Category Archive: Employment

Do you have a backup generator or Social Security? Think about both.

The news headlines read, “Deadly 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake Plunges Puerto Rico into Darkness”; and “Powerful Puerto Rico Earthquake Knocks Out Entire Island’s Power.”

It was enough to prompt a friends mother to call, four times, to make sure he was OK.

There’s been a string of fairly strong earthquakes lately in Puerto Rico… which is incredibly unusual for this part of the world. It’s been more than a century since the island was rocked by anything of this magnitude.

But as he explained to his parents that the press had blown things out of proportion as usual. They were running video footage that made it seem as if the island had been blasted back into the Stone Age.

It’s true that there were some displaced families and property damage near the epicenter.

But most of the island was not substantially affected. None of the major news organizations bothered to show footage of busy shopping malls, crowded restaurants, and packed movie theaters teeming with consumers.

It’s also true that the electrical grid went down: the island was without power for some time. In his community, the power came back on after 2 days. Some people had it on after a day, some after 3 or 4 days.

But here’s what people don’t realize– the electricity problems in Puerto Rico have a lot less to do with the seismic activity, and a lot more to do with the island’s decade-long economic depression.

Puerto Rico’s economy has been in the dumps since at least 2006. The government is bankrupt and defaulted on many of its debts as far back as 2015. And Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is bankrupt as well, having defaulted on billions of dollars worth of bond obligations.

All of this financial insolvency means that neither the government nor PREPA has the resources to invest in the electrical grid.

And most of PREPA’s electrical production assets are in desperate need of replacement.

The largest power plant in Puerto Rico is the 820 MW Costa Sur facility, and according to PREPA, it was built in the 1950s!

This makes Costa Sur more than twice as old as the average power plant in the US.

They simply don’t have the money to modernize or upgrade their facilities. And people who live here understand this reality: the electrical grid in Puerto Rico is incredibly weak.

I’m serious. Power outages are commonplace here. The power at my house goes out at least 2-3 times a month, usually for a couple of hours.

That’s because every time a mouse farts on this island, something goes haywire at the electrical plants and the power goes out.

But again, Puerto Ricans know this. They have little confidence in their government, and even less confidence in the electrical grid.

So everyone who has the means in Puerto Rico owns a generator. It’s their Plan B. The power goes out, the generator comes on, and everything is OK.

My friends house is equipped with a huge generator… plus a backup cistern in case the water company goes down too.

This isn’t some wild conspiracy theory. In Puerto Rico, there’s nearly a 100% certainty that the system is going to fail… so having a backup generator is a perfectly sensible precaution to take.

And people who take this precaution are well-protected in the event that disaster strikes.

This way of thinking can obviously be applied to a lot of things… like retirement planning.

It’s no secret that government pension funds around the world are woefully underfunded.

University studies, non-profit research groups, mainstream financial press, and even government agencies themselves have reached the same conclusion: national, state, and local pension funds are trillions of dollars in the hole.

They simply do not have enough cash, nor will they have enough cash in the future, to pay the retirement benefits they owe.

Social Security in the United States is a great example.

Social Security’s Board of Trustees, which includes the United States Secretary of the Treasury, states quite plainly in their annual reports that Social Security’s primary trust funds will run out of money in 15 years.

Specifically, on page 5 of the 2019 Social Security Trustees Report, they state:

“Trust Fund asset reserves become depleted and unable to pay scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis in 2035.”

This isn’t some crazy conspiracy theory either. This is the US Treasury Secretary stating that in just 15 years, Social Security’s trust funds will be out of money and unable to pay the benefits that they’ve been promising people for decades.

This is just like Puerto Rico’s electrical issue: you know there’s nearly a 100% certainty that the program is going to run out of money.

I mean, seriously, the people in charge of program are telling you that it’s going to run out of money. It couldn’t be any more clear than that.

So it seems fairly sensible to have a backup generator for your retirement.

Everyone has a different situation– but there are plenty of options.

In the US, for example, tax deferred structures like a SEP IRA or Solo 401(k) can help you put away $50,000+ each year for your retirement in a really tax efficient way.

It’s even possible to use these structures combined with a side business like selling products on Amazon, renting out Airbnb units, etc. This means that you can channel income from your side business into your retirement account, helping you accumulate the savings you need to be comfortable in the future.

And, hey, even if Social Security is magically bailed out by benevolent space aliens, or some other crazy scenario, it’s not like you’ll be worse off having more retirement savings.

This is definitely worth considering and speaking to your tax adviser about.

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


via:  SovereignMan.com


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How Robert De Niro ended up with three passports—should think about another also?

