If you can't afford it, but need it, what then?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

My wife and I are wondering if anyone else is struggling with the following dilemna and problem:

We plus our two young children, who are nearly 2 and 4 years old)are convinced not only that the Y2K problem is real, but that all h-ll is going to break loose when the computer systems begin shutting down. So, we have begun to make lists of the things we need to stock up on and we have begun to go through the house and think about what we take for granted but may not be able to use again . . . Of course the obvious things come to mind: food, water, a heat and cooking source, hunting and/or home defense weapons and ammo, etc., etc. But then the big question: I am a school teacher on a very limited budget - even without the Y2K stuff we cannot (and I am not exaggerating) make ends meet - my wife is at home with our children and we are a one income family. So, what are we to do? We want to make ourselves as self-sufficient as possible, but much of the very system which may well collapse is also the one which makes it so hard for a one-income family to pay all of its bills. We try not to allow ourselves to be bitter (because, among other things, it doesn't do one any good, and because we believe that God has His reasons; on the other hand, we also believe, as the saying goes, that one should "trust in God and build your house on high ground"!). Still, when we know of wealthier people who don't believe that the Y2K problem will have societal ramifications, we find ourselves wishing they would give their money to us! My wife and I are not angry, but we are very frustrated. Of course, this also gives rise to some humor thoughts - if we sink further into debt to pay for food, water, etc., and the Y2K mess destroys all records, perhaps we wouldn't have to pay these credit card companies back! And, on the other hand, if it isn't as bad as it might be, do you suppose those same companies would allow us to barter away our debts?!!!! ("Here mister credit card company representative, here is 500 pounds of wheat for our monthly payment . . . "! Your thoughts, comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. May God keep and protect all of you who are doing your best to protect and provide for your families!

-- Peter H. Bond (phbond@juno.com), December 22, 1998


Hi Peter,

There are quite a number of us here who can sympathize with your situation. First off, remember God only expects you to do what you can - not what you can't...so the important thing is to keep plugging away at it a little at a time. So you can't order the $5000 per person per year freeze dried gourmet storage food? 'sokay, start stocking up on stuff you can pick up at your local supermarket. Even if all you can do in a given week is buy two extra 12 packs of TP and stash them in the attic that's *something*. Take to checking out yard sales for tools and other useful stuff, especially next spring when folks start their spring cleaning.

You might see if folks in your church are preparing, and if so, organize to support each other, and buy more efficiently. If you'd like pointers to some Christian sites, send me email...

Arlin Adams

-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), December 22, 1998.

Month ago (that's centuries in y2k time) sombody posted an almost identical situation to Gary North's relocation board. One answer that stood out was to find an older or infirm farmer in your local rural outskirts. Start spending weekends out there, learning the farm and helping out. After awhile, when you are friends, offer to exchange permanent farm help for a y2k refuge when time comes. The poster put it more eloquently than I have, but it is something to think about.

In a way, though sensible, it made me a little said, seemed almost like a return to share-cropping or feudalism. Anyway, food for thought.


-- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 22, 1998.

Several thoughts here -- I'm sure others will add.

1. Don't run up credit debt. Don't bank on any one organization failing and you being the lucky recipient of 'lost data'. Likewise, if a company goes bankrupt, you STILL owe the money to the organization (but will have to deal with a court appointed trustee). Keep all your records. Minimize your debt as much as possible.

2. Food. There's a lot than can be done with a little. Mrs. Rimmer and I chose rice and soybeans as our two main staples. A 50# bag of rice at Sam's Club is $14. Soybeans are only a little more expensive and are an incredible source of calories and nutrients (you'll want a pressure cooker though). Avoid dehydrated and MRE type foods - not because they're bad, they're not. But they are quite expensive and you need to get there on a limited budget. Mrs Rimmer and I have been buying canned goods from Aldi's (green beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, spinach, yams, tuna, etc). It's about as cheap as it gets (unless you have a good source for the #10 cans - we've bought a few of these but mostly small cans so that we'll get a wide variety). Make variety your friend. Salt, don't forget salt. It's cheap.

