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How To Survive Tough Times(Addendum-Getting Started)

We’ve covered a lot in this small series.

  • How to harvest wealth from natural resources
  • Create wealth through selling your skills or a product to others
  • Acquire wealth by finding value and reselling it
  • Invest in yourself, the consumables needed for living and for cash flow
  • Getting and keeping out of consumer debt
  • And protecting yourself from the thieves in our society

What I have presented to you are the very basic ways in which wealth can be generated and kept.  You will need to flesh out the details for yourself, depending upon your own circumstances and inclination/aptitudes/resources.

After reading over this series, I realized that is was pretty general.  All of the principles of wealth had been reduced to their very basics and maybe not enough meat had been provided.

Time for some actual specifics.

Where should you start?

First of all, if you have creditors breathing down your neck, you need to get a handle on it.  It will reduce your stress immensely and let you focus much better.

Secondly, if you have no income at all and nothing to fall back on, it is imperative that you get some kind of cash flow, no matter how little coming in.

There is work out there, no matter how menial or low-paying.  There are resources you can harvest and sell.  There are products you can make or acquire and sell.  Once you do, you will start feeling better about things.  Do it for your state of mind if not for anything else and move on from there.

Awhile back I posed a question in the forums about what would be the best marketable skill or trade to have if the economy was in shambles or in a post-htf scenario.

The answers I received were interesting and as varied as the people responding.  Every skill from all of them to medical to blacksmithing to food production to negotiation (which was very good-if you know how to negotiate, you can get just about anything you need if you can find someone to trade with).

So if times have gotten tough for you because you lost your job through downsizing or other reasons or happen to be just starting out, what might be some good skills to acquire.  A trade or skill which can be used in good times as well as bad and also provide you with a small measure of security.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit and came up with many good ones.  Health care,  repair skills, blacksmithing, etc. but at the most basic level you will still need to trade your work/products to someone else for actual survival wealth.  The things that keep us alive.  Food and protection from the elements.

Most of the time if your skill is in demand, it will be easy to do.  But what if it’s not?  You may be the best paid surgeon available with a garage full of drugs, but nobody to treat or the people who do need your services don’t have what you need.  Granted, not very likely, but still possible.

Personally, when times have gotten tough for us, we have always fallen back on food production (and to a lesser extent other natural resources) as a way to get back on our feet.  If we can’t sell it, we sure as heck can eat it or use it ourselves.  And food production/resource extraction doesn’t need much cash to get started.  All it takes are some basic tools, your time and energy and mother nature.

Now you may not get rich off of it, you may have some failures, but it can provide a  source of income until something else comes along or you are in a better position to follow the other methods of wealth generation we have discussed.

How did we actually do it the last time we had to ‘Survive Tough Times ?’

1.  Immediate Cash Generation

We needed cash and we needed it now!  Bill collectors were calling daily and even hourly.  It was so bad, I usually just unplugged the phone.  The wife was working, but it just wasn’t enough and we were falling behind on our basic living expenses.

I had applied for jobs at every place around and couldn’t seem to find anything, even a bad one.  I had run an ad as a handyman in the local paper and the work I got from it didn’t even pay for the ad.  It was the middle of winter, the roads were bad and firewood was hard to find anymore-the only truck I had was an old fulltime 4-wheel drive that used a ton of gas and had a top speed of 35 mph and I had to go at least 40 miles one way to cut any at all.

I had sat around on my butt and let things spiral out of control.  I was on edge, not sleeping and hard to get along with.  I was feeling depressed and worthless because my wife was supporting us.  I knew I needed to do something and do it now, but what???

Well, when I finally did decide I needed to take some sort of action, I felt a lot better and in a little more control.  I splurged and got myself a spiral notebook and decided to set some long-range goals for ourselves, even if I couldn’t see a way right now to get out of this mess we were in.

