Financial Freedom As A Prep?

Financial Freedom.

What an idea – being able to dictate how you live your life without the burden of having to maintain some form of employment to continue on in your present lifestyle.

No, you have not wandered into a personal self-help blog or some scheme designed to rob you of your hard-earned cash (well, maybe you have – click on the “donate” button to the right and give me all your money….) I want to discuss the idea of financial freedom, and how it relates to someone of the preparedness mindset.

Why are you prepping? If it is for the impending zombie apocalypse, then I fear you may be disappointed (no matter how cool the idea is!) I believe there are many reasons to prep – from social collapse to CME’s to a slow slide economic downturn into an extended depression. What if life just gets crappy in the future, but not a running gun battle? While this is not as exciting in a literary sence, I think this is the more likely scenario – at least for a while. We may still have rule of law, just limited resources and services. In this case, unemployment will be huge (pick a number 25%?, 50%?, 1343%?) so you may have to rely on secondary streams of income to pay for things if you can’t get a job (or supplement the less than ideal job you have to take on.) I view prepping as insurance; you buy LTS food if the supply is interrupted, PM’s if the dollar devalues, firearms if local LE sources are not up to snuff – the following concepts of additional income methods are just another form of insurance.

You can claim financial independence when your monthly income from sources outside direct labor (investments, passive income, retirements, business income, etc.) exceed requirements. You can exceed requirements by either lessening those requirements by taking on a “simpler” lifestyle (a choice made by many – whom I applaud, because I believe that simpler in this case is not equal to “easier”) or increasing income sources.

Ways to increase your passive/supplemental/residual income:

1. Invest in the stock market. Yep, I’m really saying invest in the evil empire known as “wall street”. I recommend looking into an investment style known as “dividend investing.” The basic theory is put your money in well-known, dividend paying stocks that have a long history of paying and increasing their payouts. There are actually companies out there that have been paying dividends since the 1800’s and never stopped – even through recessions, depressions, and wars. While the percentages seem small (a good, consistent, dividend stock pays 3-6% a year) this can be misleading, because if you reinvest the dividends paid (buying more shares of stock with the payments) and the company keeps increasing their yield (the amount paid), you can get amazing profits over initial cash paid.

2. Start a business. The age-old advice on becoming a millionaire is to buy something for a dollar, sell it for two – repeat. A business can run and provide you with money and work even if no one else will. You do not need specialized knowledge or a giant financial commitment to start a company (it does help tho, no matter what anyone tells you.) If you are going into the resale sector, the reality is you are not going to compete on a cost-basis with any of the “big guys” so make your business about service and personal knowledge. Look at your local environment, find a need, and fill it.

There is a guy who comes to the business park where I work and offers to wash your car for you while you are busy in the office. I took him up on his offer one day – do you know how he gave me change from the $20 bill I gave him? From the gigantic wad of cash in his pocket. Fast-forward one year, he now has a van and a few employees he drops off and manages who service numerous business parks in the area. This idea didn’t take a lot of money, it wasnt even that ground-breaking of a service, it just took some work.

3. Affiliate programs. This is something I am just getting into, hopefully you all can help! Affiliate programs basically pay you for traffic and sales that your visitors complete. If you have a blog or website, you can create affiliate links that will track and pay you on portions of the sales. Take a look to the right of this post, you should see somewhere “Buy From These Guys – We Get A Cut!” – these are affiliate programs in action. I created an account with a place called Commission Junction (This is not a referral, and not a recommendation. I just started this service and don’t know how good they are, I’ll let y’all know in the future about my experience when I have a better handle on it.) Commission Junction puts blog/site owners in contact with those companies willing to offer a commission on sales, and manages the whole process.

