Updated on 10.27.09

Some Thoughts on Ultra-Preparedness

Trent Hamm

Three recent emails from readers have made me focus lately on how much preparation for disasters we should be doing. First, from “Adam”:

Do you think it’s reasonable to take some of the money I use to invest each month and buy gold bullion coins to keep in my safe? I’m worried about the dollar collapsing.

And from “Eve”:

My husband and I have always used a spare room in our basement for storage of extra bulk supplies we’ve purchased, like toilet paper and the like. Recently, my husband has started talking about using that room for dehydrated meals and water storage in case of a major disaster. Do you think this is a good idea?

And from “Noah”:

Do you think non-hybrid seeds are a good investment?

These three readers all have something in common. They all are at least somewhat under the belief that a major calamity of some sort is on the verge of occurring – either a natural disaster, the fall of the government, the extreme devaluation of the dollar, or some other event that will radically alter our day-to-day way of life.

My general answer to all three of these people is the same. None of the ways of utilizing their extra money is an inherently bad way of using extra money. These items won’t necessarily earn a great return on the investment, but they aren’t worthless, either. Instead, I would encourage them to find ways to make these choices compatible with the way they live their lives today.

To Adam, who wants to buy gold coins: by all means, add gold coins as a small part of your overall investment strategy. I would not invest in nothing but gold. If I were you, I’d simply buy them at a slow rate – perhaps saving $100-200 a month (or more, if you’re able) and buying a coin whenever I could afford one. Then, I’d just sit on those coins, using them only as a last resort. This is particularly true if you have heirs to which you can pass those coins onto.

To Eve, who wants to begin storing food and water: instead of storing a bunch of dehydrated food packets that you may or may not ever utilize, I’d start a garden and teach myself how to can vegetables. Then, over time, eat some of the vegetables you can to maintain a steady supply in storage. For example, you might can a summer’s worth of vegetables the first summer, leave them alone that winter, can a second summer’s worth of vegetables, then eat the first summer’s worth the following winter. My parents used exactly this strategy growing up and it worked just fine.

To Noah, who wants to start buying seeds: I’d invest in a greenhouse setup (grow lights in your basement, if nothing else) so that the seeds don’t go to waste. After all, in most home storage situations, seeds will eventually go bad. Within that greenhouse, I’d replenish the seeds each year and also grow myself plenty of food. A greenhouse makes it much easier to actually protect non-hybridized seeds and plants from diseases and predators, since the advantage of hybridization is that the final plant is much more sturdy than many non-hybridized plants. One good way to get involved in this is to get in touch with the Seed Savers Exchange, a group dedicated to preserving and passing on heirloom plant varieties.

While investing like this will likely not produce a great financial return, it does offer another kind of return. For many people, such preparedness offers peace of mind – a sense of protection against the unknown. That has real value, particularly if you find the state of the world to be a stressor in your life. If having some gold in your safe or food supplies in your basement causes you to feel more at peace, then it’s providing a non-financial return that has significant value in your life.

What sort of preparation do we do along these lines? At home, we have about a month’s worth of food on hand along with about twenty gallons of potable water. A good portion of the potable water is actually in gallon jugs in the freezer, helping to fill the freezer and thus reduce the maintenance energy needed to keep the contents of the freezer cold. We do not own any gold bullion, though I’ve considered buying a coin or two at a very slow rate.

Investing is more than just pure dollars and cents. Investment provides psychological security and peace of mind as well, which can be tremendously important for some people. If you’re in a position where you’re worried about the state of the world, I see no reason not to invest some of your time and energy into securing your position as best you can. After all, that’s what investment really is, at its core.

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  1. KC says:

    I would encourage Adam to perhaps look at other ways to invest in gold rather than having gold coin on hand. Look into a gold stock (like AEM) or a gold etf (like GLD). These are ways to invest in gold without having it on hand. You still get the hedge that gold provides without actually having the gold in your house. However if he is really, really worried about the end of our government then he’ll need gold coins…and he’ll need more than he can fit in a household safe.

    As for Eve its a similar situation to Adam. If you (or your husband) truly believes we will have some sort of cataclysmic disaster then you should have dehydrated meals on hand, but you’ll need to pack that cellar full of them. More realistically be ready for a more likely disaster in which you may have no electricity, water, or road access for a couple of days – think hurricane, tornado, severe storms. So keep some non-perishable food and water. Also things like batteries and cash (in small denominations (1’s, 5’s, 10s) on hand. In my lifetime I haven’t been through anything cataclysmic, but I have been through several storms that left me without power for a week.

