Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Debt Crisis & Homesteading

If you don't already have a homesteading mindset with plans to raise some of your own food, it's not too late to reconsider. This post may sound negative, but hang in there... read to the end.

I really do try NOT to be an alarmist or overly political, but it's just not possible to entirely separate one's self from facts which effects us so significantly. 

Recently I read an article about just the interest rate portion of our national debt. According to it's author, our current debt is 16 trillion dollars and we will pay at least 4.2 trillion JUST IN INTEREST on this amount in the years to come (with some fluctuation due to the actual interest rate over time, but on average, this is what we're looking at). 

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Let me give you a realistic measure of what 4.2 trillion actually looks like. According to Bill Eggers, a man who lead the study on this bit of trivia, he stated that "If you look at the interest payments going to foreign countries, soon we're going to be spending enough to essentially finance the Chinese military." That's because they hold a lot of our debt. He went on to say that the "debt could quickly spiral out of control if investors become less willing to lend more money."

You mean it's not out of control ALREADY? Hmmm.... if my family budget looked like this, we'd be in serious trouble. And if this were any other time in history, we'd be indentured servants by now or in debtor's prison. If I'm not mistaken, filing Chapter 13 for bankruptcy is a fairly new concept (and just dumps the debt onto someone else - like passing the buck).

Now obviously not everyone agrees with Mr. Eggers interpretation of the FACT that our debt's interest rate is 4.2 trillion. But let's think about that... 

• we're talking TRILLION, not million or even billion
• it's just the INTEREST RATE on the debt... it doesn't even touch the principle of what we owe
• fat chance the principle amount will remain where it is - more likely it will continue to increase since American just doesn't "get it" quite yet
• even if it were half of what he said - say 2.1 trillion, or even a fourth (1.05 trillion), that's a lot of dough

Okay... let's move on to my point.

I can NOT see how our American way of life is going to last much longer. Consumerism, entertainment, activities, travel, expensive food, etc... Please, leave me a kind comment explaining to me how I'm wrong if you know a reasonable way out for all of us. I'd be crazy not to get behind it!

Let's assume there is no other way... what then?

Please hear me when I say... I don't know how this will all pan out. It could be a sudden economic collapse, or it could be a slow decline in our standard of living. I want to tell you to "pray for the latter and be prepared for the former", but as our standard of living goes down, what we're able to do financially will become more and more limited. I'm already seeing it in our family budget. Are you?

It might shock you to know that I really don't feel this is a BAD thing. Perhaps uncomfortable at times. Maybe even down right painful.

I see it as... character refining, a challenge, and a refocusing on priorities. Times like this help us to take stock and do a bit of "house cleaning" or "putting things in order". It allows us to re-evaluate those things that are of real value and importance. And it forces us to live much more realistically and humbly. 

This could actually be a GOOD thing!

How Your Family Can Make the Most of the Debt Crisis

• Seek and pray. For wisdom, direction, peace, provisions. What is it that the LORD would have you do? Everything I listed below is what I believe wisdom dictates and scripture supports. But YOU need to know what God's Word says about these things. If you're not fully convinced, you won't make it through the tough times. Read the Word. Pray. Obey.

Put the family on a diet. A financial diet! Ween yourself off of a few luxuries. You pick which ones... every family is different. And it doesn't have to be ALL luxuries, but enough so that you're not hurting as much when things do get tighter.

Go long! In other words, think 10, 20, even 50 years down the road. We're notorious for thinking only about the moment and what satisfies our flesh right now! But we need to be thinking about how we want to finish this life and how (not what) we want to leave the next generation. 

Build up. If you still have the ability to do so, build structures such as barns and chicken coops, fences... long term items that will contribute to a family's well being for years to come. And do it DEBT FREE! Even if you don't think you will ever raise chickens, consider a gardening shed that could be converted if necessary. I'm amazed at how few homes have a small structure on them that could service a family's food needs! 

Establish relationships. When things get rough, we will need to barter more and more. And if civil unrest ever becomes an issue, knowing your neighbors really well goes a long way to preventing unruly behavior. It's much harder to harm someone you know well and have a relationship with. And if they know you're there to help, even better. Another really important idea - establish a homesteading group. I can't tell you how valuable this has been in my own life! Expect a post on this soon so I can update you on how our group has progressed.

Think in terms of basic needs. Food, clothing, shelter. In my humble opinion, gold (which some are trying to sell you on) won't really be of much value. Even if you have it, will anyone trade you a bushel of vegetables for it? Not if they're really hungry! Learn to grow food. Learn to live with used clothing on occasion and how to mend it. Pay off your house as quickly as possible. If you have a 30 year loan, see if you can go to a 15 and pay a bit more each month - while you have the cash. You might need to cut off the TV to do it (to pay extra on the mortgage), but it really is possible to live without the box.

Be daring. Try something totally out of your comfort zone and do it for an entire day. For example, turn off all the electricity for 24 hours and see how your family does. Or how about going an entire week without lights! Oh, yeah. That would be a HUGE challenge. Make it a fun game for the younger ones (pretend you're living in another century!) or maybe a team challenge with your teenagers. Divide the family into two groups and see which team folds first!

Don't panic. Do NOT go out and do a bunch of stuff all at once and get in over your head - either financially, physically, or psychologically. If you bite off too much at once, you'll become overwhelmed and give up entirely. Then you'll be worse off than before! Pace yourself.

Honestly, I think we're in for a slow slide to a more humble existence rather than a sudden collapse. Just my personal thoughts on that, but believe me, I am fully aware that I could be wrong! 

Either way, let's say you just slowly prepare... everything you do puts you that much further ahead. And because God tells us that if we're faithful in the small things, He will put us in charge of many things, we know that we just need to look at what He's providing each moment and be content with these things!  However, don't squander it either! 

Use your resources wisely... invest in homesteading.

Walk humbly.
Trust God.
Give thanks.

He really does own the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10)!

How has the debt crisis actually changed your family's lifestyle for the better
How are you living differently than you ever thought was possible?


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