The Survival Mom » Finances http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:00:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 30 Uses for Phone Books http://thesurvivalmom.com/30-uses-for-phone-books/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/30-uses-for-phone-books/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:00:56 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=21373 We all get them dropped off one (or more) times every year. But what to do with them now that we just look up phone numbers on Google? Here are some creative uses for phone books our readers came up Read More

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We all get them dropped off one (or more) times every year. But what to do with them now that we just look up phone numbers on Google? Here are some creative uses for phone books our readers came up with for phone books – actual, paper phone books.

In the House

Emergency toilet paper (note: may not be the best for your pipes or septic system)

Stack them under the table cloth to elevate a nice center piece

Fold pages at angle from top outside corner to mid at center to make a door stop

Build book shelves on all exterior wall in your house six foot and down and line them with this paper back books they make the best bullet stops there is and it makes you look like an intellectual.when people stop by or at least beside the doors front an back it’ll give you something to duck behind when you have unwanted company…with guns….

Stack them to create a make-shift booster seat

Insulation

Washing windows

Hollow one or two out to make some hidey holes for valuables

Wrap Christmas decorations and other fragile items to protect them in storage or shipment

Wrap compost in  it to carry to the bin, then just throw the whole thing in so you don’t have to worry about washing a dish or bucket out

Arts & Crafts

Floor cover for little artists

Tear out the pages and use them for papier mâché

Coat pages in petroleum jelly… Roll them up and dip them in wax…. Makes emergency candles that are also waterproof

As a teenager I would use them as scrap books. Cover them with all kinds of art

Save them and turn it into paper snow flakes. It’s what I do with my used non returnable textbooks

Pattern paper

Origami practice

Outdoors, Fires, and Animals (Pets)

Firestarters

Target practice

You can pack them in a box or wrap them up together for a safe backstop for dry fire practice with a gun

Bullet penetration/expansion tests

Mix with ashes and lamp oil or kerosene to make fire logs

Tear out a page, stuff into toilet paper tube, great firestarter

Cage liners, especially shredded, for rabbits, birds, feral cats, etc. (better if mixed with hay)

Lay under tomatoes, under the straw for weed help

Tear them up and use them to smother weeds, putting mulch on top. Works better than the black stuff, and it degrades completely; best if they use soy ink

Use with this awesome tool to never run out of seed pots!

Shred for compost (except for the cover, which was probably treated with chemicals)

Worm bin

And the most shocking answer of all:

Using a phone book for its intended purpose is better than a smart phone. The phone book gives you more choices.

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What is junk silver? http://thesurvivalmom.com/junk-silver/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/junk-silver/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 08:00:25 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=21420   Do you have a coin jug at home? Perhaps it isn’t a jug, per se, but a coffee can, glass jar, or maybe even an old fashioned piggy bank? It might be holding far more money than you realize! Read More

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What is junk silver and should I buy it?  www.TheSurvivalMom.comDo you have a coin jug at home? Perhaps it isn’t a jug, per se, but a coffee can, glass jar, or maybe even an old fashioned piggy bank? It might be holding far more money than you realize!

If you spend much time surfing various survival/prepper message boards and other forums, you’ll no doubt run across the term “junk silver.” People want to know, “What is junk silver? And, should I buy it?”

The term refers to coins containing a high amount of actual silver, unlike most common coins minted today.

Here’s the cool part. If you have a coin jug at home, odds are you probably have at least a few junk silver coins in there. While you won’t see them every day, they do still crop up regularly.

What is junk silver?

Here in the United States, junk silver coins are basically any coin (except pennies and nickels) minted in 1964 or earlier. Given that half-dollars and other larger coins are somewhat rare in most of our daily lives, we’re basically talking about dimes and quarters. If a coin is categorized as junk silver, it does not have any numismatic value to collectors.

The value in junk silver is the silver itself, not the coin’s appearance.

The only silver nickels in recent history are the “wartime” ones produced in 1942-1945. Even then, they only contain about 30% silver, whereas most junk silver coins contain 90% silver.

If after looking at the mint date you still aren’t sure if the coin is silver, a silver coin sounds very different from a non-silver one when dropped on a table. The sound is hard to describe but once you’ve heard it, you’ll recognize it pretty quickly going forward.

Why do preppers focus on junk silver?

Why is it important to know about junk silver? Well, for starters, junk silver is a very easy way to get started with collecting precious metals for possible use as alternative currency, should there come some sort of economic collapse. It takes just a few seconds at the end of the day to examine the coins in your pocket before you dump them into your coin jug.

On top of that, junk silver coins are worth far more than their face value. Generally speaking, if you have $1.40 in face value of junk silver coins, you have one troy ounce of actual silver. As of this writing, an ounce of silver is going for about $18.00 or so. I use Kitco to check prices when I’m getting ready to buy.

Now, honestly, that’s not a completely true comparison as junk silver coins aren’t actually worth the full silver spot price. But, those dimes and quarters are worth a ton more than what you’d get from a candy vending machine.

At my house, we have two separate jars, one for pennies and one for all other coins. I’ll usually glance through my spare change, checking mint dates, before tossing the coins into the appropriate jar. But, because I’m human and might miss seeing a junk silver coin, we’ll have one of our children dump out the jar and check each coin before we cash in the change. Often, they’ll find one or two coins we missed. The junk silver coins are stored away under lock and key, just in case we need them someday. If nothing else, they’ll be nice for the kids to have someday.

