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Saturday, December 4, 2010

How Much is Enough?

From Thurday's post ("Before and After"), I got a question posted by long-time commenter 'suek' (thanks!).  She asked the simple question:  How much is enough?

Great question.

As with most things, the answer is, "It depends".  Each person, each family, each community is different.

I've noted a number of times that I think of prepping as insurance.  I guess I'd turn the question around and ask, "How much do you need?"

When we buy life insurance, most folks try to buy more than they need.  You want some cushion.  You add up all of the debts you'd like to pay off, or you determine how much money you'd need each month if the "breadwinner" in the household passed.  You do some math, and come up with a number.

Your emergency is unexpected death, and your plan is cash for the future.

What emergency or situation are you prepping for?  What is your worst, "most likely to occur" event?

A 3-day ice storm?  An earthquake that levels your house?  The aftermath of a hurricane or tornado?

Maybe it's not a natural disaster.  Maybe it's economic collapse like Argentina.  Or Zimbabwe.  Or Wiemar Republic.

Or Ireland, Greece, Iceland or (soon to come) Portugal and Spain.

Maybe you think that our government printing up $600 Billion in new money isn't going to help us, but it's going to hurt us?  How?  What can you do?

Maybe you think the recently passed S-510 bill will eventually morph into the government confiscating small farms and home gardens - a power that will be granted if this bill becomes law.  (Quick question:  point out for me the amendment or article in the Constitution granting the federal government these powers - I can't seem to find them in my copy)

Now, back to confiscations - of course, that would never happen.  That would be as silly as suggesting government agents would make a weapons-drawn, tactical entry to a dairy - a dairy - to seize milk products which had harmed no one, and which were being sold to willing buyers.

You may be planning for all or none of these.  You may have other reasons or events for which you prep.  What you need to do is determine how much money, land, food, water, equipment - whatever - you need to be successful when/if your event occurs.

As commenter Andrea suggested, "Then do some more."  How much?  I dunno.  25%?  50%?  Double?  It's up to you.

Past glimpses into history -

>>The Weimar Republic depression lasted 14 years.

>>Argentina's big boo-boo is 34 years and counting.  Their economy collapsed in 2001 - after nearly 20 years of hyperinflation.
Argentina was subject to military dictatorship (alternating with weak, short-lived democratic governments) for many years, that resulted in a number of significant economic problems. During the National Reorganization Process (1976–1983) huge debt was acquired for money that was later lost in unfinished projects (Mythical 'Shovel-ready projects' - .ed), the Falklands War (Iraq and Afghanistan? - .ed), and the state's takeover of private debts (bank bailouts - .ed); in this period, a neoliberal economic platform was introduced. By the end of the military government the country's industries were severely affected and unemployment, calculated at 18% (though official figures claimed 5%) (tee-hee-hee - .ed), was at its highest point since the Great Depression.

In 1983, democracy in the country was restored with the election of president Raúl Alfonsín. The new government's plans included stabilizing Argentina's economy including the creation of a new currency (the austral, first of its kind not to carry the word peso as part of its name), for which new loans were required. The state eventually became unable to pay the interest of this debt and confidence in the austral collapsed. Inflation, which had been held to 10 to 20% a month, spiraled out of control. In July 1989, Argentina's inflation reached 200% that month alone, topping 5,000% for the year. During the Alfonsin years unemployment did not substantially increase but real wages fell by almost half (to the lowest level in fifty years). Amid riots President Alfonsín resigned five months before ending his term and Carlos Menem, who was already President-elect, took office.
Can you imagine that?  10% to 20% inflation per month?  As things turned out, those were, "The good old days."

And who woulda thunk it that a government would lie about unemployment numbers?

Check out Ferfal's blog ("Surviving In Argentina") to get an up-close-and-personal view of what is STILL going on.

>>The US's Great Depression - 11, 12 years?

Accept The Challenge

As I've said before, no one knows what's going to happen in the future, but we have some very good, recent history to guide us.

Prepping is more like Whole Life insurance than Term Life, in that you have something tangible even if you don't need to use your policy.  Worse case, with preps you have food, water, gold, silver, knowledge, skills and equipment - all of which have value and utility.

Figuring out how much you need for your life is the key.  Drink in the data.  Question your assumptions.  Check and double-check your math. 

Look at history.  Let it be a guide, not necessarily a foregone conclusion.  Look at the similarities AND the differences.

Be flexible and adapt to changes... they will happen.
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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


suek said...

God has created us with balance in mind. I'm convinced of it. Marriage demonstrates it - liver lovers marry liver haters, and people who tend to never throw things out marry people who throw stuff out even if they might still use whatever. Otherwise the whole world would get unbalanced.

In my family, I'm the hoarder, hubby is the pitcher. He is strongly resisting my stocking up. Some of it he's very aware of, some of it, he's not. He has specifically stated that he's _not_ a survivalist - which sort of stunned me, since there's an obvious conclusion that can be drawn from the statement. Of course, what he actually means, I think, is that he doesn't believe that any sort of disastrous incident is in the offing. Life will continue as it has. Yes, things might get costly, but we have economic security and will be able to deal with it.

My problem with that is that all of our economic security is dependent on stocks, the government (retirement pay plus ss) and the dollar bill itself. I have stashed some case, a small amount of silver (which he doesn't know about) and some gold jewelry - but not oodles of same. We have enough land to grow most of what we need - though in our area water is critical - but when I think of how we live, it would require a drastic change of habits. And of course, this also assumes that we would be allowed to raise and harvest what we need in the way of food. Not that I really see that there's a way to prevent it in a meaningful way...that would require a change in our society that I really _don't_ think is likely to occur. But water could be a real problem.

