Saturday, October 25, 2008

Preparing for the Next Great Depression

80 some odd years ago, something really bad happened in our country. We had a series of catastrophes that triggered an economic meltdown the likes of which had not been seen in modern history. There were several years of droughts that destroyed most of the harvests in the Midwest. The stock market became unstable causing bank runs. And as a side effect of those issues, many people left their family farms and moved to the cities looking for work, causing food and housing shortages in large urban areas.

Then the Black Blizzards came and scoured literally millions of tons of topsoil from what was once the richest areas of the Midwest, and scattered it all over the country. This all but destroyed the fertility of the wheat belt for about 20 years. It took many years and thousands of tons of fertilizers and chemicals to get back even a fraction of the growing capability of that once fertile soil.

We have recovered the crop producing soil now, but the mindset that worked that soil is probably gone forever. A single farmer, with 80 or 100 acres, or even 200 acres, does not control what he produces anymore. He cannot decide to plant sweetcorn on his rice field anymore. Because of the specialized nature of modern farming, he would have to invest in a multitude of new equipment if he decided to change his crop. And most simply cannot afford it.

What does that mean for the average person? We depend on farmers to grow food for us. If they cannot grow it, we cannot eat. The cost to consumers for the lack of diversity in farming is that if we have another Great Depression, there are millions of acres of fields planted in crops that are not edible by humans. Corn crops these days are mostly grown to make ethanol or corn syrup and not to eat. Different hybrid strains of corn that produce higher starch content have been produced to increase the yield but not for food. So all of that land that used to grow food, now grows sweeteners for you sodas and additives for your car. If every farmer used 2% of his fields to grow food crops, like potatoes or beans, that is only 2 acres for every 100 he plants in cash crops, we would not have food issues in this country. A 2 acre plot of land could feed a family well for a year. And if every farmer in each community would get together and each plant his 2 acres in a different crop and swap with each other (one plant tomatoes, one sweet corn, one beans, squash, etc) they could easily feed the entire community. And if that was done all over the country, no one would have to go hungry.

Even if everyone who has at least 1/2 acre of space in town planted a garden, everyone that person knows would have access to fresh food. It is very easy to have more squash than a family can eat. And tomatoes are a very high yield crop as well. Peppers, okra, beans, peas, all of theses are very high yield for the space they use. Even melons and cucumbers can be run on a trellis so that they take up very little space.

If everyone planted something, anything, there would not be food shortages in the face of an economic depression.

Food isn't the only thing that will be needed if the worst happens. The basics we as humans need to sustain life are food, water, warmth and dry. Food we have already talked about. Water is an issue that most people take for granted. You turn on the faucet and there it is. But that water has to come from somewhere. If another Great Depression occurs, it is highly unlikely that municipal infrastructure will fail. So water shouldn't really be an issue except in very remote areas.

Warmth is something to be concerned about though. With the prices of heating oil and natural gas skyrocketing, it only makes sense to look at alternative sources for heat. Wood-burning stoves come to mind. As well as passive solar and geothermal sources. The technology is there now but the prices are still high enough to put it out of reach for most people. So wood stoves and fireplaces are still the cheapest, most efficient option at the moment. A wood stove can be used not only for heating the room, but also for cooking your food. So that is another plus to look at.

Shelter to keep you out of the weather, be it rain, wind, cold, or hot summer sun is always an issue. If you loose your job, and you home get foreclosed, where will you go? It is always a good idea to have a backup plan in the event of an emergency. Even natural disasters like tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes can take your home away from you in a heartbeat. Where will you go? A good backup plan can be the difference between surviving and subsisting.

Make a plan. Will your family be able to survive?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Now, More Than Ever...

In these uncertain economic times, it is more important than ever to watch what you spend, and how you spend it. With the stock market in flux and unemployment on the rise, people are getting nervous about their next pay check.

I see things a little bit differently than most urban dwellers do. We have not instilled in our children the need to be busy with activities all the time. We do not spend beyond our means. And we almost never impulse buy. We don't have a house full of stuff to maintain, or need to get a bigger house to have a place for all of the stuff. We actually will be downsizing a child next fall, as she goes off to college.

We don't need a lot of "things" that most people feel is necessary. My cell phone was purchased in 2002, I think, and it still works fine with the original battery. I have no need to replace it. I have a camera so why do I need a phone that takes pictures? I have an internet connection for my laptop, so my phone doesn't need to be able to search the web either. I have a radio, so I don't need it to play music. I don't text people, I talk to them. It is a phone. I talk to people on it. That is what it does and that is all I need it to do. It works out well.

