November 23, 2014

Signs of a Slowing Local Economy

Signs of a Slowing Local Economy

Mark 13:28

“Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near.”

I believe that, on a macro level, the economy can be so manipulated that it can be difficult to tell how it is actually doing; from quantitative easing, bailouts, subsidizing, fiddling with unemployment numbers and on and on. If we learn a lesson from the fig tree, I believe that we can see (on a micro level) when economic troubles are beginning to blossom. I’m going to break things into groups for this article. Some could fit into multiple categories, but you’ll get the idea.
 

Gas Prices

Gas prices can fluctuate based on several factors, from an international incident overseas to a weather event close to home. The price at the pump is reflected in the price of just about everything else. Petroleum is used in the manufacturing and delivery of almost everything we consume and interact with on a daily basis. The more it costs to get to us, the more we’re going to pay for it.
 

Unemployment

This is hugely manipulated by the government, mainly by not adding in people who are out of work but no longer qualify for unemployment and by not counting people who are underemployed. This can be hard to track on a local level but is not impossible. Now and then, we will hear of a local company letting workers go, or of a larger corporation closing a local branch.
 

Food

As I mentioned above, the price of oil can cause the price of groceries to increase. So can inflation, crops impacted by weather events and other factors. Companies have gotten tricky. They don’t want you to see the rising price of a product. At times they make the packaging smaller and keep the price the same or keep the box the same and change the amount of the product in the package.

I have said several times over the years that many of the riots and rebellions seen worldwide are due to increased grocery prices. The people of many countries spend 30% of their income on food. We here in the USA spend roughly 12-15%. They rioted because they had no more money to spend and the price of staples was increased, leaving them unable to feed their families.

Swelling soup kitchens and bare food shelves are also signs of local economic troubles. I have seen several reports in the last few years where food shelves have said that they had seen a sharp increase in people requesting aid.
 

Real Estate

Commercial and housing markets are a good gauge as well. Seeing foreclosure rates and the amount of rental properties increase is a sure sign that the local economy is in trouble. Banks are not giving mortgages to just anyone anymore, so people who would have qualified for a home loan ten years ago might be forced to rent unless they can come up with a 20-30% down payment.

Small local businesses closing can be another sign of trouble in a local economy. Some might go out of business because of a bad concept or poor business practices. However, when you see several vacancies in strip malls or in other locales, it can be a sign that there is not much disposable income in the local area.
 

Consumerism

To me this is the most telling sign of local economic trouble. We live in a society that likes to spend, so when traffic at local shopping centers is light for any length of time, it could be due to a lack of funds in the shoppers’ accounts and could lead to the closing of local businesses.

Another sign of economic trouble is sales with deep discounts, or starting Christmas sales much earlier than normal. Companies don’t do this because they love you, they do it because they love your money and some money is better than none. Another sort of silly sign is when a company will have one of their hourly employees dress up or hold a sign advertising a “special”. They would much rather business be busy enough to have that person in serving customers than providing cheap advertising.

I drive by several establishments that people gather at after work for happy hour. When times are tight, these places have fewer customers. The same can be said for restaurants. Both fast food and dine-in restaurants see fewer customers when the local economy is struggling. Many offer free meals for children on a certain day, or free dessert on another, or even buy-one-get-one deals. Again, they don’t offer these because they just like to see your face.
 

What do These Signs Mean?

I think they can show us that we could see more unemployment as companies try to stay afloat. As these companies try to get your business, it could mean steep discounts for those who have cash. There are those who say paper money is worthless, that gold and silver are the only way to go. I agree that paper money has no inherent value. However, they are wrong that it is worthless. Until we see hyperinflation, paper money still has value and the person who has little debt and has cash can get some very good deals.

An extended time of these signs in a local economy could be a huge warning to move. Look at Detroit, the city was vibrant and thriving, known for music and automotive might. But now the city is literally falling apart with some buildings being so derelict that the city has torn them down.