Here are the goals I actually set:

1.  I will find a job Today.  Any job.
2.  I will get these creditors off our backs
3.  I will build a financial foundation for ourselves by selling food we raise ourselves
4.  We will be completely out of debt within 2 years
5.  We will have an investment income of at least $2,000 per month within 5 years
6.  We will be completely self-sufficient within 10 years
7.  I will regain and maintain my health

Looking back, I probably should have set some growth/educational and family goals, but this is what I ended up with.

My reasoning behind the selling food was that if I couldn’t sell it, at least we wouldn’t starve.  And once the system was in place, if we ever needed to fall back upon it again, we could with a minimal amount of stress.  I knew I could also make a lot more if I was in a business of some sort myself.  But this takes time to develop and we were pretty much out of time.  I couldn’t haul wood very well and I didn’t have very many other tools needed to harvest any natural resources, nor was I sure what type to get at the time.  This left me getting a job or at least some kind of work for which others would pay me for.

But how?  and today?  I kind of got a little bit depressed again, but decided to see what I could do.  First thing I did was make up some resumes.  Printed off 50 copies on the computer, took a shower and got cleaned up and hit the streets determined to find something-anything today.

2.  Debt Control Plan

Well, I finally was at least working again.  My next goal was to get these bill collectors to stop calling.  I didn’t really care if they got their money or not at the time-I just wanted to shut them up.

Total debts included:


Now I did a little bit of research on it and sent them all certified letters as detailed in the debt portion of this series on how to stop them from calling you.  And you know what?  It worked and at least gave us a little piece of mind.

The next thing I did was to set up a detailed budget of our basic living expenses to see if there was any way we could afford to pay them anything.  I knew if we didn’t at least do that, we were headed for legal problems.

It turns out we could only afford to pay them $ per month and still be able to pay our basic bills.

Well, I bit the bullet and sent them all letters as detailed in the debt portion of this series trying to negotiate our payments.

3.  A Food Production Center For Survival and Income

My next goal was to develop a way to pay our bills by selling food we raised ourselves.  No idea at first on how to get started or even if we could, but the following is what eventually developed.

If you have a little bit of room, it is easy and relatively cheap to set up a small greenhouse on the southern side of your house.  Besides providing you with all of the vegetables you can eat year-round, it acts as a supplemental heat source in the Winter and provides fresh, live air in your living space.

Once it is built and you have it automated, it takes just a small amount of maintenance work daily to keep it going.  You will be able to provide for most of your families food needs in a safe manner and market the surplus in a variety of ways.

I recommend it to everyone as one of the very first steps taken in their quest for wealth. (and it is much easier to get it built and running when times are good and you don’t need it, than when your back is against the wall).

Our greenhouse measures ‘ x ‘ and is in production year round.  It is fully automated, powered by alternative energy sources and cost us $ to build. It is a complete aquaponic biosphere.  Which means we raise fish, vegetables, sprouts, chickens, rabbits and earthworms in a closed loop system.  On the outside we also raise fruit trees, berries and honeybees. We eat and preserve the produce and market our surplus which provides us with our financial foundation (the money to pay the bills and the free time needed to pursue other methods of wealth generation).

To build it we squared and dug a foundation around 18″ below frost line.  For the actual foundation we used something called superadobe.  Basically, we took feed bags (sandbags can also be used) and filled them with a wet sand mix which had emulsified asphalt added to it.  These were tied shut with bailing wire and layed and tamped into place in rows.  Two strands of barbed wire were layed between each row for stability and we built up half-walls all the way around (and a full wall on the West side).  These were then stuccoed for appearance, waterproofing and insulation purposes.   Total cost so far was $ for the emulisfied asphalt, some stucco sand and the stucco.   We already had the feed bags, bailing and barbed wire lying around and we used sand from our back ditch (though you can usually get what is called waste sand cheap form your gravel/sand yard).

Next came our 2 x 4 support frame.  These were just 2 x 4 walls and rafters spaced ” on center and secured to our foundation with lag bolts.  Half of the roof was covered with plywood and metal roofing for shade purposes and the rest remained clear. The frame was then painted with an oil-based paint for waterproofing purposes.

