“If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”
– Doctrine and Covenants 38:30
Ya, you've heard it before: “Be Prepared.” It's a normal thing to be told, and yet it's amazing how often it's scoffed off as “oh, I can do that later.”
We are preparing constantly: we go to school to be able to work, we learn our parts for the local play, we practice the piano for our concert...
Could you imagine someone who had never plucked a note on the piano, desiring to do so and just believing they could walk up and instantly play a complicated piece?
Yet that is how many seem to see preparation: Unneeded and "not right now."
Now is all we have, because, hey, when disaster befalls us, do we still have time to prepare? ... Some time? ... Any time? ...
No time. None.
"For once the time to act has come, the time to prepare has passed."
Sorry, that's just how it is. Why? Ever seen an empty grocery store? I have. It happened years ago where I use to live. The trucks stopped running, and within 24 hours the grocery store was completely empty. Bare. Nothing left. I think people started emptying the dumpsters at that time.
There was nothing left. No food. No toiletries. Nothing but some cooking things and other non-essentials.
You may protest, "But we can just hop in the car and drive to the nearest grocery store."
But you couldn't. The trucks stopped running for the gas stations. How far can you get on a tank of gas?
Either way, the blame isn't on the trucks. It's with you if you aren't prepared.
Most experts say to have a three month supply of food, water, and money. Some may say that's not needed, because the National Guard would come in and start distributing food and water and other supplies as needed.
True, though there may be exceptions. So let's look at it from a different perspective. I did mention you should have "money" on you prepare list. Why money? Because if you (or the person you rely on for earning the money) looses the job, you better have a bit of cash or savings, otherwise you'll be on the street.
And it's really sad to know that most people are about three weeks from being thrown on the street. Even many rich people are. Yes, they earn $500,000 to a million or more a year, and yet if they loose that high paying job, they can't pay their rent. They are saving nothing and living outside their means (more on that in a minute).
"Save money? You must be joking? Is that even allowed? I mean, aren't we suppose to spend it and live in the moment, enjoying life to the fullest? Won't the economy collapse?"
Hate to break it to you, but you can't live in the moment nor can you enjoy life to the fullest if you are starving on the street in the bitter cold, wondering how long you can survive. Not you. Not your children. Not your loved ones. Just doesn't work that way. The only one(s) collapsing will you and your loved ones.
So, what do we do? How do we save? Little by little. Don't think you have to suddenly do everything and have a warehouse of food and money by the end of the week. Resist that urge. It never helps and only will foil your happiness.
"…by small and simple things are great things brought to pass"
– Alma 37:6
Instead, may I suggest you put aside 20% of each paycheck and other money you earn into a safe place. This may be a savings account or a box buried under the house, or whenever you want. I'd just also suggest you also make this account or box hard to get to. Do not allow the account to be accessible from the internet. You may make it so it takes a day or two to withdrawal any money, while deposits are automatically made from your checking account into the savings account. If you do a box, you may make the box so theirs a shaft to easily deposit money into, but retrieving it will take lots of digging.
The will to succeed is important, but what's more important is the will to prepare.
– Bobby Knight
Easy to deposit yet hard to retrieve ensures you will at least rethink your desire to spend it a few times before it's in your hands.
And perhaps you could do both. A secret box is nice in the event you a falsely accused and all the money in your bank account(s) is taken by a court order. Yep, I've had that happen and you have to go through the courts and it takes a long time to get it back... while you starve, are unable to pay your bills, mortgage, rent, and gas, and otherwise have a hard time living your life.
If you're saying "That's not fair! They shouldn't be able to do that!"... Well, perhaps. But who ever said life was fair? Do you have super human abilities? Will you fight and complain and show how tough you are and how the world shouldn't mess with you?
If so, then remember that people like that tend to end up in a jail cell, or dying from heart disease. It's much better to relax, think calmly, and prepare so you might live.
Much easier. And cheaper too!
As for food, you can do the same: spend a little one extra non-perishable food each week, and over time it will start to accumulate. Just make sure you are getting food you actually will eat and use. Studies show that people, even when starving, will not eat or will eat very little food they don't like.
Some feel already overwhelmed by the thought of putting aside food and money when they already barely have enough. Let me make some suggestions:
Limit the amount you spend.
Limit your dating expenses (this applies to single as well as the married taking out their spouses). Go somewhere cheaper. Make the dinner. Go to a park (yes, I like parks). Get a dating idea book, and put it to good use.
Ladies, limit that amount you spend on that new dress and shoes. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, the guy will sense that and the date may go badly. Besides, if he's sincere he will want to get to know you for you, and are you really going to keep buying new dresses to keep up the appearance? Think of the relief you'll give him by having lots saved in the bank (which hopefully he will be able to add to).