I have no proof, but I believe that with a drop in local economy, we’ll see an increase in crime. There is a certain percentage of the population who have no problem turning to crime in the best of times. I believe there is a larger percentage who will only do it if they feel they must to take care of their families.

I would really like to hear your thoughts on signs of trouble at the micro level, local economy. Please share them in the comment section.

 
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What Would You Do with More $$$ – Micro-Businesses for Extra Streams of Income

This article was written by Todd Sepulveda and originally posted on Ed That Matters.
 


What Would You Do with More $$$ – Micro-Businesses for Extra Streams of Income

 
money Photo by 401k from Flickr

I really believe that as the economy continues to drag along towards an inevitable decline, that anything a prepper can do to shore up their income streams will be a valuable asset to their financial security. You can’t and shouldn’t depend on your day to day job! Yes, you should work hard, be an asset to your company, desire to move up, etc… But you should also think of other ways you could bring in income. You should, like so many other preppers have already done, consider a micro or small business to supplement your income.

What could you do with extra income? Would you pay down your debt, which would put you in a better position during an economic crisis? Would you buy more food or preps? Would you put away some money for a rainy day?

The fact is, you are probably doing something right now that others would consider valuable enough to pay money for. You are not looking to move from one boring job to another boring part-time or micro business. You want to do something that you are passionate about!

What do you do right now that you can translate into a micro-business? What skills or talents do you have? Don’t disregard anything! Think about what you do on a daily, weekly basis and write them down. You will come up with something.

Warning, when you are thinking about starting a micro or small business, you will find a lot of info. online. However, there are a lot of online gimmicks that will try to sell you on buying a “home-based business.” Don’t watch their videos, don’t send them any money, just stay away! They are all crap! Just start with something that is your passion and get it out there! Your hardest problem is going to get the message out there that you are selling a product or service.

The key to marketing a micro business is word of mouth. Do some work for free or at below cost and ask the customer to tell their friends and even write a testimonial for you. You can sell your items/services at craft shows or even put them on Craigslist, Etsy or Ebay. You might want to talk to a traditional brick and mortar store owner to see if they will put up some of your work on consignment.

You should probably have a website now-a-days. Many people will disagree with this, but I suggest getting a free one. You can get a free WordPress or Blogger website easily. If your business begins to take off, you can always purchase a domain and move it. You might want to spend the $15 to secure your domain name now though. But at least you won’t have to pay for hosting.

I’m not going to try and list a bunch of business ideas here. A quick search turned up a number of lists. Some of these lists are all online based. They might not transfer over to the Preparedness community. But it might be a start and enough to get the juices flowing. Here are a few lists:

One last thing and one of the reasons why I’m writing this article. If you have a micro or small business already, or you start one, I would like to invite you to list your business for FREE at Prepper Small Biz. PSB is a small business directory for preppers to support other preppers! It is also a place for customers to review and comment on your work, thus providing future customers valuable information.

I hope this article has inspired you to at least start thinking about your everyday activities as skills that you can use to further your income. The possibilities are limitless.

I wish you the best!

Peace,

Todd

The Assault on Gold to Save the Dollar

gold coin

Today is going to be a quick post, but something I think is important.  I want to thank AlertsUSA for tipping me off to the video below, which is an interview of Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant US Treasury Secretary.  In it, he explains that gold manipulation is real and that the Fed is behind it, in an effort to keep the dollar strong.  The true reason behind the talk of gun confiscation is also covered.  It is just over 22 minutes long, but well worth the time.

I’m not an expert on the economy, but what I saw in the video and what I read in the article ring true.  I don’t think you need to be a “gold bug” to see that what Dr. Paul Craig Roberts says makes sense; our economy has been in trouble for roughly five years. With the EU taking money from the bank accounts of the people of Cyprus and our President saying there should be a cap on retirement funds, with the Federal Reserve using Quantitative Easing, I see the potential for much harsher economic times ahead.

The article Dr. Paul Craig Roberts wrote that sparked this interview is called The Assault On Gold

Economic Red Flags Abroad

I posted these articles on the forum and on Facebook.  For those who don’t check either, I want to share my thoughts on them with you.  I am not an economics guy but I do learn from history.

