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Four years ago I was both a newbie blogger and a newbie prepper. To be honest, I had a lot of angst about a lot of things. Unemployment was rampant, the housing market was in shambles, and people around me were suffering. As a woman of a certain age, I was upset and wanted to do something, anything really, to relieve some of the stress while sharing my new found journey down the path of preparedness.
At the time, my long time friend, George Ure, suggested that I start a website that would complement his own Urban Survival website. Little did I realize that this small suggestion, made in passing, would become a life-changer.
This is not the article I intended to write today but for a number of reasons, my focus changed this afternoon and after my daily hike, I decided to shift gears and take a walk down memory lane and share a newly updated muse having to do with the promise of retirement.
My goal is twofold.
First, for those of you that are baby boomers like me, it is important to know that you are not alone in your thoughts and much-altered retirement dreams. And second, perhaps more important, I want to encourage the all-important younger generation to remain laser-focused on self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Life has a way of tossing curve balls and everything you believe about your future may change.
The Promise of Retirement…Someday
Years ago, when George posted an article titled “You’ll Never Be Able to Retire”, buzzers and bells went off as I ticked off his salient points. Yes, I said to myself, I am part of the group that will never be able to retire even though I had done everything right. Or so I thought.
Does these money management and pre-retirement tactics sound familiar?
- Save for a down payment on a home
- Purchase a modest starter home
- Budget wisely for food, shelter and the other necessities of life
- Save Save Save
- Work 50 to 60 hour work weeks to get ahead. Ignore friends and family in the process
- Purchase a larger, more permanent home once I could afford the monthly mortgage payment with a healthy sum left over
- Drive automobiles for 8 to 10 years before getting a new one
- Save Save Save
- Invest in a “balanced” stock portfolio
- Sock dough in to a 401k
- Pay off the mortgage
- Save Save Save
And the promised reward?
- Retirement at 62 or even earlier if you are both smart and lucky
- 20+ years of travel, the pursuit of hobbies, and plain old relaxation
- Interest and dividends on savings equal to 80% of pre-retirement income
- A bit of social security income
- Generous healthcare benefits through the federal Medicare system
The reality, not only for many in my generation, but for for those that follow is this:
- Retirement is pushed out indefinitely and possibly never
- Interest and dividends of less than 1% result in less than 5% of pre-retirement income regardless of the size of your nest egg
- Social security is stalled out with nominal annual increases in spite of the increased costs of food, shelter, and healthcare. In the meantime, financial company executives and corporate bigwigs have received record bonuses many of which were funded by taxpayers
- Healthcare premiums, co-pays and drug costs at an all time high. This includes Medicare.
So where does this leave those of us who did everything by the rules? Other than move to Costa Rica (which presents another set of problems), I have come up with an 11-point survival plan.
Eleven Point Survival Plan to Bust the Myth of Retirement
1. Find someplace to live that is a destination in and of itself. This may be a city condo, it may be a rural farm,or it may be your in-laws place. Heck, it really does not matter since this is where you will homestead in place. What you want is someplace where you can hang your hat knowing that if you never left, you would be just fine.
2 Eliminate all debt. This may mean a smaller house, an older vehicle, fewer new clothes. Whatever. If you want to retire, you must eliminate debt of all types. Relief from debt means you can do what you want, when you want to do it.
3. Buy in bulk, shop the internet for deals (don’t forget about free shipping), and eliminate shopping as a source of entertainment.
4. Exercise. I am not talking about a fancy gym. Walk then walk some more. Did you know that people who walk 10,000 or more steps a day live longer and suffer fewer heart attacks and other ailments of old age?
5. Read and continually educate yourself. In addition those free-at-the-moment eBooks, use your public library. The library is your friend. Books, movies, magazines, and even the latest eBooks and audiobooks are all available for free. You tax dollars are paying for this great service; it is silly not to use it. By the way, remember that eight year old vehicle sitting in the garage? Library databases typically include access to repair manuals and service guides for all makes and manner of vehicles.
