How does the average Joe, like myself, financially prepare for the future

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benrosri's picture
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How does the average Joe, like myself, financially prepare for the future

I’m new to this site. I haven’t spent a lot of time here, so forgive me if the answers lie within this site somewhere, and I bet they do.

I would like to know how the average guy, who lives from pay check to pay check, has small children and day care costs, and is still paying for student loans, etc, financially prepares for such future that ‘drastically departs from the past’?

Apart from working hard to stay debt free, there isn’t much more that I can do, such as buying gold and silver. Apart from a 401K with my employer, there isn’t much else.

How can I prepare? If you know of any resources, please let me know. thanks

aggrivated's picture
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Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...

Congrats on the out of debt part.  You're way ahead of a lot of people right there.  Go to the 'take action' header and print out the self assessment sheets.---Don't attempt to fill them out until watching the Crash Course twice with at least one week in between & most of all keep your spouse fully involved--Life is hard enough without singing off two different sheets of music. And then start asking lots of questions and learning all you can.  It is amazing what two motivated individuals can do--it begins best with that closest community.   Best.

goes211's picture
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Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...

I would not worry about gold and silver.  They are nice to have if you have excess savings, but in your situation they don't seem like they should be priorities.  Financially I would avoid debt and stock up on extra necessities like food, medicines, toilet paper,...   That way you are buying things that you will use anyways.  For me, the hardest problem to solve is water and sewer.  I still really don't know what my family would do during a disruption of these public utilities.

Possibly the most important thing is your network of friends and family.  It does not cost you anything but can really make a big difference when needed.

earthwise's picture
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Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...


Welcome to the site and a hat tip on being out of debt.

A couple of things you could do that cost nothing are build some ground skills like gardening, animal husbandry, carpentry, food preservation (like canning),  etc. and build some community ties to folks who are transitioning from the old paradigm to the new. These things would be quite helpful when the music stops. The people who are farther along in preparation would be, IMHO, far more likely to help somebody who was trying to help themself but just ran out of time. And with marketable skills that would have enhanced value, you would be even more attractive as a team player. Besides these are things that we all should be trying to do no matter what our financial state or degree of preparedness .

As far as your questions on "How do I prepare" and "What resources...."   the answer to both questions is the same:

You're at the right place, just dig in and you'll start to to discern the right path for you. There's an almost overwhelming supply of good solid info here, as well as a bunch of great folks.

Good luck!


JAG's picture
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Posts: 2492
Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...

Well, if you have to play the game...

Neutralize the market exposure of your 401K by selling your best performing stocks/funds and purchasing a non-leveraged inverse index fund to hedge your remaining long positions. Sit and wait.....and wait.....and wait.... and wait....and when you can't wait any longer....wait so more. Then when the market crashes in all it's drama...wait a little more. When every article you read in the econo-blogosphere is proclaiming that Great Depression 2.0 has finally overtaken the world...sell your inverse fund go long whatever financial asset is feared the most. Then wait some more to come full circle, and repeat.

Disclosure: Market neutral and waiting...and waiting..

Welcome to the community....Jeff

Poet's picture
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Joined: Jan 21 2009
Posts: 1892
Average Poet

You are not alone.

Just to give you an idea: I am the sole breadwinner for my family. Yesterday our company laid off about 65 people and I consider myself fortunate to have made the cut. We have one-month-old twins that are huge demands on our time and energy. We live in a one-bedroom apartment in suburbia. Money is tight. We don't have a place to garden or "prep" or store things like a year's supply of food or toilet paper.

The first thing I would say to you is, don't worry too much if you're not out in the country growing your own food yet. If things get horribly bad, isolated homesteaders working their fields will be much more exposed and vulnerable to criminals than people in a tight-knit community living closer together. I agree with Fernando "Ferfal" Aguirre on that.

Start with the "WSID" (What Should I Do?) posts about the basics like some food, water, and other gear. There are a lot of things you can do to incorporate into your regular life. Deepen your pantry. A plastic bag of rice or beans can easily last a year or three so long as you keep it dry in a cannister. Canned goods - beans, potatoes, fruit and vegetables can also last a couple of years. Store a few gallons of clean water and get a small water purifier. You're supposed to do this in the event of an earthquake, blizzard, hurricane, flood, etc. anyway. Try to build resilience.

