If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you know I’m not a fan of the spending that going on in Washington D.C. right now.

I’m also not a fan of the spending that is scheduled to happen over the next few years. The government not only plans to keep spending more, but we are going to add millions of baby boomers to the Social Security and Medicare dole and we don’t have a plan for it.

When an individual or a family gets in as much debt as our country they file for bankruptcy. However, our political leaders are acting like nothing is wrong and are ridiculing anyone who even suggests serious budget cuts.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about why I’m so worried about this. If you want more information on that I hope you’ll read these two articles: one from another personal finance blogger and my friend Len Penzo, where he talks about Economic Collapse 101. The other comes from PBS and talks about how the sequester won’t solve our problems.

I want to address what you can do to prepare for this happening without going overboard and buying a castle at least 400 miles from the nearest large city with an alligator filled moat.

Basics of Preparing for an Economic Collapse

First, I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting America will become a third world country and people will shoot you for a loaf of bread. Many countries have seen economic collapse recently and a large majority of people in those countries made it through just fine. (see the Soviet Union/Russia in 1991 and Argentina in 2001)

I’ve read a lot about people who have gone through economic collapse and made it through just fine. These people know what it takes to make it though, and now I want to share some of that info with you.

While I don’t expect a long period of civil unrest, I do expect a period of time where resources are scarce, people are thirsty and hungry, and it might not be very safe to go outside. Here are things to consider before we reach that point.

1. Water

If your water faucet stopped producing clean drinking water, what would you do? Do you have enough bottled water to last a week? What about a month? Three months? Did you know that people typically need about a gallon of water a day.

Economic collapse isn’t the only reason you may be lacking drinking water. A natural disaster could do it, and so could a terrorist or military attack against our country. Preparing to have drinking water in any emergency is just common sense.

dirty water

photo credit: hagge

Either you need to have a ton of it stored in large containers like food grade 55 gallon drums or you need a source of dirty water and a way to purify it.

Most people know you can use bleach to purify water, but few people know that pool shock (calcium hypochlorite) is a much better solution. A 1-pound bag of calcium hypochlorite costs less than $5 and will purify over 10,000 gallons of water. I personally got 5 pounds for about $15 at Home Depot, or you can get it for about $22 on Amazon.

Pool shock can be stored for a very long time, while bleach is only good for a few months.

Clean drinking water preparation is very easy.

  • Find a few different sources of water (stream, pond, lake, fountain, pools, etc) you could access by foot in an emergency.
  • Get some coffee filters to filter out sediment (especially if the water is coming from a stream or other natural body of water).
  • Get some pool shock and directions on how to use it to clean water.

There’s no reason not to spend $15 on an clean drinking water insurance policy. Please get this today.

2. Food

Food is obviously important, and again it’s useful to have food stored not just for economic collapse, but also for natural disasters, war, drought, crazy bugs that eat up all the plants, or anything else that would cause a food shortage.

I personally like dehydrated food because it’s cheap and it stores for a very long period of time. I bought some Augason Farms emergency buckets (which even come with a water purifying water bottle) and keep them safe in my house. I actually opened one up to try the food and make sure I know how to prepare it, and it’s actually not bad. They run about $100 a bucket and provide enough food for 30 days for one person.

My buddy Len has a great post about different food storage options, so if you are interested in some other options I strongly suggest his post about Emergency Food Supplies.

3. Safety in Numbers

If people start getting violent, all the guns and ammo in the world aren’t going to stop a gang of people from overtaking one individual. Talk to your family and close friends about what you would do in an emergency situation and how you could band together to protect each other.

You can even pose it as a “zombie apocalypse” question if you are afraid they will think you are insane. Just make sure you have a few people you can trust in the back of your mind.

It’s important to remember that if your family and friends aren’t preparing themselves with food and water that you are going to have to prepare extra to account for them. You’re going to want to take them in because you love them and because you need a large group to remain safe.

Based on what I’ve read from people who have been through economic collapse, you can really only trust your family and very best friends. Your survival group needs to be like a family. If times get really hard, you have to know you can trust everyone and you won’t feel like someone is looking out for themselves more than they are looking out for the entire group.

4. Safety in General

Even when you have a group of people, you’ll need to be able to defend yourselves somehow. The best means of self defense would be firearms in the hands of trained shooters. If you aren’t a gun person then martial arts, baseball bats, and anything else you can find will be useful.

Again, I really don’t expect the crazy time period where there is no food on the supermarket shelves to last very long. Hopefully it is so short that nobody resorts to violence for food and water. However, if it lasts too long then you will want to be able to protect yourself and your family.

5. Things to Trade (bonus!)

As a bonus, keep in mind that the longer the economy is devastated and currency is worthless, the more important it will be to have valuable stuff. Extra food, water, or firearms/ammo will be exceptionally valuable. So will medicine, lighters, clothing, alcohol, and a lot of other everyday items.

Don’t be afraid to stock up on stuff you use every day. If a collapse happens, you have something to trade. If it doesn’t you’ll just use it in your everyday life anyway. This is a no-lose situation.

Good Luck

I make mistakes every now and then and I hate when it happens. This is an exception. I hope to God that I’m misunderstanding the economic signs and that we will have a truly healthy economy for many decades.

I also hope that we are never in a situation where a natural disaster or conflict disrupts our ability to go to the grocery store for food and our kitchen sink for tap water.

However, I sleep much better at night knowing that if things get crazy, I have the basic supplies and skills to provide food, water, and protection for myself and those I love most.

Readers: Are you prepared for a disaster? If not, what would you do in the event of an economic collapse or severe natural disaster where there is no help from the government?