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Could Your Own Blog Be Your Ticket Out of the Rat Race?

Unless you’ve inherited millions, you are probably like most other Americans. You’re in a race, along with millions of other rats, chasing the dollar. You may dream of leaving that race and earning a healthy income in other ways, but the race marches on and you’re not one step closer to that dream.

Well, for thousands and thousands of people around the world, the answer to exiting the rat race has been earning that income online, from home, working hours that are compatible with family and other commitments. Whether the income is from a blog, shopping website, or some other online venture, the fact is, it’s definitely possible to earn money online. Here’s my story.

The story of The Survival Mom blog

If money is the root of all evil, then the lack of money is the root of most dilemmas. Should I get this tooth cavity filled or buy new tires for the car? Can the air conditioner last another season or should we cancel our health insurance and buy a new one? With money, you can do it all. Without it, you have to make some hard choices, and this is where my husband and I found ourselves in early 2009.

The stumbling economy had finally hit our family business. My husband’s electrical contracting business had come to a halt. His income depended on the health of the construction industry, and you may have heard that Phoenix, our home town, was hit especially hard during the 2008-2010 recession. The business phone line didn’t ring for weeks at a time.

Fortunately, I had seen the writing on the wall months earlier and had spent the previous year boning up on topics related to survival and preparedness. By the time our business phone line fell silent, we had about three months worth of food and supplies stored and a small amount of savings in the bank. More importantly though, a crazy idea for writing a blog had popped into my head one night, had blossomed and began producing some income.

I’m going to share with you what I did to earn this extra money and show how you can do the same thing.

It started close to home, with what I knew

Food and water storage. Bug out bags. Evacuation plans. Firearms. This was new territory for me, a somewhat spoiled suburban mom whose favorite hobby was trying out new restaurants. When it comes to preparedness, you really cannot start on a much lower rung than mine.

With my family’s future at risk, I spent hours researching on the computer, and then turned around and applied what I learned. Our first venture into food storage started with loading up two grocery store carts. I put together a 72 Hour Kit, finding most everything I needed tucked away in drawers and garage cupboards. I compiled a list of important documents that would soon come to be known as my Grab-n-Go Binder. It was exciting to realize that I was doing something proactive to help my family.

There were questions, though, that remained unanswered. How could I teach my kids about preparedness without scaring them? What were other moms doing to prepare? How could I hold my fears at bay while focusing on preparing for an uncertain future? The masculine survival sites I had been studying didn’t have answers to my heart-felt questions.

Then the brainstorm…

I remember the exact moment I had the idea to start a blog called The Survival Mom, and within 24 hours I had claimed as my very own and was researching how to start a blog.

I had no idea where to start or what to do first. I was a complete novice. In my late 40’s, I was a dinosaur in a world of millionaire teens and young millenials who had already made their fortunes online.

image by Mike Licht

I knew what I wanted to write about:  survival and preparedness from a mom’s point of view. I knew I would be reporting on what I had been doing myself as the original Survival Mom and writing in a way that would be encouraging and supportive, not fear-filled or hysterical. My purpose and goal were defined.

WordPress was the best blogging platform for what I had planned, and I spent a good 48 hours figuring out how to download and then install it on my computer. (I’m not exactly a quick study.) That was the easy part.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy!

Blogging is a world unto itself with its own language: SEO, backlinks, split testing, affiliates, Google analytics, page rank and HTML. I thought I was computer savvy, but this was way out of my league. Fortunately, professional bloggers such as Darren Rowse, Pat Flynn, and Brian Clark freely share training and tips for successful blogging. To this day, I return to their websites to learn more.

Admittedly, I felt like one of those 80 year-old grandmas who go back to college. For the most part, blogging is filled with 20- and 30-somethings. Heck, I was even learning from teenagers! It was a humbling but necessary part of my education.

Blogging on the fast track

What helped my blog get off to a fast start was not its appearance or any advertising. It was the fact that I was writing. A lot. TheSurvivalMom blog became my new part-time job, and I was fully committed to making it a success.

Quickly, I produced a large number of articles, and as it happened, the timing was perfect. Preparedness was becoming a hot topic and “preppers” was a word Americans would soon hear on the nightly news and on reality TV. I was a prepper, whether I realized it or not!

Nothing beats having the right idea at the right time except for the right person having the right idea at the right time. I guess I was the right person in this particular niche. No other blog or website was solely focused on moms and their concerns for the future and their desires to become self-reliant. Most moms are quite naturally preparedness minded, so I had a ready-made audience.

It didn’t take long for my blog to begin gaining attention. American Preppers Network began posting some of my articles on their site and I was invited to write exclusive articles for them as well. Other big blogs began doing the same. As a novice, I didn’t realize that guest posting for popular blogs and websites is a great way to get your name noticed and to generate traffic to your own blog, but that’s what began to happen. I was even interviewed by Newsweek magazine, which generated even more traffic and attention.

“YOU can make money by blogging!”

Money was tight and getting tighter, so when I spotted the headline, “YOU can make money by blogging!” it caught my attention. If there was money to be made with my primitive blog, then I wanted to learn how. This was easier said than done, and I was faced with yet another steep learning curve.

An easy first step to begin earning money is to sign up as an affiliate with Amazon, and that’s what I did. By featuring Amazon products on my blog and inserting my affiliate link, I would earn a whopping 4% of the purchase price, which remained the same for customers! Hardly time to start making retirement plans, but it was a start, and was a good fit for my blog. I often talk about helpful products and books, and Amazon carries nearly every product imaginable.  It took a few weeks, but one day I checked my affiliate stats and discovered that some precious, blessed soul had purchased two books! I had made my first dollar!

Amazon is an excellent place to begin because of the wide range of products and the “stickiness” of their website. Admit it: once you arrive at the Amazon website, you continue clicking on other products. Amazon knows how to sell, so I let them do what they do best.

Over time, I signed up as an affiliate with other companies and with other bloggers who had written and published e-books. The affiliate business model is an excellent one. When I find a product I love, I mention it to my readers, and when they buy it, I earn a small percentage of the sale.

My first “real” advertiser came aboard a short time later. I had learned how to base my advertising rates on blog traffic and page views, and set my price at $75 per month. This advertiser wanted to pay a year in advance; I thought I’d died and gone to money heaven!

Other advertisers were added in the coming months, always companies I had either personally done business with or had a stellar reputation in the survival/preparedness community. I made a point to speak with the company owners by phone as a means of establishing a relationship. Some of these have become friendships.

Beyond the blog

In the back of my mind, writing a book had been a long-term goal. Writing several blog posts a week, as well as occasional magazine articles, honed my writing skills, but still, I was flabbergasted with a real live New York City literary agent contacted me in April, 2010, and asked, “Have you ever thought of writing a book?”

That email changed my life. I followed his instructions and wrote three chapters and a proposal. He shopped it around to various publishers and sold it in December, 2010. I was on a beach in sunny Southern California when I got the news. The day could not have been more perfect.

Two years later, my book was published by HarperOne. It feels great to be a published author, but I can’t forget that it was the blog that opened the door. My agent noticed my blog and saw that I was a committed writer and could produce well-written material on a regular basis. Agents stay on top of trends and he knew that survival and preparedness were becoming more popular by the day. He also liked the tone of my writing. Without a doubt, my humble blog was responsible for my book becoming a reality.

