Monday, April 22, 2013

Don't Give in to Survivalist Panic Buying

Survivalists (myself included) tend to be a little bit paranoid about national and world events that occur.  We are fairly certain that something, maybe something relatively minor, is going to start a domino of events that will lead to a breakdown in society as we know it.  There is often a strong urge when something comes on our radar to secure survival equipment and supplies that we have been intending to procure but that we haven't got around to yet.  This "survivalist panic" can sometimes lead us to make bad decisions, just like things can lead real-estate buyers and stock market investors to make bad decisions.

I've been at this a long time and I've seen much of it happen before.  I had friends in the late 70's who read Howard Ruff's book How to Prepare for the Coming Hard Times and jumped on the gold buying wagon.  Gold was the perfect investment because it would retain its value no matter what happened to the fiat currency that the government was printing.  Gold prices soared.  Panic buyers wanted to get in before it was too late.  Some people scraped together ever cent that they had, including their savings and retirement, to invest in gold at $600 per ounce US.  Boom! The market collapsed.  Gold went down and down until it reached a low of about $275 in the year 2000. If they held on to their gold until 2006 they finally broke even for the first time in 26 years.  If thy still held onto it until today they have finally doubled their original investment, and it only took 33 years.  Consider this, $1000 dollars invested at 4% compound interest would more than triple in 30 years.  If my financial advisor couldn't do better than 4% he would definitely lose my business.

The second thing I want to address is the recent panic buying of ammunition.  Yes you need to have some ammo for hunting and yes you need to have some ammo for home defense; but hopefully you have been buying a little along the way.  If you have, you probably have all you need.  If you haven't, it will be available again and it will be reasonably priced.  Panic buying, fueled by fear of government legislation, has cleaned the shelves and skyrocketed the price of ammo.  The legislation is dying, the panic buyers have filled their basements, the supply will increase, the price will go down.  It's all just basic free market economics.  Same thing with guns.  Does anyone remember the previous time that the price of an AR-15 went over $2000, then went back down to about $800.00?  I'm not big on assault weapons for home defense, but if you're planning on buying one, now is not the time.

Here's my advice for spending money on survival:

1. Budget an amount that you are going to spend every month.

2. Make a prioritized list of things that you need to buy

3. Buy those things every month and don't give in to panic buying

Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Make Your Front Gate Secure

If you live in the country you probably have a front gate on your property entrance.  A good fence and a good gate is no guarantee against a determined intruder, but most thieves are looking for an easy mark so a fence and a locked gate will act as a deterrent, especially if your home is fairly far from the gate.

Here are a few tips on gate security that I have learned over the years:

1.  Attach your gate securely to the swing post.  The most common type of gate slips down into eye-bolts or sleeves to support it and allow it to swing freely.  The problem with this is that the gate can be lifted out of the supporting hardware fairly easily.  You can fix this problem by screwing some long lag bolts in above the gate pins so that the gate can not be lifted out without doing a lot of work to remove the bolts.  If you want to make the bolts even harder to remove you can grind the heads round so that a wrench will not fit on them.

2.  Use a very heavy chain to secure the gate.  Chains come in all sizes and all chains can be cut, but some are harder to cut than others.  A heavy chain will defy most all of the commonly available bolt cutters.  A hardened chain is even better.

3.  Buy a good quality combination lock.  You will lose or forget the key eventually, so get a combination lock.  For about $30.00 US you can get a four wheel tumbler lock that you can set the combination on.  This is handy to have because if you are expecting a delivery or having a group of people over; you can set a new combination, give this combination to the person or persons that will be coming over, then change the combination back after they are gone.  This will help you avoid unexpected return visitors.  It's not a bad idea to change the combination once or twice a year anyway. 

4.  Never leave your lock set to (or near) the combination.  Some people will turn just one wheel of a lock when they close it.  They think that this will save them time when they next open the lock.  Thieves know of this habit and will turn one wheel on the lock, one number at a time, reset to the original numbers and then try the next wheel.  This only takes a few minutes and if it doesn't work, they will likely move on to easier prey.  A determined intruder can keep trying and keep trying different combinations of numbers to open the lock, but if the wheels are all turned to random numbers it will take them up to 9999 tries to get the right numbers.  Even if you are leaving your gate open, scramble the combination.  It only takes a potential intruder seconds to stop at an open gate and take note of the numbers that are exposed on the lock.  They can come back later, and if you didn't scramble the combination, they have easy access.

5.  Don't leave your gate open.  Some people only close and lock their gates when they are not home.  To a thief this is like putting a sign out that says "I'm not here.  Come on in and help yourself."

6.  Always leave your lock hanging in the same position.  Another tell-tale about whether you are home or not is the position of your lock.  Some people leave their lock handing on the outside of the gate when they are leaving and leave it hanging on the inside of the gate when they are home.  Again, an astute thief will notice these kinds of things.

7.  Some people buy a home security system sign and place it by their gate.  I have mixed feelings about this one.  If your house is not visible from the road, this sign is an advertisement that there is a house here and that you have something worth stealing.  Without the sign, a passerby doesn't know if there is a house behind the gate of if you're just locking up your cows.  I would suggest no sign if your house isn't visible, and a sign if you're house is visible.

8.  Install an intruder warning system between your gate and your house.  You can purchase an inexpensive, battery operated intruder alert system for around $50 US.  This system uses a light beam to detect motion and triggers a warning beeper in your house.  This will let you know if someone has breached your gate and is headed for your house.  When you are installing this system make sure that you have it set high enough so that your dog won't set it off when they walk down the driveway.  Also make sure that no bushes or limbs will be blown back and forth in front of the beam.

9.  Install a motion activated game camera.  If worse comes to worst and someone does break in, a motion activated game camera will record the event and, hopefully, lead to the apprehension of the intruder.  Position your camera where it is not easy to spot, and make sure that it will record the license plate of any vehicle that enters your gate.