The Survival Mom » Finances http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:00:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 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.[bctt tweet=”You are entitled to one free credit report per year.”]

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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Charity Prepping http://thesurvivalmom.com/charity-prepping/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/charity-prepping/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:24:03 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20002 Many people donate to their church or to charities year round to support a cause or help those less fortunate. Have you ever considered combining your prepping activities with charitable giving? Rotating Your Food Stock When you’ve got your shelves full Read More

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Charity PreppingMany people donate to their church or to charities year round to support a cause or help those less fortunate. Have you ever considered combining your prepping activities with charitable giving?

Rotating Your Food Stock

When you’ve got your shelves full of pantry foods saved for an emergency, sometimes it’s hard to keep up on proper rotation of expiring items. (Though many foods are fine passed their “expiration dates” some are not, and some people choose not to keep/eat expired foods when they have the ability to buy a replacement.) If you find that you can’t or don’t want to eat what you’ve stored, don’t throw it out! Take it to a local food bank, homeless shelter, or soup kitchen.

This is also a great way for people who don’t eat processed food, yet want to have food storage in case of emergency. Go ahead and buy your food stock and shelve it. When it comes time to rotate it out, instead of feeding it to your family, donate it to the food bank.

Our supply of dehydrated and freeze dried #10 cans of 10-30 year food storage items was pricey, but what we gained was long shelf life. Toward the end of the shelf life limit, we will simply load up the truck and donate it to a family or organization in need. Yes, we could use it ourselves, but instead our donation will be made with gratitude that we didn’t have to live through a disaster that was so bad we needed our long term food storage to survive. We will purchase a new stash and pray we get to donate again in another 20 years.

Blessing Bags

When deciding to rotate out some of your food items, consider breaking them down into individual items. Instead of taking the case of cheese and crackers, boxes of raisins or granola bars and single serve applesauce to the food bank, divide them into ziplock baggies along with the travel sized personal hygiene items you’ve collected from your travels and make Blessing Bags with them. Keep them in your car for an easy way to offer a little something to a homeless person you encounter. For more ideas on what to include in blessing bags, click here.

TEOTWAWKI Giving

We all know people who, for a variety of reasons, don’t have even a beginning level of preparedness. These are the ones who will be knocking on your door asking for help when they have no food or supplies. What will you do? Send them away? Give them some of the preps meant for your family? What if they are armed? What if they have young children with them? These are all questions you have to ask yourself ahead of time and have at least a plan of how you intend to respond.

Ken Jenson of the Clever Survivalist gives one good reason to be charitable with your preps besides simple generosity. “When you share food with [others] you will gain something called social capital.” You’re being generous with them, so they may feel obligated to help you. They may not have preps, but they likely have skills, and working together as a team is the beginning of setting up a thriving community in the midst of hardship.

So what should you put aside ahead of time in your charity prep stash? Jenson suggests the items should be inexpensive, easy to store and high energy.

Dried Beans

Rice

Noodles/Pasta

Dried Mixed Fruit

Rolled Oats

Sugar

Salt

Dried Milk

Bulk Wheat

There are two schools of thought when deciding how to package up these giveaways. The first is to have everything preplanned and prepackaged so you just have to hand the gift to the person and send them on their way. This is convenient and quick. Some preppers think it’s too convenient and quick which is why they don’t like it. Showing a stranger that level of preparedness may tell them that you have a lot more stock ready for the taking. Instead, consider the second option which is to have items set aside but not prepackaged. Keep a stash of plastic grocery bags with these items and fill them as needed. This might send the message that you threw this together on the spot and make it appear more like a “sacrifice” you’re making to help.

If you are prepping for extended civil unrest, EMP, or other long term disastrous events, think about other inexpensive items besides food to stock up on in your charity giving preps that will help people who haven’t planned ahead. In addition to these tangible items, you can “teach a man to fish” by also including a page or two of basic instructions on how to start a fire, make water safe to drink, finding shelter, etc. 

Matches

Ziploc bags

Mylar blankets

Water purification tablets

Individual hand sanitizers

Feminine hygiene products

Bug repellant wipes, baby wipes

Small tissue packs

Light sticks

Tealight candles

Latex gloves

Ponchos

Many in the prepper community are adamant about only “taking care of their own” and tell others “don’t come to my house looking for food or I’ll shoot you.” While I don’t deny the need to protect and provide for your family, I don’t believe it will be as “easy” as just shooting people in a true disastrous scenario. Are you really going to shoot the mom and her starving baby who knock on your door asking for something to eat? Or would it be better to have some additional supplies set aside to offer as you send them on their way? We all understand the importance of supporting those in need even during the “good times.” Plan ahead and be willing and able to help during the “bad times” as well.

