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  • 4 Things Everyone Should Do to Prepare for an Economic Recession

    Some economists are suggesting an economic slowdown is imminent. Others say the next one is probably a while away. Either way, it’s wise to prepare financially now for what’s to come.

    “The key to keep in mind is that anything can happen. Therefore, always prepare for any possible emergency,” said Kaylee Chen, a peer mentor at the University of Utah Personal Money Management Center, in an e-mail.

    Chen recommended four steps to prepare for an economic downturn: Have a savings, have necessities like food storage, learn a new skill and mentally prepare.

    Budgeting for the Recession Start saving now for the next recession.

    First, have or start a savings.

    Peter Dunn, a financial columnist for USA Today, suggested that more people have been saving since the 2008-2009 recession because they’re thinking about it. Chen said she hadn’t necessarily been seeing that.

    “People are definitely more aware of the idea of saving. However, following through and acting on it is a different situation,” she said. “I find a lot of people are still spending.”

    She suggested budgeting based on the 50/30/20 rule. Fifty percent of income should go to fixed expenses. These are expenses like a house payment and utility bills that must be paid.

    Thirty percent of income should go to discretionary expenses. These are more flexible expenses like groceries, gas, and entertainment that can be adjusted.

    Twenty percent of income should go toward investing or financial goals and saving for emergencies. Chen recommended women put 12 percent of their salary in long-term investments and men 10 percent.

    “The reality is that women live longer and make less income than men,” she said.

    She recommended people talk with a financial planner yearly.

    “They will work with you to plan for children’s college, travel, or retirement,” she said.

    The important thing is to start saving.

    “Even as small as setting five dollars aside, it’s still a start,” she said.

    Homemade Year Supply - Recession Food might be hard to come by during a recession. Prepare while you can by obtaining an emergency food supply.

    Second, keep some necessities like food storage.

    In any emergency, whether it be short-term or long-term, it’s important to recognize nobody can do everything by themselves. Therefore, one of the necessities to build is a list of resources. These can include a church or non-profit organization. It’s also useful to network to develop a list of where to go for extra help in case of job loss or other emergency.

    A column making the rounds online that was said to have been written by a man who survived Hurricane Sandy pointed out that networking is useful for many aspects of emergency preparation.

    “Quote, ‘A man with a chainsaw and knows how to use it is a thing of beauty.’”

    Learn camping skills -  RecessionThird, Learn new skills. Like chainsaw wielding.

    These can translate into side jobs for additional income. Chen used the example of a piano teacher. Secondary skills can be useful when a person is younger because it helps them faster achieve their financial goals. When a person is older and around retirement, a side job can help them with retirement savings.

    Finally, mentally prepare for bad things to happen.

    One key to mental preparedness is to get out of debt. Chen encouraged a budget or lifestyle change. Dunn suggested decreasing spending by 10 to 15 percent over time.

    “You’ll tighten the budget before you are forced to tighten the budget,” he said.

    Another is to practice caution in an investment portfolio.

    “When the market goes down, many people get scared of the market and take out their money. You do not want to buy high and sell low,” Chen said.

    KiplingerStock Market - Recession, a finance education web site, pointed out that markets quickly recover. Since 1945, the site said, markets that have lost 10 to 20 percent have rebounded in just four months on average. Bear markets, with losses of 20 percent or more, have had an average recovery time of just 25 months.

    “If you’re in middle age, consider making a portfolio less aggressive,” a Kiplinger column said. “No single sector should claim more than 5% to 10% of your holdings.”

    Very few people can affect global markets. But they can take care of themselves and their families.

    “Understand that you have no control over the economic downturn,” Chen said. “Honestly, all one can do is to wait.”

    And, she added, a person can start taking these steps even during an economic downturn.

    “It’s never too late,” she said.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Recession

  • Procrastination: A Recipe For Disaster(s)

    Why aren’t you prepared for a major emergency?

