Monday, May 18, 2015

What if a financial crash happened this fall?

A couple of days ago, Don and I were discussing the myriad projects, improvements, and tasks we want to accomplish. We kept piling on more and more until we realized it was necessary to write them down in order to keep track. Within five minutes, the list had 26 items, and we're keeping it handy to add to it as more ideas occur to us.

As usual, it's always a factor of time and money to figure out which of these projects we'll accomplish, and in what order. Our next step is to divvy the list into A, B, and C categories, with A projects having the highest priority (either because they're important, or because they're cheap or easy to do) and C having the lowest priority.

Then yesterday we had an interesting conversation, a friend-of-a-friend exchange. We heard of a financial "insider" who said she expected the financial system to crash this fall. Of course lots of people are making predictions about the economy, and while this insider seems well-placed to have solid information, her prediction is just that: a prediction.

But it did provide fodder for an interesting mental exercise.

Let's just say, for the sake of argument, this person is correct and America will experience an economic collapse this fall. What would you do?

I sometimes like to ask people this hypothetical question: If your great-grandparents had known in 1928 what was waiting for them in 1929, what could or should they have done to brace themselves for the impact of the Great Depression?

Well here we have the exact same scenario -- except, of course, we're looking into the future instead of harvesting wisdom from the past. But they say those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

So -- if you knew an economic collapse was going to happen five or six months in the future, what should or would you do to brace yourselves for its impact?

And more importantly, will you follow through and do these things?


  1. Food, Food, oh, and Food. If it is that short, stockpile the most basic tangibles ASAP and hope I can get any other stuff I need later.


  2. Prepare for an economic downturn would have to include:
    - sufficient water, food storage, and food production capabilities to last the downturn
    - cash saved up and on-hand
    - marketable skills
    - zero debt

    Ideally, you'd want to live in a way that you'd hardly notice the downturn. Farmers and homesteaders in the west didn't know much about the Great Depression, as their lives weren't affected.

    What will I do? I guess I'll keep hammering away at debt and try to build up sufficient stores for my family, both of which have been and will continue to be long-term endeavors.

  3. No comments yet? Hours later? must have gotten people thinking.
    What would I do? Make sure all the bills are paid and that I'm disengaged from any bills not necessary. Get my money out of the bank and put it into things the family will need. Save every cent possible. Assess, again, how I do things: Can I cut back anywhere else? Pray without ceasing. Extend again a welcome to the grown kids to band together. This is most of the financial preps I could do. Hopefully the other things that we've been doing all along have been sufficient.

  4. If I knew it was coming by this Fall for sure? Stock up on any and all tangibles for trade, barter and living off of. If I had any debt I would get rid of it before it hit. Once a financial collapse hits there will be no more opportunities to get rid of debt and depending on how things go someone might be around at some point to collect eventually.

    The people who survive the first year or so after a financial collapse have some decisions to make. The debt will not disappear at least to those who feel they are owed it. At some point someone will attempt to collect. Will those who remain honor that debt or will we finally realize that debt was not Constitutional from the beginning. The US owes so much money to foreign countries the only way it can be paid off is either a continuation of what we have or if that stops then physical seizure of land and resources. Our best hope is that the entire world goes into financial collapse otherwise it will be war like we have never seen.

  5. Unless there was an entire collapse of everything the one major thing that will cause you problems is debt. I live on the other side of the pond and our depression was somewhat different but the ones who suffered the most were those in debt.
    With no income your assets will soon be stripped to cover them. TPTB will not hesitate to change the law, just look at Cyprus!
    Food is the next priority and even if your land can only grow oats you will not starve.
    My grandmother, when I was a child doing a project on the depression, told me that as farmers the two things that she missed were matches and cloth for making clothes. Most agriculture was not mechanised then and resembled the BBC program Edwardian Farm, a good series to watch if you can.
    One thing I would stock up on is salt if unlike us there is not a deposit nearby as you will need tons for preservation without refrigeration.

    1. My wife has huge amounts of cloth and yarn, etc. She likes to make things. I can tell you as the person who has to move these bundles that the weight of the cloth alone exceeds 100 lbs. She bought almost all of it on Craigslist for pennies on the dollar. So there is a cheap way to stock up on this stuff.

