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Thinking About Reliance

For most of us, the severe economic downturn has changed the way we plan and manage our finances, and has altered our own personal outlook on our futures. Our grandparents have already learned the lessons of the Great Depression. For those who, until now, have chosen to ignore the advice of their elders, self reliance is fast becoming the lesson of necessity.

Anyone who still harbors the notion that, if their financial situation should turn dire, they can rely upon the government for assistance, is out of touch with reality.  While the local, state and federal services and safety nets continue to dissolve, the federal government continues to expand its reach into our daily lives.  Gerald Ford once warned us that, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”

As a society we are being forced into the self reliance that previous generations accepted as normal.    This is a good thing, but change is always difficult, especially when it happens quickly.  The bigger lesson, for those of us who are preparing for a calamity, is that self reliance is essential for survival.  If government is ill-equipped and unprepared to provide assistance in a cyclical economic downturn, what could you possibly expect during a time when the financial infrastructure collapses and you’re left to your own devices?

Here’s your survivor’s self-reliance blueprint:

Develop multiple income streams now. Should a major disaster strike your region, or should the nation’s financial infrastructure take a hit, you simply can’t depend on employer-based income. Developing multiple streams of income is sound, practical advice under the current economic conditions and during the worst of times, may be your only source of income.

Since the advent of the internet, the opportunities for developing revenue from online businesses has exploded, and even the least computer savvy among us can capitalize.  With a world-wide audience at the tips of your fingers, multiple online businesses can potentially create a steady, diversified stream of income.

But you don’t have to be online to make money. In fact, the very best kind of income might be a discrete cash-based income you develop based on skills or knowledge you have that others need…and will need during or after a crisis.  Don’t have a valuable skill or knowledge?  Get one, quickly!

Cash is king. If you haven’t already, eliminate debt in your life.  Should the banking system suffer a major blow, your credit cards and home equity line of credit will be useless.  Cash will give you flexibility and negotiating power, and assets of value may increase in value as others can’t get the things they need.

Forget about government safety nets.  This is sound advice for the here and now, and it will position you for a more secure future.  Social Security and Medicare are in the ICU right now, and any future economic crises will provide the final nails for their coffins. Plan like these programs have no tomorrow.  If you’re dependent on a Social Security check, Medicare, Medicaid, tax credits or any other form of government subsidy that influences your cash flow or lifestyle, you need to wean yourself off it (or at minimum be prepared for it to vanish).

Expand your access to goods and services.  Among the first things to go during any major disaster is access to everyday goods (grocery stores, gas stations, supply stores) and services (medical, utilities and possibly public safety). In addition to your own stock piles stored safely in your garage or basement, it’s a good idea to scope out nearby sources for water, food and supplies.  Think about different routes to those sources, and plan to make those trips at night to remain discrete.

Become one with nature.  Mapping local streams for possible water supplies and fishing is a first step.  Wild grown plant foods, nuts, berries and wild life are always a rich source of food provisions, so it would be smart to become one with your natural environment.

Sharpen the saw. It’s important to hone your skills and increase your knowledge in the area of emergency preparedness simply to ensure your family’s survival. Certain skills can also be bartered for other services such as medical or dental assistance.  You’re ability to build a manual, non-fuel generator may be worth a lung transplant to a nearby doctor…and earn you a lot of good will with others who didn’t think as far ahead

Simplify. The more you can do to minimize your footprint and reduce your dependence on material goods the better off you’ll be when resources become scarce. Downscaling will also keep your profile low as scavengers will be most attracted to homes that have high-end features, along with luxury cars parked in the garage.  Hiding in plain sight means giving the appearance that you don’t have anything the bad guys would want.  Look at the cars in your driveway…will a thief go for your car or a neighbor’s?  Do you have a boat, ATV, motorcycle and all sorts of other toys sitting in the driveway?  You might as well put up a sign in the front yard that says, “Rob me first”.

Make new friends. Using the social networks to build a new community of friends is essential for your on-line businesses (for your multiple income streams), and they also can become your primary source of news and information. After a major earthquake, the first people to hear about it are those who use Twitter. They can also be a source of assistance when you need to navigate life during uncertain times.  But use great caution with social networking…it can be tempting to share too much information. Agitators and other trouble makers are on the leading edge of networking and may try to draw you out.  Every word you write remains on record forever, and could be used against you.  My rule of thumb is to write as if my mother was looking over one shoulder and a federal agent over the other.  Learn how to bite your virtual tongue and you’ll stay out of trouble.

Self reliance is fast becoming a societal necessity and given the circumstances we face, the sooner you’re ready, the better.

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