3. Water. Absolutely critical you get yourself some alternate water sources. Stored water, well water, the more the merrier. Learn how to use filter paper and bleach to make potable water from rain water or a creek or whatever. Water is cheap. Bleach is cheap. Nice containers are a bit expensive but if you can find a source for the used half-gallon heavy duty plastic juice containers, your can begin for next to nothing. Don't use plastic milk jugs - they break down after a bit.

4. Location. You didn't say where you lived but if you really believe that TSWHTF, you probably would not want to stay in a large metropolitan area. I personally would not be a large city. However, Mrs. Rimmer and I live in county of 200,000. We're not exactly comfortable staying but we are a few precious miles outside of town and do not want to abandon our friends and family (even though they are certain we have gone 'over the edge'). We will try to stay.

5. Teamwork. From bulk buying to alternative living situations, you may be able to gain safety and security at a low cost by helping others. If TSHTF, we are sure going to need teachers so you may already have skills that will help. Me, I'm a programmer and either my skills will be desparately needed or totally useless -- I'm not sure which yet but I know that I'm not all that good with farm implements.

6. Heat. If you live where it's cold in the winter, you must have heat. Maybe #5 above would be your best bet here.

7. Garage/rummage sales. Barter. Exchanges.

Others will add to this.


-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), December 22, 1998.

"1. Don't run up credit debt. Don't bank on any one organization failing and you being the lucky recipient of 'lost data'. Likewise, if a company goes bankrupt, you STILL owe the money to the organization (but will have to deal with a court appointed trustee). Keep all your records. Minimize your debt as much as possible."

Gotta disagree with this one. If I had a wife and kids to look after I would not hesitate to get into credit card debt in order to have enough food and supplies for my family. If things turn out as you suspect they may you will at least have a fighting chance of surviving. If it's just a bump in the road you have supplies which you can consume. Money not spent on food in 2000 can go to pay back the credit card debt.

This is a no brainer. Good luck.

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), December 22, 1998.

I have to agree on NOT running up debt. Remember, the big crash scenario is a lower probability than the depression scenario. Don't bank on things going so badly kablooie that nobody will show up at your door to collect the debt.

You have been given some good advice already above, I know cause I am doing most of what they suggest as we are not wealthy either. THERE IS A WAY if you are inventive. We are ahead of about 95% of the people and have spent less than you might believe. Well, aside from the 4x4 and camper (last resort stuff).

I might suggest you invest time into finding others in your area who are preparing. If it gets that bad that you should have gone whole hog then it will also be bad enough that you must bunk up and keep watch. That situation demands friends. Make them now while it's easier. We have.

Luck, Art

-- Art Welling (artw@lancnews.infi.net), December 22, 1998.

" have to agree on NOT running up debt. Remember, the big crash scenario is a lower probability than the depression scenario."

I'm with Arnie on this, if you must run up your credit, go for it.

Look at it this way; even if there was only a 5% chance of TEOTWAWKI, or the "big crash" scenario, isn't it worth it to you to protect your kids and wife against it by stocking up on water/food and basics? And of the remaining 95% chances, what are the chances that it's a deep depression with martial law and food rations? If no martial law and food rations, what are the chances of your own bank failing and a deep recession?

It all comes down to how serious you believe the problem is and how willing you are to risk your family's survival.

You can worry about paying your bills post y2k if it was a bump in the road, but if it was the worse scenario, you can't eat your plastic credit cards.

The worry of not being prepared enough is worse for me than the worry of paying off my credit bills post y2k.

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), December 22, 1998.

I wish Mr. Bond and his family the very best, and God forbid that any social/economic collapse should harm his wife or children.

But, does anybody remember the "War and Revolution" thread, posting that y2k looks like a revolution ? Reread the initial post above of THIS (current) thread, there are the seeds of revolution, the grapes of wrath.


-- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 22, 1998.

"Avoid dehydrated and MRE type foods"

Are we really so certain that canned food will last us through whatever comes down the line, and why do we believe that dehydrated food is so expensive? Why do we believe that there are no inexpensive dehydrated foods?

