Monday, April 9, 2012

Prepping on a Budget and OH NOEZ, Big Brother Is Watching You!

Good day, folks.  Wanted to drop a quick update to my small number of readers.  No seriously, those of you in Alaska, Russia, and assorted other faraway places, thanks for stopping by!

First up today, I wanted to briefly discuss prepping on a budget, since this is often a huge topic of discussion in the prepping community.  A lot of new preppers that post up in various forums I ghost/lurk on all seem to have the same complaints.  They watch all the Youtube preppers posting hundreds of videos of their many firearms, or their year's worth (or more) of stockpiled food for several people, or their other in-depth preps, and it all kind of overwhelms these folks who are new to the prepper game.  What they fail to take into account is that a lot of these people have been doing this for years.  And really, shows like "Doomsday Preppers" don't help matters with their (frankly) bullshit editing where make a point of having the preppers featured mention how much money they've spent overall.  What good does someone featured on the show admitting they've spent $50,000 over the years do for the beginner to hear?  Often, this leads to feelings of inadequacy or "I just can't do it!" and so they just throw their hands up and say "Forget it".  This is exactly the wrong message to send, I feel.  Instead, my advice is to start out small.  Every prepper out there has been where you were once.  Bear a few things in mind.  And remember, I try to remain a realist with a dash of optimist thrown in for spice:

1.  The United States won't collapse tomorrow.  So, if you can't afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars right this minute on gold, silver, or other precious metals to stockpile for the end-times, when you'll need to trade that gold for a case of green beans and a crate full of chickens, don't worry about it.  If you truly want to get to the point that some preppers are at, you're going to have to do it just as they did, and start saving some money from each paycheck, and then go buy yourself some precious metals.  Simple as that.

2.  Zombies are not going to attack your neighborhood tomorrow.  So, if you can't afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars right this minute on a gun-safe full of AR-15s (each with a fancy optic) and 50,000 rounds of ammo, or a bag full of pistols with thousands of rounds stored for each one, don't worry about it.  If you want to be able to arm a small compound with enough weapons to get WWZ properly underway, you'll have to do it the same way all those Youtube preppers did: save your money up, then go buy yourself some serious firepower!

3.  The grocery stores and trucking/shipping infrastructure of the US won't collapse tomorrow.  So, if you can't afford the thousands of dollars in freeze-dried food in those huge five gallon buckets, supplemented with a basement full of shelves stocked with canned goods and peanut butter along with 3,000 gallons of bottled water, don't worry about it.  If you want to have enough food and to keep yourselves going for a year or more, you'll need to do what those forum guys with all that food and water stockpiled did, save up and buy a bunch at once...or else, do it the smart way and every paycheck, pick up a little something. A bag of rice here, some sixpacks of canned tuna that were on sale there...pretty soon, your pantry is going to look like the pantries of some of those folks on "Doomsday Preppers". 

The point I'm trying to make should be fairly obvious by now.  Don't go read forums/blogs or watch Youtube videos (or that damn Doomsday show) featuring preps that took people years and years to assemble, and then let yourself become discouraged because you can't go out and come to that same level all at once.  Some of those folks have nothing else in their lives other than their preps*,and have spent years and years worth of paychecks singularly on supplies, firearms, ammunition, and other prepping areas such as home fortification, and so on.  These sorts of folks (as best as I can tell from their videos/blog posts) don't live the normal middle-class existence.  They don't go out to eat most nights, they don't go out on the weekends with friends (or if they do, they aren't down at the bar blowing $200 on a bartab), and they don't buy things they don't need like flashy sports-cars.  They tend to live beneath their means, and spend the extra money that frees up on prepping supplies.  That is the difference.  If you want to begin prepping, and don't feel that you'll be able to commit to a total life-change, that's ok.  I think I'm probably one of the first people I've ever seen on the subject who will outright say that.  Not everyone is going to see the logic in preparing for the total collapse of the government.  Not everyone is going to decide they need a safe full of long-guns.  For many, a backpack with some food, clothing, water, and a couple boxes of ammo for their used Glock they got on sale, all sitting next to the door and ready to go will be plenty. 

