Journey from Grasshopper to Ant (Financial)

Several months ago, I began writing about my own personal journey as I began my journey from Grasshopper to Ant.  This writing stemmed from my listening to The Survival Podcast (TSP).  Jack Spirko, the host of the show referenced an ant.  Being a newer lister at the time I didn’t really pay any attention.  After hearing more and more about the ant, I became curious.  As I listened to more and more of the podcast, I found EPISODE-298- STARTING THE JOURNEY FROM GRASSHOPPER TO ANT.  My interest in his show grew…and this was exactly what I needed to hear at the time.  I began my journey from grasshopper to ant.

Previous blog posts I have written speak more in depth about this, as the journey from Grasshopper to Ant consists of many steps.  Besides, one doesn’t merely “become” an ant.  This isn’t just a simply journey or a transformation.  The journey from Grasshopper to Ant is really a lifestyle change.   While there is a lot of content and material covered in this podcast, I’ll break it down.  First of all, let’s focus on the first few steps we’ll take on this journey.

  1. Review the old fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant.  I linked to an older episode in the same way it is linked on the TSP site.
  2. Journal your spending and your eating
  3. Write a plan for debt elimination and begin creating an emergency fund

For the time being, this is all I’m focusing on.  For me, smaller lists make the items on them appear more obtainable.  Once I’m debt free, I’ll work on the documentation package.  But first of all, I needed to journal my spending to get back on track for debt elimination.  This is nothing new to me.  For the bulk of my adult life until I was about 30…I had terrible spending habits.  My financial awareness was nonexistent and I had no idea how to manage money.  I had already been through a bankruptcy in my early 20’s, yet I still had school loans and managed to accumulate even more credit card debt by the time I was 30.

I landed a good job and began “the career path.”  I was working harder and more hours, yet my debt seemed to remain.  It wasn’t growing anymore, yet it lingered over my head like a giant black cloud.  My debt was a shadow that never left my side.  With all the traveling I was doing, I found myself listening to a lot of talk radio.  One day, I heard Dave Ramey’s program.

When I heard his show, it was inspiring.  This was not “normal” talk radio.  I really enjoyed his program and the content of the show.  He gave solid financial and life advice and people called into his show proclaiming that they had become debt free!  The stories that I heard were amazing.  I ended up purchasing his books, Financial Peace (Revisited) and The Total Money Makeover.  For me, it was The Total Money Makeover and the easy to follow plan that worked for me and allowed me to get out of debt in my early 30’s.

A few years ago, I needed to travel out of state for a friend’s wedding.  At this point I had been without credit cards for a year or so while following Dave’s plan.  However, rather than save up for it, I decided to get a credit card.  I chose to go back to the easy and more familiar way of spending.  It didn’t matter that I was purchasing on credit – it was easy.  Besides, I was successful and had a good job.  I was on the “fast track” at work and was growing quickly.  I’d pay it back.   No problem, right?

Well…fast forward a few years.  I have since moved across the country and have acquired more debt.  While not as significant as the last round, debt is debt.  I suppose the bright side is that each time I go through this process, my debts are smaller and smaller, which indicates that I’m learning and getting better with my financial habits.  This is encouraging.   After re-reading The Total Money Makeover last year, I decided to get back on board with my finances and my spending.

After reading the book and familiarizing myself with it, I was able to give it away to a family member who seemed interested.  It is nice to be able to spread the word about successful money management.  I don’t ever want to push my values and beliefs on someone else, but if they ask me about my experiences, then I’m more than happy to share them.  In this case, it was easier to simply give my book away.  I’m happy to pass on this knowledge.  Besides, I believe you gotta give it away to keep it.

At any rate, while I was re-reading The Total Money Makeover, I also began listening to Jack Spirko and The Survival Podcast.  While always being a talk radio listener, I began to get a little burnt out on mainstream talk radio.  I first became interested in podcasts via Dave Ramsey’s show.  Podcasts allowed me to listen and learn about more specific topics without being inundated by negative and divisive political talk radio.  I really became a fan of The Survival Podcast because of it’s practical nature and Jack Spirko’s intelligence.

Why go to all the trouble to detail out all of this information?  As Jack Spirko talked about financial wellness as a part of the Grasshopper to Ant journey, he spoke about Dave Ramsey.  I was stoked on this, because I was already hip to Dave Ramsey’s plans and I was already preparing to get tracking (again).  However, this time, I would be tracking my eating as well as my spending.  To do this right, I even went out and bought myself a fancy new Moleskine Reporter Style Notebook.  Very durable and holds up to carrying in the back pocket.

