly, friend, hope is never a strategy, and luck always favors the industrious. You should be scared of a loss of income! You should be scared of falling terribly ill and all the second- and third-order effects that entails.

You should be scared that your family, if you have one, may be riven by infighting or seemingly irreconcilable grievances. That means you are a reasonable, rational human being.

So, what do you do, actually do about them?

Preparing for Life’s Bad Hands

In the following sections, I will offer my advice for preparing for the “Greatest Hits Album” of the nasty things that may befall you or someone close to you as an adult somewhere on the road of this thing called life. All of this is strictly practical advice in keeping with the tone of this site and much of my writing.

I will not be going off on ethical consideration tracts, as your value system and mine may be very different. That being said, the esoteric nature of much of the following means that addressing mindset issues is worthwhile, and I’ll offer my take on such things where appropriate.

Loss of Income and Unemployment

I have tackled this first because frankly it is among the most severe problems that any person can face, even here in the hand-out happy USA of 2019 and other Western nations. It has been said that money won’t make you happy.

Well, newsflash everyone: it sure as hell will not make you sad, and more importantly nearly all of us need it and whole lot of it to survive and prosper by the standards of the day.

Sure, if you and yours are content or even happy living in such way that all you want and need is provided by your labors to that end, more power to you. That being sad, the IRS may yet have something to talk to you about, and you cannot generally make “modern day” problems go away by paying in produce, eggs or livestock.

You need money. Money is among the most powerful tools at your disposal today. Enough money will see some problems literally evaporate, and if you really become wealthy, you are effectively operating under a different set of rules than everyone else. Barring you’re a near-100% self-sufficient homesteader, a severe enough lack of money will mean no food, no utilities, no home and no nothing.

So how do we make sure the bucks keep flowing? Is a good job enough? Sure, it can be, but insulating yourself against a loss of income is more than a good job and a savings account. What is truly needed is financial anti-fragility.

What do I mean by anti-fragility? Consider your own income as a man’s neck that supports your head. What happens when a man has his throat cut? You got it: death in short order.

Now, think of something like the hydra from Greek mythology. The hydra could not be killed by even such a terrible blow as cutting off its head. Instead, two heads would grow from the sundered neck! Cutting one of those would result in two more growing from that neck, and so on.

Before you know it, if you hacked away at this beast, it would have several heads on several necks, and be no worse for the wear, actually more capable than before it was attacked.

So bringing that example home, you want to be the hydra in this scenario, not the man. You need multiple, redundant, self-contained streams of income. How you accomplish this is up to you, but there is a plan for every person at every level of financial means.

I’ll use myself as an example. As you are all aware, I am a prolific writer of articles on this site and others. I get paid for that, and pretty well for the time involved. It is not my “day job,” my career. My day job is still predominately security consulting and the training of civilians in the use of firearms.

That isn’t all: I have several real estate investments that pay me monthly whether I work or not. I have also flipped several other properties for tidy profits by renovating them. Relationships I made in that business turned into other opportunities to include, if you can believe it, voice acting.

What money I do have saved is earning interest, even if it is only a nominal percentage to offset inflation. Now, I do keep a significant stash of cold, hard cash as a hedge against a major collapse of financial institutions, but that is a proper prep, not savings per se.

If I were to lose one or even a couple of the above income streams, I could ratchet up any of the others to offset or completely replace it, or at the very least slow the bleed enough to buy me plenty of time to get my hand on the next monkey bar with nary a lost wink of sleep.

I have a variety of skills that I can put to use for gainful employment in a variety of sectors. In my opinion, that will be more and more important as time goes on and we grow ever more litigious and face ever more turbulent economic waters. Specialization works great when everything else is great, but when things go pear-shaped, adaptability and flexibility most often win the day.

So what can you do? Well, you could duplicate my example, of course, but let’s assume that you have not followed my exact skill tree and career track. You can start to build your own anti-fragile income plan by doing the following, roughly:

1. Take Stock

What skills do you have that you can put to work? You can make money doing almost anything in the U.S., but you should focus on things that yield more money than things that yield less.