Going forward, my goal is to stay committed to the blog, write a second book, and enjoy the journey! It’s less about the money and more about finding a path that is personally fulfilling and compatible with family life and commitments.

Could blogging for income work for you?

Now, more than 7 years after my first, clumsily written article, blogging hasn’t died and, in fact, is stronger than ever. The survival and prepper niche, though, has become more competitive. However, there are small, underserved micro-niches, such as single preppers and senior citizen preppers. A teenage/millenial survival/prepper blog has yet to hit the big time.

But your blog needn’t be focused on survival and preparedness at all. Whatever you write about should be unique to your own life experiences and interests, but also be something with a broad appeal.

What skills do you have that might transfer to a blog? Can you write about what you do or share what you know? It may sound strange, but once you begin writing about a topic, you’re perceived as an expert, an authority.

Once you’ve decided on the topic and name for your new blog, capture the domain url from a company such as GoDaddy or I’ve worked with Host Gator and cannot recommend them. Two popular blog platforms are Blogger and WordPress. Of the two, I use WordPress and have serious misgivings about Blogger. It is owned by Google, and in their terms of service, they write:

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.

We are constantly changing and improving our Services. We may add or remove functionalities or features, and we may suspend or stop a Service altogether.
You can stop using our Services at any time, although we’ll be sorry to see you go. Google may also stop providing Services to you, or add or create new limits to our Services at any time.

Thanks, but no thanks. Set up a self-hosted WordPress site and it’s all yours. By the way, I use and recommend Liquid Web and Web Synthesis for hosting. I’ve used Go Daddy over the years, too, but their upselling drives me absolutely bonkers, although their customer service is decent.

Sites such as Copyblogger, Smart Passive Income, and Problogger can teach you the ins and outs of blogging, such as how to attract readers and write headlines that command attention. There’s a lot to learn, and you’ll be spending hours on your new venture. If you’re an entrepreneur like me, however, it will be a labor of love, especially as you begin seeing a stream of new readers visiting your site.

There are so many other ways that an established blogger can earn money:

  • Speaking
  • Consulting
  • Freelance writing
  • YouTube videos
  • eBooks
  • Teaching online classes (webinars)
  • Teaching live classes
  • Creating physical products
  • And much more

Success in a nutshell

Looking back, there were four elements crucial to the success of my blog:


I loved what I was writing about. I loved the fact that I was helping people, and I loved creating something completely new that was all mine. Passion is the fuel that pushes everything else forward and finding the One Thing that inspires and motivates you, month after month, is critical. For me it was family preparedness and survival. If you have an idea of what you might want to blog about, sit down and in 10 minutes see how many article ideas you can come up with. If you struggle for more than 20, then that’s not the right blog idea for you.


It took dozens of hours just to get the blog set up, to learn about the WordPress platform, and to write my initial posts. It took hours to learn how to join affiliate programs and manage advertising. It’s best to start a blog when you have a block of time on your hands, and a good internet connection!


There are well over 152 million blogs in existence, with new ones being added each day. I’m sure there are thousands that are either deleted or abandoned each day. It’s tough to produce high quality material week after week, but the only way to get really good at it and hit your stride is to write a lot and write often, like every day.

Continued learning

The world of blogging and the opportunities offered by the internet continue to evolve. There is always something new to learn, and, just as importantly, new things to learn in your area of expertise. Once you write about canning, for example, month after month, you may begin to think you’ve said everything that needs to be said! That’s the moment to challenge yourself to try new recipes and advance your learning. If you push yourself to stay fresh, you’ll continue to attract people to what you have to offer. You may even want to launch a second blog, now that you know the ropes, and this time focus on just jams and jelllies or “old-time homesteading”. There’s no limit when it comes to creative ideas combined with hard work.

One final element to success as a blogger is plain old hard work. It wasn’t easy to learn the basics of blogging or to churn out dozens of articles in the first several months. The final product was worth it, though, and then some. I have a fun new career that challenges me daily, my family has an extra bit of income that covers necessities and occasional luxuries, and it all started with a simple blog.

Resources to help you get started

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Bartering For Fun and Profit

If our economy ever does collapse and the dollars we’ve saved become worthless, one thing is for sure:  a system of bartering will emerge, along with a black market.  As you stock up on food and other goods, you may have had the thought, “This would be good for bartering.”  Blogger LP, over at Survival Plan Blog, has an interesting take on the idea of bartering and barter goods.

image by P.13

One of his main points is to make sure that you first are stocked up with the basics for yourself and your family before worrying about adding items for barter.  He says,

Determine …

  • if you have excess funds for barter goods.
  • what percentage of your prep budget that will go into barter goods.
  • if you have barter items that you don’t want to stock, and sell or trade them away now.

Then …

  • Review lists of barter goods and consider costs.
  • See what potential barter goods can double as useful items for you if you need to raid that storehouse. (The Three-fer rule!)
  • Consider stocking only items you know well enough. The more you know about them, and thus their usefulness and value, the better a deal you can haggle.
  • Prioritize your shopping list, but be prepared to deviate if a great deal pops up.
  • Look for your chosen items on sale.
  • Review your plan at least quarterly and update it as needed.

Most barter items fall into two main categories.

Comfort & Luxuries

Nail polish


Feminine hygiene



Paperback books

Hygiene supplies: soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo

Candy, chocolate, chewing gum

Anything that will help make life more pleasant




Long-term Food

Water filter/purification



First Aid supplies



Baby supplies: diapers, formula, baby clothes

Camping gear

Insect repellant

Matches, fire starters

You can read long lists of barter-able items here.  Remember that skills and knowledge are great for bartering and won’t impact what you have stored away.  The bottom line is to give this some thought, don’t over-spend, and keep your eyes open for bargains.  You can read LP’s entire article and insights on his blog.

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How to Establish a Successful Home-Based Business

Seventeen years ago, I found myself signing an agreement form with a direct sales company.  Without a single shred of sales or business experience, I impulsively launched what would become a very successful venture.  Looking back, that blind leap of faith was a brilliant move.  The income I’ve earned enabled me to quit my fulltime job as a trainer with a large school district and, eventually, become a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom.

Now that I have a huge pantry that needs to be filled with freeze dried food, expensive Wiggy sleeping bags to buy, and that monthly salon appointment that insures my gray roots never see the light of day, well, I need all the extra money I can get.  Preparedness, along with all our other expenses, can be costly, but an additional, regular income can make it possible.  A home-based business works for me, and it just might work for you!

This will do nicely. Thank you!

This will do nicely. Thank you!

It’s been said that the only way to have more money in the budget is to either spend less or earn more.  If you’ve already trimmed all the fat from your budget, there’s only one option left: earning extra income.  Based on my own experiences, here are a few pointers for starting a business of your own.

First, inventory yourself.  You possess a unique set of experiences, education, skills and talents.  The success of your business venture will depend, in large part, on how well these match the type of business you choose.  In my case, although I had never been in sales, I had taught school, and what is successful teaching if not selling the excitement of learning to disinterested adolescents?  As you consider what you have to offer, it’s just as important to reflect on what hasn’t been a good fit.  We learn from our successes as well as our failures.

