I've done a few serious posts lately. This is in response to the current changes in the economy and the impact of benefits running out for many unemployed Americans. After this post I'll try to keep it light for a while.
You would almost have to have the TV off and ignore the newspaper to miss headlines like these:
All Bets Are Off If 'Jobless Recovery' Becomes True 'Double Dip', Catalano Says
Posted Jul 13, 2010 07:45am EDT by Keegan Bales in Recession
Though apparently the experts couldn’t see this second dip coming they are now pummeling us with the news. I have mentioned this before and would like to add some additional thoughts:
Are you ready? What can be done to prepare to the best of our ability? Here’s my opinion of a bare bones checklist. I have listed them in the order that I think is most important but a review of your own situation is needed to decide how you would establish the priorities or if you even need to make any adjustments at all.
1. Minimum Basic Budget. Have you completed one yet? Have you found the lowest amount you could live on if needed? Have you identified what your change strategy would be if your income were further reduced? If you are not sure of the answers you might want to pick up a copy of In The Trenches and review the purpose and the process. If money is tight right now you can print the worksheets by clicking the coins on the right sidebar. Later in the month I will be giving away a couple copies of the book to those who need but cannot afford them. Watch for the information in an upcoming post.
2. Food Storage Program. We take our ability to have food so much for granted that we don’t often think about how quickly our supply could be cut off. We assume that we will always have money and the grocery shelves will be stocked. Ideally this will be the case but a food storage plan can provide more security for your family and you will be able to purchase the items at dramatic savings if you shop wisely. This provides a double bonus. I would recommend at least a three-month supply before moving on to steps 3 to 6. After you have implemented all the steps you can come back to this one and extend the time. There is a section in In The Trenches that covers this and a link to Food Storage Made Easy also on the right sidebar for more detailed information.
3. Savings. Begin saving now if you have not done so already. Ideally at least three months of the amount listed as the minimum basic total. This should be money that you can get to and not committed to an investment or time-structured account. If you have two working adults in your home maybe now is a good time to attempt to work a budget on one income only and save the second. If you believe this to be impossible then there is work to be done to be able to achieve that level if needed.
4. Information and Education. There are many excellent frugal lifestyle blogs listed on the right. Each has its own focus and style. Pick the ones that you feel comfortable with and sign up for a free subscription and at least be aware of the subjects they cover so you can pick up tips and ideas that apply to you. http://www.debtfreeadventure.com/ has a weekly blog Carnival where 10 posts are selected. This is another way to stay on top of the best of the best.
5. Family involvement. Is your family aware of what has been happening in the country or have you been trying to live a “normal” life? By discussing the economy with them at a level appropriate to their age it will help them with dealing with discussions at school that may arise. This could span the gambit from children who have had to move because of losing their homes, a child with no lunch money, or other kids repeating extremist political views concerning politicians or immigration issues. Let’s be frank here. Kids talk. And, they repeat what they hear. What we think and say in our homes can and will be repeated in our communities or our children will bring it home with them. Words can be like a virus. Even the bad germs get passed around.
6. Debts paid off. How are you doing on this? Have the credit cards been cut up? Balances reduced? I have not listed this as the first item because for some people the adjustments may have already been made and for others it may be ongoing. If you do not feel you can get a handle on debt reduction alone then do not hesitate to get the help you need.
Those are the top six. A few other lesser items come to mind that I will go into in more detail in future posts. Let me know if there are any you feel specifically interested in. I certainly do not have all the answers but we can kick around some ideas.
1. Do some “what if” scenarios and come up with ideas for resolution. This will remind you that you can be much more resourceful than you thought.
2. What’s the worst thing that can happen and how would you deal with it? Obviously we cannot foresee all possibilities but if we are able to confront some of our fears we will feel more confident to handle the day-to-day challenges we face.
3. Consider roommate or boarder situations to reduce expenses or increase income. This has some cautions so don't jump without doing your homework.
4. Extended family solutions. This is a time for family to pull together.
5. A home in the country. Have you ever considered living in a rural area with a lower cost of living and the ability to produce some of your own food?
Over the last year some of you have been able to get to know me through my writing. I do not view this post as just a meandering monologue of words. I write it as a CALL TO ACTION. Not action induced by fear but rather action born of fearlessness and preparation. It is not about politics or emotions but actions of common sense and practicality that comes from recognizing the times. When we see the rain clouds we grab an umbrella. And if we have not already done so it’s time to get In The Trenches. The skirmish may be short but we need to be ready. If you are new to this blog I invite you to read the posts listed on the right and those in the section called American Economy. You will see that I have been saying for more than a year what the economists are just now acknowledging. I have kept myself out on this limb hoping with the rest of the country that this next step could be diverted.
One of the most important points I want to make is that this would have happened no matter who was in office at this time. It is the natural domino effect of the banking policies that have been in effect for the last 20 years or so and the banking industry’s refusal to actively participate in the recovery. If you would like more information to substantiate these assertions please hop over to http://americaforfairbanking.blogspot.com/ where I have tried to compile some of the most critical summary articles and book reviews that I have been able to locate.
Personally I have recently concluded that I would rather be possibly viewed as a wacko by some then to not say what’s on my heart and mind if in saying so it could help someone. Whether you choose to take a tiny step or a big one in response is entirely up to you. I don’t need to convince you. You already know. That’s why you have chosen to follow this blog. May God bless us all as we continue to travel this journey together. I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions on how your family is working your own In The Trenches plan.