Financial Survival Kit

What do you need to be prepared for the future financial turmoil? How can you survive?

Should I Buy Gold?

It seems like everyone is a gold bug these days, but is it the right thing for you?

What Are The Chances?

With all this "end of the world" hype going on, maybe we should consider the chances. What are the chances of a civilization threatening event?

How Much Insurance Do I Need?

Insurance is an extremely broad topic. Hopefully this generalization on the different types and amounts will help straighten things out a bit.

Iraqi Dinar: Scam or Scoop?

Some say it's an easy way to make a million bucks! But do you understand currency markets enough to take advantage?

The financial world we live in is just as wild, if not more, than the mountains and woods we walk through. We are told that the fundamentals of our economy are strong, but we can feel that something is wrong. My unique financial background and survival passion make Financial Survivalist and excellent place to learn and share.

Friday, December 30, 2011

"Millionaire by Thirty" by Douglas R Andrew

Millionaire by Thirty: The Quickest Path to Early Financial Independence is a book on personal Financial Strategy. Douglas R Andrew wrote this book in conjunction with his sons Emron and Aaron. The book is suppose to be based on the experiences of Emron and Aaron, but unfortunately I don't believe they did the majority of the writing.

I have read The Last Chance Millionaire: It's Not Too Late to Become Wealthy also written by Douglas Andrew, and they are practically identical. The only difference is that Millionaire by Thirty uses the Andrew sons as an example a few times. However, the strategies mentioned in the two book are identical.

The only flaw in these strategies is that they assume real estate never loses value, especially in Millionaire by Thirty. I actually am a fan of the alternative view on financial planning. I love the fact that this book takes on traditional thinking. The majority of financial planning strategies are a joke and are based on how the planner gets paid.

If you have already read any other of Douglas Andrews books, I wouldn't bother with this one. If you haven't I would still recommend you start with The Last Chance Millionaire. Atlease this one is so much oriented around real estate never losing value. Overal, it's a decent book and easy read.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Survivalist Boards Financial Forum

Survivalist Boards is an open survival forum where users can talk and read about various topics. They provide free interaction with other people that have similar concerns. Ask a questions and you can get it answered by other real preppers, and some will learn with you.

My favorite part about Survivalist Boards is their financial forum. There are several survival forums out there, but few have an entire section dedicated to financial questions.  This one does, and discussion includes everything from buying gold to very common every day concerns.

Granted, some of the contributors are complete idiots, but some are also pretty knowledgable. This probably isn't the best place to educate yourself. However, if you seek a wide array of opinions, this is a good place to find them. I frequently contribute to the financial section, and I find there are several people just like you and me simply trying to get there questions answer, and talk about similar interests.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How To Make a Survival Bracelet

Survival bracelets, being an easy way to cary some extra cordage, have been "all the rage" lately. The thing is that they are surprisingly easy to make. I've known this braid since I was 12.

In an effort to save you some money, I tracked down a decent instructable on it.

Step 1: Materials. Actual cordage needed is about 1' for every 1" of bracelet wanted. You'll have to practice to get it right.
 Step 2: Measure Wrist Circumference.
Step 3: Attach to Clip or Create Loop.

Step 4: The Braid
Make sure to alternate the not or the braid will spiral, thought that is a very cool braid as well.
Step 5: Continue Braid
Step 6: End. When it's long enough attach the other clip or knot. If you would like the bracelet thicker, then double back on the braid. I'm not sure how this know was tied, but a little fiddling and I'm sure you can get it. Another option is to use a carabiner or another type of hardware.
The End!

To see the actual instructable click here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dono't Be Afraid to say, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah"

Merry Christmas!

Our politically correct society almost makes you afraid to tell a stranger Merry Christmas out of fear to offend.

Only a fool takes offense where none is intended. Why would you? None was intended and you're getting upset over something innocent. However, only a greater fool will take offense where it is intended. This gives the offending person exactly what they want. They win, and you lose.

All I ask this Christmas is that you don't be afraid to say Merry Christmas or Happy Hanaka. And of coarse, through all the hustle and bustle, remember the true meaning of Christmas (or Hanaka). Merry Christmas.

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Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

Welcome to
Non-Fiction Friday!

I know, I have a catch title for every day. I figure it will help give me structure and allow you to know what to expect. Today I will review Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary is a social entrepreneur. He started; a very successful video blog about wine. Gary's book Crush It! is about the tools and strategies he used to make his video blog such a success.

