What have you done?

brighton_roy
By brighton_roy on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 - 10:44am

Much of our focus – not surprisingly - is likely to be based around the question "What should I Do?" 

In alignment with Chris' philosophy that there is a world of difference between being 3% prepared and 0% prepared, I think it could be beneficial to spend a little time reflecting on what we have already achieved in our prepping, rather than just stressing about what we haven't done yet...

Also, this might serve as a useful introduction to eachother so we can get an idea of where each of us is on our individual journeys, and what our priorities are.

For me, over the past few months I have (in no particular order):

  • Converted most of my savings to Gold (around £20k), some of which I am physically close to, and some I have in a vault at goldmadesimple.com.
  • Built up a supply of at least 2-months’ worth of food for me and my family, mostly stored away from the house due to lack of storage space.
  • Acquired the means to filter water in case of a disruption in the water supply.  I probably have enough filtering options to last a couple of years.
  • Researched and bought a whole load of useful miscellaneous items just in case the S really does HTF. Small solar chargers, bug out kit items. that kind of thing... 
  • Put our house up for sale, with a view to moving somewhere - probably away from Brighton - with a decent sized garden (by UK standards, that is).  Ideally we will rent, at least while the financial storm continues around us.
  • Looked in to solar energy options, both portable and long term for once we have moved
  • Learned about several key aspects of growing/storing food: composting, growing plants in small spaces, root cellars, etc.  Also bought a food dehydrator and am experimenting with that.
  • Spent a lot of time online educating myself about what's really happening in the world, and finding reliable/inspirational sources of information to compliment the work of Dr M.
  • Contacted a number of family members and friends with the hope they will take some time looking at the Crash Course and get on board.  I've had mixed results, but enough people have been willing to follow the course, that I am encouraged to keep banging the drum.

…and all this while dealing with the arrival of our twin girls in December last year.

Does that make me 3% prepared? I hope so, it's taken a lot of time and effort (and money) to get this far.  In terms of long term prepping, I feel very exposed to events that are out of my control.  But I feel I have done enough to become resilient in the event of a short term disruption.  

One thing's for sure: this time last year I was at 0%, so I'm moving in the right direction.

So, what have you already accomplished in your prepping?

12 Comments

New_Life's picture
New_Life
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2011
Posts: 336
Very little other than be educated & accept reality.. :-)

V impressive, I've done next to nothing in comparison other than building up some v minor food reserves.

What's the advantages of renting? If you move to a new location doesn't that make you insecure about the land you're on and at the whim of your landlord?

Would it be better to buy a cheaper place in new preferred location, fix long term mortgage rates and have some savings?

btw - double congrats on your girls!

anomad's picture
anomad
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Joined: Oct 3 2011
Posts: 8
Some of the same . . but struggling with Doubt

Hi,
I've not posted before but have been reading CM and other sites for many months. My gut instinct is that something is going to "give" in the financial world and we're all going to be in a world of hurt. But I remember that that is what many people thought of Y2K and it just didn't happen. So I struggle with doubt and the optimistic view that somehow the concerns will all go away.
Fortunately, my husband knows that my gut instinct is normally on target and he supports minor preparations. So we have a food store that might last three weeks, a water purifier, medicines, some firewood, a fledging garden and a wormery. It seems a bit hit-or-miss when written down. I'd love to have a wood burning stove, some solar options and chickens but the cost or hassle of those is a step too far for my husband.
Congratulations on your girls. I have identical twin boys several years ahead of you. It does get easier but not anytime soon. ;-) Just hang in there and support each other even when you think you've got nothing left to give. It is worth it!
nomad

anomad's picture
anomad
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Posts: 8
Location

Forgot to mention we're close to London.

brighton_roy's picture
brighton_roy
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Joined: Oct 26 2011
Posts: 26
renting or buying

 

thanks for the congrats, Scubaroo :-)

On the subject of renting or buying.  To be honest, neither option looks great right now.  The main reason I am wary of buying now, is that we'll be taking on more debt at the same time our income has taken a hit.     And one of the recurring messages from Dr M appears to be to get out of debt if you can.