From forward to back, I am tracking my daily spending.  From the back of the notebook forward, I am tracking everything I eat at home and/or pack for my lunch at work.  Restaurants are tracked as a part of “Spending” but not included in the eating.  This journaling is only to be used as identifying what we eat.  Moreover, anything that is eaten that can also be stored and does not require refrigeration or freezing should be highlighted.  Very simple.  For the past month, I have done this.  Check it out:

20130203-094916.jpg 20130203-094823.jpg 20130203-094748.jpg

Today, I’ll begin compiling and crunching these numbers.  I’ll keep tracking over the next month and crunching numbers.  This doesn’t come easy and it sure as hell isn’t quick, either.  The journey from Grasshopper to Ant is a long and arduous one.  However, so far, it is very rewarding.  Might I suggest you consider taking the journey as well?

Stay tuned.

Grasshopper to Ant – Part 4

Starting the Journey from Grasshopper to Ant | The Survival Podcast.

Last post, we concluded with #11 Make plans for how you would help elderly parents or other family members.

Next on the list to check off as we journey from grasshopper to ant is:

Audio began at 35:45

#12     Update your resume and be prepared to lose your job on any given day

Prepare as though every day, you will lose your job.

  • Every day, work to maintain your professional network.
  • Have that network “strung”
  • Regarding Letters of Recommendation:
  • a – Throw out letters of recommendation after 1 year
  • a – Either seek new recommendation letters and/or ask same person to re-write a letter of recommendation
  • a – Be prepared to go into job seeker mode at any time for two reasons:
  • 1:  Be prepared to do so
  • 2:  It will light a fire under your ass to being prepared
  • a – knowing and understanding that your job is not secure is the first and most important  step towards preparation
  • a – the day we begin costing our employers money and/or the day we do not make our employers money is the day that we go out the door

End listening at 37:01

 

Next up

#13     Avoid focusing on any individual coming event or scenario

#14     Plan a garden and start getting ready to plant (depending on the season)

#15     Learn about disaster commonality (it is not about the disaster it is about loss of support systems)

#16     Learn about disaster probability (Personal-Localized-Regional-State-National-Global)

#17     Determine your most probable “personal”, “local” and “regional”

#18     Start window shopping for “country land” or an “urban homestead”

#19     Think of the children, won’t someone please think of the children (seriously think of your children)

#20     Assess your “normal preparations”

#21     Take ownership of your plan and your life

Grasshopper to Ant – Part 3

Last post, we concluded with #5 Putting Together a Basic Documentation Package.

Next on the list to check off as we journey from grasshopper to ant is:

6.     Assemble a BOB for each family member (cheap and fast the first time around)

This is the first step that may require spending of money.

The Bug Out Bag (BOB) is also known as a 72 hour bag.  Enough supplies to sustain oneself comfortably for at least a 72 hour period comfortably.

In a cheap BOB, get a cheap backpack/duffel one would have:

  • At least 2 days of clothing
  • At least 4 pairs of socks
  • An extra pair of shoes, maybe not in the bag, but kept with the bag
  • A 3-day supply of food that requires little to no preparation.
  • Maybe 3 sterno cans of fuel for cooking and a pot for simple food prep (one per day)
  • Maybe one of the small brass cookstoves and one bottle of HEET for fuel
  • Need minimum of 2000 calories /  day for three days
  • Maybe 1 box of 24 clif bars and 3/6 MRE meals just heat & eat
  • Enough water for drinking and hand washing for 3 days – maybe bottled water would be best?  Perhaps 2-3 durable platypus compressible water bottle bags?
  • Ibuprofin, Tylenol, Aspirin and some Neosporin to start
  • Maybe bring the prepackaged first aid kit instead?
  • This is not a comprehensive and complete BOB – but is enough to be a good starting point
  • Take this and prep it to “build off of” at a later point during this developmental stage

7.     Inventory your pantry over a week or two (how much food do you have at your low point)

  • Perhaps in the back of the same spending / eating journal, begin inventorying the pantry
  • This is everything in the house that is categorized as food that WOULD NOT spoil without electricity
  • Every non-perishable food item gets inventoried
  • Break the food items into meals (perhaps no steak, but spaghetti and sauce for example)
  • How many days of sustainable food do you have in your home?
  • Not freezer/refrigerator food, how many days of “pantry level” food do you have in your home?
  • As items get removed, they get removed from the list
  • At the end of two weeks, we are to review the list and see what the lowest number of sustainable days of food we had inventoried and on hand
  • Why is this important?
  • Most of us do grocery shopping on a weekly basis and we have an “up and down” rotation of food storage
  • When we are at our “lowest” of food inventory, it is at this point where we want to have 30 days of food storage on hand in our supply preps
  • While boring, this is an important step – SO DO IT
  • Now, once we have done this, our information can now be utilized and implemented in the following step:

 8.     Begin storing up a 30 day supply of food you will eat anyway

With the previous information of how much food we currently have inventoried and the journaling of eating in Step 3, it will be very easy for us to acquire and store non-perishable food items to build our 30-day supply.

