As I imagine many of the readers on this site, I once found myself somewhat isolated in my prepping, embarrassed to let on to how I felt, why I prep, et cetera . My family is very close, very involved in each others lives, and I couldn’t imagine or want it any different. My entry into this contest will be an explanatory background on myself and my preps, followed by a realistic guideline on how to “save the ones that matter” to you; or at least, my means of doing so.
I am a young, 30 year old father of an angelic two year old girl, with another child on the way (another motivator and complication to my prepping). My background was in the Finance/Insurance arena for years until I decided to open my own business in a different industry. One could say I am living the “American Dream,” or at least, what it used to be – the house, two new cars, kids, a savings account, investments, hobbies, etc. It wasn’t until about two years ago that a very close uncle got me back into coin collecting that my investment-guided mind started seeing the patterns and benefits of gold and silver and their true role as a store of wealth. With any worthwhile research, one will slowly find the fringe reasoning behind seeking metals as an investment, which I did….and then I continued reading. Quickly I began seeing through some of the fog that has been lowered over our field of view and the implications of where our current financial and economic status indicates we are…and it doesn’t look good. I found myself up every night until 2 a.m. reading endlessly over conspiracy theories and radical ideas. Granted, I took everything with a grain of salt but I definitely had come to one conclusion; the system was hanging by a thread that seemed to be about to snap. Being naive and having a biased financial background, I started converting many of my liquid investments to silver and gold.
I was able to conceal this for awhile, or rather – felt I had to, however, eventually, my wife confronted me about the slowly growing clutter in our home safe. So one night, after she got home from work, I sat her down and had a very serious talk with her, something I am usually never the one to initiate or request. The last time I had done this was in 2011 after we had been burglarized and I told her that I needed her to swallow her distaste for firearms because this had been the last straw, and we were both getting sidearms, and a rifle. That was no easy battle and it was only when I had put it in black and white: “What if you had been at home with our infant daughter when they kicked in the door?” that she saw the light. And we did it responsibly, which I knew was important to her. We had my father, an ex-police officer, and highly successful/responsible/moral man, sit down and drill us together (even though I had grown up with his guns and his rules) on how to operate, use and maintain our firearms. We went to the range together many times and enjoyed ourselves finding a new and fun way to compete with one another.
But prepping is so much more than guns and silver. I remember one night reading something that said “you cannot eat your gold”. This really stuck with me. I had focused so much of my time on first acquiring ounces and ounces of precious metals, followed by boxes and boxes of ammo. It was if I could see myself in a post apocalyptic world looking like Rambo, AR-15 in one arm, sack full of gold and silver in the other with my wife and child huddled behind me as I kept the roaming MZBs at bay (those are Mutant Zombie Bikers if you haven’t read the novel Lights Out by David Crawford). So unrealistic. You cannot do it alone. (That is an idea we will come back to later.) But yet, so common amongst today’s preppers. I would bet that most preppers, or rather, people that consider themselves preppers, follow the same misguided purchasing patterns that I did with silver and weapons first. This is the turning point that I consider when I really started to get serious about prepping.
It was also around this time that my wife started asking about some charges to our debit card, some high dollar amounts at Wal-Mart, some Army Navy Surplus store charges, etc. Purchases outside our norm. I did not want to start a fight with my wife, but if I had it my way, I would go out and spend $20-30k on what I would consider necessary preparations; she would go out and hire a divorce attorney. So we sat down and came up with an acceptable budget. I highly suggest that you do the same. But before you do, make visible sacrifices to your spending habits so that your significant-other/family can see your dedication and how important it is to you.