Most people might be surprised to learn that Robert De Niro has more passports than he has Academy Awards.

Come to think of it… most people probably have more passports (one), than they have Academy Awards (zero).

But De Niro has two Oscars: the first for playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, and the second for his starring role in Raging Bull.

Yet he has three passports (that we know about).

De Niro was born in New York City, making him automatically a US citizen at birth because of the nationality laws in the United States.

Almost anyone born on US soil becomes a US citizen at birth; the only exception is children born to foreign diplomats who are in the United States on official business.

This law isn’t unique to the United States; nearly every country in the Americas, from Canada to Argentina, plus a few ‘random’ countries like Tanzania, grants citizenship to anyone born there.

So right from day one, De Niro was a US citizen.

But it turns out that De Niro has Italian ancestry as well. And Italy is one of a multitude of countries that grants citizenship to people who can prove their ancestry. (Others include Ireland, Poland, Germany, and a number of other countries in Europe.)

So De Niro was able to obtain an Italian passport back in 2006.

This is really valuable; a European second citizenship gives you the right to live, work, and do business in all 28 European Union countries– like France, Spain, Germany and Sweden. It’s a great Plan B.

Even if you don’t have European ancestors, Spain takes it a step further and allows citizens of former Spanish colonies (most of Latin America) to obtain Spanish citizenship after living in Spain for just two years as a legal resident.

De Niro’s third passport is from the Caribbean island nation of Antigua. Even more specifically, De Niro holds a Diplomatic Passport from Antigua with the title of ‘Special Envoy’.

And because of his diplomatic credentials, De Niro is entitled to a great deal of special privileges and amenities that even movie stars don’t normally receive.

Based on the 1969 United Nations Convention of Special Missions, special envoys like Robert De Niro are eligible to receive tons of travel benefits.

Diplomats always skip the line at airports. And under Article 26 of the convention agreement, it’s illegal for foreign customs officials to search a special envoy’s bags.

Then there’s diplomatic immunity; a special envoy “immunity from the criminal jurisdiction” of the foreign country where he is carrying out his duties. And his residence/office are protected as if they were the soil of a sovereign nation.

And if all that weren’t enough, the 1969 United Nations Convention on Special Missions even includes a host of tax benefits; special envoys are eligible for exemption of income tax, social security tax, and customs duties.

It’s a pretty great deal if you can get it. And apparently if you’re Robert De Niro, you can.

But Antigua is one of a handful of countries with an “economic citizenship” program, which awards citizenship to foreigners who invest a certain sum of money in the country.

For anywhere between $100,000 up to $1 million or more in some countries, you can obtain citizenship. But in most cases you’ll never see that money again, so it’s more of a ‘donation’ than a true ‘investment’.

For people who aren’t eligible for citizenship by ancestry, though, these economic citizenship programs are a fast and easy way to obtain another passport.

There are nearly 200 different countries in the world, so that’s a lot of options for a second passports and citizenship.

And obviously some are much more valuable than others.

My team created a global passport ranking, to systematically assess which passports are best.

We took into account criteria like how many countries a passport gives you visa free access to, and how much of the global GDP, population, and surface area it gives you access to.

15 of the top 20 ranked passports, for example, are from European nations. These all give you visa free entrance into at least 157 countries, which account for 77% of global GDP.

It makes sense why so many people want to obtain a second passport from a European country. Any second citizenship will give you another option for where to live and work– a major component of any solid Plan B.

And the nice thing about European countries is that it’s fairly straightforward to obtain citizenship through another means: legal residency.

Portugal, for example, has one of the lowest barriers to become a legal resident in the country. You have to demonstrate just €14,600 in savings or liquid investments. And after five years of residency you are eligible to apply for naturalization and obtain a passport from Portugal.

Belgium will grant residency if you start or move your business there. And like in Portugal you’ll become eligible to apply for a passport after five years.

Everyone’s situation is different. But there are many excellent options to obtain a European citizenship and a passport if you are lucky enough to have ancestors from Europe or are willing to invest time or money.

You can start with this free in-depth article my team just put together– The Three Ways To Obtain a European Citizenship & Excellent Second Passport.

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

via:  SovereignMan.com


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Free Homesteading, Cooking, Prepper, Survival eBooks & PDF’s for 08-15-18

Free Kindle Survival Homesteading Books

Free Homesteading, cooking, Survival, , and Prepping Kindle ebooks and PDF’s? Yes FREE Kindle ebooks and PDF’s!! Every now and then Amazon runs special offers on some of their Kindle ebooks and PDF’s, making them free for a limited time (usually just 24 hours).

