I don't know if you've noticed, but the economy is kind of crap, and we've been enjoying a nice long slide for many years now. This is concerning to me, because in addition to personal health and the health of my loved ones, I also like a healthy economy.
So maybe you agree or not, but I'm not seeing our economy improving significantly over the next five or ten years. I sure hope it does, and I'll certainly be doing my very best to promote the ideas that can effect that kind of positive change.
However, we have been taking some steps to mitigate the crappiness that we are currently having to deal with, and preparing for future crappier-ness, too--just in case. Some of the things in our general plan include(d):
Revamping our personal financial health. Over the past three years, we have paid off credit card debt, refinanced the house, shifted assets here and there, played many games of Musical Investments. We've cut expenses where we could--no more cable or satellite, the basic phone land line (which we never answer, sorry to everyone who calls it!), getting rid of subscriptions, etc. We sold Brendan's beautiful, beautiful car because his commute changed from 8 miles round trip to 54 miles and we just couldn't afford to keep fueling that car up with gas.
We now have a budget and are (generally) good at sticking to it. Today we are WAY better off than we were three years ago, and we are always reviewing our financial picture to find ways to improve it.
Improving my personal health. Over the past decade, but especially the past two years, I have been working on improving my own health. This is good thing to do even when the economy is SUPER OSSUM, of course. And I was well on my way toward making these same improvements without economic concerns.
But I do have them. If we get national health care, it's in my best interest to be in the best shape and best health possible. Because socialized medicine will necessarily result in shortages that will have adverse effects. In fact, sometimes when I need motivation to finish a workout at CrossFit, I will chant to myself "ObamaCare, ObamaCare" and somehow that helps me reach a little deeper down to make it through the workout. I really do this, and sometimes my coach will come up to me mid-WOD and say it to me: "ObamaCare!"
So in addition to losing lots of weight and doing the CrossFit, I've actually found a primary care practice for myself. It's a family practice, so the kids and I are all going to the same place now, and Brendan will be switching over, too. I need to get all up to date on my shots, too. Fun.
Preparing. We've always had a half-assed emergency kit. In Atlanta, we are not subject to many natural disasters, so I'd never really felt the need to go, well, whole-assed with it. When I was a teenager, we lived south of Houston on the Gulf Coast and you better believe that my parents had a really well-stocked hurricane kit. And we used it more than once. But here? We had those awful floods two years ago. That kind of got my attention. And, we did get a hurricane (Opal) once, and we get occasional tornadoes (like a couple of weeks ago), and once we even had an earthquake (in 2003). But generally, we're safe from natural disasters.
The thing that really made me think of getting our emergency kit together wasn't the floods or the tornadoes, though. It was when we had a gasoline shortage here, because of storms and hurricanes elsewhere. It's important to recognize that even if you think everything is hunky-dory in your immediate vicinity, what happens somewhere else far away can affect your daily life, too.
That gas shortage REALLY got my attention. Because even though I do generally appreciate producers of wealth and the processes by which wealth gets created, having to drive and drive to find a gas station that had any gas at all to sell really drove home this point: THIS STUFF DOESN'T JUST MAGICALLY APPEAR FROM NOWHERE.
People have to DO things to make this stuff show up at convenient places for people like me to purchase them. And when people can't do those things--whether the cause is natural (like a hurricane), or whether the cause is man-made (like doing things to the economy that will create shortages)--when people can't do the things they need to in order to produce and deliver products, we will ALL suffer the consequences.
I even wrote a post about this at the time and here is what I said back in 2008 (emphasis added, wasn't in original post):
One final musing: when things rumble and bump in our economy, due to natural causes or government-made ones, shortages like our gas situation are going to occur. Big bumps, big problems. In my more paranoid moments, I wonder what will happen if the economy goes boom! I shouldn't take it for granted that I'll be able to find gasoline. Or insulin. How hard will that be to find in an emergency, with the government "helping" with price ceilings and regulations that will shackle the very people who make it and the people who need it. It's very scary to contemplate showing up at the pharmacy and facing an insulin shortage. Because you just expect it to be there, just like you expect gasoline to be at the gas station. Damn.
Insulin is kind of a big thing here, a deal breaker, if you will. Argentina had some pretty major economic issues a few years ago, and insulin became scarce. This will happen in America, too, if (when) things get bad enough. Just like the gas shortage in Atlanta.
So I've been stocking up on medicine (did you know that many medicines are still good past the expiration date?) and food and batteries and stuff. We have a plan for conserving insulin and needles. With Ryan's Epi-pens--well, we're kind of screwed because that medicine is one of the few that really doesn't last well past the expiration date. Though he'll be fine if he can avoid peanuts, which he can do, though that means I've had to be extra careful about what kinds of food we put into our emergency kit.
And I've got a list of what we've got, what we still need, and the "nice-to-haves." I've got expiration dates on my inventory list, too, so I can easily check what might be expiring (food-wise, mostly), and rotate those items out for immediate consumption and replace them with items with expirations further in the future.
There are still more things I'd like to do to prepare. I am interested in learning to grow more of our own food. Again, this falls into the "good to know even when the economy is rocking" category. I am interested in learning to do things like general car repairs (oil changes, etc) as a way to cut down on expenses. I'd like to learn to do many things to be more self-sufficient, if only because it'll be cheaper and hey, knowledge is power!
So. There you have it. If you, too, are a fellow Paranoid CrazyPerson, feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment and give me more ideas about preparing for disasters (natural and man-made)!