We do have a fair amount of equity (around 90k), but even so, if I want to buy somewhere around the Brighton area, we're looking at around 350k for a reasonable 3-bed house.  So even with a decent deposit, it's a lot of debt to take on.  I take your point though about fixing - if we do buy, I'll definitely be looking for a long term fixed rate.

The downside of renting of course is that any long term plans - investing in solar, insulating the house, etc etc, are obviously not viable if we don't own the house.  But the upside is we are not tied down, should we decide we want to leave the area.

Do you have an idea of some practical steps you want to take?

 

brighton_roy's picture
brighton_roy
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 26 2011
Posts: 26
motivation

Thanks for the congratulations anomad, and welcome to the group.

It has certainly been a hard few months, as you can probably remember very well :-)  In an ideal world, I would probably not have chosen to learn about all this bad stuff happening in the world at the same time as becoming a father of twins!  But I guess these things happen for a reason, and my new responsibilities have certainly given me a motivation to do what I can to leave behind a world that is worth inheriting, as well as a sense of purpose to make my family as resiliant as possible in the event of some difficult times ahead.

Thanks for the reminder about the wood burning stove, that's definitely on my long term list.  My girlfriend is not actively involved in prepping either, but she supports the actions I'm taking (so far!) and I am grateful for that.

When you say you are struggling with doubt, do you mean you sometimes doubt any of the bad stuff will really happen?  I guess what motivates me, is that so many of the actions we can take make sense even if these events don't come to pass.  Growing vegetables, for example helps keep me active, saves me money and provides me with food that's much tastier than I can get in the supermarket.  The fact that it would also help in the even of a food shortage - that may or may not happen - is not so important to me since I am already motivated by the other reasons. 

That said, I sometimes find myself disbelieving that we are really going to experience many of these events.  I guess that's the nature of big change, especially when it comes after a long period of what most people would think of as stability

Algie's picture
Algie
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Posts: 27
It's only human nature to

It's only human nature to hope for the best, so doubting "something" might happen isn't something to worry about.  I personally take two views on this...

  1. On a positive note, like Tranquilsaint, I firmly believe in living a more resilient and sustainable lifestyle - no matter what may or may not happen.  I just can't accept abdicating the responsibility ofproviding for my family to a supermarket chain that "has always had food on the shelves".  The more you research these things, the more you realise just how fragile some of our modern systems are.  A slight change in mindset, to a time when supermarkets weren't as common, is imho a great way to go.  What do I mean?  Run a pantry.  Old houses had pantries for a good reason.  They stored food there.  I don't deliberately store food for TEOTWAWKI, but I do buy food in bulk and rotate it through the pantry.  It's cheaper and more resilient.  I'm also teaching myself to grow fruit and veg and am in the process of  converting 50% of my garden over to veg plots.  It provides resilience, it gets me out in to the fresh air, it gives me exercise and it teaches me a skill that will provide food once the supermarkets are empty and my pantry has run down.
  2. On a more negative note, the human race has a very short memory and is generally incapable of looking further forward then the end of it's collective nose.  With that in mind, it's easy to forget that the last 50 odd years have been a remarkable time of peace and prosperity.  In my opinion it just can't last.  Whether it's peak oil, climate change, financial meltdown, nuclear armageddon, or a global pandemic, something will come up to that will set society on a new path.  This may not necessarily be a bad thing in the end, but the change in itself is going to be painful for alot of people.  History shows that civilisations rise and fall - Roman, Mayan, etc.  Despite all our advances, we're just the same apes with cooler gadgets.  We will make the same mistakes.

Timing is a bigger concern for me.  If we're lucky, the first calamity to hit us will be financial meltdown.  However, I've no idea when it will happen.  Just when I think there is nothing else they can do to put off disaster, TPTB find another hair-brained schedme that covers the cracks for a few weeks longer AND makes the final blowout, when it happens, a whole lot worse.