Financially, get out of debt and build up some cash reserves in case of a lay-off or other issue. This is REALLY important. At my place we don't even have cable TV. (Or even a TV - had to make room for baby cribs.) We don't drink, we don't smoke, we don't hang out at the mall. I haven't bought new clothes in about a year, my wife got a lot of her current clothes off Craigslist, and our babies wear mostly hand-me-downs, thrift store clothes, and baby shower things they got from friends and family.

If your 401(k) allows you to invest some money in individual stocks or mutual funds, consider putting a portion (I'll leave it up to you to decide how much) into funds like GTU (physical gold), CEF (gold, silver, other metals), PSLV (physical silver) - all stored in Canada. If you think stocks or bonds will go down, be in a money market fund.

Find people you can trust, who think like you do. SagerXX's post about building community (in the WSID section) is a really great start.

I don't subscribe to an instant and "Total Collapse" theory. I follow John Michael Greer's theory of a "Long Descent" that may take many years to resolve - emergencies and crises responded to in a panic by short-sighted political leaders that buy a little breathing room before the next crisis. America is HUGE. It has a lot of inertia. I think there is some time: at least a year, likely several years. Hopefully your children won't be as small by then. (Mine will hopefully at least no longer need diapers and can walk and talk.)

Good luck!



inga's picture
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Posts: 36
Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...

I am fortunate.  I have several acres and my food source and heat source can be off the grid. I am involved with a network, where I can get food and firewood.

 My suggestion is make friends with some one like me.  Join a CSA, make friends with rural people, some of whom may seem very backwoodsy and perhaps not as 'educated' but man they can fix anything....they keep my small tractor running, they weld, they build, they can scavenge up anything you need. I rely on these folks and they on me.  Learn to barter.

I can't tell you where to put your money.  I don't know if there is an answer.  We diversified, and that includes the mattress....but if you are hungry and money is worthless, what is an egg worth?

I would stock up on goods.  I would learn basic food preservation.

I am not an isolated homesteader, but a small acreage 'normal' citizen.  Hubby works a job and has enough seniority to survive all but the worst.  My kids are grown, but, my prep included them and their small children, whom I love as my much as my exemption on worrying about grandkids. 

Lots of 'homesteaders' are not isolated, but belong to communities, in which we fulfill certain roles.  I have enough skills and money that I can get what I need.  A roving 'gang' has to get to me, and I figure they will have to eat their way out of the city.  They are not going to walk 50 miles if they can get what they need down the block.  I don't think one is safer in the city.  Population density does increase risk. 

 If you are in the northern tier, how will you stay warm without your own place and alternative heat? That said, there is no 'safe' place.  In brutal times, people do brutal things.  Staying can be as much risk as running....we could just perhaps stay longer here.  I dunno.  I hope things never, ever get that bad.

Some one mentioned sewage issues....will a composting toilet work for you?  Water?  Rain barrel, and storage is about all I can suggest.  I have a well and am working on wind or solar for a well pump....but it isn't all that can't just put this stuff in, apparently, things have to be wired correctly....and well, I am not real good at that.

My plan is far from perfect, but it is something.  I am hoping something is better than nothing.  I guess it depends on what shape the world takes on...a plan needs some fluidity.

homestead's picture
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Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...

Lots of good suggestions have been posted in the replies.  Having your wife a full partner in the endeavor to save money and build up skills alongside you is one of the keys.  

Between the two of you, you can become master do-it-yourselfers and save a ton of money over the years, compared to having to pay someone to do things.  Work together to trim discretionary spending everywhere you can and learn the lower-cost ways of being entertained, vacationing and socializing with friends.  Embrace simplicity in life.  Contentment isn't found by 'having more' or by ever increasing novelty, although the consumerism of the past half century has tried to sell us that false bill of goods.  It's found by having strong relationships with others, by knowing how to do things so that you have true self-esteem and quiet confidence in yourself, and by having realistic, flexible goals.

Always keep in mind how much money you have to actually earn in order to spend, say, $100 after you've paid all the taxes and deductions.  Spending $5 here and $10 there can keep you spinning your wheels and getting nowhere, but saving $5 here and $10 there will help you build your financial future.  Wealth in a family is slowly built.  By that I don't mean great wealth, I just mean an ever increasing padding of financial/knowledge security that is handed down to your children and that becomes part of their own contribution to their children in future years.  Whatever the future holds for all of us, the habits and wise choices that we can pass on to our children are part of our collective family wealth.

