Bug Out Bag Contents: My Audit

bug out bag

A few weeks ago I audited my 2-week emergency food and water supply, and with the Frankenstorm known as Hurricane Sandy about to wreak havoc on the East Coast, I thought it would be a good to also audit my bug out bag. Though we live in the Midwest and are safe from hurricanes, we have been known to experience ice storms that can knock out electricity for weeks at a time. Being proactive means you don’t have to stand in line for hours and fight for supplies like the idiots in Manhattan. What is a bug out bag? Basically it is a backpack full of essential items that you keep at the ready, either in your house or in your car, in case you need to quickly leave your home behind. For the record, I am not one of those weirdos who believes the Mayans predicted the end of the earth in 2012. I just believe that our electricity grid is very outdated and vulnerable, and with most towns and cities having only a 3 day supply of food (thanks to our “just in time” food delivery network), any long term emergency situation would quickly devolve into panic and … Read more

AT&T Upgrade Fee Is a Poke in the Eye

at&t upgrade fee wiaved

I recently had to buy a new phone after my 3 year old iPhone 3GS became unusable. AT&T Wireless, as usual, stuck me with an upgrade fee – this time it went from an annoying and distasteful $18 to a ridiculous $36. Like usual, I called and asked that it be waived. The lady told me it was not even possible in her computer system to do so. A few minutes later she told me her job would be in jeopardy if she waived it. I asked her, “so lying to your customers doesn’t put your job in jeopardy? You just told me you weren’t even able to do it.” Caught in a lie, she muttered something about if she did it, a manager would see and she’d get in trouble, but if I’d like, she could let me talk to a supervisor. She also said she could give me a $25 credit right now. Rather than take this any further and risk a fist-sized hole in my drywall, I took my $25 credit. Please pardon my rant, but AT&T Wireless must not think I’m a valued customer when they stick me with an “upgrade” fee for the privilege of … Read more

Auditing Your Emergency Food Stash

Food Insurance

Let’s talk about your emergency food stash. You do have an emergency food supply for your home, right? I’m not talking about hoarding buckets of grain in your basement in anticipation of the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse. I’m just talking about taking that extra step to have a 2-week supply of food and water for everyone in your house (pets included). When I wrote about this earlier in the year, I referred to it as Food Insurance. That’s just another way of thinking about it: as an insurance policy for your family. Being prepared for a 2-week period without electricity is not the behavior of a survivalist, conspiracy theorist or wacko. It is simply a smart thing to do. Anyone who tells you otherwise is an idiot. A few years ago in Illinois we had ice storms that knocked out power in some parts of the state for two weeks or more. This scenario is not far-fetched fiction; it has happened before and it can happen again. When the power is out, there are no grocery stores, no gas stations, and no ATMs. Even worse, if it is winter, there may be no way to safely drive your car for supplies … Read more

Greetings from Croatia

Greetings from Croatia. My wife and I are having a wonderful and relaxing time. We spent a few days visiting with my family and swimming in the sea. The Smart Car we rented had a problem with the transmission, so my dream of zipping around in a little go-kart of a car were dashed. We had to trade it for a slightly larger Hyundai Getz. This is my first time really driving a foreign car for an extended period of time. The roads here in Croatia are excellent. Driving here is easier than in United States. My cousin tells me that Croatians think their roads are not great, but even the tiny bike-path sized roads between tiny villages are paved and without potholes. This is not the case when I drive at home to visit my parents and in-laws in a similar rural area. Croatia (especially Istria), is about food. We have been stuffed full of homemade cheese, wine and meat like prsut (proscuitto), and cevapcici, a beef and pork mixed meat. Everyone tells me I look too thin, and I suspect I will put on a few pounds by the time I return. Here are a few more pictures … Read more

The Best Investment for 2012 is YOU

A lot of people are wondering what the best investment will be for 2012. If you are afraid of uncertainty and want a guaranteed return, then the best investment you can make is investing in yourself. I’m no economic expert, but with what is going on in Europe with the Euro crisis, and our own unsustainable levels of debt in the United States, I cannot envision a scenario where 2012 is a good year to invest in equities. We are not going to suddenly find a way to pay off our national debt. We will likely see the US dollar become stronger, which will weaken our export markets, leading to deflation and the devaluation of our currency. So what do I mean by investing in ourselves? The easiest way to do this is paying off your debt. If you have $20,000 in credit card debt at 10% interest, paying off that is a guaranteed to earn you 10%. It is highly unlikely that you could put that money somewhere else that will earn you more than that. This is because debt is like a negative investment. It makes no sense to be piddling your money into an IRA earning 5% … Read more