Resources for junk silver

A Guidebook of United States Coins 2015

The Beginner’s Guide to Gold and Silver Scrap

How to Buy Gold and Silver Bullion Without Getting Scammed

Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios  (I include an interview with a precious metals dealer and information about buying junk silver.)

Wartime silver nickels

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Protect your canning jar investment http://thesurvivalmom.com/protect-that-canning-jar-investment/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/protect-that-canning-jar-investment/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 08:00:01 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=21378 I have a problem. Well, I have more than one but this one plagues me on a continual basis.  In my house we have 16 feet.  160 toes and a TON of socks.  So many socks that I’ve given up Read More

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Protect your canning jars from breakage with these tips. | www.TheSurvivalMom.comI have a problem. Well, I have more than one but this one plagues me on a continual basis.  In my house we have 16 feet.  160 toes and a TON of socks.  So many socks that I’ve given up on sorting and mating them.  Instead they just get tossed into the sock bin.  If someone needs socks, they must go to ‘the bin’.

So how did my sock bin end up helping me protect my canning jars? Here’s the whole story.

It’s not a pleasant thing to go to the bin in search of a pair of matching socks because it means several minutes of searching for two that match. The bin is the bane of my existence.  It stares at me whenever I walk past taunting me. “SORT ME” it says. Being the stubborn soul that I am, it gets ‘dissed’ by me nearly every time.

…Until this last time. Not sure why it won this time around, but it was particularly persuasive.  It could have been that my 9 year old daughter was sucked in by  it’s tendrils or just that it was time.  So I sat down and started sorting.

My infamous sock bin.

My infamous sock bin.

Now this is not just a little bin. Seriously, my 11 year old could get in this bin with the lid closed, and often we’d see a cat or two perched on top of the sea of socks. I dug in and was determined to tackle this monster.

You might be wondering why you’ve had to sit through my sock tale.  Well for one, I want the world to know that “I SORTED THE SOCK BIN”  (taking a bow). This is a huge accomplishment, and secondly, the ones that didn’t find a mate still have a food storage related purpose, a useful life left in them.

Protecting your canning jar investment with socks, of all things!

We are going to recycle those socks into something that can help protect our investment.  We put a lot of time, energy and money into our food storage when we bottle something.  This can all be for naught if these jars get knocked around at all.  Glass likes to break if bumped too hard.

TIP: Have you ever thought of canning, or bottling, meat?

I live in earthquake country and at some point, the ground on which I stand is going to start shaking.  If my bottles aren’t ready for that shaking, I’m going to have a big mess and HUGE loss on my hands.

Here is the simple process I used to transform those mismatched socks into something I could use.

Step #1: Cut sock into four parts as shown.

Tutorial for transforming a mismatched sock into a canning jar protector. SurvivalMom.com

Cut sock into 4 parts as shown.

Step #2: Toss out the toe and heel portions of the cut-apart sock and save the other two sections for use.

Tutorial for transforming a mismatched sock into a canning jar protector. SurvivalMom.com

These are the sock parts you want to keep.

 

Step #3: Use the sock parts as illustrated to help protect your canning jars.

Tutorial for transforming a mismatched sock into a canning jar protector. SurvivalMom.com

Tutorial for transforming a mismatched sock into a canning jar protector. SurvivalMom.com

Other techniques I’ve discovered for protecting jars

Now there are some great commercial products on the market but I don’t have a ton of money to spend on those, If you do, great!  but I’d rather spend that money on more food for my family. So here are some easy and cheap ways.

Bottle box: Save the boxes that the jars came in,  The cardboard dividers will provide some protection from breakage.

Rubberbands:  Remember this post?  Well here’s another use for rubberbands.  Stretch the wide ones around the top and bottom of the jar to keep them from bumping around in the box.

Socks:  store your jars in socks, one long tube sock and protect 2 quart jars,   or cut them up in to tubes of various sizes to put on the jars.  They can even be rolled up to create even more buffer space or to secure them more snugly into a box.

Old towels:  Put the jars in a box with space in between and stuff the spaces with old towels or rag strips.

Bubble wrap:  Wrap your jars in bubble wrap or the packaging that comes in your mail order boxes.

Apple boxes:  Go to the grocery store and talk to your produce guy.  Apples sometimes come packed with puffy paper sheets in between them,  These are GREAT to wrap around the bottles…and the boxes themselves are a perfect size to fit at least 15 jars.

Sweaters: Wouldn’t that be cute for our jars to wear sweaters? There are some on Pinterest if you are into that type of thing.  I’m not going to the trouble to ‘dress’ my jars like those… but one thing my mom did was to take some left-over fleece from another project and sew it into a tube.  Then she cut the tube into about 6 inch sections.  Each of these were slipped over a jar to prevent that jar-to-jar contact in the box.

So get creative with your jars…or just stuff socks but do something to protect that investment.  Do you so something different with yours?  I’d love to hear other great ideas.

New to canning? You must own a copy of Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving!

If you want to check out products you can buy, rather than make, that will protect your canning jars, take a look at these:

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52-Week Savings Plan: Watch for these February bargains http://thesurvivalmom.com/february-bargains/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/february-bargains/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 08:18:12 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=21404 February is full of holidays and celebrations – SuperBowl Sunday (Feb. 1), Groundhog Day (Feb. 2), Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), President’s Day (Feb. 16), Ash Wednesday (Lent begins on Feb. 18), the Chinese New Year (Feb. 19) and Black History Read More

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Stick with your budget and make progress with your 52 Weeks Savings Plan with these tips for February. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comFebruary is full of holidays and celebrations – SuperBowl Sunday (Feb. 1), Groundhog Day (Feb. 2), Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), President’s Day (Feb. 16), Ash Wednesday (Lent begins on Feb. 18), the Chinese New Year (Feb. 19) and Black History Month.