I will check Amazon on regularly basis for their free Kindle ebooks in related subjects such as survival, homesteading and prepping etc. I will do all the leg-work for you so you don’t have to. You can just come back here regularly, so make sure to bookmark this blog.

These ebooks and PDF’s are only free for a limited time so if you are interested in one make sure you get it right away so you don’t lose out!

Remember you DON’T need a kindle to take advantage of these! There are FREE kindle apps for most major platforms!! iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac and Android. You can find those apps here!

Always check price before engaging, to make sure it hasn’t returned to full price.

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Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


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Free Homesteading, Cooking, Prepper, Survival eBooks & PDF for 06-13-18

Free Kindle Survival Homesteading Books

Free Homesteading, cooking, Survival, , and Prepping Kindle ebooks and PDF’s? Yes FREE Kindle ebooks and PDF’s!! Every now and then Amazon runs special offers on some of their Kindle ebooks and PDF’s, making them free for a limited time (usually just 24 hours).

I will check Amazon on regularly basis for their free Kindle ebooks in related subjects such as survival, homesteading and prepping etc. I will do all the leg-work for you so you don’t have to. You can just come back here regularly, so make sure to bookmark this blog.

These ebooks and PDF’s are only free for a limited time so if you are interested in one make sure you get it right away so you don’t lose out!

Remember you DON’T need a kindle to take advantage of these! There are FREE kindle apps for most major platforms!! iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac and Android. You can find those apps here!

Always check price before engaging, to make sure it hasn’t returned to full price.

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Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


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GE just signaled the next crisis and nobod’s paying attention

Earlier this month, General Electric took a $6.2 billion charge to its insurance unit for the fourth quarter. And the company said it will set aside another $15 billion over seven years to bolster reserves at GE Capital.

The charge had to do with long-term care policies (to pay for nursing homes and other late-life care) GE holds on its books.

So, one of the oldest and most highly-regarded companies in America just made a small, $21 billion miscalculation. Oops.

Keep in mind, GE’s entire market cap is only $140 billion.

The insurance charge, along with costs tied to the US tax plan, led GE to a $9.64 billion loss in the fourth quarter.

Then last week, GE announced the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was investigating the company’s accounting practices (specifically how the company books revenue from long-term service contracts on things like power-plant repairs and jet-engine maintenance).

But this isn’t GE’s first run in with the SEC…

The company’s accounting practices have long been considered a “black box.” The New York Times even published a story in 2009 comparing the company to Enron – the energy giant brought down by fraudulent accounting.

And is all started with GE’s legendary former CEO Jack Welch.

Welch would regularly beat Wall Street’s earnings estimates by a penny or two. And he was named manager of the century by Fortune Magazine for his ability to pump GE’s stock.

And while Welch is lauded for his “six sigma” management, it seems his real talent was using GE’s many divisions to move assets around and goose earnings to hit short-term numbers.

The creative accounting caught up with GE in 2009, when the company paid $50 million to settle SEC allegations it had used improper accounting methods to boost numbers in 2002 and 2003.

Among the strategies GE used to make its 2003 numbers was selling railroad cars to banks, with side deals and verbal promises to assure the banks they couldn’t lose money on the deal.

Enron used the same trick in 1999 when it “sold” Nigerian barges to Merrill Lynch, allowing the company to fake a $12 million profit.

Today GE is a $140 billion company (shares are down by nearly half over the past 12 month). The company has nearly $160 billion in debt. And in fiscal year 2016, the company lost $41 billion in cash.

GE’s financial performance makes my favorite whipping boy, Netflix, look like a piker.

GE got here, in part, because the government guaranteed all of the company’s debts until 2012 to help it survive the Great Financial Crisis.

Then the Fed lowered interest rates and printed trillions of dollars to goose the economy.

Instead of using this beneficial environment to repair its horrible balance sheet, GE spent some $50 billion buying back stock and paying dividends… and allowed Welch’s successor, Jeff Immelt, to walk away with $211 million (despite the company erasing $150 billion of market cap value during his tenure).

GE has gotten away with this behavior because we’re in the middle of one of the largest asset booms in history. The markets are at all-time highs. And nobody asks the tough questions when they’re making money.

It doesn’t take a giant pin to prick the bubble. It just takes something unexpected… Nobody ever knows what will set off the next crisis.

But in GE’s case, you can bet there isn’t just one cockroach.

Plus, interest rates are rising today (the 10-year Treasury is above 2.7%) and the Fed is taking away the quantitative easing punch bowl. What will happen to overly indebted companies like GE (who are likely covering up more huge losses) when the credit dries up and debt service gets way more expensive?

Mind you, GE already can’t afford its debt.