1. Yes, it's expensive if you buy dehydrated food from commercial canneries and survival stores.

2. It is less expensive if you buy it in bulk, or even in plastic bags (by the pound), and pack it yourself.

3. It's even cheaper if you buy fresh veggies, dehydrate them yourself, and then pack them, using plastic bags and (new) 1 gallon paint cans.

4. And the cheapest way is to raise your own vegetables next summer, dehydrate them and pack them. Buy your packing supplies now.

A 1 gallon can costs $1.25 at local True Value, and the plastic bags can be zip lock. Toss in one small oxygen absorber. You can still buy the 1-gallon cans because the Y2K prep crowd hasn't caught on to them. [Reminder to self----order another case of them] You can also use them to store rice and beans (available from your local SAM or Costco, and supply much of needed nutrition.) The paint cans are lighter and easier to handle than the big 5 or 6 gallon buckets. You can pack several different items in one pail (maybe 4 different vegetables, each in it's own zip-lock).

Learn to dehydrate your own foods. That may be the only way you're able to store foods for a while. Learn low cost dehydration techniques. Build a solar dehydrator that will work if you don't have power but do have veggies. Takes plywood, a sheet of glass, some caulking and some window screening -- all inexpensive items.

I can store food in 1/10 of the space, using dehydrated as opposed to canned. Isn't storage space a problem with most of us?

I'm searching for ways to provide storage for a long time. Dehydration is a valuable and valid preservation technique. I simply have to look at ways other than running to some store and plopping down a piece of plastic for instant results, or calling the latest on-line cannery and spending a big batch for their merchandise.

There are ways. Read all you can. Go to the GN Food Storage Forum;

Study. Do it, you can, others are.

Good luck, Peter.

-- rocky (rknolls@hotmail.com), December 22, 1998.

gotta agree with Andy and Chris on the debt thing...if y2k ends up being an '8'(nearly TEOTWAWKI) or higher, We're gonna eat a lot of corn meal, grits, whole wheat bread, veggies, and chicken. If it ends up being a '2' (speedbump) we're also gonna eat a lot of cornmeal, grits, whole wheat bread, veggies, and chicken ...but either way we *are* going to eat.


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), December 22, 1998.


-- hi (yes@no.com), December 22, 1998.

I know you will find this answer in the archives, but it bears repeating. Look around your lives and see what you could do without for the next 18 months. Then sell it. This is what we did. We had a lot of consumer electronics and photo equipment, which I sold over the internet. The other items that I couldnt move on the net we sold at a garage sale. All said and done we ended up with enough cash to buy and install a nice wood stove and purchase most of our food and whole lot of preparation tools/non electric items.

Now I have rethought the situation at my office (I have my own business) and am selling allot of the excess stuff and restructuring the way I will work in 99 so that I can do it with less overhead.

Will we miss our precious junk? Yes. But I cant eat my Minolta. Our fancy smancy Sony video equipment wouldnt do much to keep us warm. If it all turns out to be a bump-n-the-road we will parade down to Wal Mart in the Spring of 00 and load up on more stuff.

A really good garage sale could yield a couple hundred bucks at least.

I am all for using the credit card to purchase those items now that may get scarce in 1999 and impossible to find in 00. Dont be crazy about it, but careful use of the card could be a life saver. Yes, you will still owe the money, but isnt it better to use it for food then for a big screen surround sound home theatre or the other useless junk most of us have been enslaved to at one time or another?

-- Timothy (trebman@megavision.com), December 22, 1998.

Take it from one who has been through bankruptcy. Avoid debt at all costs. There is always another way. If you really think you need stuff you can't afford, take Timothy's advice and sell stuff you don't really need and can afford to be without.

-- Buddy (DC) (buddy@bellatlantic.net), December 22, 1998.