Next, decide if you want to work with an already-established company or launch something completely new on your own.  If you choose the former, it will likely come with a home office staff who does market and trend research, develops training and marketing materials, tests the products to be sold, and offers a product guarantee.  However, creating your own, unique business may be a better fit for you, depending on your knowledge and abilities.  Keep in mind that a side business can be as simple as offering music or voice lessons.

Those piano lessons just might pay off!

Those piano lessons just might pay off!

If you choose to go with an established company, do your research, and don’t be swayed by emotional appeals or be pressured by deadlines.  Use their products, and talk with their reps.  The start-up cost should be minimal.  Be very cautious about a business opportunity in which you are asked to invest a large amount of money, and pay careful attention to the wording of any contract you sign.  If you’re asked to spend money on training materials, that should be a huge red flag.  The best companies will offer free training, as your success increases their bottom line.

Whichever route you choose, be lead by both your head and your heart.  Your head should tell you the product, market and timing are right, and your heart should say, “I would do this for free!”  When both of these match your skills and knowledge, you have an unbeatable combination!  Add large doses of time, energy and enthusiasm, and you just might be on your way to making your first million!

I have one more tip to pass along.  If possible, find a way of tapping into the homeschool market.  There are millions of homeschooled children in the United States, and every year, their parents seek out quality educational experiences.  It’s not unusual for my family to spend $200 or more per month on classes of all types for our kids.  If you are an expert seamstress, offer sewing lessons.  If you have a medical background, offer First Aid or CPR classes.  I’ve seen classes for whittling, sign language, and folk dancing.  Homeschooling families offer a ready-made market for simply dozens of earning opportunities for the right person.  Additionally, each summer there are homeschool conventions across the country where you could offer your expert skills.

A determined person will find a way to (legally!) earn the extra money her family needs to pay off debt, add to savings, stock pantry shelves, and pay for Wiggy sleeping bags!  The majority of women in our country who earn top dollar either work in direct sales or own their own companies, and both of those doors are open to you.  I have every confidence in your success!

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Take Steps Now to Survive a Collapsing Economy

One of the first acronyms I learned as a new prepper was TEOTWAWKI.  The End Of The World As We Know It.  I knew from reading James Rawles’ Patriots that the end could come suddenly, within just a few days as America’s banking system collapsed upon itself.  Another, more drastic version was spelled out for me in an online article, “The One Hour Meltdown.”  Neither vision of the future was pleasant, but I was skeptical about the concept of a sudden economic collapse.

Instead, a slow decline, a de-evolution, of our lifestyles and our economy may be far more likely.  Continued high levels of unemployment, for example, are eroding away at America’s middle class.  Worse still, is the fact that long-term joblessness causes individuals and families to exhaust their savings, retirement funds, and max out credit cards in their attempt to stave off bankruptcy, evictions, and home foreclosures.  As each safety net is consumed, people become more and more entrenched in the growing underclass, and in today’s economy, it’s going to be more difficult than ever to recoup what has been lost.  TEOTWAWKI has become a reality for millions of Americans, and the slow decay continues.

The proof is in the numbers

Currently, around 48 million Americans are living below the poverty level, measured by an income of $24,230 or less for a family of four.  The median income has decreased to levels seen in the mid-1990’s. Depending on whose numbers you trust, the unemployment level is either 5%, according to the federal government, or upwards of 25%.

The unemployment rate depends largely on where you live and the health of local business and industry. As the oil and gas industry has taken a huge hit in 2015, employment in this areas, as well as other related businesses, has dropped. A few years ago on a road trip, we stopped in Yuma, Arizona, and it was a virtual ghost town with dozens and dozens of stores and restaurants closed and out of business.

READ MORE: Do you know what the actual poverty levels are for different sized families? Here is a table that provides that information.

A record number of more than 94 million people are no longer in the workforce.  The percentage of employable males between the ages of 25 and 54 who are unemployed is around 12%, up from 6% in 1980. Today, only 44% of Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”, down from 53% in 2008, and, incredibly, 49% believe they are “lower class”.

The average age of a worker earning just minimum wage is 36. 52% of American workers make less than $30,000.No wonder American families are hurting.

READ MORE: Coping with a personal financial crisis? I wrote this just for you.

Bottom line: Americans are earning less and working less.  Jobs have simply disappeared, and this leaves millions of us more vulnerable than ever to an economic collapse.

The saddest ending of all

A slow decline of a society is more sad and tragic than a sudden collapse.  After all, what is the more awful to watch, an animal dropping dead from a single rifle shot or one that lumbers along in pain from a not-quite-mortal wound, finally dropping, exhausted, miles away? At some point in the future, we’ll wake up and realize that our country has been lumbering along and has finally collapsed.  TEOTWAWKI isn’t always sudden.  Sometimes it’s slow and sad.

Back when Russia was the USSR and the Iron Curtain was firmly in place, I traveled through such glamour spots as East Berlin, Belgrade, and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).  I was struck by the widespread poverty, from patched up cars from the 1950’s to equally antiquated fashions.  Grocery stores were virtually empty, the scarce goods available were poor quality, technology was ancient as vendors used abacuses to calculate sales, and only a very few people at the top of the food chain enjoyed the comforts I took for granted.  When I think of a slow collapse of America, this is the snapshot that comes to mind.

Preppers and survivalists will inherit the earth

We are currently in a small window of time in which we can prepare our families for an economic collapse, whether it happens in one day or continues far into the future, “lost decades”, as they say.  The concept of preparedness is based on taking steps before a crisis to insure your family’s well-being afterwards.

Recent reports tell of record numbers of Americans resorting to dumpster diving in order to find food.  Preppers and survivalists with deep pantries filled with buckets of wheat, SPAM, and soup will be spared that indignity!

READ MORE: Dumpster diving requires more skills than you might think!

Here are a few proactive steps to take in the face of an economic collapse.