Remember: he who does more is worth more. You can do things, build things, fix things, or flip things. I have friends who have made a killing fixing and flipping junker cars.

One associate hit a bout of job loss, and decided to simply go door-to-door offering to clean people’s gutters for $30. Turns out he did better doing that than the job he left! Consider all options rationally.

2. Implement Now

Don’t wait for a rough patch to start hustling and building your secondary streams. I do all of my writing at night, for instance, after I finish with other obligations, training, etc.

You might be able to implement and work on your secondary source of income on specific days or at specific times. The sooner you start greasing the groove, the better off you’ll be.

3. Re-Invest

Now that you have extra income coming in, what is the best use of it? If you can spare it totally, put it back to work someway. This could be traditional investing practices or even spending it on yourself.

No, I don’t mean a vacation or a new gun! I mean spending it in making yourself more valuable. What might that be? Is it new certifications or skills for your job? An entirely new skillset? A degree? Could it be reinvested in a way that will help you make more money easier? Could it be an assistant or employee that will help you make even more money?

4. Go Passive or Automate

Invariably the best way to make money work for you is to make it do all the work. Look for ways to hook up income streams that don’t require your active participation and oversight to make them produce. For me, that’s having rental properties.

Sure, I have to deal with oversight and periodic decision making, but a management company handles much of the day to day stuff with nary a blip, and I make a profit monthly. You can do the same thing, or consider something like a website that lets you profit from affiliate links and advertising.

You could start a small business and hire a few employees to do the labor, leaving you to call the shots. You only have so many hours in a day, no matter how industrious you are.

5. Cultivate Backups

You should endeavor to always be networking and pressing palms with friends, family and associates looking for opportunities, even if you only keep them in reserve. Sudden job loss or loss of income is not so scary when you have multiple opportunities and multiple people that can help you transition into something else.

With all the turmoil and uncertainty facing our country, it is not smart in my opinion to put all of your eggs in one basket with one source of income, no matter how certain you are about your indispensability or your prospects.

Having additional sources of income is essential, and having entire secondary skill sets that you can put to use in order to cope with shifting economic forces is priceless.

Not for nothing, if you have been a diligent prepper for a time you are also better equipped to handle total loss of income than most. Consider the fact that you probably have a sizeable stash of water, food, and other necessities like hygiene products and such.

Maybe you grow your own food or at least supplement it with a garden or livestock. No matter, those are all necessities that you won’t have to worry about when you must tighten your belt. Your bellies will be full. You’ll be clothed. You’ll have light. That’s preparation all right.

Health Crisis

Dealing with a health crisis, either yours or a family member’s, is always a severe trial, one that tests the mettle of both your heart and your head.

Obviously, there are all kinds of injuries, illness, diseases and ailments that can befall you, and many of them result from accident or otherwise strike without warning, but among the worst are those that have the potential to incapacitate or cripple you.

This is one of the touchiest subjects for many folks based on the people I have talked to, and the idea that all of your hard work and choices up to that point seemingly amount to nothing in the face of your new reality (for however long it lasts) is terrible to consider. But consider it you must if you are to be truly prepared for all of life’s eventualities.

What is important in the context of preparing for a health crisis is understanding what kind of eventuality you are preparing for. Specifically, not all health crises are created equal.

You may be facing a relatively routine corrective surgery, lengthy rehabilitation, and loss of capability from an injury sustained after which you can expect your life to more or less get back to normal.

You could be looking at treatment to slow or forestall the onset of some slow and insidious ailment that will rob you of mind or body. And of course, tragically, you could be staring down the barrel of a terminal diagnosis. None of these are nice to consider, but you must, especially if you have family or other people counting on you.

No matter which of these you are facing, it pays to be a part of a truly committed, tight, family unit or tribe. My family took care of both of my grandparents when they fell ill. I will do the same for my mother.

Presently, I do not have a wife or children, and so will not have that afforded to me when I am that age, though my closest friends are as brothers to me were something to happen to me now. That kind of family culture and commitment is something you cannot buy. It must be built, it must be instilled by way of conscious, consistent nurturing and practice.

