Tag Archives: debt

10 Ways to Save Money

In an effort to help you get out of debt I have come up with some ideas to help you do just this.  I am sure there are many more and I would love for you to comment on what you have done to save money so you can pay down your debt.

  1. Cook at home often: If both the husband and wife work, this is likely to be very difficult. Try once and week and move to more days from there.  I have found if I sit down with my wife on Sunday evening before we go to bed and plan out what to cook for the week it is easier to cook at home.  This reiterates the need to have some food storage.  Having food available makes it easier to plan out meals.  Knowing the meals in advance and posting them will allow whomever comes home first to start making dinner knowing the food is already available.
  2. Brown bag lunch at least a few days a week: We can use lunch to engage and network but it comes at a cost.  Try bringing your lunch with the leftovers from dinner to help save money.  Lunches can easily exceed $10 a day.  Twice a week is $1000.
  3. Make a list before going shopping:  Without a list you will buy items that you simply do not need. Even worse is when your forget to purchase the actual item you came to the store for in the first place. If you plan on cooking at home, pre-plan a rough menu and make a list before you go grocery shopping.  Even better is to continue to store food then when you go to the store you are only getting what is on sale and what you need, thus avoiding impulse buys.
  4. Buy in bulk whenever possible: When it comes to non-perishable items, buy in bulk whenever you find something on sale. For such items, shopping at warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s Club etc can save you quite a bit of money, provided you stick strictly to your shopping list when you shop at these places.  My wife uses coupons and shops when the item we need is on sale.  Thus she is double dipping.
  5.  Pay off debt: Like beating a dead horse around here.  Having some extra money will allow you to pay off this behemoth.  Never to look back.
  6. Borrow instead of buy, use thrift stores: This can be for books, rental tools, neighbors tools, holiday clothing.  Thrift stores are great for finding those costumes you use once.  Don’t be ashamed, many people throw out good jeans and shirt at thrift stores.  Often they can be bought at $1.
  7. Think before you buy: Many of the things you want to buy do not seem all that necessary.  Wait at least 48 before you buy.  Check prices.  Decide if something else can take its place.  Is it really needed or do you just want it.
  8. Keep your car as long as possible: Pay cash for your car and keep it 10 years.  Continue to make a car payment to your savings account.  When you have repairs you can use this account.  When you feel you need a new car you will have enough cash to buy it. Along with this is do regularly scheduled maintenance. Do not skimp on or forget to do regular oil changes. Remember to check the air in your tires often. These small acts can significantly lengthen the life of your car, giving you years of use.  I have  a diesel truck with 250,000 miles on it and it runs like a champ.  Maintenance is key
  9. Toss spare change into a glass jar . I save about $200-300 a year by putting spare change in a glass.  We use it for Christmas presents every year.  This is a great way to save for things without actually having to do much of anything.
  10. Use sales and coupons. Using sales and coupons along with copy canning will save tons.  Buying only what you need of things which are on sale is the way we shop.  We go to the store only to buy fresh items we do not store.  We will spend about $600 a month for a family of 5
  11. Plant a garden.  Here is a freebie.  Having a garden is like printing food.  It costs almost nothing for seeds and provides a summers worth of food.  It is fresh and oh so good for you.  It is also part of your preps.

What are some other things you have done to save money?

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

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Getting Started – Changing from a Grasshopper to an Ant

Many ask the question, “How do I get started?”  Prepping 101 is about giving you ideas to get started.

First thing you will need to do is determine where you are in your life before you start prepping. Have you spent your whole life not prepping?  That’s ok you are the normal average American.  How many years have you spent being unprepared?  Be grateful you have awakened yourself.  It took you many years of being unprepared, it will take years to become prepared.  This is now a lifestyle change, not buying more stuff to put in your basement just in case.

You now have to decide where you are.  Start with determining how much food do you have in your home.  List how many meals you have in your home.  Write it down on a piece of paper.  If you want 30 days worth of food you need to know how many days you have to start with.

Start storing food.  Start copy canning.  When you go to the store to buy corn, buy two cans instead of one.  Put the second one in storage.  Do this until you have 30 days worth of food or whatever amount of food you want in your home.

Start making a documentation book.  One in each car, 0ne in the house

  • List of all the people you may want to get a hold of and all the numbers and addresses for them
  • List of services, these are people you call in case of emergency
    • Tree trimming
    • Plumbing
    • Electrical
    • HVAC
    • Roofing
    • Masonry
    • Carpentry
    • Drywall
  • 3 places you would go and 3 routes to get to each place.  All of the places will be far apart.  Make sure you put the names and phone #’s of each place.  If you choose hotels in an area pick 3-4 hotels in each area.  Print out each place from Google Maps with the 3 different ways to get there.  Put it in your book.

