The financial state of the USA and preparing

Something that I wanted to share and maybe it’s just me wanting to put thoughts to paper. I work at a credit union as a lead, which means if there are any big problems with people’s accounts I get to muddle it all out. Given that, and also the fact that I also trade currency on the foreign exchange market, I get a pretty good glimpse of what’s happening financially. And I will tell you – the last few years have been scary. Our credit union has been repossessing a lot of BMWs and Mercedes. People have saddled themselves into $700-$1000/month car payments and are suddenly out of a job. Can you imagine? a $1000/month car payment!

I say this to say – we are in a depression. But I think about the Great Depression and it kind of scares me. Why? Because back in the Great Depression, people knew how to take a chicken and cook it. People knew how to grow food, and how to prepare meals from raw food materials like untrimmed veggies & meat. Nowdays, people don’t know how to do that. You go to the supermarket, buy a box of food, and nuke it.

So what happens if that isn’t there anymore? In our economy today, all grocery stores practice what is called “JIT” (Just-In-Time) warehousing. This means there are no big warehouses, and if the supply chain of trucks is interrupted for just a day or two you can see how quickly the store shelves empty. This is no big deal to those of us with pantries but there are people who never keep more than a day or two worth of food in their house… for them, what? Can you see with me how quickly this could degrade into violence?

I’ve been really making a commitment to myself to learn about how to store food and to learn more about putting it “by” just as a hedge against this. Yes, I know how to garden and that is a great skill because I also save my own seed and with this I will always have the ability to grow veggies but what use is that to me if we starve over the winter? I think about the earthquake in Haiti – those people were completely unprepared. Besides having a no suitable building codes and being as poverty-stricken as they were – there is NO REASON that people living in a country like that need to be unprepared. I think in their case, a helpful government as opposed to one intent on keeping it’s people “under the thumb” would have made all the difference in the world. But then we think about all the other terrible disasters that can befall us and I really don’t think there is any reason to be “Pollyanna” and think nothing bad will ever happen.

A lot of the people affected by Hurricane Katrina were not actually the ones with their homes destroyed. There were quite a lot of people forced to leave because there was 1. no clean water and 2. no food available. Can you imagine how much EASIER their life would have been if they had prepared for something? Even a 3 month supply of food & water would have made all the difference. Big huge snowstorms can shut off power for days. Are you prepared? I’m not. I have no effective way to heat my home without electricity. No good, huh. This year we lucked out. We had one short power outage that lasted a day and a night. The funny part is that I had some kerosene lamps I inherited from my granddad “Uncle Dutch” and I had actually bought kerosene for them. My husband and I spent the evening in relative comfort and our kids (Ballerina Girl is afraid of the dark until she falls asleep) were able to fall asleep to the soft glow of the lamps. I have some co-workers affected by the same outage and the night did not go so well for them.

So I guess this is my long rambling and all of it to say – I think we as a society need to be more prepared and to learn more skills. Who are we to be so arrogant and think that we won’t need to be self-reliant?

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  1. Wow – so much to talk about…

    As for your disbelief in people that have saddled themselves with $1000 car payments – those folks are just plain irresponsible and dumb. You are right to be concerned with the poor state of the average American. They have allowed themselves to become complacent and lazy. They want the government or somebody to take care of them. What happened to personal responsibility?

    With all that said, I think you should remain positive. The food thing is still a good idea within reason, but overall I think we as a nation can get beyond the idea of a true "Great Depression". Remember, like a High school counselor who only sees the truants, in your business you just see so many financially damaged people that it makes things seem far worse than they probably are.

    Keep blogging. Take care. W.C.C.

  2. You are probably right, I probably do see an unusual number of irresponsible people due to what I do every day. I guess we'll see how things go, but I think it's the capitalist in me that inwardly groans at the possibilities because you are right, the average American doesn't have any self-sustaining skills and if something happened they wouldn't know how to take care of themselves. It would be up to those of us who know how to grow food and cook from scratch and do things by hand to help bring them up to speed if something terrible were to happen.