Even so, every family has its rogues, and some will not be dependable for the task. Better to set expectations and find out now than in gravest extreme.

Start with the least deleterious of these, a serious injury that will require surgery, rehab, the works. One must consider the first and second order effects of this eventuality, namely a loss of income, and the great expense of the medical treatment necessary if you want to A.) live and B.) regain mobility and normalcy.

The most obvious answer, for many, is to get health insurance. Easier said than done in this day and time. Health insurance is expensive, and even if you have a policy, you can absolutely count on your insurer trying to screw you. If you have to wrangle with them to get them to pay up, you may be deferring treatment in the meantime.

A better answer is, of course, have that rainy day fund stacked, or real assets that you can liquidate quickly to help pay for, or at least finance, the necessary procedures. It might seem like a bad play, but you must be alive and functional in order to right the ship.

What about the prospect of some slow-acting and deteriorative condition? That’s ugly, but at least you have the benefit of some amount of time. Use that time as best you can.

There is still much that you can do in the meantime, so it makes sense to plan ahead for it. What are the most important things you have yet to do for your people? Is this something you need to complete materially?

Is it something you need to impart or pass on to them? If you make it a point to constantly have your priorities front and center you will not struggle with indecision when the best years or months of your life are dwindling.

What about the big one? A terminal diagnosis? Again, as callous as it may sound there are practical things you can do to help the people you care about. The single most important one is a last will and testament. Make sure your estate is sewn up tight and sorted way before something like this even crosses your mind.

I know these are never pleasant things to think about, but doing something concrete about your end-of-life arrangements, even if it is just instructions to your survivors for dealing with your remains can do much to give you peace of mind and alleviate their anxiety. Probate is never a pleasant process. Don’t leave it up to the courts; see to your own affairs now.

Another nod for insurance is obtaining a life insurance policy, and this is one way to lessen the blow of your death if you are the breadwinner for your family or for people close to you. Even if you do nothing more than make sure the cost of your funeral and final arrangements are covered this will prevent an unexpected expense from nowhere for your survivors.

Treat all grades of health emergency as just another series of events in any disaster that may befall you, and prepare accordingly.

Disintegration of Relationships

This is another raw and touchy subject for folks, but it is also one that everyone today, I believe, feels even if they cannot quite put their finger on it or will not admit to it.

Face it: the nuclear family has been greatly strained and imperiled by a confluence of forces in modern life, some deliberate, others incidental. No matter the scale of them, they are very, very real. Especially for married couples, the number of people who are miserable and the number of divorces is high and remains more or less steady over time.

The strain of work and children alone in addition to the billion other daily things that surely and slowly sap our willpower bit by bit sees many people saddled with a sense of detachment and inevitability in their relationships.

Adult friendships are also subject to loss as life drags on, with the demands of life and distance that comes between people leading to once adamantine bonds of fidelity and fellowship growing brittle over time.

This is awful, of course, because the loss of important relationships are a fundamental source of pain and suffering for people but also because are terribly destabilizing to the lives of all involved.

I am not so naïve to say that every single relationship and marriage will hold together by dint of enough deliberation, attention and hard work, but I am saying that many that have failed might have been saved by deliberation, attention and hard work.

You must treat your valuable relationships with the focus and seriousness of a priceless resource, because they are. Every connection that you have made, and forged, that you lose is one that is harder and harder to replace as you get older. You aren’t in high school anymore. You opportunities for creating those bonds are rarer and rarer. Even if you do, you have less time left to cement them.

No relationship, platonic, romantic or otherwise, will endure in the face of neglect, and if it does, it isn’t a real relationship. You must make the time to fortify your bonds. For married couples in particular, your relationship is the bedrock, the literal foundation of the family unit.

I always puzzled over the couples that burn the candle at both ends to give their children their best lives now at the expense of their opposite number. It is madness: the children will be miserable and their prospects bleaker should something happen to their parents’ relationship.

A couple’s priority should be the care and nurturing of their bond to ensure that the family unit remains stable and viable. Happy parents most often make for happy children.