4. Person-to-person lending. P2P lending is a new idea that I actually like in concept. I like it because in some weird way I feel that as an investor I am “helping” someone (while making a profit) and I’m cutting out banks from the lending processes. The way it works is:

    • A person requests a loan from the P2P lending site.
    • Person is vetted by the lending site, and basic information is made available to investors. Interest rate is set by lending site based on borrowers credit worthiness.
    • Investors buy “notes” on the loan, which is a small stake in the loan (with the network that I use this is set at $25 per note). This allows you to spread out your risk, so at most, you will only lose $25 bucks on that loan if they default.
    • Other investors buy their own notes until loan is funded.
    • If funded, the borrower gets their cash and (hopefully!) starts making monthly payments. (If not funded the loan expires and you get your investment back – there is normally a limited time frame for loans to get funded, about 2 weeks.)
    • Investors get their share for each monthly payment, until paid back with interest. Investors also get a cut of any late payment charges and fee’s. (And yes, the service gets a piece of the action, about 1%).

As an investor, you can make a good 10%-20% rate, but there is the risk of an individual note getting defaulted on. Before you invest in P2P lending, read as much as you can – there are some good blogs on finding the best loans, with the best pay-off potential. Further, certain states do not allow their residents to participate in this sort of investment – check with the lending site.

So, there you have it, four ways to make additional income. Two of the four will take money to get them going, but a little every month adds up fast (especially if you reinvest the money made,) and two take some work on your part. If you use all four, in multiple ways, you will have the best chance in getting a continuous income stream over the long-term.

There are other ways to make passive/supplemental/residual income such as designing a device app or real estate rentals, but I have no real knowledge on those – all of the above I have done, and am enjoying (small!) returns.

LAST MINUTE EDIT: I forgot about publishing e-books! That is all.

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Home Fortification Part 2

 

I have been in the market to buy a house for about a month now. This has given me the opportunity to view and visit several houses and is what first got me into paying attention to home security. It’s easy for us to go all out and make our home a modern day castle and put up cement walls and barricades but I think, without a current breakdown of the rule of law all that will do is bring unwanted attention to our home and us by the local authorities and people wanting to know what we’re trying to protect. So I think it is important to point out that what we will discuss is trying to achieve that “castle” like protection in a manner that is stealthy and does not make us a target. We also want to be able to quickly change or increase the level of security in case we do lose the rule of law.

One of the first things we should do is have a monitoring company like ADT install a security system. Some things we should consider in conjunction with the perimeter monitoring are motion detectors inside the house (sometimes there are false alarms, maybe you left a window open and armed the house as you were leaving causing the alarm to go off after you leave) to tell you if someone is actually in the house, cameras that offer remote viewing and recording and most importantly, in my opinion, panic buttons. These are important because while they can be accidentally set off, someone has to be there to push it and response time to panic button activation by law enforcement is usually faster than just a perimeter burglary alarm.

The down side to monitoring services is the cost. There are installation costs, system costs and monitoring fees. I just checked with ADT’s web-site and they’re advertising $99.00 (with $200 mail in rebate for a basic security system. I don’t know what the monthly fee is though. If you don’t want the security service there are several companies that make home camera systems that you can install yourself and will record to a DVR. I’ve seen good quality ones as low as $300. This is a one-time cost and is a good alternative.

Let’s talk about windows. The windows are probably the easiest access point to your home. All you need is a rock and access is gained. 3M makes a security film (I’ve seen it as cheap as around $50 but I would highly recommend you pay a home window tinting professional to install it) that is clear, goes on the outside of the window and makes it very hard to penetrate. It’s actually very impressive. I highly recommend that you do a youtube search for it and see for yourself.

For added security you can obviously put up window bars but that detracts from the appearance of the home and makes the neighborhood look bad in my opinion. I would buy the bars but keep them in the garage for later installation if necessary. One down side to bars is that it becomes a perfect hook and chain attachment point for a vehicle to rip off, a tactic commonly used by SWAT teams that can easily be adopted by criminal gangs in a WROL (without rule of law) situation.

One option I really like is roll down hurricane shutters. Completely seal off the windows from any type of penetration such as rocks, incendiaries, tear gas etc. . The down side is they are relatively expensive, the ones I priced were between $700 and $1300 but cheaper options may be available.