  3. It is something my neighbors and I talk about quite a bit, and in our own ways each of us is trying to build up some of those skills. My neighbor Steve is the big farming enthusiast; his wife Laura has been making cheese and beer. My neighbor Julie is constantly trying out new recipes for baking (including from our home-ground flour); her husband Joe did a lot of construction work on their house. I'm hoping to learn blacksmithing. We have friends bringing expertise on horses… and so on. We keep a database on what everyone knows and wants to learn.

    You might be interested to know about the Transition Initiatives movement that is out there, if you haven't heard of it already. One important aspect of this is what they call the great reskilling. They make very much the same point you do, but add to it the observation that many of these skills that we have pushed by the wayside are (1) not lost, because there are still people who remember how to do them, and (2) truly pleasurable when we take them up again, and find ourselves with a meaningful and useful hobby.

  4. It is important to be prepared for whatever might happen. Build a food storage and skill storage, but then also build an investment portfolio as well. Both sides worry me- those that rely on the economy to keep going up and up and those that only worry about being prepared for the crash of civilization. It is always most wise to be a balanced investor- invest your time and resources into preparing for any circumstance.

    1. I agree completely! I think a lot of that does just come natural to someone in the same position as I am – buying large quantities of wheat and oats because I bake a lot of oatmeal bread, and it is the most practical and economic thing to have several months worth on hand. I like your balanced take on it, too… too many people are all doom & gloom and expecting a crash any moment. And then there’s some who are waltzing along like there’s nothing wrong, still going on expensive vacations and racking up the debt. My last job was in management at a credit union so I saw a pretty wide spectrum. I think out of all the complex issues I dealt with, I only saw one or two people who had actually been wise and responsible and prepared themselves for anything that might happen financially. It was sad, because 75% of the repo’d cars that we were re-selling were luxury cars.

  5. hey bethany just reading around on the site and ran into this, something you might want to check out is dry oven canning, i just started experementing and find it realy east. it is where you can take dry goods like rice, flour, cornmeal etc and seal them into canning jars for long food storage(they say 15-20 years). you put it in the oven in clean jars with no lids on a cookie sheet for 1 hour at 200 degrees. then pull them out 1 by 1 and put the lids on them and they seal, the reason for heating kills any bacteria and un hatched eggs that might be in there. the only thing i did read was that if you do dry beans, that they will no longer sprout after that. i found 1/2 gallon jars from ball and was able to get 15 of them full with one 50lb bag of rice that i was able to purchace at a local farmers market for 20 dollars. i felt like queen for the day, makes me feel like i might do this again. self satisfaction is a great reward ( so is the extra food storage). i think i am going to try flour next. i found a web site that sells organic flour by the bulk along with lots of other stuff . here is the web site if anyone would like it. ( will also be called natural grocers). hope this can help someone.

  6. I came to your blog from Amazon because I was interested in their Piteba oil expeller and found your review. I thought it might be a good addition to my DIY collection of sundry items…so here I am, checking out your observations.

    You are very wise in your current endeavors to become self reliant and recapture survival skills that are almost forgotten.

    Two weeks after my mother died in the fall of 2009, she came to me in a dream. She showed me that she wanted me to have what appeared to be a storage unit or garage filled halfway with food. Canning jars were stacked on one side of the unit. I was astounded with the quantity of canning jars and said, “Those will come in handy when things get bad…” She responded, “Things are already bad…” So I tried to ask for more information, but she replied, “I don’t know. I just found out a couple of weeks ago.”

    We needn’t be doom and gloom, just wise, prudent and prepared. However, a fiscally and morally bankrupt and divided nation that is indebted to China and has Russia creeping up on her borders, with an administration bent on gun control, and a spreading drought is sufficient cause for alarm, I should think. If we can make it through this Christmas and the inauguration without any untoward events, we should hopefully have a few more years for preparation.

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