As part of the Money Principle Ideas Generator competition I asked you, the reader, to share the three measures you will take immediately to ensure that you and yours survive serious economic trouble. As I said before, all responses were really fascinating. But the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the measures that we take should be divided into ones that have short term effects, middle range effects and long term effects. I also did quite a bit of thinking about what I’ll do and have come up with some measures that I think may work for us. Today will share the things I would do/have already done for the short term.
What many people reading this blog probably don’t realise is that I have already lived through an economic meltdown (and have already had my revolution). This happened at the beginning of the 1990s and was part of the transition of Bulgaria from socialist to capitalist economy. On the way, and because Bulgaria grows its own food and then some, the real hardship that cuts to the basis of existence lasted only one winter – but it was a winter most people try to forget. What no one who has lived through something like that can forget is the following:
When trouble strikes, you and yours need food to survive. Interestingly this is one of the things that disappear from the shops very quickly. Have you seen an entirely empty supermarket? I have – you go in and there is nothing inside apart from the bored and scared employees. This is why here I am with Pat – stock up on staples and some cans. John and I just re-stocked our store cupboard (see picture). But we have: 6 kg of rice (will get some more jasmine rice from the Chinese shop during the weekend, probably another 5 kg); about 10kg of pasta (different kinds); 12 kg bread flour (and need to get some more); 5 litres olive oil (and will get another 5 this weekend); 3 kg chickpeas; 36 packs of passata etc. The point is to keep some reserve.
Also, the point here is not to beat the price increases – this is not possible and we’ll have to cope in different ways. Having food in the house, however, gives you time to get over the initial panic, anger and helplessness and re-organise your life when trouble strikes.
When trouble strikes you need articles of basic hygiene. Don’t even ask; I never managed to figure out why but things like toilet paper, shampoo, soap and washing up liquid also disappear in time of serious economic upheaval. It probably won’t hurt to have some reserves of these. We have not done it yet but shall do soon. This is particularly important because one of my ‘protected wants’ is cleanliness!
This is about it for the short term – I am not sure about keeping cash, though. Usually, this kind of economic trouble goes hand in hand with hyper inflation. Hence, keeping any amount of cash may feel secure but it is pretty useless. In the early 1990s, money that would have furnished a medium size apartment was enough for couple of ice-creams within weeks.
I am not saying that a crisis of this severity will happen – I hope for the sake of all of us and of our children that it won’t. But this time I am going to be prepared!