You are the leader(s) of the household. So lead. Create that strong family culture by example. Nothing should be more important than the family, and anything that interferes or imperils that should be dealt with appropriately.

I have known couples personally that were essentially strangers to each other because of a combination of different work schedules, sleep schedules, and a truly unbelievable activity schedule for one of the children that involved regular regional travel.

They were at the time some of the most miserable, desperate people I knew, but boy you would not think so from the pictures on social media… Don’t let things like happen at any cost.

Losing a friend, or letting your bond and rapport with them grow cold is sad, but also a bad play as far as your preparation is concerned: people that you can count on, at least peripherally, in a crisis are not to be taken for granted, and that is exactly what you are doing when you are only every once in a blue moon interacting with your people.

When was the last time you sat down to a meal with them? Helped them out of a jam? Did something together, just for fun or in service to your prepping goals?

Simple, little things like that can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your camaraderie alive. And you should endeavor to, because that may be the only thing that means the cavalry is coming when the balloon goes up.

Conclusion

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes, but none are so common and so trying as those of a personal nature. While they may be unavoidable in the conventional sense, you can prepare for these personal disasters life places in your path the same way as you would any other; by calm, measured assessment and disciplined application of your time, effort and energy.

surviving the hard times pinterest image

Avatar

About Charles Yor

Charles Yor is an advocate of low-profile preparation, readiness as a virtue and avoiding trouble before it starts. He has enjoyed a long career in personal security implementation throughout the lower 48 of the United States.
View all posts by Charles Yor →

4 thoughts on “Surviving the Hard Times in Life

  1. THanks for this article that touches on many aspects of surviving hard times. Over the yrs, I (was the only provider for our family for about 17 years) lost my job a couple times, but we survived. Try to live modestly. After getting into heavy debt (student loans, car loans, credit cards, consumer loans, etc) as young adults, we learned to try to live below our income level & & gradually paid off all our debts. Then we started saving every month -put some into retirement accts & some into a fund that become our downpayment for a house. For the first 8 yrs of our mortgage, we paid extra every month, to reduce our balance & thus save interest in the long run. In recent yrs, I discovered prepping, & prepared for other possible disasters.

  2. Charles,
    While this is a bit long, I have tried to address each of your excellent points, from a slightly different perspective, as an old guy, recently retired, who has lived with his wife in one place now for 35 years and is financially secure; but, does have a few manageable health issues.

    Money may not make the world go round but it makes the turning tolerable.

    Well stated, or as I once heard. I’ve lived with money and without it. With it is better.

    Saving for a rainy day is fine, but if your money is not put to work making more money, at the very least to offset inflation, then your nest egg may be a jellybean before you know it.

    Like your real estate investments, I inadvertently invested in real estate just 2 years out of college. I was renting an old house, from an even older guy, and once on a whim he mentioned that en educated young man like me with a good job, should consider owning a house. Within a few months we had settled on my purchasing that house on a land contract (seller financed) at which point my monthly rent increased from $160.00 to $180.00 and the owner no longer had to maintain the property. Having been raised in a family where my parents could do nearly everything, I learn basic carpentry, plumbing, and electrical wiring at a young age, and was not at all afraid to tackle the remodel and upgrade of the house. After paying off the house, getting married, and moving out, the daughter and son in law of a good friend were looking for housing, and we made a deal. She was an artsy kind of person and her husband was another guy who could easily do carpentry and plumbing, and some wiring with my help, so they lived in the house rent free for nearly 4 years, trading 10 hours of work per week in lieu of rent. They paid for the utilities, and I paid the taxes and for any renovation supplies; but, the place was being remodeled and renovated, steadily increasing in value, with little input except materials and guidance from me. Additionally, the house was not sitting empty, and I had no typical landlord problems, like late rant or damage to the premises. They eventually purchased some land and a home of their own and moved out, at which point I put the property on the market. During this time The wife and I were renting the place where we now live; but, after about 2 years here, the owner who was already in a nursing home, passed away, and the property came on the market. We had already saved enough for a good down payment and our monthly payment went from $150.00 rent to a $400.00 mortgage. This place has some amazing old barns; but, the house needed some serious upgrades. Like my first house however, renting the place allowed me to know intimately what was good, bad, & ugly and what needed repaired or upgraded. Those parts in need of repair were of course pointed out to the heirs and the real estate agent. Within about 5 years, my original house sold and the profits made short work of this mortgage. From my perspective paying off the mortgage was a great investment at a known interest rate that eliminated a debt and added to the monthly cash flow. Still I had people and investment advisors telling me to keep the mortgage and invest the cash.