If you have kids you may have to limit the number of things you can buy for them. Help them to understand that money and toys are not everything, and make it up to them by spending fun times with them. Go to the park, play games, teach them something new. Give them an empty box. It's amazing how many parents I have had tell me "That toy cost me $50, and did he didn't play with it! No, instead he turned the box over and started playing castle." You could also get some sheets, place them over chairs, and create your own indoor fortress.
If you have grandkids, same advice as above. Don't think that money and toys is what the kids want. Most of all they want your time and love. And your time can be increased by not worrying over money matters, by earning and saving.
Of course you don't want to limit everywhere. A cheap item that has poor quality may end up breaking. And a cheap motel can be scary if not a health hazard to stay in. Cheap insurance may end up costing more due to deductibles... you get the idea.
Expect the best. Prepare for the worst.
Speaking of insurance, some parents with grown children or some grown siblings may believe that it is okay for them not to be insured, whether medically, their home/rental place, or with their car. They may think it is unlikely that anything will happen. Perhaps they are in really good health or there aren't very many valuables in their house.
Maybe they're right. Maybe they don't have a lot to loose. They may falsely think that even if they get injured, in the "worse case" they can file bankruptcy and go on with their life.
Yet it doesn't work that way.
Nowadays bankruptcy can make it hard, even impossible, to get a good job, a car, or anything else that requires another person's trust. Why? Because he/she lost that trust when he/she didn't prepare for problems, and selfishly put them onto someone else's shoulders to bear.
And did he/she ever think to consider their family? Do they think that their parents, siblings, wife, or anyone else who loves them is most likely going to idly stand by and watch them die? No! Those that love them are going to be willing to sacrifice whatever they can to save the person that they love. Is it right to spend entire life savings, sell family businesses, sell family heirlooms (even a mother's wedding ring), all to help someone who did not prepare, and who probably instead spent that money on "passing pleasures" like fancy cars, tv, entertainment, video games, fancy dinners, overabundance of toys, and other extras?
You may protest, "Ya, but my kids want lots of toys and games and movies! If I don't give in it's a nightmare!" True. But could that just be like eating: the more you get use to eating, the more you have to eat. While it's good to eat enough, like it's good to play and have fun and go to movies; isn't there a point when it gets to be too much? A point when it becomes unhealthy and you start reacting to problems instead of standing your ground because you have a greater vision of what you want with your life and your family's life?
Maybe that's why it's good to spend time together as a family, such as dinner time, where we can talk and learn and discuss and otherwise become stronger as a whole unit.
Because let's face it: possessions and outside activities don't unite a family. That is the responsibility of the family unit.
Live within your means
And what about you who aren't married out there? Did I just give you a free pass to go and spend whatever you want. New computers, tvs, makeup, earrings, guns, furniture, decorations...
They say old habits die hard. Or not at all. The way you spend now will most likely be the way you will spend in a decade. Will you be earning more money? Hopefully. Will you be richer? Not if you aren't now.
"Huh? You're telling me that I'm going to be poor in the future because I'm poor now? I see lots of people who graduated and landed nice jobs who are driving sweet cars, living in great houses, and otherwise living the life!"
That's probably because you only see the surface. They probably have a mortgage on that house. And that car either is being paid off, or has a lease on it. Either way it's the same as you: stop paying the rent (mortgage), miss some payments on the car, and poof! All gone. Out on the street and/or back to walking.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
– Benjamin Franklin
Plus, money tends to be hard to hold onto for anyone. It has this ability to make us want to spend it on things we don't really need. They probably have closets full of things they don't need, that aren't even keepsakes. And they've probably donated many to thrift shops.
In short, your mentality of "spend spend spend" or "save save save" is likely to continue until you make a valiant effort to change it. No amount wishful thinking will do it.
I suggest you do it now. For what makes you so sure you will change it in the future?
Get out of debt
It is also a great time to get out of debt. Actually, anytime is always a good time to get out of debt. In the above example, paying off the car and the house as soon as possible would be smart, as long as other needful areas do not suffer.
“Live within your means. Get out of debt. Keep out of debt. Lay by for a rainy day which has always come and will come again. Practice and increase your habits of thrift, industry, economy, and frugality” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1937, p. 107).
Decide what you Really want
Think of what kind future you want. When you were little, what make you jump for joy? When you are by yourself, what things bring a smile to your face and make your heart leap? Perhaps some of these dreams/things cost money. Maybe lots of money. Decide if it's worth it, and be smart about it. Live within your means. And save whenever you can. Life is too short to live with avoidable money problems.
Go ahead and live in the moment. Venture out, yet be prepared. Keep an eye out ahead. It's a good way to avoid potential rocks hitting your life's “sailboat.”
I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my ship.
Notes and Resources