In past generations, before rampant consumerism and easy credit (debt) were the lifestyle of the middle class world, people were taught how to be economical in their everyday lives.  Much of America lived a rural lifestyle and the farmers, their wives and their children knew how to run a farm, stretch a dollar and cooperate with their neighbors to build communities.  City folk likewise knew how to cook from basic ingredients, fix what was broken and use-it-up or wear-it-out.  These ancestors of ours worked hard, valued education more than leisure and were able to build a foundation that their children could stand on to reach up even higher.

Benrosi, you can do it, too.  It's not just about investments in the sense of markets and banks.  It's about embracing a lifestyle built on relationships, simplicity of lifestyle, continual education about all sorts of subjects relevant to your family's welfare, watchfulness and resourcefulness.  It's about doing all that you can do to keep yourself and your family in good health physically and emotionally, and it's about recognizing those things in life that give you true, deep joy.

All those, taken together, help to build a foundation for financial futures that are uncertain.


Best wishes to you and your dear, young family   ~  Homestead Grandma




plato1965's picture
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
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Posts: 615
Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...

 Brilliant response homestead... not much to add apart from.

 A penny saved equals 2 pennies earned after taxes and overheads.

 For the average family, I'd say look at the basics.. in particular how you heat your home, how you cook your food.. where the money goes.

 Now assume the cost of fuel and food is likely to rise steeply for the foreeable future... so get ahead of the curve and make efficiency savings before you need to.

 think of it as an adventure... a challenge. A game the whole family can play.



harm123's picture
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Joined: Mar 12 2009
Posts: 6
Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...

I’m in the same situation as you benrosri and I've finally decided to make a plan of action and implement it.

I'm going to start very small with basic emergency preparedness as if I wanted to be ready for a natural disaster.  At the moment I'm not even ready to take care of my family in the event of a minor disruption, but that is starting to change.

If you copy and paste this link, then it will take you to a very basic checklist:  It has items like water, food, and other very basic items that you don’t want to forget.  For example I never thought about how valuable a couple bottles of bleach would be to have stored away.  :)

Once I'm done with this very basic level of preparedness then I am going to move on to the next level and dig deep into many of the threads in the forums for good ideas.


Tycer's picture
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 26 2009
Posts: 617
Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...

Three books.

98.6 Degrees by Cody Lundin - 72 hour kit on the cheap

Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury - a great how-to ease into preparedness. Her story is pretty amazing too.

When All Hell Breaks Loose by Cody Lundin - gets your mind right about what YOU need to survive a Katrina-sized event. Cody is not into spending a ton of money getting yourself prepared.

EndGamePlayer's picture
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Joined: Sep 2 2008
Posts: 546
Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...

Good Advice Homestead!

I'll add my 2 cents- Money won't hold water or feed you if a real economic collapse comes. I see it happening as a bell-curve where we will see it coming but so will others - so prepare early and stay ahead of the crowds.

Your basic needs should be considered first. IF you can not put up food- get some seeds of things you like. Before we bought the farm, I used to plant my garden on vacant land (and there is actually a lot of it if you look around). Get some recycled 5 gallon buckets for composting and growing in your own apartment as there are many plants that grow on low light (spinach, swiss chard, pea pods, chinese cabbage). Choose seeds of things you like to eat and hold a high level of nutrition. . . and might pass as a house plant.

Store water where you can or get a water purifier (see other Martenson articles).

If you can - drop the cost of your car and use your bikes as much as possible. If you can't get by without a car - put it on storage insurance when you are not driving it -spring, summer & fall around here.

Get cold weather gear from head-to-toe and every size you can find your kids will grow into. Also buy a few extra wool blankets for if the heating services ever go out.

The Meek WILL inherit the Earth. . . EGP

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 3211
Re: How does the average Joe, like myself, financially ...

benrosri -

Your question is the most frequent one we receive on the site. For those asking it, we've created:

Most of the guidance within both has relevance to individuals of all budgets and lifestyles. And of course, our forums provide access to knowledgable members who can answer most any questions you have as you consider your options.

Good luck with your preparations. This community is here to help. Lean on it whenever you need to.

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