A Wartime Economy: Tips for Financial Survival

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by Jose Martinez

Navigating a wartime economy can be tricky. If you’re not able to cope, you’ll quickly that your financial emergency has led to a survival emergency.

For those who may not know it, my involvement with prepping was almost by coincidence. To be honest, I’ve always been the adventure type, never having run away from calculated risks. Motorcycling, some tropical forest trekking, and mountain climbing were all regular occurrences back in my youth. This would prove useful when I had to climb over a distillation tower in some refinery.

Part of this prepping coincidence was that back then I loved to have some sort of camping pack prepared. Candles, DIY waxed matches, some hooks and fishing lines, sardines and tuna cans, salty cookies and a couple of canteens – all of these tucked underneath my bed, with a cheap rain poncho and a pair of worn boots.

Maybe it was too many 80’s war movies. Maybe it was my Grampa’s stories my parents told me over and over again. Or perhaps it’s just in my genes. The thing is I have always felt comfortable stockpiling food and having my gear ready and at hands reach. I’ve never liked to have to rely or depend heavily on anyone, for anything.

Preparedness came naturally.

For me, to be prepared (and to face prepping-problems) was natural. A few times my dad had to use my flashlight when his makeshift worklight’s bulb broke. Several times, we were stranded in the middle of nowhere after a trip to the beach or some other hacienda when our Jeep decided it was time for a little nap. Even my matches came useful a couple of times, too. And I was only 9 or 10 years old when I traveled all over the place with my messenger bag packed with this stuff.

Once my kid was about to be born, I decided it was time to start thinking about my (very early) retirement. I started thoroughly researching what it would take, and in the process had to self-educate myself on financial concepts full of definitions I didn’t have a clue about, as well as a vast amount of other topics.

Albeit, I did have some formal financial education back in college, but it was really basic: internal return rates, the classic composed interest rate, and so on. That was helpful. But like I said, it was also basic.

Therefore, my first tip for navigating a wartime economy would be this one:

Carve out the time to learn about personal finances, and take it seriously.

After years of waking up at 5:45 AM and commuting 60 km back and forth to work, early retirement starts to look incredibly appealing. Even with 70% of the pension at 20 years of uninterrupted service. And so, my training in maintenance reliability kicked in, I conducted systematic research, and came out with a proper analysis of all my options. (Engineers can be so…methodical sometimes. Yuk.)

Every night, before going to bed I dedicated a half hour – minimum – to study. From 9:00 pm to 9:45. That was my finance study time. My then-wife finally accepted this habit once I explained to her I needed to retire early or otherwise I would be dead before she knew it. I told her it would be great for the three of us, as our current financial straits (which others have also experienced) would be temporary.

If we played our cards right, we would have full-coverage insurance as part of the Company’s social care policy, and I could then dedicate my time to a home-based business, among several other profitable activities. I’d known plenty of others who had done the same – only in their senior age, and I didn’t want to retire so late.

It’s not the same riding a cruiser motorbike from Isla Margarita to the Andes at 52 as trying to do the same at 66. You have to motivate yourself enough in order to accomplish your goal: to thrive even in a wartime economy, which is the exact same situation we have in this country.

Mind you, it’s possible for me now to go and ask some bank for a loan, and use it to multiply my income by investing it. I mention this because the bank will want to know the exact way their money is going to be invested. I do know something: presenting an executive summary with the proper format, and using the proper terms, will make the difference at the end of the day as to whether you get that loan or not. And I’m not the only one who’s learned this. Famed financial guru Robert Kiyosaki says the same.

That’s why we have to learn financial education. And this leads me to my second piece of advice for surviving a wartime economy…

You have to learn finance at your own pace.

Everyone is different. Trying to force yourself to cram knowledge will only leave you both frustrated and unhappy. Don’t do that! Take it easy! Enjoy the process! There are not too many reasons to rush, as that will only generate stress and make the learning process difficult.

Learning how to improve our ability to make money, keeping the job we already have (not my case, indeed) and, more frequently, learning how to not lose money so fast (easier said than done, right?) is never a bad idea.

But make sure it is under your own terms. It’s very likely you don’t need to learn everything you need in two months. Sure, maybe you hate numbers. I perfectly understand that. I had a time in my life when I hated them too. Until I realized they were the only thing I could do to make the numbers go up in my bank account. Well, for a while anyway.

There is a lot to learn – trust me – and every little bit of processed information you can add to your mental library is worthwhile. Instead of wasting your time with too much entertainment and then feeling guilty about not having improved yourself, you will be able to enjoy your free time once you’ve finished your daily goal of financial study time. 

The third tip on navigating a wartime economy is this…

Learn as much as you can about market research if you plan to increase your profits via a side business during a wartime economy.

This is logical, as every location is different in both its economic activities and needs. Skills like plumbing and electrical work ability are universal needs. In rural or semi-rural environments, anything animal-health-related is welcome, as are advanced technical workers like modern diesel mechanics (the one requiring electronic controllers) or general electronics workers (farm equipment can be complicated these days). HVAC technicians are other workers I see day-to-day having constant work, and incredibly, I see a lot of sewing machine “technicians” as well.