If and when the economy collapses, there will be a lot of people walking around with cell phones/MP3 Players/cameras/text messenger/computer/personal organizers with a blue tooth connection that can't afford to pay the bill. And they will be lost with out it. "OMG! I can't text?!?!"

As a society, we have gotten so used to spending money, that a lot of people will just be lost if they have no money to spend. College funds and IRAs are all well and good, except that they are tied to banks and/or the stock market. If those institutions fail, then so does your money. And everything you have worked for is just , poof, gone. I am not saying that you should panic and cash out all of your assets, I am saying you should not depend on them being there. If they don't diminish and you can still access it when you need it, Great! But you can't be sure it will always be there. That is why there is fine print on your prospectus.

Credit cards are another thing that our society has gotten used to. It has become a staple of every day life. People just don't carry cash anymore. And most people do not pay in full every month. I don't understand why you want to buy something with interest every time you get a whim. That just strikes me as dangerous. What if you lose your job? Or have a medical emergency that prevents you from working for 6 months? Or a year? What will you do then? Getting yourself into a debt cycle is just a bad idea. And lots of people are starting to realize that they have spent themselves into a hole they can never get out of.

What to do about all of this? Stop spending. Sounds easy doesn't it. It isn't. It takes commitment and a willingness to change your lifestyle. So you don't eat out so much, stop buying the newest gadgets just because they are new, and find new and creative ways to reuse the things you already have. Shop for "things" at flea markets and yard sales instead of paying retail. Utilize Freecycle. Swap things or services with your neighbors. Invest in a good cookbook and learn to cook your own gourmet meals.

And stop using credit cards. If you do nothing else, stop using credit. If you can't pay cash for something, don't buy it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Economy, the Election, and What it means for Us

Continued from yesterday...

So what does the upcoming election mean for us as Americans? I personally don't think it really means all that much. I know that people get passionate about their favorite candidate, and sometimes are very vocal, but I don't feel that either of the major party candidates will be a good choice.

We have allowed our leaders to destroy the Democratic process by our apathy. We just don't care what they do in Washington as long as they give us money every now and then and stay out of our way. We do not care that they are bought and paid for by lobbyists and special interests groups. On a local level, we do not care that lucrative state and county contracts go to good friends and relatives instead of the lowest bidder or the most qualified. We do not question where the campaign funds come from. We just don't care. And as a result, the only people who want to become politicians are those who are in the business for personal gain, not for the want to do good.

What it all boils down to is that politicians, as a species, are not politicians so that they can help the people. And that being the case, one is just as good as the other. Either way, the American people lose.

The US economy is in such bad shape from lack of oversite, that there will not be a good or easy way out. The economy will collapse. How far, and for how long, is really the only question. Home prices have been way, way over-valued for the last 10-15 years so the local governments could collect higher property taxes. Gasoline has been over-taxed so the DOT could collect more money to pay civil engineers to design new bridges and roads that we have nowhere to put. Income taxes have been raised time and again to pay for social programs that encourage people to not work and have more babies instead of training them for good paying jobs. The Social Security Program has been tapped into for decades to fund congressional pet projects instead of being used to keep healthcare costs for senior to a manageable level. Farmers are being paid to NOT grow certain crops to keep the prices artificially high instead of letting the market take care of itself. Factory farms are pushing traditional farmers out of the business through over regulation and higher production costs.

Every dollar you earn is taxed a minimum of 4 times. Yet we are going to pay $700 BILLION to bank CEOs for driving their businesses into the ground. Where is that money going to come from? You guessed it, higher taxes...again.

Higher taxes mean fewer jobs. Fewer jobs means higher unemployment. Higher unemployment means more people default on their loans and credit cards. More defaults means more banks will fail. See a cycle here?

My guess is that it will be a very lean Christmas season for retail sales. And come January, credit card companies will start failing. That will mean all the people who live on their credit cards will no longer have access to credit. It is very possible that the card companies will demand payment in full. That would mean that every card that you have a $2000-$10,000 balance on will say, "Pay it off now or we will sue." Blood from a turnip I know, but if they get a judgment against you in court, they can seize your assets to settle the debt. Like your house, your kid's college fund, your IRA. See the picture? And the government will be on their side because they do not want the banks and card companies to fail.