  1. If you’re relying on a solvent Social Security system to see you through your retirement years, you’re already in trouble. If the government gives it to you, they can take it away. What can you do to earn more money on the side to invest in hard goods, such as food storage, possibly precious metals, moving to an area that is less populated, or buying a vehicle that is more likely to be EMP-proof.
  2. However, for the time being, DO take advantage of any and all forms of government assistance if you qualify. You paid into the system and you might as well get the help you need as long as the federal government remains solvent.
  3. Give a lot of serious thought to how you might earn extra money. I started this blog when I was in my later 40’s — so don’t use age as an excuse to not try something new! Assess your bank of skills and knowledge and how you might be able to leverage them to start a small business out of your home.
  4. Review every expense paid by cash or debit and anything paid for with a credit card. Slash and burn unnecessary expenses.  It’s surprising how little we actually need, even though cutting out beloved expenses can be painful.  I cried when I had to cancel my son’s guitar lessons, but our family budget couldn’t handle the expense any longer, and I was able to find free lessons online.
  5. Set aside a few months worth of food suitable for long-term storage, and then continue stocking up. If your food is stored safely and correctly, there’s really no such thing as having too much, since you can always share with others.
  6. Fuel prices will likely escalate at some point and car upkeep and insurance are always dependable money-drains. What can you do now to minimize your dependence on car travel?  Can you switch to doctors, stores, and businesses within walking or bicycling distance?  Imagine, now, that gasoline is $6 a gallon, or not available at all, and begin making changes accordingly.
  7. Along with fuel, energy prices are headed sky-high. The appliances in your home that use the most electricity are your air conditioner, heater, water heater, and stove.  Do you have more than one way to cook food and heat water in order to save on the monthly bill?  What about staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer?  Excessively high rates for power are common in countries with struggling economies, so having a plan and the right supplies is crucial.
  8. Don’t count on solar. It continues to be prohibitively expensive, even with government and power company assistance.  It takes a decade or more to recoup the expense of a whole-house solar system, and the electronic components are susceptible to EMP.  You’re better off buying smaller solar-powered products such as battery chargers, a solar oven, or a solar-powered refrigerator, although that, too, is costly.
  9. Learn how to produce some of your own food by gardening and raising whatever livestock your circumstances allow. Backyard chickens have become so popular that many towns and cities are revising their regulations to allow chickens, and in some cases, other animals, including bees.
  10. Pay off debt and tackle the mortgage. Remember, farmers in the Great Depression lost their farms because they couldn’t make the payments, and in some cases, because they couldn’t pay the property tax.  Even adding $50 or $100 to a mortgage payment will reduce the principal.  If your home is free and clear, start a monthly savings plan so the annual property tax bill can be paid promptly.
  11. Save money. Even if the dollar should be devalued, paper money will still have some value. It would be better to have $5000 in a devalued dollar than nothing at all!  Even if such an extreme scenario never occurs, the average period of unemployment is approaching one year.  Anything in savings will, literally, buy you and your family time as you seek employment and other sources of income.
  12. Become frugal now. Whatever money you have in savings will last a lot longer if you know how to pinch a penny until Abe screams for help!
  13. Consider investing in precious metals. No, you can’t eat gold or silver, but precious metals have always been of value.
  14. Don’t count on bartering as a lifestyle. Remember, that in order for a barter exchange to be successful, you have to have what the other person wants or needs.  If all you have are airplane bottles of whiskey and I’m a non-drinker, do you really think I’m going to trade my food or medical supplies for your booze?  There’s definitely a place for bartering, but too many people see it as the solution rather than a possible option.
  15. Stay up to date with dental and medical issues. Drastic changes to our health care system have already happened, with more to come. If our economy continues its downward slide, only the very wealthy and well-connected will be able to have top-notch medical care on demand.  If you’ve been putting off the annual physical, surgery, or any other procedure, it’s time to make the call, set the appointment, and take care of it.
  16. Get in shape. Not the most popular of survival topics, but if you are at a healthy weight and in average to above-average shape, you’ve already improved your health, making medical issues less likely.

A final word about an economic TEOTWAWKI

The worst part about an economic collapse is the unfairness of it all, and that brings me to my final and most important tip.  Guard your mind and your heart against bitterness and anger.  Most of the recently unemployed are there through no fault of their own.  Hundreds of thousands of hard working, responsible Americans have lost homes and property because of decisions made by those in government, finance, and business who continue to live in luxury.

Survival begins with a positive mental attitude but anger and resentment consume energy, cause depression, and increase feelings of victimhood.  Instead, make the decision to be proactive and self-reliant.  When you do that, you’ve taken power away from those you resent and have empowered yourself.  That’s a sign of a true survivor who’s ready to face whatever comes.

economic collapse

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Here’s How to Set Up a Financial Back-Up Plan

Many years ago, a friend of mine made a comment I’ve never forgotten.

“Every woman should have at least two different ways she can earn money.”

The Problem

Now that the economy has tightened up and many families are struggling to make ends meet, I appreciate the wisdom of this statement more than ever. It’s the principle of having a financial back-up plan, a concept foreign to most people.

If you’re into preparedness, you’re putting this principle into action, perhaps without realizing it. Your food storage is a back-up plan in case store-bought groceries ever become too expensive, difficult to access, or depleted. The vegetables in your garden are a back-up plan if your food storage supplies run low. (Back-up plans to your back-up plans are always a good idea.)

If you’re saving money, you’re already in the back-up-plan mode. Suze Orman, like all financial advisers, has long stressed the importance of being debt free. However, with the changes in our economy, she now says, “Save, save, save!” Your savings are a back-up plan to a possible job loss. If you’ve been buying gold and other precious metals, that’s a back-up plan to your cash savings!

There’s a vital need now more than ever to have a back-up plan to your source of income. The past few years have taught me that no job, no career field is truly safe anymore. I’ve seen teachers and attorneys lose their jobs overnight. The construction industry in our city is at an all-time low with its’ workers seeking jobs anywhere they can find them. A seemingly stable career can end in a flash with a pink slip. If that happened to you or your spouse, what would you do? Do you have more than one way of (legally!) earning money?

Taking Stock

Alternative ways to earn money is one of the best back-up plans you could have. My friend Pat, who passed along the advice, is not only a 4th grade teacher but also a licensed masseuse. Another friend runs a produce co-op and has learned how to design websites. Women are amazingly creative, and SurvivalMoms will always figure out a way to provide whatever their families need. SurvivalDads too, by the way!

Now is the perfect time to take stock of the interests, skills and knowledge you have.

  • What talents do you have that, perhaps, have been neglected due to the busy-ness of your life?
  • Is there a direct sales company you have long admired that offers quality products with a low start-up cost?
  • Did you once, long ago, prepare for a career that was sidelined for one reason or another?
  • Can one of your hobbies become a source of income?
  • Have any of your closest friends said, “You should do that for a living!” or “You’d be so good as a _____!”?  Maybe it’s time to take their advice!
  • Does your family participate in an activity or hobby that could be turned into a family business?
  • Is there a partially-finished college degree in your background? Could you dig up your transcripts, take a few classes, and complete it?
  • What need do you see in your community that you have the ability or desire to fulfill?

Be creative and think way, way outside the box. One of my friends decided to start a pizza delivery business to people living in the far outlying areas of her city. Sure enough, she began collecting orders and spent her evenings driving long distances to the homes of hungry, pizza-craving customers!

The internet opened an ever-expanding door for income opportunities, and most have the advantages of having minimal or no start-up costs and being home-based.

It’s not boom time in America anymore. No one knows when, or if, our economy will truly recover. A second or third source of income, however small, may be a financial back-up plan now, but could someday become your primary career.


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Collecting and Selling Scrap Gold for Profit

I’ve been collecting scrap metal for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my siblings and I would pick scrap metal from trash left out on garbage days. We would find copper wire, junk auto parts, pop cans – basically anything our dad could take us to sell at the scrap yard. It was labor intensive work for kids, but we were a lower middle income family that liked making something out of nothing.

But, one day while I was walking home from school, I found a ring and took it home to show my dad. He thought it was gold and took it to get checked out. It turned out to be 14K gold and I got $20.00, a fortune for a kid in the 60’s! Even back then, I realized that was a lot of money for something so small, and I’d rather find something like that than look for aluminum or stainless steel.

As a young adult in my twenties, I became apprenticed to a bench jeweler. There, I learned how to work with gold using my torch and jewelers tools. I practiced on rings that my boss had purchased as scrap. That way, if I screwed up, it wasn’t on a customer’s ring. Eventually, I got the hang of it. It takes time, patience, and lots of practice to reach a certain skill level. After several years, I decided to venture out on my own.