Now that we’ve talked about securing the windows let’s also look at ways to defeat the windows from even being an entry option. We want to keep people away from the windows and also the walls. Thorny plants are an obvious first choice and a good one too. Other options might be large, dense bushes.  One house I saw had a planter box all the way around the front of the house. The planter box was approximately 2.5ft high. I thought about this and thought it was a good idea if you wanted ballistic protection. Sand does an amazing job of stopping bullets and it really doesn’t take a lot of it to defeat various calibers. Boxotruth.com does a good job demonstrating this, I recommend our readers check out their website.  A planter box with defensive plants would be a good combination for any home but again, keep it stylish and in line with the community.

The front and back doors are the obvious next entry choice. There are several factors to consider when securing the main entry points. Then first thing I look at when looking at the front door is where can someone stand while they are at my front door? Can five or six people stack up along the side of my house or are they forced to stand directly in front of the door?  I like front doors that are recessed requiring anyone coming to the front door to be in my “fatal funnel”. If you don’t have a recessed front door look at ways that you can force someone to stand in front of your door (or wherever you prefer) using plants, bushes, or a small fence lining the walk way.

Larson makes a security storm door that I find impressive. It’s their “secure elegance” model 349-20. It has a 1-5/8” thick frame, three locking points and security glass. It is available at Lowes and Home Depot for around $350-$400 I believe.

The only thing keeping your door locked is about a half inch of wood in the door frame. This is why it is so easy to kick down a door, all you have to do is make the dead bolt break through that half inch. Armor concepts makes a door/frame armor kit that is also quite impressive and economical. Doing a search on youtube I was able to find a news channel that did a “does it work” story on their product and it most definitely did work. Using a battering ram, the door failed before the EZ armor. EZ armor runs around $70-$100. I would recommend putting this on every door in the house except maybe the bathroom doors.

Doors are another thing that should be looked at, most doors are not solid. Common residential front doors are hollow fiberglass. After installing some type of frame armor replacing your door with a solid wood door or steel door should be your next priority. Home depot has steel residential doors for around $150. This is a relatively cheap upgrade if you have a hollow or fiberglass front door and they look just like the fiberglass panel doors.

The garage is the largest and potentially weakest entry point to your home. I highly suggest that every precaution you take on your front door, you also take those same precautions to the door that connects your house to your garage. Every time we make an improvement in one area of the house we focus our enemies’ objective to another point.  If you took every precaution we talked about the only thing left would be the garage. Depending on how much you want to harden your home, you can get bracing kits designed for hurricanes that go on your garage door and use it for home fortification instead. It’s not really practical unless it’s a WROL situation though.

The last thing we’ll talk about in this segment is lighting. While lights physically do nothing to keep people from breaking into your house they’re an excellent deterrent. My only recommendation for lighting is that they are at a minimum, motion activated and solar/battery operated so they work when the power is out.

You are only limited by your imagination with ways to secure your home. At the core we want to keep people from ever making it to the house, we want to keep them away from the doors and windows and even the walls. Next week we will talk about the outer ring. There’s more to the outer ring than just a fence..

Posted in DIY, FHR Theory, Shelter, Training, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Home Fortification

A man’s home is his castle: A proverbial expression that illustrates the principle of individual privacy, which is fundamental to the American system of government. In this regard, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution — part of the Bill of Rights — prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures.” ( See also under “Proverbs.” ) –Dictionary.com.

I was once lucky enough to listen to one of Israel’s former Attorney Generals give a seminar on Israeli security policies and their approach to dealing with terrorism. One of the things he discussed was something called the “three rings”. The three rings are layers of security that get harder to penetrate as you go. I have seen this philosophy in action, whether intentional or not, at many government facilities and military bases and it can easily be applied to your home.

The first and outer ring is obviously your property line. The second ring would be your house itself and finally the hardest ring ideally would be a safe room within the house. This is going to be a series of posts that talk about realistic home fortification, using environmental design to improve security and do it yourself (DIY) improvements.