  6. What your focus needs to be depends on how bad you think the downturn will be - are you expecting a severe market & employment shock like 1929, 1987, or 2008, or are you expecting a worse crash with major disruptions to the basics of life? While I don't at this point expect anything worse than a major economic downturn, I want to be prepared for more, especially as winter is coming on and a bad storm could create serious local havoc.
    Remember that if this happens in the fall, you won't have time to plant a garden or prepare for a winter with potentially intermittent utilities.
    Personally, I am glad to have the wood stove in; I need to get firewood ready as usual for the winter. I have the parts for a backup rain water collection and use system - I need to finish putting it together so that I have an alternate to county water in case it goes down. I'm glad to be doing pretty good food wise.

  7. Predictions! If you've ever played the game Jenga you can understand that some predictions are very different from others. This isn't about who will win Idol or the super bowl. In the game Jenga you keep removing vital foundation/support structure while adding the load to the top. I predict that every game of Jenga will end in a total collapse. Unless you simply stop playing my prediction is 100% accurate.
    Our economy has been more like a Jenga game for some years now mostly due to government interfering and subsidizing and picking winners and losers. Government regulations and laws caused the collapse in 2000, 2008 and will be the cause of the next collapse as well. It is inevitable. Even while I write this someone in government, the EPA, HUD, congress, etc. is enforcing a regulation or creating a regulation that is the equivalent of pulling out Jenga blocks while piling more and more dead weight on the top of the stack. So while it is difficult to predict when this all collapses it isn't difficult to predict it will collapse.

  8. We would tell our kids to pack up and get the heck out of Dodge (AKA highly populated East coast and Florida) and come stay with us. SuccotashRose

  9. We would/will put aside cash to make mortgage payments. Without a roof to keep everything dry...all the stuff is no good.. DJ

  10. The thing about people thinking they can all escape the city and live in the country--or at someone's house in the country--is to consider the possibility of gas shortage/rationing, and/or the closing of highways/interstates as a form of controlling the population. Here in the Midwest, there are gates that are used to close Interstates when winter conditions make the roads unsafe. The best thing to do is to plan according to where you are living right now. Not everyone is going to make it 'out of the city'. Sobering thoughts.

    1. Very Good Point - and if you were to try to leave the city, where would you go?
      Whatever your response is, you need to have a plan and the means to execute it.
      I live at my retreat - but I have to use the interstate and cross a state line to get to work, so there could be problems there.

  11. I am set for 1 year. That is all the medication that I have saved so after that it will probably not matter. Have all of the rest of the things that I need for that 1 year. After that I hope my family will be able to cope when I pass on.

  12. Um It would have been hard for my great-grandparents to know 1928 was coming in 1929 :) I am guessing that should have been 1927.


  13. The obvious answer to “If I knew I’d be in a gunfight” is “I’d be somewhere else”

    This applies here too. Being prepared for being wrong is also important. I don't think you can go all-in with any possibility - it would leave you too exposed in others.

  14. We are putting in a wood cookstove this summer and fixing the roof. We have just doubled the garden again and plan to grow a year's worth of food to put up. We just started milking the goats, but need to learn how to make hard cheese. And we are encouraging our families with less tact to get themselves ready!

  15. We have zero debt. Right now I'm trying to encourage the people I care about to get there too, because I can't carry them all if it breaks. My aunt and uncle will carry their daughters (another sad story; I have an extremely hard time understanding how the same upbringing could produce those two girls on one hand and their older brother and me on the other-- I guess we listened to country music and the younger two listened to rap, I dunno), so I don't have to worry about that, but I have dear friends making stupid choices (new furniture on credit when they're already barely keeping food on the table, figuring that getting forced onto Medicaid by the ACA means they might as well go full-on welfare trash).

    I have tried to pay property taxes far in advance but they won't let me do that. I guess that's a cash/goods/PMs on hand situation.

    I am considering paying utilities in advance.

    I feel very aggressive saying it, but I want some guns. I'm thinking 9mm, 22LR, either .30-.06 or .308, and 20 gauge. I guess if we're in a place to need more than that, we're either screwed or in IED territory anyway. No matter how many rounds we can fire per second, there's no way two of us can hold off half the population of Welfare Fails (local name for the town down the road and across the river). And all the neighbors are too busy Playing The Game to care.

    We have extra food, of course, and I doubled the garden this year.

    I've known how to mend clothing since I was a child. One of my projects for this year is to learn to make clothing. I have some t shirts with nasty armpits that I'm planning to make into pjs for the kids. Not much, but a start.