When your children look up at you and ask when are we going to eat daddy i am hungry are you going to give them a bite of that credit card ? I am not educated but you are that will be your credit for the future use your good mind to think of a way to feed your children and wife buy a little at a time run up your credit card you have the rest of your life to pay it off. Quit spending money on fast food make the things you buy now last a little longer be cheap for now get a low interest rate on your card. Millions of people will be in the same boat as you a large debt but you will not care because your children will eat.The goverment will intervene because how are these people going to make you pay when on one has any money they will wait or bargin the debt down the courts will be full. Credit will be offered to you in the future that is the only way these businesses make money they will be fighting each other to give you credit you will see. If you live through Y2K debt will be the last thing on your mind and when the collector of the debt calls on you tell him like everyone else does the check is in the mail.

-- Bubba (Badhabbit@water.com), December 22, 1998.

Timothy count the months only a little over 12 months until 2000 not 18 months.

-- Bubba (Badhabbit@water.com), December 22, 1998.

Yeah, only 12 months to the great roll over. That is a shock. I was counting things I wouldn't need for the next 18 months thinking that we might not be able to buy anything till at least June of '00. I'm not bad with dates, just bad at explaining myself :)

-- Timothy (trebman@megavision.com), December 22, 1998.

Rocky: Good counter arguement on the dehydrated foods topic. I agree that some of this can be done fairly cheaply. Also, people can dehydrate their own foods as well.

I should have been a bit clearer - my point was that MREs and pre-packaged dehydrated meal kits, while excellent in and of themselves, may not be the best way to go for someone with very limited income. But your point is well taken.

-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), December 22, 1998.

Guess I'll have to go into some more detail.

Why go into debt over Y2K unless you need big ticket items like a new house or property or such?

There are wood stoves in our local paper every day under $200. Wood can be had free around here if you'll cut it yourself.

Freeze dried food, MRE's, Nitro packed buckets, all are expensive. Growing a garden is cheap. Can goods go one sale here at $5 a case for veggies several times every year. Pasta is always on sale someplace around here. Wheat? $200 per 1000 pounds of bagged hard red winter wheat from the mill.

Does anybody have any idea just how long a half ton of wheat will last a family??

Oil lamps can be had at yard sales for cheap. A gallon of K1 kero at $1.09 will keep it lit for a week solid.

We have done most of our preps on the cheap. We have bought next to nothing from 'survival' suppliers.

Rice: 50lbs @ $17 at Sams club. Same place for salt, sugar, oil, TP, coffee, tea, etc.

We never pass a goodwill without stopping and buying all the warm blankets and worthwhile books they have. Got a brand new wall mount oil lamp at Goodwill for $3. Same for some mason jars.

Dollar general stores here sell mason type jars each summer at $4.50 a case. Lids at 59 cents a dozen.

We buy spices at Ollies at .25 and .50 cents a jar by the dozen.

Water? Save your milk and soda jugs. I have talked with the plastics engineer at the local company that makes milk jugs. Just KEEP THEM OUT OF THE LIGHT and they don't break down quickly. They are designed to wilt under ultraviolet (sunlight). Put a scrounged barrel or four under your rain spouts.

Yes, there are lots of ways to spend big bucks. There are just as many to save big bucks too!

A few friends and we qualify as a co-op because we buy bulk foods. 50 pounds of rolled oats...$12. Etc Etc Etc Etc. 50 pounds of flour....$11.50 ETC Etc Etc Etc

We worked out our own ways to nitrogen and vacuum pack foods. Dehydrate foods? Do you have a window screen you can lay on a few boxes this summer? Then you have a dehydrator.

Build storage shelves from old pallets. They are usually free most places.

Got a back yard? Keep chickens. I buy chicks in the spring for $1 each. Some go in the freezer, the rest get kitchen scraps and garden leftovers. Right now, shortest day of the year and an unlit coop, I get 8 eggs a day from 13 layers. We give eggs away to neighbors and friends. We are GIVING FOOD AWAY and eating darn good. We pay very little for feed, they fend for themselves.

On the kitchen counter is a jar with wheat berries sprouting. They go into scrambled eggs, bread, salads, etc. Wheat sprouts are amazingly high in vitamins and minerals. Two table spoons of wheat berries will fill a quart mason jar with sprouts. Any idea how many table spoons of wheat are in a $9.50 50 pound sack?