This whole time, my wife was slowly paying attention to my behavior. Rather than going golfing on the weekends, I was going to the target range instead with the husband of her friend. Instead of buying new business clothes or styles, I was purchasing quality boots, outdoor clothing, etc. Then, one day I came home and one of the huge plastic tubs in our garage was in the family room and had been emptied onto the floor. My wife had this look on her face like “What the —- is wrong with you??” This particular bin had all of our clothing and footwear in it. All sealed in plastic. She was upset. “Why did you buy all of this stuff you haven’t even used it” followed by “How much did all of this cost?” So we talked for awhile about it. I explained to her that I have a life insurance policy for the dreaded “what if” contingency. This was life insurance, but the real kind; to keep our life intact. I explained that rather than having all of my life insurance in the highest premium category known as “Whole Life”, that we had diversified some of it into “Term Life”…that this was a tradeoff between the investment value of Whole Life and the extremely high premium it requires, all while still maintaining the level of insurance we require with a combination of “Whole Life” and “Term”. This made sense to her. So I further explained that I keep these all terrain boots, all weather clothing, rain suits, etc in here for the very same reason. Eventually, she calmed down, and laughed that I had picked the right size for her by going through all of her shoes in the closet and guesstimating her size.
At this point, I had a pretty solid foundation of the essentials. I had food, water, shelter, fuel and security all set and ready to go in our closet and garage. All we had to do in the event of an emergency was throw all of the giant storage bins, our BOBs, 5-Gallon water jugs and fuel cans into the SUV and we could go 1,200 miles in any direction. I had even done a practice drill once while she was out shopping with our princess to see how fast I could do it alone. I even figured out a way to “Tetris” everything as efficiently as possible into the vehicle while not being able to see much from outside the vehicle. I was impressed; I could be loaded and ready to go in 15 minutes – alone. And that was when it hit me: Where am I going and what am I going to do when I get there? That brings me to what I call “Level 2” of preparing.
Ensuring that you can initially survive a disaster is a huge first step. Up to this point, I was positive I could sustain my wife and child for a month comfortably even if we had to drive out into some remote forest and live out of the SUV and tent. That was when I read the novel Patriots. That was when I realized you cannot do it alone no matter how well you prepare, no matter how much money you throw at preps. Every man needs to sleep and who is going to guard my queen and princess while I am sleeping. Where is the cross fields of fire going to come from with one inexperienced man defending his family who is probably wetting his pants in the heat of his first battle? It was time to reach out. So enter Level 3:
The first logical choice was my father. Understand one thing about him; he is the guy everyone in the neighborhood is friends with, the guy everyone calls when they need help, and a “guys guy”. Everyone I know respects him. He owns his own company, so he has a lot of spare time and usually spends it helping people. Fixing things. Driving people to doctors appointments. Babysitting my princess when I have to run out for my company. I grew up with him coaching every sports team I was on, shooting, fishing….to be honest, I couldn’t have been luckier. So when the day came and I showed him all of my preps, I wasn’t prepared for his reaction which was “Buddy, is all this necessary? Do you really want to live in a world where you have a weekly gunfight just to defend your garden from poachers?” This hit me really hard. All I could think was that my dad thought I was crazy, and worse, that he would be one of the people to just lay down and die. So I kind of dropped it for awhile and didn’t mention this to any more family members for months.
Randomly one day, my father asked if I had any good books to read. I mentioned that I had a book on my tablet, “Lights Out,” if he wanted to borrow it. So I gave it to him and crossed my fingers. A few days later, my dad called me and had a little spunk in his voice. He loved it. I mentioned that I had another as well, called “Patriots” by none other than JWR. He read it in two days.
On Monday mornings, my father comes to pick up my daughter and it is the one day a week I go out to my accounts and put an eye on site. The Monday following him finishing “Patriots” he knocked on my door like normal at 7:30am to pick up the princess. As I was walking to the front door, I noticed I didn’t hear the car running like normal. When I opened it, he greeted me, and walked in. He played with my daughter for awhile but I could tell something was up. Usually he just scooped her so I could get on the road, and my wife, sister, her fiancee and I all meet up for dinner at his house and after we take our daughter home with us. Eventually he says “Hey bud, I know why you gave me those 2 books, I feel like you are trying to tell me something.”
