None of us just woke up one morning with a storage room filled with a year’s supply of food and toilet paper. Nor did we simply pop open the trunks of our vehicles to find Santa had left ‘bug out’ kits for Christmas. No, we saved, we scrimped, we planned, we designed, we implemented. The sense of accomplishment and security is quite satisfying.
There are no ‘accidental’ Preppers. Sure, some of us were a little big foggy about our direction in the early days, but we knew we were going somewhere and we knew why.
Some are motivated by political or religious concerns. Some may be worried about the end of Civilization. Others may be financially or environmentally motivated. We’re not all ‘Doomsday Preppers’, but each of us had a catalyst, something that drove us to this movement, to this lifestyle.
For my wife and I, Prepping, was the natural progression of some financial decisions we made almost thirteen years ago.
In late 1999 or early 2000, while we were living in SW Iowa, we were hit by a financial tornado of our own making. Brittan and I were in debt up to our eyeballs. We were so financially irresponsible, I think they created new levels of credit unworthiness and named them after us.
I remember going to buy a car from one of those, “Everybody’s approved” places, only to hear them say, “You might just be the exception.” My credit rating was below 400. According to FICO, 350 is the lowest score they have. I was getting close and my Bride wasn’t much better. We were spending fools. Well, maybe we were just ordinary fools who really knew how to spend, but just didn’t know how to pay back.
I lost count of the number of debt collectors who hounded us day and night. Some of them were helpful and empathetic. Some were cruel and abusive. None of them got paid. Eventually, I got voice mail for our phone line and stopped answering, just so I wouldn’t have to hear it anymore.
Then they started calling my work. I couldn’t escape them. These people were relentless, sometimes ruthless and I could only run so fast or so far.
I remember, like yesterday, the moment I finally broke. One particularly cruel collector called my office and spoke with a volunteer receptionist. When he got through to me, he queried, “What kind of man are you? What kind of person piles up bills then runs away from them? I bet your family is proud. How do you sleep at night?”
Ouch! He was being hurtful to guilt me into giving him some money. It worked. Oh, but he also touched a truth and a part of my soul he had no way of knowing he reached. That day, in that building, I bowed my head and repented of my behavior. I vowed to eliminate all my debt so that I would never hear someone utter those kinds of words again.
My wife and I outlined a plan and we went to work getting out of debt. It took us until May of 2006 to accomplish it. Apart from mortgage related stuff, we have been debt free since then.
I told our story in my wildly successful book, “IOU NO MORE”, which I published back in 2007. I say, “Wildly successful” with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. I think I sold dozens of copies. I blame Dave Ramsey. Just kidding, Dave, it’s not your fault you sold all those books of yours and didn’t leave anyone to buy mine. I’m not bitter…. much.
After we eliminated our debt, the next thing we wanted to do was build an emergency fund of 3 to six months cash. That way, if somehow we lost our income stream, we’d be able to pay our mortgage and eat, while we looked for work.
One morning, in early 2008, while we were over-paying for groceries and lamenting the fact that we were filling our bodies with highly processed garbage. We tossed out the notion that we could save money by growing our own food and storing it.
Somewhere along the way, it morphed into a grander plan. The reasoning went something like this; if it’s wise to have a cash reserve of three to six months, wouldn’t it be just as wise to have a food and basic staple reserve that’s just a large? And so, “Our Edible Suburb” was born.
Since that time, we’ve found some acreage and also grow our own meat, dairy and poultry. We have freezers and pantries full of staples and food. We have cows, goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs and now Tilapia, bluegill and catfish. We have donkeys and mules in the eventuality that gasoline becomes unaffordable. We have moved from an emergency fund to a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. Our Edible Suburb is now, East of Eden Farms.
One step remains; we need to own our farm outright. We need acreage with no debt at all. We have a timetable in place. Once that date arrives, our mission will be complete. Life is already good. On that day, it will be Heaven on earth while we await Heaven for real.
I have chosen not to write about armaments or ammunition. I don’t want to scare our neighbors. When the “Doomsday Prepper” team asked us about our gun safe, I refused to discuss it or allow access to it. I merely said, “We’re covered.” I’m not sure whether we were being overly cautious, but it seemed prudent at the time.
Speaking of “Doomsday Preppers”, I’ll tell that story, and why we backed out of filming just days before their scheduled arrival, later. For now, I’d just like to share one particular conversation we had with them. (For the record, they were very nice people and very gracious when we backed out at the last-minute).
I said, “One particular conversation”, but we had it three different times. They asked, “Why do you do all of this? What are you preparing for? What are you afraid of?”
I replied, “We’re not afraid of anything. That’s what preparing is about. If your heart and soul are ready for Eternity; if you have cash, food, supplies and security for your family while you’re here, then there is nothing to fear. I sleep like a baby at night. I am ready. My family is taken care of.”
That’s our story, what about yours? What motivates you to prepare? I’d love to hear what runs your engine. Please, do share.