It’s also a month full of good deals that can help you save money and prepare your family for survival scenarios. February bargains are worth tracking down, especially since many families are still recovering from an expensive holiday season.

Some of the January winter sales may extend into February (See January bargains here), especially with winter clothing.

Food supplies

All of those holidays come with celebrations. There will be sales on food before and after the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day and the Chinese New Year. Valentine’s Day can be a good time to stock up on comfort items for your food supply. Who wouldn’t like some chocolate and candy on hand during a long power outage? I keep candy on hand for my children in our tornado shelter. Tablecloths, plates, napkins and decorations will also be on sale after the celebrations if you need to stock up on those items.

A lot of canned food items will be on sale this month that are related to the holiday celebrations. Steak and seafood should be on sale after Valentine’s Day, although neither are meant for long-term storage! Still, you can freeze them, preferably vacuum packed, and enjoy them during the year, knowing you paid less. Oatmeal is also an item that is on sale in February – a very good food storage item.

Buy fruits and vegetables in season for the best deals. To make them last year-round research how to freeze, can or dehydrate them. Fruits and vegetables in season during February are:

  • Cactus Pear
  • Clementines
  • Dates
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges
  • Pear
  • Cabbage
  • Leeks
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Mushrooms

Household

Winter gear and clothing will still be on sale this month. If you have children, what sizes will you need for next year? Think about grabbing extra hats and gloves for each person in the family to keep stashed in the car.

Humidifiers will also be on sale this month. If you have ever been congested, you know how handy humidifiers can be. If you find a good deal, it wouldn’t hurt to have a back-up, if you already own one.

Furniture and mattresses are big February sales. Sleep is important to your health and if you need a new or better mattress, you can find a good deal this month. Do you need a new bookshelf? Finding a deal on better quality furniture will mean that you will save money on something that will last. A lot of preparedness-minded people stock up on books of all kinds, so maybe adding another bookcase is a good idea!

Dental supplies are a February special. Look for deals that can stock your family up on toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash for the year and for emergencies. The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes every 3-4 months.

If you feel like your air conditioner is on its last legs, February is a good month to look for replacement deals. See what rebates your state or energy company may offer for energy efficient models, too, if you replace your air conditioner or furnace. One place to check is Energy Star.

Some other big appliances, like washers and dryers, tend to go on sale around President’s Day. These may also qualify for energy rebates.

BONUS TIP: Whenever you need a large appliance, try to wait for the next major holiday, since there are always big sales over those 3-day weekends.

Entertainment

Cell phones and tablets may be on sale this month to make room for newer models. For emergencies, you may want to consider letting your child have a cell phone when they are separated from you. Tablets are a great way to entertain and teach children. Cameras may also still be on sale. Cameras can be useful for documenting your property for insurance or emergency situations. Some digital cameras have video recording, too.

Fitness

Treadmills and ellipticals are still on sale this month. Being fit cannot be overemphasized in preparing for any situation. Take advantage of this sale and get your body fit for whatever may come.

Finances

April 15, is getting closer and you can start seeing deals on tax software and preparation packages. New tax offices may offer deals on their services to establish a client base. The taxes will need to be filed, so keep an eye out for a deal if you need help. Also, start thinking of the best way to use any refund you may get – savings, buying more food storage, paying down debt. Be smart with that refund!

If you are considering purchasing a home, February is a month where some prices go down because the market is slow.

Transportation

You may still find deals on boats and motorcycles this month due to the cold weather. Motorcycles can help give a family member a cheaper mode of transportation if gas prices go up again. If you live near water, a boat can help you bug out or take you to a food source.

Gifts and personal items

After Valentine’s Day, you can pick up Valentine’s cards for your children’s classes on sale for next year. It’s also a good time to stock up on some children’s craft items for parties, snow days or extended power outages.

Jewelry, perfume and gift sets will be on sale after Valentines’ Day. This can be a great way to stock up on gifts for the year for family and friends. Real gold and silver jewelry and precious gems could also be future barter items when times get tough.

Condoms and personal lubricants will also go on sale around Valentine’s Day. If you have someone special in your life, these may be good items to stock up on as well. There is a reason that reporters make a note to check on the birth rate nine months after a big winter storm or long power outage!

 

By the end of February …

According to the 52 Weeks Savings Plan, you should have $36 saved up by the end of February. I know you can do that! If you have extra right now, perhaps going to Week 52, in the chart and saving $52 would be a smart thing to do.

If you haven’t already, join our Facebook group for extra support as you work to stay on a budget and get some savings in the bank!

What are you doing with the extra money saved with lower gas prices? The key to being a winner when it comes to saving money is to pinch pennies wherever you can with purchases and then put even small amounts saved in your savings stash.

We’ll be back in March with more money-saving tips to help you stay on track, both with your budget and your savings plan!

P.S. Wondering how to best store that Valentine candy? Watch this tutorial video.

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Try it Today! Review Your Credit Report http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-review-credit-report/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-review-credit-report/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 08:00:17 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20519 Maintaining a good handle on your finances is an important element of your overall disaster mitigation plan. While it might not seem so on the surface, give it a bit of thought. The better off you are financially, the higher Read More

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Have you looked at your credit report recently? Do you know how to find it and why you really need to look at it regularly? | www.TheSurvivalMom.com

Maintaining a good handle on your finances is an important element of your overall disaster mitigation plan. While it might not seem so on the surface, give it a bit of thought. The better off you are financially, the higher the likelihood that small emergencies, such as an unexpected car repair, won’t seem like the end of the world. One area of financial preparedness you should explore is reviewing your credit report.