Anyway...that means that my preparations are pretty limited. Am I alone in this problem? It seems to me that most who comment here are males. That being so, it seems unlikely that they have the same problem. Andrea and her spouse seem to be on the same page - that's a good thing. Those who are Mormon seem to have the same "be prepared" mindset. Obviously, we aren't Mormon.

Anyway...some thoughts on a slightly different problem. It really puzzles me - he's pretty much a "be prepared" kind of guy. But not on this.

Andrea said...

Andrea and her husband weren't always on the same page. He didn't necessarily disapprove of prepping, but didn't really support it either.

Then I said those 5 little words....

"Do we have enough guns?"

Now he's on the same page :)

Suek, can you find a niche that your beloved would be excited to be in charge of? Like weapons? Or animal husbandry? Prep-related construction projects? Gardening? My husband isn't concerned with the food, but he gets really excited about firearms, hunting and building stuff.

And like Chief said, figure out WHAT you're prepping for. We prep for layoffs, rising food prices, severe winter weather....and we should give some thought to the fact we're 40 minutes downwind from Wright-Patterson AFB and prep for terrorist acts and such.

suek said...


I spent the "impressionable" years in that area. On the base. About the time that Fairfield and Osborn became Fairborn. I look back on it now as pretty ideal times.

There was a blizzard in about 1953 that was certainly memorable. Being on the base, it wasn't too traumatic once everyone was home. Those were times when a fairly well stocked pantry was the norm, rather than the exception. My Mom expected to be able to put a "company" dinner on the table with about 2 hours notice - if that! Sometimes with only enough notice to serve extra cocktails! Some of that lingers on with me - but given the possibilities we're considering, I suspect it isn't enough.

I'm in So.Cal. these days - my big bugaboo is drought. Our water comes from the Colorado River, for the most part. No water, no vegetables. We have a riverbed not far from the house, and it has water in it year round. The only problem is that the water that's there is the result of sanitation disposal 10 miles upstream. I know - I lived in the upstream area some 30 years ago, and the "upstream" was a dry riverbed I used to ride in. People say that the water is due to the orange groves - not so...the entire valley at that time was orange groves - and the riverbed was dry. These days, the two towns that used to be at opposite ends of the valley with orange groves in between are now one continuous city - and there's water in the riverbed year round. Draw your own conclusions! Not that the water isn't usable - either for livestock or growing, for sure, and human consumption with adequate purification...but it isn't the result of a high water table and given a disaster of a certain size, it would be likely to return to dry river bed status again. Plus it's a good hike to tote!

>>can you find a niche that your beloved would be excited to be in charge of?>>

Short answer - nope. He's "in charge" of everything...he's one of those "if he's not worried about something, he's worried because he must have forgotten what he should be worried about" people. He inherited it from his mother! It's one of the reasons I don't understand why he's so blase' about it. He's served his time in the field, but the hunting thing is not something he hankers for. We have horses that he helps me with. If they were cattle, he'd probably take over...but horses he just helps me to help me. Horses don't count as "livestock" somehow.

I don't mean to complain...I'm just venting a bit of frustration! Am I the only one with a "partner problem"?

Anonymous said...

Have you ever eaten horse meat? Delicious. And there is a lot of it. Horses will be on the menu when TSHTF.

suek said...


Not really (eaten horse meat, that is). I agree with you, though.

Although Congress has prohibited all slaughterhouses that kill horses for human consumption. Not for pet consumption, though - that's still allowed. Just human consumption.

Brilliant. So at the moment, if you want horse meat, you'll have to get it from Mexico or Canada...and I'm not sure you'll even be able to import it. For human consumption, that is.

Of course, if the problem becomes energy, they might be of more value pulling carts...

Chief Instructor said...

Sue, do you think you can get him started with just the obvious stuff? We ARE in earthquake country, after all!

A little food - MREs and water purification equipment. Then a little more, and a little more.

Maybe a water cachement system - for the horses, of course. A 300 gallon plastic water tank.

My wife wasn't on board initially, so a steady, non-pushy stream of information in regular conversation. Cost of food going up. Dollar being debased. Taxes going up.

"What do you think we should do, honey?" Guys LOVE to fix problems...

Andrea, great ideas. Work on the person's strengths, hobbies and interests. Focus those energies towards prep goals.

I like it!

Anon, "WilllllBURRRRRR on the plate?

I'd actually like to taste it, but I ain't goin' to Mexico. Naw. Not likely.

Terrie said...

I have always been a prepper to some extent-family was farmers,grandparents farmers.It was just something we did.Canned,hunted,saved food in the basement for bad winters.Living around the country(military) my husband and I preped for hurricanes mostlyeven though he would go out to sea and I was left with myself to "run the show at home". Now that hes retired he helps with the wather thing hurricanes again and after Katrina and with us Ike he sees the point.
What I do to push him along in long term prepping is to print articles in the few blogs I follow and leave them in his"reading room"hee-hee. The last one was Chiefs of December 2nd,current events sort of stuff.Gets him thinkin'.

Chief Instructor said...

Terrie, that's a great way to do it. A slow steady stream of information.

I found that with my wife, if I hit her with tons of stuff at once, it was "information overload" and she wouldn't digest what I was trying to communicate.

Now, SHE'S sending me news clips!