Organize your pantry.  You may realize you have more food than you thought.  Now with your pantry organized it will make your copy canning easier.

If you really feel overwhelmed, go to the store and buy some beans, rice, pasta and sauce.  This will get you immediate sense of relief.  You can do this for less than $50.

Get out of debt.  As you know this is something we preach often around here.  Debt makes you a slave to the lender.  I think getting out of debt is so important you may put some of your preps on hold until you get out of debt.  You could easily store 30-60 days worth of food and cash and then all you do is put your money into getting out of debt.  Making a budget is the easiest way to cut money out.  Make a list of your debts in order from smallest to largest.  Start with the smallest and apply as much money as possible until it is paid off.  Take the payment from the last bill and apply it to the next until they are paid off.

Start cutting expenses.  You can always add them back later if you feel they are needed again.  Cut, cut, cut until you can cut no more and then live like this for 3 months and if you want to add something back, do so.

Understand the commonality of disaster and use it to make your preps easier.  What is the most likely thing to happen?  A personal disaster is the most common.  What will having food mean if you lose your job?  What will having some cash mean if you get sick?  What will life insurance mean if you spouse dies?  If you start planning for the most common things you will be 90%. prepared.  We do not plan for specific threats, we plan for the general disaster to happen.

Realize and OWN your plan. No one will have the same plan as you.  If you have your own plan you will not be able to blame someone else for the failure of their plan.  You will also be the one to reap the success of the plan YOU implemented.

Be prepared to protect yourself.  This means having something both lethal and non lethal.  Get training on how to protect yourself and your family.  You may have to start with pepper spray and some self-defense training.  Becoming armed is an increase in responsibility.  Being armed means you are going to avoid conflict at a greater cost.  When you bring a gun to a fight it automatically becomes a gun fight.  Are you ready for this?

Last is understanding your success depends on you.  The ownership of your goals, plans and objectives is in your hands.  I can help make suggestions but ultimately it depends on you.

Go forward with confidence knowing the future is brighter today than yesterday.  The steps you take today are steps moving you closer to your goal of personal freedom and liberty.

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

The Freedom of Being Debt Free

The most common threads on this site are and will continue to be, Debt and Gardening.  I know talking about debt is boring so I wanted to come up with a twist.  Society tells us to continue to have debt until we retire and then it will be ok.  But once you retire after a lifetime of using debt it is hard to get rid of.  My father in law has retired and he still has some debt.  This boggles my mind.  How can a man who is 70 think he can continue to take on debt?  Why do we continue to do this?  Why is enslavement something we aspire to?  So today I wanted to write about what it means to be debt free.

Only a few years ago I was in debt, just like many of you.  I sat down with my wife and we discussed what we were going to do about it.  How could we have let this happen?  Then my dad died.  We were left with a small amount of inheritance.  What would we do with it?  We decided to pay off all our debt but the house.  In my head was screaming ‘serenity now’.   I don’t want the stress of having anymore debt.

So my wife and I began the journey of paying off our debt.  We were not able to pay off everything.  As we moved along in our journey, it didn’t seem like it was going to be possible.

I want to tell you what it is like on the other side for those of you on the same journey.  We were able to pay off everything before the crash.  My existing business was cut in half.  I wish I had heeded the same advice in business.  I had debt there I had to work through.  Though the sales were 50% of what they were the year before, I had to take a 50% pay cut.  The amazing thing was we were actually able to make it through.  We had money put away for a rainy day and it was pouring outside.

What I never realized until things calmed down what a relief it was to have no debt.  I was able to put my head down and go to work without having the burden of payments.  I took a hit on my income and survived.  It seems like things are easier though I still do not make as much money as I used to.

I have realized when you have to work because all your money is spent before the paycheck comes is harder than wondering what to do with the extra you have since there are no payments waiting for you.

Victory is the ability to say to your existing job, ‘I quit’.  It is working less with better quality of life.  It is working more and retiring early.  It is realizing you are not a slave anymore.  The freedom and liberty which comes from being debt free is almost like witnessing birth.  Just like kids, I wish I could have 10 of them.  Debt is something I wish I never had.  I am only glad I realized it earlier rather than later.  It is an accomplishment worth sacrificing for.  I know you can do it.  If you do nothing else, getting out of debt will change your mental state.