    I wish we were in the boonies, with people who won't go ape if the bottom falls out. I wish my husband were more active and less overweight. I wish I weren't sad and scared all the time. I don't know how to fix those things yet. I guess moving back to the sticks is easy, except that I'd have to totally disrespect my husband to do it...

    What else can I do????

  16. It's tough--but the things I would do are the things I am doing, just faster. I live in the Atlanta exurbs and am moving farther out, where I have more land for an orchard, garden, and livestock (though probably never on your scale). I'm trying, but it's hard to make progress while working full-time. My main concern is that the bottom will fall out, which will compromise my ability to sell my current house when I'm ready.

  17. The scary part about the chart is the double Y axis. Here is the same chart with a single Y axis based on percentage change:

    It is certainly possible that terrible things will happen and we will look back at the obvious signs and say we should have known. But, this chart is not one of the obvious signs.

  18. I would continue doing what I am doing, stockpiling garden vegetables, learning old time skills, paying off debts, saving money, putting back medicines, learning medical skills and herbal medicines, etc. All of this is always a work in progress. All of this is listed in a safe place, inventoried and replenished as needed. I also spend time watch useful videos like anonymous @ 7:36 a.m. mentioned. If people are not familiar with the video series, it is produced by BBC, Edwardian Farms, where a group of professional historians spend a year living and working a farm in Edwardian times. There are many lessons to be learned. The DVD's are available on Amazon but are only for European viewing. However they are available on youtube. Also watch Tales of the Green Valley and Victorian Farms.

  19. most of us would probably be okay considering the lifestyles that would need to be changed...we can live quite well without many of the things and services that we have and pay for these days...remembering when we did not have an auto, phone, television etc... much less two or three of was actually a pretty simple life to live and even then it did have its rewards and enjoyable moments.

  20. Four years ago I moved to Zane Grey country on 10 acres. We have an existing Pear orchard sand I have planted another of mixed fruit trees and a few nut trees. We have goats, chickens, guns, ammo beans, band-aids, reference books, cash, three wells with solar backup, etc.

    Most importantly, is that we have damn good neighbors willing to teach reformed city folks how to live well in a rural setting.

    As to the things I have learned I need to stock up on: Mason jars and lids, salt, sugar (until I can get the hives going), old silver (pre '65) coins, a small amount of gold, hand tools, and I have found that I am in constant need of fence repair items.

  21. Don't even have to think about this one --- I'd get the dabdurn wood stove I keep thinking I can't afford.

    And then I'd spend the summer chopping wood, gathering kindling and buying extra fire extinguishers.

    Just Me

  22. Food, we are low on stored food. If I knew without a doubt I would cancel all non essential services ASAP put that money towards food guns and amo along with a wood stove

  23. Ruminating a little further on this interesting query....

    The last question on the post, "Will you follow through and do those things?"

    My answer: Probably not. That's because the premise of the hypothetical was, "What if you knew..."

    The fact is, I don't know. And the fact is, I can't afford the wood stove.

    So, "no" to the stove purchase. But "yes" to the chopping and gathering of wood because that's essentially "free." I can always use the wood outside in the fire-pit.

    Just Me

  24. Lots of good ideas by action-oriented folks here.

    As an aside, I hear families say that they can’t afford preps. Mercy, if they would just do the math and exercise some self-discipline most could easily buy food insurance for their love ones.

    I just calculated today’s cost for 100 lbs. of each of the following: Rolled Oats, White Rice, Black Beans and Green Peas (vendors: Costco, Walmart, and Azure Standard). The total cost for FOUR HUNDRED POUNDS of good food came to $201.40.

    Under Patrice’s scenario, how long do you think this food would remain in stock?

    Montana Guy

    1. 500 # of corn, wheat, rice, or other grains along with 50 # of beans will keep one adult for 1 year. Throw in a bottle of 300 multi Vitamins and will be around.
      CM Dutch

  25. merryann merryann2@yahoo.comMay 21, 2015 at 3:13 AM

    I can't speak for other areas, but Winco has great prices on bulk items. Around $1 per pound for most dry commodities. We have a local co-op further north in Boundary Co that I get my things from. They run about $.65 per pound for dry goods. Sometimes produce is also available. I got 40# asparagus for $.65 per pound and 80# apples for $.65 per pound. Other produce will come available over the summer. We had organic apricots the size of baseballs last summer. My point is, it is possible to put food away cheeply. Let me know if you are this far north, or start a co-op of your own wherever you are.