    If the end of our government or our plant is near I’m not sure any amount of preparedness can be done. But we can all prepare for a more likely short term disaster – whether its a financial short term disaster or a weather-related one.

  2. Jeff says:

    Check out survivalblog.com for loads of information on this subject.

  3. Vicky says:

    Heh, I live in Florida and being prepared for hurricanes is an absolute must.

    I have a large chest freezer in my shed full of mostly water (I do not have a bathtub that I can use if something comes up) – frozen meat and vegetables. I have enough canned and non-perishable foods to last one month, as well as charcoal, lighter fluid, and matches/lighters.

    I replace the food at the end of the year and check everything over before the next storm season – but much better to be safe than sorry.

  4. Mo-Town says:

    I agree with KC’s advice to Adam and Eve. There are some significant transaction costs associated with buying gold boulion or coins, and these costs tend to negate the investment value of physical gold ownership. If Adam is just looking for an inflation hedge, gold ETFs are probably a better option, and if Adam is worried about the a serious financial collapse, he may want to look into silver.

    With regard to Eve, if she and her husband are truly concerned about a major society collapse or “The End of the World As We Know It,” they would probably be better served by learning to become more self-sufficient. There are a lot of “survival” websites out there, and although I’m not a “prepper,” I love checking these sites out because “preppers” tend to have some great ideas about frugality. If they’re truly interested in dehydrated food, they can get an inexpensive dehydrator and learn to make their own dried fruit, jerky, etc…

    With regard to Noah’s question, non-hybrid seeds aren’t any better than hybrid seeds from a “prepper” or survival standpoint. Most of the people who seek out non-hybrid seeds do so because they are concerned with preserving ecological diversity.

  5. George says:

    > Most of the people who seek out non-hybrid
    > seeds do so because they are concerned with
    > preserving ecological diversity.

    It’s a combination of preserving ecological diversity and being able to reliably produce crops without the need to pay royalties. Downside is that non-hybrid seeds are usually low yield and more disease-prone.

    From an economical point of view, hybrid seeds with royalties are better. But, if you don’t feel like being “taxed” on every plant you grow, then using non-hybrid seeds is worthwhile because future generations of non-hybrid seeds are free.

    All of this is moot if you aren’t gardening, though.

  6. AnnJo says:

    Using the word “investment” to apply equally to gold coins, a food pantry, heirloom seeds, as well as to CDs, stocks and a college education, as many do, makes it easy to engage in confused thinking.

    A real “investment” is putting money into something that will create a stream of income in which you will then share. Stock in a company is an investment if you understand the company. (Otherwise, it’s a gamble.) Buying land to develop is an investment.

    Gold is not an investment. It is a hedge (like an insurance policy) against inflation, currency devaluation, and other bad government policies and perhaps less rationally, it is a hedge against fear. Putting money in gold produces no wealth, but it might help preserve it. If you bought gold 10 years ago, congratulations. Buying it now at the highest nominal price it has had in recorded history? Best to have a good understanding of what, exactly, you think you are hedging against. If you are preparing for disaster, why not stockpile cigarettes, liquor, chocolate, coffee or ammunition? They will all be in high demand after a disaster, and more easily traded.

    A food pantry is also not an investment. It is either a hedge or simply inventory control. You will almost certainly be eating food and using household supplies a year from now. Stocking up when things are on sale for what you are likely to use in the next year will save money and time and hedge against supply chain disruptions. But it won’t create wealth.

    If I had only a spare $100, that would be my emergency money. If I had a spare $1000, half would be emergency fund, half would be food storage purchased on sale among items we usually use.

    I wouldn’t buy gold until I had at least six months’ food storage, a year’s emergency fund and some real savings or investments. If you have very little, there’s nothing to hedge, so what’s the point of gold coins? It would be like taking out an insurance policy on a car that had no value – a waste of money.

  7. mari says:

    Noah should definitely invest in non-hybrid seeds and he should keep them in his refrigerator or freezer. Seeds will last for years in the fridge and decades in the freezer. He should, as Trent suggests, plant them and harvest them periodically, to keep his supply going and to learn how to use his investment in the future, when monocultured, hybridized crops have all been wiped out by a superbug or disease.

