What are you doing to prepare for the economic collapse?

“Without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic, and a distressing scenario would unfold,” President Bush said last night. “Our entire economy is in danger.”

“Is this the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression?” CBS’ Harry Smith asked former President Bill Clinton this morning. “It could be,” Clinton responded.

OK, it’s bad. We know it’s bad when conservatives are racing to empty the U.S. Treasury, expand the role of government, and set us on a path for massive tax increases to pay for this mess.

Is the bailout the way to go? Does it matter in the big scheme of things? In the big scheme of things, we can pretty well figure a lot of us are going to lose our jobs, a chunk of our nest eggs, and any sense of financial security. We know that because economies don’t race to the edge of a cliff and then bounce back to the economic equivalent of the Era of Good Feeling.

The politicians are telling us it’s going to hurt if the bailout doesn’t pass. But common sense tells us it’s going to hurt even if it does. Face it, that’s the fear behind our anger.

But denial, fear, and anger are not a plan for hunkering down and preparing for tough times and — unlike the people of the Greatest Generation — ours is not a civilization that is all that keen on personal sacrifice. But here we are, needing to prepare for whatever is coming.

So how are you preparing… personally speaking? What are you cutting out or preparing to cut out.

Yesterday I cut my cellphone plan to $19.95 a month for 60 minutes of time, and called the newspaper to cancel it (they always offer you a half-price deal when you call to cancel). Still, somehow I don’t think that’s going to be enough.

How about you?

  • I’m suspending my campaign for cleaner-burning fuels and flying back to Washington to deal with the Energy Crisis. (snark)

    Actually, we have been living well within our means for some time. We have no personal debt, we keep our spending down and our savings up. It how we have always lived.

    We dropped cable teevee a couple years ago, which saved us a lot of money. Haven’t really missed it, either.

  • brian

    My wife and I don’t have cable. That is a good chunk of change we don’t have to pay every month.

    You have until March 31, 2009 to apply for a coupon for a DTV converter box.

    I also use the library a lot.

  • brian

    As a side benefit, I find I watch a lot less TV than I did when I had cable.

  • Alison

    Applying for more secure jobs.

  • Jim!!!

    No cable here either. I am worried about my 401k evaporating. I will be 50 shortly after the new president takes office. My kids could see the worry in my face last night, and they asked if we are going to be ok? I can just say “I hope so”.

  • Last spring we planted a “victory garden.” I also began cooking many more of our meals we eat from scratch and stopped going out to eat.

    Next spring I suspect the garden will be expanded.

  • Bob Collins

    //we have been living well within our means for some time.

    But what if the “means” change, which in a collapsing economy (if the economy does, in fact, collapse or just gets much worse), it may?

  • Jim!!!

    Still waiting for that stimulus check too. When we get it this whole thing should turn around, right?

  • WI Rugger

    What have we been doing? Other than what has been stated above-

    Fully stocked the freezer- could make it last a year if we had to.

    Completely stocked pantry-canned good/50# bag of rice, tons of beans, baking supplies. This is about 6 months of food.

    On top of that, I have been applying what I learned from both of my grandmothers (depression survivors). Canned a bunch of fruit over the summer. Made a couple kind of jam. Grandma Helen always kept some cold cash on hand- but I haven’t gone that far.

    My husband and I moved out of town and have about 1/3 of acre. He has gotten in to gardening. It is almost out of hand. I could hardly keep up with processing all the stuff.

    Only thing I wish we had was a generator plumbed into the propane tank.

    Here is Grandma Millie’s Doing Under (family recipe from the depression):

    2 eggs

    2 c flour (or there about)

    About 1 tbsp of sugar

    Dash of salt

    Enough milk to make the batter wet-but not as runny as pancakes. Think dumpling consistency.

    Fry in the bacon fat (or if you want oil, but bacon fat tasted better)

    Top with syrup.

  • bsimon

    Basically no change here. Our largest frivolous expenses are ordering takeout/pizza about 1.5 times per week & drinking good beer. I don’t think we’ll change those habits unless someone loses a job, in which case we’d also cancel daycare.

  • Bonnie

    So look out pizza joints and cable tv providers! Looks like you will be the first victims! I remember my mother talking about growing up during the depression earning a few nickels by cleaning “rich ladies” houses, so it will be interesting to see WHO ( besides pizza delivery boys ) will shoulder the heaviest burden. I’m going to start collecting coal down by the RR tracks and read some books on house cleaning. And now that the season of ” Weeds ” is over, I think I’ll cancel Showtime.

  • Heather

    Paying down some debt as fast as I can. Gardening a little with plans to do more next year. Wishing I knew how to can vegetables!

    Seriously, bsimon, daycare is EXPENSIVE. I guess that I can add to the list: stopping at ONE child.