If you are a blogger, video, picture or other, then this book is for you. Included are several strategies to utilize the online social resources available to you.

He also has some very good philosophies on living your dreams and doing what you love. I agree with him entirely on that one.

This book lays out the step you can follow to run and maintain a successful website, how to draw and keep traffic, and how to properly monetize. It may not be easy, but it's definitely possible.

It well written, with lot's of Gary's personality shining through. He's very entertaining and enlightening.

I Give it an 8.5!

Be Smart and Thrive

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why I Opt Out of Body Scanners

I am flying today. I will most certainly try to avoid those body scanners. Even if they try and make me go through them I will opt out. I'd rather have a pat down.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the new body scanners found at most large airports. The biggest argument I have seen is the obvious conflict of interest. Body scanners are made by a company owned by the politician that worked really hard to get them required by law.

They also emit large amounts of radiation, and there is controversy around whether or not they pose a cancer risks? Some studies say yes.

However, I opt out every time for a different reason. There is no way to know how accurate they actually are. Can they see my junk? My wife's breasts? I'm not that shy and don't really care if some random guy or girl gets a peek at my junk. They'll never see me again. My point is that if they can see my junk, it's way to invasive. If they can't see my junk, then it's not good enough to catch another "underwear bomber."

They are pointless. They either are too invasive or don't work well enough. Either way, there are far better ways to catch would be terrorist. Israel has great security, and they don't take naked pictures or do perverted pat downs. The reason why I ALWAYS opt out is because it is my way of protesting this obviously unnecessary invasion and violation of citizens privacy.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

World Wide Web Wednesday!

Welcome To
World Wide Web Wednesday!
On WWWWednesday we seek out and sponsor a website each week. This week we feature The Urban Survivalist!
This is a great website that features wilderness survival techniques and resources all in daily videos. Full Disclosure: the moderator is a good friend of mine. DC is also the manager of Urban Survival Tools, a website with all your basic survival tools.

DC is very committed to providing the very best in survival skills, resources, tools and insights. In fact, he probably works harder at survival knowledge than I do, on a daily basis. I try to focus on financial survival, but as far as wilderness and emergency survival goes, DC is your guy.

My personal favorit is his 72 Hour Urban Field Test! He walks out of his San Diego apartment and uses only what is his standard 72 hour kit! I love it! Check him out. His quick 5 min videos are easy to watch, and super informative.

The Urban Survivalist

Be Smart and Thrive

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to Make Your Own Bivy

Welcome To
How To Tuesday!

Today on How To Tuesday we will discuss how to make your own Bivy. I have tried several styles of bivy in the past, from the one time use Emergency Bivy to the most expensive Tent Like Bivy. They each have their positives and negatives. For example the Emergency Bivy will keep you warm, but moisture is trapped and condenses on the inside of the bag.

I was looking for something that would keep me dry from weather and condensation, didn't make me feel claustrophobic, and was cheap. After much research I decided that I was either going to spend big or make it myself.

I looked into homemade bivys and discovered Tyvek is a popular material used. Tyvek allows for water vapor to escape, but liquid water cannot not pass. My father in-law is a chemical engineer for Dupont and works on Tyvek all the time, so I gave him a call and got some insider tips. Then I purchased a piece of Tyvek house wrap on ebay.

I found a very thorough but poorly done Instructable, on making a bivy from Tyvek. Then I did my own spin on it. 
I decided to keep it simple. I folded it into a taco or burrito and sealed the seams with Tyvek tape. At the top I left an extra flap because most bivy's make me feel claustrophobic.

I designed it so I could tie that flap to a tree, allowing for extra ventilation, and preventing the feeling of claustrophobia. I also added netting from the fabric store for mosquito protection.
I designed it so that if the weather got really bad I could just tuck that flap under the bivy and stay dry. Because tyvek breathes there isn't as much need for ventilation, though I'm sure under these conditions it might get stuffy.
It rolls up pretty compact. 
All in all it's exactly what I wanted. I probably spent $25 on the whole thing. I haven't used it yet, but I may very soon. I have a winter bug out coming up. I will likely test it and let you know how it does.

Be Smart and Thrive

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Monday, December 19, 2011

To Pay Extra or Not To Pay; That is The Question

Welcome to 
Money Monday!