    George- I grow non-hybrid plants and have not found them to be low yield or disease-prone. I have found that most of the non-hybrid plants yield as much or more than their hybridized kin and are more disease and bug resistant. A lot of this may depend, though, on the way the plant is grown- we grow organically and no-till.

  8. Noadi says:

    It’s perfectly reasonable to have supplies for an extended period without electricity. This comes from someone who lives in an area where natural disasters can and do occur. Back in 1998 Maine got hit with an ice storm in February that knocked out power to half the state, some people in rural areas didn’t get power back for over a month (most cold, miserable experience of my life). Losing power for a couple days is not that uncommon here. Experiences like that make me always want to be prepared if it happens again.

    My family makes sure we have at least a month worth of non-perishable food that doesn’t require cooking, same with water (if there is any big storm coming we also fill the bathtub so the toilet can be flushed with the help of a bucket), pet food, plenty of blankets, batteries, wind up emergency radio, etc. Being prepared for natural disasters is a good idea, however being so paranoid you wants months and months of food stored makes me concerned for hs wellbeing.

  9. almost there says:

    Having just finished reading “One Second After” I have a dim view of survival if we really have a disaster, like the EMP mentioned in the book. Me being a city dweller will have a slim to none chance of survival. My buddy that lives in a log cabin in MI with wood heat and a well will fare better (he just bagged a deer, too). He can survive the loss of electronic stuff and electricity. And yes, I think that we will have a failure of the dollar in the near future.

  10. Mo-Town says:

    “I have found that most of the non-hybrid plants yield as much or more than their hybridized kin and are more disease and bug resistant. A lot of this may depend, though, on the way the plant is grown- we grow organically and no-till.”

    You don’t mention the size of your growing operation, but I’m guessing that your success with non-hybrid seeds has a lot more to do with your growing methods than any inherent superiority of non-hybrid or heritage seeds.

    I’m a raised bed gardener, and every year, I plant whatever seed is cheapest. It’s usually a mixture of heritage seeds and hybrid seeds. I’ve never seen any difference in quality between the heritage and hybrid seeds. Both have produced far superior produce that I can find at the local grocer.

    George raises an interesting point about the royalty aspect of hybrid seeds, but unless you’re a commercial farmer, I can’t see this being an issue. I seriously doubt Monsanto is going to take me to court for saving seeds from a hybrid plant I grew in my garden using their seed.

    The thing that strikes me as funny in the whole hybrid vs. heritage argument is that hybridization is hardly anything new. People have been cultivating plants to isolate and reproduce desireable traits for centuries.

  11. Marc says:

    Re: #6
    I disagree: gold and a pantry can be an investment same as a stock or land. Anything that can go up or down in value can be an investment. Good investments are the ones that actually increase in value. If I’d have bought gold 3 years ago it would be worth 30-40% more now if it was re-sold, pretty good compared to many others… buy low and sell high, right?

  12. Rosa Rugosa says:

    Are you folks serious? I don’t worry about any of this sort of thing, ever. I don’t consider it a frugal use of my mental energy.

  13. Lara says:

    Hybrid plants were bred for specific reasons: better yield, better drought resistance, sweetness, shorter stalks, etc. One possible side effect is sterility. With some plants, you will not be able to harvest the seeds from your plant and grow more plants. This is not the case with all hybrid seed, but you will need to research your seeds if you are wanting to decrease your dependency on seed companies.

  14. Stephan F- says:

    Ah survival pr0n, those survival sites can be have all kinds of good tips they spend too much time worrying about wildly unlikely scenarios. Once you’ve prepared for the most likely disasters in your area, you’re ready for just about anything.

    While I certainly encourage people to have some food, water and cash on hand and a gassed up car. Gold and seeds would come after having paid off all your debts.

  15. Kai says:

    I agree with questioning the worth of preparing for total societal shutdown. It’s just not reasonable for most people.

    But being prepared to life without public services (water, power, heat, grocery stores) for a week is just an intelligent thing.
    Rosa (#12), do you live in a place with no natural disasters? I know there are a few places in the world, but not many.
    If you live somewhere that is subject to hurricanes or earthquakes or landslides or flooding or tornados or severe blizzards and ice storms, or the other things I’m not remembering, it is prudent, and a very useful (thus sufficiently frugal) way to expend a bit of mental energy. You don’t need to sit around all the time worrying that it might happen, but once you have some things tucked away, you need not worry at all anymore.
    No-one ever thinks it will happen to them until it does, but it’s a serious issue that everyone should consider.