Last weekend, Cyprus delayed a vote on whether or not to confiscate 10% of the bank accounts of private citizens; Rueters states:

“In a radical departure from previous aid packages, euro zone finance ministers want Cyprus savers to forfeit a portion of their deposits in return for a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout for the island, which has been financially crippled by its exposure to neighboring Greece.”

In another report from The Age, there was run on ATM machines:

“In a move that could set off new fears of contagion across the eurozone, anxious depositors drained cash from ATMs in Cyprus on Saturday, hours after European officials in Brussels required that part of a new €10 billion ($12.6 billion) bailout must be paid for directly from the bank accounts of savers.”

There have been reports that Cyprus is under a bank holiday until Thursday, and possibly for the rest of the week.  I have also read reports that Italy or Greece may be next and that the national government of New Zealand wanting to try a  Cyprus-style solution.  I just saw a report that the Cyprus lawmakers rejected confiscating funds, good for them.  I do not think this is the last time we have seen this tried.

Some might say this kind of thing won’t be passed through the House and Senate of our government.  To this I would point out that our leaders in the House and Senate used some pretty sleazy tactics to pass “Obama care” and other legislation.  I would also point out that we have a president who likes to use executive power, and there is precedent for the president to use executive power to confiscate money.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt used Executive Order 6102 to confiscate gold.

Am I saying it will happen here?  I don’t know, but it truly wouldn’t surprise me.  There are many in our government who would like to see us move more toward a European model of government and society.  The precedent has now been set that private bank accounts might be up for grabs.

I’m not saying to take all your money out of the bank and stuff it in the mattress, but these things should be an alarm for us.  Before things would get that bad here, I assume we will see more warning signs.  Since people far smarter than I have been warning for years that there is a very good chance our economic future might look like that of multiple European countries, I would not be surprised to see one of our more leftist leaders to suggest this.  It will be railed against, but the Overton Window will move a little.

If I were asked what we should do, I would say we should make sure we have some cash on hand.  If something like this does occur, ATM’s will run dry quickly.  Above all, make sure you have a minimum of two weeks food and medications on hand.  I don’t think in this, or multiple other scenarios that the dollar will immediately lose its purchasing power.  So don’t be afraid of holding some.  If you have some money to invest in precious metals, I personally would stay away from gold and would buy silver instead.

Pray we never see this or worse but prepare like we will!

**Update**

I was thinking about the possibility of this ever happening here and wanted to share another thought.  I think someone in the USA will bring the idea up, and it will be shot down, at least initially. If the economy gets worse and worse it might be brought up again. How many companies have asked their employes to take a pay cut so they can keep the doors open? Eventually enough people might drink the kool aid and think this sounds like a good idea.

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Signs of (worse) Financial Turmoil

Image by Christian Ferrari
 

 

In the article I wrote last week ”What Does Civil Unrest Look Like and How Can You Stay Safe Near It?” reader JP  commented that:

“Warning signs I’ve thought of would be banks closing doors as soon as several people begin withdrawing all they have. My wife worked for a bank years ago(18 yrs) and I remember her telling me that they had trained them to prepare to shut and lock all doors when told by the manager to do so. Then proceed out the back door if its safe and go home. This situation would begin with multiple people wanting to withdraw all their money from the bank. If you knew someone that worked in a bank they might be able to give you a heads up.”

I replied with an anecdote (that I’ll share below) and both got me thinking about other financial warning signs and that some might come too late to do much good. I am an economic novice, but I am a student of history and have paid enough attention to the economy to feel comfortable pointing out signs to be aware of. I have mentioned many times that the overall economy is in bad shape, so these are not signs to look for general health. Rather these are things to look for which might hint that the economy is going to get even worse.