I put this between quotes because I really don’t know if this is something you could go to school for here. These people just learn by “experience” (usually this meaning they’ve screwed a few sewing machines in the process) and after having luck once or twice they consider themselves “technicians”. (Sorry, but it’s true)

Keep in mind that if you’re good at sales and general merchandising stuff (I’m not), all of these business need supplies. If things keep getting worse, private stashes could easily give you a niche for a wartime economy. For instance, I read on a website years ago that one of the forum members had invested a good amount of money in primers. He vacuum-sealed everything, and stored his investment in a special fireproof facility. He’s both a hunter and active (recreational) shooter. So even if he didn’t need to sell anything in the future, it would still be there for him to use anyways.

I see shops here with products like sewing machine needles and spare parts that no one else in town sells, and people travel long distances from the countryside just to get a couple of spares, a gear, and maybe some thread. The alternative would be spending $10 on a round trip to Caracas to get the same parts!

Cobblers here are doing well, too. This was to be expected. Once my kid and I can make it to our cabin and hunt a few rabbits maybe I will go to my local cobbler with the furs already cured and ask him to make us some slippers.

How can you do your own local market research? Start by talking to your community. Monitor your local advertisements. Listen to local radios. I’ve learned that just by briefly advertising my soon-to-start English classes many people have been interested in signing their kids up. It was a minimal investment on my part, and I already have potential customers lined up.

Our wartime economy taught me financial survival is possible.

Mind you, this situation was back in 2010. Should I have stayed put, all I had to do was to speed up my plans, instead of running away. Sure, I would have had no medical insurance or pension. Sure, the 2018-2019 Holodomor was hard. Even my own mother acknowledges it now, but…I can’t help but wonder if we would have made it to the other side without too much havoc.

Of course, I’m not saying financially surviving a wartime economy is going to be easy. It took me years to learn what I needed so that I could prepare a budget for some initial investments. Good thing is, at the end of the day everything has worked!

I’ve come to see that, motivation is the key to effective learning. I took advantage of my 8 hours of CNC machinist training like you wouldn’t believe. My motivation was simple: that machine I was being trained on was going to put food on my table and money in my wallet someday. We all like money, and it’s a great motivator. But we all like food even more.

Whatever it is, use it to give you the motivation you need to stay financially intact throughout whatever situation you find at hand.

Thanks for your inestimable sponsoring, your moral support, and your encouraging words! What are your thoughts about economic survival during such unusual times? ​Do you have advice to add? Let me know in the comments below!

About Jose

Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has an old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Jose and his younger kid are currently back in Venezuela, after the intention of setting up a new life in another country didn’t  go well. The SARSCOV2 re-shaped the labor market and South American economy so he decided to give it a try to homestead in the mountains, and make a living as best as possible. But this time in his own land, and surrounded by family, friends and acquaintances, with all the gear and equipment collected, as the initial plan was.

 Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on PatreonDonations: paypal.me/JoseM151 or the BTC address 3QQcFfK9GvZNEmALuVV8D6AUttChTdtReE

J.G. Martinez D

J.G. Martinez D

About Jose Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

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15 Responses

  1. The seed idea in this article is learn, adapt, and adjust. This is very basic advice that will help anyone turn a bad situation around. I’ve had to learn investing and other skills in this way. I’m not a numbers person by any stretch; in fact, you’re reading the comment of a woman who can mess up her checkbook with the help of a calculator! And yet I’ve learned finance and worked out an investing strategy that’s benefited me. I had never mowed a lawn in my life before buying my house in 2006. I learned that, snow blowing, and simple home repairs along the way. Always be learning! One never knows when that side skill will put food on the table.

  2. All good stuff for the shape the current world is in.
    But once the world economy crashes it will all be gone. That is coming a lot sooner than most people think. There will no longer be an economy to speak of.
    The World debt is greater that the wealth of all the world’s people. That scenario will not continue on forever. Eventually we will all have to “pay the Piper”. At that point this economic house of cards will collapse, on a global scale. The 2008 economic down turn, will not even look like a minor economic hiccup, in comparison.

    So rather than a just starting a home based business, start something that will be useful during the coming Dark Ages. Businesses that don’t require modern technology or electricity to operate. This can include trades like blacksmithing or horseshoeing or making leather goods.
    Most of the SHTF stories we read about, include societies that still had electricity, still had goods being shipped in( food, medicine, etc.) to support the population. Because they were the only nation affected at the time. The rest of the world was going about their everyday lives.

    But when this occurs on a world wide scale things will be a whole lot different. Now we can use these stories to learn about how to survive in some of the beginning stages of a world wide SHTF scenario or a more limited National one. But we need to be preparing for the worst case scenario (a world wide SHTF scenario), not the easiest one to survive scenario, if we expect to live through it.

    To contemplate such a dire future on a global scale can be hard to do. Yet we must do so. Otherwise we will not be prepared for it and thus can not live up to the name of being a Prepper.

