The Austerity Diaries: Everything That Can Go Wrong, Will

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Disasters and personal SHTFs come in all shapes and sizes.

Clearly, I am concerned about things like an Ebola pandemic, war, martial law, and economic collapse.  I’m a news junkie and am gifted (or cursed) with a vivid imagination.  But personal things can cause a lot of upheaval when you are on a tight budget.  And if Murphy’s Law holds true (and it often does) whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, generally at the worst possible time.

Take my SUV, for example. (Please, take it and give me a different one!)  I was driving down the road on Monday when I noticed that it was beginning to overheat. I pulled over, let it cool down, and limped in at 20 miles an hour to a nearby shop, hoping it was something little like a leaky radiator cap.

Alas, it was something big like leaky head gaskets. And by big, I mean about $2000.  Oh, and another week or so without a vehicle.

My poor little emergency fund, that I had been cultivating and growing, is now kaput, along with a couple of weeks of pay.  Imagine my delight.

I was seriously upset. In a funk. Blue as the moon. Which will, of course, get me precisely nowhere.

First, improve your attitude.

If I allowed myself to linger in that funk, all I would do is think about what I’m missing, how I’m stuck at home, and how awful things are. Not productive.

I started feeling ever-so-slightly better when I thought to myself, “Hey, this is ‘practice’ for a real, genuine, can’t-leave-the-house disaster. I can write about this.”

Not much better, but better enough that I’m not weeping into my coffee or planning a dramatic 10 mile walk to the nearest Starbucks so that I could plunge face first into a gigantic Frappuccino for solace.

Then I started thinking about the stuff that I had really planned on getting before starting my no-grocery-store challenge.  Like laundry detergent, for example.  I was also going to hit the farmer’s market and stock up on some veggies that I don’t yet have growing at my place.  Alas, what I have is…well, what I have.

Then I started thinking about the awesome ways I could deal with these things. And I felt inspired and energized because of the challenges.  Also, I had something interesting to write about, because it is a sad reflection of the economy that many of us are in a situation very much like this, where one large unexpected expense can be temporarily life-altering.

While it still bites the big one that I have to spend $2000 on a vehicle repair, as soon as I changed my attitude and began thinking about solutions instead of problems, I felt a thousand times better and reverted to my normal optimistic self.


Second, be creative in your solutions.

So, in response to the instant, “Oh my gosh, I’m stranded and I need so much stuff from the store” reaction, I began doing an inventory of what I have on hand to fulfill those needs.

I”d been planning to make my own laundry detergent for ages and have all of the supplies on hand in such abundance that I could wash clothes from now until the Second Coming and still have homemade laundry soap left over for those white robes. (You can read about making your own laundry detergent HERE.)

As far as the food goes, well, wants aren’t needs. We have a stockpile, home canned goods, and stuff in the freezer.  I’m a prepper, and we’d honestly be perfectly well fed if we didn’t go to the store or farmer’s market for the next 6 months.  It might get a bit repetitious, but we’d be nourished and far from hungry.  Plus, I have vast amounts of coffee on hand, so I’ll be pleasant, too.

I realized that honestly, there isn’t one single thing I desperately need that I can’t make or improvise.  And maybe I’m weird but I find improvisation to be a lot of fun, and I get an actual “rush” when my make-shift solutions end up working really well.  You know that quote, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  I really like that far better than the Murphy quote.

Third, there are usually some silver linings.

We moved recently and now that we’re on foot, my daughter and I decided to take a different route and go for a walk each day to explore our new area.  This is some great Mom/kid time, good exercise, and we’ll be able to learn more about our surroundings instead of always being too busy to go exploring.

In many personal catastrophes, there are similar perks if you look at them the right way.

  • A loss of a job means you have more time to spend with your family.
  • A financial crunch means that you might spend more time cooking wholesome ingredients from scratch instead of buying fast food or convenience items.
  • Not having a vehicle means you save money because you have no place to spend money.
  • If you have more time on your hands, no matter what the reason, you can get going on some of those projects you’ve been putting off.
  • When you need something you can’t afford to pay for, sometimes you can learn a new skill and create it yourself.
  • If the power goes out, the family comes together. There are no video games or TV shows or internet-surfing sessions to get in the way of hanging out. Memories are made of times like these.

Sometimes I’m astounded at the solutions my kids come up with. They are so bright and creative and those talents really shine in situations where problem-solving is necessary.

You can test your preps.

When disaster strikes in a personal way, it gives you an opportunity to test your preps.

My current stranded-ness is not unlike the situation we’d face if any of the following occurred:

  • If a major pandemic (like, ahem, Ebola) was sweeping the country, causing either a mandatory quarantine or voluntary preventative isolation.
  • If a big storm damaged or blocked roadways and the stores were inaccessible for a week.
  • If fuel prices escalated to the point that people couldn’t afford to drive frequently.
  • If an economic collapse caused civil unrest that made it unsafe to venture into town.
  • If you became unemployed and had to cut back to absolute bare bones to save money.

You get the idea.  If you think about it, what happened in my situation is precisely what would happen if it hit the fan in a big way. What you have on hand is what you have to survive.  You would have difficulty acquiring new supplies or going anywhere. Are your supplies in order?  Mine weren’t too bad, but there are some gaps I’d prefer to close.