All this is not to give you a "100% do it this way and you won't fail" plan. It's just to give you ideas. There is no end to what you can do with some ingenuity.

If you HAVE to go into debt, well, do what you have to. Our ham radios went on a credit card. If you can find any way around the debt, take it. At the very least it is good training for hard times and making do.


-- Art Welling (artw@lancnews.infi.net), December 22, 1998.

Just a quick response to all of you who have been writing answers to my question . . .

Thank you for your generous and kind advice. We'll have to do some thinking about some of the larger issues, but the advice, generally, is clearly sound. More to the point, we know that it is past time for us to start preparing (instead of just "thinking about making lists of the things we should think about doing", etc., etc.). But, that initial inertia is difficult to overcome (as many of you have already experienced). My stumbling upon this Q & A forum was clearly a God-send. For after reading much of the above 'answers', I feel strengthened to tackle the mountain of tasks, etc. - mostly because my wife and I know that there are other people out there (like us) who are also taking this whole matter seriously.

So, again, thank you for your generous spirits. May God bless you and keep you save, now, as we approach the season of Our Lord's birth, and throughout the coming months. And may his Mother, Mary, keep you in her warm embrace.

PHBond and family

P.S. My wife has heard that "9999" is an end-of-file command and that, therefore, September 9, 1999 (9-9-99) may well be a 'system-killer' BEFORE the possible chaos of 1-1-2000. We have yet to verify this with anyone who knows these things - but am wondering if any of you had heard (as per usual, I don't want to start unnecessary rumors, but thought mentioning it was a little way of repaying your kindnesses. Those of you with more knowledge of the problem and more 'travel time' on the web doing research may know whether this is true or just an ugly rumor - good luck!).

-- Peter H. Bond (phbond@juno.com), December 22, 1998.

Hi Peter,

Like you, we don't have much money either, but somehow, I have bought enough food for about a month. I buy really cheap mashed potato mix $.99 a box, lots of franco american gravy to put on top (no butter). I can't even tell you how many boxes of macronni and cheese we have...3 for a buck..! I found some huge cans of dinty moore beef stew and baked beans on sale and got 3 each shopping trip. I buy any can of progresso soup that is 99cents or less. (we have about 22 cans of chicken noodle). I bought lots of cans of green beans and mixed vegetables (my husband said "stop buying the mixed vegetables already..."). I bought 6 huge jars of peanut butter and 2 huge boxes of ritz crackers. We bought stove top stuffing mix because it needs so little water. Bought some real cheap powered milk. I buy any campbells soup that's on sale.

Water: We buy water every week that comes in 2 gallon jugs. After I'm done with the jugs, I let them air dry and now I'm piling them up and I will fill them in the last week of 1999. I've got about 40 of them so far.

I went to a camping store and bought about 12 cans of sterno and a little sterno stove thing-ee. Cost about 1.99 per can of sterno and 2.99 for the stove thing. I also got water purfication tablets (pretty cheap, about $2.50). I bought a flint and a kerosene lantern.

When I realized that can food could explode if frozen, *then* I took out my credit card and bought a kerosene cookstove for $79.00 and a kerosene heater for $199.00. I realize that's a lot of money, but without these, all our preparations may be for naught. (http://www.toyostove.com)

(I'll buy the kerosene next september)

I keep the canned food seperate from the dry food just in case something leaks..

I have 10lbs of sugar 1.99 for 5lbs. A big jar of salt and pepper. Some instant coffee, a huge thing of hot choclate mix, tea bags (the cheap ones). I also plan on buy quite a few jugs of whiskey (I don't drink it now, but I will...!)

Oh yeah, I also bought some canned chicken...just a couple cans a week and they pile up real fast. Mostly everything in cans we already use, so I rotate the stuff like chicken and soup. I've got 10lbs of pasta at $2.50 per 5 lbs!!! And some sauce that has an expiration date of 2001. And powered ice-tea/lemonade mix too.

