Investing your time wisely and productively is a skill that doesn't require any expenditure of cash to learn.
A Reader Asks: How to Find Shelter from the Coming Storms? prompted some excellent follow-on suggestions for what we can do to survive the coming financial storms.
1. Proximity to fresh water, energy and rail transport. (via longtime correspondent J.B.) Recent media stories on the precarious future of Las Vegas' water supply highlight the value of living in a place with access to sustainable fresh water: The race to stop Las Vegas from running dry.
In rural Hawaii, households with no county-supplied water use catchment systems for fresh water. Even homes in drier climes can collect substantial amounts of water in catchment tanks connected to roof gutters.
There are many ways to make better use of water: install low-flow shower heads, collect rinse water from doing dishes and use this to water plants, etc.
Though we take it for granted energy is equally available everywhere in the U.S., it's worth thinking about where your energy comes from and what you can do to consume less of it. A significant percentage of our energy is consumed in transportation and heating/cooling buildings. Super-insulated homes use much less energy (but may trap radon gas--there are always trade-offs).
The ideal arrangement is living above the shop, so to speak--living close enough to work that the commute is a short walk or bike ride. This was once common; my grandparents lived above their business in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s.
2. Learn skills that use local/native/re-used materials. (via longtime correspondent Joe H.:) "One action you might consider adding is to bone up on skills/professions that use native or found materials. I think the guy who can bend up metal and join them to bicycle wheels to form push carts will be in high demand. So will anybody who can piece together rocket stoves or water filtration elements. The list of potential projects is endless.
Reading When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany by Adam Fergusson suggests that people who can contribute to the economy without high-cost or "foreign" inputs will do relatively well."
I would add another factor, which is adding skills that earn money in a range of sectors. This diversity of skills is one of the traits of the class I call Mobile Creatives:International Workers' Day (May 1) and the New Class: Mobile Creatives (May 1, 2014)
I use the word mobile not to suggest mobility between physical places (though that is one factor in this class's flexibility) but mobility between sectors, tools and ways of earning income. The key characteristic of the Mobile Creative class is that they live by this credo: trust the network, not the corporation or the state. Those who are dependent on the state should note that every government that has promised social benefits (pensions and healthcare) to its populace is already bankrupt; all that's missing is the confessional moment of recognition.
3. Take control of our own health as much as possible. This boils down to: get lean, get fit and eat only real food. We cannot control all disease or illness, but there is overwhelming scientific evidence that roughly 2/3 of our well-being results from our lifestyle and about 1/3 from our genetic makeup. That means our daily habits are the primary influence on our health and well-being. Change our habits and results follow.
4. In general, control as much as you can. Bemoaning our lack of wealth and power is a cop-out; as correspondent Mots noted: "MANY TINY SOLUTIONS EXIST NOW. Many things can be done NOW because transitioning to local generation of wealth/value occurs in stages/by degree to prepare for collapse: accordingly, EVERY person can do many little things to begin walking down this path NOW." Mots included a list of actions divided into three categories: (requires Adobe Reader) Emergency Preparation, Easy/Partial Local Reliance and Reasonable Long Term.
The essence of neofeudalism is dependence on the state and those who own the debt and a concurrent loss of individual initiative and control. The Status Quo encourages our sense of powerlessness; once people surrender their autonomy and initiative, they're easy to exploit.
The essence of state-cartel capitalism (the dominant form of capitalism) is the state dismantles all social connections and wealth between the state and the atomized individual recipient of state welfare so the individual depends entirely on the state for his/her identity and essentials of life.
Where once existed a complex ecosystem of public life, social capital and networks of reciprocity and economic meaning, now lies a wasteland, stripmined by the state to leave nothing but the state and its ever-growing armies of dependents.
The global corporation profits from this same wasteland: the ideal arrangement to maximize debt-based consumption is an atomized individual who has no identity or self-worth other than consumerist worship of brands and corporate-supplied convenience, in other words, a permanent adolescent driven by insecurity, fear and impulse-driven consumption.
The key is to operate outside these two states of dependency. That means taking control of what you can and extending control over what you don't yet control. People email me that they're too poor, old, etc. to do anything on their own behalf. Yes, poverty and old age make things more difficult. Nobody questions that. No matter how poor or old you may be, you have time. You don't have to buy time; it's there for you to invest or spend as you see fit.
Studies have found that modest exercise builds muscle mass even in 90-year olds. Colonel Sanders was 65 when he started to franchise KFC in earnest. He'd been working at a variety of jobs since the age of 14, so he didn't get the memo that he was too old to do something audacious.
As for being poor: it's a free-to-you investment to invest in learning new skills via donating time/energy to community groups. YouTube University is always open and always free to anyone with an Internet connection or a public library with free PCs and Internet access.
Investing your time wisely and productively is a skill that doesn't require any expenditure of cash to learn. It's a skill that can be acquired at any age.
Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy(Kindle, $9.95)(print, $20)
Are you like me? Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and comprehensible.
And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.
You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.
Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.
So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.
It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.
I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.
Test drive the first section and see for yourself. Kindle, $9.95 print, $20
"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated."
Gordon Long and I discuss The New Nature of Work: Jobs, Occupations & Careers (25 minutes, YouTube)
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