 

Defaulting Municipalities

I have touched on this in other articles but we are seeing more and more cities and counties filing for bankruptcy, which you can keep track of on the Municipal Bankruptcies Map. If your city or county government can’t pay its bills and defaults, the existing bills might be taken care of, but what about future expenditures? Hard decisions and cuts will need to be made that will affect everyone in the area of a defaulted municipality. Look at Greece, Spain and the United Kingdom for a peek of our future. Austerity measures will be enacted out of necessity either by forward looking municipalities or by whomever takes receivership of defaulted ones. In the countries I listed riots have followed these austerity measures, or even at the suggestion of them, will we see differently?

 

Falling Stock Market

I know very little about the stock market, but if you look at the big hits, there are often many small hits leading up to a nosedive. If the market slides for a few days and there are other signs, such as oil prices or rising unemployment, it might be prudent to move to something safer, at least until things level out.  If someone more familiar with the stock market has other warning signs please post them in the comment section.

 

Failing Banks

If there is talk of large banks failing, keep an eye out and don’t just expect there to be another bailout. In 2008, Iceland’s three largest commercial banks went into receivership over the course of one week and the banks were nationalized. This led to bank runs and nearly led to the entire country going bankrupt. I have seen reports where the value of their currency declined by 50% and their stock market declined by 90%. With the Weiss quarterly bank ratings you can have some idea of how your bank is doing. Granted, it’s only quarterly but it’s better than nothing.

 

Bank Runs

A bank run is a late sign that there is trouble. The anecdote I made to JP Scott’s comment was this:

“Thanks JP. You’re correct that those are both bad signs. A related note on banks; we pulled out a sum of cash a few years ago and were told that most branches only kept $5,000 at any one time. I think since people started using credit and debit cards so frequently, they scaled back the amount they keep on hand. Even if there was a bank run, there is a chance that not many people will get all their money on the spot.”

I say “on the spot” because your account is insured by the FDIC. I can’t say how long it might take to get your funds back. This is a very strong argument for keeping enough cash on hand to pay your bills and to purchase needed items for a couple of weeks to a month. Some banks may keep more cash on hand, but I know from firsthand experience that not all do.

This is also an argument against keeping emergency funds in a safe deposit box. Because banks are still training people the way they did JP’s wife, to lock the door, who knows when you’ll get access to that box?

 

So What Can Be Done When These Things Happen?

If you live in an area in risk of defaulting, you could move. Since this might not be possible or even prudent, planning is about the best you can do. Plan to see some services stop, as I mention in ”What We May See at the End of 2012 that is not related to the Mayans”. Cities, such as Oakland California, have had their Police Departments stop responding to certain crimes. In other cities there are some services that are being stopped or scaled back, such as turning off the street lights.

For the stock market, you can move your money into safer investments. You can also hold cash or invest in precious metals or land.

There isn’t much you can do about failing banks except be aware of them and that they may or may not be bailed out. Either way it causes pain, either now by letting them fail, or to future generations by having to bear the tax burden.  If you bank with a bank that is in trouble, moving your money could speed along their implosion, but not moving it could could slow you getting all of your funds back.

Bank runs, as I mentioned, are not going to ensure you get all of your savings. Most banks also have limits on daily withdraws from ATMs, so don’t plan on getting it all that way either.

I think the best plan is to continue to prepare and work toward having some cash tucked away, and be ready for unemployment and crime to go up as we see these warning signs.

 

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Money and the future of the American Economy

I’ve said before that I’m a novice when it comes to economics, but even a novice can see that our economy is and has been in trouble. So what do we do? I don’t mean “we” as a country, I mean “we” as Prepper’s, what do we do?

I don’t claim to have all the answer’s but here are some things that I think are a good idea.

 

Get out of Debt

Kill it, throw every extra cent you have at it, make it go away as fast as possible. It is stealing from your future. If you’re in debt and serious about getting out of it, there are many different methods of doing so. One I have found, that is actually offered as a ministry at my church is Crown Financial Ministries. They take a Biblical approach, giving to God what is His, showing you how to be good stewards with the rest.