GE is just one example of a potential crisis in the making.

Maybe a bank sets off the next crisis…

I just read a Wall Street Journal piece about “drive by appraisals.” When the big institutional investors, like private equity giant Blackstone, started buying tens of thousands of individual homes, they needed a quick way to appraise the properties to get loans.

Blackstone and its lender, Deutsche Bank, settled on these drive by appraisals, where brokers give their price opinion of the property. These assessments, called broker price opinions (BPOs) were outlawed by congress after the crisis.

But the prohibition doesn’t apply to investors buying tens of thousands of homes (of course you don’t want to have an accurate asset value for collateral behind really big loans).

Sometimes brokers will even outsource the process to India, where companies will use Google Earth and real estate website to come up with home values.

BPOs have been used to value homes backing more than $20 billion of bonds sold by companies like Blackstone.

As Warren Buffett says, “you never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out.”

Just know, there are major losses – and likely fraud – hiding out there today. But it’s gone largely ignored because of the one-way market we’ve experienced since 2010.

GE and these drive by loans are just two examples. And the worst is yet to come.

 

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

 

via:  sovereignman


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Free Homesteading, Cooking, Prepper, Survival Kindle eBooks for 01-29-18

Free Kindle Survival Homesteading Books

Free Homesteading, cooking, Survival, , and Prepping Kindle ebooks? Yes FREE Kindle ebooks!! Every now and then Amazon runs special offers on some of their Kindle ebooks, making them free for a limited time (usually just 24 hours).

I will check Amazon on regularly basis for their free Kindle ebooks in related subjects such as survival, homesteading and prepping etc. I will do all the leg-work for you so you don’t have to. You can just come back here regularly, so make sure to bookmark this blog.

These ebooks are only free for a limited time so if you are interested in one make sure you get it right away so you don’t lose out!

Remember you DON’T need a kindle to take advantage of these! There are FREE kindle apps for most major platforms!! iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac and Android. You can find those apps here!

Always check price before engaging, to make sure it hasn’t returned to full price.

 

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Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


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Thousands Drop off Food Stamp Rolls in Georgia After State Implements Work Requirements

Thousands of people have dropped off the food stamp rolls in Georgia as a result of the state implementing work requirements for food stamp recipients.

More than half of the 11,779 people enrolled for food stamps in 21 counties, an estimated 7,251 people, have dropped out of the food stamp program—a drop of 62 percent, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Georgia first rolled out its work requirements for the food stamp program in three counties in January 2016. Since then, the state has expanded work requirements in an additional 21 counties, giving people in those 21 counties until April 1, 2017 to find a job or lose food stamp benefits.

Those who receive benefits must work at least 20 hours a week, be enrolled in state-approved job training, or volunteer for a state-approved non-profit or charity.

State officials say the plan is to extend the work requirements to all 159 counties in Georgia by 2019 and implement work requirements in 60 more counties, starting in 2018.

“The greater good is people being employed, being productive and contributing to the state,” said Bobby Cagle, director of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services.

Views on the work mandate are mixed in the state, with some seeing the requirement as a way to get more people into the workforce and less dependent on government handouts, while others say it is an unfair measure that targets the disabled who cannot hold down a job due to their impairments.

Brandon Hanick, who represents the progressive advocacy group Better Georgia, says people with mental health problems, limited education, and the physically disabled would have trouble trying to provide proof of their inability to meet the work requirements.

“It’s cruel,” Hanick said. “We’re talking about one of the most basic needs — the need for food.”

State Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia), on the other hand, says that the decrease in food stamp recipients means that the work requirements are helping people become less dependent on government handouts.

“This is about protecting taxpayer dollars from abuse, and taking people off the cycle of dependency,” Morris said. The big drop in numbers, he added, “shows how tax dollars are abused when it comes to entitlements.”

Over the past year, the number of able-bodied food stamp recipients without children in Georgia decreased from 111,000 to 89,500, a 19 percent decrease, the AJC reported.

According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics for FY 2017, 42,906,253 Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program—a 2.9 percent decrease from FY 2016, when 44,219,363 Americans received food stamps.

 

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

via: breitbart

 


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The Top 5 Reasons I “Prepare”

 

I was about to write something like this when friends at homesteaddreamer hit it right on the head.

This is the orginal post below, but stop over at homesteaddreamer for much more information on “Working toward a more self sufficient life”.