 Today we will be discussing whether it is best to pay extra principle on a mortgage or put that money elsewhere.

Lets start by conceding to the religious aspect of being out of debt. It is impossible to debate religion or emotions logically. If someone feels strongly about paying extra principle I will never tell them it is a bad thing. It just may not be the best or the smartest thing.

Extra principle payments decrease a balance owed on a mortgage. This increase equity in the corresponding home.

Home Equity is:
  • volatile and vulnerable to down markets
  • vulnerable to natural disasters not covered by HOI (home owners insurance)
  • earns no realizable return without acquiring additional expense (ie even if you sell your house you have to live somewhere)
  • not tax deductible like mortgage interest
  • vulnerable to foreclosure
  • vulnerable to law suites
  • not liquid, especially in a financial emergency
Out of Debt

If someone is considering paying extra principle payments, the end goal is likely to be "out of debt." Therefore it is important that we define being Out of Debt. To be out of debt, is to have liquid assets more than or equal to debt obligations. Out of debt is not the same as being debt free.

A completely debt free attitude is silly and unnecessary. There are few people in this world that got anywhere of financial significance without debt. Even Dave Ramsey wouldn't be who he is without taking on some bad debt and making some bad business decisions. A "debt free" lifestyle is likely to be financially mediocre and you will most likely "struggle through" retirement as Dave likes to say it.

Alternative to Principle Payments

One of the best ways to make a decision is to consider the opportunity cost. Instead of paying extra principle payments, try putting the money in a secure, liquid side fund earning close to your interest rate. A good choice is a MFIC (maximum funded insurance contract). It is secure, liquid, earns 3-10%, tax advantaged, safe from law suits and bankruptcy. MFIC's are also our topic for next weeks Money Monday.

Advantages of Side Fund Alternative
  • If you loose your home to foreclosure or natural disaster your money is still safe
  • You maintain tax deduction for your mortgage interest
  • You will actually be "out of debt" faster with the side fund surpassing your mortgage
  • If you have a financial emergency you can access your liquid side fund
  • Even after you are "out of debt" you can continue to contribute to the side fund maintaining your tax deduction and making even more money in the side fund
Every debt situation is different. This solution is not for everyone. That is always why I tell you to educate yourself. Ponder your situation. If your mortage is "Bad Debt" (read Good Debt VS Bad Debt) then get out. However, if you can turn your mortgage into "Good Debt" and strategically use it to increase your wealth, why wouldn't you?

This was a very short synapsis of the situation. If you would like more specific answers to your situation, please comment and I will do all I can to help.

Be Smart and Thrive

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Friday, December 16, 2011

My Prediction: How This Mess Will Unfold

The EU Will Go First.

This is not because the EU is worse then us. Although they are, they still have a lot of options to delay the inevitable. Financial collapse always takes longer than you think and happens faster than you can imagine. The main reason why the EU will go before the US is because of the flight to "security" ie the US dollar.

If encountering an angry bear in the wilderness, you don't have to run faster than the bear. As long as you can run faster than your friend, the bear will catch your friend first and you will be safe. In fact Brian Matayoshi died because his wife ran faster than him. OK, in a real bear attack situation, there are a lot of variables, but that's beside the point.

Just like the the bear in the woods, if the US runs faster than the EU (ie the EU is worse) then the EU investors will run to the "security" of the US dollar when the EU crashes. This will drive up the price of the dollar, and drive down the US dollar prices of commodities. That means the price gold and other metals will crash.


The real estate bubble in China makes our real estate bubble look like nothing. Honestly, people were buying homes, never to occupy or rent, only to hold because real estate "never" goes down. Google "Chinese Ghost Towns." Entire towns that are empty, just because of the "bubble." The bubble is breaking! If the Chinese bubble breaks it will further the flight to the U.S. dollar.

Unites States

All this flight to security will be great for the US dollar. Unfortunately loosing our largest importer (EU) and our largest exporter (China) will destroy our economy. That combined with a stronger dollar will crash the U.S. economy and stock market. We will also see unprecedented volatility.

Right now there are two things propping up the US economy. One is printing money and the other is the government spending money. Neither can continue much longer. Eventually the Fed will no longer be able to finance our government debt. Inflation will prevent it. Without the ability to borrow, our government will have to end it's spending spree.