  • It is important to store the highlighted items on our food list
  • As we continue our normal shopping habits, we just begin increasing quantities of the food that can be stored for long periods of time and is non-perishable
  • FIRST STEP – Begin by getting 14 day supply of food
  • SECOND STEP – Complete process by securing a 30-day supply of food
  • A 30-day food supply will give us the opportunity to deal with 90% of the issues that might arise should we ever need to actually utilize the materials that we are prepping with
  • A noble goal is 6 months of sustainability of food supplies (this is time frame Jack Spirko utilizes at time of podcast)

 9.     Begin assembling a low cost 30 day long term storage supply

  • This is long term food storage
  • Rice/beans
  • Mountain House storable foods
  • Yoder Fresh Canned Meats – check out ReadyMade Resources
  • Take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with beans/rice/Yoder meats/different seasonings used for flavorings
  • Maybe look at seasoning and storability of Chef Keith Snow seasonings?
  • include simple recipes and place everything in a mylar bag inside the 5 gallon bucket with oxygen absorbers for long term storage
  • this will last 5 years EASY if stored in climate controlled area
  • extreme heat will shorten shelf life of long term food storage supply
  • For longer term food storage:
  • If we have 6 months of food storage, we want 4 months of “everyday items” and 2 months of “long term”
  • 12 month storage break down is 8 months of “everyday items” and 4 months of “long term”
  • This keeps food storage system flexible
  • As you build up food storage, remember to use it regularly and rotate out stock
  • It is important to become familiar with these food storage items and be accustomed or at least familiar with how to prepare the food items when it is time to use them
  • Want to ensure that these storable items get used and they are already part of your diet

10.     Determine where you would go if you had to leave and go at least 50 miles from home

  • In addition to the documentation package and the 3 places to go with alternative routes:
  • If you had to get away in an “acute disaster”
  • Earthquake, fire, etc
  • Most likely, people would utilize a hotel with the debit card
  • Have these locations identified
  • This simple step begins to prepare us for leading us to make decisions regarding the future
  • Not critical step, but important to begin conditioning the “thought processes”

11.     Make plans for how you would help elderly parents or other family members

  • Parents and/or other family members may depend on us during a disaster
  • While we can talk to parents and other family members, they most likely will not pay attention
  • They “suffer” from normalcy bias and ostrich syndrome
  • They are the grasshoppers that think everything will be ok and that a disaster will never happen
  • People may simply deny the disaster or run away from it and hide like an ostrich with head in sand
  • Develop a contingency plan for the parents and/or in-laws
  • If elderly people are on medications, especially “maintenance” medications, it is important to have their medical supplies stored and on hand for any potential emergencies if they need it
  • Make sure you have a plan for the people that you care most about
  • It may be necessary if your loved ones remain with the grasshopper mindset
  • Saying “I told you so” isn’t going to be sufficient because they will need our help

Remaining items to expand upon:

Update your resume and be prepared to loose your job on any given day

Avoid focusing on any individual coming event or scenario
Plan a garden and start getting ready to plant (depending on the season)
Learn about disaster commonality (it is not about the disaster it is about loss of support systems)
Learn about disaster probability (Personal-Localized-Regional-State-National-Global)
Determine your most probable “personal”, “local” and “regional”
Start window shopping for “country land” or an “urban homestead”
Think of the children, won’t someone please think of the children (seriously think of your children)
Assess your “normal preparations”
Take ownership of your plan and your life

Grasshopper to Ant – Part 2

Starting the Journey from Grasshopper to Ant | The Survival Podcast.

Previously, I wrote about how I began this journey.  I will continue with my thoughts as before.  Enjoy.

 1.     Start with the old fable of the grasshopper and the ant.

This is a great and simple story about how the ant survived.  The ant is prepared.  We aren’t ants yet, but we’re no longer a grasshopper.

 2.     The first thing you do is assess the situation and stay calm

A good and simple discussion about “situational awareness” – nice analogy made about getting lost in the wilderness.

 3.     Journal your spending and your eating

The first true action step.  I have been tracking spending in various ways throughout the years, fooling around with various budgeting systems.  The suggestion made here was to use a simple notebook and writethese things down.  I had an old notebook that I will start with and fool around ideas, but I splurged a little bit and got a cool new Moleskine notebook for this experience.