The Assessment. Before we can start fortifying the home we need to do an assessment of our homes weaknesses and take into account individual security needs.

Outer ring: Obviously we need to take a look at our fencing, yard and outer environment.

  • Does the house have chain link or wood?
  •  Should a wood fence be put in place of chain link so it can’t be climbed and increase OPSEC or should we weave plastic through the chain link?
  • How high is the fence? Is it as high as the local zoning and planning commission allow?
  • Are there any parts of the fence that need repair?
  • Does the fence separate our property from another residential area, a busy street, alley or open land?
  • Does the fence have a gate?
  • What is the lighting like around our residence/property at night?
  • Are there “open” sections of property with no fence or a small fence that can easily be breached?
  • Does the house have an alarm system?
  • Are there security cameras?

(Note the differences between the two houses. You can clearly see into the back of one and there is nothing making it difficult for an intruder to breach the fence)

Middle ring: Doors, windows and garage.

  • What are the doors made of?
  • What is the door frames made of?
  • Are there any low windows that lead to a basement or are easy to access from the sidewalk or yard?
  • Is there a sliding glass door?
  • Can the garage door be pushed open from the outside?
  • Can any of the windows or sliding doors be lifted and opened?
  • Are there any plants below our first story windows?

(An unfortunately low window at the front of a house, no motion lights and no protective plants)

Inner ring: Bedroom/safe room

  • What is the door made of?
  • What is the door frame made of?
  • Does the door have a lock?
  • Does the door have a dead bolt?
  • Is it on the first floor, basement or upper level?

Once we’ve gone through and actually looked at the property (Seriously, go look. You might find a problem you didn’t notice before) and answered these questions we can begin looking at options for home security.

Next week: Middle ring security. (We will start with the middle ring because in a residential area I believe this is the most important ring of security).

Stay safe.

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LA Police Gear Sale – 15% Off Everything

PLEASE NOTE: I have not received any compensation or affiliation with LAPG, I am making this post without any connection to LAPG.

I have purchased from LA Police Gear (LINK) in the past, and they have decent prices, service, and all that jazz.

I just wanted to point out they are offering 15% off everything till 12/26 midnight with code snow15. They have a bunch of things that would be useful to a prepper, such as:

Flashlights
Emergency Supplies
Optics – (Get that Aimpoint you’ve been looking for!)

Take a look and get yourself something nice.

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Bugout Bins

Image this: You’re at work, it’s late in the day and something terrible happens. There’s a terrorist attack in the nearest major city. No word on just how bad, details are limited, all you know is that a truck bomb went off next to a Government building. Fearing that the truck bomb may have in fact been a dirty bomb you decide to evacuate your family immediately.

What do you do next? Do you call your loved ones and start going down a laundry of things to pack, things to buy and tasks to complete? I hope not.

 We all have “non-believers” in our lives. They’re the relatives who say things like “there goes crazy aunt/uncle (your name here)…” While we can’t force these people to prepare we can make their abrupt transition (via catastrophic event) a little smoother by putting things in place that will help to ensure their survival.

 What I have done, as I’m sure many people have, is created a series of bins that contain essential survival gear. The beauty of these bins is that if you have to hide or mask what you’re doing, everything in them looks like camping gear. So if you’re single and have roommates or if you’re significant other is getting tired of your constant prepping, to them you’re just organizing the camping gear. Another advantage is that since no one is going camping without you, there’s little risk that anyone from your family is going to go through them in your absence.  

 I’m not going to list out everything to put in them, there’s a plethora of resources and everyone has their own needs. Some things to keep in mind though are:

  • Don’t pack it so heavy that only you can pick it up.
  • Remember who you’re packing for.. Keep it simple.
  • Number the bins with #1 having the highest priority and the most essential supplies.
  • Provide necessary instructions as you see fit.
  • Don’t forget phone numbers, pictures, and copies of important documents.
  • Always have a contingency plan.