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

Survival Preparedness is a Great Investment

As we think about all the issues in the world now, one I am constantly trying to figure out is investing.  What to do with my money and time.  I have come to the conclusion I will need to invest in myself and family first.  Along this line of thinking, I am concerned with the 5 basic survival needs.  Realize my advice on investing has to do with things I know will have a positive return on investment (ROI).

Food

Food as we know is always going up in price.  Now there are some ups  and downs, but as a general rule food goes up in price.  So how do you contain ever rising food prices.  They way you do it is twofold.  One is buying food before the price goes up.  This is food storage basics.  You are buying food now you will use in the future.  This is a way to mitigate cost increases, but you are still paying higher food costs, albeit at a rate lower than the average person.  The second way to hedge higher food costs is to grow some of your own food.  I think this is the best way to contain food costs.  It will always cost you about the same amount of money to grow a carrot year after year.  So I think having a garden and growing your food is a great investment.  If you grow $1000 worth of food a year it is like having $10,000 in the bank giving you a 10% return.  It takes about $1000 or less to have a garden which will produce $1000 worth of produce.

Also remember part of your garden will include perennials like bushes, vines and trees.  raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, along with fruit trees produce fruit almost forever.  More than likely they will be producing after you are dead.  This is an awesome ROI.  The only drawback to these items is they take a little longer to produce fruit.  Once producing fruit they will produce more than you can use.  I have a pear tree and it produced about 150 gallons of fruit.  We made dried pears, canned pears, pear sauce, pear nectar, pear juice.  This is while we gave away probably 50 lbs. worth to neighbors.

Shelter

Making home improvement is a great investment.  Having a home with efficient appliances, good windows, extra insulation pays dividends.  Paying off your mortgage is one of the best investments I can think of.  Once you have no mortgage payment and you are growing some of your own food.  The amount of money you need greatly decreases.

Along with shelter, look at trying to obtain some land to produce more food with permaculture technics.  Having food systems which need very little human input are great to have on your land.  You can grow year after year and only go up to harvest.  This is why I recommend perennial plants.

Investments

I think you should try to save about 20% of your income till you get to 6 months worth of cash.  With all of the volatility and uncertainty in the market, having cash will be valuable.

If you decide to invest in the market, pick quality companies which have weathered past recessions.  Along the same lines know your exit point.  If you have a goal of getting a return of 10% and you have realized 20% this year, sell your stock, move to cash and wait.  You have effectively realized 2 years worth of gains.  Do your research and find another investment. Do not get greedy.

Increase your financial IQ.  Start to read online or watch financial news shows.  Look up words you do not know the meaning and learn what they are.  In a world where money rules knowing what people are talking about will give you an advantage.

Community

Focus on your community.  Investing in your neighbors will bring dividend beyond belief.  Help them to grow a garden.  Share some of your knowledge.  Teach a class on financial literacy.  Start a neighborhood garden club.  Focusing on community allows people to get to know one another.  Use the common bonds of food and community to foster relationships.

Self Sufficiency and Self Reliance

Start to increase your self reliance by a preset amount of time.  Try to start with 3 days, then move to 3 months.  It comes one step at a time.

Next is to increase your self sufficiency.  Start to become more self sufficient.  Start with food.  Grow some of your own food even if it is 1% is 1% self sufficient.  This is 1% less you need from the food system.  This increases your resiliency.  Keep moving in small percentages toward greater and greater self sufficiency.  I do not advocate becoming 100% self sufficient unless you need to.  It is cost prohibitive and almost impossible.  Any way you are part of a community right?  Which means you can trade or buy what you do not have.

Investing gets rather complicated.  I want you to focus on being able to do things for yourself and have some time while you are younger to spend with the ones you love rather than working until you “retire” only to sit in your chair and get old.  Life is fun and amazing.  Live it so you can live it later.

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

Preparing for a Financial Storm

Preparing for a Financial Storm

Do you know there is a storm coming?  If so, how are you going to protect yourself?  We see Greece in the news and the financial happenings over there.  Let me sum up.  Too much debt.  When you have too much debt you can’t pay your bills.  Then your household(country) starts to collapse.  Since we are focused on the individual here, I wanted to give a list of the things you can do to prepare yourself financially.