It's probably worth pointing out that I am a middle-aged, middle class father of 3 and middle manager  that has worked for "the man" all his life.  The realisation of all of the above has been one hell of an emotional rollercoaster.  There have been days where I think it might have been better to have not had the blinkers lifted and remained within the comfortable, consumer society where I bought gadgets, brand labels and squandered money without a care in the world.  On these days I grab the axe and go split more wood :)

 

Algie

Algie's picture
Algie
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Joined: Jan 5 2011
Posts: 27
My preps to date

I've been "prepping" for about 3 years now and strangely I'm having to get over a reluctance to talk about it that is driven by the two types of response I have had when I talk to people.  One lot joke that I am preparing for the zombie apocolypse and the others say that they know where to come if it all goes wrong.  I can put up with being ridiculed by narrow-minded people, but I'll be damned if I'm putting my family at risk because some freeloader thinks I'm a soft touch in times of need.  That's not to say that I'm uncaring, I'd do almost anything for a good friend, but when push comes to shove I'll look after my own first.

However, this leaves me with a problem.  The more I look in to how life might be in the future, the more I realise that community is going to be a key component of any strategy.  That community is going to require trust and everyone working together for the common good.  Kind of difficult to achieve if the responses in the first para are standard.  Online communities are great for exchanging ideas and moral support, but they're no substitute for a local community.  So the biggest challenge for me is finding or establishing a local community for mutual support.

Having got that off my chestsmiley, back to the topic in hand...

My preps to date:

  • Knowledge.  First and foremost, I have gone for a strategy that tries not to focus on buying stuff, but on gaining (and more importantly practising) the skills that may be useful in an uncertain future.  I am learning to grow my own food, I've joined an air rifle club to learn how to shoot, I've been on 2 bushcraft/survival type courses, I'm booked on a chainsaw maintenance course and I'm trying to get on a bicycle maintenance course.  I have a growing library of reference books and like to watch DVDs such as the Victorian Farm or Tales from the Green Valley (about running a 17th century farm).  These all help learning skills or at the very least understanding some of the skill gaps I may have.
  • Water.  We store some bottled water, but my main strategy will be to collect rainwater and use a gravity filter to purify it.  I currently have about 500 litres of water in rain butts, but this will increase to about 2500 litres once the new garden is operational.  As backup I have limited puritabs stored and bottles of unscented bleach.  I've also recce'd the local area and know of other water sources close enough to be useful.  I've even gone as far as asking the local water company for the source and piping of our water supply
  • Food. Primary strategy is learning to grow it myself.  This is one skill that takes practise.  Reading a book is not enough.  There are so many mistakes a beginner can make; it's better to make them now.  As I said in the previous post, we run a pantry in the house and don't trust modern Just in Time systems to have food on the shelves.  I've also dabbled in limited quantities of very long-life freeze dried food, but it's expensive
  • Energy.  I've yet to find an electrical back-up I can either afford or am happy with - the lifespan of solar panels and windmills is remarkably short according to some people.  Worst case, I'm planning to be able to live without electricity.  Heating is the biggest issue, so for this we have had our one fireplace refurbished and I have a few years worth of wood and coal stored outside.  I also have the means (chainsaw, splitting axe) to cut and prepare my own firewood.  The next big project is to refurbish the kitchen and add in a wodo-burning stove.  Primarily for heating, but I'll choose a model that we can put a pan or kettle on if we have to cook without electricity.  Lighting isn't a major worry - if it's dark we can go to bed!
  • Health. Have a number of first aid kits and a re-supply box full of bandages and plasters.  Also have a few hundred paracetemol and ibuprofen locked away from the kids in a steal box.  Biggest challange here is getting fit
  • Wealth.  Not going to say much here, other than we cleared the mortgage last year
  • Awareness.  I spend an hour or two each day tracking the world news.  not necessarily main stream stuff, as this is filtered.  Sites like CM.com, TheAutomaticEarth, ZeroHedge.
  • Things I don't do anymore.  Perhaps just as important as preparation activities.  I've given up my gadget habit.  I don't watch nearly as much TV, preferring to read, be out in the garden, or working on a DIY project.  I don't pay in to a pension anymore (IMO they'll be worthless by the time I retire, so I'll manage the risk myself and look after my own finances)

Do I feel prepared?  Not really, it's a good start, but I have so much more I'd like to do.  Finding a likeminded, local community being the main one.

 

Algie

New_Life's picture
New_Life
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Joined: Apr 18 2011
Posts: 336
Mortgage v renting - for TranquilSaint

From your current circumstances I'm assuming you're considering something bigger in the future.  Agreed on concern of the % of debt, 90k/350k = 75% debt.  Just a 15% drop in house prices would increase the debt % to 87% and more than half your level of equity (down to £37500)!