My husband and I opened our own store, and I became the bench jeweler. My husband kept his day job at the airline while I ran the store. I enjoyed having a “real” career. It took a long time to build up inventory due to the price of gold.  So, to help reduce the costs, we applied for a Pawnbrokers license, and got one. Now, I could buy used gold or loan money to a customer on their jewelry. It was actually good for my customers. If they needed money temporarily, they could get a collateral loan and come back within 90 days to pick it up. If they didn’t, it became my property. I also bought gold from people who didn’t need a loan, but just wanted to get rid of unwanted jewelry. I did this for many years until my husband got a new job at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

I began closing the store down and got ready for the move. Once, we moved, I worked for another jeweler for a few years, but decided I needed a change. So, I began taking classes at Purdue Calumet in Hammond, Indiana. I got my Associates Degree in 2004, and worked in Surgery, Dialysis and Prison Nursing. By 2015, I was getting burned out and started looking for a side job so I could just work in nursing part time. I wanted to start an online jewelry store and would stock it from finding good jewelry at resale shops, consignment stores, on Craigslist, and at garage sales. I started my Etsy store “Gold Is Wealth” in January 2015.

How you can profit from scrap gold

I’d like to tell people how to find these bargains, even with little or no experience. This is to encourage those who need extra money, or need a little side job that is flexible. You don’t need a lot of money to begin, just a few simple tools. (There is some risk, but the rewards are great). Wherever I go, I always carry TWO things with me when I’m scrounging for gold bargains. I have a 10x loupe, and a magnet. That’s it.

I got my loupe from Amazon for around $6.00 and I bought magnets 2 for $1.00 at Harbor Freight. The magnets are the size of a domino. A little later, I bought an acid test kit for $10.00 to determine if a metal was 10K, 14K, 18K, 22K or just junk. I also bought a gram scale online, too. Mine is pretty nice and it measures grams, pennyweights, ounces, pounds, and grains. It was about $100.00, but you can find them for much less. In Europe, they have 9K gold or 375 marked on their pieces. In the USA, it has to be at least 10K to be called “gold”. The European stamps also have tiny emblems within a square inside of a ring or on a pendant.

I keep my loupe in my front pocket of my jeans, in case I need it. My magnet is in the opposite pocket. When I’m at a garage sale, looking at a piece of jewelry, these are some of the things I look for to determine if its genuine or fake. (The owner often doesn’t know and I don’t ask, because then they think it really might be something too valuable to sell).

First, does it have a stamp anywhere? For a ring, it’s inside the band. On a chain, it’s on the oval or round “quality tag” next to the clasp. The clasp should also have a stamp on it. On a necklace, its usually on the “bail”, which is the loop connected to the pendant. But, I’ve also seen it stamped inside the back of the pendant. If you see a stamp that says 10K, 14K, 18K, that’s good. Usually. Remember, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Gold manufactured outside the USA will say 417 for 10K, 585 for 15K, or 750 for 18K. The numbers just represents how many parts of gold per 1000 parts. So, 417 means 417 parts per thousand are gold, or 41.7%. The rest is alloy to “harden” the metal. The look of each Karat is different. 10K looks lightest, but can also darken and look brownish from oxidation. 14K is the medium gold tone most of us are used to seeing, but 18K looks yellowish, almost fake. 22K is distinctly yellow.

Another way to distinguish real from fake is the magnet test. If the item sticks to your magnet, it’s not gold. Maybe gold plated, but it has another metal underneath. However, I have seen a fake clasp on a real gold chain. It does happen from time to time. Sometimes people don’t want to pay the price for a gold replacement once a clasp has broken. They will opt for a plated one. Once in a while, my magnet faintly sticks to a big clasp, like a lobster claw clasp. It has a metal spring inside of it which compresses & decompresses to open & close the clasp. Test the clasp and chain separately.

I have seen a real gold clasp on a fake chain, when somebody was being deliberately deceptive. They get upset when I take the magnet out. Brass is a look-alike metal to gold, especially when it’s been highly polished. Brass won’t react to the magnet!! Be careful. I’ve seen a lot of fake gold rings at the flea market which are brass. They are even stamped 10K or 14K. If you want to take a chance, don’t spend more than a few bucks. After a few days, they turn a weird greenish brown color. They also tend to be stamped in weird places that genuine gold is not. For instance, a giant 14K stamp in the middle of a religious pendant, like the Virgin Mary. It’s too obvious. It should be small and on the back.

Feel the weight of a piece. Heft it in your hand. Gold is more dense than other metals. The higher the Karat, the more dense it is. 18K is really heavy. Toss it up and down a few times, then try tossing another metal. You can feel the difference. Just remember, all these little things together can give you clues as to what you are looking at.

Another thing is that fake gold is shiny and flashy. Genuine gold rarely is. It’s been worn, and has a dull gold look to it. I will look at that piece under my loupe and look at scratches on the metal. Does it still look gold under the scratches or gouges? Good. Check the prongs on a ring. Are the prongs a different color than the rest of the ring? It could be plating that has worn off, after all it’s the spot that gets the most wear. Are the stones “glued in” with no prongs holding the stones? Bad. (Unless, it is bezel set, where a rim of gold is surrounding the stone). Look for GREEN spots anywhere on the piece of jewelry. It indicates gold plated jewelry that has reacted with moisture. I find it especially at clasps, tabs on a chain, inside a ring where skin acids have worn away plating, or anywhere it gets a lot of friction, as in between links of a chain.

Here are some common manufacturing marks if it’s not gold:

  • GE-Gold Electroplate
  • HGE-Heavy Gold Electroplate
  • GF-Gold Filled (More gold than plated, but not karat gold)
  • 1/20 of 12K gold- Gold Plated
  • 925-Sterling silver. Sometimes, gold plating will be over the silver

When in doubt, its better to pass on it. However, if its only a buck or two, you might want to take the chance. If someone is really pushing you to buy it, be wary. Most of my best finds have been under $10.00 for gold jewelry. If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t spend it.

Now, when you have some pieces that you think are gold, go to a reputable jeweler to verify what you have. Sometimes they will offer to buy it for half of what it’s worth, but you can sell it to the same smelter they are and cut out the middle man. Just get a quote from the jeweler and do some research at home.

There are places online to sell gold, but prices are all over the board. Some won’t tell you the gram price until they see it first, then will give you a quote. One place I like to deal with is The site is easy to navigate. Just click on “Selling scrap gold”. Then you click on what type of gold you have, such as 10K or 14K. You get different prices per gram because they are different percentages of gold. It also shows you right up front, how much per gram you are getting. Type in how many grams you have and voila!!! You get an instant price for your gold. Once you hit “Accept”, you need to get an email with a confirmation number for your transaction. That number goes into the mailing package with your gold. It needs to be mailed in 24 hours, as the price of gold can go up or down quickly. After a few times, you’ll get the hang of it. Make sure you insure it for the full amount, just in case it gets lost in the mail.

I hope you have found this helpful, and I wish you all Happy Hunting, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

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An Old-Timer’s Advice: Bartering

Personally, I intend to do some bartering, if things fall apart.  Now what you trade and how you go about it is a bit complicated.  First there is two things that I would be very careful about who I bartered with, ammunition and alcohol.  Now I know that many people have stored extra ammo with the idea that it will be good trading stock.  I believe that there will be a demand for many different types of rounds, particularly 22 and 12 gauge birdshot for hunting.

