In a recent email I asked the question “what got you into prepping” and the response was overwhelming. Some of the answers were job loss and family crisis, some were natural disaster preparedness, but a majority of people got into preparedness because of the very real possibility of an economic collapse, followed closely by a power grid failure.
Before I go any further I just want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to answer the email. The reason I asked the question is to get a better idea about what concerns you the most, and get ideas about what to write and talk about that fit your needs.
Because an economic collapse is so high on so many peoples list, we decided to start there. In this week’s show Lisa and I didn’t necessarily talk about what supplies you might need, we talked more about what you need to expect, and what life might be like post collapse.
SPP147 Preparing for an Economic Collapse and What to Expect
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What an Economic Collapse Might Look Like
Most articles you read tend to be on the extremes side of things, that’s because we need to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. The reality is that no one really know what will happen until it happens.
My personal opinion is that we are in the beginning stages of a collapse, and have been on the brink a few times in recent history. My main concern is that the more the powers that be continue to put a band aid on a bullet wound, the worse it’s going to be when that wound bursts open.
An economic collapse could be a complete breakdown of society, or it could be like the great depression, although because we are a more dependent society these days it is likely to be much worse.
What to Expect From an Economic Collapse
In this article from Off Grid Survival go through quite a bit about an economic collapse, but state the following about what to expect…
A Run on the Banks: One of the first things you will see is a run on the banks. People are going to be panicking, and they will be doing everything they can to get their hands on cash to buy extra supplies.
Chaos in the Streets: Once the banks run dry, you will see people turn desperate. The moment they realize the money is gone is the moment you will see widespread chaos sweep throughout the country. Riots, looting and widespread violence will break out, making self-defense one of your primary concerns.
Martial Law: When things start to go bad, I believe you will see the government declare a state of emergency or Martial Law. When this happens you will see things like travel restrictions, mandatory curfews, and the suspension of Constitutional rights.
The Domino Affect
Preparing for an economic collapse means preparing for the other crisis that follow. An economic collapse could mean job loss, rising crime rates and the suspension of our constitutional rights.
This is why I feel that preparing for an economic collapse encompasses all of prepping. Preparing for the coming collapse doesn’t just mean having food and water, it means being ready to handle the aftermath like a grid down event or Martial Law.
How People Might React
As I mentioned in last week’s podcast, we have “first world problems” and Americans are spoiled. For the most part none of us have to go days without food, or have to drink dirty water. Because we can get just about anything we want (even free from the government) we have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle.
If the economy collapses it would be like taking a cellphone away from a teenager, only much, much worse. If you take away the food, people will do whatever it takes to eat, people will become desperate leading to other dangerous scenarios we need to keep in mind.
Critical Thinking Skills
All of this might seem like common sense to us, but to the average person survival skills and preparing to live through one of these events is outside the realm of possibility. We understand why food storage is important, and we understand what might happen in any number if disaster scenarios.
Because of this we need to use our critical thinking skills and understand how people who have never given a second thought to how they will eat with no grocery store or money will react. Thinking critically will help us decide which path is the safest path to take.
Why Self-Defense is Important
Like it or not, self-defense is going to be very important. People are going to want what we have and if the only way to get it is through force they will justify it. During an economic collapse the crime rate will skyrocket, and who knows how much help the police will be.
Self-defense ranges from firearms, to non-lethal weapons, to physically being able to defend yourself. Some people are not comfortable owning firearms and I wrote this post about non-lethal weapons if that is the case for you. I personally believe that everyone should own and be educated about gun safety even if you never plan on using it.
Food Storage and Survival Supplies
This might be a little obvious but still needs to be mentioned. If a loaf of bread costs $20 and if we lost our job because of a depression type event not having to worry about buying food on a daily basis will not only help us live through a collapse, it will give us think about something other than feeding the family…like security and survival.
Having long term food storage and survival supplies also means there will be no need to put yourself in danger by having to venture out into the chaos just to survive. The severity depends on the level of the collapse, but having the ability to bug in is always a good plan.
Get Out of Debt ASAP
Getting out of debt is not only important in the event of an economic collapse, it should be a goal we have regardless. If we are spending a couple hundred dollars a month paying off credit card, that’s a couple hundred dollars a month we could be survival supplies…like gold and silver.
Just because the economy collapses doesn’t mean your debt disappears. There are plenty of stories about farms and homes getting repossessed during the great depression. Again, the more food you have, and the less debt you have, the less important money is to you.
Investing in Gold and Silver
My grandma lived through the great depression and while I didn’t think much about it when she was alive I think about how she lived all the time now. Most people have never had to live through an event like this, so it seems outrageous that this much planning and preparation is important.
