3 Ways to Survive in a Declining Economy and Uncertain Times
It doesn’t matter how you slice it, living in the United States is getting increasingly challenging due to the deteriorating economy and increasing social unrest. Since 2000, the average sales price of a new home has increased by 32%, now exceeding $270,000. The average monthly cost for a moderate meal plan of grocery shopping in the United States for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) has increased over 28% over the last 10 years, from $824.90 in March 2006 to $1059.30 in March 2016.
According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S. firms announced 65,141 job cuts during April, which represented a massive 35 percent increase over the previous month. And so far this year overall, job cut announcements are running 24 percent higher than for the exact same period in 2015.
The poverty level is unquestionably rising in America, with over 46 million people now in poverty as reported by the US Census Bureau; that is up 25% from the number of people in poverty in 2007. Many expect the economy to worsen, if not completely collapse, as the cost of living rises while job availability continues to decline.
What are some simple things you can do to avoid becoming one of the many Americans who are working longer and harder but becoming less economically secure? And how can you protect yourself and your family from feeling the effects of the worsening economy?
Here are three simple ideas you can act on starting today, that will likely bring you more independence and peace of mind in the long-run.
1. Have a Backup Plan for Food and Water
What would you do if your local supermarkets shut their doors or the delivery trucks stopped coming? Food is one of those essentials that we often take for granted, but, food costs and the likelihood of social unrest are rising, investing in long-term storable food makes sense. Less than a century ago, nearly everyone know how to grow food and raise at least some type of farm animals. But today, many people don’t even know how to cook a healthy meal, much less actually grow food.
Because getting a garden going might take you a season or two, a good first step is to stock up on some long-term storable food and other supplies such, as warm clothing, alternate cooking methods, hygiene products and basic medications. This way you’ll be prepared at a basic level should deliveries to your local stores be disrupted, if your economic situation has you struggling to keep up with prices, or if people around you start to panic.
With at least 72-hours of emergency food in place (although month of food for each person is more ideal), get a few good resource books and start gardening. Even if that means using an innovative approach such as vertical gardening to grow food in limited space. Just check out Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space and Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home.
If you’re already got a good handle on keeping a garden, start a neighborhood garden, so you can help your community, learn new skills from others, and make some friends along the way. During any crisis, knowing people in your community that you can depend on will help not only you to survive but also to thrive.
If you don’t have a stockpile of some emergency food or a garden in place, you likely have no backup plan for your water supply. Ideally, in an emergency situation, especially one such as an economic collapse that might last over a longer period of time, having an alternate source of clean drinking water would be ideal. But, frankly, the majority of us don’t have access to a well or clean water spring. Storing water and using various water purifying supplies, such as germicidal tablets, are a good way to prepare for those times when basic services such as electricity and water are shut off due to shortages.
2. Reduce Your Debt and Expenses
It is difficult to image that eight out of ten Americans are in debt, with average US household debt at over $130,000. If you’re debt free, pat yourself on the back and skip to the next paragraph. But if you are in debt, like most Americans, consider that getting out of debt can be one of the most liberating and fulfilling experiences of modern life.
The first step to reducing debt is cutting out unnecessary expenses, which frees up some of your income so you can pay off any lingering credit card balances (or pay larger sums above your minimum payments), and pay off smaller loans such as your car loan. Take other simple steps like stopping to use your credit cards, which means you only use the cash you have on hand. A financial crisis doesn’t necessarily mean complete societal chaos, but you are more likely to lose your job, and your living costs, such as groceries, utilities and gasoline, might increase significantly. Last thing you’ll want is the stress of repaying your debts during such times.
Reducing expenses is another important step that will help you in a deteriorating economy. You may have lots of expendable income today, but learning how to be smart about your spending will prepare you for possible duress during a personal or larger financial crisis. Reducing expenses doesn’t necessarily mean you stop traveling or going out to eat, but there are ways you can start spending less. Take for example websites such as ChameleonJohn.com, which compiles coupon codes and promotional discounts offered by many common online retailers.
Perhaps most of us are no longer clipping coupons out of newspapers, but coupons are still very much a great way to reduce your expenses. You can also buy discounted gift cards, buy used versus new, use the library, and join various neighborhood cooperatives that share tools and gardening supplies (as well as ideas!). Finally, you can do certain things for yourself, like change your car’s oil and wash your own car. This may mean learning some new life skills… which brings us to the next section.
3. Learn Some Life Skills
Let’s not pretend. Most of us don’t know the first thing about survivalism. But you don’t need to be a remarkable wilderness survival guru to know how to take care of yourself should you face some economic hardship. And in the short term, you can start reducing your expenses by not always relying on paying others to take care of simple tasks around the home. If you find yourself without work, you can also start bartering or offering some type of service to your neighbors.
So get some books, find some websites, and start building up your skill-set. Here are some resources to get you started:
- The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster
- The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Life-saving Structures for Every Climate and Wilderness Situation
- The Organic Canner
- The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource
- Car Maintenance Hacks: Easy Tips and Tricks Anyone Can Master that will Save You Money
- The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget
- The Handyman’s Guide: Essential Woodworking Tools and Techniques
- Family Handyman 101 Saturday Morning Projects: Organize – Decorate – Rejuvenate No Project over 4 hours!
Read more articles from Sofia Adamson.
About the Author
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