When you trade ammo, you want to be sure that it is not going to be used on you.  You may be arming the person who intends to rob you.  I have talked with people who have schemes to set up snipers and other ideas to protect themselves while bartering.   If you trade with anybody that comes along, you will end up in a nasty situation eventually.  I don’t want to end up in a shooting situation.

I have also talked to people who think that they can survive by setting up a still and bartering alcohol.  Now this is not a totally bad idea, some alcohol is needed for medicinally purposes.  But if you are selling it for drinking, word will get around and there are lowlife alcohols that will do anything for a drink, including kill you and your family.
Now don’t think that I am against bartering, because I am not.  I think that bartering will revolve around what we grow, produce or the skills we possess.  Simple skills and having the tools to perform them will become valuable.  Things like sharpening a handsaw, soap making, candle making, tanning hides, blacksmithing and other types of repair work.  It seems like everytime I grow a garden, I have an abundance of something.  This can be preserved or traded for something else.

I think that the single most valuable items other than maybe food will be medical supplies. Many people who have chronic medical conditions will run out of medications rapidly.  These types of medications or there herbal substitutes will be extremely valuable.  Knowing and being able to produce herbal medications will be a good skill to have.

One thing that our family has a lot of is miscellaneous hardware.  My father taught us to go to garage sales and buy the odd boxes of nails, screws, bolts and fitting.  There always seems to be one in every garage sale.  Normally you can buy them very cheaply.  When people have to start repairing and building things for themselves these items will become quite valuable. Don’t forget that some of the people who made the most money on the California gold rush were the ones who sold picks and shovels.

A local economy based on bartering can function, just be sure you are careful whom you deal with and don’t deal so tight that you make enemies.


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When the Economy Collapses, What is “Money”?

It seems like every year there is talk of an imminent economic collapse. 2017 is no different. With the economic deck stacked against Trump, I don’t have much confidence that he, alone, can turn things around. After all, the national debt is completely out of control and has doubled in the past 8 years. Sooner or later, the piper must be paid and preppers who breathed a sigh of relief when Trump was elected, may want to think again, as I wrote about in this article.

So, with continued predictions of economic collapse, I asked Mac Slavo over at SHTFplan blog to share with my readers his insights into how a family might survive following a collapse of our money system.  Here is his answer, in his own words:

Economist Mike Shedlock defines money through the eyes of Austrian economist Murray N. Rothbard as, “a commodity used as a medium of exchange.”

“Like all commodities, it has an existing stock, it faces demands by people to buy and hold it. Like all commodities, its “price” in terms of other goods is determined by the interaction of its total supply, or stock, and the total demand by people to buy and hold it. People “buy” money by selling their goods and services for it, just as they “sell” money when they buy goods and services.”

What is money when the system collapses and the SHTF?

In disaster situations, the value of money as we know it now, changes, especially if we are dealing with a hyperinflationary collapse of the system’s core currency. This article discusses money as a commodity in an event where the traditional currency (US Dollar) is no longer valuable.

In a collapse of the system, there will be multiple phases, with the first phase being the “crunch”, as discussed in James Rawles’ book Patriots. The crunch is the period of time directly preceding a collapse and the collapse itself. Too often, preppers prep for “the crunch” and fail to realize they will have to be ready to survive for many months, if not years afterwards.

Traditional Currency

Initially, the traditional currency system will maintain some value, though it may be rapidly depreciating in buying power. For those with physical, non-precious metal denominated currency on hand (paper dollars, non-silver coins), spending it as rapidly as possible is the best approach. In Argentina during that country’s many economic collapses, if someone received a check in payment, the immediately rushed to cash it, knowing that it was losing its value minute by minute. This short Kindle document, written by a survivor of that time in Argentina’s history, details that event.

It is during the crunch that ATM machines around the country will run out of currency as people aware of the rapidly devaluing dollar will be attempting to withdraw as much money as possible. This immediate increase in money supply, coupled with the population’s general knowledge of the currency depreciation in progress, will lead to instant price increases for goods, especially essential goods.

And, forget the classic “run on banks” that have been depicted in old movies, including “It’s a Wonderful Life.” A modern day “run” simply won’t happen. Rather, the electronic system that moves money from a billion different points to another billion points will simply be turned off. In a split second, all access to funds will cease, and there will be no point running to a bank to get cash, since banks will be in lockdown mode and, in any case, they hold very little actual cash.

If your physical cash has not been converted into tangible assets, this would be the time to do so. Acquiring as much food, fuel, clothing and toiletry items as possible would be the ideal way to spend remaining cash before it completely collapses to zero, as it did in the Weimar inflation in 1930’s Germany or Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation in recent years. This family survival and prepping manual has in depth advice for preppers at all stages.

Precious Metals

During the initial phase of the ‘crunch’, precious metals will be a primary bartering tool, but this may not last long. The old survivalist adage, “You can’t eat your gold,” will become apparent very quickly. In a total breakdown of the system, food, water and fuel will be the most important tangible goods to acquire, and for beginners, this list of where to start with food storage is invaluable.

Consider someone who has a two-week or one-month supply of food on hand. Do you believe they would be willing to part with that food for some precious metals? The likely answer is no. There will be almost no bartering item that one would be willing to trade their food for once it is realized that food supply lines have been cut. At that point, it’s anyone’s guess as to when supplies, food and otherwise, will be replenished.

That being said, since most will not barter their food, not even for fuel, the next recognized medium of exchange by merchants, especially those selling fuel, will be precious metals. For the initial crunch, silver coins, especially recognizable coins like 90% silver quarters, dimes and half dollars, along with one ounce government mint issued silver coins, like US Silver Eagles, will be accepted by some, probably most, merchants. For those trying to flee cities to bug-out locations, silver coins of the aforementioned denominations may be a life saver, as they can be used to acquire fuel. While it’s recommended to have gold as well, the issue with gold is that its value is so much higher than that of silver. Breaking a one-ounce gold coin into ten pieces just to buy a tank of gas will not be practical. It is for this reason that having silver on hand is highly recommended. Packing at least $25 – $50 worth of silver coins in each bug-out bag would be a prudent prepping idea.

In a total SHTF scenario, silver and gold may eventually break down as a bartering unit, as contact with the, “outside” world breaks down. One reason for this, is that the fair value price of precious metals will be hard to determine, as it will be difficult to locate buyers for this commodity. As well, the vast majority of people will not have precious metals of any kind for barter, so other forms of currency will begin to appear.

This, however, does not mean that you should spend all of your precious metals right at the onset of a collapse. Precious metals will have value after bartering and trade is reestablished and once the system begins to stabilize. Once stabilization begins, the likely scenario is that precious metals will be one of the most valuable monetary units available, so having plenty may be quite a benefit. At this point, they could be used to purchase property, livestock, services, and labor.

Water as currency

Water is often overlooked as a medium of exchange, though it is one of the most essential commodities for survival on the planet.

For those bugging out of cities, it will be impractical to carry with them more than 5 – 10 gallons of water because of space limitations in their vehicles. Due to the weight of water, 8 lbs. per gallon, it’s very difficult to carry much if getting out on foot. Thus, having a method to procure water may not only save your life but also provide you with additional goods for which you can barter

An easy solution for providing yourself and others with clean water is to acquire a portable water filtration unit for your bug-out bag(s). While they are a bit costly, with a good unit such as the Katadyn Combi water filter running around $170, the water produced will be worth its weight in gold, almost literally. This particular filter produces 13,000 gallons of clean water! It’s a must-have for any survival kit.