Your best bet is to do what every you have to do to pay those suckers off and never look at a credit card again. Pay cash. Or use a debit card. Or better yet, do without it if you can.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Economy, the Election, and What it means for Us

It sort of concerns me the amount of unrest this election is causing. Between the economic panic and worry over who will be our next president, people are starting to get worried about the future.

I personally do now see how a President can really have any effect on the daily lives of US citizens. Sure, he will have policies for everything, but without Congress, he is just so much carbon and water sitting in a slightly round room. Now if Congress was on the same side as the President, then there will be a huge amount of crap going on in DC. Everybody and their brother will have their hands in the taxpayer till, picking out change for every little pet project that comes along. And that is always a good thing, right? (see the sub-prime housing market)

If McCain is elected, he will have a hostile Congress to deal with, so nothing will be accomplished. He will be called every name in the book and the Democrats will eat his guts for lunch on a daily basis.

If Obama is elected, then the liberal right-wingers will have parties in the streets. Social programs that we can't pay for will abound, and businesses will stagnate and fail. Taxes to pay for all of the new programs will put us even farther in debt to foreign countries, our military will be cut to the point where we can no longer protect ourselves, and our status as a world leader will be over.

Nations all over the world are endorsing Obama for President, and I have to ask why? Why do they care who our president is? Why would Hugo Chavez, who hates the US with a burning passion, want Obama to be our President? Why would the religious leaders in the Middle East, who have declaird jihad on us, want Obama to be our President? What difference does it make to the Mayor of London who our President is? What do they have to gain by it? And why do we care?

All of this really just boils down to a couple of things. Most of the countries of the world want to see us fall. Some hate us for our crass commericalism, some for our arrogance, and others are just jealous of our freedoms. While we take for granted that we can buy just about anything we want at any time, and usually do, others have to do without even basics like food and water.

I cannot see the future, but I can imagine if the US falls to socialism, there will be a fundemental breakdown of society. Riots, worthless currency, martial law, and world-wide chaos. Granted, that is a worst case scenario, but I can see it happening.

And the US as a whole is simply not prepared for it. It would come as a shock to the majority of US citizens who live in their I-Pod world. People do not even know how to cook anymore, much less raise food crops or build a shelter. What will they do when their credit cards don't work any more?

At least me and my family are getting ready for it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gardening never ends

I have been ambitious this morning and worked up a new raised bed for spring planting. I took my compost pile apart and split it between my tumbling barrel, a plastic trash can, and an old tree pot. I have used the trash can and tree pot for overflow composting before, and with winter coming on, it seemed the best option. That left me with just enough well composted materials to fill a raised bed on the spot where the compost pile was.

That particular spot has been used as a "storage" spot for leaves and grass clippings for about 2 years now, and clay soil underneath has developed a nice healthy color. There were some mambo sized worms in there when I was moving it all around. That tells me that the soil has definitely improved since I started piling leaves there. My little cultivator loosened the soil very easily, another indicator that things are looking up there. I am thinking that will be a good spot for melons or squash or something in the Spring.

A couple of weeks ago, I worked up a really small area in the northwest corner of the yard. It is only about 2' X 5' and I am thinking I might be able to trellis up some cucumbers there or something. I don't think it will really be good for much else, but I did work in some finished compost so at least it isn't all clay.

I am also thinking that I might move the beans next year to garden and put tomatoes in the raised bed where the beans were. It should help to keep the critters out of it since the dog can get all the way around it. She knows that she can't get in the garden so keeping the rodents out has been difficult since it butts up against the shed. The darned things just crawl out from under the shed and go to grazing. I have lost a lot of tomatoes that way this year.

So the actual garden spot will be for beans I think. Tomatoes in the raised bed, squash and cukes in the new beds, and maybe some lettuce in pots or something. I don't know yet, maybe. After all, I have all of these seeds I will need to use.

If I can just keep the pests out of it, we should be good on veggies.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Frugal VS. Cheap

There is a fundamental difference between frugal and cheap.

People who are frugal will shop around for an item before they buy, look at value instead of price, and try to find a trade item instead of having to spend money for it. People who are cheap will always try to get something for nothing, and if they have to buy it, will pay the absolute minimum.

Frugal is when you will recycle, repurpose, or take apart and salvage value from discarded materials. Cheap would be to not buy it at all or buy the least expensive item that will do the job.