  26. I have not had a lot of luck with it in PA, but when we lived in AR I made friends with the folks who ran the roadside farm stands. After a few trips of buying handfuls of wrinkly peppers, I found myself adding my name and number to the "canning list." This was a (stunningly short) list of people who were interested in buying large quantities of overripe or otherwise damaged produce for immediate processing. Some would have to be thrown away, and immediate processing means IMMEDIATE PROCESSING (as in drop everything, go get them, come straight home, and head for the kitchen; all-night-don't-quit-until-the-last-peach-is-in-the-canner-canning-marathon). But how else can you buy three or four bushels of produce with less than $20??

    It was a crazy lot of work. I was exhausted with an overflowing compost bucket and a filthy kitchen when I was done. My house reeked of tomatoes and onions and peaches from June until October. I jumped a little when the phone rang and was sometimes known to say, "I hope that's not the canning lady again!" But by the time apple season rolled around, my pantry shelves ranneth over (also out from under the bed, the crib, the dressers... I gave away a couple hundred quarts when we moved in 2011 and STILL this week made a pie from a jar of blueberries hastily labelled 2010--it was good, too!!).

    It's a huge amount of work. Overripe produce WILL NOT keep while you tend to something else. But I did it. No one died (and I had two hyperactive toddlers in 2010). And we got a great holy heaping bunch of food for about $200 spread over the course of an entire summer.

  27. If I _knew_ a collapse was coming, I would shift more of my assets into gold and silver, and build up the food stores. Since I don't _know_ the future I will refinance the house to get my payments down, and continue to build up my side businesses. I will certainly keep my eyes on both the political and financial worlds, and be ready to take whatever actions might seem wise.

  28. just to add to our friends comment on this fall crash, I too have some Wall street friends and have been there for many yaers and ALL of them are saying this fall. Sept. Oct. time frame something is going to happen and won't be nice, well for me won't matter much as I am not a wallstreeter but, my wife and i are as prepped as can be with what w do have, (not much) anyway hope this helps

  29. Unfortunately, the Scary Parallel chart is woefully out of date, as the DOW is now 18200+

  30. All comments refer to debt and saving money. Not mentioned is currency collapse. The scenario where your gvt steals all your $ in the bank. The scenario where the dollar is dead and new currency pays pennies on you savings.

  31. I would encourage everyone that i know to have a personal relationship with Jesus. The Patriot Act (or whatever they are calling it now) allows the government to leave you with two weeks of food and then take all that you have. You resist - they shoot you. It is for the "better good" they say..... and then there are the hordes that didn't prepare.....

    Save all of the money you want - you can use it for fire starters and toilet paper. Stock up as much food as you can, but hide it or loose it. Be prepared to defend yourself and family.

    Again, most importantly, make sure that you have a repentant heart and are in relationship with the the Savior - Jesus.

  32. Honestly, as an unwilling apartment dweller (planning on getting out in the next 2 years hopefully), there is not a lot I can do at this point, especially since my funds are sadly limited. I focus on improving my skill sets in various areas of usefulness during any disaster, and hope that if it comes down to it, I won't be one of those running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

    Also, I do have a comment: You mentioned that we have exactly the same scenario as those facing the Great Depression (assuming this collapse comes this fall or soon, which I certainly believe is a possibility), and although I agree with the sentiment, I think it is an understatement. In the Great Depression era, many people still lived on small family farms, and had at least some marginal ability to take care of themselves and be somewhat self sufficient if necessary. We absolutely do not have that now in our culture. The VAST majority of the American public does not have a clue as to how to prepare themselves for something like this. We don't know how to farm (we don't even have seeds to plant!), we don't know how to care for animals, we cannot preserve food, we can't make cheese/butter/bread/etc, and we certainly don't know how to properly defend ourselves if need be. As a result, I believe if the Great Depression repeats itself in modern times, as many predict, it will be infinitely more devastating this time around. This is not even including the general moral degradation that has occurred, which will surely lead to opportunistic roving bands of thugs who will take advantage of the chaos if such a collapse happens e.g. Ferguson, etc... I don't necessarily believe that chaos couldn't be restored, or that police would just abandon their posts (I believe they would do their best), but the chaos would be absolutely insane, especially within the cities.

    At any rate, I certainly hope that this doesn't happen anytime soon, but I'm not banking on it.