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Coping with trouble: short term measures

As part of the Money Principle Ideas Generator competition I asked you, the reader, to share the three measures you will take immediately to ensure that you and yours survive serious economic trouble. As I said before, all responses were really fascinating. But the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the measures that we take should be divided into ones that have short term effects, middle range effects and long term effects. I also did quite a bit of thinking about what I’ll do and have come up with some measures that I think may work for us. Today will share the things I would do/have already done for the short term.

What many people reading this blog probably don’t realise is that I have already lived through an economic meltdown (and have already had my revolution). This happened at the beginning of the 1990s and was part of the transition of Bulgaria from socialist to capitalist economy. On the way, and because Bulgaria grows its own food and then some, the real hardship that cuts to the basis of existence lasted only one winter – but it was a winter most people try to forget. What no one who has lived through something like that can forget is the following:

When trouble strikes, you and yours need food to survive. Interestingly this is one of the things that disappear from the shops very quickly. Have you seen an entirely empty supermarket? I have – you go in and there is nothing inside apart from the bored and scared employees. This is why here I am with Pat – stock up on staples and some cans. John and I just re-stocked our store cupboard (see picture). But we have: 6 kg of rice (will get some more jasmine rice from the Chinese shop during the weekend, probably another 5 kg); about 10kg of pasta (different kinds); 12 kg bread flour (and need to get some more); 5 litres olive oil (and will get another 5 this weekend); 3 kg chickpeas; 36 packs of passata etc. The point is to keep some reserve.

Also, the point here is not to beat the price increases – this is not possible and we’ll have to cope in different ways. Having food in the house, however, gives you time to get over the initial panic, anger and helplessness and re-organise your life when trouble strikes.

When trouble strikes you need articles of basic hygiene. Don’t even ask; I never managed to figure out why but things like toilet paper, shampoo, soap and washing up liquid also disappear in time of serious economic upheaval. It probably won’t hurt to have some reserves of these. We have not done it yet but shall do soon. This is particularly important because one of my ‘protected wants’ is cleanliness!

This is about it for the short term – I am not sure about keeping cash, though. Usually, this kind of economic trouble goes hand in hand with hyper inflation. Hence, keeping any amount of cash may feel secure but it is pretty useless. In the early 1990s, money that would have furnished a medium size apartment was enough for couple of ice-creams within weeks.

I am not saying that a crisis of this severity will happen – I hope for the sake of all of us and of our children that it won’t. But this time I am going to be prepared!

2 thoughts on “Coping with trouble: short term measures”

  1. I agree with all of your measures but would like to add to what I wrote before.

    Firstly, the food storage is not just for the economic doomsday scenario. Other scenarios exist where a well stocked store is a great help

    It is also for the ‘bad weather’ scenario. Over the last two winters, the weather has kept me housebound for several weeks. Being a little dodgy on my legs means I have to think twice about skating around on ice. We live fairly high up but the only way out of our road is up! Even with a 4 x 4, it was not easy.

    I always keep enough food – not freezer or fridge dependent – for three weeks meals. We would be bored but we would not be hungry.

    The next possibility is the cutting of international communications. As someone who never had a banana till she was five, I’m telling you it can happen. This will push up prices and eventually cause shortages. Our imports are increasing, year on year – https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110704/text/110704w0001.htm – and show no sign of decreasing. That leaves a serious vulnerability in our supply chain.

    In the short term, money saving is of value. I buy when things are on special offer and, providing I only buy what we will eat, can cut my bills for those products by at least a third. That’s money in my pocket.

    Secondly, having cash available. I agree that a meltdown is almost certain to cause hyper inflation . . . but –

    The first day the ATMs are empty is the day to stock up on needed supplies.

    Shops, like my local butcher and Farm Shop will probably prefer cash to card and so I may well get a better deal. They already know me so that will help as it did in the Second World War.

    I’m finding this series of posts very helpful in re-assessing my own strategies. Times change, a fresh look is needed every so often and this is a good time to think and act.

    • @Pat: Thank for expanding on this one. Adding the weather in the picture is good – I would have not thought about it because we live in a large city, five minutes away from the centre of what we call ‘the village’. Cutting international communications – yep! Briatin is very import dependent for food and any such failure will mean defficiency, increasing prices and disappearing foods (bananas will be our least worry). And here is for the fresh look – I am thinking to start tackling saving and how to do it soon.


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