Everyone is looking forward to going back to normal after the global COVID19 crisis starts to fade. Schools will reopen, work will resume, and people will gather together again. But COVID19 led to a much larger crisis than it needed to. If we as a nation change our culture, we can lessen the blow of future crises. This is the case for why you should never go back to normal.
My wife and I were discussing the food shortages and she recalled a story she had heard about a truck driver who was on his way from Utah to Wyoming. He noticed many cars behind him, and decided to pull over to allow them to pass on the long, narrow road. He pulled over, and no one passed him. He thought “how odd…” and kept going. He traveled all the way to Wyoming, and pulled into the grocery store where he was delivering his goods. All of those cars followed him. Not just to the grocery store, but to the loading dock. He called the store manager, who had to call the local Sheriff to escort those people away so the driver could get out of his truck unaccosted.
Stories of shortages in grocery stores abound across the nation. My parents told me they went to the store to get some beef. There was none, but the manager said, “come back tomorrow when we open and I’ll sell you some.” They arrived on time, and waited for an hour outside in a line longer than any DMV they had ever had the misfortune of visiting. Internet memes about toilet paper are at the top of every social media news feed. It’s funny, but it’s also a big problem. My dad commented, “this is a little taste of what life would be like under Bernie’s socialism.” Indeed, he isn’t wrong, though I would place the emphasis on “little taste” because this is extremely mild compared to what socialism would do to our nation. One of my friends said, “I haven’t seen this level of craziness since Sandy hit.” We were on the coast of Connecticut at that time, and vividly remember just how difficult it was to get supplies, how long our electricity was out, etc. Many were dependent on disaster relief supplies from the American Red Cross for at least a little while. My wife recalls how she was dependent on friends for everything when she hurt her back and could not work, because she had no savings and no disaster plan.
Whatever the catastrophe might be – natural, governmental, personal, or otherwise, many families are only one crisis away from chaos; however, we ALL have the power to survive and THRIVE in a crisis scenario. This is a detailed plan that you can start TODAY to set your own house in order. Spread the word, and convince your friends of the urgency of this permanent change.
- Have cash savings. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, or are in debt, now is the time to change this forever. If you follow these steps, you will not only be prepared for an emergency, you will be able to live a much higher standard of living than you currently do. You will love how good you feel about yourself and how in control of your life you feel. This is my #1 because I feel that it is the most important of all of these things. If we all did only THIS step, our nation would stay the strongest in the world for several generations. Follow the steps below to get started:
- KNOW YOUR FINANCES: Figure out what you spend your money on. Sit down and go through your online credit card and bank statements for this and last month. Lay it all out–account for every single dollar. There are tons of software options out there to help you with this. My wife and I like Tiller, because it’s cheap and easy to use. Mint is free. Google others.
- BUDGET: Once you have figured out what you spend your money on, figure out what is a need and what is a want. If you are in debt or living paycheck to paycheck, now is the time to cut back on the wants. Really self-examine. Do you need to go out to eat or could you find the time to cook? What can you sell in your house for extra cash? If you’re really in dire straits, might it be time to cancel your internet and use the public library instead? Do you need as many calories as you’re eating, or could you cut back? Put nothing off the table – your financial solvency is the most important thing you can do to take care of yourself and your family.
- GET OUT OF DEBT. This is a critical step. You need to be self sufficient. There are two ways to do this.
- Debt Snowball: Pay off the debt starting with the smallest amount first. This will make you feel good about yourself. You set aside a little extra + whatever the monthly payment is for that small debt, and you pay it. You watch the number decrease until it’s $0. Then you take ALL of that money that went to that monthly payment and apply it to the next smallest debt. Watch the numbers drop and feel the high of financial solvency.
- Highest First: Less fun, but more pragmatic, is to pay off the debt starting with the highest interest rate first, regardless of the amount. Do the same thing as above (use the money you were paying toward another debt that is now paid off to pay off the next one). You’ll pay less total money this way.
- No matter which way you do it, don’t save any of your money and don’t buy ANYTHING you don’t need until all of the debt is gone.