Now the real difference is actually in the value. People who are cheap will buy the absolute lowest cost which is generally, but not always, an inferior product. Tools are a good example. Yes, you can buy a screwdriver that is less than a dollar, but it will not last and you will have to buy that screwdriver again and again. A frugal person will look for a better quality screwdriver so they will not have to buy another one. But they will not buy the most expensive one just because it is the top of the line, high tech, indestructible, titanium covered, engraved, or whatever.

There is something called a cost/benefit analysis. And frugal people can do it without thinking. Is the item worth the money it will cost to buy it? Will the item earn, either in time or repair costs, more that the cost to buy it? Will the cost to buy the item be recovered in usage? When these answers are yes, then buy them. Say you need to cut some firewood. You have an ax already, but you want a chainsaw. You visit a store that sells them. There are 5 models to pick from. One is small, lightweight, and very inexpensive, actually less than you expected to pay. Another one is big, heavy, and quite little bit over your budget, but it has a lifetime warranty. The three mid priced ones all have similar features, similar prices, and are good brands but they are nothing fancy. A cheap person will always buy the lowest priced item that will do the job. So they buy the small, lightweight model. They get it home and try to cut down a tree with it. It takes several tries to cut all the way through the tree and the user has to put a lot of pressure behind it to get it to cut through the knots. That will dull the chain faster and wear the motor out. So while that person didn't spend as much money for his chainsaw, he has to work harder and will have more repair time. A frugal person would buy one of the mid-priced saws. They are heavy enough to cut with out damaging the motor, and will probably be easier to use in the long run. If they had purchased the heavy, expensive one, it would probably be to unwieldy and they would wind up not using it as often because it is so difficult. Poor value.

Some people see the spending habits of the frugal folks as being cheap. But someone who is truly frugal will not buy things just to be buying them. There has to be a need and that need cannot be met by something they already have. Just because you can buy something, doesn't always mean that you should.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Frugal projects

I have discovered over the course of the last year that I actually enjoy being frugal. Every time I get a great bargain on something I need, I tell just about everyone I know about it. I just can't help it. I love spreading the news.

I like trying to find new ways to do things, whether it is reverse engineering something we eat at a restaurant so I can make it at home, or making something nice as a gift instead of buying it. I would really like to be able to live on a minimal amount of money just to prove to myself that I can do it.

Every now and then, I even get the urge to built something, like a house (lol) and make it livable without spending a dime. Then I take a really deep breath and make that idea go away. I am not a stranger to work, but just where in the world would I build such a thing? And why would I do it when I don't need to.

I get wild hairs every now and again to so something off the wall. Like my vertical planter. My husband just looks at me like I am crazy then tells me that if it will make me happy to try...but he never expects it to actually work. My thought is that you never know until you try, and trying is half the fun. And if it works and saves money, why not? If it doesn't work, take it apart and use the materials for something else. That is why we have an old flag pole buried in the middle of a raised flower bed with string tied to nails and pole beans growing in it. It is ugly as home made sin, but it works. And it has worked for 3 years now.

My next project is still undecided. I either want to try to make a couch, or a Murphy bed. I don't really have the space for either one, but they would be useful when we have company. When we have company, it is usually 14 at a time. And trying to find sleeping space for all of them is difficult at times.

I don't know, that will probably have to wait. DH has a project in mind for this weekend that will probably keep us busy for at least a week. We are going to pull up carpet and put down laminate. It really wouldn't take that long except that the area in front of the door has tile glued to the concrete subfloor. And there just isn't a good way to get that stuff up. Hammer and chisel is just about the only way. And that takes forever. So this weekend project may take over a week. We have to have it done by the end of the month though, because said company will be here Halloween weekend. And if we start it, it will have to be done by then.

But then again, we still haven't painted our bedroom or put down a floor in there either. And that project has been almost a year this month. No one sees it but us and I can look at dry wall for a while longer if I need to.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eating Healthy on the Cheap

I read an article this morning about how eating beans and whole grains can help to reduce your cholesterol levels a significant amount. "According to a 2001 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who eat beans four times a week reduce their heart disease risk by 20 percent." While I am not sure we could stand to eat beans that often, I think that eating beans a little more often will certainly help improve our health. And not only that, but beans are a very inexpensive way to get extra protein in our diet. And they are very versatile. We could easily have a vegetarian night once a week. And once a week will not cause too much disturbance in our house.

