Preparing for Y2K and beyond : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I have had this barrel that has been outside of my house under the eves (to keep it out of the rain) that my neighbors have complained about for over ten years. It is my outside earthquake kit.

I can't tell you how many people made derogatory faces and remarks about it in all that time, but it never bothered me because if we had an earthquake I would have the thermal blankets and flashlights and first aid supplies and wrench (to turn off my neighbors gas lines) that would be needed if we had an earthquake. If my house fell down I would still have access to these things. I always bought canned food by the case on sale which I kept in the garage and rotated. This was a good idea anyway for I could have up to 8-9 people living here due to "foster care" and taking in relatives children. I had snow suits of all sizes for whatever size children I would be given to care for.

I no longer do foster care, but old habits die hard and I have had to force myself to donate the clothes and toys and furniture I had for the children.

Since the food does not get used as fast now as it once did I have even had to learn to slow down on buying so much food because we are not using as much and it was starting to get outdated before use.

I found it difficult to picture a family not having at least a weeks worth of food in their home, but I guess with the way some people live a fast paced lifestyle it happens.

I have a tiny battery operated TV (liquid crystal screen) and just about most things that would be needed if there were no power for a few weeks. I have a large chest freezer in which I keep two 2 1/2 gallon water containers frozen so when the power goes out they will keep the contents of the freezer frozen for long periods of time. When power has gone out I would take one and place in in my refrigerator to keep it the food cold in there. (last minute prep hint)

Our few power outages over the years have been more fun then an inconvenience for my family. We grab the sleeping bags and stay together in the living room playing games and have even had neighbor children over to join us in a sleep-over. The body heat from more people helps keep a room warmer.

One thing Y2K will have accomplished is to make people be aware that they have to look past today... look past getting home from work with "take-out" food to feed the family. To think to buy snow tires before it snows. To have a manual can opener before you loose electricity. To be responsible for their needs of tomorrow. I find it difficult to believe that anyone who has "prepared" for Y2K will be able to go back to a lifestyle where they do not have more than a few days food in their house, or be without a manual can opener, or not make sure they have extra batteries or even have flashlights!

If you are one of those people who never thought about what tomorrow might bring before you prepared, could you ever go back to not being "prepared", just in case, for any possibility?

Some peoples "preparations" are nothing more than what has already been a normal lifestyle for others.

Welcome to my world.

-- Cherri (, December 28, 1999


Cherri, you say, "I found it difficult to picture a family not having at least a weeks worth of food in their home, but I guess with the way some people live a fast paced lifestyle it happens." How typical of you to make such a sweeping generalization and be unable to think outside your own cozy box!

There are many types of people who cannot afford to do more than shop for that week's groceries on the current paycheck (which means they have on hand a week's food only one day per week), but I'll focus on the category I experienced personally. Do you know that of all spouses awarded child support, only 40 percent collect the full amount? Of course, if you live in a state like mine where the computerized child support is so badly screwed up you haven't had a support check in months, then you're even further up the proverbial creek. I'll leave it to others to talk about senior citizens or the chronically ill or disabled who live on their tiny Social Security checks or the lower echelons of military families who supplement their pay with food stamps.

You may live in a neighborhood where people live a "fast-paced" lifestyle and exist on fast food. I lived in neighborhoods where people couldn't afford to eat fast food and couldn't afford electric can openers either (I still don't have one). They didn't buy snow tires because they couldn't afford to own a vehicle.

Your "normal" lifestyle has been or is unattainable for so many. You say "welcome to my world." No thanks, I'd rather work on my already somewhat developed sense of consequence and refrain from sneering remarks about people being unprepared because they live a fast-paced lifestyle, eat fast food and own electric can openers.

-- Old Git (, December 28, 1999.

Old Git,

I live on a pretty big chunk of land in the sticks, and I make less than $10,000 a year. Part of that goes to monthly mortgage payments. Yet I still have been able to grow and buy enough supplies to keep me going for at least a year if the fan goes brown.