    According to a recent survey of 3,000 people, the majority claim they just keep putting off getting prepared. These people have even taken First Aid courses, so we know they’re interested and even want to be ready. Procrastination is keeping us from being prepared.

    Procrastination and emergency shelter does not mix.We all know disasters like to make an appearance when it’s least convenient for us, and when we least expect it. The recent 7.8 magnitude Nepal earthquake should be a smack back to reality. One moment life is good, the next…, well, it’s quite literally in shambles. This earthquake is just one reason we should not just be thinking about preparing, but actually doing it. And if you don’t think such a disaster can happen to you, just remember the earthquake that struck Michigan earlier this month. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said that "It's rare for Michigan to experience earthquakes, but as we were reminded today, it does happen.”

    And if it does happen, why do we still procrastinate?

    Mike Lloyd of News 1130 thinks that starting to prepare can be a little overwhelming, and he may be right. That’s why St. John Ambulance is providing people with 15 Easy Steps to Emergency Preparedness. St. John Ambulance is trying to remind people about the basics and also other things that people tend to forget about.

     

    1. Make An Emergency Plan

    It all starts here, folks. As Ben Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Does anybody ever really want to fail? And yet we plan on it – all the time – when we don’t plan ahead for disaster. Make a plan. To get you started, here are some things you should think about when planning:

    • Exits and evacuation routes
    • Family meeting place
    • Emergency contact
    • Plan for pets
    • Important documents (Social Security cards, birth certificates, insurance, photos of family members and pets, passports, health information, prescriptions, etc.).

     

    1. Emergency Kit

    This is pretty much the go-to for every disaster. Make sure you have a kit, because when disaster strikes, hospitals could very likely only be taking in those that are most seriously injured. Your emergency kit should help you survive the next three days after the disaster. But you might not even be home when the disaster hits, to the people at St. John Ambulance suggest to plan ahead for that, too.

     

    “You may be in a vehicle, so you need a kit for on the road or at work. You may have high-heeled shoes on at work – how are you going to walk? You may not get home for many days.”

     

    If you’re unsure where to start in building your emergency kit, ready.gov has some good resources to look through. Or, if you’d prefer getting a kit already packed and prepared by experts, check out our wide-range of emergency kits.

     

    1. Emergency Food and Water Storage

    We are all encouraged to be able to sustain ourselves for at least three days following a disaster. Having an emergency kit will definitely help with that, but without food and water (especially water), it’s going to be most unpleasant.

    Water storage doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by filling up 2-litre bottles from your kitchen sink and storing them out of direct sunlight. Each person should have about a gallon of water per day, so if you’re planning on using 2-litre bottles, that’s going to be about 6 bottles per person per day. If you have more room, consider investing in some water jugs, or even water barrels. These will help provide you with more water, so if you do need more than just three-days’ worth of water, you’ll be prepared. At the very least, make sure you have enough water for 72-hours. Every six to 12 months, you should get out your water storage and switch out the water so it always tastes fresh.

    Food is also fairly simple to store these days. Freeze-dried food can last up to 25 years, so if you get a can or two of your favorite meal to keep on hand, you’ll have a three-day supply of food without any hassle on your end. Best of all, freeze-dried meals are delicious and easy to prepare – just add hot water, wait about 10 minutes, and you’ve got yourself a full-on meal!

     

    Procrastination is unpreparedness.So you see, preparing for disaster doesn’t have to be hard. You can even start today by filling water containers and stashing them in your storage room. That will take about five minutes.

    Now’s the time to start preparing. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Even if nothing happens, there is peace of mind that comes in knowing that if a disaster did strike, you would be ready for it. Don't let procrastination get the best of you. Prepare today!

     

     

    What strategies have you found that help you get motivated to prepare?

     

     

    Drought Procrastination - Dont' Do It

     

  • Why Emergency Food Storage?

    When winter hits, some animals have to scrounge and forage for food. Squirrels don’t. They store-up, so when food becomes scarce, they have an ample supply on hand. And they aren’t the only creatures that prepare for hard times. Wildcats, moles, and foxes (to name a few) are also ready for cold, cruel winters. It’s part of their nature. They know tough times are coming and they make sure to plan ahead.