Bean burritos are probably the easiest way to serve them. Of course, we also like brown beans with bits of ham cooked in it. But like any true Southerner, you have to have fried potatoes and cornbread with it, and that will probably counteract the health benefits from the beans. Or a bean salad with lots of fresh veggies. When I was growing up, my mom made a really good bean salad that had kidney beans, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, corn, (and something else, I don't remember) with a little bit of mayonnaise and salt and pepper. It was really good when we grilled out. I might actually try that tonight for dinner.

Garlic was also mentioned as a plus. We use a lot of garlic anyway so that shouldn't be a problem to just use it a little more.

The article also talked about how oats and oat fiber help you offset the negative effects of cholesterol by, essentially, soaking up the fats in the digestive tract. The good news is that oats are also inexpensive. And they are very versatile as well. Not only can you simply eat a bowl of hot oatmeal, you can run them through the blender to make oat flour for baking, make oatmeal cookies, use it as a binder for meatloaf or meatballs, the list goes on. I think I will be using a lot more oats in my daily cooking than I have in the past. Not only does it help with the cholesterol, it is an excellent source of fiber, and that is never a bad thing.

Purple grapes, either as juice or as wine, are rich in biflavinoids that will reduce the "stickiness" of platelets in the blood, reducing the probability of clots. It will also help repair damage caused by free radicals. So again, that is a good thing. 8 to 10 ounces a day is all that is needed. So go ahead and have that glass of red wine with dinner.

Eating cheaply doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your health. Between the beans, oats, garlic, cutting back on fried foods, and getting a little more exercise, we should be a lot healthier in the long run and still not be overspending on overpriced health food.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just in Case...

Things have been just a bit different around here lately. While we don't have any stocks to worry about in the current market, the free fall on Wall Street still affects us. When stocks fall, companies get itchy. When banks fail, it is bad for everyone. If money is inaccessible, businesses cannot operate and lay off workers. That will only feed a vicious cycle that will collapse our economy if it goes on long enough.

Granted, we are not as bad off as some, but that doesn't mean we are in good shape. We have a couple of months of food stored, and our only debt is the house payment, but for a long term we will have problems just like everyone else.

I think if we prepare for a total breakdown, we can stave it off. My husband's family has operated under a curse of some sort for at least the last century. Every time something good to anyone in the family, something horrible will occur to wipe out the good and just a little more for good measure. So I figure if we spend a bunch of money that we really can't afford to get prepared for a possible collapse of society, we can prevent it from happening. Take the Y2K thing. We had water, lots of canned goods, refilled all of the prescriptions, got cash out of the bank, backed up all of the home computers to CD, bought batteries, etc. so nothing happen. My Brother-in-law did the same thing for his family. Therefore, nothing happened.

Granted, those things are just a good idea for every family to have prepared at all times anyway. You cannot predict natural disasters and there is something bad that can happen just about everywhere. And it can't hurt to be prepared. But some of the things you will need in a total collapse, like water filters, extreme medical supplies, guns and ammo, and survival skills could be an expense that you will never need. But can you ever really know what you will need in a crisis?

We have told the kids that things can change overnight and they need to be prepared, at least mentally, for life as they know it to go away. It isn't really fair to the kids to not at least warn them. While most folks prefer to keep their kids in the dark about what is going on in the world, we choose to keep ours informed so they can make up their own minds about issues. Keeping our children naive about world events might make you feel better and make you think that you are protecting them, but kids are not stupid and they hear more than you might realize. If you involve them in any planning decisions, it empowers them and actually will calm their fears. As long as they have a voice in the plan, they will understand why thing are different and be more of a help than a hindrance in case of emergency. And they will be more willing to sacrifice for the good of the family if you tell them why the precious store of batteries should not be used for the Nintendo DS or the MP3 player.

Hopefully, the worst will not happen, but being prepared in case it does will go a long way to staying calm in the event of an emergency.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Garden Dreams

It is time again to put the garden, such that it is, to bed for the winter and start thinking about next year. I have ordered a host of seed catalogs and have even gone so far as to start making a list of the things I want to try. I have to keep in mind that I have a tiny 8' X 12' garden and a 6'circle planting bed and have to limit what I actually can plant. It is hard sometimes to decide if I want to try tomatoes and peppers again(I historically suck at them) or do the entire thing in beans. Do I want to go for quantity or diversity? High yield or stuff we actually want to try.