Author’s Note: Click this link to hear more on the subject of charity prepping in a podcast by the Clever Survivalist. If you want to get right into the meat of the topic, forward ahead to about the 18:12 mark. And don’t forget – depending on who you give it to, this can be a tax deduction

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Top 18 Holiday Bargains for Stocking Up http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-18-holiday-bargains-stocking/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-18-holiday-bargains-stocking/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 21:46:13 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20321 Beginning in October every year, grocery stores begin prominently displaying all types of food typically used in holiday cooking and baking. Every grocery store I’ve been to in the past couple of months has their holiday bargains right out front and Read More

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The holidays are the perfect time for stocking up! Here are 18 bargains to look for. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comBeginning in October every year, grocery stores begin prominently displaying all types of food typically used in holiday cooking and baking. Every grocery store I’ve been to in the past couple of months has their holiday bargains right out front and center.

For Survival Moms who want to stock up their food pantry, this is an ideal time to take advantage of the coupons and sales that also come at this time of year. Today I took a look at this week’s grocery ads, and here’s a master list of items you may want to grab before the holiday season ends.

  • Ham and Turkey
    • Both of these can be frozen and/or canned to provide meals well into the New Year. A frozen turkey can remain frozen and still be safe to eat for up to a year.
  • Fresh oranges
    • Once the orange has been eaten, dry the peels and create your own orange zest for recipes throughout the year. If you end up with more zest than you think you’ll use within 6 months or so, use a Food Saver to vacuum seal the remaining zest in a pouch for longer term storage.
  • Coffee
    • Grocery stores know that coffee is part of holiday entertaining, so you’re going to find lots of coffee brands on sale. Coffee beans, and especially green, unroasted coffee beans, will have the longest shelf life, but you can still repackage both beans and ground coffee in canning jars using the Food Saver jar attachment to suck out all the air/oxygen or seal the coffee in plastic pouches using your vacuum sealer.
    • Coffee is definitely worth stocking up on, but be sure to keep it stored in a cool, dark, and dry location. Even so, it will have its freshest flavor if used within just a couple of months.
  • Nuts
    • Again, this is the season for baking all types of treats and many of my favorite recipes include nuts. You’ll find nuts on sale but keep an eye on prices because they are still generally a higher priced grocery item.
    • If you do find a bargain, store those nuts in a cool, dry, dark location, and, if possible, vacuum pack them using a Food Saver.
  • Fresh fruit
    • Depending on where you live, you may find low prices on blueberries, blackberries, pomegranates, pineapple, oranges, and a lot more.
    • Dehydrating fruit is very simple and food dehydrators don’t have to cost a lot of money. I found mine on Craigslist several years ago for $30 and it still works fine.
    • You can also freeze fruit and even can it, so stocking up now on fruits that are in season is a very smart thing to do. Just make sure you budget your time so all that yummy stuff won’t rot during an especially busy time of year.
  • Butter
    • Right now my favorite grocery store has a pound of butter for $2.50. That’s the lowest price I’ve seen in a while. Butter can easily be frozen, at one time I had 40 pounds of it in our big freezer!
    • I’ve heard of canning butter but am not convinced it’s the safest thing to do.
  • Alcohol
    • Call me crazy, but it never hurts to have a few bottles of whisky or vodka around. Even if you’re not much of a drinker, vodka can be useful in making tinctures and from what I’ve heard, whiskey has medicinal uses as well.
    • If you’re thinking of stocking up on bottles of alcohol as a product for barter, stick with hard liquor: vodka, gin, tequila, rum, whiskey and brandy, as they can all have indefinite shelf lives.
  • Potatoes, both fresh and instant
    • Potatoes can be peeled, sliced, and dehydrated by following these steps.
    • When stored in a very cool location, around 45 to 50 degrees, they can stay fresh for up to 3 months.
    • Instant mashed potatoes come in handy for quick meals. However, they will need to be repackaged for a longer shelf life. Read these instructions. Once repackaged, I highly recommend placing them in the freezer for at least a week in order to kill any microscopic insect eggs that might be present.
    • Here’s a terrific collection of awesome potato recipes.
  • Canned vegetables
    • Store these in a cool location and they can last for more than a year.
    • You can always drain the veggies and dry them on your dehydrator trays for even longer shelf life.
  • Over-the-Counter meds for coughs and cold symptoms
    • These generally have a shelf life of more than a year.
    • During the winter months, you’ll also find coupons for these for added savings.
  • Batteries
    • Retailers aren’t stupid. They know that for every battery-operated gift purchased, someone is going to need batteries! Keep an eye out for coupons and combine them with store sales.
    • Batteries are among the most useful items you can stock up on, so go crazy when you find a really good deal!
  • Not-just-for-Christmas wrapping paper
    • Who said that white wrapping paper with red polka dots is just for Christmas? When you find wrapping paper that will be perfectly fine throughout the year, buy it!
  • Gravy and gravy mixes
    • There’s nothing like homemade gravy, but there’s also nothing handier than opening a jar of gravy and pouring it over mashed potatoes! A few jars of gravy in the pantry just might save dinner one day soon!
    • Gravy packets are great as a stock-up item. They have very long shelf lives, can be prepared quickly, and can make items as plain as white rice pretty tasty.
  • Frozen pies
    • Now, you wouldn’t ordinarily think of a pie when it comes to stocking up, but one or two in the freezer can come in handy.
    • Think about any special occasions coming up, potlucks, parties — any even where you might have to make dessert. Now think about how busy you’re going to be this year. A frozen pie looks like a better and better idea, doesn’t it?
  • Baking staples
    • Sugar, flour, baking powder, chocolate chips — you’ll find all these and a lot more on sale. And, all of them can be stored long-term.
    • Flour, in particular, must be repackaged. Read this to learn how.
    • Watch this video to learn how to store things like chocolate chips, shortening, and candy.
  • Snack foods
    • Grocery stores know that serving appetizers and snacks are a part of the holidays. You’ll find things like Triscuits and other crackers on sale, along with pretzels and chips. If you find these at a great price, stock up and plan on portioning them into snack bags for your kids’ lunches.
  • Chex cereals
    • Everybody and their dog is going to be making one variation of Chex mix or another, so why not stock up on several boxes for breakfasts or other recipes?
  • Canned soups
    • Like most other canned foods, soups can have a long shelf life if stored in a cool location.
    • Buy soup flavors that your family members enjoy and soups that you normally use in recipes.

