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By May 11, 2012 Read More →

Prepping and the NEW AFFLUENCE

The author along with an investor in his homestead

Prepping could be a fad.  I mean, it’s possible that there is a combination of ‘end of civilization’, conspiracy and fear scenarios  along with a breath taking economic down turn that intersected to created a short lived phenomenon that will burn hot for a minute, then quickly cool like microwave popcorn.  Add the band wagoneers brought in by the buzz from certain reality series and, voila, we’ve got ourselves a genuine, honest to goodness American fad.

It could be that, but I don’t think so.  At least, I’m convinced that it doesn’t have to be so.  I am increasingly led to the conclusion that the economic problems of the last 4 years, especially the housing crisis, have shifted the financial tectonic plates in this country and the movement has created a new understanding among Americans about money, debt, wealth, food and the future.  I call it, The New Affluence.

I’m a baby boomer in my mid fifties.  (Yep, I’m OLD.  It will happen to you someday too, so don’t roll your eyes.  Get ready now, because it will happen before you know it.)  My generation and the couple that followed grew up believing that our homes were our biggest investments.  We grew up inside the bubble.  House prices would always increase.  We would take out large, long term mortgages and often refinance every few years to grab the equity and spend or invest it.  The gravy boat would never run dry.

Eventually, the thought became, buy as much house as you can possibly afford. You will be more comfortable and your payoff would be, or at least could be, huge.  We were wrong.

About the same time, we started buying bigger, more expensive cars and toys, using home equity lines and bottomless credit cards to finance our every desire.  Then the bubble burst and the bottom fell out.

It was only then we realized that houses, like everything else, are subject to the ups and downs of market trends and national stability.  Most of us lost some, millions lost everything.  It felt like a total eclipse of the sun.

Out of the rubble, a phoenix is rising; a bird with a wiser, more pragmatic understanding of finances and investments.  This new understanding says: buy only as much house as you need, avoid debt, live simply and practice self sufficiency.  This is the NEW AFFLUENCE.  It is the difference between true wealth and the appearance of wealth.

Remember what our grandparents used to tell us:  Live on less that you earn, neither a borrower nor a lender be, put something aside for a rainy day, waste not want not?  It turns out the old geezers were right.

Now we have a growing throng of people putting the NEW AFFLUENCE to work.  We are buying smaller houses. We are growing and preserving some or even all of our own food.  We consider storing up basic necessities as natural as putting money in a savings account.  We are setting money aside and we are buying commodities like gold, silver and land.  We have eliminated our credit card debt.  We pay cash for cars.  And we have something we haven’t had in years; CASH.  It’s a great life and a great feeling.

I am well aware that only a comparative few are on board with the NEW AFFLUENCE so far.  I also know more are waking up to the truth every day.  Many never will.  Some will, in fact, mock us for our lack of cool.  I’d rather be right than cool any day.  Besides, I have something the mockers will never have; FREEDOM.

Are you part of the NEW AFFLUENCE movement?  Tell us your story.  We’d love to hear it.

Posted in: Commentary

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19 Comments on "Prepping and the NEW AFFLUENCE"

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  1. Nehweh Gahnin says:

    Hmmmm…  I’m not feeling “affluent” yet.  But you are spot on, and I’m working on it.  Strange, but the method of getting to this new “affluence” is to decouple yourself from social matrix that kept us in that debt-serfdom, and that is not always an easy (or possible?) thing to do.  In my case, part of the game I participated in involved going to college, getting a degree (and in my case, a graduate degree), and throwing yourself onto the gears while your earnings and investments, including housing, would inevitably eliminate that initial investment and lead to a retirement filled with toys and travel.  Turns out, not so much.

    I worked my way through a private college and grad school, and passed my professional exams in two states.  Nonetheless, I had borrowed $51,000 throughout my collegiate career.  As of this writing, I’ve paid $65,000 back (28% interest).  I owe $81,000.  I cannot eliminate this debt through bankruptcy, and I will never crawl out from under it.  And I’ve stopped trying.

    I have eliminated my credit cards, got out from under my upside-down house, and begun the process of decoupling in every possible area, but the specter of legal sanctions from my student loan servicer, including the loss of my professional license, always looms.  They may try to take my property, my things, and they will try to attack my dignity and my social worth, as measured by their matrix.  They may even try to take my liberty.

    What they cannot take, however, are the relationships I have developed, the community I have entered.  They cannot take the true measure of my new affluence, which is my role in a new paradigm that measures my worth by what I contribute to others, and what they contribute to me.  Through this, I can ensure that I, and those I love, can continue to feed ourselves, to lend support to each other, to live meaningfully, to enjoy this gift of life while our time permits it.  They cannot take my awareness.

    I guess if I’m allowed to re-define “affluence” to mean something other than being financially dis-connected from the rotten, corrupt system I grew up in, then I’ve found that affluence after all.

  2. Sam Burton says:

    Wow, sounds like you’ve come a long way already. Don’t give up. If you need some ideas on eliminating the rest of your debt, go to AMAZON.COM and get a copy of IOU NO MORE. I wrote it back a few years ago, but the principles are still very current. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Trudy says:

    Well, not sure about affluence (YET – heading there though), but I definitely have more at my disposal than I used to – but not in cash.  I save in gold and silver. Had I tried to save the same amount in cash, probably would not have happened as somehow cash gets spent in our family.  So I prep and I save and we are definitely better off than we were when we went along with the conventional way of living as if we were invincible.  If you are going to buy gold and silver anyway, you may as well buy it from yourself and earn and income in the process

  4. Kelley Woods says:

    Yes, I’m part of this new trend which is yet to be discovered by many. Nearly a decade ago, inspired by my parents’ lifestyle, I decided to become debt-free. It wasn’t easy, especially as I am a divorced, single mom without support from my son’s dad. That didn’t stop me and today I own my home, my car and have no credit card debt. I work for myself in a career that is fascinating and rewarding. I reduced my outgo so I do not have to stress about income. One of the best decisions I ever made was unplugging the cable TV…freeing for me and my kid!

