His advice to us:
Those of my readers who haven’t already been beggared by the unraveling of
what’s left of the economy, and have some hope of keeping a roof over their
heads for the foreseeable future, might be well advised to stock their pantries,
clear their debts, and get to know their neighbors, if they haven’t taken these
sensible steps already. Those of my readers who haven’t taken the time already
to learn a practical skill or two, well enough that others might be willing to
pay or barter for the results, had better get a move on. Those of my readers who
want to see some part of the heritage of the present saved for the future,
finally, may want to do something practical about that, and soon.
Currently, the extent of the collapse depends on where you live, your employment and financial situation, and luck. But as municipal and state governments succumb to the fiscal malaise, and unemployment continues to spread, the middle class dream will go into a coma and people will begin to hang on just for dear life (those who aren't already).
So my question to you is: what can you do now that you've been putting off? Maybe we should all "pretend" that the quality of our lives depend on the decisions we are making now, and figure out our top three priorities for the next seven - thirty days. Maybe we could "pretend" that we might face situations that, at one time, seemed wildly impossible (like a 40% decline in the stock market, or 15% unemployment, or California/Michigan/Nevada going bankrupt and stopping critical social services), and prepare accordingly.
1. Make sure you have everything ready for your garden, including seeds, tools, and fertilizers. I've already read at least one article about potential seed shortages this year.
2. As so many peak oil bloggers have pointed out, stock your pantry, and don't forget to include water storage!
3. How can you protect your health and the health of your loved ones in a critical and stressful time period? Check Your Health is Your Wealth for ideas.
4. If you are pregnant, consider seriously preparing to do a natural childbirth. I'm not saying you should or shouldn't go natural (unmedicated) - but if you are prepared, it will go much easier on you if for some reason an epidural isn't available / affordable. Note: I know several women personally whose epidurals never "took" or that faded halfway through their labor.
5. If you are expecting a baby, consider stocking up on formula. I am a staunch advocate of breastfeeding, but for the same reasons you stock up on food - you should consider stocking up on formula. (This is actually a suggestion from Sharon Astyk).
6. Prepare to undergo a radical cash-ectomy, as so many people have already in the last two years. What costs/expenses could you cut to save more now? What would you do without a steady income? What would you do if you had to take in relatives who've lost their jobs / homes? Are there any steps you could take now to soften the blow? Are there ways you could live lighter now that might also save you money?
7. Are there any critical purchases you've been putting off - not because you can't afford them, but just because you haven't had the time to get around to them? Such as, perhaps, a way to cook off the grid, a cord of wood, a book with critical information, some sturdy shoes, CFL bulbs, or your spring seeds?
8. If market volatility, debt, and financial issues are a concern, what steps can you take now to protect yourself, your savings, and your investments?
9. Do you or someone you love depend on aid or income from a city/state/federal government agency that appears to be rapidly drowning? What will you, or they, do without it? Is there something you can do now to prepare?
10. What skill could you learn, or begin to learn, this month? Many people start with gardening, baking and cooking, or food preservation. Health - related (low-energy) skills are always valuable to a community. What else?
11. Have you been putting off that delicate talk - you know, the one where you break the unwelcome news about energy descent and financial decline to your family? Think about some ways you could let them know they might want to put off or reconsider that UAL stock investment /Hummer purchase /$200,000 of college debt / McMansion in the exurbs.
If you were "pretending" you NEEDED to get something done in the next 7-30 days, what would it be?