    The point of this story is that life gets more interesting and potentially more profitable, by having skills, taking chances, and being flexible. As it turns out, about 2 years into my first house, the plant I worked in closed and I had to get another job at another facility within the company, meaning I ended up driving nearly 45 miles each way for nearly 6 years. Semper Gumby!!!

    This constant need to not only produce but to expand, grow and add income is a huge stressor for nearly everyone. It is not enough to hang on, to have enough, to get by; entropy is real, and if you are not outrunning it you will be nibbled away to nothing by it.

    As an engineer I saw this happen constantly, following what is known as Moore’s law, an observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years, meaning that the power in a small computer chip gets exponentially higher and contains more functionality, and an engineer needs to understand these additional functions and how to use them, by constant studying and learning. Like most skill areas, one cannot rest on their laurels, lest those with more ambition, quite literally eat your lunch.
    Yet another thing I did during my first employment was sacrifice some of my income, tamping back my ”wants” for investments in vehicles like the 401K. For many, taking a hit on the paycheck to invest for a retirement 40+ years away is hard, as it was for me; but, I have now been retired for nearly 2 years, and those long ago decisions turned out to be well worth the sacrifice.

    And then of course you can get the whole symphony of despair. I call it disaster dominoes, and it is the stuff that all great country and blues songs are made of. You lose your job and you can’t find work.

    I have seen people get into a rut like this, where they turn down honest work that doesn’t suit their fancy and continue to complain. I once heard a term for these people and avoid them, since they seem to like being ”Grievance collectors” , since it’s never my fault!!!!
    This kind of thing happened to me only once; but, I had already established a network of people and companies for which I had done contract work and some of those helped me out by giving me small projects to do for them. Having no mortgage was once again a big help.

    Your vehicle is repossessed, the bank forecloses on your house and now suddenly, so suddenly, you are dispossessed: no family, no home, no vehicle and no hope, heck, not even a prayer from where you are sitting.

    This never happened to me or anyone I know; but, the fact that it could happen is real. I think part of the problem is overreach and not knowing your own limits per Dirty Harry Callahan. Part of the housing crisis early this century was that people were “talked into” houses and mortgages that deep down they probably realized were untenable; but, when the experts said it was OK, they went against their own instincts and bowed to the experts.
    A Practical Approach to Dealing with Personal Disasters

    But, believe it or not, it is entirely possible to prepare for these kinds of personal life crises the same way as you might some typically discussed and fussed over natural or man-made disaster.

    Mitigation of any problem is a process, where you define the problem, define the solution, and make a plan. Paying off a mortgage, purchasing used vehicles for cash, and having savings enough to augment unemployment benefits would be one way to mitigate a job loss. This of course means starting those savings, and checking what benefits might be available, long before or if you need them.

    If you are a seasoned prepper or a gritty veteran survivalist, I know you already have the planning and procedure part of doing so down pat. The hard part is broaching the subject, even with yourself!

    True that, so perhaps you need an intervention with yourself.

    Let’s get real: when considering such things as relationship crisis or job loss, most of us are of the Honorable Ostrich School of Emergency Management. Stick your head in the sand and wait for the ominous, scary feeling to pass. With a little luck, it won’t happen to me.

    Perhaps it’s my engineering background or my upbringing; but, facing a crisis early on always worked well for me. It’s better to plan your shelter in advance of that warning of ”Incoming”

    You should be scared that your family, if you have one, may be riven by infighting or seemingly irreconcilable grievances. That means you are a reasonable, rational human being.