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ianmcowie/100018122/house-prices-could-fall-by-11pc-predicts-coutts/

 

I guess the +ve of renting is that if there is a significant house price crash you're free to move to new preferred locations and well placed to buy again in the future without losing any equity or worse still being in negative equity and accordingly the banks demand more higher Interest rates when your mortgage comes up for review.  I guess one way to view it is how much do you think house prices are likely to increase/decrease in the next 5 years?

I haven't got a clue how long are rental deals available for, is it possible to get a 5 year rent deal at a guaranteed fixed monthly price?  That would be inflation proofed to give you security.

If you arent intending staying in the new place forever, I'd steer clear of the vast expense of solar for unguaranteed returns, I would only consider Solar options for resiliency rather than to reduce fuel bills or get a FIT from the government as they can & have already tried to change their minds on the subsidises.  Insulation is a far better rate of return for small outlay of cash, with main energy companies fitting it for next to nothing. Most landlords would be happy for a place to be well insulated (if they haven't already done it already).

Personally I prefer to have some ownership of my property (and control of the land its on) with a manageable mortgage that I can fix the rate for, like they always say Location is everything, cant see me wanting to move from the general area I'm in but I can see me wanting to move to a house with decent garden for veg plots in the next 5 years, so if prices drop in my region then I'll be ok as the place I may want to move to should of also dropped in price.

Never have liked the idea of "maxing out the mortgage" to get the best place possible.  Comes a point that the burden of mortgage debt outweighs the potential enjoyment of owning something supposedly bigger and better.

I like the freedom (and security) to enjoy life with a cushion of some equity so that the bank wont be coming after it anytime soon, means I have some breathing space should my employment circumstances change.

Have you looked at the forums on www.housepricecrash.co.uk for ideas of renting v mortgage?

If I lived where riots and high crime have happened in the past I would definitely consider relocating to another part of the UK. Ultimately we all have our own hopes, beliefs, theories and reasoning on how this will all play out in different locations...

 

In terms of my own practical steps...

Education - Really like the new wikis on the site, particularly the Emotional Resilience, even if you've made preparations it's likely you'll care about someone that will be facing even tougher challenges ahead.  Your calmness & mental strength will help them.  I've have tried to pass the details of the Crash Course message to other friends & family but with very limited success, these days I prefer to keep my views to myself as I can see the fear & dread in others that some of the potential secular trends present.  Chris advocates advertising the issue, but not to the extend of becoming tired of trying to convince them or them seeing you as a constant doomsayer.  Keep yourself in check to ensure you're not obsessed with the subject.  Accept you will not be able to influence some of those you care the most about.  People that are interested will listen intelligently, help those that are in digesting the message calmly and postively.

Storing some minor food and water is the only physical thing I've done in specific response to the Crash Course, mainly because I reason that life will continue in the calmer & safer parts of the UK relatively normal but with some interuptions  ie similar to the strikes and power cuts in the 70's and early 80's..

 

All the best in your difficult decisions on property, I think this site is very helpful for mutual support and to bounce ideas off each other, we're all still learning... :)

 

New_Life's picture
New_Life
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2011
Posts: 336
Motivation - eg Larder for everyday in addition to resiliency

This is a great topic, doubt & motivation issues are always there.

Sometimes we can think "I'm overreacting" by preparing for potential problems that may never happen and therefore wasting time and money and potential looking a bit stupid in the process.

Any preps or changes you make to your life following reviewing the Crash Course will feel better if they also currently serve and enhance "the normal" way of life you currently have.

Totally agree on the veg, its cheap creative rewarding entertainment and as you say nothing tastes better.

eg Food Larder, I see it as a my very own wee convience store, no having to interupt cooking to nip out to the shops in the rain to buy the item of food that you thought was in your kitchen cupboard, just nip into your handy larder store rotate it into your kitchen cupboards and continue cooking, just noting to buy the item on your next big shop.

A gas hob is convienent and fast for cooking, but allows you to boil water in a power cut. If you have an electric hob then consider a Gas BBQ, eg nice in the summer evenings, but a backup for cooking too.

