SHTF – What To Do NOW To Be Ready

SHTF - What To Do Now to Be Ready

History shows the culmination of any civilization or empire is a period of excesses, overindulgence, and reckless extravagance. That describes the current zeitgeist to a tee, while the effects and consequences of those behaviors are starting to play out already, particularly in Western societies.

History also teaches that moments like these require temperance, self-discipline, moderation, and conservation, as a way to keep balance and sanity amidst the misleading distractions and alluring euphoria, but above all, to prepare for what comes next.

I may preach to the choir, but the M4S audience is varied and vast, so it’s worth sharing some strategies and mindsets adopted by populations from chronically dysfunctional countries (such as the one I live in, for instance), used to recurring crises and instability. 

Now It’s Time To…Stay Near Home.

By home, I mean familiar grounds and resources (preparations included). That doesn’t mean hunkering down and never leaving home again. Objectively, things are still relatively normal in most places. However, with global threats and local risks ramping up, avoiding far-away or prolonged adventures as much as possible (or practical) may be a sensible strategy. 

For some, though, that may present enormous challenges or be impossible, as work, family, or other commitments may require constant traveling. If that’s the case, more detailed planning with emergency alternatives, multiple caches, and other preparations can help achieve a similar effect.

When it comes to vacationing, opting for domestic traveling and local attractions, among other less complex alternatives, also presents some economic advantages, which leads us to the next topic.

Hold a yard sale to help declutter your home

… Declutter, Simplify, and Live Frugally

Living below our means hits the trifecta of conserving energy, gaining confidence and agility, and building reserves. It’s a way to avoid getting caught in the vortex of overindulgence and depravity, to stockpile money and other resources, and a practice for the austere times that almost certainly lay ahead. 

As mentioned, conditions are still relatively favorable, so it’s time to double efforts to lighten up. Sell unused items, get rid of high-consuming appliances and habits, clean up and organize the house to open space for stuff you may need to stockpile, and so on.

… Weigh Decisions More Solemnly

Mistakes and bad decisions impact differently during times of abundance and stability and periods of scarcity and volatility, such as the one we’re going through. 

Clearly, from now on, the consequences of financial botches, consumption mistakes, social or political misconducts, and medical decisions will have another dimension and likely be much harder (or even impossible) to revert or recover from. 

Please note this is not a call for absolute conservatism. The structures and arrangements of the system are changing profoundly and quickly, yes, but that also presents ample opportunities. Stay alert, remain well informed, bide your time, and take action in one direction when the situation presents itself. 

… Stay Out of Debt.

Those thinking debt is bad now shouldn’t wait to see how it weighs when the crunch comes. Being in debt means having no credit; we get stuck and paralyzed when liquidity dries up. Without money or credit, there isn’t much one can do. 

The era of zero interest, a.k.a. free money, is ending fast. It will be much harder (i.e., more expensive or even impossible) to get loans and extensions shortly for individuals and businesses. Based on numerous crises experienced here in Brazil in the past, I expect a wave of defaults and bankruptcies even if central banks intervene. 

Debt will become even more toxic, burdening individuals, families, and businesses. That’s why it’s important to lighten up and build reserves as much as possible while conditions remain relatively favorable. Work more and harder than ever to keep your job and your clients, contacts, skills, and income for as long as possible. That will make a difference one day. 

… Lay Low and Be Discreet

Keeping a more neutral stance and a lower profile, particularly about highly controversial or divisive topics and issues, can be a survival strategy. That’s always true, but more so in the present (and with future considerations). 

Something seemingly harmless today might cost relationships, a job, a contract, a credit approval, an education slot, or even freedom in the future. Everything that’s said, written, meme’d, posted, and liked now is recorded or printed and kept in a server for eternity. 

Stuff like CBDCs, social credit scores, and total surveillance are already a reality everywhere. Don’t think this can’t affect you or happen where you live. There’s a time to fight, and there’s a time to be cautious and observant. Whatever your choice, just be conscious of potential consequences, some of which may not be evident right now. 

Practice doing chores manually

… Harden Up

Modern society is soft and condescending. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy comforts and conveniences at our disposal with moderation, but abundance isn’t endless. Becoming addicted and dependent brings adverse effects and makes coping hard when conditions change.