Clear polyvinyl sheeting was secured to the exterior of the frame and mil plastic was added to the inside for a double-insulating effect.  We have two windows and a door leading into the actual house itself for ventilation purposes.  Supplemental heat is provided by a small propane furnace and automatic, heat controlled louvres and a shade cloth provide a cooling effect.  Lights, a small sound system and pumps are powered by a solar panel/wind generator and battery setup.

The grow system itself is composed of an external water storage tank which feeds into a fiberglass tub measuring where we raise talapia and catfish and seaweed.  The water from the main storage tank is brought in from our well and a cistern where we trap water from our roof.  The water is then pumped 4 times a day into our grow tanks where the vegetables are raised.  Nutrients for the vegetables are supplied by the fish waste and occasionally with extra nutrients.  The grow tanks measure and were poured from concrete and filled with pea sized gravel. The water then travels to a catch tank, fully filtered and pumped back up into the fish tank.   It also travels to another closed loop sprouting stand.  The catch tank is drained completely once each week and feeds a small hot tub, which finally drains to a greywater system on the outside used to water a small orchard where we have fruit trees and berries/grapes.

We have a row of wire cages set on the South and West sides where we raise rabbits and chickens.  Each cage has a separate waterer running from the main water storage tank.  Droppings from the animals fall down to our earthworm beds.  The animals are fed spouts and produce from the greenhouse and the fish are fed the earthworms.  The female rabbits are kindled on a rotating basis and eggs are hatched in an incubator inside the greenhouse. Pest control inside the greenhouse consists of beneficial insects.  All varieties of vegetables are heirloom and we harvest and save the seeds from mature plants for future use.

Salad vegetables, sprouts and eggs are harvested daily for consumption.  Herbs are harvested and dried weekly or as needed for cooking.  Rabbits, chickens and fish are butchered every 3 months.  Fruits, berries and honey are harvested when in season.

Every Saturday in the Summer we sell fresh produce and spouts, herbs, eggs, meat, honey and other home-made products at the local farmers market in town.  Average income received is around $400 per month.

We sell fresh eggs weekly to our local feed store for $2.00 a dozen for a total income of $40 per month.

We sell fresh produce weekly to the health food store and a small grocer for a total income of $100 per month.

We sell fresh herbs to local restaurants weekly for a total income of $100 per month.

We sell freshly cut flowers to local florists and grocery stores for $200 per month.

We sell household plants to local nurseries and grocery chains for $100 per month.

We sell worm casings

We sell directly to the consumer through a web page.

Total income received is equal to $2,000 per month for 2 full days work a week plus around 1 hour in daily maintenance.

Total operating costs include:

Our monthly budget is detailed as follows:

House insurance
Car payment
Car insurance
Car maintenance
Household supplies
Debt repayment
Trash pickup
Landfill fee
Kids lunches
Cell phones
Dish Network
Internet service

Total Income
– Total Expenses

Everything else went into a savings account for emergencies and to pay yearly bills like property taxes.

What we had done by building this small greenhouse was to meet most our food needs, generate enough cash flow to meet our basic needs, control our debt load and free enough time to pursue other interests.

All in a total space of ‘ x ‘, with an initial cost of $, with a monthly maintenance cost of $ and with 40 hours of time invested per month, all over a period of around 1 year.

We were finally in the black!

Problems we had were

4.  Wealth Generation

The next thing we wanted to do was to completely pay off our debts.  Home, mortgage, vehicles-everything.  And for this we needed some extra cash coming in.

As we have discussed in this series, it is necessary to specialize and become knowledgeable in at least one area of wealth generation.

5.  Investment Income

We were finally completely out of debt.  Now we decided to generate some investment income on the side.  Money coming in whether we worked or not.

6.  Wealth Protection

Things were going good.  Now how could we protect this lifestyle we had built?

101 ways to earn extra income

101 ways to reduce your expenses



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