Family Finances

All posts tagged Family Finances

 

By The Survival Place Blog – Staff Writer

When it comes to prepping and focusing on your survival plan, there is one unavoidable
issue that many people find themselves experiencing: where do you find the money to pay
for all this stuff?

There’s no way of sweetening the truth, unfortunately; prepping is an expensive business,
The reason for this is simple: you’re shopping for your life in the future, as well as trying to
maintain the budget you spend on the life you’re living right now. Finding the funds to
undertake all the survival strategies you want to have in place is undoubtedly going to cost
money.

Below, we’ll explore a few ideas you might want to either keep in mind or utilize for your own
purposes. If you have budgetary constraints that are damaging your ability to prepare
efficiently, then here’s what you need to know…

Getting started is the hard part

When you first begin to look into establishing a survival plan, you will find yourself needing to
find money for a variety of supplies. The initial cost of prepping can be extremely expensive,
so much so that some people decide to ignore the need to prep due to budgetary constraints
alone.

Try and see the starter phase as just that; something you have to endure that allows you to
make a start, and then things will settle down. Step one is always the hardest to take; just reassure yourself that the startup costs are not a true reflection of the amount of money you need to spend on a monthly basis.

When you have established the basics and fought through the starter phase, you should find that the demand on your budget becomes more reasonable. You should find that, in time, prepping will actually save you money if you do it correctly. So while the starter phase is tough and may lead you to having to go without a few luxuries, try to see it as a short-term pain for a long-term gain.

Start with an essential kit

Your first step for prepping should be an essential kit; something that you can transport or use at home. Thankfully, a basic kit does not have to cost the earth if you’re short on cash.

Here’s a quick list to get you started:

Baking soda

● Puts out fires,

● Can be used as a toothpaste and deodorant,

● Effective antacid for stomach issues…

● … and many more.

Paracord

This video provides excellent insight into just how useful paracord can be:

Tin Cans

● Can be turned into cutting cools,

● Can be used to make arrowheads or hooks for fishing,

● Can be punctured to create a shower head of sorts.

Dry-packaged foods

● Buy products near the end of their “best before” date; any prepper will know that “best before dates” are to be treated with suspicion anyway.

Medications

● Buy off-brand medication; it’s just as effective and is far more cost-efficient.

● Don’t go overboard on bandages, as other items of clothing can substitute in if needed.

Duct Tape

● Buy cheap off-brand versions; they might not be as effective, but they’re better than nothing. You can usually find cheap options on eBay that will be suitable for most tasks.

Plastic Tarpaulin

● Again, look online for the best deals; you should be able to find a decent size tarpaulin relatively cheaply.

The above items are inexpensive, easy to find, and incredibly beneficial in a survival situation. While you may want flashier, more expensive items, they’re not essential. Focus on the basics to begin with, and then you can begin to add more items from the helpful list provided on Free Survival Gear as your funds allow.

Focus on small changes you can make at home

When you have an essential kit put together, you can then move on to inspecting your home to see what changes you can make. Just remember to take it slowly.

What you should prioritize here depends on your personal feelings. Some preppers put weaponry at the top of the list, others prefer to stockpile food. Just remember to focus on slowly building your supplies piece by piece.

Many of the changes that you can make can save you money rather than cost it. If you’re concerned about food, then you’ll want to make use of some of the ideas found in this video:

Or if weaponry is your main concern, the cheap, simple catapult this video shows you how to make is definitely better than nothing:

Okay, so the above aren’t going to create a six-month supply of food overnight or provide army-level defense, but they are better than nothing. This term should become the motto for anyone who is prepping on a budget: you’re not making the huge preparations you wish you were, but what you are doing is better than nothing.

A final thought…

It can be tough to keep your motivation going when you’re prepping on a budget; you won’t
have an impressive stash to show off, or an armory to delight in, or all the latest gadgets to
bring a smile to your face. However, it’s important to remember that anything you do is still
going to make you more prepared than 95% of the populace. Even the smallest, most minor
survival prep you do is beneficial when compared to almost everyone else, so don’t be
dissuaded from your goal.

In conclusion

Prepping is expensive, but it’s also necessary. If you keep the above points in mind and try
out a few of the provided tips, you should be able to build a survival plan without risking
bankrupting yourself to do it. Slow and steady wins the day, so be patient, and you’ll get
there.

Budget For Now Or For Survival? Money Worries For Preppers

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By Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper

When is the last time you sat down and took a very close look at your budget? And by close, I mean an accounting of every single dime you spend, including that drive-thru coffee and the paperback you bought that you could have borrowed from the library. There’s no reason you shouldn’t run your home like a business, and that includes keeping detailed financial records and performing a personal audit of your frugal living budget.