However, staying without the internet or social media is nothing compared to what happens during a prolonged or deep crisis. Blackouts, strikes, shortages, rationings, and other disruptions become routine, as too many already live outside the bubble. 

To prepare some for that, seek discomfort and try to live without conveniences occasionally. Go camping, venture into the wilderness. Take walks in the heat and cold. Do manual chores. Turn off your home’s power, internet, heating (or cooling), and water, and sleep on the ground. These exercises can even be a fun challenge for the entire family.

Stay Sane.

Ignoring the clown show and focusing on meaningful, productive, and rewarding activities is how to remain balanced and sane (and away from harm). It’s another survival strategy for the current times. 

Try meditation, journaling, and reading fine books to build mental health and psychological fortitude. Focus on constant improvement. Having a good time with friends and relatives, participating in your community, and doing voluntary or charity work also helps. 

Fortify Your Home

Thirdworldization brings out the worst in people; that’s how it is. The trust-based social contract so common in first-world nations is unraveling, and the sooner people realize this and the consequences, the better for them. Where I live, you can’t leave your windows open, doors unlocked (home or car), or any stuff unattended even for a second, no matter where you are. 

And that’s just the beginning. I’ve already discussed here how things will get worse. As Thirdworldization advances and things decay, safe cities, districts, and neighborhoods will become unsafe. The ones that are unsafe now will become more like hell on Earth. If you’re considering a move, do it asap. Invest in ways to make your property safer, more secure, and more discreet. That also applies to other things, such as our virtual life, to protect against cybercrime

Criminals aren’t the only threat we should be wary of, though. Keep your home well-maintained and in good order to avoid domestic accidents, fires, failures, and other problems. Check the roof, gutters, and drainage system every year, cleaning them regularly. This will help you avoid major repairs and save money in the long run. 

Build Health

Caring for physical and mental health is the best “investment” anyone can make at any time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little or a lot; what matters is working to improve constantly and being healthier, fitter, more flexible, and stronger today than we were yesterday. 

Build muscle. Improve cardio. Increase flexibility and equilibrium. Drop fat (however, sticking to the theme of avoiding excesses without trying to get ripped. Keep something in reserve because we never know). 

… Learn Skills

Necessity is the mother of self-reinvention. Having a few essential skills – even on a basic level – means resiliency and flexibility to deal with some of our needs regarding maintenance, cooking, gardening, mobility, and safety concerns. I’d add “financial education” to the list, as it’s even more important during a downturn.

Many skills can be monetized or bartered, too. The list is long. Check out this article I wrote for a few ideas. These things tend to gain importance during crises.

Finally, It’s Time to Disconnect and Enjoy Family, Friends, and the World

Suffering in advance is a recipe for anxiety, stress, disease, and despair. It’s poison. Signs point to a crisis, but no one knows for sure what, when or how bad it will be, so it’s pointless to worry. Besides, most will survive, and some will even thrive; that’s how it is every single time.

Get out more, and enjoy the outdoors. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant, much less expensive. Some of life’s best pleasures are cheap or even free: fresh air, nature, the sun, a good book, and a friendly chat. Spring has just begun in the northern hemisphere. Go out and enjoy it fully. By all means, prepare. But keep living life as best as possible. Whatever comes, comes. 

To conclude, I’d like to leave on a positive note by reminding everyone that while these may feel like troubled and volatile times, we’re also living through the most peaceful and prosperous era of humankind ever. The present and future may seem terrifying or exciting, depending on how we look at things (and prepare). 

Either way, there’s no denying it’s a historic and interesting period to be alive. Let’s keep doing our best.

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Fabian Ommar

Fabian Ommar is a middle-class worker from Brazil devoted to self-reliance, outdoor activities, and life in big cities. He’s been writing about Thirdworldization, or the slow-burning SHTF typical of less privileged places, since the 2008 financial crisis. His Street Survivalism e-book is a practical training guide for city dwellers looking to prepare for the harsh reality of the urban environment. It’s based on the lifestyle of real-life street survivors, the homeless. You can follow Fabian on Instagram at @stoicsurvivor.

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