  • Mark S. Jungmann

    I’ve cut everything I could years ago. There isn’t much wiggle room. Last year my mother gave me all of her canning jars and equipment. This weekend I plan to preserve my first batch of pickled beets. I took my property tax refund and paid off medical and unsecured debt and I am also considering taking a part time job to build up some savings. I am a creative person, I’ll get by. My grandmother is still alive, I think I’ll call her and ask how she and her family survived the depression.

    Mark S. Jungmann

    Minnesota Public Radio

    Member Benefits

  • Bob Moffitt

    “But what if the ‘means’ change, which in a collapsing economy (if the economy does, in fact, collapse or just gets much worse), it may?”

    That’s were the savings and staying out of debt comes in handy. We have always budgeted for being able to get by on a single income, even though we both work. We don’t have any kids or dependents (should I count the dog?).

    A couple years after we got married, I was laid off suddenly and unexpectedly. Within a week I had taken an evening job as a cook in a nearby restaurant while I looked for a new job. You do what you gotta do — Since then, I have become more better informed on unemployment benefits (I didn’t even apply the first time I lost my job).

    BTW, The job that eventually got me out of the chef’s hat was to be the editor of the Cottonwood County Citizen in Windom, MN

  • Joshua

    Buying Stocks! It is a fire-sale people. Get in now while the gettin’s good.

  • daveg

    Any money parked in CDs or whatever that is in excess of the FDIC insurance is being immediately applied to the principal of our mortgage. I can’t touch my 401k funds for that, so I took them out of mutual funds and stocks and put them into so-called Stable Bonds.

    They say that without the bailout, credit will be hard to get. When you consider that easy-to-get credit is arguably what caused this debacle in the first place, I find it to get too upset by that, and in fact see it as a kind of silver lining. It helps that I hardly use the stuff myself anyway.

    The ridiculous post 9/11 airline Security Dance and over-crowded highways have already turned us off on vacations, so there’s nothing left to cut there. I think my daughter had better resign herself to a local college and living at home, though.

  • brian

    While I think Joshua may be a little over zealous, I think it is prudent to continue making contributions to retirement accounts and mutual funds (as long as you can afford not to touch that money for a while and can save money in other places too). Taking everything out of the stock market now is a great way to loose money, unless society completely fails, in which case regular savings isn’t going to be worth much either. But that is off topic.

    This is a minor thing, but we never buy garbage bags. We use plastic grocery bags. Target bags work the best (at least for our size garbage can).

  • Michelle

    I can’t shake the feeling that we are being handed a bill of goods regarding the economy. A bill of stinking, worthless goods. While I’m not planning on divesting or taking all of my money out of the bank or making any other drastic changes, I am thinking about cutting out the little luxuries of life; fancy lattes and yarn for example (I’m an avid knitter and caffeine addict).

    Bush’s speech last night felt so familiar in tone–we must act now, this is an impending threat. YOU are at risk. It’s YOU that will suffer if you don’t let us do whatever we want. Sort of reminds me of the WMD “threat” that was cited before we invaded Iraq.

    I hope I’m not wrong, but I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re being lied to. And that’s the worst part of this. I have no idea who to trust. When this much money is involved, I don’t really think we can trust what anyone is telling us.

  • Linda C.

    I will retire May 2009, and now do not plan to take the entire summer off – my first one off since age 15. But, am lucky to be retiring – unless something changesx. My husband and I both know how to economize and have discussed what to do. Payed off mortgage in Sept. 2006 by doubling up payments – which is a real blessing, paticularly now. Have a large garden, dehydrate tomatoes and other vegetables for winter use, make jams and marmalade. Have enjoyed buying inexpensive wines (under $10.00) to try – will cut back, stop that. We take things to Goodwill – and buy from Goodwill. Will look into barter and re-use more.

    Have to agree with Michelle’s comment (9/25 12:58 pm) – who do we trust now? Those who were supposed to be safeguarding the nation’s finances did not. Heard interview with former Minnesota Governor Al Quie the other day. Asked about the reason(s) for the financial crisis now, his response was “greed, followed by poor decision making”. Greed seems to factor in to many current problems on local and national scene. Warren Buffett has warned of executive over-compensation for a long time. I would hope that national leaders are getting the message now that people are angry and upset about this, and golden parachutes – when so many of us struggle.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Wow, your commenters make me feel like a real piker. Me? I’m just trying to borrow more money while it still buys something, so I can pay it back later when it’s not worth so much.

  • Daveg

    “Greed” may be an explanation, but it by no means an excuse.

    Greed is a human condition. Governments exist for the sole reason of creating order out of the inherent greed of individuals.