Even the most dedicatedly thrifty people can get off track, particularly when times are good. You figure that you just got a big bonus check, so it’s not going to hurt to go out for ice cream. Then you go to the store and decide, you’ve got extra money, so maybe you’ll just buy whatever you want instead of adhering to your normal weekly budget.  You decide to live a little, enjoy life, and the next thing you know, all of that extra money is gone and all you have left is a few extra pounds on your waistline or a new frivolous gadget.

And you’re right, indulgences are absolutely fine from time to time, as long as they don’t take away from your necessities. But instead of working the treats into their frugal strategies, many people get completely off track when a bit of extra money comes their way.  If you aren’t careful, indulgences can become habits that can undo your progress towards a frugal, debt-free lifestyle.

As the economies of the world take hit after hit, it’s not a far stretch to believe that it could also happen here. Michael Snyder recently issued a “red alert” for the second half of this year with regard to our economy. We’ve been watching as the price of every single item in Greece has a 23% tax added to the top while wages and pensions are cut by as much as 40%. In Venezuela, basic goods like toilet paper and laundry soap are increasingly hard to come by and outrageously expensive if you can find them. While many believe it can’t happen here, we’d all have to agree that getting a job – a good one, not minimum wage – and keeping it, is far more difficult than it used to be. As well, prices are skyrocketing due to droughts on one side of the country, increased fuel prices everywhere, and floods on the other side of the country.

After moving and incurring some unexpected expenses, I had to sit down and take another look at my finances. My expenses have changed because I’m in a different house, so I had to take this into consideration and completely revamp my current budget. But it doesn’t take a move from the suburbs to a farm to change your expenses – many times, things start creeping up so incrementally we don’t even realize it’s happened.

It’s time to do a personal audit on your finances.

Figure out exactly where you are

How do you do most of your spending? If it’s with your debit card, it will be pretty easy to get started immediately.  Simply print out your records for the last month, and then move on to the next step.

If you spend a mixture of money from your bank account and cash that you have on hand, you may have to get a notebook and start tracking your spending, then move on to the next step in a couple of weeks.

It’s vital to note every single dime you spend. Like a leaky faucet in a bathroom few people use, it’s those tiny but consistent drips that add up to an astonishing amount of gallons of waste.

Now, organize your spending into categories.

I use categories, then subcategories:

1.) Fixed Expenses:

These are expenses that don’t change from month to month, like: mortgage, rent, property taxes, cable bill,  car payment, insurance.

You can then break these down into 2 subcategories.

  • Necessities
  • Optional expenses

2.) Variable Expenses:

These expenses can be adapted to fit your financial situation, and sometimes even eliminated if necessary (obviously the need for things like food can’t be eliminated, but you can spend more or less money when adjustments are needed): food, utilities, clothing, gasoline, entertainment.

Again, we can break these into subcategories based on how vital they are.

  • Necessities
  • Optional expenses

All of your spending will fall into these categories and subcategories.

Now please don’t misunderstand. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little bit of luxury spending that you’ve budgeted for so that it doesn’t put you behind on necessary spending.  We get new clothes, take vacations, and go out to dinner from time to time – you just have to make sure the spending works within the confines of your budget.

Now, establish your minimum for living expenses.

For this calculation, add up your fixed necessities. This is the amount you need to keep a roof over your head, your car in the driveway, and any other regular payments that you make to keep those two things going.

Then add up your variable necessities. There’s some wiggle room here, because we can always dial back our groceries, the amount that we drive our vehicles, etc., but we have to add some of this in to our calculations.

So in a financial worst case scenario, this is the minimum amount of money that you need to maintain some semblance of your current lifestyle. This amount needs to be set aside each month before another penny is spent Everything you have on top of this is gravy.

What can you cut without making much of a difference in your lifestyle?

Oftentimes you’ll immediately identify numerous ways you can reduce your spending without making any major changes whatsoever. Perhaps it’s something small like taking your coffee with you in the morning instead of going through the drive-thru at Starbucks. Maybe you can switch from cable to Netflix.  Almost none of these will change the quality of your life in any substantial way, but they can add up to a great deal of money saved over the course of the year.

One mistake I often see when people are taking charge of their budgets is that they discount the small changes as not worthwhile. But really, I believe it’s the small changes that can make the biggest differences because with consistency they add up to a pretty big sum. Check out this article on small changes that result in big savings.

Not only that, but getting into the mindset of choosing the most frugal option can go a long way towards changing your life.  When you can make a game from saving money, you learn to reduce waste, be more creative, and think outside of the “normal” parameters. When my oldest girl was a newborn and my husband lost his job, I stumbled upon The Tightwad Gazette books at the library. Amy Dacyczyn’s common sense approach to frugality was a life-changing lesson that has stuck with me through 20 years of the financial roller coaster of life. (If you haven’t read these books, I strongly recommend that you do – her series has been combined into one giant compendium of thrift that every person should have on the bookshelf.)

