Before the Shopping Frenzy, Pause to be Thankful

It seems every year that Thanksgiving becomes less about being thankful and more about the deals we’re hoping to get on Black Friday. We live in the most prosperous country in the world, yet the drive to obtain more material goods seems to drive some people to the point of hysteria. Now, there’s nothing wrong with getting great deals or simply enjoying the experience; but I for one will pass. I actually will be working retail that day, helping customers get those ‘great deals’ but thankfully my employer is one that will not open on Thanksgiving. Here’s a list of others: https://www.theblackfriday.com/stores-closed-on-thanksgiving-day.php

I often write about the economy, politics and preparing for what might come next in this uncertain and unpredictable world, but through all of it I am extremely thankful to live in this country. In spite of all her faults, mistakes, and political division this is still the greatest country on earth and we are all blessed to call her our home.

Think about this for a moment: If you own a car you are in the top 7% of the world’s population. If you own your own home you are in the top 7% of the world’s population. If you make more than $11,500 you are in the top 13% of earners in the world, $25,000 puts you in the top 10% and $47,500 puts you in the top 1%! Try this nifty little website to see where you fall. According to them I’m the 6,817,181st richest person in the world! Who knew?

Regardless of your lot in life, you have been blessed in some way; you have something to be thankful for. Maybe it’s a good job or a nice home, maybe it friends or family, or maybe you’re just happy to be alive! Whatever it is, take some time this Thanksgiving to pause and be thankful. Tell a friend or co-worker that you are thankful for them. Call up someone you haven’t talked to in a while and tell them you care about them, you never know; you might be the one bright spot in their day. Happy Thanksgiving – I am thankful for you.

Comments are welcome: what are you thankful for?

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Finding balance in your Prep

Assessing your level of preparation isn’t exactly the most exciting or headline grabbing topic to discuss, but one that is necessary if you are to be truly prepared for anything. Start out by asking yourself, if something happened right now, how long could you last without the need to venture outside your safe haven?

Look at the basics; food, water, light, security – how well are you prepared on each of the 4 basic needs. I have recently been piling up the canned goods at an almost frantic pace so I starting to feel pretty good on that side. However, we have to ask ourselves, am I storing the right foods, foods we will use over time before they expire? Are we storing foods that we eat on a regular or at least semi-regular basis? Is it organized and rotated properly? Is it balanced with my other preps.

Water is our most critical need for survival as we can goes days without food, but without water we will perish rather quickly. Have you also stored enough water for washing or flushing the toilet? Have you secured an alternative source of water such as a stream, well or rain barrels? Can you filter it to make it safe to drink?

Light, though not absolutely necessary for survival, is difficult to live without. Most preppers obsess on this one; generators, fuel, candles, flashlights, LED lanterns, batteries, etc, whatever choices you make in this area be sure to have more than one option. If you plan to use a generator as your primary backup be sure to have plenty of fuel and fuel stabilizer. Look at different scenarios, could you start and run it in a heavy storm? If you are using battery operated devices try to stick to a couple of battery choices to limit the variety you have to store. We have chosen to focus on C and AA operated units for simplicity, cost and availability. Solar powered chargers can also be a good option for longer term events.

Security seems to be one of the most written about topics within the prepper community so I won’t go into great detail here; simply assess your risk factor vs. your ability to respond to those threats. An AR-15 hanging on your bedroom wall won’t help you a bit if you’re stranded at work. Similarly, a compact .380 Auto in your pocket or purse isn’t exactly the ideal choice if several assailants are kicking in your back door. Again, assess your prep. A firearm is useless if you can’t access it when you need it, and just as useless without ammunition. I tend to lump First Aide supplies in this category and is one area that is often overlooked. Can you self treat most common injuries or ailments without access to a doctor? Is your supply balanced?

Self assessment is something we’ve been trying to do on at least a monthly basis and if you really take a hard look at yours odds are you will find some areas lacking. Look at what you stop to buy regularly, what forces you to make unplanned stops? At our house it was always dog food, cat food, and Diet Coke. I’ve addressed the pet food issue and currently have about a 40 days supply, so what about those 2 liters of Diet Coke? According to Eatbydate.com Coke will last 6-9 months unopened. So instead of stopping at the convenience store twice a week (and paying twice as much) we’ve started storing some with our preps. How much time a week could you save just by eliminating those extra stops at the store? So now assess your own preps; where am I good, where am I lacking? Balance in life is truly a key to happiness, and balance in your prep can contribute to your sense of well being and confidence in the future. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

Congratulations! Your portion of the National Debt just grew to $61,100.30!