  • Get rid of debt.  Start with credit card debt first, then move to more permanent fixed rate debt.  I am willing to guess about 90% of your financial headaches come from consumer debt.  Resolve to pay it off and never use one again.
  • Put money into savings.  Try to put at least 10% into savings.  If you can put in 20%.  Keep 6-12 months worth of monthly expenditures in the bank.  You see as you pay off debt you have to put less money into savings.  This frees you to spend/invest money in other worthwhile areas.
  • Invest in only the best companies.  Look for those with a track record of riding out downturns in the economy.  Think big companies.
  • Develop your local community.  Find ways to bring your community together.  Start a dinner group, gardening club, sewing class, firearms training, camping group, etc.  Anything that will bring you and your neighbors together.
  • Try to invest in land.  Land that helps produce something.  Maybe you just put a bunch of fruit trees, berry bushes, or other perennials.
  • Become more informed.  Learn about finance.  Watch a TV show and pick out a term you do not know and learn it.  Do that everyday.  As the financial arena gets worse you will want to know what they are talking about.  Also realize most of the people on TV have no idea what they are talking about.
  • Don’t act in fear.  Think before you do/purchase anything.  Be frugal not cheap.  Buy things which have value and will last.
  • Try and increase your self-reliance and self-sufficiancy.  Look at what you can do with the 6 tenants- Food, Water, Security, Shelter, Energy, Sanitation.
  • Remember when you are prepared you will be able to prosper.  Remember the best time to prosper is when you are ready.  Those who have cash in the bank, no debt, and are informed will be the ones who succeed.

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother.

Disaster Probability and Commonality

There are many reasons we prepare. The concept of probability and commonality among disasters will help us in our preparedness planning.  We are only human and as such only able to prepare to our given ability both financially and intellectually.

What is Disaster Probability?

First off lets define a disaster.  It is an event which affects you directly.  It may be a job loss,  loss of a loved one, electrical disruption, monetary disruption.  These are all “disasters”.  Maybe not in the classical apocalyptic way, but disasters to you none the less.

So disaster probability is the likelihood a disaster will take place in your life.  The higher the probability the more likely it will happen.  EVERYONE will suffer from a disaster in their life at one time.

They can be the following.

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of income
  • Loss electricity
  • Loss of water

As you can see there are many “disasters” in our life.  The next thing we think about is the commonality of the disaster.  Or how likely is it to occur?

Disaster Commonality is how often do these things occur.  Things like loosing a loved one will occur for everyone at some point.  So this disaster is very common.  Not everyone will have a wide scale electrical blackout.  So this is less common.

As we go down the probability scale and the less common disasters the impact usually goes up.  When you have a wide scale electrical blackout it affects more people than you loosing your job.  This commonality can also be known as impact scale.

So how do we plan for disaster probabilities and commonalities?

By analyzing what the highest probablity is, we can decide where we should focus. We will focus on the highest probability disasters first.

  • Store food- When you lose a job or income you still have bills to pay.  Having enough food in storage will reduce some of the stress of having to provide for your family.  I recommend trying to have 90 days.  Start with 2 weeks and work your way up.
  • Eliminate debt-  The fewer payments you have to make the easier it will be to ride the storm.  This also means trying to pay your house off early as part of your preparedness plan.  If you lose your job and you have no food payments and no other monthly payments, imagine your stress level.
  • Have savings-  This goes along with the above two.  Having enough money to make life’s road a little smoother is something we should be doing.  Having 90 days worth of food and 90 days worth of savings will enable you to make good decisions based not upon fear.
  • Keep cash on hand-  Having some money available for when there are electrical outages is what we are talking about.  2 weeks to 30 days worth should do it.  This will enable you to maintain commerce.
  • Have a garden-  The ability to grow food will let you not worry about any sort of distribution problems.
  • Alternative Energy-  Have alternative lighting and heat. This can be a generator or solar power or solar heat.  Have something so you are not as dependent on one source for your needs.
  • Bug out plans-  If you need to leave, do you have a plan?  Make one and rehearse it with your family.  Knowing what to do when you can’t stay home is invaluable.

By analyzing which are the most probable disasters you can prepare more effectively.   We just do not want to survive, we want to thrive.  Thriving is planning for it.  We want to be comfortable.  Imaging how much easier it would be if your spouse dies and you have no debt and 90 days worth of money so you did not have to worry about anything but grieving.  This is thriving.

We prepare in general to be able to adapt, succeed and overcome the disaster at hand with the resources we have available even though there are resources we do not.  This is why knowledge and skill sets are so important.

Prepping News

Food

Arab World Grapples with Food Shortage

Economy

The Failure of the Unfree Market– the end of the best 72 years

Hmmmm…. A Crack In The Dam?– The MSM starts to see the light

What happens if we bailout Europe?

NOURIEL ROUBINI on the future.

Greece and US inflation.