 

Precious Metals

If you’re new to precious metals, I wrote a two part series called Primer for Precious Metals (Part One and Part Two. I really think people should be investing in precious metals. I think silver has much more of an up-side right now. So far, I have stuck to one ounce silver eagles, but am really looking at “junk” pre-1965 coins. Just be sure to stick to under $500 so it’s not reportable to the IRS. As the dollar continues to slide, I think people will turn to gold and silver for barter. In fact, while at a gun show last weekend, I noticed a booth selling AR-15’s and accessories with a sign that said they would take gold as payment.

Invest in Lead, Specifically Copper Jacketed Lead
I think prices are going to rise and availability is going to be more scarce than it was after the President was elected, especially if he gets re-elected.

 

Buy Second Hand

Make use of garage sales, Craig’s List or FreeCycle, The Salvation Army or any other place that sells used goods. Do a search for “barter networks” and you’ll find all kinds of ways to barter and trade your goods or services for others.

 

Prepare Now

I don’t think we’ll see an economic collapse that happens overnight where the banks are just closed. I think we’re already in the midst of a slow decline. Our dollar still holds value and will continue to, only less and less as time goes on. If you have any purchases that you have been putting off, I say “if you can afford it, now might be the time to get it, without going into debt”.

 

Shop Farmers Markets

If you have a farmer’s market near you, it’s a great way to get fresh produce as well as enough to preserve for future use. Some of these people might be willing to barter labor for food.

 

Closing Thoughts

The pain is coming and it’s unavoidable. The only questions are “when?” and “how much?”. The good thing about all of the items I mention, is that whether it’s six months or six years, you’re taking steps to increase your financial preparedness.

 

Skills and Items for Bartering

Bartering Skills

Sometimes finding the currency or items both parties find valuable is the hardest part. Once that is complete, a fair trade isn’t a difficult task. It’s not just items that can be bartered; often skills are much more valuable. Listed below are some skillsets that could be very useful in a mid to long term survival situation.

Food Services
Cooking
Using cast iron cookware, Dutch ovens or other methods of cooking not used widely today.
Gardening
Food storage/preservation, canning, dehydrating, smoking
Farming
Foraging/wild crafting
Hunting and fishing
Making cheese
Trapper
Baker
Brew master
Winemaker
Butcher
Farm/ranch hand
Hydroponics

Security
Teaching self-defense; from shooting to hand-to-hand
Reloading ammo
Security guard
Gunsmith
Scout
Defense planner, fortifying a home or small area
Teach situational awareness

Craftsman
General Construction
General handyman
Mechanic; fixing cars, generators, small engines
Electronics repair
Plumber
Wood working
Machinist
Tool and die maker
Locksmith both traditional and someone who knows how to use picks (legally of course)
Welding
Blacksmithing
Smelter
Miner
Well driller
Water collection and purification
Yarn Work; sewing, knitting, darning, crocheting
Tailor
Seamstress
Tanner
Leather worker
Furrier
Candle maker
Glass maker
Woodland management; coppicing
Lumber maker
Brick maker
Knife maker
Pottery maker
Making soap
Alternative energy; setting up solar panels, wind turbines, making biodiesel and distilling alcohol for fuel
HAM Radio operator
Papermaker, for writing and toilet paper
Chimney sweep
Firewood collector
chemist
Cobbler
Cartwright
Wheelwright

Animal Services
Veterinarian
Animal husbandry
Bee keeping
Tending milk or egg producing animals
Dog trainer
Aquaponics (raising fish)

Medical/first aid skills
Doctor
Dentist
Nurse
Midwife
Herbalist
Pharmacist
EMT
Basic first aid and CPR training
Alternative and Complementary Medicine such as; Reflexology, Reiki, Hypnosis, Meditation (thanks Jim)

Child Services
Teachers
Daycare

 

Items to Barter

 

Here is a list of barter items that I have compiled over the years. Some were suggestions from various forums, some are my ideas. I want to make a comment up front on two items that people always make negative comments on anytime bartering is brought up.

First is liquor. I have no problem with people not wanting to store it for barter. On the other hand, it will hold value and no one is saying you have to sell to everyone. You can decide whom you sell to.