Unfortunately, I don't think the Fed nor the US government will cease these self destructive policies any time soon. The Fed has to print money to maintaing government spending. Government gets bigger, not smaller, and will continue to do so.

Eventually inflation will force the reality of the situation to come forth. The world will realize the the United States cannot outrun it's fate, and that it will follow suit with all the other major world economies. Eventually investors, like they have done with the EU, will demand higher return for their risk of U.S. securities. The U.S. will fail to be able to fund their debt and will have to print money or restructure their debt.

Disclaimer: there are a lot of variables in the world economy. Many things can change our course, but our course is obvious. History dictates the consequences of certain actions and policies. It gives me an idea of the future, but predicting the future is impossible.

Next week you can read about what we can do to fix this problem and survive as a nation. Until then, be smart and thrive.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gear Review: Wire Saw

When backpacking long distances, the last thing you want is extra weight. That's exactly why when looking for wood cutting tool I chose the "Commando Wire Saw." It's so light that there was little opportunity cost, and it seemed like it would be effective.

I took it to Yellowstone this summer. Yellowstone has few back country camping sites, and those sites are pretty heavily camped. When it came to collecting wood I had to be able to get wood few others could. This is where the wire saw came in handy.

The positives are that it works. It cut wood up to 3" thick. The down side is that it hurt my fingers and it took a lot of energy. Still, it's so light and compact I would take it over any other saw I have found. It does what you need it to, and if you had to break some big wood you can use some rope or cord to make handles so it doesn't hurt your fingers.

All in all, I think it is a pretty nice thing to have in your pack. An incredibly useful tool and almost no weight.

Be Smart and Thrive

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why Dave Ramsey is an Epic Fail: Distribution Strategy

If you love Dave, great. He helps a lot of people. He is amazing at helping people get out of debt, but he is not an investment advisor. He is not a financial strategist. He is a salesman and an entertainer. I too love Dave for helping a lot of people, but it is important to know ard realize that he is not a one size fits all answer. The Following is a very common scenario implementing Dave's strategy.
            If someone needed $50,000 a year in order to retire, and they think they can get a 10% return, then theoretically they will need to have $500,000 in order to retire. This is a modest living, but possible. If they retire in1998, and they didn’t make any withdrawals until the end of each year, then their account balance would look like this.

Return (%)
Return ($)

 $           -  
 $  500,000
 $  143,650
 $    50,000
 $  593,650
 $  125,320
 $    50,000
 $  668,970
 $   (60,943)
 $    50,000
 $  558,026
 $   (66,852)
 $    50,000
 $  441,175
 $   (98,250)
 $    50,000
 $  292,925
 $    84,128
 $    50,000
 $  327,053
 $    35,387
 $    50,000
 $  312,440
 $    14,966
 $    50,000
 $  277,406
 $    43,664
 $    50,000
 $  271,070
 $    14,800
 $    50,000
 $  235,871
 $   (87,791)
 $    50,000
 $    98,080
 $    26,589
 $    50,000
 $    74,669

            They did great when the market did great. Their account balance even grew when they were taking out their needed income. But as you notice their balance goes from $500,000 to $74,669 over the course of ten years. They are likely to run out of money in the next year or two. Most of us plan on being retired for longer than 10 years. If this person retired at age 65 they would run out of money by age 76 or 77. When someone runs out of retirement funds they often are not in the condition to work which leaves them two options; move in with family, or live in extreme poverty. Yes there is Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare for now, but that is never ideal nor desirable.

            You may ask, “What happened? Why didn’t it work?” The simple answer in this case is timing. The market doesn’t just go one way. It goes up, down, and sideways. This person only makes money on up years, and they still have to withdrawal money when they haven’t made any. This person just didn’t time his retirement right. It’s not an easy thing to do.

            The root of the problem is the assumptions of needs based planning that the market will always go up on an average 10%. That assumption allows people to plan on living off their interest rate, or their returns each year. However, when their return is not enough, they will likely not be able to reduce their expenses sufficiently. The result is a withdrawal of the basis, or the amount from which they earn returns used to pay living expenses. This means that the amount of returns they will receive from year to year will be less. Essentially their retirement income will be less. Unless they decrease their expenses to match their decreased income the result will be fatal.

There is no "one stop shop" for financial survival. Our financial world is constantly changing. All we can do is educate ourselves and hold on for the ride; be smart and thrive.