- START SAVING CASH: Once you’re out of debt, set aside a small amount of money every month to go into cash savings. Your first goal should be to accumulate $2000. Keep it in your house, in a fireproof safe. Or split it up in your house, and place it in various locations. However you want to do it, this is your go-to cash if you need to survive on cash only for a little while. Don’t dig into it for anything except a true emergency.
- KEEP SAVING CASH: Once you have a small amount of cash in hand at home, keep 6 months of living expenses in cash in a bank account. Do not invest it. Do not spend it, no matter what, unless it is a TRUE emergency. This is your emergency fund. This is what will keep your family ALIVE in a true emergency. Think of it like a ventilator – this money is life support for your family. You don’t want to need that ventilator and find the battery uncharged.
- Have food and supplies. As part of your budget, add a monthly item for emergency preparation. This should first be spent on your food supplies. Choose things you like to eat and eat normally. Use it as part of your regular cooking. Swap out the old stuff for new stuff as you use it for meals. Don’t wait until you are out of toilet paper to buy new toilet paper. Always keep a few extra rolls of paper towels and other supplies before you run out. Have a first aid kit without expired stuff in it, and extra common medicine like Ibuprofen in your home.
- Have a plan. Where do you live? Is there likely to be an earthquake? Tornado? Hurricane? Blizzard? What do you do for work? So you have 6 months of income saved (see #1), but what happens if you get permanently laid off? What other skills do you have? What would you do? Are you prepared to move across the country if that’s what it takes to get a job? Be mentally and physically prepared for likely events. Most people are going to experience a layoff, big giant medical bill, natural disaster of some kind, car accident, etc, in their lifetime. Also be prepared for things that will definitely happen. Children will grow, and will need new clothes. If you have a plan for things that are likely to happen or will definitely happen, you will not panic when these things occur. You’ll just follow the plan you made when the sun was shining.
- Have skills. In 2010, I was on the Glenn Beck Program. I asked the question, “You talk about investing in gold. But what if you are just starting out, and don’t have enough money to invest in gold? How do you prepare for a disaster?” His answer was to invest in yourself. In the event of a disaster, which you are likely to experience sometime in your life, do you have some way that you can be useful to the community? This was the first thing that made me desire to be an EMT. I took classes at night and became an EMT primarily because I thought it was something I could do that, no matter what happened, my skills could be used. If you are a graphic designer or a florist or a speech therapist, that’s awesome! But in a disaster situation, your primary skill may not be what people need. You might find yourself out of work for a month or more. Yes, you have your 6 months of income saved, but instead of just sitting at home during that time, you can apply your other skills to help the community. And if things never really go back to normal, if there’s a really horrible disaster, or if you get laid off permanently for some other reason, then you have something else you can do. Diversify your financial and your personal portfolio.
If most people did these things, there would be no panic when disaster strikes. You wouldn’t hear about people following a food truck across state lines to jump the driver in the loading dock and steal his stuff. Fewer people would be hoarding toilet paper. But on a much larger scale, when so many people are out of work, the government wouldn’t feel the need to “stimulate” the economy by massive spending bills to “relieve” or “bail out” those who are stressed. People could ride out a storm on their own without dependence on others.
Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons in the Bible, had a rough start. He was beat up, tossed into a pit by his brothers, and sold into slavery. He spent time in prison. When he curried Pharaoh’s favor, he landed a spot as Emergency Preparedness Manager of Egypt, and began setting aside surplus of grain. Soon, when famine struck, all of the nations surrounding Egypt were beholden to Egypt to get their grain. This geopolitical power play is what resulted in the slavery of those surrounding nations, and the rise of Egyptian power. Joseph’s brothers ended up groveling at his feet in exchange for a little food. The lesson? He who is prepared can thrive in any circumstance; he who is not ends up dependent and therefore subjugated by others.
Don’t go back to normal. Take control of your life, be an asset to your community, and change the way you live. You will not regret it, and you will receive the thanks of your children and grandchildren who were raised in the prosperity you created.