6. Start a garden and learn to cook. Food and flowers – one for stomach and one for the soul. For a small investment in time and a few seeds, you can have a basket of fresh tomatoes and bounteous bouquets. What is not to like? Plus, if you can boil water, you can certainly cook. Food tastes so much better when it comes from your own kitchen sans preservatives and mystery ingredients. Save restaurant meals for special occasions and vacations.
7. Get a job. Part time, that is. Big bucks or little bucks, a part time job will feed your sense of self-worth and afford you the opportunity to spend a little on yourself guilt free. You pick your poison – free lance work in your chosen career or a barista at the local coffee kiosk. Do something fun and enjoyable and it won’t be a chore.
8. Prepare for the worst of times. Stock you pantry with a minimum of one month’s worth of food and preferably more. Prepare a bug-out-bag or bug-in-kit with necessary food, sundries and medications for at least a week – preferably 30 days. Don’t forget the water.
9. Give someone a hug every day. No one to hug? Get a puppy.
10. Have fun. If you are not having fun, go back to number one and find someplace new to live. Don’t like the heat? Move to Montana. Too cold? Arizona beckons. Take up dancing (cheap), start a cooking club, do something that you can look forward to each day of the week.
11. Plan an annual vacation. You need it. You deserve it; this is retirement after all. Just don’t go crazy with exotic locations and expensive hotels. The best deal? Go camping and practice some survival skills while having a ton of fun. Your are never too old to camp!
The Final Word
The bones of this article first appeared in November 2010 when I was angry and stressed.
A lot has changed since then. You rarely hear the term TEOTWAWKI that was so popular back then. Instead, you are more likely to hear the saying with “when the Stuff hits the fan” or SHTF for short. In addition, my one year old puppy is now five and my 30 days of stored food and supplies is now a lot more than that.
Life goes on and no, I am not retired. On the other hand, I am living life to the fullest and hope that you, regardless of your age and life-stage, are doing so too.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: The article I wrote on DIY cleaning turned out to be hugely popular all around the web. In cased you missed it, here is a link to the article Prepper Checklist: DIY Cleaning Supplies and to some of the products that I use to make my own cleaners.
Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, (Pack of 36): No list of DIY cleaning supplies would be complete without these wonderful microfiber cloths. They will last you for years and will allow you to replace paper towels forever. Truly. I color code using blue for glass and windows and the other colors for everything else. I love these.
Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Liquid Cleanser: I know that Dr. Bronner’s Magic Castile soaps have a cult-like following but I prefer the Sal Suds. I call my DIY cleaner “Sudsy Sal”.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap: Of all of the Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps, peppermint is my favorite. I use it to make “Peppermint Magic”, an all purposed cleaner.
Soft ‘n Style 8 oz. Spray Bottles: I happen to like these smaller bottles. Likewise for these Pump Dispensers.
NOW Solutions Vegetable Glycerin: You will need this for your Dirt Cheap Soft Soap. I paid almost as much for only 4 ounces locally. This is a great product and 16 ounces will last forever.
Peppermint Essential Oil: I favor peppermint and tea tree (Melaleuca) essential oil in my cleaning supplies. But there are many types of essential oils to choose from. Take your pick. One thing you will find is that a little goes a long way. The nice thing about essential oils from Spark Naturals is that they are also excellent for therapeutic and healing use and well as for use in DIY cleaning supplies. Just remember to use the code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout to get 10% off your order.
Budget Essential Oils: For the budget minded – and especially for use in cleaning supplies – consider NOW Foods Essential Oils.
Mobile Washer: This is hand operated washing machine. Like a plunger, it uses a technique of pushing and pulling the water through clothes to clean them well without wearing them out. It uses a minimum of water and less soap due to the agitation motion. Use in a bucket (5-gallon suggested), sink or tub.
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