 

 


Picture by David Kent, © 2006

Hollywood has turned the word “prepper” into a laughable term that conjures up images of some whack job in a bunker with gas masks. The reality of it could not be further from the truth. As with anything, there are the extremists out there who take things over the top. The current fad is to capitalize on those types to entertain the masses (“Doomsday Preppers” anyone?). Anyone who knows me or has followed me for more than a month, already knows I am not anything like what is portrayed on television. The Mister and I consider it “self-regulated insurance.” Some are taken back when they hear me say I consider myself a morphed version of a homesteader and a prepper (most do not understand that they are one in the same for the most part). I generally just tell people that I am turning into my grandma (which is true) and they accept it as something more palatable, more ‘normal.’ For those rare people who are not put off by the word prepper or think I am crazy to think in these terms of being ready for some unforeseen event, I tell them my top 5 reasons the husband and I have gone over to this more self reliant lifestyle. They are given in order of importance;

1. Loss of job. Any one can lose their job at any time. Most people reading this (myself included) simply do not have the means to be able to put back 3 months of bills into a savings account. They live by the seat of their pants – paycheck to paycheck. Having supplies such as an extra 20# bag of rice (bought on sale!) or pack of toilet paper will make getting through a job loss easier in many ways. There is a comfort knowing that even if you do not have money coming in, you have some food set back that will not go bad anytime soon. You will still be able to feed your family and keep clean while you figure out the rest. I can personally attest to this – when I was finishing college I was not working and our budget was so tight that a vice grip would be jealous. I had the pantry filled with extras like rice, beans, flour, sugar, etc. and other staples. The freezer was pretty full because of a meat sale I was able to take advantage of and we made it through. All actual money we had went to rent and bills and we ate the stores I had set back. I learned some great new recipes, too!


2. Break in the Supply Chain. Living on an island means everything is shipped in by barge, ferry, or plane. We rely completely upon these ‘just in time’ systems for absolutely everything. Should some catastrophe happen in the ‘lower 48,’ our supplies here would surely be affected. A large earthquake or storm system could slow or even stop supplies moving across the country. The likelihood of supplies actually making it here when the places they are being shipped through also need the same supplies is small – maybe even non existent – until regular lines are restored. Any government aid would also be very slow in making it here, if at all. Should the supply chain become interrupted, people in Southeast Alaska would be on their own in more than one way.

3. Natural Disasters. Thankfully, the area I live in does not have many natural disasters, or even disaster threats. Wildfires and floods or mudslides simply do not happen often here. We have some good storms in Autumn and Spring with sustained winds over 5o MPH and gusts in the 80 MPH range. We are used to these and do not have to worry much about damage to homes or infrastructure. The natural disasters I worry most about would be earthquakes and the tsunamis that follow. We are surrounded by little islands on all sides that would break up some of the tsunami waves however, the initial ‘draining’ of the sea and then it rushing back in would cause significant damage by itself. We are a coastal fishing town – such an event could wipe out salmon stocks if the tsunami hit during spawning season. Fishing boats would be damaged and sink from banging around in the docks or from a rock on the sea floor as the waves rushed out, then back in. We may not see an actual tsunami hit the island I live on, but there would be a ripple effect felt across the region.

4. Economic Collapse. No two ways about it, our country is in trouble financially speaking. Anyone who knows anything of how economics works can see the truth of it. I have great concerns about how it will all shake out in the end and we are consciously working on getting ourselves completely out of debt. That being said, I put this lower on my list because there really is not much I can do about it other than what I already am. If there was indeed an economic collapse, many people think that they simply will not have to pay bills and that is just unrealistic. The rent man and bank will still want their money for the roof over your head and if you don’t have it, you may find yourself out in the cold. Having stuff set back to eat, drink, keep warm with, and keep hygiene up with help immensely as you will not have to buy these things and what funds you do have can be put toward keeping the roof over your head.


5. All the ‘Other Stuff’. Yup, I worry about EMPs or solar flares wiping out the grid. I worry about asteroids smacking the Earth. I worry about terrorists, dirty bombs, chemical warfare, etc. The fact is, ALL of these are possible but that does not mean I am sitting there hiding in my little cocoon waiting for it all to go down. I do what I can to prepare; having the supplies and SKILLS  to not only make it, but to also thrive afterward. The skills can actually be very fun to try out. For example; camping is a wonderful activity to help teach yourself and your family how to deal without running water, electricity, and wood heat. Do you know how to start a fire with damp wood? How about putting up a tarp that you can take down without leaving any rope in the trees? Can you identify edible plants in your area? All of these simple activities add up to a lot of powerful knowledge that can literally save you if needed but you learned them by ‘playing’ in the woods. It is all about perspective!

Here is a wonderful little interactive PDF you can use to help get started by breaking things down into manageable chunks. Not sure what scenario to use? I recommend people plan for a job loss first to get used to the form and then go from there. I hope this helps some of the nay-sayers see that being ‘prepared’ is a really smart idea (your grandparents called it ‘normal’) and not just for the whack jobs who are convinced that the whole world is only one event away from total annihilation.

