Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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How to Survive a Recession or Depression

A discussion about the college debt bubble led to a question about how to survive economic downturns.

Things that are useful in any recession or depression:

* "Eat it all, use it up, wear it out. Make it do, or do without."
Brought to you by the folks who survived the Great Depression.

** Reduce food waste. Eat all the scraps. Use everything but the squeal.

** Reduce, reuse, recycle, restore. Upcycle things too.

** Use everything to destruction. Good clothes become home clothes become grubbies become rags. Learn how to make and use rags.

** Set a budget and practice frugality. Ditch unnecessary expenses. If you have money, you need to stretch it as far as possible. Make sure you have some cash in a secure place, or better yet, several places. You never know when the fancier things like banks or credit cards will crash, but cash is more reliable.

* Learn skills for survival and independence. Everything you can do for yourself, you don't have to pay someone else to do. The more skills you have, the more likely you can find a job doing something.

** The more first aid you know, the better, because then you rely less on expensive experts who may not be available in a disaster. If you already know the basics, study wilderness first aid for occasions when help is not readily available.

** Know how to grow your own food. Organic gardening is better than conventional in case you can't get agrochemicals. You're never going to have a shortage of shit. Make sure you can preserve and store food.

** Learn how to forage for food and supplies such as firewood. Know the edible plants in your locale. Memorize the universal edibility test. Dumpster diving and other scrounging methods can yield not only usable objects but also food if you are desperate. These can stretch your supply, or replace it if the conventional supply breaks down for a long time.

** Be able to find and purify water. Know how to store it too. It is to your advantage to have things like rain barrels before you need them.

** Know how to make and maintain shelter. This includes everything from survival shelters to home repairs.

** Be able to make, alter, and repair clothing. Learn to sew, crochet (like this sweater), and/or knit.

** Know how to entertain yourself and others. This is an actualization need rather than a survival need, but it is still a need because humans require stimulation. If you make your own, you don't have to pay for it; if you entertain others, they may share their resources or protection with you. Among the best options are singing, dancing, and playing a musical instrument -- all cultures do these things. You want an instrument that is cheap to buy or easy to make, simple to learn, and portable. If you can sing while playing it, that's another advantage. Folk instruments and family ones often fit the bill. Memorize some games that can be played with common materials or none at all.

* Learn skills for cooperation and civilization. Understand that all the stuff you learned in previous steps will be useful in working with others, to the extent that you have or know things which they do not.

** Practice emotional first aid to keep yourself and others calm in stressful times. These skills are rare in modern America, highly needed in a crisis, and thus especially precious.

** Know how to negotiate, mediate, and barter. These skills reduce conflict and improve access to resources.

** Know how to make friends, influence people, and cooperate in a team. Consider the spectrum of influence, persuasion, manipulation, and coercion. Cooperation outperforms competition.

** Understand how to be a good roommate and make sharehouse agreements. Sharing space conserves resources and improves mutual support. Spreading out, learn intentional neighboring too.

** Be prepared for verbal and physical self-defense. The scarcer resources get, the more people fight over them. You don't want to fight, it's too risky, so save it as a last resort. Use de-escalation skills to avoid that. Understand dominance theory: most fights are about who is in charge.

** Understand participatory decision-making and use it whenever possible. While fractious during the discussion period, this greatly reduces conflict after decisions have been made.
Tags: economics, how to, safety
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