Be Prepared (Part 3): Instead of Money

Money, money, money
Always sunny
In a rich man’s world

A little Abba to brighten your day!
Our global culture has moved from one in which indebtedness was considered a sin or a crime, to the past decade, where indebtedness became the norm. But now the chickens have come home to roost.

We are all plugged into the external economy and its impact can be damaging emotionally and financially for families. How can we make our families more resilient, so we can ride the economic turbulence with minimal suffering?

Understanding money…
There are a number of directions that we need to approach money from. Firstly as an emotional/ energetic source – most of us have some sort of energetic issue with money: the desire to hoard, the need to value ourselves financially, never having enough, taking on more debt that we can handle, addictive spending. Secondly, we need to consider it as the real hard stuff that makes life tick, pays the bills and is the numbers in our bank account. Thirdly as a rather abstract economic model on which our culture is based.

Money is both complex and very simple.

Beyond banks

In the past couple of years, banks have shown  themselves to not be the steady, reliable institutions we were always told that they were. Many are losing faith in traditional financial institutions for a variety of  reasons: lack of ethical investment, anger at bankers bonuses, lack of interest returns, poor investment in community projects, lack of security for savings, reduction in lending to individuals, corruption, lack of accountability… need I continue?

The best way of dealing with money is not needing money at all, in being reliant on your skills and resources, rather than needing to pay others for goods and services, and therefore needing a full-time job, or two to pay all your creditors. See my article on Balancing Work and Parenting…

However, we are still a money based society, and whilst we can focus on reducing our outgoings, and find alternatives to hard cash for other needs, total self-reliance and living off the economic grid is not a reality for most.

So what to do?

An influential and respected blogger from The Oil Drum made suggestions at a great talk my husband attended a couple of months back at UCC, prior to the total melt down of the Irish economy.

Take your money out of the banks, and keep it safe yourself. 
Pay off your debts.
Invest in your health.
I’d like to add a few more…
These have traditionally been property, fine art and wines. However you can’t eat art if you need it, and burning it aint much use either! A lot of people have had their fingers burnt with property investment in the past few years.

Investments that might be worth investigating for the next few years– both because their value will increase hugely – AND they will be products much in demand are:

Forestry – preserves the forested land  and so helps combat global warming and gives you land plus wood if needed.
Land – preserves it from large scale development, and again provides space to build/ grow food on, if needed.
Green technologies – solar, wind and wave – either micro generation for your own home ( but do research CAREFULLY and consult with  advisers who do not stand to make money from you- all solar panels are neither Good not practical for all people). Or shares in green technology companies, though knowing which will be successful is always a gamble.
Oil– shares (though ethically this is very tricky -does one invest money in a company like BP which is responsible for the destruction of the environment?), or barrels stored somewhere for your own personal use. One thing I can guarantee is that the price of petrol/ oil/ diesel will only go up in the next few years as demand gets higher and extraction harder.
Seeds and tools for yourself and your family
AND of course:
Education and health. For yourself, your family, your community. Both of these have high costs when they are not “implemented” early on, and are priceless for individuals and communities.

You can have all the barrels of oil in the world but if you don’t have your health…

Beyond money 
Get beyond needing a large wage (and beyond the tax man!)

Barter – a traditional form of exchange of goods which is making a come back.
LETS – (Local Exchange Trading Scheme) – where people exchange their skills and products, no money is used, rather exchanges are recorded as credits.  those of you who are local, there is a Midleton/ East Cork initiative starting up here. Again see my article above for more on LETS and barter.

Or simply informal skill swaps amongst friends and the community: I paint your wall and you babysit for my kids.

Local Currencies- which keep money in the local economy – see one of the founding Transition Towns for more…
And finally, STOP BUYING STUFF! We are now referred to as consumers by business and government. Not people, nor citizens, nor even producers, but consumers. We have really bought into the fact that if we just have this thing or that, then our lives will be perfect and we will be happy. But they won’t. When will we learn? You can’t take it with you when you go! … Got to go – here comes the postman with my over sized Amazon order!
Further Reading:
The End of Money
Your Money or Your Life
After the Crash the Rainbows
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