    1. Dear Mic,
      You’re right, but a phenomena that presents itself at a global wide scale is going to be fast? It will throw us back in the 1800s where horses and leather apparel were needed? there will be a transition period. Historians surely could predict this with some degree of accuracy but this will depend on the particular scenario.

  3. I think the best financial shelter is real assets, like land. The best physical shelter is a defendable location, that is food, water and energy sustainable. I have bought 65 acres of land in the hills of Colombia, South America, and in the process of buying 55 more adjoining acres. I’m going to offer 1acre+ lots for homesteaders. I have a website, http://www.carolinerefuge.com . If you scroll past the empty headers, there are photos and videos.

    [email protected]

      1. And defendable. Spent over a year looking at 24 properties before finding the one that was right. First rule: Take the high ground. The terrain is such that I’ll be able to excavate 50 foot high walls out of the hills surrounding the high points. There are two water flows beginning on the property, and it’s bounded by two. Every 3 meters of elevation, I’ll install mini hydro generators. After leveling, cover the ground with wood chips. I’m especially interested in having people with military experience in the community.

  4. Former city slicker who leaned to small scale farm over the last 8 years. The skill already has come in handy so it was the best investment. Investment in oneself and the land.

    1. Dear Sarah,
      Farmers around here don’t have any defense means. Nearby towns will be the parasitic plague that, instead of providing labor force to make farms sustainable, will suck them dry of whatever they could steal. wires, water pumps, cows, pigs, chickens. Sure it doesn’t happen everywhere but the 100% of farmers have been victims of crime to some degree. Those who kill someone to defend their properties or lives will be looted massively and very likely cold blood murdered and LEO’s won’t do nothing because they are part of the equation. And this is the situation in a large portion of the country as the guerrill4 forces take over the territory to keep expanding their drug trade to undermine your societies and make them implode.

      1. I wish more people realized the importance of this you just said, Jose. How these things work, how fluid and fickle everything can be.

  5. Well, reading the headlines, Biden has announced a diplomat boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and on the eve of the Biden/Putin video conference, the US is mulling the idea of cutting off Russia from the SWIFT international payment system, possible sanctions could go after Russian sovereign debt over the Ukraine situation. Russia has 50 battalions of infantry, estimated 175,000 troops, armor and atry within 150miles and in some cases less, to the Ukraine border.

    Jose, you “Wartime” economy just might be a bit more timely for comfort.

    On one hand, I do not need plastic pumpkins from China (if war was with them).
    On the other, I mentioned in another article, we get 2/3rds of garlic from China (yes, I know how to grow garlic). For some, that is just cause to “fire the missiles(French accent)!”

    Best way I know how to deal with a wartime like economy, get out of debt/stay out of debt, go local, grow local, learn to do without things that have a long logistical train to get to my door/grocery store, learn how to repair or someone who does know how to repair things.
    As Selco says, work with what you can to affect your bubble. Not much I can do about what goes on in DC, or halfway around the world.

    If it goes all Red Dawn like, that is a whole different set of problems.

    1. Got that right! Control what we can in our own small circles. That’s the best we can do. Accept reality and deal with it as it is. Local is best, for all things. Bezos and the Waltons are rich enough anyway.

  6. War time economy and Great Depression economy can be very close to the same thing.
    My investment strategy has been to invest in growing food, developing multiple streams (well trickles) of income, gather up useful books/knowledge, grabbing tools and repair items and investing in me.
    By investing in me I refer to getting in better shape, constantly learning, networking, broadening soft and hard skills, and paying attention to the things around me.
    Those who faired well in the Great Depression were able to adapt, had general skills to do many different tasks, did all kinds of different jobs to create cash/wealth, and were willing to work hard.
    Being more of a “generalist” than a specialist, can make things much simpler when economies go topsy turvy.

    1. Gather knowledge, that’s an idea I’ve embraced. I built a pretty good library on as many subjects as I could think of that would help if it all went to hell. Gardening and small scale farming, raising and caring for animals from chickens to horses and cows, how to train those animals. Blacksmithing and building, hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, medical from first aid to surgery.

      I made lists of tools and supplies for those skills and set about getting them so I/we would have them. A lot of those tools are the old school hand powered variety.

      While I’m an IT geek by school of hard knocks and a piece of paper, I’ve always worked with my hands and enjoyed doing my own repairs and building projects. I’ve worked a number of jobs that had nothing to do with IT but they taught me another skill.

      If it all goes sideways we’ll gather at the farm. We can raise our own food, we can help the neighbors with their ranches and animals. We know how to hunt and to process our game. We know how to store food whether that ís drying, dehydrating or canning. We know how to garden and raise animals.

      The library is there to fill in gaps, to provide research and educational materials as well as inspiration.

      We’ll concentrate on growing our own food, working the land and helping the neighbors. It may be hard work, but the land and the people are the key.

      I’ve done all I can to ensure that we have what we will need to survive.

  7. If anyone want some great free resources and often courses and real human help with finances, especially getting out of debt, I encourage you to check out “Christians Against Poverty” charity. They have branches in USA, Australia, UK, New Zealand, Canada and maybe others.
    I have no links to them (and I think their services are free anyway!) but I know people who have been helped by them.

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