The second is guns and ammo. Every time bartering is brought up, someone says something like “I would never barter ammo or guns. They could be used against me.” While this is technically a true statement, as with liquor, you get to decide to whom you barter with. Only trade or sell guns or ammo to people you know and trust. It will be a help to them and could provide food or protection for the community.

This list could be used for filling holes in your current preps as well as being stored for barter. I’m sure I missed some, so post them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

I have read about bartering in countries whose economies have collapsed and in countries who were struggling after conflict and war. Some of the things they sought were the pleasantries to make them feel human again; perfume, jewelry etc. This was, of course, after their five basic needs were met. My point is that just because it’s not an item that is NEEDED for survival, that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth keeping for barter.

Water
Coffee
Tea bags
Powdered additives such as Gatorade or Kool Aid
Water purifiers

Food
Any shelf stable food, rice, wheat, beans
MRE’s
Sugar
Salt
Honey
Canning jars
Canning lids
Paraffin wax
Fishing line
Snare wire
Foil Packets of baking active dry yeast
Vitamins
Cooking grates any size and shape
Spices
Aluminum foil
Candy
Canned and Dried Food
Coffee filters, which can be used for water filters
Cooking Oil
Eating & Cooking utensils
Salt, spices
Sugar
Vegetable seeds

Security
Guns
Ammunition
Bows and arrows
Pocket knives
BB’s
Pellets (pellet gun)
Knives

Shelter
Tarps
Tents
Sleeping bags
Plywood, shingles and roofing materials
Multiple screw sizes
Misc tools (trade outright or rent)

Energy
Matches
Batteries
Candles
Kerosene (and cheap lanterns)
Coleman Fuel
Varied sizes of propane bottles
Ferrocerium Rods
Zippo lighter and lighter fluid
Bic lighters
Solar battery chargers
Flint & steel

Personal care
Toilet paper
Antiperspirant
Perfume
Shampoo
Famine hygiene products
Soap
Makeup
Dental floss
Q-tips
Safety pins
Disposable diapers
Disposable razors
Packets of laundry soap
Materials to make a clothes line to hang out washing on
Wash boards
Chap stick
Socks
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Feminine products
Nail clippers
cigarettes, I wasn’t going to put this on the list. cigarettes do go stale, but as an ex smoker, even stale smokes would be valuable to someone needing a smnoke.

Medical
Bandages
Quick clot combat gauze
Small bottles Rubbing alcohol
Hydrogen peroxide
Antibiotic ointment tubes
Eye drops
Athletes foot spray
Antacids
Salt tablets
Aspirin
Ibuprofen
Tweezers and scissors
Combs
Scissors
Tweezers
Razors
Soap
Alcohol such as isopropyl or rubbing
Band-Aids of all sizes
Disposable gloves
Super glue
Herbs, essential oils and the supplies to make salves and tinctures. (thanks Countrymom)

Miscellaneous
Alcohol
Reading glasses
Thimbles
Thread
Small sewing kits
Rain gear
Rolls of string
Baling twine
550 paracord,
Embroidery thread
Sewing needles
Knitting yarn and needles
Nuts and bolts
Screws and nails
Zip lock bags
Garbage Bags
Hand saws and axes of any type
Bicycle tire repair kits.
Brooms
All different types of files for sharpening
Crowbars of all sizes
Leather work gloves
Fire extinguishers
Hacksaw blades
Garden tools of any type
Plastic and metal tubs of any size or shape (many uses)
Hand air pump
Wire brushes
Solar yard lights (can also be charged in daytime and used indoors for lighting at night)
Toilet plungers (the heavy duty types to agitate/wash clothes in a bucket)
Twine, rope and steel wire
Wood chisels
Roofing nails
Zip ties (all sizes and lengths)
Bleach
Rope, string, cordage
Duct tape
Glue of all kinds
Rubber bands
Silicon spray
Windup radio
Bug repellent
Knives, hatchets, axes
Magnifying glasses
Mirrors
Nails and screws
Non-electric hand-tools
Pencils and sharpeners
Paper
Playing cards or dice for games
Pocket-sized New Testaments
Liquor
Simple water filters
Toilet paper
Eye glass repair kits
Gold and silver
Lotion
Fishing tackle
Rods/reels
Books on all subjects, from how to, educational, technical, novels and even coloring books. As well as sheets of paper and magnifying glasses. (Thanks Jerry)
Gold and Silver coins; they will have their place. While true that some won’t know the value, there will be enough around that do to make these useful. Keep in mind that unless you’re making a large purchase, silver might be easier to trade then gold.