    Perhaps so; but, communications is IMHO the key and for us it has worked well enough, since in less than 30 days, we’ll have been married for 37 years. The biggest thing that’s happened in the past few years are some health issues and a complete empty nest where we often get on each other’s nerves; but, the house and property is large enough to go away and get our own privacy when needed.

    Preparing for Life’s Bad Hands

    Loss of Income and Unemployment</strong<

    I have tackled this first because frankly it is among the most severe problems that any person can face, even here in the hand-out happy USA of 2019 and other Western nations.

    It is not only one of the most severe; but, perhaps the most likely.
    Having little or at least manageable debt, some savings, and knowing what resources like unemployment may bring to the table are paramount.
    In 2015 I had a cerebral hemorrhage (much unexpected) and spent a month in the hospital neuro ICU and rehabilitation facility. Prior to that my company offered both Short and Long Term disability insurance, and while they were not cheap, I took the pay hit and added them to my benefits. As it turned out, they quite literally saved my life, since upon returning home and still unable to work; they gave us income that paid the bills. We had previously been forced onto a non exchange plan version of PPACA / Obamacare (Two lies in one title) leaving a large bill with medical providers. We negotiated with those providers, who have gotten smart enough to allow payment @ 0% interest, lest patients file bankruptcy and they get nothing.
    ”Never” be afraid to ask for payment plans or cash discounts.

    Sure, if you and yours are content or even happy living in such way that all you want and need is provided by your labors to that end, more power to you. That being sad, the IRS may yet have something to talk to you about, and you cannot generally make “modern day” problems go away by paying in produce, eggs or livestock.

    No, it does take some income, and since taxes do pay for the infrastructure we all use, I don’t mind paying my fair share; but, this too can be planned. Now in retirement I have a combination of both taxed and untaxed income, so I keep a spreadsheet of all of those income streams, so when I file my taxes in April (or before) there are no surprises. The 2018 & 2019 tax tables are public record and we all know our income streams, so income and taxes should also never fall victim to the 6 P’s. (”Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance”. No surprises should ever hit you here.
    We do garden and keep chickens for eggs, so those can supplement our needs as untaxed income and barter items.

    So how do we make sure the bucks keep flowing? Is a good job enough? Sure, it can be, but insulating yourself against a loss of income is more than a good job and a savings account. What is truly needed is financial anti-fragility.

    • Know the difference between a want and a need.
    • Purchase on sale &/or with coupons or other discounts
    • Barter your wares or skills with others for their wares and skills
    • Your location providing, take up income or bartering opportunities that others cannot, who would like what you produce. e.g. honeybees for honey & wax or tapping maple trees for sap & syrup / candy.

    So bringing that example home, you want to be the hydra in this scenario, not the man. You need multiple, redundant, self-contained streams of income. How you accomplish this is up to you, but there is a plan for every person at every level of financial means.

    Now in retirement we have a paid off property and 5 income streams that provide more money than we need each month, so we still have monthly savings. One additional IRA account is only touched for distribution of money for large ticket items.

    We heavily use a single (fee free for life) credit card that is paid in full every month, with purchases timed to the arrival of our income streams and the CC billing cycle. Purchases made before the 6th of a month, close on the 6th and are due on the second of the following month. All purchases accrue points and those points are generally traded for gift cards, Home Depot or Lowes, so many of our projects around the property use “free” materials, using gift cards with proper planning.
    Additionally, Ohio has a Homestead exemption for seniors (65 & older) or disabled persons that deducts $25,000.00 from the ”appraised” value of your property, decreasing real estate taxes. Many restaurants have “senior discounts” for the asking. I only mention these things, because there are programs that can save you money and all you need to do is some research and ask. A trip to the county auditor’s office and some simple forms saved us more than $100.00 per month on our taxes. Even at normal retail stores, for specialty items or bulk purchases, ask for a discount, and you may be surprised.

    I’ll use myself as an example. As you are all aware, I am a prolific writer of articles on this site and others. I get paid for that, and pretty well for the time involved. It is not my “day job,” my career. My day job is still predominately security consulting and the training of civilians in the use of firearms.

