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!
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.