As I mentioned in the show my grandmother was a lunch lady at an elementary school. She had very little money but managed to use the money she had to its fullest extent. She had a small dirt basement (basically a hole under her house) full of canned food, and when she passed she had over $20,000 in gold and silver.
You might read about why or why not investing in gold and silver is, but to me the fact that she thought it was important is far more telling than an article written by a “professional”. She thought it was important…and so do I.
Bartering Might Become Common Place
Even if an economic collapse is not a complete collapse we will probably revert back to some sort of bartering system. If money becomes worthless our skills and our supplies will become our currency. Good bartering items include first aid supplies, alcohol, clothing and even small items like lighters.
Bartering could also include your skills. If someone has no idea how to garden, and you do, that will be very valuable to that person and you could possibly take a portion of the harvest for teaching them. I have a couple of articles here and here about valuable post collapse skills to have or learn.
A Positive Note…
While an economic collapse is nothing we look forward to, it’s something that could very well happen. The more we prepare now the less of an impact it will have on us and our families. As the saying goes…
“The end of the world doesn’t have to be the end of the world”
Frank LaFlamme says
Good food for thought to be sure. Thanks for putting that together. I might offer another perspective to consider on the debt issue. If i had to bet, I would wager that owner occupied real property (homes) are unlikely to be foreclosed upon should a severe economic collapse become a reality. Think about this: the government would have a strong interest in minimizing the level of societal chaos and disruption to whatever extent they could during such a scenario. Putting more people on the street and ratcheting up the anger would be counterproductive. I really think there would be temporary laws enacted to allow residents to remain in their homes indefinitely–possibly preventing the eviction of renters as well. I do however think that vehicle repossessions would become commonplace. So, the concept here would be to pay off any and all vehicle debt, even if it requires using the equity in one’s home to do so (via borrowing the money against the house). Of course none of us know for sure how this would actually play out, it’s another way to look at the potential problem.
Often thought of this in terms of who will be employed to foreclose on people’s property, won’t all be suffering job losses?
Great site for more resources and good for the prepper newbies.
Just revisiting this continues to remind me that , we should not think much during radical events , but have the knowledge and the brain Will have muscle memory ,so Keep prepping,stay sharp.
I find it very interesting how people love to speculate about what an economic collapse might look like without bothering to look at examples where it has occurred numerous times already.
I grew up in Eastern Europe. During my time there we experienced as complete of an economic collapse as is likely to occur. That was back in the 80s and early 90s, but you can see more recent, although not as extreme examples with Greece.
There are three things that i will point out based on my experience with living through it:
1. Rioting and violence are very uncommon. People don’t become desperate and start looting and killing. That is a fiction that is repeated over and over by people with big imaginations, but that is not what happens in such situations. Can there be some looting of commercial enterprises? Sure. But it’s not something that is seen on large scale during economic collapse. You will more likely see political protests than looting.
2. Getting out of debt is the worst thing you can do if you are expecting economic collapse. The main thing that occurs during such a collapse is hyperinflation. This will devalue any debt you might have. Your $200,000 mortgage will be paid off by you selling two pairs of shoes. Whatever money you have should be converted into debt or tangible goods prior to a collapse.
3. Nobody is coming for your food supplies. There is always a better way to get food. When people burglarize your house (something which will happen when you are not home) they will take your TV, gold, the tires from your car, etc. Nobody cares about cans of beans.
Anyway, those are just my observations from living through a very severe economic and political collapse.
Ross, you lived through a collapse where car tires and TV sets were scarce to begin with but basic foods were plenty. This is not the situation we are in. We have plenty of cars that can be canibalized for spare parts and every family has dozens of gadgets. Even if they remain useful, because the grid and the Internet are not down, nobody will break into a house for this trash. It may indeed be a can of tuna people are willing to kill for.
In my experience that is not how things work out during economic collapse. Basic foods were not plenty where I grew up, even before the economic collapse. The thing is that collapse is a much more complicated process than: “something bad happens; there is no food; people kill each other for food”. That’s how it works in books and movies, but not in reality.
I think here in the US too many people speculate about what economic collapse looks like based on their favorite apocalypse fan-fiction, and ignore the numerous examples from around the world of what economic collapse actually looks like.
That’s just my opinion. It is based on actually living through an economic collapse.
I’m not arguing the fact of what economic collapse will look and has looked like in the past around the world.
I would like to remind you that in America in this day and age of very little skills, drive, self economic responsibility ,
Where we are looking to the government to fix our problems.
Well you get the point ..
I just have to remind you a country that can’t figure out should I use the boys or the girls restroom..
America has to be the most un-predictable people in history.
So I for one choose to be well prepared for any level disaster..