A little extra, just in case…

Today I want to talk a little bit about keeping “a little extra” on hand for emergencies. Recently my family had a sudden and unexpected upheaval that put us in a pretty dire financial situation.  The details are unimportant, but suffice it to say we had a temporary reduction in income by about 75% that lasted 3 months or so.  It was grim and probably the tightest spot we’ve been in during our adult lives, but fortunately we’d been preparing for the unexpected and that really helped hold things together.

Over the last couple years we’ve made a point of buying a few extras when we do our grocery shopping as well as strategic bulk purchases at Costco as funds would allow. Thank goodness we did!  Canned foods are the obvious thing to have on hand, but we also had lots of rice, sugar, flour, butter, cooking oils, tea, and a few other things I’m probably forgetting.  Likewise, we had a mass of toilet paper, paper towels, ammonia, bleach, soap, toothpaste, feminine hygiene supplies and the like.

Finding places to store all this stuff in our tiny apartment was challenging to say the least, but I cannot put into words how much our overall stress level was reduced by having these items already on hand when the s— hit the fan. It was bad enough worrying about how we were going to pay the rent and insurance and the power bill – not having the “How are we going to eat?” specter of doom looming over us as well made a huge difference in how we managed the crisis.

There were of course still expenses for food and things, but they were slashed to nearly nothing since we were able to dip into our emergency stores. It has been an eye opening experience to say the least.  One thing that we found – quite to our surprise – was that we actually started eating BETTER during this crisis because going out for meals simply wasn’t an option.  Typically we don’t eat much in the way of pre-packaged type foods anyway, but we do have a tendency to get lazy with our hectic schedules and we get take-out fairly often (I admit it, I’m a pizza FIEND!) and would usually splurge on a nice meal out once a week or so.  Luckily for me, my wife is an excellent cook and she definitely took on the brunt of the labor in that department but it was without doubt a family affair.  My daughter and I did a lot more dishes that we’re used to doing and we both helped with food prep and even cooked the meals every now and again.  But, my goodness, we have eaten some AMAZING meals over the past few months that cost us pennies compared to eating out and we have been eating healthier foods as an added bonus.  I’m going to have to say this has been an absolute silver lining to a bunch of storm clouds!

This was one of those “events” that you don’t hear people talking about too much in the preparedness arena. Income loss isn’t nearly as exciting as preparing for a foreign invasion or a zombie apocalypse, but it is an actual, realistic disruption that can have a deep impact on your lives if you aren’t ready for it.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t put things away for emergencies thinking this might happen to me – I was more concerned about earthquakes and/or flooding with the possible pandemic event thrown in there for good measure.  I’m not telling you about this as a way to pat myself on the back and tell you how I’m smart enough to think of all the possibilities, I wasn’t.  This was simply a stroke of luck that I was preparing for emergency situations and my first place of focus was on food and hygiene.  Had I been one of those other types of preparedness folks like you see on TV and had put all my efforts into a fortified bunker or a personal armory with thousands of projectile rounds I would have been sunk.

The bottom line is, you don’t know what is going to happen.  It’s important to think about what might happen, and even some possible scenarios, but life loves to throw a curveball at you and nobody can be prepared for every possible eventuality.  Think about the probability of different types of emergencies and go from there.  It’s more likely that you’ll lose a job, or even be out of work due to injury or illness than someone setting off a “dirty bomb” in your town.  Your car’s transmission will likely blow out before the UN marches and puts us into a New World Order…  I could go on but I think you get the point.

I firmly believe the preparedness is the responsibility of every adult, period. There really is no “free lunch” and you have no right to expect someone else to take care of you.  And we’ve all seen how well the Government does when they step into to help…  It’s on you, folks.  Take responsibility for you and yours and spread the word.  If something happens to you and your family you’ll recover faster and suffer fewer consequences.  If something happens to a friend or neighbor, you’ll be in a position to lend a hand (if you choose to do so) without putting yourself in a bind.  And if it’s something larger-scale, like your town or county or state even, you will not be an additional burden to those that are trying to help the recovery.  Really, there is no down side.

For me and mine, things are just about getting back to normal as far as the financial side of things go and I can guarantee that one of the first things I’m going to do when we’re fully back on our feet is to re-stock ALL the foods and hygiene products that we used and put up just a little extra, fill in the gaps where we were light, so to speak.  You know, just in case…

Thanks for reading,

~J