What could you cut if you needed to make a more dramatic reduction?

Looking at your list of necessities, this baseline amount is for maintaining your current lifestyle. But what if things REALLY fell apart? What if there simply wasn’t enough money to keep living the way you have been?

That’s when you have to rethink your necessities.  And if you have a clear picture of your finances ahead of belt-tightening time, it’s going to be a lot easier to do this when times are tough.

Here are some cuts to consider:

  1. Move to a smaller house.  Contrary to popular belief, no child ever died because he or she had to share a room with a sibling.
  2. Relocate to a small town.  Is it worthwhile to commute to a job in the city from a smaller, less expensive location? This can give you the added opportunity of homesteading and providing for many of your own needs.  Click HERE to read about what you need to know before making such a move.
  3. Get rid of your late model year vehicle.  Look for a decent used vehicle that you can purchase with cash.
  4. Cut back to one vehicle or even no vehicles.  Sometimes public transit and your own two feet can provide all of the transportation you really need at a fraction of the price of owning a vehicle.  This varies by location.
  5. Stop using credit cards.  This goes for any type of lending system that requires you to pay interest.  Stop accumulating debt.
  6. Don’t eat out.  Limit meals out to no more than once a month or special occasions.  Even better, don’t eat out at all.  Dining out, even at a fast food place, is at minimum 4 times more expensive than the same meal prepared from scratch at home. (And far less healthy!)
  7. Look for free or low-cost entertainment.  Consider a family YMCA or community center membership instead of gymnastics clubs or private tennis lessons if you need to enroll your kids in some activities. Go hiking, have picnics, explore parks, go to the library, and find out what’s offered for free in your hometown. Learn to enjoy productive hobbies like canning, carving, and needlework. Switch from cable to Netflix.
  8. Use the envelope method to budget for shopping trips.  For back-to-school shopping or Christmas shopping, decide how much you want to spend.  Put that money in an envelope.  As you shop, place each receipt in the envelope.  When the money is gone, it’s gone.  If there’s something else your child desperately wants, then they need to decide what item they’d like to take back to get it.  Be firm and stick to your guns.  This has the added benefit of teaching your children to budget.
  9. Reduce your monthly payments by cutting things like cable, cell phones, home phones, and/or gym memberships.  Look at every single monthly payment that comes out of your bank account and slash relentlessly.
  10. Shop using the stockpile method.  Shop only the sales and simply replenish your stockpile.
  11. Eat leftovers.  Have you ever stopped to think about how much food you throw out every month?  You can often provide a few “freebies” every month by carefully repurposing your leftovers.
  12. Stay home.  By spending more time at home, you will spend less money.  You won’t be grabbing a bottle of water, going through drive-thru for lunch or putting fuel in the car.  Learn to treasure you time at home with loved ones – it’s worth more than money.

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list – when you look at your personal expenditures,  other ideas will present themselves.

It turns out, money actually CAN buy happiness.

Being frugal doesn’t have to be a sentence to a grim reality. When you relieve the financial pressure, you’ll be amazed at how much brighter your outlook becomes. When you “need” less, you will be happy with the simple things. The peace that comes from financial security can’t be matched by any number of expensive herbal calming teas, pricey gym memberships, tropical beach vacations, or meditation classes.

Money actually can buy happiness (well, peace of mind, anyway) – but it’s the money you DON’T spend that buys it.

Recommended Reading:

The The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

The Complete Tightwad Gazette

The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget

The Prepper’s Financial Guide

This article first appeared at The Organic Prepper: It’s Time for a Personal Audit of Your Frugal Living Budget

About the author:

Daisy Luther lives on a small organic homestead in Northern California.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

By Michael Snyder – The Economic Collapse

According to the Federal Reserve, the percentage of American families that own a small business is at the lowest level that has ever been recorded.  In a report that was just released entitled “Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2010 to 2013: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances“, the Federal Reserve revealed that small business ownership in America “fell substantially” between 2010 and 2013.  Even in the midst of this so-called “economic recovery”, small business ownership in America has now fallen to an all-time low.  If the economy truly was healthy, this would not be happening.  And it isn’t as if Americans are flooding the labor market either.  As I detailed yesterday, the labor force participation rate in this country is at a 36 year low.  That would not be happening if the economy was actually healthy either.  The truth is that the middle class in America is dying, and this new report from the Federal Reserve is more evidence of this very harsh reality.

In order to build wealth, middle class Americans either need to have their own businesses or they need good jobs.  Sadly, the percentage of Americans that own a business continues to decline steadily.  In the report that I mentioned above, the Federal Reserve says that the proportion of U.S. families that have an ownership interest in a small business fell from 13.3 percent in 2010 to a brand new all-time low of 11.7 percent in 2013.