I'm going to keep buy like this until ... well until I feel it's not necessary anymore.

I haven't thown out a plastic trash bag in case the toilets don't work (I know...bleech). I haven't thrown out any old sweaters or jeans. As a matter of fact, I hardly throw anything away anymore. Come 2000 I'll either be really, really glad, or, have a lot of cleaning to do...!

If you do it a few cans at a time, you'll be surprised at how fast it all adds up.

Good luck to us all, ey? ;-)

-- Okum (ws000@aol.com), December 22, 1998.

A school teacher????

That is great - you can start a class project - NOW - on emergency preparadness - if your concerned with being labeled a survivialist - dont be - even the RED CROSS is recommending we all learn to to prepare - check their link. They cant concider you a wacko for teaching your students - to prepare for an emergency - unless they concider the American Red Cross wacko (you might want to print out a copy of the Red Cross statement for the students. You dont need to preach doom - or even bring up Y2k. Emergency preparedness is a responsible citizen thing.

As far as you personally, it's a shame we dont pay our teachers more then our garbage collectors, but we apparently have f'd up priorities. This spring go to yard sales, if you go on a Saturday morning, check the free box - you will be amazed at the things you can find in the free box that you can use (for your class projects -not just ones on emergency preparing) and for you yourself. If you go on a sunday afternoon - people often give things away - or sell them for a fraction of their asking price. If you see a item marked at $10 on a sunday afternoon you can ask them if they'll take $4 (make sure you have plenty of $1's so you dont - ask themt o go down to $4 then hand them a $20 .. :) The deals you can get on a sunday afternoon at a yeardsale - incredible.

By the way - I know your wife is busy with the kids - but she could still make enough to bring in money to prepare for this. In most towns there are a few jobs you can stay at home and do (like calling for the salvation army "do you have any new-reusable houshold items, we will have a truck in your area" It doesnt pay well, obviously - but she can make 150-300 a month spending a few hours on the phone doing this (while the kids nap) that 150 you can spend on bulk foods. She could also take in another toddler the same age as your little one - and make good money baby sitting that kid. Even if she just provides after school care for two kids for a few hours a day - that'd be $400 or more a month for a few hours a day worth of care.$400 a month will buy alot of bulk food! :) Or she could deliver the paper early in the morning before you leave for work. There are plenty of options that would still allow her to be home with the kids (I'm all for that)

Good luck! :)


-- Whitney (y2kWhit@aol.com), December 22, 1998.

The 9999 problem is for real. Like everything else, no one really knows how big a problem it will be.

Lots of excellent suggestions here for getting max bang for the buck. One thing I might add...If your cash flow/credit can handle it, you could get buy beans and grain for 1999 as well as after. Save you an awful lot on groceries, so you can pay those credit cards back, and you get plenty of practice cooking from your storage before you have to. It would take a certain level of committment to go ahead and start eating that way.

An excellent book in general is Tom Brown's Field Guide to Urban Survival. Lots of cheap but effective methods.

-- Shimrod (shimrod@lycosmail.com), December 22, 1998.

Another source of cheap ideas is www.kurtsaxon.com

-- Shimrod (shimrod@lycosmail.com), December 22, 1998.

Here are some almost free preparedness items I'm getting together:

1. Solar Ovens (you can make it!)- check out http://www.xmg.com/solar.htm Cook with sunshine! This would make a good school project also!

2. Buddy Burner/Vagabond stove (you make it with used tin cans, corrugated cardboard,and paraffin) See: http://bsa.net/nc/t486/Misc/cookbook.html (search Boy Scouts of America +cooking) Get the needed #10 cans (empty) now from a grocery deli and the empty tuna cans...well, have some sandwiches!!

3. Coke bottlers are selling empty 55 gal. drums that their syrup comes in for around $5 - let your fingers do the walking through the yellow pages to find the ones that have the drums.

God bless your efforts! We'll all make it together! Jen!!

-- Jen (jenwhite@compuserve.com), December 22, 1998.

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