Clothes
Cloth diapers
Baby clothes
Flip-flops
Yarn and knitting needles or crochet hooks
Shoes and laces
Socks and underwear
Winter coats and rain gear
Boots
Gloves such as work, garden and winter
Shoe glue
Jewelry

The last item I’ll mention is time. Whether you offer yours in trade for something, or someone who has a skill you do not have offers theirs, time is a valuable commodity.

If you see one I missed, mention it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.

 

Basics of Bartering

Bartering is a skill that many of us aren’t used to, or very good at. We see a price and accept that as the amount we must pay.

In much of the world, bartering is a part of daily life. The same could be said in a prolonged survival situation. The economy of Argentina was much like that in America prior to 2000. Their economy has since collapsed and barter has become a common means of purchasing. In fact I read somewhere that people would cut links off a gold necklace and trade the links.

When I was in the Navy, I spent time in Hong Kong and in Dubai. Neither place was what it is today. That being said, if you didn’t barter, you got ripped off in many cases. I have a hard time with the concept, so I followed the lead of some friends who had been there before. Here is what I have learned about bartering from those experiences and since then.

 

What is Currency?

Jack Spirko has helped me define what currency is and what it is not. Currency is not the dollar bill in your pocket or even the precious metals you have stored away. Currency is the value you place on something.

Let me paint this picture: Inflation has skyrocketed and the price of gas is $6.00 a gallon. The price of many foods is 50%-75% higher than a year ago. I have been growing a garden and have expanded it. I’m willing to sell or trade with my neighbors. Pete has some cash and some rice that he would like to trade for some of my tomatoes.

Since the cash isn’t worth as much but is still useful I could charge him accordingly. It’s value may still decrease. I have been prepping and don’t need any more rice, so Pete doesn’t have any currency that I value.

Dan lives a bit further out of town and has a small chicken coop. Dan and his wife both love tomatoes. Since we both have something the other has placed value on, the tomatoes and chickens will be our currency. We just need to sort out the details. I could take eggs, chicken meat, or maybe have him raise a couple for me, so I could start my own coop.

In short, currency is whatever you, or someone else, might place value on. The most common currencies are, of course, dollars or the national currency in your nation, as well as precious metals.

If you’re a pro, please add any additional suggestions to the comment section

Let me share that I’m not very good at bartering. That being said, below are some things I’ve learned.

 

As Kenny Rogers says, “Know when to hold them, when to fold them, know when to walk away and when to run.”

When bartering, both sides are trying to get the best deal they can. If both parties are honorable, they can both walk away happy. However, you should have a price or trade in mind that you’re willing to pay, with some wiggle room on either side.

 

When to hold them

If you know the value of what you have and are offering it at a reasonable price, don’t stray too far from it. The same can be said if you make a fair offer on an item that you know the true value of. This is bartering, so remember the wiggle room I mentioned. Don’t stray too far from your original offer.

 

When to Fold them, and when to run

These two are the same but I like the song and thought using it was clever. Sometimes people will make an offer that is ridiculous. Just say “no thank you” and walk away. If they were testing you, they’ll come back with a legitimate offer. If they’re a fool, they’ll probably go off about how the item your offering is subpar or, if they’re the one selling, they’ll go on about how their item is the best blah, blah, blah. Unless you really need the item, let them keep it.