This is one of the factors that is increasing the gap between the extremely wealthy and the rest of us in this country.  And of course another of the major factors is the steady decline in good paying jobs.

The U.S. Competitiveness Project at Harvard Business School is chaired by professors Michael E. Porter and Jan W. Rivkin.  It just released a new report entitled “An Economy Doing Half Its Job”, and it addressed the fact that the middle class is deeply struggling even though many large U.S. corporations have been thriving.  The following is an excerpt from an article in the Boston Globe about this report…

In a statement, Porter added: “Shortsighted executives may be satisfied with an American economy where firms operating here are winning without lifting US living standards. But leaders with longer perspectives understand that companies can’t thrive for long while their workers and their communities struggle.”

Unfortunately, this is not likely to change any time soon.  In fact, that same report discovered that Harvard Business School alumni foresee “falling pay and fewer openings for full-time jobs” for American workers in the years ahead…

U.S. workers face a dim future, with stagnant or falling pay and fewer openings for full-time jobs.

That’s the picture that emerges from a survey of Harvard Business School alumni.

More than 40 percent of the respondents foresee lower pay and benefits for workers. Roughly half favor outsourcing work over hiring staffers. A growing share prefer part-time employees. Nearly half would rather invest in new technology than hire or retain workers.

The Obama administration continues to tell us that the unemployment rate is “going down” and that the economy is recovering, but that does not match the reality of what most Americans are experiencing on a day to day basis.

As David Stockman recently so aptly put it, outside of health and education the U.S. economy has not produced a single job since mid-2000 even though our population has grown greatly since that time…

In a few deft seconds, a “no jobs” nobody who apparently doesn’t actually have one himself,  essentially explained the contents of the chart below to his silenced CNBC hosts. Over the course of 170 “jobs Fridays” since mid-2000, the latter have apparently never noticed the single most stunning fact embedded in the monthly BLS report. Namely, that outside of health and education there has not been one net new job created in the American economy since July 2000! Yes, not a single new job—as in none, nein, nichts, nada, zip!

In addition, most of the new jobs that are being “added to the economy” each month are part-time jobs.  Right now, we still have 1.4 million fewer full-time jobs than we did in 2008 even though more than 100,000 people are added to the population each month.

What this means is that the middle class is shrinking.

We are witnessing an increasing concentration of wealth among the ultra-wealthy, and most of the rest of us are getting poorer.  As a recent CNN article detailed, the Federal Reserve has also discovered that the gap between the rich and the poor in America is larger than the Fed has ever recorded before…

In its Study of Consumer Finances, released every three years, the Fed found that the wealthiest 3% of American households controlled 54.4% of the nation’s wealth in 2013, a slight increase from its last survey in 2010. It’s also substantially higher from the 44.8% they held in 1989, showing how quickly the income divide has been growing over the past decade or so.

At the same time, the share of wealth held by the bottom 90% fell to 24.7% in 2013. That’s compared to 33.2% in 1989.

How close does the share of wealth for the bottom 90 percent have to go before we admit that we have a major problem on our hands?

Is there anyone out there that would be okay with it hitting zero percent?

One of the big reasons why the wealthy have been doing so well is because the stock market has been soaring.  The money printing policies of the Federal Reserve have sent stock prices to unprecedented heights.  This has overwhelmingly benefited the extremely wealthy

According to recent data from the Federal Reserve, America has the lowest level of stock ownership in 18 years. Yet stock ownership for the wealthy is at a new high—and that has accounted for most of their good fortune compared to the rest of America.

In fact, the Fed says that the wealthiest top 10 percent of all Americans now own 81 percent of all stocks…

Stock ownership is even more concentrated when it comes to share of total stock holdings. In 2010, the latest period available, the top 10 percent of Americans by net worth held 81 percent of all directly held or indirectly held stocks, according to Edward N. Wolff, an economics professor at New York University who specializes in inequality and Federal Reserve data.

Wolff said that share—which has not been released yet for 2013—has probably gone even higher than 81 percent since 2010.

Since the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has been very good to the elite.

But most of the rest of us have had a really hard time.

Until more Americans start getting good jobs and building small businesses, things are not going to turn around for the middle class.

But the policies being pursued by our politicians continue to kill good jobs and continue to kill small businesses, so I wouldn’t expect significant changes any time soon.

This article first appeared at The Economic Collapse: Small Business Ownership In America Is At An All-Time Low

About the author:

Michael T. Snyder is a graduate of the University of Florida law school and he worked as an attorney in the heart of Washington D.C. for a number of years.

Today, Michael is best known for his work as the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and The American Dream

Read his new book The Beginning of the End