shtfSHTF….. We all know what that stands for but have you really thought about what that means to you?  Does it mean a short-term disruption in our lives or does it mean something larger and longer lasting? Or both?  Everyone has a different picture of what a SHTF event is and what life will be like afterwards, so they plan accordingly.

The common notion is that beans,bullets and bandaids will get you through an event but what if SHTF isn’t a sudden huge, game-changing,drastic event? What if the reality is that SHTF starts with a minor event that barely makes the news and eventually develops into something that lingers over a decade or more?

Prepping for natural disasters is one thing but how does the average family really prepare for an event that may last a generation? Social and economic conditions seem to be stuck between the good old days and total lawlessness. Should we pay off debt, put money in the mattress, invest in precious metals or just skip all that and live on the streets right now?

Prepping and survivalism theory has always included paying off debt and building a stockpile of necessities. The optional next step is homesteading and self-sufficiency. It’s often recommended that  preppers stash extra items along with precious metals with the intent of using them for barter. With the way current events are playing out and the more research that I do, I’m starting to gain a different view on that and I’ll share that view later in this post.

I recently watched a thread develop on a certain survival forum. The question was raised about storing silver and at what point during SHTF would silver actually become currency. The answers varied wildly with some answers seemingly based on a shallow understanding of a currency collapse, almost like a collapse would occur, the economy would grind to a halt immediately and the bills and banks would disappear out of our lives. The topic swayed off course, as they usually do, and turned towards stockpiling other items for bartering after SHTF. One response caught my eye and it’s posted below:

“.22 rimfire will be worth more than it’s weight in gold. Just start putting back a brick every week. It could be the best investment you ever made”

Bartering ammo for supplies after a SHTF event is a common plan on most of the survival boards I’ve read. I used to think this way and I’m not saying that this is wrong. However, If I was to follow this advice, it would mean an annual minimum investment of around $3000 which isn’t what I would call disposable income on our budget.

So what is a SHTF event?

To me, it means a major disruption to normal life. I don’t have much real experience in the SHTF department since I can only look back at the events that I have experienced like a house fire, 9/11, and the crash in 2008 so history will have to be my guide.

There are some good insights into the Argentinian collapse in which currency tanked so fast that people were buying whatever tangible goods they could get their hands on just to preserve some wealth. There are also some good insights into the Bosnian War when the people in Kosovo couldn’t get much of anything no matter how much money they had.

You could look at Venezuela and Ukraine today and say that the people in those countries are experiencing SHTF. Their economies are a mess and their future is uncertain. Many people are migrating out of those countries to escape war, inflation or radical new government.

I have to ask myself: Do I think that stockpiling 25000 rds of .22LR would be of any help in any of these situations? The above situations, in my opinion, are far more likely to happen than any situation that would involve trading a handful of ammo for some supplies.

Would the mortgage company accept a few bricks of .22 as a house payment … of course not. It takes currency to keep a roof over your head and gas in the car, even during the worst of recent times.

I do think that there are much better ways to spend $3000 a year to prepare for a life disrupting event (which really is an event that we can only speculate on). We do our best to watch the signs and prepare accordingly. Along the way we absolutely have to pay attention to how our money is spent. Spending money unwisely on preps is, in my opinion, almost the same as not preparing at all.

Here are few ways that I could envision spending an extra $3000 on SHTF preps today:

1) A passport for everyone in the home and the balance of the cash put into silver. As we’ve seen in all currency collapses, people latch onto another country’s currency while their new currency develops and silver, in my opinion, is one of the better ways to preserve wealth between currencies.

2) Purchase vacant land. This land could be used as a place to bug-out to or as additional space to grow or hunt food. $3000 won’t buy much farmland around here but it could buy a vacant lot on the edge of the city or possibly a wooded acre in a less populated county. It could be sold in normal times if need be or handed down to the next generation. I would stick with vacant, undeveloped land to keep the property tax burden low.

In some cities it’s possible to buy a tract of land WITH a run-down home on it for around $3000. I’ve considered doing that and finding a renter for the home but I can see how that may become a headache and probably a monetary burden at some point. Many landlords in our area have sold their properties or torn them down just because of the increasing property tax burden.. that is a move that became popular during the Great Depression also

3) Invest in the necessary equipment to start a small local manufacturing or service business. In my opinion, our economy has the real potential to switch from global to regional when things get bad. We’re seeing the reverse happening right now as brick-and-mortar businesses are closing due to online retailers taking over.. I think this will change quickly and will be brought on due to geo-political turmoil or fuel becoming more expensive or even rationed. This could lead to high priced shipping charges on necessary items which will leave people no choice but to buy their new items locally or have their broken or worn out items refurbished or repaired. Setting up a small local business right now could give a head start to financial survival during those times when things are melting down but the banks and bills still need to be paid. A business could also provide a perpetual means to acquire goods instead of the income from bartering a finite supply of stockpiled items. Keeping the initial investment small reduces the risk of straining the current budget.

These would be my options but only after basic preps were taken care of. They’re pretty safe investments compared to some other preps. They can solve the need for safety, the need for a continual food source and the need for a continual source of income during a long-lasting crisis.

I think that we’ve already been living through SHTF and there’s more to follow. Based on everything that I can see, I’m betting that our next SHTF moment will be from the collapse of some sort of an economic bubble, a very major natural disaster or infrastructure failure, or possibly the sudden news that our oil supply will be impacted for a considerable amount of time.

More thoughts:

I believe that we are in the end times of economic growth. In see evidence of this in many places.. the most notable to me is the Tiny House craze.. many people are accepting the fact that growth is over and have adopted the concept of “living within your means”.

The past century has been an incredible anomaly in human history fueled by cheap oil and, at certain times, easy credit. What will follow is a slow adjustment that will be uncomfortable to those that don’t adapt.

This socio-economic change will go on for a long time… a slow-motion TEOTWAWKI that flares up a little bit here and there. I just don’t think that a full-scale societal meltdown is going to be the outcome of today’s current events but we’ll continue to adjust our plans.

Crime will probably increase incrementally as more and more families are forced into a lower standard of living and cities struggle to maintain themselves with less tax revenue.

Civil unrest will continue to flare up in large communities but it will probably not spread. It’s my belief that regional issues in this country will begin and end in those regions without drawing enough outside support to make any difference in the size of the conflict.




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