If you really want to prepare, you can find ways. You mentioned a lot of excuses for people not preparing. I would rather think out of the box for ways to do it that don't cost an arm and a leg. Maybe since I live 29 miles from the nearest town, I am not prompted to buy "stuff" just to keep up with the neighbors. Staying away from town is the best way I know of to save money. Others can be creative along those same lines if they really want to.

-- (Living, December 28, 1999.

Well, Living, it's very nice that you had the money to put down on a "pretty big chunk of land in the sticks." May I ask you if you were struggling to support a child by yourself when you saved up the down payment? Did you get any help from your family? It's very nice too that you can grow your own food to put up. But, you see, my son and I had to live in a tiny rat-trap of a slum house in a low-income area of New Orleans, since that was where I found myself after the divorce. I had no skills other than city skills anyway and the only work I could do at first was waitressing, at $1.40/hour, and sewing Mardi Gras costumes at piece work rates. It took me 15 long years of hard work to end up as a paralegal.

May I ask you too, Living, do you have large restaurants, costume-makers or law firms within walking distance or 20-minute bus ride?

Yes, SOME people can afford to prepare who haven't, but Cherri has made a sweeping generalization that it's because they live a selfish lifestyle. I happen to be very proud of my achivements (as a high-school drop-out) and I strongly resent your categorization of my then inability to stock supplies as an "excuse" because I was "keeping up with the neighbors." Keeping up with the neighbors? LOL! You have no idea how funny that is! There was nothing to keep up WITH--we were all far too poor.

-- Old Git (, December 28, 1999.

It's easy to make sweeping statements when you're coming from a "holier-than-thou" mindset.

My closest neighbors are the salt of the earth. "Art" drives a 'gut wagon' for a local rendering company. He's 60 years old. His wife, "Betty", is 56, and is a stay at home mother to two children (11 and 9) they adopted a couple of years ago, after being their foster parents since birth. Art's mother (81) lives with them, too. Until 2 weeks ago, so did Art's brother, James. James was 65 years old, was diagnosed with bone cancer last spring, and was abandoned by his wife because she didn't want the responsibility and cost of taking care of a dying man. James lived in Chicago, and Art brought him to his house so he would have a place to live out his days and be cared for. James died 2 weeks ago. Guess who paid out of pocket expenses for James treatment and his funeral? That's right...Art and Betty.

The children have had some ongoing special medical needs that are paid out-of-pocket by Art and Betty. No help from any government agencies, no special deals for them. Art manages to keep an old pickup and a ancient "K" car running with the help of my husband. Their home is very clean, but, like ours, it's old (60 years or so), and there's always something that is in need of attention for functional - not cosmetic - reasons. Betty has many times brought over sacks of outgrown clothing for me to hand-me-down to my grandsons; all basic, utilitarian clothes that simply were too small. She's also the first to share whatever 'excess' produce she has that can't be canned quick enough. She's an excellent, very thrifty cook. I've learned a lot of penny pinching tricks from her, and I was quite frugal to begin with. The children get to go to McDonald's for a Happy Meal on their birthday only.

They don't waste money, because there's no money to waste. Every month is a challenge for them. They *do* try to think ahead, but the immediacy of everyday life seems to persist.

They are the best neighbors I've ever had, or could hope to have. They are GOOD people. But...they are always very short of money, in part, because they feel obligated to help their family. They feel responsible for helping others who aren't as 'well off' as they are. Do they have the money to prepare long term? No. The 'stash' they did have built up was quickly decimated by the 'family' members who came a week before James' death and stayed til a few days after his modest funeral (paid for by Art and Betty, because no one else "had any money to contribute"). BS...they all descended at Art's in SUV's and other brand new cars. So...they're back to square one.

These people do not waste money, because frankly, there's none to waste. What money they do have, they spend very carefully. And they spend it on what matters the most to them -- family.

-- Wilferd (, December 28, 1999.

Come on, Old Git,

Cherri wasn't dissing you, baby! She's only pointint out the importance of being prepared, and I am all for it.

