Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Disaster is Coming! A 20-Point Checklist to Get You Prepared for the Next Disaster!


We have the potential for so many things to happen right now which means we need to be prepared. We have had very damaging natural disasters in the last year that has woken up a good deal of people. We have the potential for more to happen. A nuclear war could happen and we are now being told to prepare for that possibility. As a country, we have enemies who have biological and chemical weapons to take us out. They could get mad enough to attack us.

In other words, a disaster could be coming! What should you being doing?

There are several things you should be doing. Hopefully, you are not home alone because this is a good time to recruit anyone who is living with you to help. In fact, they shouldn't be given a choice about helping or not. Time is of the essence here.

Also, you have many unknowns. You don't know if the water will be available or safe to drink. You might or might not have power. You might have days or only hours to get ready. You might have a chance to get to the store for last minute supplies or you might not. You don't know.

This checklist is to keep you on track and give you a way to plan for getting ready. This list is not necessarily in order of priority except the first two items. Water and food are non-negotiables and should be your top priority after shelter which hopefully you already have.

20-Point Checklist to Get You Prepared for the Next Disaster!

1. Secure your water storage. You should be filling every container you can with water for storage. You will need drinkable and non-drinkable water. If you have the chance to go to the store, pick up more water. No matter what, water should be your number one priority to have on hand.

2. Take stock of your food storage. Do you have everything you need to not leave home for a week, two weeks, a month, or three months? If you think you have enough food, I would be adding more food to your storage. Make sure you have a good mix of ready to eat, easy to prepare, and ingredients to make meals.

3. Take care of any chores that take water. Throw in a load of laundry. Wash dishes. Clean what needs to be cleaned. The last thing you want to have to worry about is dirty laundry and dishes.

4. Get your auxiliary power sources ready to go. Make sure you have fuel for the generators. Make sure your solar chargers and external batteries are charged. Whatever you need to do for power, get it ready.

5. Gather your supplies to cover windows and doorways. You need heavy clear plastic and duct tape to cover windows and doorways. You can also use plywood and screws to cover windows, but you want to seal up anything on your structure that could leak or be broken. Get ready to cover windows and doors or go ahead and get started.

6. Gather your cold weather clothing. If it is winter and you could lose power, you want to be able to stay warm. Make sure you have stocking caps, gloves, scarves, warm shoes and socks, coats, boots, and lots of layers to stay warm. In case of a nuclear war or an exploding volcano, you might have to worry about the resulting ash cloud which would keep your climate considerably cooler.

7. Be prepared to stay in one room. Ideally, you only want to heat one room when having to use auxiliary heat. Be ready to seal off a room by hanging heavy blankets over open doorways and having emergency supplies in that room. Add extra seating by moving chairs or couches into that room for everyone's comfort.

8. Have your auxiliary heat sources ready to go. If you have a wood stove, get your kindling in the house and your firewood stocked by the house or in the house. If you are using kerosene or propane heaters, be sure you have kerosene or propane filled and ready to go. I would also have battery powered carbon monoxide detectors ready to use with the batteries checked for freshness.

9. Make a plan for your pets. If you need to bring them in, make a plan for that and add extra water to your preps for those pets. You need to have a safe place for them. They are your responsibility and leaving them to fend for themselves is not a good plan. If you have to leave your home, be ready to take them with you with a pet carrier, food, water, and leashes.

10. Do you have gas stored? You should check your gas stores and if the gas is good. You might need that gas for your generator, chainsaw, and/or your vehicle. If you don't have any gas stored, you will want to get some in case gas pumps are not working or have run out of gas. I would get non-oxygenated gas and a gas stabilizer for long-term storage.

11. Check your batteries, flashlights, and radios. Make sure you have plenty of batteries for your flashlights. Some flashlights take AA, AAA, C and D batteries depending on the size of the flashlight. A lot of your LED lanterns take batteries too. You also need a dependable radio to listen to the news and for any emergency alerts. Make sure you have batteries for that too. Also, make sure all your flashlights and radios are currently working.

12. Get your bug out bags ready to go. You might have to leave your home. Even though bugging in is usually your best option, you may have no choice but to leave. Get your bug out bags ready to go by the chosen exit door. You will also want your 72 hour kit and some cases of water ready to go too. If you have time, fill your chosen bug out vehicle with gas and get your vehicle emergency kits in order too. Be ready to leave.

13. Get everyone home if possible. If your spouse or yourself is at work, you should be heading home and doing what you can to get ready. If your kids are at daycare or school, get them home or keep them home. You want everyone at home when a disaster is about to strike. You don't want to worry about everyone and you will need the help getting ready.

14. Make sure you are ready to defend yourself. This is important especially if you live in an urban setting. Looters can and will be coming. Be ready to defend your home and your family. Have a way to block doors and ground level windows. Have your gun ready to use. Be mentally ready to defend yourself by any means necessary.

15. Secure or store everything that is outside inside. Put your cars and bicycles inside if possible. All your lawn/patio/porch furniture should be put away or stored inside. All your outdoor plants should be brought in. Your grill should be put in the garage, but in a spot that it can be used easily. Anything that could be become a projectile outside should be put away. Usually most bad weather can bring high winds that will blow your outdoor things into another building or your home. You want to eliminate as many problems as possible and having a patio chair through your window would definitely cause more problems.

16. Get your entertainment supplies together. Otherwise called boredom busters, have some things to do to entertain yourself and your family. Make a pile of books to read, games to play, knitting or crocheting to do, and anything else that takes no electricity to do or play. You will have down time or will need to distract during a disaster. Plan for this because (1) if you have little ones, they will need to be distracted and (2) we all need to be distracted in times of stress and will need something to do to pass the time.

17. Make that last trip to the store if you have time. As preppers, we would like to think we have everything covered. However, that last minute trip to the store might not hurt. You can grab more water, food, batteries, and any holes you found getting ready for the disaster. If you only have a few hours before the disaster, I would skip the store trip unless it is an absolute emergency. The stores will likely be cleaned out anyway.

18. Get some extra cash for after the disaster. If you have time before the disaster, grab some cash. You don't know if you will need it or not, but you likely don't want to be without it. At least $100 would be ideal to have on hand, but get the amount of money you can afford and be comfortable with.

19. Have a plan for sanitation. What will you do for sanitation? If you are using toilets, you will need to have extra water for flushing. You will need to explain to the others about when to flush and when not to. If you are using a buckets and bags, you will need a way to dispose of the waste. Also, have plenty of toilet paper and flushable wipes on hand. You will also need a plan for trash. If you can compost, you will need a place to do that. If you can burn trash, you will need a way to do that. I would also make sure the trash cans have good tight-fitting lids.

20. Assign everyone a chore or responsibility that they are in charge of. Getting through a disaster is mostly about survival, but one person should not be doing all the work. Everyone can pitch in and make life a little more bearable for everyone during a disaster. There is plenty for everyone to do before, during, and after a disaster. Give everyone something to do.

This is a basic checklist. Some of you will not have to worry about all these things. Some of you will have more to worry about than these things. I would print out this checklist and personalize it for yourself to develop your own plan. While you will be worrying about these things leading up to a disaster, a lot of this checklist can be done long before any disaster hits.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Top Ten Posts for 2017

Monday, January 1, 2018

10 Homesteading Goals You Should Be Setting This Year


Homesteading is one of those things that just does not work if you don't have a plan. Part of that plan is setting goals. What do you want to accomplish on your homestead and what do you envision your homestead to be? The possibilities are endless, but you need goals and a plan!

10 Homesteading Goals You Should Be Setting This Year

1. Expand the garden. While you should always grow what you eat, consider expanding your garden to cover more of your personal food needs. I like making my own sauces so that is what I have been focusing on. However, I need to think of vegetables that will winter well in a root cellar too to provide more food over the winter.

2. Plant more fruit and nut trees. Part of homesteading is providing your own food needs and having more food based trees helps do that. I know we need to add more pear and apple trees to our homestead as well as more elderberry bushes. We already have plenty of walnut trees, but I would like to look at other nut trees.

3. Consider expanding your livestock. If you have chicken layers, the next step might be meat chicks. Turkeys, geese, and ducks would also help add to your meat needs while being fairly low maintenance birds to have on the homestead. Maybe you are ready to take the next step for pigs or goats. Maybe the next step is a feeder steer or a dairy cow. On a homestead, the idea is to raise your meat and eggs. How can you do that?


4.  Raise produce and livestock for profit. While running a homestead is great, cash flow to keep running the homestead helps with the stress. Whether you are selling eggs, selling produce at a farmers market, or raising meat for other people, that cash flow will help cover the cost of feed and other implements needed for the homestead.

5. What part of homesteading do you want to make simpler? Homesteading is about having a simpler life away from the modern consumerism of society. However, homesteading can be anything but simple. You should figure out ways to make your homesteading journey a little simpler and easier for you.

6. Learn new skills. What skills do you want to learn this next year? Butchering animals? Soap making? Canning? Dehydrating? Making lard or tallow? Sewing? The list of skills to learn can be endless, but find three that you want to learn and devote some time to it. Watch videos, read books, and buy the supplies so you can practice and learn. The only way to fail at learning skills is to not start.

7. What would make homesteading easier? Is there a tool or a vehicle you want to purchase to make homesteading easier? Come up with a purchase plan or figure out a way to rent/borrow what you need to make your homesteading life easier. Back breaking work is only fun for so long and then you lose interest. Personally, a four-wheeler with a trailer would be divine for our homestead this Spring!


8. Do you need to relocate? Are you an urban homesteader that wants to be a rural homesteader? Do you want to live in a different area? What would you need to do to make that happen? Some goals are meant for you to dream big and set a plan in action. If you are not happy where you are at, what do you need to do to give yourself  the homestead of your dreams?

9. What projects do you need to tackle this year? Do you need to put up buildings? Build fence? Enlarge or fence in the garden? Fix or maintain buildings? The list of things to do can be endless on a homestead, but guess what? That list is a list of goals for you to attain and cross off!


10. Gather knowledge. While homesteading is a lot of learning by experience, being knowledgeable about what you are doing helps greatly. Whether you are watching videos, reading books, or talking to/working with more experienced homesteaders, you should be constantly learning.

What homesteading goals do you want to set this coming year?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, December 31, 2017

10 Frugal Living Goals You Should Be Making This Year


While everyone should be a frugal lifer, a lot of people struggle to do so. Life happens and you end up spending more money than you want to. You are busy and money just flies out the window. A good deal of living frugally is planning ahead and having goals. What do you want to accomplish financially? In what areas do you want to save money? How can you simply your life to spend less money? Only you can answer those questions, but let me help you set some frugal living goals for the next year!

10 Frugal Living Goals You Should Be Making This Year

1. Learn new things to cook from scratch. You can save so much money on your grocery bill by cooking from scratch. Processed food and eating out is so expensive even with a good deal or a special. Learn to make things from scratch and you will also improve your own health as well.


2. Find new ways to save money. When you are a frugal lifer, this can be hard. You think you already know and have found all the ways to save money, but I can almost guarantee you that you can find more. It can be tough, but I am sure you already know of more ways to save money.


3. Have a no-spend week each month or a no-spend month twice a year. I think these are really healthy for a frugal living lifestyle because they force you to really think about if you need something or you just want it. You also are forced to eat what you have at home, be less wasteful, and make do with what you have.


4. Ask yourself if you really need to buy something. Do you really need it or do you have something that will do? How long can you wait before you buy it? Implement a 3, 7, or 14 day waiting period before buying something other than groceries and household necessities. Sometimes you can find something at home that works just as well or you will find out that you don't really need it.


5. Challenge yourself to buy all your clothes used. You can make exceptions like underwear and socks if you want to, but honestly I have found those brand new, in package or store tags still on, at the thrift store too.


6. Limit your monetary pleasures. Are you eating out a lot more than once a week or once a month? Are you getting massages, manicures, or pedicures every month? Do you shop just to shop? Do you stop at the convenience store for a candy bar everyday. We all have something that we waste money on in the name of treating ourselves. A little pleasure is always a good thing, but is there a way you can do that and not spend money?


7. Do you have an emergency fund? If not, you should start one. Everyone should have an emergency fund of at least $1000 to cover those kind of expenses. If you have one already, what can you do to double it? Ideally, your emergency fund should be able to cover 3-6 months of your normal income in case you lose your job or get injured for some reason.


8. Are you out of debt? If you are, great! If not, what can you do this year to get out of debt or lessen the burden? Can you cut back on your expenses more to pay down your debt? Can you find other ways to make money to pay down your debt?


9. Organize your things and make an inventory of what you have. Seriously, so much money is wasted because we don't know what we have. We have food in the kitchen and in our pantries that goes to waste. We have more things in our closets than we will ever use. We buy batteries because we can't find the package bought a month ago (for example). Take stock of what you have and organize your things.


10. Make a budget or review your budget. This can be the hardest things about being a frugal lifer. I really have trouble sticking to a budget because of unplanned expenses. After something upsets my budget, I lose hope and focus. However, this is the year I need to start. I want you to start your budget too if you don't have one. If you do have one, this is a great time to sit down and review your budget. Are there any increased expenses? Can you save more? Can you pay down more debt? Can you put more in retirement? Work on your budget today!


What frugal living goals do you have for this upcoming year?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, December 29, 2017

10 Prepping Goals You Should Be Setting For The New Year


The new year is coming quickly. While I think goal setting can be done any time of year and should be, this seems to be the time of year for most people to set goals. If you are a prepper, winter is a good time to get your goals figured out, written down, and a game plan set to accomplish them.

What goals should you be setting as a prepper?

1. Increase water storage and/or create a way to procure water without electricity. We often do not have enough drinking and non-drinking water in our stockpiles. While the experts say to have at least one gallon per person per day of water, most people use more than that for cooking and bathing. We also don't always remember to store water for pets and livestock. If you can, look for a way to install rain barrels or a cistern to procure and use water without electricity.

2. Increase or double your food storage. Many preppers only have a month or less of food storage. You should concentrate on doubling your food storage. If you have a month, build up a two month supply and so on. Make a meal plan with your food storage and you might realize you don't have enough food storage for a month either.

3. Sharpen your shooting skills and learn new ways to defend yourself. Take a self-defense class. Learn taekwondo or another martial art. Learn how to defend yourself in close combat. Learn how to use another weapon. Learn how to better use your own weapons. I believe in using weapons and self-defense to defend myself. I think both methods are important to your safety and should be learned.

4. Lose weight and work on physical fitness. Being in shape and being in good health is crucial to being the best prepper you can be. Being one hundred pounds overweight means you are susceptible to a host of diseases and will easily run out of energy when you need to be in the best shape possible. Even if you walk a mile every day and do fifty jumping jacks twice a day, you are doing more for your health than most people will ever do.

5. Learn new skills. Make a list of three skills you really want to learn in this next year and make a plan to learn them. Watch YouTube videos and buy some books in those areas. Gather the materials and start practicing those skills. Learning skills is never a waste of time.

6. Increase or double your emergency cash fund. If you are into gold or silver, increase that. Most of us do not have a really good emergency cash stash at home. We might have some coins and a few dollars which will not get us far when an SHTF happens.

7. Start gathering or buying non-electric items. When you have no power, you will want things that do not use electricity. Having good manual tools will just make life a lot easier in the end when a SHTF happens and most of us do not have enough manual tools on hand.

8. Read a prepping book every month. Most of prepping is the knowledge inside your head and how you apply it. Read a prepping book, apply something you have learned from it, and stick that knowledge in your head.

9. Get your affairs in order. Get your family information together and put it in a binder and on a flash drive. Get your will written. Make bug-in and bug-out plans. When SHTF happens, you have your information together and you are ready to start putting your life back together again. If you have this already, review and update the information.

10. Make an effort to make more prepping friends and expand your community. Yes, you can prep alone or have a lot of online prepping buddies, but you are better off making some prepping friends locally. You would have people locally who would be there for you and understand how you think. Better yet though, find a few people to turn on to prepping. We can't have enough preppers in the world!

Prepping is a lot easier and more focused when you have goals to commit to. You will be able to implement a plan to prep smarter and create a life free from worrying about "what if?".

What are your prepping goals for this coming year?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, December 24, 2017

10 Ways to Prep When You Have No Support


You have discovered prepping. You have awakened to the fact that the world isn't right. Everything could be gone tomorrow. Your job could be over with at the end of the month. A storm could take out the power for several days. You suddenly feel an urge to get your stuff together and be ready for the next disaster. You want to buy food and supplies to have stored in case of an emergency.

You are excited to get started. You have been reading articles online. You are starting to decide what kind of food storage you want to get. You have been looking at generators and camping stoves. You have already bought some extra cases of water.

Then you talk to your family and suddenly you find a lot of cold water thrown at you. They don't understand what you are so worried about. Nothing like that has ever happened (amazing how short people's memories are)! They don't think you should be worried about the future. They don't want to have to worry about things like disasters, job loss, and financial difficulties. They think you are just being ridiculous.

That is just enough to discourage someone, isn't it? Prepping is hard when no one believes in what you do and doesn't see what could happen. A lack of support from loved ones is one of the biggest reasons people don't start to prep or quit prepping. Most non-preppers don't understand that prepping is not doom and gloom, but a positive thing that will give you and your family a great peace of mind.

If this is happening to you right now, please keep prepping. You are doing something for your loved ones that will not appreciate now, but most certainly will later. Most loved ones come around to prepping, but sometimes they don't either.

So what do you do when you want to prep, but have no support?

1. Do not quit prepping! You have started a great thing and nothing should stop you. You might have to change how you prep, but do not stop prepping.

2. You can prep in secret. Yes, you can prep undercover. Sometimes it is a good idea for other people not to know you are prepping. You usually want your family to know, but they aren't in that frame of mind yet.

3. Try talking to your family. You can try to make them see reason. You can point out different situations where being prepared is a good thing. Bring up things in the news that leads to being prepared. Just try reasoning with them a bit and see what happens.

4. Don't mention what you are doing as prepping. Prepping has a good and bad reputation. You can twist what you are doing into something else. You can tell them you are putting together some supplies for a power outage. You can tell them you are just putting some emergency equipment in the vehicles. You can tell them you found an amazing sale at the grocery store at a good price to stock up.

5. Put your prepping supplies in a hidden spot. Do you have a room or a shed that no one but you uses? Put your prepping supplies in there. Use some ordinary totes to hold your supplies in your closet. You might have to spread out the prepping supplies in different spots.

6. Hide your emergency cash and money for prepping. If you have a spouse or significant other who is going to spend your emergency cash as soon as they see it, you need to hide it. If you have a part of your paycheck that goes to prepping, you should probably withdraw the cash and hide that too. Some people will spend that money out of spite because they think you are being ridiculous.

7. You can still learn new skills and not call it prepping. If you have loved ones wondering why you are starting a garden, just tell them that it is something you always wanted to learn how to do. If you want to work on your shooting skills, just tell them that you want to be more accurate and suggest everyone goes to the shooting range as a family activity. You can buy or build a fire pit in the backyard and use it for cooking out or just learning to start fires right. There are ways to learn skills and not call it prepping at all.

8. Explain away your purchases. For awhile, I just said that I always wanted "blank" or "blank" because I thought they were cool. You can use this one on a lot of gadgets like solar chargers and weather radios. You can say that you just wanted to see if they really worked or how they worked. You can buy a lot of solar powered gadgets to say that you wanted to use them to save on the utility bill.

9. Be creative. A lot of these suggestions involve creativity on your part. If you loved ones do not come around, you will have to be creative with your whys and hows. Prepping is not something to brag about to everyone anyway because you do not want everyone coming to your house when an emergency happens. You just might have to take that OPSEC to another level with your loved ones.

10. Speaking of OPSEC...you will have to figure out a way to not have your prepping discussed with everyone. You will have to find a way to explain to your loved ones that not everyone needs to know what you have or don't have. You can explain as not liking to brag about material items or not everyone needs to know what happens in our home kind of thing.

Hopefully, these ideas will see you through until your loved ones understand why you are prepping. Sometimes, it will take a major life event or a natural disaster for them to see the light. However, you need to keep prepping, remember that you are doing it for them, and eventually they will be grateful that you did!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, December 10, 2017

12 Reasons Why You Should Be Thrift Shopping!


Long before thrift shopping was cool, I was doing it to stretch my budget and because I just couldn't afford new things. In fact, my parents did the same thing! I grew up on hand-me-downs until I outgrew my cousin's clothes. Almost all my books came from used bookstores and the library. We went to auctions and garage sales. My parents needed to stretch their pennies too!

Now thrift shopping is cool. Thrift stores are gaining popularity as are the "for sale" or "garage sale" groups on Facebook. Craigslist is still going strong and eBay is still a great place to unload your used but still in great condition goods. Consignment shops are still a good place to buy and unload your good condition goods (and make a little extra money!). Garage sales are still fun places to shop!

I have a lot of fun thrift shopping as long as I don't go overboard. I want you all to be thrift shoppers too. If you are, but know someone who should be, show them this post!

12 Reasons Why You Should Be Thrift Shopping!

1. Thrift shopping is sustainable. If you are even a little bit concerned about our planet, you know there are way too many goods being produced today. More than can be used actually, but people still demand and buy them. By buying used, you are breaking that cycle and keeping perfectly good things from going to the landfill. To keep the sustainability cycle going, you should use those used goods until they are completely worn out or pass them on to someone who can use it. 

2. You are a non-consumer. As stated in #1, you are breaking the consumerism cycle. When you purchase something used, you are a non-consumer. You are not buying something new. You are not supporting the mass merchandisers. You are not succumbing to advertising telling you need something new. You are using what someone doesn't need anymore and you are not supporting people who have no interest in your local economy.

3. Thrift shopping supports your local economy! Whether you buy something from a used goods store or a person, your money stays right in that area. Your money isn't going to some big corporation who cares very little about you. Your money is going to a local organization (except Goodwill) or people who will in turn spend that money locally. 

4. Why buy new when used will do? This phrase is attributed to a certain person, but honestly it has been around awhile. Why? Because it is true! Used is just as good as new in most situations. Most of my clothes and my kids' clothes were used growing up. We got new things for gifts at birthdays and holidays, but otherwise they were used. Even when they were in high school, we regularly found almost new and new clothes for them at the thrift store. I still buy almost all of my clothes used because you can't beat the prices!

5. You save money! Doesn't everyone like to save money? You can outfit an apartment or a house for hundreds of dollars cheaper than buying new. Does buying used things gross you out? Wash them once and get over it. You are saving money! 

6. If you have kids, you are teaching them frugality. My kids liked to go to the thrift stores and garage sales growing up. They still do even as teenagers and young adults. They also have found a lot of great things there. They learned one way of being frugal and they learned that used things were not gross. The younger they learn that, the better.

7. You will find brand new things while thrift shopping. Honestly, this is the best. People are often too lazy to return something to the store or cannot return it so they will just donate it to the thrift store or sell on a garage sale. Their loss is your gain because, most of the time, you will get it for only a few dollars. Score!

8. Anyone can thrift shop! And I do mean anyone. Some of the most financially stable people I know are avid used goods shoppers. They love a good deal and refuse to pay full price. Let's take some tips from those people, shall we? You can be a prepper, homesteader, parent, retiree, single, married, young, old, rich, poor, and anything else you can identify with. Anyone can be a thrift shopper!

9. You can find really good presents while thrift shopping. I have found a lot of presents while thrift shopping. Books that look brand new. Clothes with tags still on them. Sets of dishes still in the original sealed box. Candle sticks and vases because I know people that collect them. You get the hint. Start your gift shopping at the thrift store or online consignment sites and go from there. 

10. Once you start, you won't be able to stop. I know that sounds pompous, but it is true. The idea you will be saving money and scoring some really good stuff is addicting. When you realize you can do this all the time, you will be hooked!

11. The inventory is always changing. If you can't find what you are looking for one day, wait a few days and come back to the store/check again online. More than likely, you will find what you want at a price that is reasonable or cheap. 

12. Thrift stores have sales too. They get a lot of things donated or consigned to them. They often do not have the storage for these things so they run sales. Our local stores often run a buy 1 get 1 free or buy 2 get one free sales. They also have bag sales where a bag of goods is five dollars no matter what you have in the bag. I know other thrift stores will have 50% off sales and more. Keep your eyes open and you will find even better deals at the thrift stores. 

Thrift shopping is fun! The pursuit can be challenging at times, but the results are usually worth it. Just know, even with thrift shopping, you need to be mindful of your budget and not get crazy while shopping. Sometimes, people will buy whatever they want because it is a good deal, but they still overspend. 

What is your favorite thing to buy in the thrift store?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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