Apparently I will be tracking ALL spending.  No receipts necessary, regardless of spending or account.  ALL spending gets documented.  The purpose of the journal is to assess where the money goes over a 30-60 day period.  Working from the back of the notebook forward, I will be tracking and keeping a journal of what I eat.  The only thing that gets tracked of what gets eaten at HOME.

For me, I will also include what I eat during the day during my lunch as I pack food from home.  It is not necessary to journal restaurants.  It is only to be used as identifying what we eat.  Moreover, anything that is eaten that can also be stored and does not require refrigeration or freezing should be highlighted.  Very simple.

Items that are not highlighted, like steak, for example should have something written next to it that could be substituted for it that might not require freezing or refrigeration.  It was pointed out that we may not be able to identify a substitute at this time, but it is important that we leave room to write in an alternative in the future.

This was claimed to be the MOST IMPORTANT step to preparedness.  The emphasis on this step cannot be understated.  Jack spoke about the fact that this step was paramount for even the most prepared modern survivalist.

4.  Write a plan for debt elimination and begin creating an emergency fund

Creating an emergency cash fund of at least $1000 takes precedence over paying off the debt.  In speaking about the establishment of the emergency fund and planning on becoming debt-free, Jack speaks of Dave Ramsey and his plan towards freedom from debt.

I found this very refreshing as I have been a fan of Dave Ramsey for several years and am currently in the process of truly implementing his Total Money Makeover plan in my own life.  This information presented further validated what I am already doing in my own life.

The act of writing the debt emergency plan is important.  After 30-60 days of truly journaling spending, we are to furiously go through that journal and “red line” any spending that is unnecessary.  If you’re not sure, red line the item and give it up for a month and see if it’s as necessary as it once was – possibly schedule this and make it a big deal or perhaps a “reward” to oneself for good behavior (?).

Will be amazed at the amount of money that can be obtained and “found” through simple analysis and observation of spending habits.  Reflection on current spending habits is the first step in the creation of a plan for eliminating debt and creating savings goals.

For me, I have identified that this is the most critical step for me in order to successfully move back to Ohio as soon as possible.  The more diligent I am about this, the sooner I can make it happen.

 5.     Put together a basic documentation package

This is something that I recently started a month or two ago.  With discussions about wildfire preparedness and seeing the results of fire while working in fire country, I made the decision to purchase a small fire-resistant safe and a fire-resistant documentation bag for additional redundancy factor.

Currently, the items I keep inside the safe are:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Auto Title
  • Emergency Fund – (in process of re-establishing my emergency fund)
  • Silver (currently, I only own one 1/2 oz Walking Liberty Coin – I keep it visible as a reminder to get out of debt quick and provide visual incentive to continue the financial journey until I can begin investing again one day)
  • Portable Hard Drive – currently, I don’t have this in there, but I would like to keep an additional hard drive backed up every three months or so in my safe as well

After listening to Jack speak on this topic, he suggested that the following items be added to the “Documentation Package” in addition to what I have been keeping:

  • Contact List
  • “Places to go” List

Contact List

  • Name, address, email, phone numbers, skype handles, etc.
  • Any and all correspondence information for all contacts
  • Contacts should include: family, friends, co-workers, accountants, anyone who is privy to and has ever been in touch and has had access to your personal information, service providers that might need to be contacted in case of an emergency, electrician, tree crew/service, equipment rentals/contractors, places where one can acquire additional materials

3 Places to go

  • In the case of mandatory evacuation, it is necessary to have this information
  • Places could be family/friend location within 50-100 miles, place could also be hotel/motel in a safe area, “bug-out location” (if you have one) – I currently do not have a formal “bug-out” location
  • Need the first place, and two other alternatives
  • Go to Google Maps and print out directions
  • Be sure to have Google Maps print out the most direct route
  • In addition, print out an additional and two secondary routes to each of these locations.
  • We should have 3 different routes to each 3 of these locations
  • Also, if traveling with someone, have a designated “rally” point en route to some of these spots.  Consider determining a way to mark if a person had been there or not.  Utilize flagging tape, a flag, a painted piece of wood or a way to leave a note at the rally point, etc.
  • Be sure to keep this information regarding places to go printed in the documentation package, but also a copy printed and stored in each vehicle as part of the “vehicle preparedness bag” to be covered later
  • Keep all physical copies the same and if something gets updated, be sure to update all “places to go” binders accordingly
  • Easy way to reference important material with other people over phone

This is one of the easiest, practical and most overlooked things to include in the documentation package.  This is the linchpin of everything we do moving forward.

