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This is an economic philosophy I have adhered to for almost 3 ½ years now. It is a mental exercise that if implemented correctly should break your mental paralysis and get you moving towards your goals. It should free you up to do things you never thought you would have the courage to accomplish.
The concept is incredibly easy; its implementation is anything but easy. I will spell this philosophy out as it related to me and my families life over these past 3 ½ years. As always, USE COMMON SENSE! This piece is directed towards a certain segment of the population. I believe there is a large percentage of people that read this website and easily fall into the following description, even as they understand and accept the concept of economic collapse and Peak Oil.
For my family and I, we were both employed 3 ½ years ago. We made a combined income that put us well into the middle class of American culture. Even though I understood Peak Oil and the economic collapse that would precede the Peak, I was not making sufficient progress in my preparations to protect my family and me from the inevitable collapse. I had put away some food in the basement, I had some flashlights, I did a LOT OF STUDYING AND VIDEO WATCHING. But I was not doing the nuts and bolts things that I needed to be doing to help my family and I traverse the backside of Peak Oil.
In the mid part of 2008 I started to use a philosophy that I dubbed “living 3 months at a time”. The concept is simple. In 3 months everything I think and know about this world and this economy will fundamentally change for the worse. So I do what I can in the next 3 months to get ready for what is coming. In mid-2008 I envisioned that in 3 months the banks were going to start to collapse. This would lead to sky rocketing prices at the stores. It would lead to a further collapse in the Automotive Industry, which was the source of my income. I hypothesized that my wife’s teaching position would be in danger as the state and county cut funds to the school system.
I had THREE MONTHS to do something about these “facts”. I took as much money as I could afford out of our budget and put it towards buying food preps. I put a lot of effort towards finally getting a garden started and planting 2 apple trees in the side yard. I got grapes planted on the side of the house and started drawing up plans for how we might survive should I lose my job or my wife hers. Because in THREE MONTHS everything was going to change.
In September of 2008, my company decided to give buyouts to its more senior employees as the company saw a nearly 40% drop in sales and production. This was happening to nearly every automotive linked company. I had spent the previous Three Months envisioning what would happen should my company lay me off. This was actually a GOD SEND. They were offering me nearly 8 months of severance pay; plus unemployment from day 1 of my separation from the company. Because I had three months to think about this, I jumped at the chance and by December of 2008 I was no longer employed with my company of 10 years. I had a large amount of cash in my hand. My wife didn’t lose her job in 2008 and 2009 and I was getting unemployment for the first time in my nearly 30 years of work history.
I HAD THREE MONTHS TILL IT ALL CHANGED! I got busy right away. I took a lot of that money and paid off debt, in preparation for my wife losing her job, because that was going to happen in three months. I had to get our finances more in line with this new “reality”. I took a good portion of my money and bought long term food preparations. I bought a greenhouse. I put in a much larger garden in the backyard. I built a chicken coup and got chickens. I spent that last Three Months before everything changed learning how to garden and raise chickens and bake bread from scratch and to bargain hunt at the stores. All the things I should have been doing YEARS AGO! But because I had all the time in the world to get them done… IT NEVER DID… Now I only had 3 months to get it done and it lit a fire under my ass.
After three months I had a great garden going, the chickens were laying eggs. I had a much better handle on my finances and things were getting ready to change again. In three months we could lose our house to foreclosure because my wife might lose her job. We could be facing rationing and shortages because the global economy was heading towards a fiscal cliff. I had to get ready for the big changes that were coming in three months.
I spent the summer of 2009 trying to get a new computer business going, while still having the safety net of Unemployment under me. I only had 3 months till Unemployment went away. In three months my wife’s job would be gone. I found that starting a business from scratch was a lot harder than even I had thought. I did pretty good, but not nearly enough to make up for my wife losing her job 3 months from now. I did my best, but it just wasn’t enough. Three months later my wife REALLY DID LOSE HER JOB. Because I “knew” this was going to happen, I was ready to drop my dream of business ownership and to get back out into the job market.
This was how I have used the “three months at a time” philosophy to keep me from getting too complacent. When I feel I have stagnated in my growth, I pull this back out to get myself back on track. The core part of this philosophy is to do what you need to do in the next 3 months to get on track; even if it may be detrimental to your long term “conventional” goals of retirement. I feel you need to embrace the fact that long term “conventional” retirement is a thing of the past for anyone who is younger than 55 or 60 years old. You need to do something NOW to protect yourself and those that depend upon you.
Imagine that three months from now that a certain bad thing is going to happen. Start easy and each three months make it harder. My first three month “deadline” was imagining that my wife might lose her job. She only brings in ¼ to 1/3’rd of our money, so if we planned for it, it didn’t have to be catastrophic. I bought extra food to help us out if this happened. I paid off a bit of debt to help us with our monthly costs. We dropped a few services that were eating up a few hundred dollars a month; simple things that made a world of difference in my mental perpetrations.
The next 3 months were harder as I imagined ME losing my job. But instead an opportunity fell into my lap and I had a plan in place to take advantage of this windfall.
My wife did lose her job eventually and for a few months we were BOTH unemployed. But we managed to push through the hard times.
I can’t say that it will always work out for the best, but at the very least you will have imagined the worst case scenario and you will have started to plan for that reality. Start this mental exercise today, imagine that in three months everything in your life will change. How are you going to react?
Stop being reactionary and start working your thinking into a progressive mindset. Start making contingencies and major life changes NOW in preparation for your life completely changing THREE MONTHS FROM THIS MOMENT?
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