My eyes have been newly opened to the trials that our civilizations faces. I've watched the Crash Course, I regularly read Zero Hedge for news, and I've just recently discovered the amazing Archduid Report blog by John Michael Greer. I've made some tenative steps towards planning for the uncertain future that we face by selling my house and becoming 100% debt free, but there is one point I seem at a total loss about and that is what kind of work will be available in the future.
I've spent the last 8 years in software development, and just recently I took a year off from work to pursue a career in illustration and creating story books. This was all before I came across the CM site, Zerohedge, etc and really delved into the mess that threatens to blow up in most everyone's faces. Now I find myself in the unique situation where I have nearly a year to prepare myself for the kinds of jobs that may be available after the SHTF, but I'm not sure what to pursue.
Just today I visited a local blacksmith to learn more of the trade, thinking that this could be the skill I could fall back on when jobs like software development and artist are nowhere to be found. I'm uncertain of the time frame of things to come, and even if I were to learn the productive skills of a smith, then what sort of market would there be if everyone's out of a job. My girlfriend is especially skeptical of this trade as she doesn't see it having any use or value. Please keep in mind that she believes that society will carry on as it has for the last several decades.
Any thoughts the community may have on my ramblings would be greatly appreciated.
That's it IMO. Learn how to grow/harvest/store food. It will be more and more important to the masses and those with the knowledge to share will be sought out and valuable. If you know 1% there is to know about some aspect of food, that's more than most.
Everybody has to eat.
Welcome Tim. When I first stumbled across sites like this I thought I had a year to prepare too, and now it's 3.5 years later and we're still muddling along. I'd say any occupation you are fired up about that serves basic needs, not just discetionary spending, will do best,
Welcome to the community. It's probably the most positive, useful prep site on the internet. Compared to sofware engineering blacksmithing is a great trade to know, and not just to shoe horses. I'm a heavy construction safety engineer but I jumped off the rat race bandwagon and moved out of the greater NYC area and am pursuing gardening and preserving food as my "trade" - especially seed saving. Some folks here are into raising chickens or cows or hay, others are urban preppers with community garden plots and their bugout bag at the ready. Many of us are not Americans, as this is a global crisis.
Once you've looked through the "What Should I Do?" articles, which may take a while, if you have any questions use the "search this site" feature at the far upper right of your screen in case any of your other questions have an existing thread. If you cannot find what you need, start a new thread and ask us. There are scores of very generous people who are willing to help.
For priorities, yours sound pretty sound. Getting out of debt is a biggie.
Another you might consider is food security. safewrite's occupation or preoccupation is as good as they get. I'm probably the wrong person to give advice on career paths as I'm about to retire from mine and plan to go full in on developing our food growing capacity.
I will say, however, a friend of mine is a blacksmith, and even though ts has not htf yet, he does very well for himself. He owns his own farm and just built a new house. There is also an Amish blacksmith nor far from where I live who has a steady business. I don't know how one breaks into the business, but you might consider apprenticing.
I personally think that taking up blacksmithing as a trade would be a lot of fun and could provide some protection against a severe SHTF scenario. You can get a sense of what potential is there by visiting some old time rendezvous or re-enactments of life as it was 200-500 years ago. We often find blacksmiths doing their thing at fur trader rendezvous which are common in our area. A big thing for them is knife making, followed by trinket making for tourists, such as flint and steel strikers for fire making. Also lots of interesting wrought Iron work, both functional and artistic. One even had gone so far as making barrels for black powder rifles and shotguns. I think there is a wide range of things one could do with this. I would suggest combining this with a more modern technology such as welding. I saw a blacksmith forge at an estate sale last fall. Nobody knew what it was except me, because I had seen the exact same thing at many rendezvous. Could have had it for a song. I wanted to bid on it so bad, but alas, I have nowhere to store it right now, so regretfully had to pass.