It is frustrating sometimes to think that we could grow a lot of things that we buy if we just had the space to do it. Like asparagus. I would love to have a big asparagus bed. We love the stuff and it is just so expensive to buy. takes at least 2 growing seasons to mature. And with the way the economy and my husband's job are going, we may not be here long enough for that. So we wait.

What I am tempted to do every year is to dig up the sod in the back yard and work up growing beds. Do the entire yard in food. But we have a dog back there and, Bless her Thumpin' Gizzard, she likes to dig. I think I could probably work up a couple of areas that we currently don't use for much and still manage to keep Katie out of it, but it would get in the way of my clothesline. I might be able to come up with another maybe 2' X 6' spot with out too much trouble, but the dirt there is all but clay and hard as a rock. It would take a lot of work to get it composted enough to be usable for growing. I do have a spot along the South side of the house that is outside the fence so it is safe from the dog, but it is so choked with crabgrass and some mint that ran wild about 15 years ago that I think I would have a hard time keeping it weed free. But it would be a great salad bed.

I sometimes think "If Onlies" will drive me nuts.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Again with the economy

The economy is diving like a deep sea explorer and everyone seems to just be oblivious to the consequences. The American people seem to think, "Oh, well, home prices are dropping, but that doesn't effect me because I am not looking to sell my house." Then it was, "Oh, well, the mortgage companies and banks are failing, but that doesn't effect me because I am not looking to get a loan." And now it is,"Oh, well, the government is bailing out the stock market so my stocks will be guaranteed by the Government, so we are still OK." and "Gas prices keep going up, but I have to drive to work, so I have to pay it."

Does no one actually understand what banks failing and rising gas prices actually means. I means that any money you have may not be readily available if you want to withdraw it. It means that the CD you have may or may not be there when you get ready to cash it in. It means the credit card that you are paying 15% interest on may go up to 20 or 30%. It means that businesses cannot get operating loans to stay in business. It means that transporting goods from the port cities and distant farms is more expensive so the prices of everything will be going up.

And the real joy of all of this is the $700 Billion Pork Bill that just passed into law means that taxes on everything will be going up. Isn't that GREAT? That, all by it's self, means we will be paying for all of the piddly little special interest programs that couldn't get passed by themselves are now going to happen. And we get to pay for it. Whether we want to or not.

So as a recap, No credit available to anyone, might not be able to get to our money, food and gas prices will be skyrocketing, and taxes will be raised to an insane level.

I am not normally one to predict doom or believe in conspiracies, but I just cannot see how any of this is recoverable. Europe is beginning to suffer the same way and the Asian markets are beginning to fall as well. If something doesn't change soon, the entire world economy will just be going to hell in a hand-basket.

Is anyone really ready for this? Do you have a plan ready in case it all falls apart?

Friday, October 3, 2008

I Hate Politicians

Well, we have done it now. Our wonderful Congress has passed the bill to put the American people farther into debt than we will ever be able to get out of, and The Prez signed it.

We have have 900 Billion dollars worth of pork to pay for.

I heard someone say today that if you are not stockpiling guns, MREs, and converting your mini-bike to run off of tree sap you are going to be wishing you had. It makes me incredibly glad I have some food put back and all of our debt except the house paid off.

I cannot think of anything scarier than a complete lack of order in this country. There are so many people who think they are entitled to everything all paid for by the US government that if things start going South, there will be looting, food shortages, and total chaos. And the really bad part of it is that the majority of US citizens don't have a clue how to survive without a McDonald's nearby.

Granted, I can get by on a lot less than I have. It won't be fun, or easy, but I at least have spent the last couple of years learning. My reasons for learning are different than a lot of people's, but it is still a good reason to learn. I don't want to have to have any, or at least much, money. If something happens where we cannot get a job, I want to be able to live with at least some moderate standard of living.

There are still some things I would have to barter for. Sugar, coffee,tea, yeast, fabric, oils, tools, that sort of things, but just about everything else, I can make due. We don't HAVE to have coffee, but it sure makes the morning better. I guess I could make herbal teas like mint and sassafras. Those are fairly easy to do and it could be sweetened with honey.

I guess I could spin my own wool for yarn to make sweaters and socks. I have never done it before but I guess I could. I might convince my husband to build or buy me a loom to make my own fabrics, but I think it would just be cheaper to buy it. Some things just aren't worth the trouble.

Leather goods are do-able but not much fun. And very smelly. And hard to work. So...probably not.

But if it comes down to it, I imagine that there is a lot of things I could do if I really needed to.

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