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Monday, April 26, 2010

Are You Prepared for a 30 Day Shut-Down?

And when I say you, I mean you (and your family) personally, and your business if you have one. If you have been watching the news, you know about the volcano that's been spewing ash all over Europe for the past week. The airlines are unable to fly through the ash so tens of thousands of flights have been grounded. Now, the airlines can be flexible for a day or two but by today, day four of this situation, the airlines are pressuring the powers that be to let them fly because they are losing so much money. Scary thought. Money to not go bankrupt or passenger safety...hmmm...
This is a situation that is all too common because people (and businesses) have lost the ability to weather the types of storms that can mean the difference between solvency and bankruptcy. A century or two ago, people planned annually and seasonally. If they didn't have food coming in for a month, they certainly had stored food that could see them through the lean times. If they did not have cash coming in for a month, they had cash in savings that could see them through a financial dry spell. These days, everything in done on the very tightest of margins. For many families, missing even one single paycheck could mean homelessness. If a business cannot ship containers of food on a daily basis, grocery store shelves will literally be empty within a couple of days. There simply is no backup without just in time delivery or just in time earnings.
Which brings us to the point of this post. Say you cannot work for 30 days, the health officer quarantines you to your home for 30 days due to a deadly disease outbreak, or the grocery stores are empty for 30 days. Could you survive? For most people, the answer is simply no. For most people, they think such a thing could NEVER EVER happen so they don't even plan for it (besides, they know the government would come in and save them). For other people, this thought has crossed their minds more than once and they have some sort of plan in place to deal with it.
Here's what you need to do to prepare for a 30-day shut down:
  • Have the money to pay two months of normal expenses put aside in savings. Even if you are only shut down for 30 days, it may take a bit extra to get ramped back up.
  • Have an extra 30 day's worth of food stored at your home. If you end up not using it, you can always throw a huge summer event and feed all of your guests or donate the food to charity and restock.
  • Have an extra 30 days worth of supplies stored at your home (laundry soap, bath soap, toilet paper, etc.).
  • How much debt do you have? The difference between paying your minimal living debts (water, lights, garbage) versus paying the monthly bills for a dozen credit cards and huge mortgage and car loans really makes a difference in how comfortably (both financially and psychologically) you can survive a shut-down.
  • Have an escape plan for a 30 day period. Some people never take more than a week's vacation per year which is sad (and another post). If you have never taken a vacation for a 30 day period of time, it can be quite disconcerting, but if you had to bug out for a month, consider how you would prepare for this. Could you still work remotely? Do you have a place or two in mind that you would like to go? How much would it cost for food and shelter in your desired location? What would you take with you? How would you get there?
That's basically it. If you can eat, have shelter, have necessary supplies, possibly earn a living, and definitely pay your bills, for an extended period of time when a major financial/social/political disruption is occurring, you will be miles ahead of the masses in terms of preparedness.