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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One Thing That Has Been Bothering Me

Why is it that some folks seem to think the first thing to do if you get into survivalism as an adult is to pull every penny you have out of retirement and put it into preps? It reads like a worn out record. "I saw the light and immediately pulled every penny I had out of retirement and bought food, guns, etc."

This bothers me for a lot of reasons. First it is more emotional than rational. People see (legitimately) a threat and this is their knee jerk reaction. Just like a super fast halfway from the hip "point shot" it is almost always a miss. To continue my shooting analogy they would be better off to get a half a shooting stance or at least bring the gun level and the front sight onto the target before squeezing the trigger.

Second I have an issue with this plan because it is almost binary. It eludes to there being only two options, normal life and TEOTWAWKI. The unfortunate fact is that life is not that simple. You can definitely get a mix. A great example is Katrina. I am sorry to tell you this but in terms of realistic worst case 'survivalist' scenarios this is about as bad as it gets. For several weeks things were completely screwed. Not killing your neighbor over Krispix or all Mad Max but pretty screwed all the same. Assuming he wasn't stupid enough to stay right on the coast or in New Orleans proper a guy who had enough food and water to be comfortable and maybe some to share with the neighbors, batteries to run a radio and a couple flashlights and a couple guns with some spare ammo things were manageable. After awhile things got back to normal. In 20 years that guy who was well rewarded for having plenty of food, water, fuel, a couple/ few guns and ammo is going to sure want to stop working. So for a period your life can be completely screwed and then it can go back to normal.


As much as it is nice to think you will be richly rewarded for cases upon cases of canned food and rows full of buckets of dried goods and cases of ammo that may not be the case. Food and bullets are great and all but will not pay a mortgage or property taxes or buy a tank of gas. Do consider the question of "what will this do to me if the world doesn't end?"

I do not gamble. Not saying you are bad if you do but it just isn't me. Even aside from all games being rigged to give the house an edge it just isn't me. For example if you think it is 51% likely that the world will genuinely end is it smart to put your whole darn nest egg towards that? What about that other 49%. However if you honestly believe 51% that a full on genuine end of the world Mad Max scenario is going to happen I would submit that either you have a screw loose or have some information (prison planet type stuff doesn't count) I have not seen. Our world might get a bit crazy now and then or even change in significant ways but digging a fighting position in the front yard or bayoneting your neighbor to protect your canned goods is probably not so likely.

Any financial adviser worth the title will say that unless you can absolutely avoid it raiding retirement accounts is the absolute last thing you want to do. While it is true that I would not ask their opinions on storing wheat in buckets or pooing in a bucket I also think it is equally imprudent to let a survivalist tell you what to do with your money or how to plan for retirement.  Of course a "survival expert" will say you should put all your eggs into that. Kinda how guys who work at Motor Trend probably think you should spend more money on a car than is prudent or guys from Gaming Laptop probably like gigabytes and ram more than they do your pocket book.

Of course if you have a few bucks just sitting around putting it towards preps isn't a bad idea. Raiding the money you plan to live on in old age however is just a bad idea. For most people the money maker is going to be selling off unnecessary toys (swap an old dirt bike for a good rifle, etc) and cutting/ changing your lifestyle to create money to go towards preparedness.

I plan for things going all crazy AND the world going on more or less normally with me getting older and wanting to work less or not at all. I think you should do the same.