    Our government failed to perform its function of protecting the public trust from that greed, and in this case, I fully believe succumbed to that greed itself.

    And not solely in the form of one Senator Dodd, although he certainly comes to mind every time I think of a definitive example of the wolf guarding the henhouse.

    I would also offer a tidbit of advice to Barney Frank: it would be to refresh your memory as to some of the policies you rather forcefully advocated five years ago. These are now available for easy review by anyone that can operate a web browser, so you should have no expectation that these words won’t eventually be thrown at you. Be ready for that.

    But the best advice is to make absolutely sure that you stay out in front of any serious investigations or commissions looking into the actual causes. Follow the model of Jamie Gorelick, or, if you can get the new president (and #2 recipient of Freddie/Fanny dollars) to let you, Chair it.

  • Sara

    I’m reconsidering the bathroom remodel we planned this winter. It won’t kill me to live with an ugly bathroom with 60’s plastic tiles.

    I am going to insulate my attic more in a few weeks though.

    I drive less. I am becoming closer friends to those that live within a few miles and we talk to our neighbors more- we can just walk across the street to chat!

  • b2

    Negotiated back-up job in case current one fails. Walking 3-5 miles a day. Drive once a week on errand round. Cook Asian meals – large rice/vegetables, small meat. Never had cable TV. No land line. No entertainment budget (except Netlix). No eating out or ready made food. My art is digital so no waste, no cost after equipment was paid. For future? Laptop, iphone, no residence, just travel by bus and train to sleep, shoot photos and repeat. Post-Cyberpunk Nomadism.

  • Frank Martin

    Enough ???

    Trust no one ??

    Faith in Neighbors and dry ammunition…..

    only you can prevent forest fires!

  • Kim

    We have started gardening, making our laundry soap, cooking home cooked meals, begin buying extra non perishable.

    The Lord shared with me “We have some very difficult times coming up to prepare for” Preparation is Demonstration!

    Me & 9 other people are preparing for a unique fast; which the Lord shared with me… During the months that do not have an “r” in them we will be doing the Daniel Fast found in the old testament. Eatig no meats, sugar, no flour. & a few other guidlines. This fast is going to be an awesome learning experiece. We will also be praying for revival to fall up the world.

    May- Salvation

    June- Healing



    Each month we will be praying for specifics….

    God Bless you… We will be praying for you and yours during these hard times….

    Your Friend, in Christ Jesus

  • Kim

    We have begin, gardening, Making our Laundry soap, cooking home cooked meals; and buying extra non-perishable items to store up for atleast a 30 day period Black out!

    The Lord has shared with me: To prepare for the upcoming hard times!


    This is not to cause a panic attack, but to make people aware they need to prepare for the near futute.

    Here it is: Whether you belive it or not we are in the Last Days! The Lord shared with me a year ago to start putting a little food back each time you go shopping & other items we will need; such as camping stuff..

    Last month The Lord put on my heat to begin preparing for a unique fast… Similar to the Daniel fast found in the old Testament, with a few acceptions. There are 9 of us doing this fast. Everyday at 3pm – 3pm we will be fasting water and it alters with the Daniel fast. We will be eating mostly vegestables, beans, tuna, salmon, & fish, no sweets, fried foods, no games, no tv, no computer, to any extreme…. This is about structure & discipline.

    We will be praying & reading our bible for the first hour of each day. Giving God our first & best.

    This will be for 4 months (the months without an “r”)





    May God Bless You

    Your Friend, in Christ Jesus

  • c low

    I shredded all my credit cards. Closed all my bank accounts and

    Trying to save all I could.

    Lol trust me!! Money not in my house or banks.

    Well folks try to drive the smallest car u could find.

    Do not get into new debts.

  • Grim

    I installed a safe and have been buying silver coins. When the dollar goes the way of the Reichsmark the pre 1964 coins will probably become the only usable currency.

    I am learning to grow and preserve food.

    I am collecting solar cells and panels in hopes of maintaining some refrigeration if the power grid becomes undependable.

  • Kazoo

    We have been preparing for one income for about four years now buy selling a house in the city and buying one with 8 times the land for almost half price,

    We then put in a fruit orchard and chicken coops.

    Got a beehive (should get the bees this year or next)

    Paid off all debt except for the house.

    We are now on one income and have no daycare or the effects of running a second car.

    We have a 1/2 acre garden this year and will be canning and preserving stuff to hopefully build up a 1 year supply eventually. Mostly working on knowledge right now.

    We are working on saving up to have a well drilled. This will cost about $1800 dollars.

    We have oil lamps and extra oil on hand.

    And we have about 2 years of wood to burn on hand.

    I figure I would rather look like a fool now then later. If these things don’t happen at least we are prepared for no income if we loose the one we have.