The thing to remember is that preparedness is about more than major disasters. It’s about personal disasters too. And it’s far better to find out now that you are unprepared in certain areas than it would be in a permanent grid-down scenario.  If I need to go to the store, I can just call a friend and she’ll be happy to give me a ride. Right now, I’m being self-reliant because I choose to. I’ve got a list of things I need to stock up on once I’m back on the road again, and some of these things I might never have noticed had we not been in this situation.  There may come a day when self-reliance is the only option, and when that day comes, at least I’ve worked out the bugs and polished my preparedness plan.

Challenges build character.

By learning to turn a negative situation into a more positive experience, we become stronger and more adaptable. That’s what survival is all about. The most well-read person on the planet will have difficulty adapting to troublesome times if they’ve never had to do so.  How you react to those bad things that happen is the true definition of the person you are.

Personally, I choose happiness and optimism. The rain always stops falling eventually. And then the flowers can grow.

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.

— Peter Marshall

The Austerity Diaries: Everything That Can Go Wrong, Will
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • “everything that can go wrong will” has been a frequent visitor to my life in the last few years. Friends are frequently amazed that I haven’t lost my mind over it but I approach it like you’ve said. Otherwise I probably would lose my mind. And a lot of things get done at home.

  • Enjoyed the article. Adversity comes in many forms. Rise to the occasion and become a better person, more prepared, or a stronger individual. I agree with many things you said in this article.

  • Another good Peter Marshall quote…”Circle gets the square”.

    Good luck with your SUV. It may happen again as vehicles with aluminum heads and highish miles seem to have this problem.

    • I keep a tube of that radiator stop-leak stuff in the back of my SUV for that very reason, jrs.

      However; that’s just for my use. I was reminded of this bit while reading about the SUV blowing a gasket and the likelihood of it happening again:

      Dealing With Roadside Emergencies

      “I know cars – and how to fix cars (sometimes)… but my wife doesn’t.

      Probably a lot of families are “mixed” like this. It does my wife no good to know I know how to fix This or That (or at least, where to start looking) if I happen not to be with her when the car stops running. Hence this quick run-through. I wrote it mainly for her – but figured it might be helpful to people out there, too:” …

  • Hi Daisy! Enjoyed your article.

    I’m living the prep dealio right now. I live in walbridge OH which is 8 miles south of Toledo OH and we can’t drink the tap water due to the fact that there is a nasty cyano algae bloom in western lake Erie. persons with sensitive skin or compromised immune systems are told not to shower. And by all means, do not let your pets drink tap water. It looks like we’ll get the go ahead to resume normal use of tap water by Monday but the crisis has been instructive on several levels.

    1) The community has rallied and people are sharing cases of bottled water and have genuine sense of ” we are all in this together so let’s make the best of it” type of additude.

    2) the local big box stores have stocked up on lots and lots of bottled water and aren’t price gouging but you can only buy 4 cases of 24 bottles.

    3) The NG has done a excellent job providing potable water and have headed home this afternoon ( Sunday ) and the civilians have picked up where they left off.

    It is refreshing to see people of all ages and color coming together as neighbors to help each other out. That fact restored a bit of my optimism in my fellow Americans.

    The recent water problem has once again proved that being prepared is a blessing and a source of comfort. I went to Meijer earlier today for some groceries and people were scrambling to buy water ( and Meijer had an abundance thank G-d ) and when I got to the check out counter the clerk mentioned that I was one of the only shoppers he’d seen all day without a couple of cases of water in my cart. I laughed and said ” why would I need water when I have a case of Jamaican beer?”

    I didn’t bother to tell my friend that I have a 35 gallon fresh water storage tank and two fresh water rain barrels outside to water my garden. OPSEC ya know.

    I have to admit though, there is a certain pleasure that I get when i see events like this occur in my area. I have bountiful supplies of fresh water, food and medical supplies.

    I’m called a paranoid freak by my Dad because of my prepping. I wasn’t the one freaking out and and having to stand in line for a couple of hours to get fresh drinking water like he was today at 85 degrees and no breeze to cool him off.

    I often wonder why people don’t have a three day supply of water and food……..

    Perhaps they are the crazy ones????

    Snake Plisken

    • SP –

      I’m glad to hear that you are well-stocked! Please keep us posted on this, and if something interesting occurs, don’t hesitate to email me at daisy at theorganicprepper dot ca. I’ll get the word out!

      Stay safe!

      ~ D

  • Just a quick comment about that being out of work/spending time with your family thing: I was out of work for 13 months during the dot com bust. I hated it, but I kept telling myself that at least I had time to spend with my husband. He died of pneumonia in 2008. So yes, sometimes being unemployed can be a blessing.

    • Dear Teri:

      I’m very sorry for your loss. I hope that you find comfort in spending that time with him. What you wrote made me pause to think about the people for whom I am thankful today. Thank you.

      ~ Daisy

  • Take some comfort in the fact that you were prepared for this expense with your emergency fund – and give yourself a big pat on the back! Two steps forward and one step back. It’s called life and it’s not always easy, but by being prepared you survived a little bit easier. A lot of people would have been in a terrible spot because they fail to plan ahead. Use this experience to help others learn by your success at being prepared – it’s easy to see where this could have happened to any one of us!

    God bless.

  • Hi this is my first time on the site. Love you information. It looks practical and helpful. I’m a devout Christian and a patriot and I’m disabled as well as ministry. I would like to get off of government assistance but I’m concerned about the impact it will have. I refuse to be q government t. Slave though . This was not my idea anyway it was my dad’s and it was supposed to be temporary. Do you have any suggestions of what I and others like myself can do?

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