    Be more squirrely. Get to work building your own emergency food supply.

    So why don’t we, as humans, stockpile food? I mean, most of us are a lot smarter than squirrels. Perhaps we just can’t believe that trying times are on their way? Maybe, since we might not live in Tornado Alley, or along the San Andreas Fault, or on the Southern Atlantic Coast, we can’t comprehend why we would ever be left without a way to get food. At the same time, common sense tells us hardships, set-backs, job losses, illnesses, accidents as well as natural disasters eventually strike us all – often with little or no warning.

    So, why don’t we prepare?

    I think it’s time we get squirrely (or foxy or moley…). I’m talking about food storage here. Like money in the bank, or a food insurance policy, building emergency food storage is just plain smart...at least as smart as a squirrel.

    Now, I’m not talking about putting up the “I’m-only-eating-this-is-because-there’s-nothing-else-to-eat” kind of food. Oh no. More than just bulk wheat and oats, I’m talking about fun, fast, easy, and delicious long-term food storage that give you lots of choices when it comes to “what’s for dinner?” in an emergency.

    So what are your options? There are tons of choices when it comes to emergency food supplies and long-term storage. Let me show you what I mean.

     

    Meats, Fruits, Vegetables, Dairy, Grains & Legumes, Whole Meals, and Desserts

    This ain’t your grandma’s closet full of bulk food supplies. Today, there are all kinds of food options to choose from. All major food groups (and a few minor ones, like dessert) are packaged for decades of storage. Not only do they maintain their nutritional value, they will taste as great in 25 years as they would next week. Let’s talk for a moment about the benefits each food group offers, shall we?

    Meat: Meat is a great way to get your protein. Today’s freeze-dried meats will rehydrate to virtually the same freshly cooked state it was before it was canned. Eat it as a main course with a favorite sauce, or add it to your favorite salads, stir-fries, tacos, and casseroles. I’ve been known to pop chicken chunks or turkey sausage right into my mouth, right out of the can. It’s a kinda fun and funky sorta experience as that dried meat rehydrates in your mouth. It’s also way delicious. These meats are prepared and packaged to last up to 25 years (try keeping any other meat that long! Actually, on second thought, don’t try that. Just…don’t).

    Fruits: There’s not a fruit I know of that hasn’t made it’s way through a freeze-dryer and into a can, and each one as delicious as the next. Just as meat is a great source of protein, fruit is a fantastic way to get your vitamins. Freeze-dried and dehydrated fruits are also great in salads, desserts, or even (brace yourself) straight from the can! Let me tell you, pop some freeze-dried mandarin sections into your mouth and, well, it’s like candy! Really good candy that is 100% good for you. My friend’s mom likes to pop freeze-dried grapes into her mouth, then quickly follow them with a bite of a freeze-dried lime slice. “It’s a Lime Ricky party in your mouth,” she says. Seriously though, I have it on good authority that this stuff is all they eat in heaven. I’m sure of it. Every time I see a can of Freeze-dried fruit, I try to find a way to make it mine…or at least pilfer some of its contents.

    Vegetables: Low in fat and high in nutrients, easy to store and prepare, vegetables are a brilliant food to store. They’re also super quick to rehydrate, which makes them a great addition to your recipes, snacks, and sides. Like their fruity counterparts, freeze-dried vegetables have rich flavor, making them another great snack straight from the can.

    Dairy: Dairy includes all those products derived from milk, of course, though I also include eggs because when I was a kid the milkman also delivered eggs with the milk (although, I don’t include bacon or popsicles in dairy, which he also delivered. Oh well...where was I?) Dairy! In addition to powdered milk (in all its flavors), it’s easy to store cheese (which actually melts like fresh), sour cream, butter, and (you guessed it) eggs (whole and scrambled). Dairy products provide protein, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Few foods are as versatile as dairy products—perfect for pouring over cereal, baking and cooking, or even just drinking by itself—or as an essential for keeping your body healthy and strong.