Pomodoro up at ~21 minutes into the podcast.

Stay tuned.

Starting the Journey from Grasshopper to Ant

Starting the Journey from Grasshopper to Ant | The Survival Podcast.

Several months ago, I began listening to The Survival Podcast.  Jack Spirko is a wealth of information and has become an inspiration to me with regard to my own transformation I have been experiencing lately.  I have been listening to his podcast daily for about 3 months now and spending some time “catching up on past episodes” and exploring the The Survival Podcast Network Forum.

As I started listening to the podcast above, I realized that much of what he spoke about interested me.  Permaculture, Sustainability, Modern Survivalism…and Disaster Preparedness.  Living in Southern California, Disaster Preparedness was a frequently discussed topic, especially regarding wildfires and earthquakes.  All this combined with discussion about history, government and economics (among other things) got me hooked on his podcast and website.

I recently stumbled across this episode, which is very fitting for this stage in my life.  I recently admitted that I have a “prepper” mindset and am coming to terms with it in my own way – often writing about it.  At any rate, part of waking up has been learning from The Survival Podcast Network and listening to the podcast.  Often times, I find myself taking notes on the podcast at various times, but this episode was already broken down into what appears to be about 20 pre-defined bullet points.

It is almost as if it was broken down for the fellow nerd like myself.  Pre-defined bullet points make it easy for information junkies like myself to geek out.  It is lined up for us to to totally nerd out with our notes.  It is very conducive for note taking and will allow me to make a great supplement to the original show notes located here.  Below, I simply copied and pasted the original bullet points and added my own thoughts and notes.

These show notes from Episode 298 will provide some much needed structure to the thought processes already in place.  This journey from Grasshopper to Ant is one I feel I’ve been on for many years.  Until now, I lacked the maturity to refine my thought processes and really get my “GTD” lifestyle on.  Prepping is the ultimate form of GTD.  Always being prepared creates peace of mind, just like having the inbox at “zero.”

Episode 298 show notes had 21 bullet points:

1.     Start with the old fable of the grasshopper and the ant.

This is a great and simple story about how the ant survived.  The ant is prepared.  We aren’t ants yet, but we’re no longer a grasshopper.

2.     The first thing you do is assess the situation and stay calm

A good and simple discussion about “situational awareness” – nice analogy made about getting lost in the wilderness.

3.     Journal your spending and your eating

The first true action step.  I have been tracking spending in various ways throughout the years, fooling around with various budgeting systems.  The suggestion made here was to use a simple notebook and write these things down.  I had an old notebook that I will start with and fool around ideas, but I splurged a little bit and got a cool new Moleskine notebook for this experience.

Apparently I will be tracking ALL spending.  No receipts necessary, regardless of spending or account.  ALL spending gets documented.  The purpose of the journal is to assess where the money goes over a 30-60 day period.  Working from the back of the notebook forward, I will be tracking and keeping a journal of what I eat.  The only thing that gets tracked of what gets eaten at HOME.

For me, I will also include what I eat during the day during my lunch as I pack food from home.  It is not necessary to journal restaurants.  It is only to be used as identifying what we eat.  Moreover, anything that is eaten that can also be stored and does not require refrigeration or freezing should be highlighted.  Very simple.

Items that are not highlighted, like steak, for example should have something written next to it that could be substituted for it that might not require freezing or refrigeration.  It was pointed out that we may not be able to identify a substitute at this time, but it is important that we leave room to write in an alternative in the future.

Below are the remaining steps to be written about at a later date:

Write a plan for debt elimination and begin creating an emergency fund
Put together a basic documentation package
Assemble a BOB for each family member (cheap and fast the first time around)
Inventory your pantry over a week or two (how much food do you have at your low point)
Begin storing up a 30 day supply of food you will eat anyway
Begin assembling a low cost 30 day long term storage supply
Determine where you would go if you had to leave and go at least 50 miles from home
Make plans for how you would help elderly parents or other family members
Update your resume and be prepared to loose your job on any given day
Avoid focusing on any individual coming event or scenario
Plan a garden and start getting ready to plant (depending on the season)
Learn about disaster commonality (it is not about the disaster it is about loss of support systems)
Learn about disaster probability (Personal-Localized-Regional-State-National-Global)
Determine your most probable “personal”, “local” and “regional”
Start window shopping for “country land” or an “urban homestead”
Think of the children, won’t someone please think of the children (seriously think of your children)
Assess your “normal preparations”
Take ownership of your plan and your life

Pomodoro up.

Stay tuned.