When my county had its first y2k meeting a year or so ago, a woman got up and said more or less the same things you are saying--on welfare, three kids, etc. The director of Emergency Services pointed out that if we all skip a movie, or a video, or an ice cream or candy bar, or a latte, or a cigarette (you get the idea; there is always something that we can cut back on) and put the money into a can or two extra at the grocery store, we can actually put away a very large cache of food over a period of time. That's why so many of us were trying to get people to start preparing early.

It's also not necessary to rag on Living On for having large piece of land. You don't have to be a wealthy person to have a big piece of land. I live on forty-three acres, but it only cost $41,500. The payments on it were less than rent for a small apartment. I began saving for land when I was twelve years old and got my first job delivering newspapers. As an adult I lived on the cheap for years, scrounging materials for my first house, all so I wouldn't have to go into debt for a house. By paying only on the land, one can save an incredible amount of interest, and can soon invest what would have been rent money or interest on a home loan in buying another piece of land, or another house for an investment.

And yes, I'm sure you will be able to point out that there are some folks who can't do so, for whatever reason (a physical or mental handicap come to mind). But for most people, it's a very doable thing. I am a builder now, but when I built my first place, I had to ask lots of questions, and read lots of books, and redo lots of mistakes. But I did it, and so can a lot of people, if they can slow down, and give up a few of their "wants" so they can take care of their "needs".

Take care, Old Git. I'm not trying to say you didn't do well with what you had available; from all the posts of yours I've read over the last year, it sounds like you are a very resourceful person.


-- Al K. Lloyd (, December 28, 1999.

Don't see why anyone should have to apologize for what they've earned in this life.

As I see it, anyone who's got enough leisure time to cruise this web site for long periods doesn't quite have it so bad as they let on.


-- (, December 28, 1999.

Old Git,

I took no offense to what Cherri said and I was a single parent with 5 kids for a number of years and yes I did take welfare as I could not make enough money to pay for daycare for that many kids and support them and be a good parent. I moved the kids to an old farmhouse with a huge yard, put in a large garden, saved and bought 2 milk goats and a few chickens. We didn't have meat very often, but the kids never missed it. By canning, carefully buying what I couldn't produce, having the milk goats and chickens, we ate quite well. I sewed a lot of the kids clothes, knitted sweaters, mittens, scarves, and they handed down most of their clothes. One time my sister and her baby were living with us and we couldn't not afford to go to the store for a month and we "lived out of the cupboards". It wasn't fancy, but we ate. It doesn't cost much to have beans and oatmeal stocked up.

Yes it is a matter of priorities as many of us today have our priorities screwed up. I went back to college and am now a computer consultant, married to a wonderful man for several years and make a very good income. When we lived in Phoenix, we got caught up in the "gotta have it" routine and wasted a lot of money. Luckily, we knew that we wanted a farm and we have since bought that (not yet totally paid for), moved back to the midwest and our priorities have straightened out somewhat. (Still buy things we shouldn't or don't need - darn need to work on that more!)

People make choices every day and those choices affect the quality of their life. We live in an area where people think and act poor - that's the way it has always been and that's the way it will be - at least according to them. I don't accept that. Maybe at this moment it is a struggle to get through today or the week, but if you don't have goals, you won't get anywhere. Unfortunately, goal setting is not taught in our schools.

Sorry, didn't mean to get on my soapbox, but I do not accept that people have to live a poor quality of life. Look at the immigrants that come here with nothing and make a life for themselves. There are people like me that lived on welfare for years, but now have a better life. It is all in the choices you make.

-- beckie (, December 28, 1999.

Bravo, Beckie. Please, for those of you who think you cannot afford to stock up on food, may I offer some advice? Swallow your pride, think of the safety of your kids and other loved ones. At this late date, find out the number to your local food pantry. Call Goodwill, churches, Salvation army and find out what they have. I feel that these resources are here for a valid reason and many don't know that they exist or are ashamed to turn to these places for help. When you are able, hopefully someday, remember to GIVE BACK to these charities. Have a safe New Year.

-- Jess (, December 28, 1999.

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