STREET SMARTS
It’s a Good Time To Prepare for Bad Times

My buddy was depressed, seriously down in the dumps.

We were meeting for our every-few-weeks beer at a local Mexican joint. He’s an old friend who has worked in the newspaper and communications business his entire life. He’s also a serious practicing liberal. I like him anyway.

“Are you kidding me?” he asked incredulously, nearly knocking over the chips and salsa when I had the temerity to suggest that life here in the United States wasn’t going too badly under our current president. While I don’t agree with everything POTUS does or says, I’m reasonably happy with the direction of the country.

As you might imagine, my friend isn’t.

It was interesting to compare/contrast our positions as we discussed our relative happiness level during the last two presidential administrations. As expected, he truly believed in the policies of President Obama. While I think it would be interesting to have dinner with Mr. Obama and I would physically defend him as necessary, I pretty much disagreed with everything he did or believed. Thus, I was the one who was unhappy during the previous administration.

Such is life.

However, brushing aside the tiny, selfish inner voice that said, “Ha ha! Tough noogies, bud!” I was reminded of something we collectively might be forgetting: The good times never last.

It’s become apparent that I’m not the only one wearing a happy face at the moment, at least among those of a similar political outlook. Unfortunately all this good karma is causing interest in defensive firearms and preparedness to receive much less attention, as gun sales have gone flat and many trainers report lower student numbers. All this seems to confirm that “our” people aren’t quite so afraid and nervous anymore. That’s great.

Except that even those of us with clear eyes and a good sense of history succumb to the human tendency to forget that life runs in cycles, with peaks and valleys, highs and lows, boom and bust.

That’s why right now is the best time to focus on personal emergency preparedness. If you wait for the bust cycle, it’s not too late, but it’s much more difficult.

I liken this to the advice of stock guru Warren Buffett. His simple but profoundly successful investment advice is to do the opposite of the masses. When “they” are buying, sell. Likewise, when everyone is selling, it is time to buy. Those who want to be prepared for life’s darker times should be doing the same thing.

Is your job looking more stable and you’ve got a little extra cash thanks to the tax cut? Instead of getting that bigger television you’ve really wanted, maybe the money would be better spent on building up a reserve food supply or stockpiling a few more boxes of ammunition.

While I’ve always been a big proponent of maintaining a reserve stash of food, I’ve recently had a major shift in focus due to, of all things, the precious metal market. Gold and silver are currently selling at lower prices than in the past several years, making it tempting to move some of my cash assets into metal. But after reining in my brief but wild enthusiasm, I realized that having a pile of gold sovereigns is nice but they aren’t exactly nutritious.

In other words, our paper money might be essentially worthless during a major calamity, but on a practical level, so are precious metals. You might be able to trade gold for beans, but a smart person would have initially purchased food instead of bullion. The concept is the same for medical supplies, tools, and other necessities.

In light of metal prices, my new plan is to purchase a small additional stock of lower-priced U.S. silver dollars as a small hedge against currency failure. I chose silver because one-ounce coins are currently less than $20, making them much easier to trade for services and supplies. Conversely, it would be insane to use a beautiful $50 gold piece, even at the current bargain price of under $1,200 an ounce, to buy a bag of ice.

I do the same with ammunition. In fact, I consider my full crate of factory .300 Win Mag rounds a wonderful investment rather than a self-defense necessity. I got a great deal on the ammo and hang on to it despite not currently owning a rifle in the caliber. My thought is that the rounds have major trade value if things go seriously south—something I can’t say for even platinum bars.

I could continue ad nauseam with similar examples, but the gist of our discussion is simple: Right now is figurative summertime, and that’s when the smart ant should be preparing for winter.

That doesn’t mean we have to resort to a doom-and-gloom mentality. I say, “Let the good times roll” and enjoy them! But I’ve also found that having the necessary supplies on hand to weather a storm, be it a literal storm, unemployment, or a man-made crisis, makes life that much more relaxing.

So take some time today to buy an extra can of freeze-dried rumaki, sign up for another training class with your bonus check, or make sure you’ve got adequate medical supplies on hand for a short-to-medium-term societal crisis. Once you do that, it’s time to enjoy all the good stuff happening right now.

If only I could get my liberal buddy to do likewise.

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