Reality Check: the Feds raked in record taxes of $221,690,000,000 in October, and still ran $44,192,000,000 deficit!

Bloated, reckless, short-sighted; call it what you will, but our Federal Govt. is out of control. Your elected officials banked the equivalent of $1,459 for every American working full or part-time, but spent $1,750. How long do you think you could continue to spend that way before you hit bankruptcy? With the current National Debt standing at over $18.2 Trillion can we really continue on with the reckless policies that have gotten us here? If you really break it down, every single person in the Country (legally that is) owes $61,100.30. Yes, $61,100.30 for every person, from grandma to your newborn, you are in debt from your first breath to your last. Gee, where do I send my check!

Much like the spoiled little brats burning our cities because they didn’t get more free stuff, your elected officials want stuff (and promise you stuff) they simply can’t pay for so they just borrow more! They borrow from Social Security, they borrow from the Fed, they borrow from Foreign countries (in the form of bonds,) they borrow against your future – they spend, spend, spend, and leave you holding the bag. People worry about Social Security, and they should. People worry about the job market, and they should. People worry about the economy, and they definitely should. If the Federal Government was a business they would have closed their doors long ago, period. How long will we continue to allow these ‘public servants’ to bury us in endless debt? If you ever needed something to worry about – here it is. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

Riots in the street – are you prepared?

With hoodlums rioting in the streets across America we thought it might be a good time to revisit our Top 10 items for any Emergency. So without further delay…

Water – you can’t live without it and you can’t have too much, also consider having a Water Purifier.

Food – basic canned goods along with other longer shelf life products can literally be a life saver. Check out our big incomplete list of items to store:

Medication and basic first aide – any prescription medication that you or your family need plus Baby Aspirin, Band-Aids, gauze, antibiotic creme etc…consider a small First Aid Kit.

Light – getting around a darkened house can be dangerous; a couple of good flashlights, LED Lantern and of course batteries will brighten any situation.

Heat source – particularly in colder climates, a small indoor-safe propane heater can be the difference between life and death when the power goes out.

Propane stove/grill – obviously not all food needs to be warmed/cooked to be edible, but having a camping stove definitely opens the menu a bit.

Fuel – usually becomes scarce quickly and your nifty stove and heater are useless without it.  Also, if you need to ‘bug out’ your vehicle is a lot more effective if it has fuel!

Radio – knowing what is going on in any emergency situation is critical for planning as well as for simple peace of mind. A good AM/FM radio is fine, but I like the Red Cross Hand Crank Radio that you can use to charge your cell phone with.

Firearms and ammo – it many disaster situations looting starts almost immediately; all the supplies you’ve stashed won’t do you any good if you can’t protect them. Please be sure to not only practice using your firearm, but make sure everyone in your family does as well.

Cash – cash is still king, at least for now. I don’t recommend hiding all your money under the mattress, but a few hundred dollars in small bills may buy you out of a jam. We keep a decent stash of cash at home, some in each vehicle as well as a few bucks stashed behind the old cell phone cover.

Yes, there a dozens of other items that could be added to the list, but for now let’s keep it simple. Regardless of what you’re personally preparing for these 10 items will give you a definite advantage over those who simply go through life chasing Pokemon and watching America’s Got Talent.

Happy prepping!

New Study: Want to be more successful,try thinking about death

This new study shows that basketball players who completed a questionnaire about death before a game of one-on-one performed 40% better than those who didn’t. Oddly enough, this actually makes sense. The idea of our own inevitable demise can make us more focused on the moment; more intense, more diligent and therefore ultimately more successful. The thought of our own mortality can force us to look beyond our everyday activities and realize that someday we’ll all be gone. Someday, all the things we’ve done will likely be forgotten – we will likely be forgotten. It makes us question if what we’re doing today really matters. I think we get so caught up in the day to day drone of work, school, eat, sleep, watch TV, and so on that we lose perspective – we forget how short life really is. We forget how fragile and fleeting our lives really are. My family has suffered through a lot of death this year, some expected due to advanced age, but some horribly shocking due to how young the individual was and how much more time they surely thought they had. Many of us work hard to take care of our families; to provide food, shelter and security – we work hard to prepare for what the future may hold for us – but sometimes I think we forget why we do it. In working to survive, we need to remember to live. Do something different today, take a moment to put it all in perspective and remember what’s important. Do more than just survive – live. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