Because we like reserves for our reserves, we’d also recommend acquiring water treatment tablets like the EPA approved Katadyn Micropur tabs. If your filter is lost or breaks for whatever reason, each tablet can filter 1 liter of water. In our opinion, it’s the best chemical water treatment available.

Clean water is money. In a bartering environment, especially before individuals have had time to establish water sources, this will be an extremely valuable medium of exchange and will have more buying power than even silver or gold on the individual bartering level.

Food as currency when SHTF

In a system collapse, food will be another of the core essential items that individuals will want to acquire. Survival Blog founder James Rawles suggests storing food for 1) personal use, 2) charity, and 3) bartering.

Dry goods, canned goods, and freeze dried foods can be used for bartering, but only if you have enought to feed yourself, family and friends. They should be bartered by expiration date, with those foods with the expiration dates farthest out being the last to be traded. You don’t know how long the crunch and recovery periods will last, so hold the foods with the longest expiration dates in your posession if you get to a point where you must trade.

Baby formula will also be a highly valued item in a SHTF scenario, so whether you have young children or not, it may not be a bad idea to stockpile a one or two weeks supply. (For parents of young children, this should be the absolute first thing you should be stockpiling!). In addition to water, baby formula may be one of the most precious of all monetary commodities.

Another tradeable food good would be non-hybrid produce seeds, but the need for these may not be apparent to most at the initial onset of a collapse, though having extra seeds in your bug-out location may come in handy later. If you currently have a productive garden, check out these instructions for creating your own mini seed banks for barter or sale.

Fuel as currency in a post-SHTF world

Fuel, including gas, diesel, propane and kerosene will all become barterable goods in a collapse, with gas being the primary of these energy monetary units during the crunch as individuals flee cities. For most, stockpiling large quantities will be impractical, so for those individuals who prepared, they may only have 20 – 50 gallons in their possession as they are leaving their homes. If you are near your final bug-out destination, and you must acquire food, water or firearms, fuel may be a good medium of exchange, especially for those that have extra food stuffs they are willing to trade.

Though we do not recommend expending your fuel, if you are left with no choice, then food, water and clothing may take precedence.

For those with the ability to do so, store fuel in underground tanks on your property for later use and trading, and this article provides vital instructions for storing fuel safely — a major consideration.

Firearms and Ammunition

Though firearms and ammunition may not be something you want to give up, those without them will be willing to trade some of their food, precious metals, fuel and water for personal security. If the system collapses, there will likely be pandemonium, and those without a way to protect themselves will be sitting ducks to thieves, predators, and gangs.

Even if you choose not to trade your firearms and ammo during the onset of a collapse, these items will be valuable later. As food supplies diminish, those without firearms will want to acquire them so they can hunt for food. Those with firearms may very well be running low on ammunition and will be willing to trade for any of the aforementioned items.

In James Rawles’ Patriots and William Forstchen’s One Second After, ammunition was the primary trading good during the recovery and stabilization periods, where it was traded for food, clothing, shoes, livestock, precious metals, and fuel.

Clothing and Footwear

We may take it for granted now because of the seemingly endless supply, but clothing and footwear items will be critical in both, the crunch and the phases after it. Having an extra pair of boots, a jacket, socks, underwear and sweaters can be an excellent way to acquire other essential items in a trade.

As children grow out of their clothes, rather than throwing them away, they will become barterable goods, and one possible way to earn an income during this time could be running a second hand clothing store.

It is recommended that those with children stock up on essential clothing items like socks, underwear and winter-wear that is sized a year or two ahead of your child’s age.

Additional Monetary Commodities

The above monetary units are essential goods that will be helpful for bartering in the initial phases of a collapse in the system. As the crunch wanes and recovery and stabilization begin to take over, other commodities will become tradeable goods.

Another important monetary commodity after the crunch will be trade skills. If you know how to fish, machine tools, hunt, sew, fix and operate radioes, fix cars, manufacture shoes, or grow food, you’ll have some very important skills during the recovery period. It costs very little, if anything, to acquire skills and survival knowledge, and, in the worst of times, those are things that cannot be taken from you.

Guest post by Mac Slavo from SHTFplan, updated by Noah, 1/2/17.


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Survival Bartering: The Pros And Cons

BarterTo trade by exchange of commodities rather than by the use of money.

Much has been written about the use of barter in a post SHTF/TEOTWAWKI* scenario. Barter is presumed to be the norm for conducting common transactions, especially at the beginning of the event (see Chile 1982, Argentina 2001). None of these discussions describe the true difficulties of using barter for containing daily common supplies and needs. This is survival bartering – when your very life may depend on your bartering skills.

Most people think barter is merely “I’ll trade you this for that.” In a pure, simple sense that is so. However, where the rubber meets the road, where theory smacks hard into the face of reality, it isn’t nearly that simple and easy. “Barter” is plainly not the same thing as “money” — just using things like matches, seeds, clean water, rounds of ammunition in place of coins and paper money.

The difference between survival bartering and using money

Like it or not, good or bad, “money”, as we have come to know it, is an effective means of exchange. We exchange money for the product and services we want. “Money” is very effective is because it is very generic. The currency we receive (or pay out) in exchange for products and services can be used to obtain whatever other products and services we want, when we want them (all other things being equal). We do not need to know exactly what we are going to use the money for when we receive it.

We can exchange money for food or clothing or medicine or fuel or transportation or entertainment, or simply hold on to it (save) for another day. “Money” doesn’t get stale or expire or simply go bad after some period of time (ignoring inflation and devaluation for the moment).

The difference between survival bartering and using money

Like it or not, good or bad, “money”, as we have come to know it, is an effective means of exchange. We exchange money for the product and services we want. “Money” is very effective is because it is very generic. The currency we receive (or pay out) in exchange for products and services can be used to obtain whatever other products and services we want, when we want them (all other things being equal). We do not need to know exactly what we are going to use the money for when we receive it.

We can exchange money for food or clothing or medicine or fuel or transportation or entertainment, or simply hold on to it (save) for another day. “Money” doesn’t get stale or expire or simply go bad after some period of time (ignoring inflation and devaluation for the moment).

By contrast, when you are considering a barter exchange, you mustconsider at that exact moment what it is you reasonably expect to do with whatever item(s) you are receiving in the exchange. It is highly risky to accept an item whose usefulness to you isn’t clear.

This has obvious draw backs

You may not need an item today but need it tomorrow and now the opportunity to acquire it is gone. You may take an item in exchange thinking it will useful but turns out it isn’t. You may take the greater risk of accepting an item in exchange hope to re-exchange it later for something else, but that doesn’t pan out either.

For example, many web sites and blogs state that .22 ammunition will be the “new currency” in a post SHTF environment. To me, .22 ammo is only good if I have a .22 firearm. If not, I either don’t accept the exchange, or take on additional risk by accepting something I may (or may not) be able re-barter later for something I do need.

Another example: Consider a post-natural disaster scenario like Katrina. Suppose someone comes to you with a brand new big screen TV wanting to trade it for food. In more normal times the TV has value because you can use it right away. But after a disaster it might be weeks or even months before power and cable is restored to your area so what good is a big screen TV?