 

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

 

Via: homesteaddreamer


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Going Under: Over One Million Lose Unemployment Benefits – Will Hit Five Million By End of 2014

Earlier this year government benefits for nutritional assistance were reduced after the expiration of emergency legislation that was enacted following the 2008 financial collapse. Nearly all of the 48 million people receiving food stamp distributions were affected. The move led to warnings from food pantries and recipients around the country who said that the $40 billion in cuts would leave many American families without the ability to put food on dinner tables across America. According to Feed America, the roughly $29 per family that would no longer appear on their EBT cards will amount to about 1.5 billion meals in 2014.

But that was just the beginning.

Because the government now claims that we are in a period of economic growth we will see more cuts to emergency assistance over the course of the next year.

And it starts today.

As of midnight Saturday some 1.3 million Americans who lost their jobs in the last two years and were left with no choice but to collect unemployment benefits due to the worst jobs market since the Great Depression have now seen their benefits expire.

Long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans expired Saturday after Congress failed to pass an extension. Reinstating those benefits is expected to be one of the first priorities for congressional Democrats in the new year.

“Extending unemployment insurance is the right thing to do for millions of Americans who are trying to support their families,” Democratic National Committee chairwoman and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement Saturday. “What makes matters worse, the loss of benefits comes just a few days after the holidays.”

CNN


This morning, the President placed separate telephone calls to Senator Jack Reed and Senator Dean Heller to offer his support for their proposal to extend emergency unemployment benefits for three months,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.

“The President said his administration would, as it has for several weeks now, push Congress to act promptly and in bipartisan fashion to address this urgent economic priority.”

Obama says the abrupt cut-off in cash assistance during the holidays will hurt economic growth and jobs.

Fox News

Here’s the kicker. By the end of 2014 the number of Americans who will lose access to long-term unemployment benefits will be five times higher:

 

By July, another 1.9 million people will get the boot from extended benefits. By the end of 2014, 1.6 million more will be kicked off, totaling about 5 million Americans.

Bloomberg

Five millions Americans will be losing access to what essentially amounts to their paycheck. And we’re not talking about a $29 cut to food stamps. We’re talking about a mortgage payment, a healthcare payment, and funds to pay for essential utilities.

All of it will be vaporized by the end of the year. This will affect not just those five million people, but their dependents as well, which amounts to at least an additional 5 – 10 million people.

Congress and the President propose to extend these benefits for another three months, and most would suggest that this will avert the emergency.

That notion is laughable.

What happens after we kick the can down the road for another three months? Will President Obama somehow magically create 1.3 million shovel-ready jobs?

The problem is that there are no meaningful jobs available. So you can extend these benefits for six months, or even two more years, and we’ll be right back where we started once they expire – perhaps even worse off as prices for everything from food to utilities to health care rise unabated.

When a DHS Insider warned recently of a crisis of unprecedented magnitude within the United States he noted that we are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse.

Given what is transpiring around us, can anyone honestly say that our economy is actually recovering?

President Obama claims that failing to extend the unemployment benefits for these 1.3 million people will hurt economic growth and jobs. He has just broadcast the severity of the situation we face.

It should be clear that without government intervention and backroom machinations the entire system will come unglued. Stocks would crash, millions would be starving in the streets, and the violence that the Department of Homeland Security and US military have been preparing for would take hold across the streets of America.

That may sound sensational, but consider that just one week ahead of the cut to food stamp benefits of $29 per family the Department of Homeland Security spent $80 million to beef up security in New York City with the expectation that those who lost their benefits would start rioting. They know that we are rapidly approaching a breaking point, otherwise why would they be preparing for it?

The government has no choice but to keep pumping out money and emergency assistance, whether that be to people who have lost their jobs or the banks that provide the lending. The second (literally) that they pull back on the monetary, financial and economic intervention we will see a catastrophe that few can imagine.

It’s coming.

If you’re paying attention you can’t go a day without seeing the signs.

The only question is: Are you prepared for when it happens?

 

 Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

 

Via: shtfplan


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How to Survive a Personal Economic Collapse

This guide has been contributed by Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper.

With all that is being written about the national economic collapse, people seem to be waiting for some huge event.

However, for many North Americans, the collapse is here. This isn’t relegated to only lower income neighborhoods.  As an article from a Cinncinnati new station stated, “Hunger doesn’t know a zipcode.”