  5. Jake01 says:

    All of these elaborate high tech pieces of gear will eventually reach a point where they are useless. Water filters only have so many applications and then you need another filter and another. Are you going to carry all of those replacements with you? Food stocks will expire or be used up and then what happens next? Ammo runs out, then what do you do? If all of us are about to be sent back in time to pre-1700 era time frames, we should be planning on how to survive using stone knifes and clubs, finding food sources from the most likely places, the oceans and great lakes. Communication devices and all electrical equipment will be useless for an indeterminate time frame because of either a man made EMP or one from the Sun. Man’s new time for activity will be in day light hours and little to nothing at night.The numbers of survivors will rapidly diminish until it reaches a stable point roughly around the first 60 day mark, after that it will get easier to survive because the untrained and unprepared will have all died off leaving only those capable of inhabiting in the new environment.

    • Sam Burton says:

      Jake, not really on point to my article, but valid thoughts related to prepping in general. I think that your are mistaken regarding food storage, ammo, etc. Some of us have learned to raise our own food and save seeds. We raise our own animals. We hunt. We fish. We know how to boil water, make fire and have a few other primitive skills. I promise you that I will not run out of ammo :-). I have no desire to abandon technology, but I agree with you that we should learn to thrive even if technology abandons us.

  6. Sam Burton says:

    Trudy and Kelly, Thanks for sharing. You ROCK. You are changing your lives AND changing your legacy. Good for you. You inspire me.

  7. Jane says:

    Fantastic article!! Although we are a far cry from being part of ‘the new affluent’, we are certianly there in spirit. If we buckle down and take a little action in this direction every day, we will be there…that will be true freedom.

  8. Cindy B. says:

    This article is spot on. Four years ago when the housing bubble burst we started working on becoming debt free. We were over 40,000 in debt with our credit cards alone. Thats not counting cars. It was scary. Today happily the only thing we owe on is our home. We are on track to have that paid for in 5 years. We have managed to put aside a really nice emergency fund. But, I am also now including in that “emergency fund” food and other supplies. We are also putting something else into our emergency fund ….skills. By that I mean, learning to garden, canning, learning to basket weave, sewing, foraging, making soap, deoderant…. etc. I try to learn one new thing everyday. I devote an hour on the internet trying to learn something that would come in handy if the SHTF. I now consider myself very affluent. I have things money just can’t buy. I sleep well because I move more learning new things, worry less, and am the happiest that I have ever been. I know most people assume that preppers are worry warts, and that we all obsess about the what if….. well in our case that is simply not true. With every passing day as we get more and more prepared, we both have a calming sense of security.

  9. countrygran says:

    You are so right that we should learn from our parents. My mom and dad bought 2 acres in 1954 and started a house. They built as they could afford. They put up the frame and finished off 3 rooms. As they could they finished off a 1700sq foot house a little at the time. When they finished they had no mortgage. They never went in debt for anything. Mother stayed home with me. I never appreciated any of this until now. Mother canned every summer, sewed my clothes, crocheted blankets. My father was a master carpenter and a jack of all trades. There were never any repairmen at our house. There were no convenience foods in our house. I learned from her and never appreciated those lessons until now. I have many skills and abilities that will serve me well in this economy. I may not be there yet but I am working hard on developing patience. We are very close to paying off everything but our home and are moving forward on readiness for whatever may come.

  10. Paul says:

    Good article. It seems to me that society has lost its perspective reguarding material comforts. When my parents were married in 1963, they lived with my maternal grandmother. They didn’t have credit. They had to save for everything. As time went on and they accumulated more stuff, including a house, they became rather comfortable in their surroundings. Me and my sisters became accustomed to this lifestyle and expected it when we moved out and started our own families. Enter the credit card…..”We can afford that, it’s only a little each month”…..And then one day we wake up and say I can’t afford to treat my kids to a pizza because I have to make a Sears payment. Wake up America!

  11. What a terrific article and fresh look at the term “Affluent”!  It feels good to be disengaging ourselves from the hamster cage and focusing on being more self sufficient instead of chasing after trends and an appearance of affluence, as you so aptly stated.  My husband and I have actually had this mindset for many years, but have felt like lone rangers.  I am so happy that more and more people seem to be waking up and starting to take basic steps toward being more self reliant and prepared for whatever emergencies may come our way.  It seems ironic that you can live simply, work hard, study to learn new skills,  yet feel “rich” inside… I wish this for everyone.  

  12. Interesting thought and comparison as to our chosen lifestyles being a “fad or a new understanding”. I believe that you are right on track that the economics of our time has changed and I don’t believe they will come back from the “more is better” ideals nor should.
    This is not new for me, as I have always done things oldstyle and it allowed me to keep my kids out of daycare and live on one income. It has allowed my husband and I to be early retired. It has allowed us a happy life.

    Thanks so much for writing this article. It is difficult to make sense of what is happening and then put it in words.