Last week I heard a friend of mine speaking at a church meeting about things that are keeping him awake at night. He is an investment broker with lots of contacts on Wall Street, so he’s talking to real people. He’s not getting his information from the media.
Here’s what’s bothering him:
1. The economy.
2. Hurricane season.
I think most, if not all of us, are concerned about the economy. The price of gas is climbing and that means the price of everything else is going up. When the price of gas causes the price to increase in transporting a product from the manufacturer to your neighborhood store, then someone has to pay the price. The manufacturer isn’t going to take a loss, and Wal-Mart certainly isn’t going to eat the difference. The one who pays the price is you.
What all of this means is that you must be responsible. You may not want to be, but if you want what’s best for yourself and those you care about, you’re going to have to be.
He continued to give us this counsel:
1. Don’t let your cupboards get bare. Have a supply of food and water at home that will sustain you for three months. Ideally, this would be food that your family would actually eat, but at the very least, have food that can be eaten without much preparation. You may have a hundred pounds of wheat, but what good will it do you without electricity to grind or bake it? I’ve been buying extra tuna and beans for protein, applesauce and other canned/bottled fruit, and adding to my inventory of canned veggies. I recently went online to buy MRE’s. One of my favorites is a shortbread cookie with 2400 calories. They are vacuum sealed and great for your emergency kit. One 2400 calorie bar will give you enough calories for two days. The great thing about them is that they taste good and don’t require a glass of milk to choke them down. They are “non-thirst provoking,” which means that they help produce saliva. I like the Datrex brand and generally buy them from http://www.emergencyessentials.com . Last week, they were OUT, and I had to submit my name to be notified when they were available. This should tell us something. There are smart people out there who are actually preparing. http://www.datrex.com/products/prodlist_standard.asp?ca=21
2. Save for the rain. You should have money set aside for emergencies. I don’t suggest stashing your money in your mattress, but I do think it’s a good idea to have some cash at home. You should at least have enough to get you buy for a week, or at the very least, for a few days. You’ll be glad you can get your hands on it if you need to evacuate for one reason or another. Again, if you don’t live in the Gulf, you may think this is ridiculous, but how many other disasters might require you to leave your home? Wildfires? Chemical spills? Explosions? Floods? Tornadoes?
There are even more reasons to have an emergency fund in your bank. Anyone with a job is subject to loss of employment. GM recently announced they are closing five plants. That means 30,000 people are losing their jobs. My friend, Judy, says the plant in her town is closing. Unfortunately, there’s no other business in her area to absorb all those who will be jobless. Airlines are cutting flights and raising fares, and that will cause job loss all over the world. It’s no wonder home businesses are becoming necessary to the American family. We can’t depend on anyone else anymore, and we can’t live on just one paycheck.
3. Keep your gas tank full. This is a tough one when gas is approaching $4.00 a gallon. I’ve started filling mine up before it gets to the half way mark, mostly because it doesn’t hurt quite as much to put $40 in the tank each time as it does $80. When Texans wanted to flee before Rita hit, many of them had to abandon cars because they didn’t have enough gas to reach their destination. Once the danger was over, it was difficult to find gas because the electricity was out in many areas. Just up the road from me, the very morning after the hurricane, a man was shot because he tried to cut ahead of someone else in the line to buy gas. Gas is just not worth giving your life for, but with some preparation, you can have enough to save your life.
Some might try to scare you into thinking the end of the world is near. We can’t possibly predict that day, but I do think there is enough going on in the world to make us realize that there are some things that may never be the same again. We’re probably never going to be able to buy gas again for $2.00. At the grocery store, it’s a big deal if you can find bread on sale for under $2.00. A gallon of milk has been well over $3.50 in our area for more than a year. It’s costing us more to eat at home, and even more to eat out. If everyone were to stay home and eat, then that would affect the restaurant industry, and they don’t need cooks, waiters and hostesses if they have no customers!
This would be a good time to sit down with your family and create a plan. Determine your “wants” and “needs.” Instead of spending your money on “wants”, spend what you have available to put food in your cupboard and money in your emergency fund. I really hope that neither you nor I will ever have to survive on what we’ve put aside, but if you’re ever hit with an emergency – job loss or natural disaster – you’ll be ready for it.
The key is to do something about it now. If you wait until the media announces the disaster, it’s too late.
Copyright 2008 by Joyce Moseley Pierce. Joyce is a published author whose stories have been included in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She’s the owner of Emerson Publications and her specialty is helping others be prepared.