As part of the Winter Book Festival, I recently asked readers to submit questions they would like answered by George Ure, the survival and economics guru over at UrbanSurvival.com. There were some good ones and today, as promised, George provides some answers.
SURVIVAL AND PREPPING – BY GEORGE
1. I’m new to all this and feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the stuff out there. One thing I do have is combat boots. I’m a medic. I don’t have a lot of money and I never will, so money and a good lawyer aren’t really possible.
Here’s my question: If the shit really hits what are the odds that anybody will be worried about house, land, car payments? If the infrastructure falls apart will things like this even matter?
This is one of the hardest questions there is to answer because it depends on so many variables. The major one to think about is “If collapse were to happen, what form would it take?”
Let’s say – for the sake of discussion – that some country decides to launch nuclear weapons into low earth orbit and blows up a number of devices optimized to deliver to the US mainland the worst-case electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effect.
In this case (and remember this is one extreme) a good chunk of computers would be inoperable, most of the power grid would be down – many months – and people would be mostly stuck in place since without power the movement and refinery of fuels won’t be happening.
In this event (*see the novel One Second After for additional details) possession would likely be 99% of the law. And, if there’s no law, then possession and a gun to defend it, is 99% of the law. Anti-gun people hate me pointing this out, but that’s demonstrated time and time again in history.
On the shorter term devastation scale, a 8.0 New Madrid quake will likely cause widespread devastation, but order would prevail outside the impact area and recovery would be quick. As soon as things get back to a working internet and control in areas of looting and such, then the debt collectors and repo men will be back.
In this scenario, the first phone call you’re likely to get when the cell systems start coming up would be bill collectors!
You really need a mindset of a flexible science fiction writer and even then you’ll undoubtedly get it all wrong. So playing it by ear will be the order of the day.
If you are thinking about squatting in a government or bank-owned home, now might be the time to do it and claim the paperwork was destroyed. Don’t let a good disaster go to waste.
2. I think this may have been brought up already. But I have always wondered. In a financial collapse would landlords, banks and so on still try to come after money you owe? Would they start out and stop once they see money does not work any more? I have ask a few people and they always say I have no clue. Thank you.
We skirted around this in the previous answer, but again, I think it will be a matter of scale. As long as there is a functioning national economy, and as long as you have attachable assets, then sure, people who you bought something from will want money for it.
But there’s a way to weasel around a bit. In real estate it’s called “deed in lieu of foreclosure.” In that process, you simply mail the mortgage company the keys and walk out of the home. Where you go from there is up to you.
To a lesser extent, the same could be done with a car. Don’t wait for the repo man to show up. Drive the car to the bank and hand them the keys.
Usually what will happen is the bank will wholesale the car, figure how much money they lost on the deal and come up with a bill to present you with. Say you borrowed $20,000 for a car. You turn in the keys when the car is worth $10,000 but you still owe $12,000 on it, and they wholesale it for $5,000 because car prices would be collapsing.
The way they’d look at things, you would owe the difference between what you owed on the car ($12,000, remember?) and what they got at wholesale for it ($5,000) which means they’d present you with a bill for $7,000. OR then would come after some other assets you might have if you were dumb enough to sign a loan document which pledges other assets like your home equity.
Obviously, you don’t want to have any money in the bank you’re stiffing on the car, because they might argue that the money in your account with them could be considered an attachable asset.
One thing you can depend on: the creditor class is not going to go easy on the debtor class and that’s why violent economic collapses are often accompanied by revolutions (going back into historical detail here) because that’s the only way for the debtor class to reclaim its freedom.
So it will be key – in the wake of any collapse – to keep an eye on how much the “government” is willing to stick it to regular people on behalf of the people they work for: The big donor and political contribution makers of the creditor class.
Worthless after collapse?
3. We know that soon paper money will be worthless. Which is better to invest in, gold, silver, or tradable commodities?
Food and water.
I know it sounds simplistic, but there’s an old saying “You can’t eat gold.” Think about that and then draw your pyramid of life. Abraham Maslow developed something called the hierarchy of needs. So have I.
The difference is I’m slightly overweight and intend to keep from starving to death in this lifetime (yeah, maybe it’s an unresolved past life carryover, but let’s not go there).
My personal pyramid of needs for Elaine and me is pretty simple: Water, food, shelter, clothing, money or stored goods to exchange, tools, and so on.
If we get into a full on collapse economically do you really think that at ANY price you could carry enough gold to pry my solar panels out of my hand? Moreover, do you want to look down the barrel of a Ruger while “negotiating?”
See how this needs stuff works? I know what we’ll need and what I will do to prevent others from “out needing us.”
4. What is your feeling on stock piling nickels and/or junk silver?
Barring nuclear winter? I would consider an odd alternative investment like buying solar panels. In just about any future I can imagine, people will still want light and that means electricity.
Besides: Right now there is a huge confiscation movement in America. Police finding you with more than $5,000 or $10,000 in cash and precious metals are easily tempted to confiscate and – just to add insult to injury – in addition to claiming that you came by the metals through illegal trade (they might say you’re a drug dealer, for example) then then would come after your home which was obviously also purchased with untaxed money.
This is absolute hogwash, of course, but confiscations are real, damn near impossible to fight, and so on. On the other hand, if you invest $50,000 in solar panels and other wealth-producing items and are selling power back to the local power company, you’re not likely to face confiscation, are you?