  16. Gabriel says:

    This reminds me slightly of an uncle of mine, who keeps giant barrels of white rice on his lawn for “an emergency.”

    It is possible to have to much of a good thing ;-)

  17. Colleen says:

    Do you really save much money growing your own food, though? Taking into account the cost of things like seeds or starter plants, top soil, compost (or the equipment to make it), fertilizer, pest and weed control measures, equipment like boxes for starting seeds and shovels, and not to mention all that canning equipment or the extra freezer for storing the harvest, do you really come out ahead of conventional in-season fresh produce or frozen produce? Plus, if you don’t find gardening to be an entertaining pursuit, you’d reasonably have to account for the cost in time you must devote to it. We don’t all enjoy mucking with dirt, bugs, and weeds – I was glad when it finally got too cold to bother with the garden anymore, no matter how good the tomatoes tasted.

    If you get joy out of gardening, that’s fine – it doesn’t necessarily have to be a whole lot cheaper than buying fruits and veggies from the store, like when you wrote about brewing beer at home. But if it’s not significantly cheaper to can your own veggies, and you’re not interested in canning for the fun of it, why bother investing the time and money? If it ever got to the point where you couldn’t buy something as commonplace as canned vegetables to stock in emergency storage, could we honestly be sure it’s safe to be growing them outside? :-)

  18. kristine says:

    Love the idea of rotating stock. You should do the same with water, I think, as plastic is porous.

    We also store personal hygiene supplies like shampoo and soap. Wouldn’t want to be without those for long!

  19. Shevy says:

    I’ve written about stockpiling on my blog twice. The most recent and complete post was in September 2009. Among other things, I have a list of things I’ve found useful to store. YMMV. Everybody’s circumstances are different and they have different tastes.

    Here are a few thoughts though, for each of the original queries.

    Gold is all well and good if you’re storing for a big purchase, like buying property. In a monetary collapse it would be useless for buying groceries or winter clothes. It’s also bulky and heavy. Diamonds are smaller and more portable but are also not for everyday purchases. For that, “junk silver” is much more practical.

    Do you regularly eat the kind of food you’re talking about storing right now and enjoy it? If not, I wouldn’t invest in large quantities of dehydrated/freeze-dried food, MREs or the like. For one thing, you need to rotate your supply and that means you have to eat it on a regular basis in order to use it up while it’s still good. You can’t suddenly totally switch up your diet in a crisis situation and hope to have that go smoothly either. Two more points about these types of meals. They are quite expensive and many of them rely upon large quantities of water to reconstitute them. If you do rely on these foods for emergency use you will have to store more water than is generally recommended (usually 1 gallon/person/day for an absolute minimum of 3 days).

    Instead, gradually buy more of things you use and like that will last for at least 6 months or so in your cupboard. Think of things like dry pasta, beans, rice, tins of tuna, coffee, sugar, oatmeal, etc. Buy on sale, rotate stock so you use the oldest first. You can build up a month’s worth or a year’s, whatever makes you feel comfortable. If you store things in cans make sure you have a *manual* can opener on hand. Also, how will you cook if the power is off? I have a camp stove and propane.

    If you have space & light you can grow even a minimal amount of herbs, tomatoes, etc. *if you like gardening and don’t have a black thumb or absolutely no free time*. If you hate it, or live in a basement suite, don’t bother. If you enjoy it and have a yard, you can have as big and varied a garden as you’d like.

    Non-hybrid seeds aren’t an investment per se in the sense that buying gold or land are. However, I think there’s a benefit in using both hybrid and non-hybrid or heirloom seeds. Hybrid plants are bred for sturdiness and consistency. Heirloom plants often have unique colours and tastes.

    A few final notes: I had to laugh at Trent’s suggestion of grow lights in the basement. Here in BC grow lights pretty much equals grow-op (as in marijuana). If I went out and bought a bunch of grow lights I could pretty much expect that either the VPD or some gang members would be breaking down my door one day soon thereafter. Maybe that’s not the case in Iowa….

    As for Rosa, I don’t really want you living near me when the next natural disaster happens if you’re not going to even prepare a minimal kit to get you through the first 72 hours. Wherever you live there is some type of likely disaster (forest fires, floods, ice storms, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, etc.). Prepare for it. You don’t have to plan for the end of the world, just a 3 day power outage in the worst weather you can imagine when your credit cards won’t work and gas stations can’t pump gas.