What exactly to store as barter items?

The answer is simple: It largely doesn’t matter.

There is no real way of know what exactly will be of exchangeable value in a post-SHTF scenario. Some items will probably always have a level of demand such as food, water, medical, defenses, fuel, etc. But those would likely be the last things you want to trade instead of keeping for your own use.

Websites and videos are full of suggestions for this or that  to accumulate for barter such as tobacco, alcohol, ammunition, salt, sugar, batteries, candles, needles and thread, even tooth brushes and dental floss!  In one video I recently saw the guy claimed to have over 50,000 (yes!) nails of all kinds stored for both his own building use and for barter. On another website it was posted that someone had stored so much TP in anticipation of Y2K problems that it took several yearsafter Y2K to use it all up! Imagine the storage space need for all that!

There is also geography to be considered. Some items may have greater value to people in urban areas while people in rural areas put greater value on different items. Someone in a more Northern location will value warm clothes more than someone in Florida.

The reality is you simply cannot turn your home and pantry into an extension of WalMart. No one has enough money and space to allow that. If you are going to collect items with the intention of using them for barter, be sure they are things you can use yourself in your own life should the exchange value not be as significant as you imagined pre-SHTF (not to mention if a SHTF event never occurs at all).

Barter exchange has been around since the start of humanity. There is no reason to think that would change. But bartering for products and services is far different from our present currency exchange systems that requires a very different understanding of how markets work in order to be successful. It should not be thought of as just the same as using dollars or other paper currency.

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5 Steps To Creating A Culture Of Self-Reliance In Your Family

We have all known people who save everything. My grandmother is one of them. If there are four green beans left in the pot, she puts them in the freezer. I remember one specific visit with her, 27 years ago, where she asked me to get her a bowl of ice cream. What I thought was the container of vanilla ice cream was actually a container of saved bacon grease.

Fast forward to today. She is now 96 years old, and still saving every last morsel and dollar. Grandma grew up during the Great Depression; those habits, ingrained in her when young, are still manifest today. The family snickers a little bit about it, but we know she will not outlive her money or her things. Isn’t there something reassuring about that? She has always worked hard at being self-reliant. Will our children be able to do the same?

As I watch the news and look around me, I wonder if another Depression wouldn’t do us some good. It wasn’t too long ago when life wasn’t so convenient. Many in our society have lost the mindset that our grandparents had. We have instant and immediate food, entertainment, communication, and information. Many feel that things will always be as good as they are now, but history does repeat itself. Perhaps one of the most important things we can do is prepare the next generation for whatever may arise.

Like those who have habits from the Great Depression, you can make self-reliance and preparedness a part of your family culture. One of the most effective ways to do this is to live it every day. Whether we have children of our own or are involved in an organization such as a church or school, we have the power to instill preparedness values. Now is the time for us to equip the younger generation with skills that will help them be confident and prepared for anything life may throw at them.

If you have children I recommend that you have a weekly family council. Along with normal family business, make goals on implementing these principles of preparedness into your family. If you are part of another organization, teach classes or organize projects that encourage preparedness. Set the example by your actions.

Five Preparedness Principles

There are five principles that can generate a preparedness mindset:

Thriftiness and frugality

The longstanding adage “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”, still holds true today. The importance of being thrifty and frugal is often forgotten. Clothes can be mended, altered and remade into other items. I have seen curtains reused to cover chairs, a table cloth became pillow covers and adult size clothes were remade into clothes for a younger child. Learn ways to take other household items and re-purpose them.

Another way to pinch pennies is to find out where all of your pennies are going. There are many forms online that can be used to assist in budgeting. Record your family’s expenses for one month and then gather together to review them. Are there any non-essentials that can be eliminated? Involve family members in creating a budget. Teach them to differentiate between wants and needs and set financial goals together. Save money for a vacation or purchase that the whole family can enjoy. Budget additional funds to be set aside for large purchases and for emergencies. Teach your kids now that it is not worth “keeping up with the Joneses”.

Strive for independence

This would include independence from anything that prevents us from living to our full potential. Avoid any habits or addictions that restrict your body and mind. Eat healthy, exercise, surround yourself with good friends, and strengthen yourself spiritually and mentally.

Look at your finances. What can you do to be financially independent? Do not get into the habit of using credit for purchases. Many people look at the monthly payment amount versus the real amount of an item. If you have debt, pay it down now. There are many websites available to help accomplish this.

Time is another area where you can be independent. Choose how to prioritize and use it wisely, which would include helping others. Teach this next generation the importance of being kind and charitable. Donate money and time to projects you feel are worthwhile. There are many opportunities available in your own community or help out with a need on the other side of the world. Either way, you will develop a deeper empathy towards others and an appreciation for what you have.

Become industrious

It sounds odd to tell someone to work at being industrious, but it does require energy to be creative and find balance in life. Look at your life and see what circumstances are around you. Search for ways to be resourceful. You may discover talents you did not know you had.

Are there any enterprising opportunities available that you could take advantage of? Another source of income could benefit you and those around you. Find ways to increase your marketability in the workplace. It may be finishing that degree, taking community classes or a free online classes (many are available). Look in your community. See if there is a need that could be filled by a skill that you possess. Teach those around you the importance of an honest work ethic.While industriousness is good, remember that wherever you are at in life, be there completely. When you are at work, work. When you are at home, leave work alone and enjoy your time with family and friends. If you need down time, take it.

Strive for self-reliance

I am sure you know people who seem to be able to do, make, or fix anything. Chances are, they had to work on those skills often before they mastered it. Like them, you need to continue to learn and put what you learn into practice. The internet is a great resource. We can learn how to do basic car maintenance, repairs on our home, first aid, and taking care of what we already own. Not only can you save money by doing these things yourself, you are free from depending on others to do them for you.

There is a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from doing and mastering new tasks. Planting a garden is another way of developing self-reliance. Not only will you save money on groceries and enjoy fresh produce, there are benefits much greater. Gardening, along with other tasks, allow you to spend time with those close to you. Working together as a group builds stronger relationships, whether it is between parent and child, as friends, or in a community setting. There is a sense of togetherness and learning that you cannot get anywhere else. If you do not teach those around you how to work, who will?

Aim towards having a year’s supply of clothing and food

Don’t let this overwhelm you. Take baby steps. Make a list of the amounts of food and commodities that your family normally consumes in one day. Take that list and multiply it by 7. That is your one week supply. When you have a one week supply stored, continue until you have three months supply. Use and rotate your 3 month supply. Then focus on long term storage.

Many foods, such as grains, beans, and pasta can have a shelf life of 30+ years. Clothing can be a bit of a challenge if you have growing kids. Looking at clearance racks and thrift stores can be an inexpensive way to work on storing clothes and shoes. If you sew, fabric is also be a great addition to your years supply. Do not forget to include any notions you may need.

As you begin to create a culture of self-reliance, you will feel more confident about your ability to withstand almost any hardship. We cannot depend on the government or charities to provide services and care for the millions of people across the nation when a disaster happens. It is essential that each individual and family do all they can to be responsible for themselves when needed. If we are wise and careful with our resources, we will be able to sustain ourselves through difficult times.

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