Getting Copies of Your Credit Report

It is important to review your credit report on a regular basis. This might be the only way you’ll ever learn of errors on it as well as see indications of fraud or identity theft. Fortunately, getting a copy of your credit report is very easy. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the three credit bureaus to provide, upon request, one copy of their credit report, free of charge, to each consumer once a year. The report may be ordered via one of three ways:

Prepper's Financial Guide coverOnline:

Visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com/. Be wary of lookalike websites with similar domain names. This one is the only one set up as a result of the FCRA. There are a lot of scam sites out there that will either charge you or just outright steal your information. Ordering your report online grants you immediate access to it.

Mail:

There is a form entitled Annual Credit Report Request that must be filled out, then mailed to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Response time is about two weeks from when the request is received.

Telephone:

Call 1-877-322-8228 and order your report. As with mailing, it will take about two weeks to get your report.

It is important to rely upon one of these methods rather than contacting the credit bureaus directly. The website, mailing address, and phone number listed above are the only ways to obtain your free copy each calendar year. The credit bureaus are likely going to charge you if you go directly through them.

You are entitled to one copy from each bureau every 12 months. Rather than ordering all three at once, I suggest you stagger the requests and order one from a different bureau every four months. This allows you to react quicker in the event you do see something amiss on the report.

Reporting Inaccuracies

Go through each credit report line by line, even including your name, your address, and all of your other identifying information. The balances listed for each account will probably not be accurate right down to the penny as there is a lag between when you make a payment and when that payment is reported to the credit bureau. However, look for accounts that are listed as open, even though you closed them years ago, or accounts that are listed as delinquent even though you’re up to date on all payments.


You are entitled to one free credit report per year.
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Be sure to check for any accounts you weren’t aware of as these are indicators of possible fraud. Bear in mind, though, that the names listed as account holders may differ slightly from the ones which are familiar to you. Banks change names from time to time.

Should you find something amiss on your credit report, you need to get it handled as soon as possible. These things take time so the faster you act, the sooner it can get fixed. Every credit report will have instructions on how to report possible errors, which will need to be reported in writing directly to the credit bureau. They have 30 days or so to investigate the matter and respond back to you.

Typically, what will happen is the credit bureau will contact the person or entity (both are considered to be Credit Reporting Agencies, or CRAs) that originally reported the information. The bureau will notify them of the dispute and pass along the information you’ve provided on the matter. The CRA must conduct an investigation and report the findings back to the credit bureau.

If the CRA provides documentation that the information is valid and correct, it stays on your credit report. However, if they are unable to provide that documentation, the information is changed or deleted on your credit report.

Of course, you could also skip the credit bureau and contact the CRA directly about your dispute. Depending upon the circumstances, this may or may not speed up the process. It is one thing if you are dealing with a large company that likely has processes in place for dealing with disputes and knows how to handle such matters efficiently. Another thing entirely if you’re dealing with a landlord or some other relatively small-time operation.

This is an excerpt from Jim Cobb’s new book The Prepper’s Financial Guide, available in March, 2015, from Ulysses Press.

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10 Ways to Make the 52 Week Savings Plan Work for You http://thesurvivalmom.com/10-ways-make-52-week-savings-plan-work/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/10-ways-make-52-week-savings-plan-work/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 07:00:06 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20834 You want to do the 52 Week Savings Plan. You’ve printed out the chart, posted it somewhere you can’t help seeing it every day, and have a jar ready to hold your money (including a picture of your goal on Read More

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If you struggle to save money, try the 52 week savings plan this year. Read here for ideas to personalize it to you needs. - The Survival MomYou want to do the 52 Week Savings Plan. You’ve printed out the chart, posted it somewhere you can’t help seeing it every day, and have a jar ready to hold your money (including a picture of your goal on it). But you are paid bi-weekly, need to see a bigger / faster initial payoff, never have much free cash in December, etc.

What to do?

Here are some options to customize the plan for yourself.

1. Feel free to jump from week to week, according to how much money you have to save. How is this custom? If you have a week where you find an extra $20 in some old jeans, you might be able to do $40 even though it’s only the $20 week, so you cross off week 40 instead of week 20, or just cross of Week 20 with that twenty dollar bill.

This simply makes it easier to keep track of how much you have already saved, and how many of the “smaller” weeks you still have left.

On the other hand, you could simply let that extra money be a “bonus” so you have more at the end of the year. (And this is technically a bonus tip – making it 11 ways to make the plan work for you!)

2. Instead of setting aside money every week (especially if you get paid every two weeks), set aside $53 every two weeks. The first week is $1, and the second is $52. You can either continue with this amount, or change it every two weeks so the second set of two weeks it is $2 and then $51, etc. But if a non-fluctuating amount (and smaller amount the week you don’t get paid) works better for you, then stick with that. You’ll still get to the same place at the end of the year.

3. If seeing $10 at the end of a month of savings isn’t enough to keep you motivated, start with $52 the first week, and work your way backward. You’ll have over $200 at the end of the first month, and only need $5, $4, $3, $2, and $1 during the next Christmas shopping season.

4. Freeze it – literally – if you are afraid you won’t stick to your goal. Put a picture of what you are saving on the outside of a freezable container. Every week, add your money, then some water to cover it, and put it back in the freezer. Mid-year you may need to thaw, consolidate, and refreeze to make some more room. If so, make sure you do it on a day your resolve is strong.

