The recent tragic events in Venezuela have prompted us to consider whether or not we are prepared to survive an economic collapse here in the United States.
How do you prepare to survive an economic collapse? You can reduce the potential impact that an economic collapse may have on you and your family by following these simple principles:
- Stock the supplies necessary to sustain life
- Stockpile valuable tools
- Grow your own food
- Prepare to provide for yourself or do without
- Prepare to live with little or no electricity
- Strengthen your financial status
- Learn basic skills
- Build relationships
- Prepare to share
- Be ready to protect your family
- Maintain a current passport
- Hope for the best and prepare for the worst
Stock Supplies Necessary to Sustain Life
One of the very best ways to protect your family from economic swings is to have a healthy supply of food storage. In Venezuela, the prices doubled an average of every 19 days. It doesn’t take long at that rate of inflation before a loaf of bread isn’t even a possibility. According to an article by BBC News,
“Venezuelans are going hungry. Of those questioned for the country’s annual living conditions survey (Encovi 2017), eight out of 10 said they were eating less because they did not have enough food at home. Six out of 10 said they had gone to bed hungry because they did not have the money to buy food.”
Basic Staple Foods with a Long Shelf Life
Storing at least a year or two of basic staple foods that can last for 25-30 years in storage can sustain your family during an economic challenge whether it is hyperinflation, loss of employment, food shortages or any other crisis. To learn what to store for your family, click here.
Basic staples like wheat, rice, oats, pasta, beans, sugar, and dehydrated or freeze-dried foods specifically packaged for long term storage are great options. You can learn how to package your food storage and more about the ideal storage conditions here. For current pricing on long term food storage from Augason Farms click here. Check out our personal recommendations for long term food storage shelving and suppliers here.
Shelf Stable Everyday Foods
A supply of short term shelf stable foods that you use every day will help minimize the impact when you are unable to shop at the grocery store as you normally do. We call this short term food storage because while these foods are shelf-stable, they will not store for 25-30 years like the long term staples will. It is important to have both to successfully protect against hunger.
Short term everyday food storage includes canned goods, boxed mixes, packaged dinners, cold cereal, ketchup, and similar items. These foods will remain good for 1-7 years depending on the food, packaging and storage conditions. Learn more about building a supply of short term everyday foods here.
Food takes up a lot of space and it can be a bit challenging to find a place to store it all that still allows for good organization and rotation. Check out some ideas from our friends here.
Food storage is an incredibly wise investment. Let’s take the scenario of hyperinflation in Venezuela, where product prices (on average) have doubled every 19 days. That means that if you purchase a case of six #10 cans of rolled oats today for $24, that case would cost $12,582,912 in one year…crazy huh? Most importantly, you would have that case of rolled oats to feed your family when food is scarce or prices are outrageous.
Basic Non-Food Staples
Stock up on personal sanitation items such as toilet paper, feminine products, shampoo, soaps, contact solution, and other items that you use every day. What non-food items do you purchase regularly? This article on personal sanitation may give you some ideas of items you will want to make sure gets put on your list.
Medication and First Aid Supplies
Are you on a prescription medication for a chronic medical condition? You may want to talk to your doctor to see if you can work out a way to keep a little extra on hand. Most insurances will refill at 25 days. Take advantage of that 5-day buffer and refill as soon as you are eligible to build up a backup supply. Your doctor may also be willing to give you samples to help you build up your supply.
What over-the-counter medications do you use regularly? Stock a back-up supply of over-the-counter pain relievers, allergy medications, cold and flu remedies, or whatever other medications would be appropriate for you to stockpile for your family. Stocking a supply of vitamin supplements may also be a good idea.
Be prepared to treat minor injuries without medical help. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit with all the supplies that you may need.
Make good health a priority. The people of Venezuela are suffering greatly due to a lack of medical care. Exercise regularly and eat healthfully. Get adequate rest, fresh air and sunshine. Stay current with medical and dental appointments, and do the other things that build health and resiliency.
Stockpile Valuable Tools
Basic tools can make a huge difference in your ability to provide well for your own family during an economic collapse. The time to purchase these tools is now, while they are available and you have the financial resources to purchase them. Let these ideas help you brainstorm a list of tools that you may need:
Kitchen tools suddenly become highly valuable when you are making meals from scratch instead of picking them up at the drive-through window. Make sure that you have a couple of good quality can openers to open all those precious cans of food you have stored.
