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A Personal Preparedness Success Story, by Ranger Mat

After being a reader of SurvivalBlog for some time now, I finally noticed the tag line, right under the title states: ‘The Daily Web Log for Prepared Individuals Living in Uncertain Times.’ While we all on here are preppers in one sense or another, the thing that we all have in common is that we look forward to being prepared for uncertain times. Things like financial meltdown, government tyranny, natural disaster, war, famine, all occupy our minds at one point or another during our preparation considerations.

I recently had a personal ‘uncertain time’ hit me and my family. I have been attending classes at the local university and my wonderful wife had been supporting us with her employment when we both hit a stage of burnout. Studying Recreation, I knew the importance of taking a break to recharge ourselves, so we attended a conference out of town that covered a topic that we both found interesting for a short vacation. We even managed to find some extra funding from my university to attend, so the trip was not overly costly for us.

What ended up being costly for us was the failure to account for the lost income that came from the time off. For the next few months, unexpected bills from medical expenses due to both of us falling ill over a few months, as well as from some other mistakes that we made began to rear their ugly heads to hunt us down. Other monetary items began to creep up on us as well, such as Christmas, needing to fix up the car for license renewal, and other things drained much of our bank accounts.

As I was not working, I personally went through a time of depression, feeling useless because I was unable to personally support my family. My wife had her own depression, fearing that our debts and unforeseen needs would drain us financially and we would need to move in with one of our families. Both of our families still have children living at home and are helping to support our other siblings who are having their own hard times. My parents are also caring for my aging grandmother, while in my wife’s family, my father in law had to retire after working for his company for 20 years. Originally we felt, when the money was good, that being independent was the best way we could finically assist our individual parents. Now we feared that we might need to move home and add more burden to our strapped families.

This is where our preparations came into play for us, and provided a great blessing in the way of the foresight of our actions earlier when times were better. We thankfully were able to begin using the food storage that we had set away of the few years that we have been married, and did not have to buy nearly as much food each trip during the couple of months that we were financially hurting. This is because our food storage was based on the ‘Eat what you store, Store what you eat,’ school of thought. Other things that proved useful to us was having bought good quality household items that didn’t need much maintenance (other than my aging car) and putting extra money away into a few savings accounts. With our savings, we were able to pay for many of our unforeseen expenses, like the needed car repairs.

Some things that we learned from this experience, other that the need for both food and money preparations, is the need for a greater variety of food in our stores. There are only so many ways that you can prepare pasta and spaghetti sauce. On warm days, a pot of soup is not the best idea. Having good quality clothing is as important as food stored away. For cold nights, good bedding helped save money on our gas bill by allowing us to turn down the thermostat. Facebook is a good tool for contacting family and friends during a job search. Knowing about free or other forms of cheap entertainment, even when you have money, can help you have things to do when you don’t have money. A night out with friends can cost as little as some spare time, an enjoyable video, and the ability to laugh. It is emotionally beneficial to have ways to relax and entertain yourself, especially in times of high stress. I can’t imagine what things would have been like if we had any sort of addiction that we had to pay for on top of everything else.

This experience also reminded me of the time when my father lost his job, and my family needed to rely on what we had stored and could grow. For a while, our diet was bread and butter, corn and potatoes from our garden, and some cheese. It wasn’t the best diet, and for a while after, fresh baked bread and a certain dry soup mix made me lose my appetite. As a teenager at the time, I was afraid of having friends over for fear of knowing how poor we were. It was a hard time but that experience led to some of the greatest blessings that my family had.

Now I feel that my wife and I are in store for some great blessings as well, or at least we hope. My wife recently found a new job, with better pay and better benefits, and I have found a job as well that is within walking distance of our home, which will save us some money as well. We are rebuilding our preps and savings now. My new job involves handling money at a register, and my boss allows me to exchange coins from my own pocket for pre-1965 coins that I dig out of the change compartments, so we are adding some silver to our stores as well. We are considering finding ways to add other foods to our storage that we didn’t have before and working on adding other preparations to our stores also. I am also working on other skills that I want to have, but never felt I had time for because of my schooling and other duties. We are also planning on learning gardening by working with our parents’ gardens when pleasant temperatures return in the Spring. I used much of my Christmas gift money for tools that I can use in a disaster, or just around the house. I have sent in for my CCW permit, and my wife is considering getting one of her own when we have the income to afford it. As we rebuild, another one of my goals is to increase my prepper network, and have a group to work with to mutually uplift and educate each other or to help each other if things truly get Schumeresque.

We are again on the road to building a better life for ourselves and our future children. We are thankful for the resources that have helped us in the short while we have been preparing for the unknown future. Our experience has helped us in other personal ways in planning our future better and discovering more goals for ourselves. We came closer together as a couple during our ordeal, and my wife is more enthusiastic about preparing, and her family wants to learn more about it was well. We also are working on being more social with others around us. Only our family and a couple of very close friends knew about the extent of our troubles. I don’t think that the leader of our local congregation even knew.

While thinking about being a hero in a disaster or other unusual situations can be fun or entertaining at times, or just knowing that you have a better ability to survive can be comforting, I believe that many of us will be much more likely to face a disaster of a personal nature, like a lost job or being short of income, especially in this economy. Things like having spent years of my life camping have taught me to get by with less than I am typically accustomed too, and I feel that if the SHTF I will be able to get by. Having lived in tornado and hurricane country and seeing the effects of such storms, I know that people are more likely to experience inconveniences that disasters cause, rather than fighting inside the Thunderdome. That is not to say that I don’t ever think about being the hero in times of extreme crisis or natural disaster, because I do. And I am also not saying that this is the solitary event to plan for, but I want to share that, while I have seen many natural disasters and sat at the feet of others who have experienced more than I have, the biggest need for my preparations came from the small and simple things that throw off the everyday stability and create for us ‘uncertain times.’