The physical aspects of blacksmithing would provide a nice "get away" from the mental requirements of software development. It should be pursued as a hobby, especially early on. I would shy away from considering it a hard core alternative form of employment to your present work, mainly because you would be bootstrapping your skills from nothing, and that will mean a setback in your income stream. Pursue this on a hobby basis, maintain and develop your current skills in the software world. Then, if the world doesn't come to an end, you have not put yourself up the creek without a paddle and you still have an interesting lifelong hobby which could provide an auxiliary income stream if you want it.
If you are considering a career change, do it for the right reasons and ease into it if you can. I have known folks who dislike what they're doing so greatly, and they feel trapped in a hamster's wheel. It would be easy to use SHTF as an excuse to chuck what they're doing and go back to the land and live the good life. A wonderful dream, but can be failure prone if not done for the love of the lifestyle and fully accepting with open eyes what the trade offs will mean 5 years, 10 years and more down the road.
Just curious - why is getting out of debt such a priority while at the same time hording food as if the bottom is going to completely drop? If said scenario does materialize, what does good credit do for you?
I wouldn't necessarily and immediately jump into blacksmithing, although that is a great hobby to have - and if you can earn a living on it now, by all means go for it.
I'd look into skills that can be useful now, and in transition, and into a less technological future. Because the process may take a few years, or it may take decades.
For example, someone handy with both power tools and hand tools for building with wood and technological cast-offs like auto parts, that would make sense. Someone who has EMT or nursing or medical training, that would make sense. Having DIY (do-it-yourself) skills as a handyman, gardener, herbalist, rancher, veterinarian, farmer, merchant/fixer - at both current tech levels and at low tech levels - that makes sense as well.
Can you do your own car repair? Can you put together a working bicycle with tools at hand and two broken bikes? Can you get a make-shift windmill or hook up an old solar panel to charge deep cycle batteries - and then run appliances or tools or even a light bulb without blowing a fuse? Do you know how to use a chisel? Can you doctor a cow? Are you good at gunsmithing or working with a hand lathe? Can you make and age cheese, process vegetable oil into fuel, or hunt? Or make yogurt or sourdough bread from your own starter? Make something palatable or even delicious given whatever ingredients are at hand? Brew wine or beer?
Making do and jury-rigging, repairing, re-using, salvaging, making things from raw materials... I am thinking about the kinds of skills that have payoffs at the immediate, intermediate, and indefinite time frames, and are skills you can teach and pass on to someone willing to work under you.
Also think of stocking up on tools that are long-lasting, that aren't made anymore, or would be very handy to have and invaluable to trade. It could very well be that 30 years on, you'll be giving your daughter or granddaughter something as rare and as simple as a sturdy grater, a grain mill, or a pencil and paper... Or even a bottle of isopropyl alcohol, a needle and syringe, a thermometer, or a solar calculator.
Thank you to everyone who added to the thread. There is a lot to consider!
Tycer - Food security is top priority. My girlfriend and I plan to start a small garden this year. I'm hoping I can get more of my family involved as well. There is great satisfaction in growing food successfully.
Woodman - I sometimes feel a great sense of urgency in preparing for the uncertain times to come. Your comment helped put thing into perspective. I expect that we'll be facing a slow decline over many years to come. I believe blacksmithing could provide the means (i.e. tools) that people need to fulfill their basic needs, especially in a deindustrialized and deglobalized world.
Safewrite - Thanks for the warm welcome! I am in Canada, actually, and I fully appreciate that we are facing a global crisis. It's good to see others are preparing as well. I have read some of the "What Should I Do" articles, and there's a long list of things for me to do yet. I sometimes get a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of it. The supportive community here is encouraging, though.
Doug - thank you for your insights into blacksmithing. It seems it can be a viable trade even now at the height of industrialized civilization. I have spoken to a local smith here who is willing to teach me. I believe it's a step in the right direction.
osb272646 - I think you've got the right idea that I should pursue smithing as a hobby for now. If and when SHTF, I'll at least have the knowledge and skills I've built up in my free time to fall back on. I am in the process of switching careers, and as you say, I'm doing it for the right reasons. I understand the implications of my choice; I just wasn't certain how this potential crisis that's coming down the pipes would interfere with it.