I have a real open fire for cosy winter entertainment rather than a primary heating source, but its a great to huddle around and turn down the gas central heating, collecting, preparing and safely storing firewood enhances wellbeing.  I would also love a Wood Stove as they look fantastic, maybe in the next property.

I have torches, water bottles, sleeping bags, rucksacs, camping stoves for enjoying outdoor activities, again also useful.

Incorporating Walking or Cycling in some of your commute to work means you've already adjusted to using an expnsive car less and keeps you fitter physically and is a good destresser.

Its good you let your girlfriend you know how grateful you are of her support and intelligence, Chris advocates the importance of more meaningful relationships when you need and thank each other for the wee things you do for each other, rather than just being co-consumers in a material society..

brighton_roy's picture
brighton_roy
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 26 2011
Posts: 26
thanks Scubaroo

thanks for these posts Scubaroo.  I'm about to get on a train to the South of France, so I'll take a proper look at them during my journey and come back to you on some of your points.smiley

joanne123's picture
joanne123
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Joined: Feb 9 2012
Posts: 10
Hi everyone just joined the

Hi everyone

just joined the group and am working my way through the threads.  doubt v motivation - I can only agree with the previous comments and probably not add much more at present.  I think because we are relatively so few here in the UK  may be the reason why it feels that we are not taken seriously, even by our own families, that's why this group is so important.  I also think it's a 'british thing' or perhaps just complacency to think that 'everything will work out Ok and there really is nothing to worry about', but I'd rather feel I have at least some control over my circumstances however small and whatever prepping we can do gives a sense of security and well being, and of course as a lot of it is physical as has been said, it's also just plain great exercise!  I've grown some of my own veg now for many years and it really does give a great sense of satisfaction and self sufficiency just for it's own sake. 

If you live somewhere where you are allowed to keep hens I would really urge you to, they are great entertainment as well as supplying you with protein.  My life long ambition has been to keep hens and during the last 2 years I have managed to do it.  I started with 4 (one recently died) but soon found that other people in my community were only too willing to buy any spare eggs so this week I've added another 12 to the flock.  As I am retired and living on a very small company pension this is also a useful additional income and when SHTF I will still have plenty of protein for my family and close neighbours.  I am also making the transition to not eating meat which I think will be a more sustainable way of eating in the future, I'm not calling myself a vegetarian as, living next to the sea if need be I can catch fish and as a friend once said to me 'if you eat anything which breathed and had a face you are not a vegetarian.

Other preps include: finishing renovations on my house, no debts, living in a community which has historically been used to being self sufficient and is quite a close community, making an effort to join in community activities (not something I would naturally do), planning to join some of the local community courses, having a solid fuel Rayburn in the kitchen which in the event of power outage provides cooking heating and hot water.,  relearning the skills of making my own clothes, plenty of sheep around here so spinning and weaving are on my to-learn list, and just generally keeping my eyes open for recycling opportunities.

some great posts here I know I will enjoy being part of this group.  take care all

Chrisf

 

Honorius's picture
Honorius
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 13 2011
Posts: 9
My Minimal Preps

There are some great contributions here already, folks, thank you.  For my part it's good to know I'm not alone!  A brief run-down from me:

I don't yet have the all-important buy-in from my spouse, so I am prepping by stealth for the moment.  We do plan to turn half the garden to vegetable beds, though, for starters, and I'm looking forward to that (if nothing else, it's tastier and there will be fewer food miles wasted).

On the education front, I've done a fair bit of reading and research, enough to be persuaded by Chris and Transition bloggers and thinkers of the unsustainability of the current set up.  Family, Friends and colleagues unfortunately have not responded positively, so I'm a lone voice at home.  So far.

I got myself a couple of gadgets like wind up torches, radio, solar chargers; and I've just taken delivery of a solar panel and battery (for the garden shed initially) to dip my toe in that subject and learn about it.

We have a gas barbecue about to be delivevered and it did not escape my notice that that offers some resiliency on cooking if utilities fail.  I've acquired some spare meds and water purification tablets and so on.

Financially, I have some gold and cash, also savings, distributed across a few UK banks (keeping an eye on Santander despite the bland reassurances), and we are slowly paying off our remaining debt (mortgage).

Beyond that - a long way to go, and in the key area of skills and community I feel particularly lacking. 

A work in progress - if we have the luxury of enough time...

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