Don't be discouraged.  With prepping, disaster preparedness, or the survival mentality, morale is everything.  If you can envision yourself doing it, you can do it.  Simple as that.  Start small.  Map out a realistic budget as part of your planning stages.  Can you spare, say $50 a month?  Hell, $50 a paycheck?  That's $100 a month right there.  With that sort of funding, you're going to be a fully stocked prepped household in no time, to be quite candid with you.  I mean, $50?  That's 50 one-gallon jugs of drinking water, as an example.  What is that?  Well, considering that the standard rule of thumb is one gallon per person, per day as a minimum, that means you have water for one person for almost two months!  You can spare $100 a month?  That's insane.  That's two lanterns, at around $30 apiece (for decent camping lanterns) and $40 left over to buy fuel canisters.  Wait, you can buy those cheap storm-lanterns that run on kerosene at Wal-Mart for what, $10 apiece?  A big jug of kerosene is like, $6.  So, essentially, for that month's $100 outlay, you are going to have light to read by, enough to last through almost any power outage situation.  What's that?  You're not really making that much coin?  Alright, let's see, $30 a paycheck?  $60 a month?  That's enough money to buy enough Ramen to last you a year right there.  Next month's $60, buy 60 jugs of water, boom.  Month after that, buy a $50 camp stove, and four canisters of fuel.  Month after that, start working on a bug-out bag.  Hit up the thrift store and pick up a couple cheap backpacks, and go from there.  Couple of cheap ponchos, a few space blankets, some energy bars, some extra pairs of socks, and some bottled-water, and you have the makings of a cheap Get Outta Dodge bag, and all for silly cheap.

You don't need $2,000 tricked out assault rifles, enough ammo, food, and water to outfit a battalion, or a super high-end Maxpedition pack filled with top-of-the-line camping-store charge card goodies in order to be prepared to a pretty decent degree.  Plenty of people out there are just like you, in the same financial situation you are in, and prepping on the cheap.  Use your head, and some common sense, and you're going to be fine.

Speaking of using your head, that brings me to my second topic of discussion. Now, before I get into this, please understand that I have always had a pretty heavy sense of skepticism.  I have a highly developed BS Meter, and when things don't pass the standard "sniff check", I'll say so.  This subject is one of those.  Very recently, I watched a few Youtube videos that all seemed to have the same message, as though several of the big YT-preppers all read the same article somewhere in a similar time-frame and had to make a commentary video on it, or else posted up their opinion in agreement.  Not sure, but due to the nature of the topic, I'm pretty sure it was posted on some conspiracy theory board I don't read.

I digress.  Anyway...

The topic of discussion centered around the idea that a lot of conspiracy theorists (and no small number of preppers, apparently) hold where they feel that the Government** is not only able to monitor our every move, but is actively doing so, and targeting preppers. 

Ok, first off, this is absurd.  I'm sorry, but it is.  I know that a lot of preppers have a strong dislike for the Government.  I know they have a strong dislike for authority agencies like the FBI or NSA, or whoever.  Yes, I'm aware that the NSA and FBI have multiple technologies that would allow a  specific government agency focused on finding out everything about you to easily do so.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's the gist of it.  Some people are concerned because they appear to have just recently discovered something that's been a reality for something like 20 or more years now.  Let's be candid.  I understand the logic behind the paranoia.  I do.

"They"*** can track every purchase you make, they know all of your spending habits, they know about all your internet haunts, they have on file every word you've ever typed and it's all cross-referenced by every IP you've ever had, they are listening in on every call you make on your cell phone (well, when they aren't busy GPS tracking your cell phone when you visit that little cabin in the woods you think no one knows about where you have some supplies stashed), they know about every gun you own, they know how much ammo you have, and they know all about your food stash, your preps, even that class III vest you paid cash for at the last gun show. 

Here's why it's bullshit: you're a nobody.