    Grains and Legumes: While grandma would store 500 pounds of wheat in the cellar and call it good, today’s common culinary tastes and skills could do no more with a cup of wheat as a sack of rocks. While in able hands, raw dried grains and legumes stored in bulk are a potent and useful source of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and iron, these nutrients are now found in several other easy-to-store and quick-to-prepare varieties. Peanut butter powder, pasta, freeze-dried frijoles, and Emergency Essentials’ famous Mac & Cheese are a sampling of the dozens of prepared grains and legumes that make any meal complete.

    Full MealWhole Meals: Sometimes…you just don’t want to cook, and that’s OK. Especially now, since you can get pre-cooked, complete meals that are freeze-dried and last up to 25 years. Many of these types of meals are fully prepared before they are freeze-dried, so you’re getting an actual meal – with real texture – that tastes great. Just add boiling water, let sit for a bit, then eat. It’s a quick, easy, and delicious way to feed your entire family. Gone are the days of stocking up with only wheat, bottled sauces, and canned meat to make a meal. Now are the days of fantastic home-cooked meals that only take a few minutes! If you were ever hesitant about storing food before, this should allay all fear. Full freeze-dried meals really are as quick and delicious as I’m letting on.

    Desserts: Alright, let’s be honest. This is the one you really wanted to know about, am I right? These desserts are so easy to make. From cake and brownie mixes to puddings and ice cream (yes, ice cream!), these just-add-water desserts are absolutely delectable. Personally, I love dessert (chocolate cake….Mmmmm….), and so when I can’t run to the store to get the required ingredients, I’m definitely going to want a mix or two (or three) on hand for when the cravings hit. That is, if I am out of my all-time favorite…Freeze-dried Ice Cream Sandwiches. Seriously…if they sold these at 7-11 I would never get out of the parking lot.

    As you can see, there are a lot of different options regarding food. If you want something, chances are you’ll be able to find it. Having an emergency food storage doesn’t mean storing food you’ll never use. On the contrary, your emergency food storage will be something you’ll actually enjoy eating. There’s no use suffering when your life is already hard, but you still need to do your part and get the food before the dire need arises.

     


    Cans, Buckets, Pouches, Superpails

    Lastly, let’s discuss briefly the various ways in which you can store your food.

    StrawberriesCans: Cans are a great option for storing food. You can get basically anything in a can, from grains to legumes and from meats to fruits and vegetables. They come in large #10 cans, as well as smaller, two serving cans. They’re easy to store, especially if you don’t have a lot of room for large pails and buckets.

    Pouches: Pouches are packaged for individual meals. They can fit nicely into a bug-out bag or in the trunk with your car emergency kit. They are also very popular among outdoor enthusiasts. The two serving pouches will serve one hungry hiker with a hot, delicious home-style meals while hunting or camping. And don’t worry about leftovers… you’ll never have any with these.

    Buckets: Buckets are the home to lots of pouches. Inside each bucket are an assortment of different meal pouches, or a large quantity of your favorite ones. Buckets are easy to store, as they stack well on each other. This lets you maximize your floor space in your storage area.

    Superpails 02Superpails: Superpails are large, 6 gallon pails (not to be confused with buckets). Superpails come lined with metallized bags, which help block out the light, keeping the food fresh longer. Superpails hold about the equivalent of eight #10 cans, and are great for buying in bulk. Just like the buckets, the Superpails are built for stacking, leaving you with optimized storage space.

    So there you have it. Lots of different options for starting your food storage. So go ahead…start squirrelling away an emergency food supply. Take it slowly, month by month, or go all out and get a large load all at once. Either way, let’s get smart and follow the example of our bushy-tailed prepper friend, and be ready when tough times come.

    Squirrel Hoard

    What’s your preferred method of storing food? Do you prefer bulk grains and food, or individual or pouches? Let us know!

     

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