Stores and banks will be happy to take your previously-wet-but-now-dry cash!

5. Or just use a kids bank that you have to break or use a specialty tool to get into. Then you won’t be as tempted to get into it.

6. If even $1 is too much, save the change you get back when you break a $1 bill at the store. Whenever you do find an extra $1 or more, hide it in your wallet (behind a photo maybe?) until you can get it home and into your jar. It’s incredible how much money can be saved in a year just by accumulating spare change.

7. Hide the real money you are saving somewhere no one else will find it. (Bank accounts count.) Have the kids put in game money instead to get them involved and to represent what you are doing.

8. Not sure you’ll remember every week? Set up an auto-transfer and keep your savings in an actual savings account – which also keeps it off the kitchen counter and out of sight. This also works great if your income is automatically transferred to your checking account by your employer or another organization like Social Security or a retirement fund.

9. If you are likely to break down and grab “a few dollars” for a quick delivery meal, keep more ready-made meals on hand. There is no shame in feeding the kids frozen chicken nuggets (store bought or homemade is up to you), and it will help keep your savings plan on track.

10. If all of the above is still not likely to keep you from feeling the temptation, try putting an extra dollar (or whatever you can afford) a week in another jar. Every three months, take that money and give yourself / your family a smaller treat. Even buying a new DVD for the family or ice cream with all the fixings from the grocery store can be a fun little splurge to help keep you motivated.

BONUS: If you tend to be forgetful, add “52 Weeks Savings!” as a reminder on your smartphone, calendar, or any other reminder system.

Hopefully you are now feeling more motivated and ready to tackle this challenge!

What ideas do you have to make this plan your own?

 

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Taking the Plunge: Going From 1 Income, To No Income. On Purpose! http://thesurvivalmom.com/no-income/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/no-income/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 08:00:15 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19929 When I talk about “taking the plunge,” I do not mean in an abstract, sitting-around-the-table-after-dinner, philosophical way. I’m talking about, “let us identify the absolute scariest thing you can think of and then do it.” In real life, like going Read More

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Going from 1 income to no income. On purpose! | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comWhen I talk about “taking the plunge,” I do not mean in an abstract, sitting-around-the-table-after-dinner, philosophical way. I’m talking about, “let us identify the absolute scariest thing you can think of and then do it.” In real life, like going from one income, to no income!

I can imagine a number of scary things, some of them more plausible than others: alien invasion, torture, etc. My very worst, more realistic nightmare would be a major earthquake. The next best (worst?) thing would be my husband getting laid off and our family making do with no income.

So it makes sense, doesn’t it, that my husband actually is going to quit his well-paying, benefit-providing, stable job so he can go to school full-time to finish his bachelor’s degree.

Choosing no income

That’s what I call taking the plunge! We’re choosing to go from one income to no income.

“Eek!” I hear you say.

“Tell me about it!” I reply.

However, we’ve been preparing for nearly our whole married life for some nebulous event known as an “emergency,” or a “survival scenario,” not knowing what exactly that could be, but really, really hoping it wasn’t going to be an earthquake. We’ve spent a lot of time developing skills and exercising discipline that we knew we would need to cope with such a thing, never knowing when we might need it.

Well, we need it now!

The decision for my husband to quit his job in favor of school was made possible by a series of small choices: buying a little food storage here, paying down our mortgage just a bit there, trimming expenses just for the sake of frugality.  At the same time, he was growing increasingly restless at his job as a software engineer, yearning for something better; not necessarily higher-paying, but definitely more interesting. We had many circular discussions about how to make this happen.

One day a light went on in our brains and he said, “What if I just quit my job?” He and I looked at each other and at our stash of hard white winter wheat, and I said, “You know, we could probably swing it.”

So, starting in the very near future, we won’t be merely storing our wheat, we are going to eat it, along with all our other stored food: the corn, the beans, the obnoxiously large stack of peanut butter jars.

It’s kind of like we’re going bungee jumping, except without the bungee cord. However, this doesn’t mean we are jumping off a bridge with no safety net. Each little thing we have done to prepare for this change is like a tiny filament connecting us to safety.

Our preparations for the plunge

  • Early on, we established frugal and responsible spending habits. We learned how to create for ourselves a comfortable lifestyle on a small amount of money and were able to save the rest.
  • Food storage, food storage, food storage. In particular I paid attention to when certain online retailers were having sales. I also was able to inherit some from my grandparents. (I know they say you shouldn’t keep it around for your grandchildren to inherit, but in my case it worked out well!)
  • Hoarding the food is not enough, you also need to eat it. I’ve been cooking with our wheat on a regular basis for a while now. We eat whole wheat pancakes, whole wheat biscuits, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat pitas (with falafel made from food storage chick peas!), and whole wheat bread. It’s part of our routine now, and part of who we are. It’s not bland “food storage food,” it’s our normal diet. I’ve also learned to actually use what I had stored. I didn’t wait for a disaster before I learned how to grind wheat and make bread.
  • We developed and honed a whole slew of new skills. I learned how to can fruit, my husband picked up some woodworking know-how.
  • We refinanced our house. Not everyone can do this, financially, but we were fortunate enough for it to be an option. We were able to get a much lower interest rate, which not only shortened the length of time we will be in thrall to the bank on our mortgage, but also lowered our monthly payment.
  • Most importantly, we adopted a self-reliant attitude. Everywhere you go you will meet people who say, “You can’t,” or “Who does that?” or “That is so weird.” We are conditioned by our culture to think that we can’t do things ourselves, that we need factories and corporations and elaborate bureaucracies to do them for us, complete with elaborate, brightly colored packaging. But the truth is that you can do things yourself. Making bread is not weird. Sewing your own dress can be great fun, and very satisfying! Why not learn how to knit socks? Today?

Before now it was all by choice that we lived frugally. We could have afforded a more opulent lifestyle if we wanted it. In the future, this lifestyle will be due to necessity, and that is the scary part. We will most likely be stretched to our limit. After all, we have a mortgage and three little kids who need things like socks and homogenized milk. We might have to be extra conservative in our spending (actually, that’s probably a safe bet). Heck, we might even run out of funds. It could get scary pretty fast. It could, as they say, get “real.”

One positive thing about all this is that it will be a good exercise in discovering the extent in our preparations. Did we think of everything? Do we have any gaps? What will we run out of? What will we end up not eating? Will I ever learn to cook successfully with dry beans? This will be invaluable information if, in the future, we are faced with something much more dire. When our “no income” adventure is complete, we will build our food storage supply back up again, and reinforce our preparations for the future with what we have learned.

When I wrote the first draft of this post, we thought this would take the plunge in the middle of December 2014, but fortunately we have another few months now, until April, to prepare even further. We’ll probably get even more food storage (because can you really have too much?). In the meantime, has anyone else been down this road before? What did you do to prepare? How did it go? What do you wish you had known when you started?

The post Taking the Plunge: Going From 1 Income, To No Income. On Purpose! by Beth Buck appeared first on The Survival Mom. Be sure to check it out!

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A Scary Scenario: The One-Hour Meltdown http://thesurvivalmom.com/a-scary-scenario-the-one-hour-meltdown/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/a-scary-scenario-the-one-hour-meltdown/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 19:00:04 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=1634 Every once in a while I read something that stops me in my tracks and slaps me up the side of my head, as my dad would say. Years ago it was the book Patriots by James Wesley Rawles. The picture he Read More

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Does prepping seem a bit crazy to you? Read a bit more and learn about the one hour meltdown, a realistic vision of an economic collapse. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comEvery once in a while I read something that stops me in my tracks and slaps me up the side of my head, as my dad would say. Years ago it was the book Patriots by James Wesley Rawles. The picture he paints of a possible TEOTWAWKI* scenario was just ghastly. For weeks afterward I had visions of our family foraging for edible roots and berries in the forest and collecting water in a solar still, all the while ducking bands of cannibal motorcycle gangs!

As I’ve been prepping and learning more, I have found other plausible future scenarios that are just as appalling, and yet don’t seem impossible. One Second After, reviewed here, describes a possible EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) event that takes all our tech back to the pre-industrial era. That includes systems like power transformers, sewage treatment plants, and many more that we take for granted in our day-to-day lives. Day of Wrathalso reviewed, is about a terrorist attack.

The reality-based fictional possibilities are seemingly endless…and that doesn’t begin to touch on real-life events like Hurricane Sandy, the Polar Vortex, or Ebola!

There are warning signs of how fragile our system is, and when one begins connecting the dots and think about chain reactions (haven’t you seen the grocery store run out of milk before a storm?), all of a sudden it doesn’t seem so crazy after all to begin prepping.

What is coming in 2015?

I have to admit that over the past 7 years, I’ve become a little hardened, maybe even a little cynical, about headlines proclaiming that this year everything will collapse. It was said about 2012, 2013, and now lots of prognosticators are saying that about 2015.

A girl can almost get weary waiting for the end of the world to happen!

A few headlines from recent days:

If Economic Cycle Theorists Are Correct, 2015-2020 Will Be Pure Hell For The United States (Gotta love headlines like that! No fear-mongering there, that’s for sure!)

Economic Collapse Headed for U.S. in 2015

The Collapse Will Happen in May, 2015

and one more, just for good measure…

Will 2015 Be A Year Of Economic Disaster? 11 Perspectives

THE One-Hour Meltdown

Well, one scenario that was laid out many years ago, July of 2009, seems to be just as prophetic now as it did then.

Written by Robert Wayne Atkins, it’s a pretty detailed account of what could cause an economic collapse in our country and what the results would be. I’m sure by now there are even more details that people “in the know” could add to his information about how banks and the government will react to such an event.

Keep in mind, this is only one possible future scenario. No one knows what is going to happen, and if they say they do, they are just trying to scare you out of your money because, trust me, they have a side business just itching to sell you “survival food”, “survival seeds”, a bunker, and a zombie-killing hatchet.

For your information and comments, here is the official One-Hour Meltdown.

 

* TEOTWAWKI – “The End Of The World As We Know It”, a term coined by Mike Medintz.

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Shape Up Your Budget: Tips for accumulating more cash! http://thesurvivalmom.com/budget-tips/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/budget-tips/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 08:05:11 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20448 Shaping up in the new year? Shape up your budget, too!  End the year with more cash on hand using some or all of these budget tips! Set a goal Just like your physical shape-up, you should begin with a Read More

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Quick tips for saving cash. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.com

image by www.CourtneyCarmody.com/

Shaping up in the new year? Shape up your budget, too!  End the year with more cash on hand using some or all of these budget tips!

Set a goal

Just like your physical shape-up, you should begin with a goal in mind. Your (SMART) goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  Set a specific dollar amount that you think you can realistically save each week or month.  Multiply that number by 12 and you have long-term amount.  Start with short-term goals, though, so that the amount is fresh in your mind every time you go to make a purchase. If you have no idea what you can realistically save, consider trying the 52-week savings plan, or calculate what you can save by eliminating unnecessary expenses like these.

Cut out the fat

Cancel cable

Plans can cost anywhere from $30 (plus equipment fees) to over $100 per month for premium satellite packages. (compare here) You’re looking at a minimum savings of $360/year. It may not sound like much now, but combined with some of these other strategies, it adds up fast! And just think of all the extra time you’ll have to read, learn new skills, and reconnect with your kids.

Cancel satellite radio+

Seriously. When did we start paying $19 every month for services that are provided for free? You’ll save $228/year.

Rethink your home and auto insurance

Our homeowner’s insurance kept creeping up for four straight years. Our mortgage company offered to check rates and gave us the top 3 offers.  We saved around $250/year (about $21 per month) without any changes to our coverage or deductible. Sometimes you can even call the company with a quote from another carrier and they can match it without the hassle of switching.

Brown Bag it

Even if you order the cheapest fast food on the menu, you’ll get way too many unhealthy calories and pay out the nose for the privilege. So let’s say you order the cheapest possible, dollar meal deals at $5 every weekday for a year (I know you wouldn’t, but I also know you often spend more than $5, so just go with it.). You’re at 260 lunches for a whopping $1300! A can of Progresso soup can fill you up for around 200 calories and about $1.50 without coupons. That’s $390 on the year for a savings of $910/year.

Switch a couple of those meals to ramen noodles at twenty cents each for a little variety and you can afford to add fresh, homemade salads without changing your budget. Better yet—actually bring and eat your leftovers from dinner the night before and stash that fiver in the safe each afternoon.

Forego Starbucks

$1.75-$4.65 for coffee? My Depression-era grandmother is shaking her head from Heaven if I even smell it on my way through the food court. If you’re getting the smallest, cheapest, plainest coffee even 2 days a week, you’re spending $182/year. The $11 Folgers can lasts us 3 months, and means coffee every morning for $44/year (a savings of $138).

One less dinner out

We were eating out twice a week because our kids’ sports schedules were running us ragged. I finally started packing “picnic dinners” and saved about $30 a week for a yearly savings of $1,440.

Stop smoking

Or stop whatever vice is eating away at your budget.  This website indicates a pack of cigs averages between $4.96 and $14.50 depending on your state of residence.  Let’s say you’re a pack-a-day smoker in Kentucky, the cheapest state per pack. I can think of much better ways to spend $1800 a year! Nonsmokers, you should also give up habits that are detrimental to your health. It’ll save your budget and keep you from paying to see the doctor!

A gym membership?

Really? The cheapest one in our town was $24/month for $288/year. Walking and hiking are free—not to mention a family affair. For a fourth that amount you could invest in a kettle bell and work out your entire body for the rest of your life!

(I know you don’t have all these savings opportunities, but if you did, you could save $5,414!)

Generate additional revenue

Sell unwanted gifts

I know you have some weird Christmas gift you can’t return.  Don’t tuck it away; sell it! Even if you don’t have an eBay account, you can list for free on Craigslist or your local “Give and Take” on Facebook.

Invent a Job

My teenage son took his truck around the back roads, knocked on doors, and offered to haul off people’s broken appliances or rusting metal for free. Then he took it to the recycling center. Cleaning up the environment and scoring some cash is a pretty good way to spend a Saturday!

Trade Services

Whenever possible, trade your goods or expertise for someone else’s. It saves you money and keeps Uncle Sam’s hands out of your pockets! Last summer I was looking for hard-to-find wild fruit. I advertised on Craigslist that I would do all the work to can fruit for anyone who wanted to split the harvest. Crabapples, gooseberries, and elderberries?  Yes, please! I even traded a coworker for some local honey.

Spring Cleaning

Maybe finally get rid of those gifts from last year. Anything your kids have outgrown, you use only once a year, or you just can’t see yourself using in the next 12 months should be sold. Whether you list it electronically or have a garage sale, turn your junk into cash.

Have a plan for each dollar

Every dollar has a purpose

If it’s set aside for something specific, you’re less likely to spend it willy-nilly. If it isn’t earmarked, you’ll probably see it as “play money.” Try putting any saved cash in an envelope with your child’s name on it and mark it “College Fund” or “Christmas Fund”. You won’t pilfer it when it feels like stealing from your kid.

Pay With Cash

Developing a cash-only habit serves a couple of purposes: 1) It forces you to stay within your budget.  If you have $100 bill for the trip to the grocery store and a list, you’re not going to go over your budget.  If you have a debit or credit card, you’ll suddenly find items you can leave without buying. 2) It lets you actually keep and track your savings. If that trip only cost $94 and you have the physical savings in your pocket, you can stash it away much easier than having that cheery “you saved $6.00 today” at the bottom of your card’s receipt. And physically saving it is much more satisfying, so you’re more inclined to try to do that again.

Try a loyalty card

Many grocery stores and pharmacies have cards that give you discounts or rewards toward your next purchase (even when you pay with cash). I downloaded Wal-Mart’s “Savings Catcher” app, which lets me scan QR codes on my receipts.  It compares everything I bought with local competitors’ advertisements and gives me credit back as a gift card. I don’t love shopping there, but during a hectic week, it makes ad-matching a lot easier.

What else have you done to slim your budget and sculpt your savings account?

You may also be interested in reading this article about a potential scenario that will greatly affect your financial stability, Scary Scenario: The One-Hour Meltdown.

The post Shape Up Your Budget: Tips for accumulating more cash! by Kris appeared first on The Survival Mom. Be sure to check it out!

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52 Weeks Savings Challenge: Watch for these January bargains http://thesurvivalmom.com/52-week-savings-challenge-january-bargains/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/52-week-savings-challenge-january-bargains/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2015 15:27:08 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20445 It’s a New Year and time for all sorts of resolutions. If you have on your list to be more prepared and to save money, we have some suggestions for you. But first, commit to the 52 Weeks Savings Plan Read More

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Get on the 52 Week Savings Plan and start saving money with these January bargains! | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comIt’s a New Year and time for all sorts of resolutions. If you have on your list to be more prepared and to save money, we have some suggestions for you.

But first, commit to the 52 Weeks Savings Plan by starting with just one dollar. As the year progresses, you’ll be adding additional dollars to your stash and the week’s number on the calendar corresponds to that number of dollars. The plan is simple but staying on track can be a challenge due to:

  • Forgetfulness! Print out our tracking chart and post it somewhere prominent in your home. Find a savings buddy and hold each other accountable. Join our 52 Weeks Savings Club Facebook page to link up with people who have the same goal as you do. It’s a great source of information and a place to ask questions.
  • Lack of funds. This one can happen to anyone, and if it happens to you, don’t give up. Just add what you can, even if it’s just a dollar. One work-around for this dilemma is to add extra dollars when you can, knowing that at some point during the year, you may run short.

Our goal is to help you each month with information about products that are usually on sale. Any time you can buy at a discount or recyle something you own to fulfill a new need, you’re saving money.

Keep in mind this quote from the days of the Great Depression:

Use it up

Wear it out

Make it do

Or do without.

Sales tend to be cyclical. Here’s what should be on sale in January and how you can use them to be more prepared for whatever life brings. Holidays and other special events are also part of the calendar and usually they bring with them bargains. For example, toward the end of January you’ll find all kinds of foods on sale related to Super Bowl parties. Keep an eye out for those specials, and if the items are something you would be anyway, stock up.

Food supplies

In January, holiday candy and treats should go on sale, which can be used as comfort food in your food storage. Candy can also help keep children calm in emergency situations. For long-term storage, refer to my article, “20+ Foods That Must Be Repackaged For Long-Term Storage and How to Repackage Them.

Those sweet treats will last a lot longer in your pantry if you use a vacuum sealer, like a Food Saver, to package them using these instructions.

Oatmeal and diet foods should also be on sale. Diet foods can include drinks and food bars that are packed with nutrition, making them a decent addition to an emergency kit.

Seasonal produce that can be found at a good price this month are:

  • lemons
  • oranges
  • papayas
  • tangelos
  • tangerines
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • grapefruit
  • leeks

Consider freezing or dehydrating some of these for long-term storage.

Household items

Bedding and towels are usually on sale in January. Do you have extra bedding for each person in case of sickness? Do you have pillows in case you want to sleep in your tornado room? Do you have blankets and towels in your car or with your camping gear? This would be the time to stock up on these items.

Cookware is also on sale this month if you need an extra set for cooking outside. Another deal to look for is on flooring. If the power were ever out for a long time, carpet would not be an ideal flooring to have without a working vacuum. You could possibly find a good deal to swap out the carpet for tile, wood or laminate.

Winter clothing also starts going on sale in January. Think ahead to next year if you have children and buy the size they are going to need. Make sure to have hats and gloves for each person in winter bug-out bags and in vehicles. Long underwear is another must if you typically experience cold weather or enjoy winter sports.

Holiday decorations and supplies (wrapping and party) should also be on sale if you want to do some shopping for next year or add to your supply of paper plates, cups, utensils and tablecloths. Some people suggest buying plain wrapping paper on sale now to use for presents throughout the year.

If you need to get organized, January is also the time to look for organization systems, bins, calendars and planners. Any person who starts a food supply or accumulates camping gear knows that staying organized is the key to knowing what you have on hand.

And, join our Skill of the Month Club because Get Organized and Reduce What You Own is our very first skill!

Entertainment

If you’ve ever been homebound due to sickness or severe weather, you know how important entertainment can be. CDs, DVDs, video games, board games, computers, TVs, cameras, select electronics and toys are all on sale in January. It can be a time to be frugal and think ahead to future gifts, too. Cameras can be useful for documenting your property for insurance or emergency situations. Some digital cameras have video recording, too.

If a game or movie relates to survival, so much the better!

Getting fit

Many people make fitness New Year’s resolutions and to go along with that treadmills, ellipticals, sneakers and fitness gear tend to be on sale in January. Being fit cannot be overemphasized in preparing for any situation. Take advantage of this sale and get your body fit for whatever may come.

The outdoors

Camping gear can also go on sale because not many people are thinking of camping in the middle of winter. However, now would be a good time to check your camping inventory and see if there is anything you need. Are the children getting older and need a tent of their own? Want some extra sleeping bags for vehicles or a tornado shelter?

Gas grills tend to go on sale early in the year, too. A gas grill can help with cooking if the power goes out for a few days.

Transportation

Motorcycles, bicycles and boats also go on sale this month with newer models coming out. Bicycles can be part of a bug-out plan after an EMP. Motorcycles can help give a family member a cheaper mode of transportation if gas prices go up again. If you live near water, a boat can help you bug out or take you to a food source.

By the end of January…

According to the 52 Weeks Savings Plan, you should have just $10 saved up. I know you can do that! If you have extra right now, perhaps going to Week 52, in the chart and saving $52 would be a smart thing to do.

The key to being a winner when it comes to saving money is to pinch pennies wherever you can with purchases and then put even small amounts saved in your savings stash.

We’ll be back in February with more money-savings tips to help you save AND prepare!

 

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