  20. A very interesting (and entertaining) book along these lines is “Emergency” by Neil Strauss.

  21. Strabo says:

    @1: “I would encourage Adam to perhaps look at other ways to invest in gold rather than having gold coin on hand. Look into a gold stock (like AEM) or a gold etf (like GLD).”

    As far as I understand he wants gold because he thinks the Dollar will break down or be worthless because of hyperinflation and the only thing left will be a barter society (which I don’t agree with).

    For this investing in gold stocks isn’t a good strategy. In the case he wants to prepare for you just hold a piece of paper that’s as worthless as a Dollar bill. For the scenario he wants to prepare for he needs the physical gold (although I personally think you’re far better off with stocking up on things people can actually use like nails, tooth paste, toilet paper, food, tools etc and use them for barter – worked this way in post-war Germany too, nobody traded gold).

  22. About the gold coins–I second Trent–I would not invesrt strictly in gold. Sure, its a great investment–over the long long term. In the short term it is as volatile as anything out there–so beware!

  23. kristine says:

    Ha! I agree about the grow-lights- I’d have cops at my door in a day.

    A great book: The Long Emergency, by Kunstler. Talks about the societal reorganization back to a “village” state in the event of a true gas crisis, as opposed to the gas inconveniences we have experienced so far.

  24. Alexandra says:

    You know, there ARE some places where natural disasters just aren’t something to worry about.
    Where I live the only thing I should worry about is getting out of the city in case of riots, large fire or terrorist attacks. Or staying home until things blow over.
    So having a week’s worth of food is a good idea, a little cash on hand to be able to up and leave, a bike for each family member, attachments to transport pets and food/clothes, and apart from that an emergency fund.
    It isn’t worth my time to go over disaster scenarios if I know how to flee if I have to.
    Don’t be so harsh on Rosa!

  25. Lenore says:

    From what I’ve read, Adam and Eve ought to take care of their garden, and Noah should build an Ark. As for me, I keep a small stockpile of non-perishable food, water in old milk jugs, flashlights, “aim and flame” lighters, those “canned heat” things they put under trays of food at buffets, blankets and a kerosene heater. Living in Illinois, I’m mostly concerned about an extended power loss in the winter, tornado or flood. I agree that food and basics like toilet paper would be more helpful than gold in a disaster or financial collapse. I’d also put my money toward canned beans and tuna before coffee or cigarettes because addictions are secondary to hunger in truly dire circumstances. For anyone obsessing about the end of the world: STOP! It’s wise to be prepared, but it’s unhealthy to worry about things we cannot control that may never come to pass.

  26. ChrisD says:

    A friend of mine had a similar worry. He felt that in a hypothetical scenario where there is some big disaster and there is ONE plane flying out, whoever can offer most money would get on that plane. He didn’t have enough money for this hypothetical ticket and therefore felt that he didn’t have ‘enough’ money saved up.
    I had to question the assumption though. In this hypothetical apocalypse, where is the plane supposed to fly to? In Europe (Germany, UK) we don’t seem to have the type of natural disasters that require a months supply of food (days maybe). In these cases people get evacuated to safe areas. For a true apocalypse you need to move to the country and get self sufficient. For any merely terrible recession Europe seems fine.
    (Also if you are worried about the collapse of the dollar Iceland might be a useful case study).

  27. littlepitcher says:

    @Colleen–Check out Ruth Stout’s books on gardening. After the first year, they cut the work substantially. Initial investments in pressure canner and canning jars have to be amortized. If you can get secondhand canning jars, the cost of canning drops a bunch. Gas range is cheaper than electric, and if you can outside on a 2-burner propane stove, your air conditioning will not be affected. Always can as much as you can get out of your garden or your cheapest farmers’ market produce, because climate factors may mean a reduced crop and increased prices next year. Home-canned goods also don’t require storage water to cook in an emergency.

    Best investments in dehydrated food are things you use regularly–oatmeal, grits, pasta, couscous and bulgur which require little cooking and, therefore, little fuel. For emergency beans, I’d recommend lentils, since they take almost no time to cook. Put up plenty of herbs and spices–you’ll need them.

    If you’ve ever tasted MRE’s, you’ll cry for our servicemen and women. Don’t waste your money.