For many people who were formerly financially comfortable, the economic collapse has already happened, in the form of a job loss, hours that have been cut back due to Obamacare requirements for employers, an exorbitant medical bill or other crushing debt, or simply an inflation rate that has outstripped your pay increases.  Despite all of the warnings, many people are still going to be absolutely blindsided.

For many families, personal finances have reached a catastrophic level – they are left to make terrible choices:

  • Which utility can I live without?
  • Should I walk away from my mortgage?
  • Should I eat something so I can work harder or should I skip meals so my kids have food?
  • Should I use the grocery money to take my child to the doctor or should I wait and hope he/she improves without medical intervention?
  • Do I risk the IRS-enforced penalties by forgoing enrollment in Obamacare or should I skip that whole grocery shopping thing so I can pay the monthly premiums and enormous deductibles in order to stay in the government’s good graces?

These are the kind of decisions that people across the nation are grappling with every day.

I’m talking about good people, hardworking men and women who have always been employed and paid their bills. A personal financial crisis does not just strike those stereotypical “welfare queens” with the long manicured nails, Gucci knock-off purse, and a grocery cart full of EBT-funded lobster.

I’m talking about the person next door, who seems to have it all together. I’m talking about that quiet family that sits two rows in front of you at church. I’m talking about that two-income family with two children and a car in the driveway that takes them to work and school 5 days a week. I’m talking about people just like you and me.

What is a personal economic collapse?

A personal economic collapse is a little different than the major crises you see all over Europe right now, where huge segments of the population can’t feed their children or stay employed. It is a crisis that just hits your family due to a given set of circumstances.  (In actuality North Americans are on the brink of the kind of collapse that is occurring in Europe, but because of easy access to credit and a buy-now, pay-later society, many of us still have the appearance of prosperity.)

Here are some signs that you may be in the midst of a personal economic collapse:

  • You can only afford to pay the minimum payment on most of your bills.
  • The same dollar amount you used to spend on groceries doesn’t buy enough food to feed your family for the week.
  • You can’t afford to go to the doctor when you’re sick.
  • You are taking dangerous steps to “stretch” needed medications because you can’t afford the prescriptions.
  • Your utility bills are past due and your power is in danger of being cut off.
  • You skip meals in order to save money or to have enough food for your kids.
  • You’ve lost your job or had your hours cut.
  • You have lost property due to foreclosure or repossession (such as your home or your vehicle).

Surviving the crisis

Times are tough but you can survive this.

1.) First you have to see exactly where you are.

It’s time for a brutally honest assessment of your finances.  If you use your debit card or credit card for most expenditures, you’ll easily be able to see what you’re spending and bringing in.

Print off your bank account statements for the past 2 months.  On a piece of paper, track where your money is going.  List the following

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Car payments
  • Vehicle operating expenses (fuel, repairs)
  • Insurances
  • Credit card and other debt payments
  • Telephone/Cell phone
  • Cable/Satellite
  • Internet
  • Extracurricular activities for the kids
  • Extracurricular activities for the adults
  • Dining out
  • Groceries
  • School expenses
  • Clothing
  • Recreational spending
  • Gifts
  • Miscellaneous (anything that doesn’t fall into the above categories gets it’s own category or goes here)

Don’t say to yourself, “Well, I usually don’t spend $400 on clothing so that isn’t realistic.”  If you spent it, then it’s realistic.  You are averaging together two months, which should account for those less common expenses.  Brutal honesty isn’t fun, but it’s vital for this exercise.

So….what do you see when you look at your piece of paper with your average monthly expenditures for the past two months?  Are there any surprises?  Did you actually realize how much you’ve been spending?   Most of us will immediately see places that we can trim the budget.  Those $1-$5 purchases can really add up.  Reining them in may just allow you to take care of an important need that you thought you could not meet.

It can’t continue like this.  The economy will not withstand it.  Step one is to see where you can cut things out right now from the above expenditures.  Can you reduce your grocery bill?  Slash meals out?  Budget more carefully for gift-giving and school clothes?

2.) Rethink necessities.

If your finances are out of control, the best possible reality check is a stark look at what necessities really are.  It is not necessary to life to have an iPhone, a vehicle in both stalls of your two-car garage, or for your children to all have separate bedrooms.  People in Southern and Eastern Europe right now will tell you, as they scramble for food, basic over the counter medications like aspirin, and shelter, that necessities are those things essential to life:

  • Water
  • Food (and the ability to cook it)
  • Medicine and medical supplies
  • Basic hygiene supplies
  • Shelter (including sanitation, lights, heat)
  • Simple tools
  • Seeds
  • Defense Items

Absolutely everything above those basic necessities is a luxury.

So, by this definition, what luxuries do you have?