A good grain grinder is a highly valuable asset if you have stored wheat or other grains. You may also want the ability to grind corn or beans. I use an electric grain mill in my pantry for grinding my flour every day, but I also have a nice Country Living Grain Mill a bean auger that will grind both corn and beans into flour. The photo shows my grinders in my kitchen pantry. A cheap hand grinder takes a lot of energy to grind a small amount of coarse flour. We encourage you to invest in the highest quality grinder you can afford.
Growing your own food requires some basic quality gardening tools. We grow much of our own food and go through shovels like crazy. Don’t buy cheap garden tools, they break and are useless. Invest in quality tools that will endure abuse. Keep them protected from the elements and they will last much longer.
At a minimum, I recommend a couple of heavy-duty shovels, a square-mouth shovel, a turning fork, a rake, wheelbarrow, small trowel, small garden rake, large pruners, medium pruners, and small hand pruners. Store lots of good work gloves! T-posts, t-post pounder, and twine are important tools to help grow vertically and produce more in smaller spaces.
General Handyman Tools
General auto and home repair tools such as a cordless drill, a variety of saws, ladder, hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, chisel, level, utility knife, tape measure, ratchet set, socket set, flashlight, safety glasses, gloves, and a variety of other tools. Remember to keep a stash of spare blades, bits, nails, screws, fasteners, glue, and other important consumables to get the job done.
Grow Your Own Food
Make growing even a small amount of food part of your daily life. It takes years to build your soil and your skill set to the point where you are able to produce a reliable, abundant crop. Even if your busy life will only allow you to grow a few potted tomatoes, it is a good place to start.
Incorporate Fruit-Bearing Perennials into Your Landscape.
One easy way to produce a reliable crop of food is to plant food bearing trees, bushes, and vines right in with your landscape. Many edible plants can be stunningly beautiful in your yard.
Take an apple tree for instance. It can be pruned into a wide variety of shapes and sizes. It is absolutely gorgeous in the spring when the showy blossoms emerge. Do not underestimate the beauty of well-cared-for fruit and nut trees.
Bush cherries are delightful shrubs that are hardy and productive. Goji berries are showy and can easily be incorporated into the landscape while fixing nitrogen into the soil to help other plants grow better.
Many medicinal herbs such as lavender, chamomile, feverfew, hyssop, bee balm, and coneflowers provide beauty and variety to the landscape while secretly doubling as herbal remedies.
Raising a few laying hens to provide needed fat and protein can be easy if you have the right setup. Check out our post How to Create a Survival Food Forest in Your Own Back Yard for some good ideas to help you produce food on your own property.
Prepare to Provide for Yourself or Do Without
During an economic collapse, it is important that you do everything that you can to take care of your needs without depending on others. In addition to the resources you have stored, you may need to be creative and make do with what you can make yourself. Create a personal reference library with valuable books that you can refer to when Google fails you.
Prepare to Live with Little or No Electricity
You may or may not have access to power during an economic collapse. Even if you do have power, you may not have the financial resources to pay for it. Prepare now by taking steps to reduce your energy consumption. Look at alternative energy resources (such as solar electric, solar thermal, propane, etc.) as a possible part of your plan. Be prepared to survive with little or no heat. You can find some helpful ideas here.
Strengthen Your Financial Status
There is no way to completely protect your family against the effects of a financial collapse, but it is possible to reduce the impact it may have on you. One valuable lesson that will help you build your financial resilience is to learn to live without. You do not need everything that you think you do. Learn to live on less and be happy.
Whenever possible, avoid debt like the plague. We had many friends who struggled, and some even lost their homes, in the 2008 housing market crash in the United States. We even had a family member who lost a lucrative business and was left penniless.
Those who had not overextended themselves before this crisis were able to withstand the challenges much better than others. Get out of debt and stay out of debt.
Build up a Financial Reserve
Learn to live on less than you make and save money to protect yourself when financial crises arrive. A financial reserve of 3-6 months (or more, if possible) of expenses can buy you time to come up with a solution to fix whatever is causing the stress on your finances. This might include finding new employment, recovering from illness, paying off medical bills, unexpected car repairs, etc.
Keep Cash Accessible
Cash is a powerful tool in most situations. Make sure you keep a good supply of readily accessible cash in the bank that can be withdrawn immediately. It is also a good idea to keep some cash in small bills safely secured in your home.
Invest in Precious Metals
The value of the dollar, or any type of paper money, is subject to rapid devaluation as we have witnessed in Argentina and Venezuela. In contrast, the value of precious metals such as gold and silver tend to retain value and may be a wise investment.