What other foods that are on sale during the holidays do you stock up on?

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Looking for a UNIQUE Gift? Try Fiverr! http://thesurvivalmom.com/looking-unique-gift-try-fiverr/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/looking-unique-gift-try-fiverr/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 07:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19547 You can use these as ideas for unique gifts for Christmas, Thanksgiving centerpieces, Hanukkah gifts, or New Years Party favors. Heck, you can use most of them to celebrate the 4th of July if you want! What the heck is Read More

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unique giftts from fiverrYou can use these as ideas for unique gifts for Christmas, Thanksgiving centerpieces, Hanukkah gifts, or New Years Party favors. Heck, you can use most of them to celebrate the 4th of July if you want!

What the heck is it?

First of all, what is Fiverr? It is a website where artists offer to do work, or people request artists to do work, for $5 per job, or gig. There is an extra $.50 handling charge, but it you get a refund that is refunded as well. (I had to get a refund for one when I misread what the artist offered.) Many have add-ons that make it more, but it’s all clearly stated and the buyer needs to select the add-on items. Truthfully, the price is so low that I can’t really get mad about it.

What are some of the possibilities?

A lot of what artists there are hired to do a business related gigs – creating logos, designing websites, illustrating book covers – so I’ll admit they didn’t jump out at me for gift ideas, but then I looked at the tab all the way to the right in the top nav that says “more”.

Wow.

The three categories there are “Lifestyle”, “Gifts”, and “Fun and Bizarre”. I won’t try to go into everything listed there, but I will warn you that it’s kind of like Pinterest. Once you start looking, you discover so many cool things it can suck you in for longer than you intended. If you chose a gift from here it will be unique, and not just because so many items are handcrafted.

Under Lifestyle / Animal Care and pets, there is a certified professional dog trainer who is selling the plans to make a dog agility pole course for $5. Or how about a leather collar with a bell or a cozy sweater for your dog? Or 100 Recipes to Make for Your Cat (including the right to resell and reuse them)?

Under Fun and Bizarre, you can choose a celebrity impersonator. Does your kid or friend love Lady Gaga? Dad always been a James Bond fan? Have a message recorded and surprise them! Or maybe your friends or family are pranksters and you could use some professional help with a prank. Look no further! Fiverr can help.