 So now, when you call your loved one to tell them you’re okay, all you have to do is say “go to the garage and grab the bins numbered 1, 2 and 3 and take them to ____” I’ll meet you there..

Stay safe.

Posted in Budget, DIY, Food, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, You Are A Training Opportunity

There are several underlying points to this post, including the obvious story/review held within. These points are:

  • Always test your equipment – as close as you can to real-world environments.
  • You can turn any task into a training opportunity.
  • Spend some time thinking before you jump right into a task.
  • All the fancy gear in the world is great – but the right tool for the job is better.

My wife wanted a Christmas tree for the holidays – no big deal, it’s the babies first Xmas, I like keeping her happy, so no reason to say no. We go and pick out a suitable tree from a local lot, throw it on my Jeep’s roof rack, and tie it down with some rubber straps I have in my truck. (My wife had to concede that my prepper lifestyle, in this instance, actually had a real-world advantage.)

When we get home, I know that I have to cut off an inch or so from the base of the tree (allowing it to “breath” – or so they say). I could just go get my chainsaw, or even my folding saw from my BOB – but that is waaaaaaay to easy! I decide I want to try out a “commando, survival, super ninja” saw I had lying around.

I’m sure many of you have one, or a version of one. In truth, I have never used it, and wanted to see how well it functioned. I took the saw out of the packaging, gripped both loops, and went to work.

Getting through the bark was surprisingly easy. I got through the first inch or so in about 1-2 minutes, then things started getting difficult. If you bent the saw in any way, it would bind up, if you did not put enough pressure, you would not cut, if you put too much pressure, you could slip and punch the bricks underneath the tree (my knuckles are now an example of this.)

As I got down further, it got harder and harder, without much visible headway. After about 20 minutes, I am sweating (yes, from using a saw) and taking breaks in-between muscle failure of sawing (I don’t give up easily.) At this point, I step back and assess the situation, and figure, for whatever reason, that taking the wood-base off would help. Then I think I am the stupidest person on the planet. In my zeal to test the saw, I didn’t realize that there are 5 nails holding on the wooden base – right in the path of my saw.

I take a hammer, then remove the nails and base (one of them was almost cut through from my sawing attempts, and sheers off.) I use the saw to cut off two of the small lower branches (which it does with ease.) and get back to the trunk. After 5 more minutes, and halfway through the base, the saw snaps. I cannot say if this was caused by weakening it on the nail, or what, but that’s what happened.

At this point, I’m kinda mad at the tree. Grabbing my special forces shovel (yes, a SF shovel – they sell anything these days) I hack off the remaining bottom limbs, and then chainsaw off the rest of the bottom.

Conclusion

  • For the weight the “commando” saw is cool – just realize it’s limitations.
  • The Spec-ops shovel is great, it has a sharpened edge that bade short work of the limbs.
  • Thinking beats acting, but training trumps all.
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Screw You Mr. CR123 – I Like AA’s For My Preps


Some items in your prep supplies may require batteries; flashlights, radios, night vision equipment, etc.

When at all possible, I try to get everything in AA size. This allows for easier logistics, battery maintenance, and overall group standard.

Historically, there were some items (like high-powered flashlights) that may do better with other options, such as CR123’s – but this is not always the case. If there is a product line you prefer, chances are there is a AA option.

For example, I really like the Fenix E21 flashlight – 150 lumens, sturdy construction, waterproof and you guessed it, takes AA’s.

This also goes over to weapon optics, the EOTech 512 Holographic Sight takes AA’s, as well as the Aimpoint Comp M4:

Compm4/Compm4s Optical Sights Compm4 2moa

You could easily make a small solar charging station to take care of just your AA needs, and never be without. Take a look at the Sanyo Eneloop line of rechargeable batteries – they seem to be made with the prepper in mind. One note to keep in mind, price seems to vary considerably – even on Amazon – so do your homework.

Eneloop’s can also be found here:

Eneloop SEC-MQN064N 4-Position Charger With 4 AA eneloop Batteries

(one of our affiliates)

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