  28. Tamara says:

    I don’t know why everyone seems so down on the dehydrated food. I dehydrate apple sauce to make fruit roll ups, bananas, pineapple, and apples to make dried fruit snacks, and marinated beef for beef jerky. These are all things that can be made, and eaten on a regular basis, but that also provide nourishment in an emergency situation. I agree that the focus should be on non-perishable in general, but we shouldn’t ignore the dehydration options.

    I have also dehydrated ground beef, and frozen veggies as well as pre-cooked stew. These items are obviously more time intensive, and have to be re-hydrated before consumption.

    To Shevy – I live in southern Saskatchewan, and the only natural disaster we ever have here is tornadoes. The longest my power has ever been out is about 6 hours. I recognize the need to prepare for potential disasters, but some locations need more preparation than others, and it is possible Rosa is in a location where there is little risk.

  29. reulte says:

    I don’t think about this much — other than a week’s worth of supplies in case of a local emergency such as a hurricane.

    I think the best preparation is to be knowledgeable and on good terms with your neighbors. Take some first aid training, learn mechanics, discover local flora and fauna. It can be fun and post-apocolypsically appropriate (said with tongue only slightly in cheek).

  30. Mo-Town says:

    “Do you really save much money growing your own food, though? Taking into account the cost of things like seeds or starter plants, top soil, compost (or the equipment to make it), fertilizer, pest and weed control measures, equipment like boxes for starting seeds and shovels, and not to mention all that canning equipment or the extra freezer for storing the harvest, do you really come out ahead of conventional in-season fresh produce or frozen produce? Plus, if you don’t find gardening to be an entertaining pursuit, you’d reasonably have to account for the cost in time you must devote to it.”
    You can save a significant amount of money growing your own food if you know what to plant, and you don’t have to start your own seeds to recognize these savings. For example, most nurseries sell six or eight packs of herbs or vegetables for between 1 and 2 dollars. Six tomato plants will easily yield 30 pounds of tomatoes each of 180 pounds of produce. If you plant in raised beds and use mulch, you won’t need much water, and very few people have soil that’s so poor they actually need to amend it with topsoil or manuer to see decent results. All told, you’ll end up getting 180 pounds of tomatoes for about $30, and your costs will decrease in subsequent years because you won’t need to purchase tomato cages again.

    The analysis is similar for a lot of high yield vegetables like beans, peppers, squash, eggplant, “greens,” etc.

    Of course, if you really want a big return for your dollar, you can plant fruit and nut trees. A two-year old dwarf fruit tree will cost you $15. Unless it’s a citrus tree, it will take a year or two to start producing, but once it does, you’ll get about 50 pounds of fruit a year, and all you have to do is give the tree a good watering every two or three weeks.

    Now, you won’t save money growning things like carrots or potatoes, and you won’t save money if you use the fancy $30 tomato cages you see in gardening catalogues. But many of the “expenses” you mentioned aren’t really expensive or even necessary. You don’t need fertilizer, and if you want to amend your soild, most counties have composting programs where you can buy a cubic yard of compost for something like $15.

    Gardening isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you don’t mind the work, you can definitely cut your grocery bill, and you’ll almost certainly have better tasting fruits and vegetables.

  31. Glen2Gs says:

    Truth be known, dehydrated foods as a rule don’t taste that great…And canned foods have a 10 year shelf life if the storage area is kept above freezing and below 90+ degrees.

    It’s always good to be prepared, for those of you who don’t consider this to be a “frugal use of..mental energy”…Remember the Story of the Grasshopper and the Ant…

    That, and better check to see if the pilot light has gone out on the “Flame of Intelligence”

  32. Jim says:

    Do these people have 6 months emergency fund? Do they have all their credit cards paid off? Are they saving 10-15% of their income to prepare for retirement? Do they have health insurance, life insurance, long term care insurance, short and long term disability insurance?

    They should have ALL of those things before they throw money into food stocks or other ‘end of the world’ preparations.

  33. George says:

    Apart from sterility, most hybrid plants won’t breed true. You’re more likely to get only 1/4 of the next generation having the traits you bought the hybrid seed for in the first place.

  34. prufock says:

    It seems Adam and Eve are both concerned with insurance – Adam against financial disaster, Eve against natural disaster. I think it’s important to recognize that these concerns are both rooted in fear, and maybe more than necessary.

