Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
With all the news reports of trade wars and nuclear threats and the chicken necking going on between world leaders my daughter asked if I thought she should become a doomsday prepper and stock up on food and water? Um… no. Why not? Well its like this; natural disasters happen all the time. Suppose you spend hundreds on a stash of food and water and there is a natural disaster. For example; how many of the people in recent disaster areas may have been preppers and do you believe their 25 years of supplies are still in tact? If it got flooded it would no longer be usable. If it was scattered by a hurricane or tornado it may never be found. If it got buried by a mud slide or earthquake who’s gonna want to dig it up to eat? Wild fires would burn any stockpiled stuff. If we are hit by a nuclear bomb will the food or supplies still be where it was? My point and my advice to her was if you have the skills to survive you won’t need a doomsday stockpile.
You may have a totally different opinion about prepping and that’s ok. As I explained to my daughter; my own opinion is that the modern version of “doomsday prepping” is nothing more than a money making scheme based on fear. The more doomsday fears created the more sales to be made. Some of the really hard core prepper sites resort to outright lies to create greater fear and larger sales. The way I figure it; the true doomsday prepper must have a really miserable life being constantly afraid and constantly worrying about the future and always guarding their stashes. I’m fairly sure more than one of the hardcore preppers are wishing and hoping for a SHTF or apocalypse just so they can be proved right. I wonder; how can they protect their stash from the wrath of mother nature?
I used to hoard STUFF simply because I was worried I’d need it as soon as I got rid of it. A life of poverty did that to me. Then the 911 disaster in 2001 and a falling economy in 2008 as well as a couple of years without an increase in SS added to the constantly rising costs of everything and I hoarded even more. I was hoarding stuff from fear that I couldn’t afford to buy when I needed something. I remember when it was on the news that the price of cotton was going to skyrocket and become scarce. I rushed right out and loaded up with cotton thread to keep my professional quilting business supplied for a long time. I did the same thing with cotton quilt fabrics.
I went on a food hoarding binge in 2008 when the economy was diving and gas prices were rising. Food prices grew higher every week due to higher transportation costs. Not only was I hoarding for myself but for my family and neighbors too. Living among all the STUFF started making me feel overwhelmed. Suffocating. Cluttered. Disorganized. Helpless.
That’s when a quote started echoing through my mind that changed my thinking completely. I can’t remember the exact quote but it was something like; “Give a man food he’ll eat today but teach him how to garden and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” It was an eye opener for me. I realized it would be far better learning survival skills than buying what I can’t possibly carry with me if I must get out fast. Don’t get me wrong, I do prepare for a possible power outage that could last several days. I also prepare for being stuck in the house for long period of time if the weather is bad or I’m sick. I prepare for higher prices by stocking up enough to last a few weeks. I stock up when I find a low price on food I will use all the time. When I’m canning I have a supply in mind to last until the next growing season. I certainly do not want to stock up on 25 years worth of STUFF. Heck, I may not be in the same house for another 25 years.
I have images in my head of the people wading through flood waters in Houston with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. I saw news photos of people in the aftermath of an earthquake in Mexico carrying nothing but a cell phone. I watched news reports of people in Puerto Rico gathering water from a roadside stream. Then there were the wild fires in the western states as people raced for their lives. The volcano eruption and major earthquake in Hawaii yesterday. Would any “doomsday prepping stuff” in any of those places still be there? Well sure, some may still be there by sheer luck but certainly not all. A much better prepared person is the one who has the knowledge and skills necessary to survive an evacuation without being totally dependent on government assistance.
Seriously, the doomsday prepper who believes they have all the supplies of dehydrated food, water, guns, ammo, barbed wire, sandbags, and medication necessary to ride out a world wide apocalypse in comfort and style is only fooling themselves. Let me give you something to think about. Suppose there actually was an apocalypse of biblical proportion to wipe out 1/3 of the population. Well, that would put the USA population of what it was in the 1970s. The 70s were so bad it gave us the predecessor of our current prepper wave but it certainly wasn’t anything like the Mad Max movies.
Ok, say 2/3 of the population were gone. That would put us back to the population of about the 1900s. Downton Abby and WW1 comes to mind but it wouldn’t be anything like a Walking Dead movie. Lets go a bit further and say 90% of the population were gone. Population would equal that of the time Lincoln was elected president. I studied the life of Lincoln and there wasn’t any mention of him checking for zombies hiding in the shadows ready to pounce.
Now lets say a full 99% of the population gets wiped out leaving only 1% of the people. Hmm… that would only put the USA population equal to that in the time after the Revolutionary War or about 1780s. Harvard University had already been teaching for 150 years and the NY stock exchange started just ten years later in about 1790. At that time ninety six percent of the US population lived on farms and those were only east of the Appalachia mountains with a very tiny fraction living on plantations in the south. Washington DC did not exist yet and the capitol was in Philadelphia. We had arts, letters for communication, transatlantic trade for goods, and we had a civilized population. My point is that even if a catastrophic event wiped out 99% of the population it wouldn’t be too long before we would be back to doing our own thing and moving toward a future.
During both WW1 and WW2 we had food shortages and during the Great Depression people didn’t have money to buy food but no one spent precious money to put up barb wire fences around their property. I can’t recall anyone standing guard with guns protecting their 25 years of food and water stashed away in hidden bunkers. People shared skills and knowledge to help each other survive. Heck, even the government kept things civil by promoting “fair share” rationing during the wars and started the WPA during the depression.
So. Should you become a doomsday prepper? A life of fear worrying about your 25 years of STUFF you can’t protect from Mother Nature or gaining knowledge and skills you can carry with you anywhere you go? You be your own judge.