When was the last time you heard of a biker gang accepting 200-watt solar panels for drugs? Yet the panels have value and pay for themselves in 20-years which means you get a tax credit, reduce monthly operating costs for your home, have a SERIOUS hedge against collapse and…oh, best of all, you can sleep well at night until the SHTF. Then you need a plan to protect your panels. Messrs.’ Ruger and Mossberg, at your service.
5. I’ve been out of work for over 3 years, so being able to live on $10K a year would be fantastic! I’ve learned a lot, the most important lesson being how little I really need to get by. I’ve been considering a used travel trailer as a small, long-term place to live. I’d like to get your thoughts on this, and whether you have any recommendations.
You are a genius. All you need to do is shop the used trailers on Craigslist. You would be shocked at what you can get for $2,000. If you’re going to sell one, the prices usually go up a month or two before hunting season…just a heads up. Kinda like motorcycles and airplanes cost more in spring when warm weather for comfortable flying and riding arrive.
Then, find some wide open state with some used tax foreclosed property. Call the county tax offices and see what kind of “junk” property the county owns outright. If you see something you like, see if you can park your trailer on it.
If you can, put in a vandal resistant building (no windows and such) and put in a few supplies. Hey! How about a half dozen solar panels, too?
Oh, and if it starts to look like the S if about to HTF then you can get some five gallon jugs of fuel, strap them down inside the trailer which you’ve also preloaded with food and supplies, and now you have a 600-mile range bug-out vehicle for what? $3-thousand bucks?
The neat thing about this is if it happens, you also have (ta-dah!) a fine weekend recreational property!
You’re gong to win no matter what happens.
And I think that is the real art and science to “right path prepping” that Gaye and I are on.
We’re not crazy revolutionaries and we leave all that sovereign individual, straw man, debate about whether income tax is legal – and all that other highly emotive stuff – to other sites on the net.
We pay taxes (an appalling number between our two households!) and go about our business. Which, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, includes a lot of dual-use business models. Which are, again?
If the crap hits the fan, it’s a great asset. If the fan keeps turning….still a great asset play.
That’s the low-risk route into the future. If I came into $30,000 out of the blue? Another 40-acres somewhere with power and water on it. If I found $60,000? A complete second survival platform/summer home where it’s cooler.
Not that gold and silver won’t be valuable. But the carry risks and exposures are under appreciated compared to other, and I think more valuable, asset classes.
(I’m still debating how much I will be charging folks who want to drop by and top off the batteries on their radios, or whatever, when TSHTF. Might even hold out for gold.
THE FINAL WORD
In his recently updated book, How to Live on $10,000 a Year – Or Less, my BFF George provides practical strategies for living your life with very little cash. Think you can’t do it? With his usual wry wit and humor, George says you can. Not only that, you can do so and still be happy and live the good life. This is good stuff and there are gems of wisdom for everyone in this readable little tome.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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JUST RELEASED: Real Time Machines: The Future is an APP by George Ure. In his words:
This is a book about time machines….real ones. If the terms “web bot project” and “predictive linguistics” are not on your radar, you’re way behind the information curve. You see humankind’s ability to “see through time” is rapidly evolving new science. So in a sense, time travel is becoming REAL.
Even before Jules Verne, people were fascinated with being able to tell the future accurately. The huge popularity of Nostradamus and other “seers” is only the tip of the iceberg. In my latest book, Real Time Machines: The Future is an APP” I give you a complete course in how the future casts a shadow before it and how newly evolving software scanning wide or defined types of websites is improving the odds of being able to forecast future events correctly.
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Bargain Bin: Here is a convenient list of some the books that I personally own and recommended in every Survival Library.
One Second After: This is survival fiction at its best. It will scare the you-know what out of you because and EMP as described in this tale could really happen. Highly Recommended!
Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression: If you don’t know about Clara, be sure to read Depression Cooking: A Visit to Clara’s Kitchen.
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking: At an average cost of 50 cents a loaf, this bread is easy, delicious and inexpensive to make. Also Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients.
How to Live on Wheat: Everything you need to know about wheat and grains including how to store them and how to cook them.
Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart: An instructional guide and planning tool that addresses defensive preparation of a location. If the government can no longer protect your home, farm or property, Holding Your Ground will teach you how.
The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster: Written by Bernie Carr at the Apartment Prepper blog, this is highly readable guide to all things preparedness.
All New Square Foot Gardening: This book will prove that you can grow a significant bounty in limited space. Just add seeds.
Desk Ref: This hand book includes 1280 pages of tables, maps, formulas, constants and conversions and will serve you will in an off-grid situation.
Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.
For May, all of their Mountain House Pouches are on sale as is their Freeze Dried Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese for $34.99, discounted from $40.95. (And you know how I love my cheese! Great on those homemade pizzas or even as a snack right out of the can – yummy!) Whole egg powder is also on sale at 27% off..
Another special to consider is the Kelly Kettle® Large Stainless Steel Base Camp Combo for $109.99, discounted from $132.92.
11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life: This little book will provide you with the motivation to get started or stay on track with a self-reliant life. 11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life, co-authored with my long time pal, George Ure (www.urbansurvival.com), and can purchased from Amazon.
Absolute Rights is offering a free 8 page report “How to Identify and Avoid Chokepoints”. This refers to avoiding the crowds and obstacles to getting out of dodge when you need to flee in order to stay out of harm’s way following a disaster.
One of the tips they offer is to avoid roads that are near churches, hospitals, stadiums and schools. This all makes sense but why didn’t I think of that?
Anyway, you will need to enter your email address but other than that, there is no pressure or obligation to purchase anything. Here is a link to get How to Identify and Avoid Chokepoints.