    It’s fine to be prepared for emergency, but I don’t see any point in stockpiling more than a week’s worth of food, water, and emergency supplies. Your advice about gold was solid.

  35. Claudia says:

    Rosa – you are my kind of woman! Everyone who is being hard on you is way off base. Noah, Adam and Eve seem more worried about the end of the world type situation than a normal natural disaster. I am not going to spend my time worrying about the collapse of society, which is completely beyond my control and without knowing how long such a collapse would last, how can you prepare? Can you have multiple years of food stocked?
    Where I live, we have been without power for no more than a couple days and that only once. My sister was without power for almost a week once when a bad storm blew down thousands of trees. Most of these storms leave only selected rural areas without power for a long time, so food is still available. Most people probably have more than enough food in their pantry and freezers to last for several weeks, you may just not be able to cook every meal you’d like.
    You could end up loosing a lot of money in these supplies, if you are not carefully rotating them and using them as part of your regular meals.

  36. Wow this is a great article. Thanks. Also I would be wary of ‘paper’ gold like etfs. Just my two cents though.

  37. Rosa Rugosa says:

    Just for the record, we live in New England, not far from Boston, and you really couldn’t find a better place natural-disaster wise. We do have a kerosene lamp for those brief blackouts, and a fairly decent wine cellar for whatever else life throws our way :) I suppose we could always cook ramen in the chimenea if push came to shove.
    My philosophy is to never sweat the big stuff, and I do find it more productive to focus my mental energies on smaller issues like building up my emergency fund, stop buying crap, and other things that are directly within my control.

  38. Charlotte says:

    As part of my emergency preparedness kit, I bought a radio from the Red Cross. It had a crank to recharge the batteries, plus many other nifty features, including a plug to recharge my cell phone.

    Every family should have a plan as to how they will reconnect after a disaster. If a disaster occurs, how will you find each other?

    Every community has many locations that are already designated as places to go after a disaster. Know where your closest location is.

    For people who don’t ever consider a disaster — and I don’t spend much time thinking about it, even though I am prepared for at least a week — if you are near a highway or, especially, a railroad track, you probably have NO idea how much hazardous materials pass every day. It boggles the mind.

  39. Sharon L says:

    Another thing to stockpile, challenging as it is, is medications. The insurance companies make it hard,but get your refills as soon as you can and save the 3 or 4 day’s worth until you have a month’s worth or so. Be sure to rotate that stock.

  40. AnnJo says:

    Plenty of people share Rosa’s resistance to preparedness, whether they see it as pointless because in a true collapse it wouldn’t be enough, or just unlikely to ever be needed. And it’s true that preparation for total collapse is beyond most people’s capabilities or willingness to sacrifice their current lifestyle, and it’s also true that statistically, preparedness is unlikely to ever be needed.

    But the frugality of a well-stocked pantry is undeniable. If you go through 50 cans of tuna in a year and its shelf life is about four years, why not buy 100+ cans when it’s selling at a blow-out price of 50 cents a can? Two weeks ago, by combining coupons and sale price and Register Rewards, I bought 10-40 oz. jars of Best Foods mayo (about an 8-10 month supply at our house) at 70 cents a jar. Compared to the regular store price of $3.59 for a 32 oz jar, or the usual sale price of $2.49, you are buying something at 75-85% savings, besides saving the time and inconvenience of running out of what you need.

    By keeping a price book and knowing what our usage patterns are of stockable items, we can easily save 50% or more on a good part of our grocery budget, and “shop from the basement” instead of the grocery store. You can think of the preparedness issue as a bonus or totally irrelevant, and still a well-stocked food pantry will be a good idea.

  41. Ed says:

    Actually Rosa don’t sweat anything. Preparing for disaster, economic, environmental or societal is a good idea but not anything to get yourself wound up over. As the old ad used to say “Just Do It”. Pay off your bills, put a coin or two away when you can, store some .22 shells, learn to shoot, start a garden as much to enjoy creating life and watching it grow as for the food it produces. Learn new skills, give to charity both your money and your time. Love the people you are with and spend as much time with them as you can. While you are on this earth enjoy the journey. Fretting about things you cannot control takes away from that enjoyment. Line up your tasks and put them on autopilot.

  42. JuliB says:

    I view food storage as a definite return on investment. What with food package size/ food volume going down, and price remaining the same, you see a definite savings if you do it right.

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