    I guess I’ll flip your story upside down. My day job for 40+ years was engineering; but, as an NRA Certified instructor and Training counselor, I make some extra money training people (mostly for concealed carry) and new instructors for CC and both 4 H & Boy Scout leaders to train their kids or to attempt to make money training CC (CHL in Ohio), although I reject many new instructors with a simple question: “where is your range?”

    What money I do have saved is earning interest, even if it is only a nominal percentage to offset inflation. Now, I do keep a significant stash of cold, hard cash as a hedge against a major collapse of financial institutions, but that is a proper prep, not savings per se.

    We do the same, and while cash in a fireproof box makes no interest, a simple power outage closing the banks and ATM’s is often payment enough. I have also made some good trades / purchases on radios and firearms, by having cash available “right now.” I’ve had a TC contender with numerous barrels for years, that I got for a steal, when the guy who had it told me he was desperate for cash to make rent. I paid a “fair” price; but, there was no dickering involved.

    If I were to lose one or even a couple of the above income streams, I could ratchet up any of the others to offset or completely replace it, or at the very least slow the bleed enough to buy me plenty of time to get my hand on the next monkey bar with nary a lost wink of sleep.

    I did that before retirement; but, now those streams are rather secure (even insured) and more than half our monthly income goes straight to savings, allowing us to pay cash for most things. Today I had 50 tons of gravel delivered and spread in our driveway and parking area and another 10 tons dumped where we’ll be setting a new replacement building and the nearly $1000.00 cost was a simple check all of which will be replaced times 4 by month’s end. This of course took 40+ years of frugal living and planning; but, it can be done.

    I have a variety of skills that I can put to use for gainful employment in a variety of sectors. In my opinion, that will be more and more important as time goes on and we grow ever more litigious and face ever more turbulent economic waters. Specialization works great when everything else is great, but when things go pear-shaped, adaptability and flexibility most often win the day.

    Ditto, or as Robert A. Heinlein stated so well:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
    Specialization is for insects.

    1. Take Stock
    ‘Nuff said here.

    2. Implement Now
    I know someone who wanted to join procrastinators anonymous; but, kept putting it off. The best time to start anything is yesterday.

    3. Re-Invest

    No, I don’t mean a vacation or a new gun! I mean spending it in making yourself more valuable. What might that be? Is it new certifications or skills for your job? An entirely new skillset? A degree?

    I earned my degrees 35+ years ago; but, never stopped learning new things, because the world and the job market aren’t stagnant. How long have we been using ATM’s and how many bank tellers were replace by that simple machine. With A.I. and robotics on the rise, running may be required just to keep up.

    Could it be reinvested in a way that will help you make more money easier? Could it be an assistant or employee that will help you make even more money?

    I have a friend who called these people and their tasks “Nickel machines”. A simple device that cranks out nickels; but, are profitable since you pay someone else veritable pennies to turn the crank.

    4. Go Passive or Automate

    Invariably the best way to make money work for you is to make it do all the work. Look for ways to hook up income streams that don’t require your active participation and oversight to make them produce. For me, that’s having rental properties.

    For me it’s an annuity with a well capitalized insurance company and a large bank that manages one of my (insured) accounts? These slowly drip monthly income into our accounts without being touched by us. I also have an IRA that I have managed for nearly 25 years, mostly for fun; but, still slowly accruing income. Perhaps my biggest calculation is that in 2 ½ years when I turn 70 ½ the IRS ”requires” minimum distribution so I’ve been working now to “distribute” funds with the least tax liability. Situational awareness is not only for dark alleys.

    You could start a small business and hire a few employees to do the labor, leaving you to call the shots. You only have so many hours in a day, no matter how industrious you are.

    AKA “The Nickel Machine”

    5. Cultivate Backups

    You should endeavor to always be networking and pressing palms with friends, family and associates looking for opportunities, even if you only keep them in reserve. Sudden job loss or loss of income is not so scary when you have multiple opportunities and multiple people that can help you transition into something else.