Guns and the Lifestyle Prepper

Inside the community of Preppers, Homesteaders and Survivalists opinions on the use of firearms are as diverse as the community itself. There are those who are strongly opposed to the use of firearms for any reason while there are those whose preparations are based almost completely on the use of firearms to survive. One individual recently told me that he could simply ‘take’ what he needs because he is ‘armed to the teeth,’ needless to say I oppose this attitude. No, my wife and I are somewhere in between these two. We are Lifestyle Preppers meaning just that, we prepare a little each day, saving for a rainy day as our parents and grand parents did. We stay informed, we are aware of the dangers of the world we live in and as such we take security precautions. Firearms are part of our preparations as much as any other tool. We store food and water of course, but we also store other ‘tools’  – gasoline, propane heaters, cooking equipment, first aide supplies, duct tape, gloves, wet weather gear and yes, guns and ammunition. Food, water, shelter and security – all basic elements of survival.

If you are just starting out, maybe looking to buy your first gun, you need to decide what its primary purpose will be. Is this going to be your primary home defense weapon, your daily carry (concealed or open), will others in the family be using it and how and where will you store it? Will you be purchasing more firearms to cover some of these needs or will it be one gun for everything? These are questions only you can answer, but I can share what we have done so far.

I purchased my first gun back in the early nineties after we suffered a string of break-ins. We were having trouble purchasing a gun due to the strict gun control laws in the area (Chicago suburbs) so my father-in-law gave us a little 22 auto till we could wade through the sea of red tape. When we finally were able to get ‘permission’ from the State to  own one I went out and purchased what everyone said I should have – a 1911 Colt .45 auto. Yes, don’t get me wrong, I love this gun and still practice with it regularly, but it probably wasn’t the best choice for our situation. Beware – everyone has their own opinions on what you should buy, but it’s your life and that of your family –choose what’s best for you. The gun was clearly too big for my 5’1” 98 lb wife, so I then purchased a Ruger SP101 .357 revolver. The Ruger was much smaller and would be much easier for her to handle, so I thought, but of course I made the mistake of loading it with high grain .357 ammo. Fail.

So what now? Get a shotgun everyone told me, so I did, but this time I did what I should have done in the first place – ask an expert! So off I went to the local gun shop where the salesman actually took the time to find out what I really needed instead of just what he could sell me; he asked the right questions – who will be using it and what will they be using it for? This time we purchased a Remington 870 20 gauge shotgun. I know, I can hear the rumblings, 20 gauge? Yes, the 12 gauge was just going to be too big and powerful if I expected my wife to use it – so 20 gauge it was. Simple operation, with less need for accuracy made this a good all around gun for home defense – for us-your needs may differ.

Open or concealed carry? Now in the hills of Tennessee, a pretty gun friendly State, we have both acquired carry permits which ‘allow’ us to carry open or concealed – so which is best? No offense to those who choose to open carry, but I’ve always believed that it’s best not to advertise. Personally I think that in some situations a visible firearm might make you the first target, while concealed carry might also give you the element of surprise when you might need it most. Note: a gun in the glove box of your car does you no good unless you’re in your car.

If you came to my home you would not see a gun anywhere in sight, yet nearly every room of the house has one stashed in it somewhere. As stated before, a gun doesn’t do you any good if you can’t get to it, so access is critical. The only children we have are the 4 legged furry ones, so keeping kids from finding a gun isn’t an issue for us, but if you have children please, please take appropriate precautions and educate your children about firearms and their proper use. We all hear horror stories about children finding their parents gun or even taking it to school! Education is the key to firearm safety, for you and your kids.

Finally; practice, practice, practice – like any tool, a firearm is useless unless you learn to use it properly. Regular practice will increase your chances of survival in a crisis situation and you just might discover that you enjoy practicing! No, it’s not cheap; ammo and range fees can add up pretty quickly, but what price can you put on the security of your family? Ultimately owning a firearm is a personal choice, but as Lifestyle Preppers we feel it’s just plain common sense.Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!