3.) Reduce your monthly output

Reduce your monthly payments by cutting frivolous expenses. Look at every single monthly payment that comes out of your bank account and slash relentlessly.  Consider cutting the following:

  • Cable
  • Cell phones
  • Home phones
  • Gym memberships
  • Restaurant meals
  • Unnecessary driving
  • Entertainment such as trips to the movies, the skating rink, or the mall

4.) Waste not, want not.

We live in a disposable society.  Food comes in throw-away containers.  People replace things instead of repairing them.  If you throw out more than a couple of bags of garbage each week, that’s a very good sign that you may be wasting resources.

Before throwing anything away, pause and think about how it might be able to be reused.

  • Food: Many times small amounts of leftovers can be recycled into a brand new meal. Meat bones can be used to make broth or stock.  Small amounts of veggies or grains can be frozen and added to a future soup or casserole. Leftovers can be frozen in meal-sized portions to take to work for a brown-bag lunch. (Learn more about repurposing leftovers HERE.)
  • Clothing: Clothing that is torn or damaged can often be repaired with only rudimentary sewing skills. If it has been outgrown or cannot be repaired, often the fabric or yarn can be reused for other purposes, from cleaning rags to fashionable accessories like scarves and headbands, or home items like throw pillows, potholders or rag rugs.  When all else fails, the fabric can be used for cleaning rags or patches to repair other items. Keep jars full of buttons, elastic, and other notions that can easily be removed before you throw  a clothing item away or relegate it to the rag bag.
  • Electronics: Obviously, initially you should attempt to repair (or have repaired) electronic items that are not working. If this is not feasible, are there components of the item that can be reused, either now or in the future? What about hardware such as screws or fasteners?
  • Containers:  Most food comes in a container of some sort.  Before throwing the container away, consider whether or not it might be useful. Glass jars, plastic tubs, and plastic bags can often be reused to store food in your refrigerator or to contain food in brown bag lunches.  Clean aluminum cans can hold all manner of items, from hardware and tools in a workshop to sewing and craft supplies. Use your imagination.

5.) Take control of your food budget.

The price of food is skyrocketing.  Who hasn’t been to the grocery store recently and been shocked at the high price of that cart full of groceries or at the mysterious shrinking food packages that are the same price as yesterday’s larger ones?

  • Stockpile:  Create a stockpile of nutritious, healthy staples at today’s prices to enjoy when the cost goes even higher tomorrow.  (Learn how to create a frugal food stockpile HERE.)
  • Preserve: Learn to preserve food yourself when you come across a windfall.  Pressure canning, waterbath canningfreezing, and dehydrating can allow you to take advantage of great sales or end-of-season scores.
  • Eat less:  This suggestion isn’t for everyone, but many of us could stand to shed a few pounds.  Perhaps now would be a good time to cut back a little and shrink both your waistline and your weekly food bill.  Lots of people eat for the sheer entertainment of it or out of habit.  Next time you’re watching TV, grab some mending or a crossword puzzle instead of a bag of potato chips. Dish out slightly smaller servings at dinnertime to leave enough to stretch the leftovers for a brown bag meal the next day.
  • Drink water:  Skip the beverages and drink water instead. At less than $1 per gallon for purchased water you simply can’t beat the price.  It’s better for you, also, than sugar-y drinks.  If you are lucky enough to have well water or access to spring water, your drinks don’t have to cost you a penny.
  • Focus on nutrition instead of convenience:  Buy the best quality of food you can,  and skip the processed, nutritionless convenience foods.
  • Grow your own.  In the summer, grow the biggest garden you can. In the winter, or if you are an apartment dweller, put some sprouts and greens in a sunny windowsill to add some fresh produce for pennies.

6.) Reduce your dependence on utilities.

Energy rates are skyrocketing. As the prices begin to rise, more and more people will be unable to pay their bills and eventually their power will be shut off.  Check your bill each month and as prices increase, use less power. Try some of these ideas to reduce your reliance and drop your bills.

  • Hand wash your clothing
  • Hang clothes to dry
  • Cook on a woodstove or outdoor grill
  • Can foods to preserve them instead of relying on a large chest freezer
  • Turn the heat down a few degrees and use non-grid methods to keep warm
  • Use rain barrels to collect water
  • Direct the gray water from your washing machines to reservoirs
  • Turn off the lights and open the blinds
  • Use solar lighting whenever possible

How do you intend to weather the storm?

There are bleak days ahead.  Have you planned for this?  What strategies do you intend to use to weather the financial crisis that is coming for all of us?  What suggestions do you have for families who are undergoing their own economic collapses?

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

 

Via: shtfplan


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