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angie sullivan

  • Pocketbook Preparedness

    By Angie Sullivan

    You might not think that personal finance has much to do with preparedness, but in these rough economic times, it’s even more important to make sure you are financially ready as well as physically ready for an emergency!

    If you are like many people in America, you may find yourself struggling to pay all the bills at the end of each month. You know -- too much month at the end of the money. Mounting debt can bring on your own personal emergency situation. Here are a few tips for staying afloat if you find yourself drowning in debt.

    First of all, make a list of everyone you owe, how much, the monthly payment required, and the date each bill is due. Contact these creditors if you are unable to make your payment on time. Sometimes you can negotiate lower payments, or even better interest rates. Many experts advise you to begin paying off the smallest debt amount with the highest interest rate first. This method will help you see results quickly, and take care of some of the highest interest rates first.

    Be aware of companies trying to consolidate your loans and in the process charge you for this service. There are many non-profit organizations available online to help you figure out your debt and pay it off as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, the very best way to keep yourself out of future debt, is to get rid of all your credit cards, except one, which you will only keep in an emergency, at home in a safe place.

    Now that you are tightening your financial belt, you might need some ideas for saving money and paying off those debts. First begin by shopping grocery sales and using coupons whenever possible. Prepare simple and basic foods, they are inexpensive and healthy. For example, one serving of Nine-Grain Cracked Cereal would cost approximately 20 cents. (This is where your already stored food might come in handy during your financial emergency!) You also might want to be aware of any wasteful habits. Are there times in which you prepare more food than you use? Do you pay for more cell phone minutes than needed? Do you run to the store three or four times a week when one well thought out trip would work? (This would help prevent impulse purchases).

    When you do need to make a purchase, don’t buy furniture or clothing on credit. Shop at second-hand stores, flea markets, or take advantage of local consignment shops or classified ads to find what you need at a fraction of the retail price.

    Eliminate any extra costs you have in your budget. Extra phone lines that are not absolutely necessary, cable television, eating out frequently and other superfluous monthly expenses can be eliminated to free up extra cash. Little changes like watching movies at home instead of the theatre, eating lunches from home instead of purchasing lunch can end up paying big dividends at the end of each month.

    Financial preparedness is essential part of your preparedness plan. Once your finances are in order, other areas of your preparedness plan will fall into place much more easily. By following these guidelines and keeping out of debt, you will find you have great pocket book preparedness!

  • Survival Swap Meet

    Find out what skills and supplies your neighbors have to offer in an emergency, and plan your own neighborhood Survival Swap Meet!

    During an emergency like a power outage, flood, earthquake, or even winter storm, you may find yourself working with and helping your neighbors. Planning ahead and knowing the supplies and skills of your neighborhood friends can be a huge blessing should you find yourselves relying upon each other in an emergency.

    How can you best assess what help you can give and get from your neighbors during an emergency situation? I suggest planning a neighborhood survival swap meet! What is a survival swap meet? Well, it’s the opportunity to meet with your neighbors and discuss the products and services you could swap with each other should disaster strike.

    For example, you might have a neighbor who works in the medical field. Knowing beforehand that they might have specialized supplies and first aid knowledge would be beneficial. Perhaps you have a neighbor that owns a chain saw that could help in the clean- up efforts after a disaster. You might even discover that your neighbor would be willing to swap some of her bottled fruit for your extra tent.

    In my neighborhood, I’m an at home mom, while my neighbor works during the day. It might be wise for me to know how to shut off the gas supply outside her house should an earthquake necessitate this while she may be stuck at work. I might also create a plan with her for helping get her children safely home from the nearby school and have a neighborhood meeting point should we be unable to contact each other. List this information, along with contact information and then copy for each neighbor.

    Meeting with your neighborhood friends to assess the skills and supplies each can provide will help you work together should you experience an emergency. You may be pleasantly surprised at the things you will learn and exchange at your Survival Swap Meet!

    -Angie Sullivan

  • Taking Care of Business

    Emergency Toilet and Sanitation Kit

    It’s a subject we don’t often discuss, but it is a basic need—and one that can get tricky in an emergency if you haven't planned ahead. Waste disposal and sanitation is essential because no matter what is happening, you’ve still got to take care of business!

    A while back, my husband planned a fun weekend camping trip with his father and my three daughters. When the men were discussing what hiking they would do, what sights they would see, I was concerned about something else: bathrooms. You see, these three little girls of mine are just like their mother, and I know they won’t be comfortable going to the bathroom just anywhere. I began voicing my concerns to my husband, but he had already taken care of the problem. He had a portable toilet and a privacy shelter packed in the back of his truck. Problem solved.

    This situation reminded me of how important it is to have these types of supplies on hand in an emergency. If I can barely use the restroom in an amusement park, how would I fair should the water be shut off and I’m forced from the comfort of my own home?

    With a few supplies, I found out that you can create a very comfortable restroom in an emergency:

    A portable toilet is simply a large bucket with a snap on toilet seat lid. You can line these toilets with special garbage bags
    Enzymes can be added to your portable toilet to help breakdown and deodorize waste.

    Disposable vinyl gloves can be priceless when you need to change bags, or clean your portable toilet.

    Portable privacy shelters can be assembled in a matter of moments and will quickly provide a space for your portable toilet, or even just a private place to change or wash.

    Having sanitizing wipes or gel on hand is also a good idea. Water will be a commodity, but cleanliness will still be a necessity, so make sure you have plenty of both.

    Take the time to put together these restroom basics and just like my daughters and their camping trip, you can be clean and comfortable “taking care of business” in an emergency!

    -Angie Sullivan

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