I mean, are you kidding me with this?  I'm trying not to be outright offensive here, but really.  Come on, already.  There are over three hundred million Americans.  How many people are active duty armed forces?  How many people are in all the local/state police forces, National Guard forces, TSA, NSA, FBI, DOE, DOT, hell, Secret Service, etc., etc., etc.??  Why would any of those groups be looking for you?  Listen, there's an old saying I know you've heard before, "if you don't want to be noticed, then don't attract attention".  Well, trust me when I say that it takes more than a Youtube channel full of videos of you having indicated that you dislike the current Administration, talked about what ARs and shotguns you have, and that you have a year's supply of food to be "noticed".  Law enforcement or "They" aren't going to be "coming to take all your preps in an emergency situation".  This seems to be the going mindset.  "Well, the government is going to come take all our supplies, guns, and ammo if there's civil unrest!"

What?!  Listen, I'm not going to go into what I do for a living, but suffice it to say that this is one of those rare times where I am speaking from professional experience and prior knowledge of How The System Works.  And I'm here to tell you that, unless you've been making a bunch of cell phone calls where you talk about assassinating a certain key political figure who tends to take trips in a winged vehicle whose name rhymes with Chairhorse Fun, then I am able to tell you from a position of reasonable certainty that you aren't even in any sort of nebulous "Person of Interest/Suspicion" database.  You living in a rural area and trying to "live off the grid" and paying for everything with cash is fine.  For one thing, that wouldn't stop the Feds if you did become a POI/S.  There are so many systems in place that retain personal information about you, it's easy for them to find you with a couple of phone calls, really.  But hey, if it makes you feel better, go for it.  Certainly nothing wrong with it.  Hey, as an example, I explained early in my posting on this blog that I use it as a means of obscuring my identity and having a place where I can freely talk about a subject which I realize might bring ridicule on me if various people in my life discovered my interest in it.  If the Feds wanted to find me, and everywhere I'd ever been online, it would be accomplished in a matter of minutes.  Then they'd pull up my driver's license or other personal documentation in government systems and simply send a car out to my house to pick me up.  And here's the thing: same goes for you.

But they won't.  Because they don't care about you.  Simple as that.

Problem is, it's not really the Feds you have to worry about.  Are you reading this on a computer you own?  That's hooked up to the internet?  Then too bad, you're already in the "System", and have been for some time.  Hell, you think the Feds are insidious; they don't hold a candle to companies like Google who are tracking what sites you visit when you use their search engine, read your Gmail emails at random, track what sites you purchase goods from, who you bank with, and what your interests are.  Do you have an iPhone?  Apple has been busted multiple times now keeping tabs on peoples' personal calling habits, from who you call most often (which they then cross reference to see if that person is using one of their devices) to when you call, what apps you buy, how you use the phone, and using the built in GPS to build a profile of your "everyday" whereabouts.  Your bank?  Well, I think you already have an idea of how invasive the whole FICO thing is.  Plus, banks regularly sell your personal information and credit and bill-paying histories to multiple companies who exist solely to build consumer profiles about people so they can sell these to other companies who will then try to market goods and services to you.

Don't believe me?  Do a search sometime on yourself.  And they're just one of the many, many services of that type out there.  So, please.  Take my advice.  Do your due diligence in making sure you aren't a target of identity theft, but understand that at this point, you're already in the "system" you are afraid of.  And you have been for many years.  If you are reading this, and you're a veteran prepper, I invite you to take notice of the fact that you haven't had your door kicked in by a team of SWAT stormtroopers as black helicopters with harsh spotlights illuminate your whole house.  They don't care about you.  You're not a person of interest.  So, it should be clear that while there are companies out there with full profiles on you, to them, you're just a statistic, one name in a list of millions.  Sometimes, preppers get really carried away, and lose focus.  Don't be that guy.  Keep a level head, a positive attitude, and at the end of the day, stay safe out there.

- Unnamed Prepper

"Imagine a thousand more such daily intrusions in your life, every hour and minute of every day, and you can grasp the source of this paranoia, this anger that could consume me at any moment if I lost control. "

- Jack Henry Abbott

*Which I am definitely not going to condescend towards.  We are all different, with different things we assign levels of importance to.  
**DUN DUN DUUUUUUN  (Picture a Vaudeville villain twirling his mustache and covering his face with his cape) 
***Ever notice how nutjob conspiracy theorists always have this nebulous "they" whom they feel is out to get them?  Big Brother, Big Government, Big Corporations, the Men in Black, the CIA, FBI, NSA, TSA, DOE, and hell, the DOT, are all watching your every move.  Right now.

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