I didn’t know what to think. So I started by asking him if he would just give up if the SHTF. He laughed. He then went on to explain to me how he had reacted that way months ago because he didn’t want me obsessing and worrying about TEOTWAWKI, but at the same time, it has stuck in his head. After reading those 2 books he said he saw how realistic a disaster could be, and how close to a meltdown our country was…and….what was my motivation for making him read those specific two books? So I went on to explain my concerns, my preparations, etc.
It was at this moment that my father blew my mind. Remember, I was in Finance for five years. I wrote every policy, investment, etc that he owned; he trusted me that I knew what I was doing. And on a side note, I did well. He asked if I remembered about that piece of property him and my mother had purchased years ago in the mountains. My eyes almost popped out of my head. I don’t know how I hadn’t remembered it. It was just property, no structures. He then went on to tell me how it was a dream of his to build a cabin there, and use it as a vacation home in his retirement and to one day leave it to me. My head started racing with ideas, building plans, farming plans, security measures, and so on, it all started flying out of my mouth a mile a minute. He put his hand on my knee and said, “Buddy, we have some work to do, I didn’t realize how much this meant to you, why don’t we spend today putting a plan into place?”
So we did. I called my partner (my soon to be brother in law and sisters fiancee) and asked if he would mind making the rounds today and that I would see him tonight at dinner. He said no problem. We sat in my family room with a composition book until 5 pm. We hammered it all out. From immediate BOBs for everyone, to a short term “bug in” plan, to our long term disaster plan. We talked about building a cabin on the land, and even splitting the costs. We talked about who else we needed. Our immediate family was a given: myself, my pregnant wife, our daughter, my sister, her fiancee, him, my mother…and then we stopped. W e needed skills, or rather, people with skills . My partner’s (my sisters fiancee) sister and husband came to mind. He was ex-military, and is now part of an undercover drug force, and known to be a little bit of a gun guy. I figured he at the least could assist with security. My father was an ex-police officer but also has serious mechanic skills rebuilding muscle cars. I am an electronic tinkerer. One major gap we had was medical and farming. A very good family friend of my wife and her husband were immediate choices. He is an ER nurse and she teaches Botany at the state college. The funny part was, he happened to be the only person in the last two years I ever really talked about prepping with, went shooting with, and we saw eye to eye on everything, and they had a daughter that our daughter played with frequently. It was all coming together. We just had to get everyone on board. I suggested to my father that he be the one to present it at dinner as everyone listened to him.
That night, we all met for dinner. About halfway through, my sisters fiancee asked if I was feeling ok. Everyone looked at me as if thinking “what is he talking about???” I started cracking up laughing. Here is where my dad stepped in and discussed with everyone what we had been doing all day.
Amazingly, everyone was on board. Initially my mother and sister thought we were a little crazy, but eventually agreed that this was necessary and a good idea. We even worked out a budget to start building on the land. My parents handled the initial chunk to break ground and my sister and I each contribute monthly. Over the next few days, we approached my partners sister and husband, as well as my wife and I’s couple friend. They were all into it as well.
Since then, we have gone on three of what we call “prepper” weekend camping trips. One was for seven nights, and all 10 adults and five children came at once. It was amazing. We had itineraries where each day, each couple was responsible for teaching a “class,” and if you didn’t have a TEOTWAWKI skill to teach, then they either had to learn one very quickly and thoroughly to teach to the others, or were responsible for cooking all 3 meals that day (which my mother ended up doing anyway). My wife and I’s couple friends ended up doing 2; one in treating traumatic injuries and another on basic planting/harvesting skills. My sister, of all people, taught us how to process a squirrel and a fish.
Since then, we all frequently communicate in what we call “The E-Mail Chain”. Whenever someone comes across something relevant, we “CC” everyone in our group. Whether it be something in the news, a group supply idea that we will all split (and the resulting debates, ha-ha-ha) or people we are considering inviting. We rotate printing hard copies of valuable handbooks and “how-to” guides that we store with our supplies.
We have gotten a lot accomplished so far and I am proud and impressed at everyone’s contributions. And to think, none of this possibly could have come to fruition if I hadn’t just spoken about it, and about how important it was to those around me that they understand and get involved. That initial dinner was in August of 2012.