Do you have a friend, loved one, or teacher who dreams of making it BIG in show business? Then by all means – help them! Put three images on billboards in NYC! No, they won’t really be on a billboard (gotta love technology!) but it still looks cool!

Teenage boys on the list? You can have a pretty girl burp their name on camera. (They also have super cute poop.)

Have you ever thought it might be cool to have Monopoly with your own street names on it? You can buy this gig and get a version designed to be printed on a standard printer, assembly instructions included. (It’s FIVE DOLLARS, although he does say prices may rise soon.) You can also have a Pong game made using someone’s head, or soap shaped like a Lego brick.

There are tons of opportunities to have items personalized, as well. A shot glass with your image is just one. So is one custom cookie cutter for $5 or 4 for $10.

This is one my kids are ordering: a wooden Christmas ornament with the name / word of your choice in it. Whether it’s a Nana, an Opa, or  Gramcracker, somehow grandparents seem to end up with names you just can’t find pre-printed on anything! And this is a gift they can cherish. Of course, if you want something more year round, you can go with an engraved coffee spoon.

There is an entire section of jewelry, including book charms for a charm bracelet with the cover(s) you send and actual paper inside.

That doesn’t even hit the more “normal” gigs of turning a picture into a comic style image, a caricature, or other style of artwork! Once you start looking, there are so very many possibilities! Who knew that for $5 you could get a personalized puppet video?!?

How do you do it?

Once you know what you want, request a gig from the artist – remember to include any extras and read what they provide carefully before doing this. You’ll get an email response asking for more details so they can start on the project. As it continues, you will probably exchange a few emails for details as the artist polishes their work. When its done and and you have approved it (note that most artists limit the number of revisions, or require extra payment for more revisions), the artist will send it to you.

I haven’t bought any (yet) that require shipping, so I don’t know quite how that works, but I think it’s a fantabulous way to get cool custom gifts on a budget!

 

 

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5 Halloween items to buy for your safety (it’s not what you think!) http://thesurvivalmom.com/5-halloween-items-buy-safety-think/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/5-halloween-items-buy-safety-think/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 06:00:02 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19103 Did you know there are several Halloween props that can be useful for your safety? I’m not talking about glow sticks and paper products (although those are great to have) – I’m talking about the makeup, body parts and costumes. Read More

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halloween

Did you know there are several Halloween props that can be useful for your safety? I’m not talking about glow sticks and paper products (although those are great to have) – I’m talking about the makeup, body parts and costumes.

Imagine a long power outage where people start scavenging for food. Imagine a long-term lockdown or quarantine where supplies might be in demand or confiscated.

Dress Up for You and Your Home

There could be a time and place where you might want to stage your house to deter unwanted visitors and by scouring the after Halloween sales, you can come up with quite a few supplies for cheap that could be useful.

  • Costumes, wigs, and temporary hair coloring
  • Makeup
  • Fake blood and body parts
  • Caution tape and cobwebs
  • Spray paint

Caution tape and a little makeup could make your house an instant quarantine area.

Various body part decorations could make your house look like it’s already been attacked. Coupled with some caution tape, it’s a crime scene.

Spray paint and cobwebs can make a house look abandoned. And costumes, along with wigs and makeup, can change how a person looks.

Makeup and fake blood could also be used to create various medical conditions that could keep people away or help you get whisked to safety.

Use your imagination …

I’m not advocating out-right lying or deceiving people about serious situations for fun. I’m also not advocating anything criminal, like impersonating a police officer, but how many doctors do you think actually have things like scrubs or a lab coat – “doctor-y clothing” – with them outside of the office? It is entirely possible that you, someone you know, or a stranger you shelter could be an off-duty professional and a few select items could give them some instant credibility for their profession.

A few prop weapons, and you could fake an attack on someone that scares off would-be intruders without actually hurting anyone. Some glow-in-the-dark hair spray, body paint, etc. and it’s suddenly easier to find the kids or follow each other on a path in the darkness. Of course, it’s also easier for others to find you without you seeing them.

If we ever did face desperate times, it could call for desperate measures to keep our loved ones and property safe. If  you needed your kid out of school right now in an emergency and wearing a simple costume like a lab coat or gas mask would make it happen, would you really hesitate?

By making your house look abandoned and already rifled through or already searched by authorities, people may steer clear and move on to another area, keeping you safe. If you wonder why this would be good, just think about what happened in New Orleans post-Katrina.

Go take a look at the Halloween supplies and imagine what ways you could change the look of your home, and possibly even your loved ones.

Have you thought about staging your house? What supplies do you have on hand or would you recommend people getting to change its look?+

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