FriscoMike - I believe being debt free is more about removing liabilities than it is ensuring one has good credit.
I've had several people ask me the same thing. Why bother getting out of debt if the system will just crash, or credit won't mean a thing, or hyperinflation will mean the money owed will be worthless?
Aside from the morality of skipping out on debt, there are some practical considerations:
1. The current economy may not collapse. It may just drag on and on and on. Can you really afford to be so sure that you would make that bet?
2. Why put money into a bank account for 1%, or in a market where you hope to make 4% or 5%, when you can get a monkey off your back, earning 5% to 24.99% off of you?
3. Whether in deflationary times or hyperinflationary times, jobs and adequate money may be difficult to come by.
Great Depression: deflationary. Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe: hyperinflation. In either environment, ordinary people had a difficult time with rampant unemployment and inability to afford necessities. In both cases, not enough money.
In a deflationary environment, jobs are few and money is scarce to come by as workers are willing to work for less. Repaying debt is more difficult. But don't think the bill collectors won't send repo men or enforcers, or get legislation passed to make bankruptcy more difficult like has already happened in 2005.
In an inflationary or hyperinflationary environment, it is also possible for for jobs to be difficult to come by, and pay to be inadequate to meet existential needs, as it may not rise, or only rises in response to inflation. Minimum wage might be $500, but if you don't have a job, you'll still have a hard time paying off debt because you're scrambling for $500 to buy rice and beans, not pay off your $10,000 credit card. And again, laws tend to favor investors, who can buy their lawyers and politicians.
It's just better to be out of debt, no matter the environment.
I also specialize in mostly software development, but I'm betting that the skills will still be in need for a while... Well anyway, I will try to juice it as much as possible, working on projects that may have more future (e.g.: maybe medical, but not video games IMO) because this is what I can do to actually get enough money right now. And I think I'm pretty good at it and hope to do well in the future competitive market :) Especially if I successfully redirect my field...
Another important thing to consider in this line of work is telecommuting. One day, I may just try to acquire land and a house (as far as possible from any nuclear plant) and keep doing software development, for whatever, money anyway. Even if the Internet becomes unstable, it does not matter that much if most of the time is spent staring at the screen for hours on end anyway
Well, anyway, just wanted to let you know of my ideas about the whole thing from one "nerd" to another!
My job is with the government here in Canada, and in February I was planning on moving to a new career because my current one paid the bills but sucked the soul out of me. That was all decided upon before I knew anything of the crash course, peak oil, the myth of progress, etc. Having read all of that, I may just go back to milk my current job for as long as possible. If a depression is looming in the near future, then I think my best chance is to earn as much cash as I can and buy assets while remaining debt free. My spare time can be spent learning the kinds of things that I and other community members have mentioned here.
Telecommuting would be a great option, especially if the job is located in another city. It certainly allows software developers some flexibility.
Thanks for your input, Samuel!
Job number one should community-building. Think about this- if you lost your job today, who in your neighborhood would be able to help you find some work? If you were out of food, who would be willing and able to help? Build those relationships BEFORE they are needed. I consider a gradual slide into lawlessness a very real consequence of a failing/failed economy, community-building will go a long way toward insulating peope against this.
Welding is a better bet than blacksmithing, IMO. Personally, I find a total return to the early 1800's highly improbable at best. Even an EMP wouldn't eliminate all technological progress.
I am continually surprised at how difficult it is to grow enough food for one's family, and how few people are capable of doing it. Reading and test gardens, starting today, should be part of your education.
I totally agree with Tic Tac . My son-in-law the welder make over $25 an hour wich is nothing compared to many fields but is solid and a need . He also shoes horses and can blacksmith . This is what he does after work and weekends. . Yes it pays better than welding but You have to travel and must consider milage .. PLUS many people do not work with their horses enough and you could end up injured .
It will not hurt a thing to have both skills . But by golly if you do nothave community you are going to be struggling soon . Gas is over $10 in upper AK . Salmon will be expensive .... All fishermen will be counting the cost .
People time is now to get stocked up or get very good at producing your own food .
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