    I did this when still working and nearly always had extra contract work when I wanted it.
    Now in retirement, we do this more to help others using skills and resources we have that they don’t and they in turn do the same. We nearly always have extra eggs, and give them to friends and family in the area. A nephew who farms the wife’s old farm property, gets eggs from us; but, always plants an extra header (6-8 rows) of sweet corn, so in the fall we are usually supplied with more sweet corn than we can readily eat, allowing us to preserved tons of it by various methods after eating all we can.

    Health Crisis

    This is one of the touchiest subjects for many folks based on the people I have talked to, and the idea that all of your hard work and choices up to that point seemingly amount to nothing in the face of your new reality . . .But consider it you must if you are to be truly prepared for all of life’s eventualities.
    No matter which of these you are facing, it pays to be a part of a truly committed, tight, family unit or tribe. My family took care of both of my grandparents when they fell ill. I will do the same for my mother.

    I already mentioned my stroke (cerebral hemorrhage) above, and having disability insurance, a caring wife, and many friends made all of the difference.

    The most obvious answer, for many, is to get health insurance. Easier said than done in this day and time. Health insurance is expensive, and even if you have a policy, you can absolutely count on your insurer trying to screw you. If you have to wrangle with them to get them to pay up, you may be deferring treatment in the meantime.

    My insurers were always pretty reasonable; but, you need to have solid medical professionals who will go to bat for you, since often resubmitting a proposal with different diagnosis or reasoning can be authorized when first it failed.
    Now on Medicare with solid supplemental policies we do OK; but, make sure you know what is covered and when. For the first year there are “suggested” tests that are fully covered, so make sure you get them done, even though some of them may be (will be) rather unpleasant. Like any journey, knowing the terrain and following the map will always make the trip less hard.

    There is still much that you can do in the meantime, so it makes sense to plan ahead for it. What are the most important things you have yet to do for your people? Is this something you need to complete materially?

    Once again , do this s early as you can, since procrastination only makes the reality harder to swallow when it hits you in the face.

    You covered life insurance spot on.

    Disintegration of Relationships

    This is awful, of course, because the loss of important relationships are a fundamental source of pain and suffering for people but also because are terribly destabilizing to the lives of all involved.

    While this is not perhaps what the author meant, it can be a sad reality that as you age, those relationships can suddenly terminate with the passing of friends and family. My parents passed in 2002 & 2012; but, both in their 80’s it was somewhat expected and not all that surprising.
    My best friend however passed in 2015, during my stroke recovery, only a few months before his 61st birthday. My brother and another unrelated friend and fellow firearms instructor passed in 2016 both at the age of 62. Another good friend passed at age 91; but, once again that was less surprising.
    People younger than I who are gone, made me realize that there were relationships I had let fade with people who are still alive, and as I have been reconnecting, with those friends, we have all been made a bit more cheerful. Often just letting someone know that you care and have them inyour thoughts, can make someone’s day better.

    always puzzled over the couples that burn the candle at both ends to give their children their best lives now at the expense of their opposite number. It is madness: the children will be miserable and their prospects bleaker should something happen to their parents’ relationship.

    We were kind of those parents; but, with basically an only child since the boys were grown and gone, we could spend time with her and each other, sometimes all together. Rural living also helped there since she had goats and horses and matching chores and responsibilities. Taking your kid (in this case a girl) out back to build a fire with Ferro rod or fire piston or learning to properly shoot a rifle or shotgun, just steps out the back door, can be an amazing bonding experience..

    A couple’s priority should be the care and nurturing of their bond to ensure that the family unit remains stable and viable. Happy parents most often make for happy children.

    You mentioned that you were not married, and if you were you would I suspect modify this a bit, since often the bond is enhanced when one parent or the other takes the child on a trip, leaving the remaining parent to do uninterrupted chores or have some solitude. Often, too much bonding can be chafing to a relationship.
    I have a friend who is a retired medical doctor who wasn’t home full time more than a few months, until his wife asked him to find a hobby. I met him through ham radio, an old hobby, he newly discovered.

  3. Nice advices, it is hard sometimes to keep going. The disintegration of relationships was quite a devastating and the most crude section in my opinion, so true and so painful, who hasn’t lost a dear friend due to their different paths? damn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *