Showing posts with label preparedness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label preparedness. Show all posts

Sunday, October 28, 2018

For Better or Worse, I Am Not The Same Prepper I Was Five Years Ago


Lately, I have been going through a lot of stuff. You might say I have been decluttering, but the truth is I have been taking stock of what I have. I have a lot of supplies. I took stock of what I owned, what I should purchase, and let go of a few things. The same goes for books, papers, notes, and anything else prepping related. I took notes on prepping things five and ten years that I find are no longer relevant to me and have let them go. I have preparedness items that I know now I will never use and have found new homes for them.

Nowadays I don't keep every darn thing that comes in my path in the event that I might use it someday. I don't want to look like a hoarder so I carefully consider what I keep and will use. I don't want to have so much stuff that I can't find what I need to use especially in a time of crisis. I am learning to say no to a lot of free things if I can not think of a good reason to have them. Once upon a time though I was not like that. When I first started prepping and even a few years ago, I would take and keep almost everything offered to me. I might be able to use it.

To say that I am not the same prepper that I was five and ten years ago would be an understatement. I am a different person nowadays with different priorities, focus, and viewpoints. We all change after a while and that is usually a good thing.

What has changed in my prepping?

I have more knowledge and skills. I have broadened my interests in prepping and branched out into homesteading and self-sufficiency. I can do so much more than I could five years ago.

My priorities have changed. My life has changed a lot in five years. I now have two adult children with their own lives. We have lived through the college years and will be doing so for another eight years with the youngest two. We have high school for another four(ish) years. I don't have little kids to worry about anymore unless you count the grandchildren. I am a little more focused on prepping for fewer people with the idea that I could be preparing for more people being here. However, now I buy Christmas presents for the adult children with an eye towards prepping minded gifts.

The more prepared I think I am, the less I worry about world events. While I still do worry about problems with our own country, what happens on the world stage worries me less. I still gear my prepping towards job loss and national financial crisis as well as weather-related events. I am still preparing for pandemics, power outages, grid down events, and having to be without services for a period of time.  I still gear my prepping towards learning skills, gaining knowledge, and stockpiling.

However, while I may be worried about what could happen, I don't panic about it. I am secure in my way of thinking, how much I have prepared, and what needs to be done. I don't let fear and panic control my prepping and drive me to make foolish purchases. If anything, I ask myself if I could live without it or have something else to substitute in its place. I find myself being a lot more creative in my prepping.

The need to prepare and constantly be doing something is so ingrained in me that it is just second nature. I will never sit back and think I am totally prepared. I doubt I will ever get to that point. However, I am still constantly preparing and I don't give it much thought. Learning new things has always been a passion of mine so I don't question learning something new in the name of preparing. I just think of it as learning something new and fun. I am always buying a few extra things and pursuing the clearance racks for extra preps. If I see a good deal at the grocery store, I stock up and put it in my food pantry. To me, that is just part of my shopping.

I like to challenge myself now. How long can I go before going to the grocery store? (Right now, two weeks if I am planning ahead. I still have two hungry teenagers!) How many ways can I stretch food? How many ways can I preserve food? What can I use in place of (something) so I don't have to go to the store? Can I grow it or make it myself? Can I fix it myself? What would I do if the trucks couldn't run or the power was out?

I just don't panic much anymore. I don't let fear drive my prepping purchases. There are things that worry me and I prepare for them. However, I don't find myself running to the store just stock up because so and so is happening. Usually, that thing that caused me to panic turns out to be nothing that is going affect me. Prepping is an insurance policy for what could happen, but worrying about the end of the world or a nuclear holocaust is not going to serve me. Most likely, those events would not be events that you could be prepared for even if you did survive. Nowadays, I just focus on what I can control and worry about things that are more likely to happen than the world ending events.

Why do I say all of this? I see a lot of new preppers who are literally worried about everything when they start prepping. I can certainly understand and relate to their panic. They weren't prepared and now it feels like they need to be prepared for everything by tomorrow. They don't really understand when experienced preppers say to take prepping one day at a time and focus on doing a little every day. Someday they will lose that panicked feeling and realize that they can prepare at their own rate unless something like a hurricane is coming their way.

(Want to prepare, but don't know how to start? Check out my book here about prepping on a budget and in a year!)

You can only do what you can when you can. You should not rack up credit card debt trying to be prepared all at once. While having stuff and a food stockpile is great, learning knowledge and skills will benefit you just as much if not more. While it seems like you need to be prepared by tomorrow because there are fear mongering preppers who will tell you that, you don't need to be. Likely, what you are preparing for will not happen tomorrow or the day after that. If you are facing a natural disaster, you need to be prepared as soon as the first warnings from the local weather service indicate some bad is coming. Even then, focus on the basics. Two weeks of food and water. Make sure your shelter, warmth, and lighting are ready to go.

One of the biggest things that have changed in my prepping is that I really want to see other people prepared. I used to not care if others were prepared, but that has changed. The more people that are prepared means the better the prepper community is. While there are a few "crazy" preppers, mostly it is people like you and me that prepare for the common every day things that could happen. The more experienced preppers want to see and help new preppers as much as we can. We did not prepare in one day or even one month. We don't expect others to prepare that way either.

So yes I am not the same prepper I was five years ago. I wouldn't want to be because I have grown a lot as a person and a prepper. I know what direction I want to go to prepping and I love the directions prepping have taken me. I love the people I have met in real life and online who help and encourage so many people in their prepping journey. I am thankful for the groups and forums that help and guide new and experienced preppers in their quest to be better prepared. Prepping is so much more accepted now than just a few years ago and that has changed prepping for the better.

So now I have a few questions for you. How have you changed as a prepper during your prepping journey? How long have you been prepping?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
I Have Been Prepping For Five Years, Now What? A Review Checklist for the Long-Term Prepper
The 10 Cold, Hard, Ugly Truths About Prepping


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

What Direction Should You Take In Prepping?


I am at a little bit of a crossroads in my preparedness journey. I know which way I lean in prepping, but I am now in a bit of a indecision. I know what I want to accomplish, but how far do I want to go?

I have spent (or wasted depending on your viewpoint) a fair amount of time on prepping groups and forums. For the most part, people just want to be prepared for everyday life and the craziness that can happen. They want to know they have the supplies on hand and the knowledge to survive 1-6 months without suffering much. They want to be able to handle natural disasters, some manmade disasters, job loss, financial impacts, and health scares. They want the comfort and the knowledge that they will be fine if something happens.

Most people will stop there in preparedness. There is nothing wrong with that. Actually, if all people wanted to be prepared to that level, the world would be a better place. Agencies like FEMA would be used for their true purpose in disasters and not to save and feed the people who didn't want to be prepared. If you lost your job or had a bad gardening year, you would be able to feed yourself without a lot of hardship. If you were without water for 2-3 days, you would still be able to have water to drink and cook with. Life's problems would be hard, but manageable with your preps.

However, there are preppers who would like to take their preparedness to the next level so to say. Most of the time, in their pursuit of prepping knowledge, they realize they want to be more self-sufficient, more self-reliant, and more independent. They want to learn about and become homesteaders, survivalists, and/or off-grid living enthusiasts. They feel the need to be more reliant on themselves to be prepared and less reliant on a system that looks like it is doomed to fail.

Prepping creates a sense of independence that cannot be replaced by anything else. You are reliant on yourself and know that in most situations you can care for yourself and your loved ones. You won't need to be saved. You won't be waiting for family, a government agency, or a private organization to have water, food, clothing, or other goods. You might not have everything you need, but you will be able to take care of the basics. That is a good feeling.

Some preppers want to take that sense of independence a step further. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I encourage it. I started out being interested in food storage and going from there to homesteading and self-reliance. I like being able to grow and preserve my own food. I might not be able to produce all my own food, but I won't go hungry. I enjoy raising chickens for eggs and will be venturing into meat birds. I take pride in having 3-6 months of food stockpiled in case of hard times. I enjoy that sense of independence and learning the skills that will help me even more in the future.

There is no right or wrong way to prepare despite what other preppers may tell you. I will tell you to keep going the way that feels right to you as long as you are not infringing on my rights or other people's rights. If you are happy with just food storage, water storage, emergency supplies, and a way to shelter and heat your space, good for you. You are miles ahead of most people in an emergency situation. If you want to take that preparedness further and explore survivalism or homesteading, good for you. You might find out you like it or you might find out you aren't cut out for that life. Your choices are only for the benefit of you and your family. Being prepared is for the benefit of the greater good.

Now there are some directions in prepping that I will not condone. Some people just plan to stockpile guns and vehicles so they can steal from hardworking folks. Stealing is wrong in any form. I have a hard time condoning it even in times of chaos. Terrorizing people to get what you want is wrong. Threatening people to give you what is theirs is wrong. For those who have marauding as their prepping plan, you really need to rethink your plans. You might not like what you encounter from those folks who actually did the work.

Some people just plan for others to do the prepping for them in exchange for leading a group of preppers. They believe they have the knowledge of skills and leadership to be in charge. They know better than anyone how to distribute resources and assign jobs. I don't believe in this direction of prepping either. Sure, prepping communities are a good thing and strongly encouraged by most preppers. However, if you are not actively stockpiling, prepping, and practicing yourself, you should not expect others to do the work for you. What happens when your plans fall apart? What if you can't meet with your team? Then you will be a prepping leader without preps.

Whatever direction you choose in prepping, choose the direction that feels right for you. Only you can decide how far you want to go. You might decide to just stick with food storage and emergency supplies. You might decide to have more than a month's worth of food and want to have six (or longer) months worth of food. You might decide to install a rainwater catchment system in addition to storing water in containers. You might decide to start gardening or set up a homestead. You might decide to learn more about being a survivalist.

There are a lot of directions you can go in preparedness. The choices are for you to make. You have to decide to do what is best for you and your family. You have to decide what feels right. Just know this - you have already made the decision to start preparing and becoming prepared. You are already doing the right thing. Anywhere you decide to go from here is only going to make you a better prepper.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
For Women, Prepping is More Than Just Being Prepared
10 Non-Perishable Food Preps You Should Be Buying Every Month

Saturday, October 13, 2018

For Women, Prepping Is More Than Just Being Prepared


Everyone should be preparing. Young and old. Men, women, and children. Everyone should be preparing. However, I especially encourage women to be preppers.

Women can be seen as being weak, irrational, incapable, and more derogatory terms that are not even remotely truthful. Women can be seen as the weaker sex. Women can be seen as less than (anyone) which is just wrong considering all the progress that has been made towards equality. What makes this doubly wrong is that history has shown that women have run large households, did the barn chores, ran businesses, did all the outside work, and were more than capable for filling in for the men when wartime or other problems happened.

Don't get me wrong. I am not a feminist. I will never be unappreciative about a door being opened for me. I will never turn down a nice dinner out or be mad because I got flowers. I will also never turn down a guy who wants to carry something heavy for me. None of those things make me think that I (or another woman) am less than capable or being demeaned. It means a guy was raised right to do something nice for a woman.

Prepping helps people to think about what could happen and be as ready for it as much as they can. Prepping is actually a natural fit for women. Women are usually thinking ahead to anticipate their needs as well as the needs of others. The wiring in most women's brains is set for thinking ahead and being ready for it.

When you become a mother, you think of everything you might and will need for the baby. When you leave the house, you have all the things you think you will need for yourself, your significant other, the baby, and/or other children. If you have a partner or spouse, most women will think of their needs as well or more than their own. That is being prepared for anything that may happen.

In a way, women are natural worriers but we don't always realize it. However, being a worrier helps to be a better prepper. When you worry, you think of everything that can happen or you may need. Then you gather those things and have them with you or stored in your home/bag so you don't have to worry anymore. That is being prepared.

In the prepping community, women are encouraged to be prepared but often encouraged to be more like the men. Men tend to prepare in many different ways, but they have a tendency towards survivalist and bushcrafting skills. While it is worthwhile for women to know these skills, I think women are better suited to be prepared for everyday problems as well as long-term problems. We tend to think about what could happen today, tomorrow, and in the future in a more domestic atmosphere. There is nothing wrong with this thinking.

Women can and do think about catastrophic events, but the reality is that natural disasters, job loss, income loss, loss of support and community tend to worry women more than the grid going down or a solar flare. Again, not that we shouldn't be worried those cataclysmic things, but the things that would affect their daily lives and their reality now worry them more. Again, there is nothing wrong with this thinking.

Being prepared for women is more than just being prepared. For women, preparedness gives them a sense of safety and security. If something bad happens, you know you can handle it. You have food and water to provide for yourself and your loved ones. You have the supplies on hand to weather most storms (literally and figuratively). For women, feeling safe and secure is two of the best feelings in the world. Being prepared only enhances those feelings.

Many people (including husbands, partners, and family) do not understand why women prepare or even start preparing. People don't always get it that women want to have a sense of safety and security. By prepping, women create that sense of safety and security. For most women, we want to know that we are taking care of our loved ones the best we can. We want to create those feeling for everyone around us. That is why women should prepare and why we do prepare.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts: 
You Have Lessons To Learn From Those That Survived The Great Depression
10 Ways To Prep When Real Life Gets In The Way


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Small Batch Canning: Saving Time, Money, and Sanity!


Wouldn't it be wonderful if you had time during the garden harvest to can all day, every day? When you see super awesome deals on produce at the store, you could purchase them and can them right away when you get home?

You don't have that kind of time? Me neither.

A lot of people ask how I get so much canning done when I am busy with a full-time job and kids. I have a good sized garden and we like to eat fresh produce from it. However, I plant tomatoes and cucumbers with the sole purpose of canning them. I like to take the extra garden bounty and preserve it so we aren't wasting food. However, I don't have time for marathon canning sessions. Even on the weekends, I have plenty of other things on my to-do list besides canning.

I practice the time-saving practice of small batch canning. If I can preserve something every day or night, I can get a lot of canning done. I can keep up with my garden better by small batch canning.  I am not waiting for a lot of tomatoes to be done at once. I can wait for 6-9 pounds of tomatoes to be ripe and can them according to my recipes.

When the beginning and end of the gardening season occurs, I can also use small batch canning to keep up with the garden. Did I mention I am not a fan of food waste? I don't like watching the garden to wait for enough to can when I can do a few jars here and there. I do put away some produce in the freezer to wait for enough produce to can, but I try to avoid doing that because of the quality of the product after it has been frozen.

With small batch canning, I can use a lot of shortcuts or I can spend more time on a recipe. Since I am not one for complicated canning recipes (and have a strong love for Mrs. Wage's packets), I choose to do simple canning recipes that do not take a long time to cook on the stove. I don't mind long canning times, but long cooking times and long canning times can take more time than I have on a weeknight. I also like that I can experiment with different or unusual canning recipes if I have the ingredients on hand. You might like to make the standard strawberry jam, but with small batch canning, you can make strawberry vanilla or strawberry blueberry jam. You are only making a few jars which means you have less waste if you don't like the new recipes.

How does small batch canning save money? Wasting food is wasting money which is heartbreaking to a frugal person. By small batch canning almost every day, you save money and help to prevent food waste. You might think you are spending more money on electricity and/or gas by canning every night. However, you are using the same amount of power as you would be canning all day for several days.

You can also control the amount of money you spend to can your produce. You will have a better idea of how many jars you need and if you need to buy more. You will be able to buy your extra ingredients as you need them or you can stock up at a good price knowing how you need.

Do you need any special equipment for small batch canning? As I talked about in this canning post, you will still need the basic canning equipment as well as canning jars, lids, and rings. However, instead of the big water canner, you can use a smaller stockpot. You can also use an electric pressure cooker instead of the large pressure canner depending on how many jars you are canning. My electric pressure cooker can do four pint-size jars comfortably. I use a washcloth or folded small kitchen towel on the bottom of the pot so the jars do not rattle or bang too much. I like to can broth this way. 

You can also find some great books on small batch canning. These books specialize in smaller canning recipes and allow for safe experimenting in canning. The following books are excellent resources:

The Complete Book of Small-Batch Canning: Over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round
Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round
The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes

I hope you give some consideration to making canning simpler and less intimidating. So many people think they do not have time to can, but that is simply not true. Just like any other skill, you just need to break it down into smaller sections and do it simply. Small batch canning will definitely help you with that! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
What Do You Need To Start Canning Your Food?
The Prepper's Canning Guide Book Review


Monday, September 17, 2018

10 Non-Perishable Food Preps You Should Be Buying Every Month


New preppers wonder what they should be buying for their preps every month. More experienced preppers wonder what holes they should be plugging in their food storage to be better prepared. We all know we should be constantly adding and rotating our food storage every month in order to have a good supply.

Since I have written the 10 Preparedness Items You Should Be Buying Every Month and Top Ten Items You Need For Your Food Storage, I have found my preparedness mindset changing a little bit. I think they are things you should be buying every month that are perishable items and non-perishable items. This list will concentrate on the non-perishable items because those are the ones most important to your food storage.

To explain what I have included on this list, I will give you the criteria. I am making this list as basic as possible. Meaning that you can go to the grocery store and buy these items right off the shelf which means the items are shelf-stable. They will not expire or go bad easily. Most of these items will last beyond their sell-by or expired date if you wish. This list is simple and for beginning preppers. However, the more experienced preppers should take a look at this list too and see if they have holes they should fill in their food storage.

If you want to, you can purchase these items in whatever manner suits you. If you wish to can them yourself, buy them in bulk, freeze-dried, dried, or whatever, you can certainly do that. If there is an item on this list you or your family does not eat, then replace it with something they do eat.

Because the #1 rule in food storage is: Do Not Buy Food You or Your Family Will Not Eat!

I don't care if you think "If we are hungry enough, we will eat it." That may be true, but why would you do that to yourself when you can simply purchase food that you will eat ahead of time!

The quantity of each item to purchase each month is your choice also. Depending on my budget, I will only purchase 1-2 items each or I will purchase a case or flat of that item. I also have a continuous grocery list where I write down when I use up one item so I can replace it right away on the next grocery trip. For example, I use up a bottle of olive oil. I write it down on my list and purchase it on the next trip to the grocery store. If I find myself getting low on an item, I will do the same thing.

10 Non-Perishable Food Preps You Should Be Buying Every Month

1. Salt and Pepper. Food without seasoning, bleh. You need at least salt and pepper to liven up your food. You can also stock up on other seasonings too. You might have ones you think you can't live without like garlic salt at my house.

2. Honey and/or Sugar. If you can live without these things, great. However, most of us cannot live without something to sweeten our drinks with. I also use sugar and honey in canning jams. Honey is also great for sore throats.

3. Beans. Dried or canned whichever you prefer. I like to use both, but in a hurry or being lazy, I will grab a can of beans first. So I stock up on canned beans. Beans are a meal unto themselves but are better with soups, chilis, casseroles, and one pot meals. They also help to fill people up and give energy.

4. Peanut Butter. This is packed with protein and fat which will help give you energy in a crisis. Beyond that, most kids and adults like it and will eat it plain or with bread/crackers. If you are allergic to nuts, look for a substitute like a sunflower butter or coconut butter.

5. Canned meats. As much as we would like to think we can raise our own meat or hunt your own meat when a crisis or situation happens, this may not be a possibility. Again, canned meat such as tuna, salmon, chicken, turkey, and ham will provide a good source of protein which helps give you energy in a crisis.

6. Canned tomatoes, fruits, and vegetables. While the nutritional value of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables is better than canned, eating canned fruits and vegetables is better than eating junk. You can use these in casseroles and salads too.

7. Canned soups, broths, and meals. Sometimes when you have an emergency or crisis, the easiest thing you can do is open a can and heat up the contents. Even if you are in a hurry at night and need a meal, you can save money by opening a can of soup, heating it up, and have a quick meal.

8. Crackers and cereal. Many of you will not think this is necessary, but I have teenagers. Kids like cereal and they love crackers. My kids think saltine crackers and soup go together like peanut butter and jelly. Cereal can range from cold cereal to hot cereal. I like to eat oatmeal and will make it from scratch, but when I am in a hurry or just plain tired, the little packets are awesome.

9. Pasta and rice. Let's face it. There is very little nutritional value in pasta and rice. They are just carbs even if you buy the veggie pasta. However, they help to fill up the hungry stomachs and keep the teenagers from completely taking over the kitchen. They help to keep the meals budget-friendly. They are great to have on hand to make casseroles, soups, and one pot meals. They help to feed a large crowd during a crisis.

10. Coffee and Tea. Water is great for hydration, but it is boring. Most people drink coffee or tea in some way, shape, or form. I like to have a stockpile of coffee, various kinds of teas, and even some instant packets of coffee and tea. If coffee or tea is not your thing, look at getting some drink packets and/or mixes to liven up the water.

Honorable Mention: 

1. Oil. Whether you use olive, vegetable, coconut or other oils, they are good to have on hand and keep a good stock of.
2. Protein and cereal bars. 
3. Pasta sauces.
4. Ethnic sauces and seasonings (salsa, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce,etc.)
5. Chocolate.

Like I mentioned before, you can switch out items and customize this list for your household. Some things listed may not be something you would ever eat while some people could not store enough of that item because they eat it so much. This is a general guideline I use when I go to the store. This is so I can put a meal on the table whenever I need to without completely stressing out over the meal no matter what is going on. The meal may not be very exciting, but the consumers of the meal will not walk away hungry.

Some of you will notice that I did not include such items as ramen noodles, various meals in a box, and macaroni and cheese. You can purchase these, but most of them have very little nutritional value, exceptionally high sodium levels, and feed very few adult people at one time. I don't usually include them in my food storage list for those reasons. However, if you want them in yours, you can certainly do that.

What do you like to store in your food storage?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
10 Ways To Prep When Real Life Gets In The Way
What Are You Prepared To Live Without?


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Should I Stay or Should I Go? A Prepper's Guide to Evacuating or Staying


As preppers, we like to think we can live through and survive anything. We are tough. We are prepared!

However, there is a reason we have and talk about bug-out bags and 72-hour kits incessantly. We want to be prepared if we should have to leave in hurry for any reason. While we want to stay in our prepper palaces, sometimes that is not feasible.

What should be the criteria for staying or going in an emergency situation? Why would you leave your prepper stronghold? You have spent hours making this place the prepper palace that can withstand almost anything. Why would you leave? What could make you leave?

The short answer to these questions would be common sense and safety. 

If you have the warning and opportunity to evacuate, you should be strongly considering evacuating. With most of our current natural disasters, adequate (usually more than adequate) time is given for evacuating. We have top-notch weather warning systems and weather prediction systems in place to tell us when bad weather is going to appear, how bad it will be, and what you should do to be safe.

In a number of prepper online groups, you will see responses like "Nothing will ever get me to evacuate" or "Why would I leave" or one of my favorites "It is never as bad as they say it will be". First of all, ask anyone who survived a hurricane or other natural disasters how bad the experience was. Ask how they felt when they saw the rising waters and realized they couldn't escape. Ask they about the panic they felt when they realized they were in danger. Second of all, would you seriously put your loved ones and yourself in that kind of danger for your pride?

So what should you do? If this is before a disaster is going to occur and you know you are in the path, you need to evacuate. Forget all the nonsense about your location and your perceived confidence in your ability to survive. Common sense dictates that you need to leave for the safety of yourself and your loved ones. You are in the path of danger and you should leave as soon as you can. Part of prepping is being safe and practicing good survival skills. You are not being safe if you are willingly putting yourself in the path of danger just to see how well you will survive.

If you are worried about your home and your possessions, staying home while in great danger will not save your home or your things. If you are under mandatory evacuations, if you are not forced to leave your home then, you will run the risk of having no help and no emergency personnel to rescue you. You will run the likely risk of having no power, no cell service, and no internet to even reach out for help. If you have a landline phone, that may not work either depending on power and phone lines.

Staying home while in the path of danger and destruction is not a wise choice and most people will not think of you as a survival hero if you do survive. Most people will wonder how you survived and why you didn't leave when you could have. You will probably also be dealing with the physical and mental fallout of staying in such a traumatic situation. Staying when you have the chance to leave is usually not a wise choice.

What happens then if you are suddenly thrust into a dangerous situation or have no warning that something bad is going to happen? What happens when a storm suddenly becomes a very dangerous situation? What happens if you are suddenly hit by flash flooding or worse? A wildfire suddenly switched directions and is headed your direction?

You need to evaluate and assess. You need to ask yourself a few questions:

1. What is the situation? 

2. How dangerous is the situation?
3. Did you or are you being asked to evacuate? Is evacuation mandatory?
4. Will you be able to leave - safe/unsafe routes, traffic congestion, state of the roads, roadblocks, etc.? 

5. Is your life (and your family's lives) in immediate danger or can you wait out the initial panic? 
6. Will you be able to even travel - health, gasoline/diesel availability, state of the vehicles? 

Your ability to leave may be hampered by a lot of things and it is important that you gather as much information as possible before making the decision to leave after the disaster or emergency. You may not be able to leave at all. You may be able to make contact with someone to see if the roads are safe or what the situation is down the road. You may be able to call emergency personnel to see how bad the roads are or listen to emergency management dispatches for updates on the situation. Again, common sense and safety should rule your decisions, not fear or pride. 

As stated before, if you have an adequate amount of time to leave before a disaster and you know you are in the path of danger, you should leave as soon as you can. I know people will say to wait it out or that they will never leave, but I wouldn't want to be in that kind of danger. If you have no warning before a disaster then you need to evaluate and assess.


Some of you will stay no matter how bad it is or will leave at the very, very last minute. However, if you are truly in danger or do not see a way to save yourself, call for help immediately!

Either way, you should always be prepared to leave. If you do not have dedicated bug out bags, now is a good time to start putting them together. You need to think about what you need to survive for 3-7 days or until you get to a location where you can stay and restock. To me, bug out bags are not wilderness survival bags. They are a way for you to stay alive, fed, hydrated, and clothed until you get to where you are going. There are many great lists on the internet for what you should have in your bug out bags, but here again, common sense should rule. Also, you need to make sure you can carry your bags on your back if you need to. Do not overload your bags or the bags your kids will carry.

You should also make sure your vehicle is ready to leave. You should have emergency supplies in your vehicle along with a good first-aid kit and medications, water, food, sleeping bags/blankets/pillows, jackets/coats/ponchos, and anything else you or your family might need. If you think you might forget something (and you probably will), make a list and keep it with your bug-out bags and in your important documents. When you are in a hurry, you can forget a lot!

The choice is generally yours as to whether you want to stay or evacuate, but no one will want to hear about your death if you did not choose to be safe. You will not be a hero if you stayed in a dangerous situation and was not killed by it. Most people will not be impressed that you put your loved ones in danger because of your pride. You and a very select few others will be the only ones impressed with your ability to survive an avoidable situation.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
Preparedness on the Cheap: Evacuation Plans Part 1
Preparedness on the Cheap: Evacuation Plans Part 2


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Start Saving Money By Having A Poverty Mindset! Learn 25 Ways to Extreme Living and Saving!


We all want to save money, but sometimes we just don't know how to save more money than we already are. We don't want to take the next step in frugal living because we know that we will be looked upon as crazy. However, sometimes you need to save an extreme amount of money in a very short period of time. You might be suddenly faced with only having half of your normal income. You might find yourself with a lot of medical bills or a large repair bill.

You might also desire a different kind of life. You may want to prepare, to homestead, or just live a simpler and less stressful life. Most people don't think they can afford to do those things because they are so tied down with debt or other obligations. However, most people can if they would re-examine their spending.

In other words, you will need to practice a level of frugality that most of us don't want to think about. I call this poverty living. We are all living (or should be living) at a level of frugality that seems a little tight, but sometimes we need to get a lot tighter.

What does poverty living entail? Basically, living as broke as you can while still covering the necessities. Some of you, like me, already have done this before and never really had a name for it. While some of you already may live like this and do not have any other way to save more money, some of you may feel the need to do this just to get your budget and finances back under control. You may also feel the need to do this because you are facing an uncertain financial future. And, like I mentioned before, you may have some large bills you need to pay.

How does poverty living and saving work? How can you start living this way?

1. Take a long, hard look at your finances. You need to take a notebook and write down every single bill, expense, and spending you do now. You also need to look at any future expenses you know you will need to pay for. This is the time to get really tough with yourself and/or each other as a couple. What items in your budget can be eliminated, paused, or reduced? Do you have expensive habits? Are you extravagant gift givers? Are you kids in too many activities or have expensive hobbies? This is the time to examine everything including your lives. If you need or want to live as frugally as possible, sacrifices need to be made short term and possibly long term.

2. Get your grocery spending under control. Some of you will say that you don't spend a lot of money on groceries or at least as much as your friend spends on her groceries. You need to change your thinking. You are practicing a whole new level of saving so you need to focus on you. You need to carefully look over your receipts. You need to start making a list and sticking to the list and the budget. You need to plan meals around basic foods, what you are growing, and what is on sale. Going without a list and with no plan will make for a miserable time for you and your budget. You need to make the time to do this. You can also start a price book so you can get an idea of when an item is the cheapest, where the best price is, and how often it is on sale.

3. Meal plan and plan your meals around cheap, basic foods. If you are trying to save money, having fancy meals of salmon, steak, and lobster is not going to be possible. You need to keep your meals as frugal as possible. You may not be able to have meat as much as you like either. Casseroles, one pot meals, and soups will feed a lot of people cheaply. Make sure you also plan for breakfasts and lunches. If you think you will get sick of the same foods all the time, you may just need to suck it up. You are trying to save money. You can find a lot of ways to jazz up your meals with getting bored, but you will need to be creative about it.

4. Sell what you don't need. If you have four vehicles, only two are in working condition, and you only have two drivers, sell the two non-running vehicles. You can sell vehicles as is as long as you are honest about what is wrong with them. The same with the stuff you have in the garage, house, shed, and anywhere you are stashing things. Now is the time to make a little extra money! If you don't need it, get rid of it. Some things will only have a purpose once or twice a year and that is okay. However, your kids' outgrown toys, clothes, and equipment are not doing you any good sitting in a closet. Neither is the sporting equipment that you used ten years ago but think you will use again someday.

5. What are the necessities for you and your family? What do you really need? We all think we need things, but most of the time we can live without them. Sacrifices will need to be made in order for this to work. A good deal of the things we think of as necessary we find out is not necessary after living without them for a few months. You just need to really examine everything you purchase or use and ask yourself if you can live without them.

6. Unless you are getting it for free, no eating out, no going out on dates/nights out, no alcohol, and no other bad habits. They aren't necessary no matter how much you think they are so now is a good time to get rid of the bad and expensive habits and any other costly fun things. You may suffer some withdrawals, but the suffering will be worth the money saved and possibly improved health. You can also add soda pop, candy, and other "treats" that we think we need for ourselves. We don't need them and we would be better off without them.

7. Write down every penny spent, earned, and examine every purchase. This is a learning process. You will make mistakes, but in order to know where your money is going, you need to be on top of the spending. Ideally, you do not want to spend any money, but life is never ideal. However, by writing down every purchase and expense, you can easily see where your money is going and where it shouldn't be going. From there, you can make the necessary corrections to save even more money. And sometimes, just the thought of having to write down the expense will stop you from purchasing the item. No one wants to write down that they spent $1.29 on a candy bar.

8. Figure out what the true cost of things is. You may think your child needs to be in activities like basketball, dance, and other sports. You may think it is only costing you $40 for the registration fee. However, you are also spending money on additional vehicle gas, vehicle wear and tear, your time, possibly fast food to feed the family, special clothing and shoes, and more. That $40 is more like $400 before the season is over. While I believe kids should be involved in a few things, sometimes parents get kids involved in things they don't want to do. The same can be said about our hobbies and past times.

You need to examine the reasons to be involved in things and decide if the cost is worth it. Most of the time, it is not. This can apply to any area of your life. Maybe you have a home business, but that business is costing you as much money as you earn. You might have a hobby that is costly. You might like to do crafts, but the supplies are costly. You need to look at everything involved with those things and ask yourself what the real cost is for the hobby or past times.

9. No more food waste. When you are living below the poverty level, you do not have the luxury of wasting food ever. If you are raising food, you better find a way to preserve it somehow if you cannot eat it all. If you have leftovers, you should be eating them until they are gone. If you cannot eat all the leftovers, you need to freeze them or offer them to friends. If you do not like leftovers, you either need to get over yourself or make just enough food for the meal. You do not have the money to be throwing away food. If you have little bits of food or vegetables in your fridge you don't know what to do with, make a refrigerator clean out casserole or soup.

10. Clean and take care of your things. Neglect and disrepair will only cost you more money. You need to make sure your things are clean and in good repair. Most of the time keeping your items clean will cost you almost nothing. If something breaks, have it fixed or fix it yourself. Most of the time, the repair will be cheaper than buying the item again.

11. Save money any way you can. You need to always look for the savings in almost all of your decisions. This doesn't mean you should buy cheap goods that will break quickly instead of quality. This means you should always examine everything to see if you can save money. Saving items like rubber bands, twist ties, bread sacks, scrap paper, and more will save you money and extend the life of your purchase. Turn on a lamp instead of the overhead light because the lamp will take less electricity. Use grocery sacks for trash bags instead of using the real thing. Put on a sweatshirt and drop the thermostat by two degrees in the winter. Ask yourself constantly how you can save money and do it.

12. See how far you can stretch a tank of gas. Buying gas for your vehicles can be a budget killer. If you are driving to work every day, ask yourself if you can carpool with someone. Maybe you can walk or ride a bike to work. If you do have to drive, drive the speed limit. You need to also combine your errands. Try to limit your trips you are making. Ask yourself if it is really necessary to make the trip if not for work or family. Reduce your grocery trips to once a week or twice a month. If you need to go to the library, where else do you need to go?

13. Have a no spend week, month, or even longer. If you really want to curtail your spending, this is a great way to do. You need to set your limits and allowable purchases (gas, groceries, prescriptions) before you start. You also need to write down anticipated expenses and what you will do if unanticipated expenses do come up. However, this works best if everyone is on board with it. If you live with others, you need to talk to them. You can still practice a no spend month yourself, but it just might be more difficult.

14. Never turn down free items if you need or want them. Some people will turn down free items offered to them just because of their pride or they think someone else will need it more. If you can use it or need it, by all means, accept the free items. Accepting and using free items is the number two way to save money (number one is not spending money).

15. Learn to trade and barter. Trading goods and services is a win-win for everyone involved. If you have eggs and your neighbor has apples, trading those things with each other helps everyone involved. Bartering is a similar concept. You can offer to clean for someone in exchange for a haircut or another service. Whether trading or bartering, you are saving yourself a great deal of money.

16. If you have some expensive habits or friends, this is a good time to put them on hold. We can have the best intentions when we are trying to save money, but our habits and our friends can ruin those intentions in seconds. Habits like a drink after work, daily coffee runs, ribeyes on Friday nights, and expensive night outs can be the ruin of a good budget. You might think that these things will ruin the budget at the time, but over time these things can really add up and take away from the money you are desperately trying to save. Friends can be just as bad. Some friends may not feel like they can have a good time without an expensive meal out, lots of drinks, and/or a day of shopping. You can deal with them by leveling with them about the fact that you are saving money and cannot do those things anymore. You can maybe find other things to do with them that are free or inexpensive, but you may just have to stay away from them for a while.

17. If you have a credit card problem, you need to deal with them. I know a lot of people who are completely responsible with credit cards and pay them off every month. They are very conscious about what they spend and use them responsibly. I am not talking to those people. If you have problems with credit cards, you need to get rid of them as quickly as possible. You may need to cut them up or put them in a safe deposit box away from you. If the interest is very high, look at switching or transferring to a low/no interest card in order to save money on interest. Then you need to pay them as quickly as possible. You need to learn to live on cash or within a budget if credit cards are a problem.

18. Buy used before you buy new. Almost everything you consume can be purchased used except for food, personal items, and maybe undergarments. Most of the time, you can find what you need to purchase used on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, garage sales, resale shops, thrift stores, and sidewalk curbs. If you can anticipate needing the item and you find it before you need it, purchase it. This would be in cases like winter coats, clothes for growing children, school items, and more. You will save so much money this way and you will also stop the cycle of consumerism.

19. Shop from home first. Most people will go out and buy something new instead of using what they have at home. Back to school shopping is a prime example of this. Your kids probably came home with items they used last school year that is in perfectly good condition. However, we have been trained to think they need everything new when school starts again. We need to ditch that thinking. Look over their last year's items and reuse what you can. The same goes for gifts. Most of the time we have a brand new item at home that will work for a wedding or baby shower gift. Yes, this is regifting and make sure you do it right. Remove the card and make sure you don't give it back to the person who gave it to you. You may also be able to make a present with items you have on hand already.

20. Reuse, reuse, reuse. Most items are not disposable, but we treat them as such. It is easier to throw something away and purchase new again. However, a person living at poverty levels do not have that luxury. Wash, fix, repair, mend, and reuse items again. If something like a towel (for example) is no longer sufficient for the shower or bath, it can be used as a cleaning rag. Plastic bags can be washed out and reused again and again unless you use them for raw meat. Ask yourself if you can reuse this item or find another use for it before throwing it away.

21. Buy non-disposable items. On the flipside of reuse, reuse, reuse is making sure to purchase non-disposable items. This may seem like you are spending more money, but you are spending money on an item you hopefully never have to purchase again. Using handkerchiefs or a washcloth instead of facial tissues will save a lot of money. Using rags or cleaning cloths instead of paper towels will save a lot of money. Using plastic or glasses food containers instead of plastic food bags will save money. Look for the items you can use again and again instead of disposable items.

22. Realize saving money is in the little things as well as the big things. Many people have this idea that you cannot save money unless you are saving money on big purchases. This is simply not true. With a poverty mindset, you need to look for the savings in everything and often times the real savings in the little things. By not buying the coffee every day, you are saving $1-4 a day which adds up to $7-28 a week. In addition to those savings, you aren't tempted to buy the donut or bagel which is $2-4 a day or $14-28 a week. Already you have saved $21-56 in a week which is $84-$224 a month which is very nice payment on a bill. This is the mindset you need to create - little savings add up to big savings over time.

23. You may not be able to buy organic, non-GMO food or special ingredients. Back to the good old grocery budget. Most impoverished people can not afford this kind of food unless they are growing it themselves. While I mentioned before that you need to convert to cheap, basic foods, that doesn't mean you need to eat junk or eat unhealthily. You need to keep food to rice, beans, vegetables, fruits, and eat well but cheap. You just may not be able to afford organic food, hemp seeds, or anything that is marked up due to being the new health food cure-all.

24. Use everything until it is gone and do not purchase new unless you need it. When you are poor, you do not have the luxury of throwing away a half-used bottle of shampoo. You suck it up and use it up. You add a little water to the bottle to get the last bit out after tipping the bottle upside down for several days. The same should go for almost everything else that you use. You do everything you can to use up the last little bit of everything. Then you need to ask yourself if you need to buy another one or do you have something else on hand that will work. Most people do have something that will work instead of buying new. However, if you need it, by all means, buy another one and try to make it last longer (unless it has a short shelf life!).

25. Work as much as you can (within reason). If you are truly needing to get out of debt, pay off big bills, or just trying to save a large amount of money, you need to work as much as you can. Most people are not willing to do this. However, if you are offered more hours at work, take them. If you have the opportunity to work a part-time job in addition to your full-time job, do it. The only caveat to this would be if you have to pay more to work more. Having kids in daycare longer is usually not beneficial for the budget or family life. Sometimes you can work from home or telecommute which will help you save money as well as make more money. I would just steer clear of multi-level marketing jobs that ask you to spend money in hopes of making more money. Yes, they do work for some people, but often they don't work for others.

Some of you are thinking you already do most of these things, but can you take it further? I know I can and should. If you are stuck for ideas, the internet is a wonderful place full of good ideas. If you think you can't live without a smartphone, satellite television, and more, research other cultures and extreme savers. They will teach you quickly that you can and you would be spending your time much more productively without them.

Do you think you can live like this? Do you think you could make the sacrifices for the bigger goal?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
What Place Does Extreme Frugality Have In Your Life? How Can You Live In Extreme Frugality?
The Budget Is Getting Tighter! 15 Ways We Are Making Lincoln Scream And You Can Too! 


Monday, August 27, 2018

You Have Lessons To Learn From Those That Survived The Great Depression


The Great Depression was an era in American History that people who lived through it would remember indefinitely. They remember how hard the times were, the poverty most people suffered, and just life in general at the time. For most people who remember living through this time, the lessons stuck with them for the rest of their life.

For those who experienced the worst of The Great Depression, they never forgot. They do not or did not like talking about life during that time, but the lessons they learned were life-changing. Most people now would not necessarily notice the impact made until they looked closer at these people.

They do not throw out anything. The only things in their garbage (scrap) pails were items that could not possibly use anymore, be fed to animals, or composted. They were on board with recycling before recycling was the cool thing to do. Their homes will appear very neat and tidy, but their closets are packed full of items they could not part with including old clothes, newspapers, fabric, boxes, baskets, jars, string and twine, rubber bands, twist ties, plastic bags, and more. During the Great Depression, you would never know if and when you might need something to repair or fix another item.

They were basically hoarders because they had to be, but you would have never known it by looking at their homes. Now that the minimalist movement is in full swing, some people look down their noses at these older people who lived through the Depression. However, we must realize that they did not have the possessions then we have now. They just didn't have the pure junk and cheaply made goods we have now. They were minimalists in their own way because they did not have the money or the means to have more possessions. They just refused to throw out anything that could be used again.

Notice how most older people do not buy new clothes unless they have to? Their shoes are usually repaired, worn until they fall apart, and/or are still kept in case they need a pair for the garden or other chores. They probably have a good pair that is kept for special occasions or church, but when that pair is no longer good, they get used for every day. The same goes for coats and more. You will also notice they do not buy trendy clothing items either - most of their items are of good quality that will last years. In this age of disposable clothing, this seems odd, but they probably would see us as wasteful.

People during this time lost their fortunes. People also lost their savings as banks closed. While most people who lived during this time continued to save money after the Depression and World War II, many were leery of banks. They would keep cash at home, have accounts at multiple banks, and not have all their eggs in one basket. Most of them would also go on to save a large amount of money because they lived so simply and frugally.

They also went on to birth the Baby Boomer generation. They wanted to give their children a better life than what they had. They saved money for their kids to go to college because they wanted their kids to have an education and succeed. They would go on to help their children buy their first farm and possibly their first home. They would invest in their businesses to help them get a start because very few of those that lived during the Depression had that luxury.

Many people during the Depression lost their homes and their businesses. They would have to move for jobs and just to find work. People would have to move in with other family members or rent a couple rooms for a roof over their heads. Kids were expected to help out any way they could with the understanding any money they earned would probably go to the family. If they were given payment at all, that money was not spent frivolously. Not to say that the kids were not given a special treat once in a while, but they did not expect this all the time like kids do now. 

While there has always been poverty in this country, during the Great Depression, poverty was acute and affected nearly everyone in some way. When we think of poor now, we think of either the homeless or just living paycheck to paycheck. However, poverty is the circumstances of being extremely poor. Most people did not have enough money for rent/mortgage payment, food, clothing, and other necessities. Children were sent to live with other relatives or were taken to orphanages because their parents could afford to take care of them. Many adolescents were sent to live at other households as hired girls or men and worked for a roof over their heads and food to eat.

People leaned on bartering and trading during this time also. People would help each other bring in the crops, bale hay, tend the sick and the infirmed, do heavy housework, and more. You might have given the neighbor some produce from your garden in exchange for eggs. Like my grandmother, you might have worked as a hired girl so you could stay in town and go to high school. Many people traded and bartered services and goods just to stay alive and stretch their money even more. To do this, you can still see this generation doing this. They also instilled these lessons into their children.

People who lived during this time did what they had to do to survive. We all hear stories about the Great Depression that we think we could never do now. However, when you are faced with a choice to survive or not, you would think differently. This time in history is also very romanticized by those who think it will happen again. They want to live like that. Most of them could not do it.

How could you survive another Great Depression? Most of us preppers would like to think we could survive anything, but in reality, the Great Depression lasted until World War II started. For most people, nothing changed when we went to war because of the rationing system and the unavailability of goods. Jobs were on the rise due to wartime production, but the money still barely covered the necessities. There is not really any way to be reasonably prepared for ten years or longer unless you practice self-sufficiency now.

What saved many people during the Great Depression was the ability to grow their own food, raise animals for eggs and meat, have large gardens, and preserve as much as they could to get through the winter. They knew how to sew their own clothes, mend almost anything, and think creatively to solve problems or fix anything. Nothing was wasted which is a huge problem nowadays. They made only one trip to town a week for anything that needed to be purchased if they could afford to go. They would have also taken in any extra produce or eggs to the local grocer which he would have paid them for if the quality was right.

In short, the skills this generation knew is what saved them. They still have these learned lessons in their memories. You see that most of them still practice what they can, but this generation is dying out quickly. When they are gone, the lessons will be forgotten. If experts are right, we could be headed towards another financial and economic upheaval. We have more people living in this country than ever.

While there is a trend towards self-sufficiency right now, most people would be suffering until they could get back on their feet again. I have faith in people helping other people, but the resources might not be there to help everyone. FDR was accused of socialism and more when he rolled out the New Deal to create programs which created jobs to help people get back on their feet again. Now, if that happened, it would be wrapped up in Congress for months. With all the regulations we have now, it may never happen.

If you have a chance, please sit down with the generation who lived during this time. Ask them how they or their parents survived the time. You will hear different accounts because their experiences were different. Some people went through this time just fine because they were already used to living the self-sufficient life. Some people had to learn it. Some people lived in abject poverty and were basically homeless. If you can't directly talk to someone who lived during the Depression, read some first-hand accounts. What they had to do to live may surprise you.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related posts:
Ten Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime
"We Just Did"


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Prepper's Yearbook is available for sale!


The Prepper's Yearbook is available for sale!

This is a dream for me as it is the first book I have ever written! I wanted to make prepping as simple as possible for you! As the title suggests, this book will give you five tasks every month to help you be more prepared. You will be able to download this book and print it off to make it easier for you to keep track of your prepping.

My goal in prepping is to be as prepared as possible while staying on budget. I understand money can be tight and I don't want prepping to be a burden to anyone. This book can help you with that too. You will also find that this book leans toward the homesteading and self-reliant side of preparedness. While that is the way I like to be prepared, this book also addresses preparing for emergencies and natural disasters. 

Some of you might remember that I wrote a blog series about five prepping things to accomplish in a month. This is based on that, but I have totally revamped the months, added challenges, and added even more information and tips for you to be better informed and prepared! 

To purchase this book, click on this link https://sowl.co/Hkvz3

After your purchase, watch for an email from Send Owl that will provide you with a download link!

Thank you all for your support! This would not have happened without all of you! 

Thanks,
Erica

Sunday, August 12, 2018

This Kind of Life Is Not Cute or Kitschy...It's A Lot of Work


This weekend has been busy. I am getting ready to post several pictures on Instagram about what I got done this week and I am still struck by how much work gets done around here every weekend. What strikes me, even more, is how much work there is to do everyday and weekend.

I choose this life. I wasn't delusional about what it would entail. Being a prepper is work. Being a homesteader is work. Being self-reliant is work. Being frugal is more work. All four of those together means the work never lets up. I know people who can't handle it and I don't blame them. There are days I can barely handle it.

Some of you probably think that all I do is run a blog and hang out here at home. That couldn't be further from the truth. I work as an office manager Monday through Friday, 7:30 am - 4:30 pm. I run an eBay store that I have been adding more and more inventory too. I have two very active teenagers at home and two young adults who live with their husband or boyfriend. I have two grandchildren. And I blog and write for other sites.

I am not asking or seeking sympathy. Like I said before, I choose this life.

What gets me though is the people who think this kind of life is cute or kitschy. What we do to thrive or survive is trendy. Like raising chickens is adorable. Like raising a garden is so good for my health and the environment. Like everything I do to save money in a day is so consumer conscious.

Spare me the trendy terms and the idealistic attitude. That is not why I do it.

I raise my own food because, quite frankly, I save myself a lot of money and I know where some of my food comes from. I enjoy raising my own food, but some days it is a lot of work. The weeding never ends. Sometimes I have more food to preserve than I have time to do. There are times I take a vacation day or two from work just to can tomatoes. I get frustrated because my chickens and the other wildlife ate my berries before I got to pick them. I wish the chickens would figure out that I really don't want them on the front porch.

I raise my own laying chickens because the eggs are really that much better than store-bought eggs. They help fertilize the yard which means I (meaning mostly the teenagers) get to mow more often. They like to eat bugs which is why they get to free range. Besides that, free-ranging chickens eat less feed which means I save money and get better tasting eggs.  However, reference the front porch comment and berry comment again.

I prepare because I truly believe everyone should. I think you should be prepared because that is the responsible thing to do. I prepare because I don't want to be in a situation of begging for handouts if I can help it. I want to have plenty of food and water on hand so my kids do not go thirsty or hungry. I want to be able to survive a power outage and more. I want to be prepared for natural disasters and economic downturns. However, preparedness can be work. I garden and raise my own food in order to be better prepared and less reliant on the system. I can and preserve to have more food on hand. I buy the supplies and learn the skills so I know how to take care of my family and myself.

I can and preserve my own food because, again, I like knowing where my food comes and I take a great satisfaction in knowing I produce it. I like being less reliant on a food system that takes pleasure in hiding chemicals and harmful additives to food. I make a lot of my own food and make a lot of food from scratch because I know what is in the food. I have a daughter who is lactose-intolerant and there is a lot of dairy hidden in food using names that I cannot pronounce and are not even natural. By preserving our own food, we can all be healthier and more conscious of what is in our food.

I like saving money and making money. I will not even be ashamed of either of those things. I am a borderline workaholic which makes this life even remotely possible. I juggle a lot of balls every day. I think a lot of people who are in my shoes would say that. There is a lot of people who do this without an outside income to rely on. There is a lot of people who barely scrape by every day and would think I am wasteful when I have a lot of weeks where I barely scrape by. There is a lot of people who live this life and do not think this life is cute or kitschy either.

I hear a lot of people who "crave" the simple life. I might have that phrase in my byline, but I would not be sure that I could accurately say that I live it either. Simple is not running from one place to another and trying to get more accomplished in a day than there are hours in a day. Simple is not trying to balance kids with work, with home life, with keeping a house, with keeping animals, and with trying to raise my own food. Some of that is simple, but not all combined together. While most people live in the rat race, chasing the "American Dream", and being in debt to their ears, this life I live is not always simple. It just looks better than those people.

Again, I choose this life and everything in it. If you wish you could do all the things I do, then do more than wish for it. That is what I did. Wishing does not make things happen. Wishing does not do anything, but make you keep wishing. If you want to be a homesteader or a prepper, then do what you can to make that happen. Just be aware that this life is a lot of work, but the results are rewarding.

I won't delude you either. I would not be where I am at without some help. I have a guy in my life who does what he can every day to get stuff done. My kids do chores, clean the chicken coop, and mow. I live on an acreage rent-free, but I pay all the bills except property taxes and pay for almost all of the upkeep. I have a lot of people who support me and live this life as well so they can commiserate with me. I do get out of the house and have fun periodically because I need to relax.

Another thing about this life - it comes with great disappointment sometimes. Your garden doesn't turn out well or your cucumber plants become victims of the wildlife. Your entire flock of laying hens is killed by a mink. Your only vehicle has to go into the shop for very expensive repairs. Your kids or you become ill resulting in unexpected medical bills. You lose your job and have to rely on your food storage to get you through.

This life is a learning experience. You will witness some great miracles and some devastating losses. You will feel as though you are walking alone in it or, worse yet, feeling like you let your loved ones down. You will feel a great joy every time you bring home a flock of baby chickens or watch a calf or a piglet being born. You will go to bed bone tired but satisfied that you put in a full day's worth of work. You will be awake at night wondering how you are going to fix a car or a tractor or how you are going to pay that bill. You will watch your kids grow up learning these skills and you will know that they will be able to survive on their own.

Does this life get any easier? Yes and no. Yes, because you learn what to do, you learn skills, and you start to have systems in place. No, because you will always have more work than time, you will be short of money when you need it most, and you will be thrown curveballs when you never expected them.

Like I said before, I choose this life. I want this life. I want more for myself and my family. I can't see the appeal of a consumer-driven life with keeping up appearances and being in debt. I truly think everyone should live the life I am living. Honest labor never hurt anyone and you become more appreciative of what you have.

However, it is not cute or kitschy. It is not trendy. It is and always will be a lot of work.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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