Precious metals may also provide a means of barter or an alternative currency. However, we would strongly encourage you to invest in your food storage before investing in precious metals. Gold and silver do not taste all that good and will not satisfy a hungry belly.
It may be a good idea not to “put all of your eggs in one basket.” Invent a way, or ways, to supplement your income. Develop small streams of income that flow into your financial river. If one of those streams happens to dry up, the river will still be able to take care of your family.
Do you have talents or hobbies that you can turn into a home business? Is it possible for other family members to obtain part-time employment to supplement the income? Here is a great article, 200+ Ways to Make Money as a Kid that might give you some good ideas. Consider the skills and talents of each family member and how they may be used to contribute to the success of the family.
Learn Basic Skills
When the economy crashes, basic skills will become even more valuable. The ability to do your own home and car repairs (or other services) will save you much-needed money. You may be able to earn quick cash by offering those services to others.
Baking bread from scratch, growing tomatoes, mending torn jeans, fixing a leaky faucet, caring for a sick child, repairing a broken lock, fermenting vegetables, and bottling peaches are just a few examples of basic skills that will save money and improve your quality of life when times are tough.
What skills do you have that you may be able to barter with? Perhaps it is time to learn a new hobby that will help you develop important basic skills.
Do not skip this incredibly valuable resource. We significantly increase our chance of survival as we work together. Families are a great example of relationships that are designed to increase the comfort and well-being of each of its members.
Start to build working relationships with neighbors and like-minded people. Practice learning the skill of bartering. You watch my kids for a few hours while I go to the doctor and I will fix your leaky faucet. You help move heavy objects for a widow down your street and she gives you a loaf of freshly baked bread. You share some of the fresh produce from your garden and a neighbor gives you a bag of used clothes for your child.
These relationships are important for success in everyday life, but even more important during a crisis, as everyone is affected a bit differently.
Prepare to Share
We are prepared to take care of ourselves and our family during an economic crisis. However, no matter how well I prepare I may need help from others in order to survive due to circumstances beyond my control. This will be true for all of us.
We may be stranded in a city far away from our home and will be very grateful to a kind soul who feeds us and helps us return home. It may be one of my children or grandchildren who is in need of assistance. I am prepared to reach out to others in need and I hope there is another kind person somewhere who is willing and able to care for me and those I love.
The tables can turn very quickly. You never know when it may be you in desperate need of the charity of others.
Be Ready to Protect Your Family
One of the reasons Venezuelan citizens gave for fleeing the country was violent crime. The citizens do not have the ability to defend themselves with firearms due to strict gun control laws. You may need to be prepared with alternative methods to protect and defend your family from dangerous people.
Secure Your Home
Physically secure your home and make it a less appealing target for thieves. Strengthen and secure all entry points to your home, plant thorny barriers (roses, thorny bushes) as a deterrent, build strong fences, keep valuables out of sight and secured, and install alarm systems if appropriate.
A great way to find vulnerabilities in your home is to involve the entire family. Encourage family members or even a close friend to gain access to your home or valuables without breaking anything. This is a great way for everyone to look at your home with a new set of eyes and find areas that need to be fortified. We like to dress the part to add a bit of excitement, but it is not required.
Learn Self-Defense Skills
Become proficient in your choice of self-defense skills. Make sure that you have the appropriate alternative self-defense tools (stun gun, pepper spray, knives, metal baseball bat, cast iron frying pan, big dog, etc.) in the event that firearms are confiscated. When people are without hope, hungry, and desperate they may pose a serious threat to your safety. Offer help and hope whenever possible but be prepared to defend yourself when necessary.
Maintain a Current Passport
Just in case you need to leave the country (as over 3 million Venezuelans have decided to do), make sure that you have the ability to legally leave. Keep your passport current and be sure that you have necessary plans in place to keep this option open.
Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Worst
I like to keep a positive attitude and I hope that the economic collapse that Venezuela is enduring will not be knocking down our front door. There are many warning signs such as skyrocketing debt and corruption in our own government that give me serious cause for concern.
I can’t control all of the variables, but through deliberate preparation, our family will be able to mitigate some of the possible consequences of the serious financial challenges that an economic collapse would surely bring with it. We do the best we can to take reasonable steps to prepare for these future challenges and then we enjoy today to the fullest. Worry will not change the future, but positive action now can help mitigate the hardships that may come our way.
What steps can you take today to secure your future?