 

When to walk away

There are times when buying or selling, when walking away can show the other party that their offer wasn’t serious and that you’re not willing to consider it. The catch is that you may end up keep walking away and losing out on your chance at the item, unless you want to go back and meet their offer. If you do go back, the party now knows how much you want it. You’ll probably have to pay their full asking price. Sometimes the other party will modify their original offer and you can barter for a fair exchange.

Here is a list of skills and items you could use for bartering.

 

If you’re a pro, please add any additional suggestions to the comment section.

 

Preparedness Tip: Emergency Cash

If there is ever a power outage for any length of time, businesses won’t be able to take credit or debit card payments.  They will, however, be able to take cash.  Therefore, having some emergency cash hidden on your person is a good idea.  Having some at home for emergency use is a good idea as well.

 

Cash On Hand

How much money you keep on hand depends on what your situation is and how much you can afford.  For many people $20-$40 might be just fine, others may like more.

Think about your routine. What do you have to do on a daily basis?  If you live in an area where you have to take mass-transit, having enough cash to cover various fares plus a meal or two would be a good idea.  If you have to drive to work, I would have enough for gas to get home and a meal or two.

Since this is emergency cash, the goal is for it to not be spent unless it’s an emergency.  I had to put it in a separate area of my money clip to make sure I would know not to spend it.  The downside of putting it in another section of your wallet is that if you get mugged, or lose your wallet, you’re now in the very emergency that you could have used the cash for.  One option is under the paper and mints of an Altoids tin.  A money belt cold be worn, or maybe a drop wallet.  A drop wallet is a wallet that looks real but that you carry in case you are mugged.  I knew a guy that carried one and got mugged in Reno.  They took his drop wallet and took off.  He was peeved, but glad he carried it.

Another option is your car.  If you go this route, make sure it’s hidden well enough that someone can’t just break a window and lift the center console to grab it and go. One option is a small empty pill bottle that you can’t see through.  Fold the cash up, put it in the bottle and put the bottle in the glove box.  The bottle will feel empty and might be ignored if your car does happen to get broke into.

 

Cash In the Home

How much cash you store at home, much like cash you keep on your person, depends on your lifestyle, finances etc.  I think a goal should be enough cash on hand to pay for all bills and expenses for one week minimum to start.  This will ensure you can buy fresh groceries and purchase medicines that might be needed, as well as gas for your vehicle.

Since this is a larger sum of cash, putting it somewhere secure is a must.  A safe that can’t just be picked up and carried away isn’t a bad idea. 

There are the old standby’s, in books, in picture frames between the picture and the backing, gun safe, fire safe, under the mattress, etc.  

Here is a clever idea that I heard about.  Cut a rectangular section out of the sheet rock, 8-12” above the floor.  Put your belongings in there and then place a vent cover over the hole.  It will look like a cold air return to anyone who doesn’t know.

Do you have any other ideas for hiding emergency cash?

 

Preparedness Tip: Homemade Laundry Soap

I came across an article on making laundry soap and mentioned it to my wife. She looked into it and decided to give it a shot. Follow the link to see how to make laundry soap. with pictures included. I’ll just give you my thoughts.

For under $20 my wife was able to purchase enough supplies to make enough laundry soap to last us roughly a year and in my guestimation we spend around $100 on commercial laundry detergent. (for reference, there are my wife and I and two teenage boys)

We used it for roughly 2 months and stopped because it didn’t get the clothes as clean as commercial detergent. In the FAQ section of the site explaining the process, she mentions that some commenters have said they double the amount of Borax, which makes it clean more thoroughly. We did not try that.

My wife also didn’t care for the smell, but you can add things to change it.

We have an HE (High Efficiency) washer and did some research before using it. I was able to find a few people who had tried it and had no issues. We gave it a shot and had no problems. In fact, my wife heard that homemade laundry soap is actually better for HE washers, as it doesn’t create the suds that aren’t good for them.

We kept the ingredients and will use it if things get ugly, but have continued to use commercial detergents since going back.

If you’re looking for a way to save money, this might be of interest, if you try it let me know how it worked for you.

 
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