How to Prepare for a Financial Apocalypse: 100 Tips and Tools to Secure What’s Yours
Posted by Staff Writers on November 27, 2008
With the economy seeming to go down more quickly each day, now is the time to think about how you will survive if things take a turn for the worse. Whether you will be protecting a huge investment portfolio or just want to hold on to your job and your house, these tips and tools will help you weather whatever economic storm comes your way. From doing it yourself to advice from experts, you will find solutions to fit your situation from the list below.
From tips on ways to protect your savings to tools that will help you grow your money, these resources will help you grow your savings.
- Keep an emergency fund. If you don’t have an emergency fund, start one now. Ideally, you should have enough money to pay all your expenses for six months without any income.
- FDIC. The FDIC insures up to $100,000 of your money. If you have more than that amount in one bank, spread it around to other FDIC-approved banks so that all of your money is insured by the federal government.
- Diversify. Have a checking account in one bank, savings in another, and any investments such as CDs in yet another bank so that if any one bank fails, you don’t lose everything.
- Put extra back. Whether you save change, put an extra amount from each paycheck in savings, or use another method for saving a little extra, put something back each month.
- Reduce the amount you add to 401(k). Take the money you usually add to your 401(k) and put it in an FDIC-insured account instead as suggested by MSN Money.
- mint. Manage your money with this free software that connects your bank, credit cards, and mutual funds to help you gain control over your finances.
- BillMonk. Keep track of your money, track items you loaned to others or items you have borrowed with this tool.
- BudgetTracker, Inc. Get control of bills, investments, bank accounts, and more with this tool that will make budgeting simple.
- How much can you save?. Use this tool to calculate how much money you can save over time.
- What is your net worth?. Insert cash, bank accounts, investments, and more into this calculator to find your net worth.
- Savings Calculator. Find out how much you can save to meet your savings goals with this tool.
If you are like so many Americans, you probably have some debt. Learn how to get out from under these debts and start fresh.
- Get out of debt. The first thing you should work toward is getting out of debt. If you can’t get completely out of debt, pay off the high interest debt first.
- Downsize your car. If you are paying big car payments, downsize to a car with lower payments or one you can buy outright.
- Keep paying. Don’t stop paying altogether on any debt. Pay something on everything you owe. Contact creditors and make arrangements for lower minimum payments or reducing interest rates.
- Don’t use credit cards. Now is not the time to be charging up your card. If you use credit cards, make sure you can pay off the total amount each month.
- wesabe. wesabe can help you get out of debt with help tracking spending and creating goals towards getting out of debt or saving money.
- Zopa. This social finance company brings borrowers and investors together to help create loans that benefit both lenders and borrowers.
- Debt Help. From Credit.com, these debt tools will help you figure out the best way to reduce your debt.
- What Will It Take To Pay Off My Balance?. Use this tool to determine how long you will need to pay to get out of debt.
- FICO Score Estimator. Answer ten questions to get an approximation of your credit score without having to go through the credit reporting agencies.
- Should You Consolidate Your Loans?. Use this worksheet to determine if consolidating loans is a smart way for you to get out of debt.
- Credit Card Optimizer. If you have debt on multiple credit cards, this tool will help you determine the best way to manage your credit card debt.
Protecting your investments during a financial apocalypse may mean the difference between surviving or not. Find out how you can come out of a tough time with investments intact.
- Look to the future. Decide which investments are most vulnerable and which are not so you can do what you need to for each .
- Small caps. Invest in small caps for a sound investment choice for both bull and bear markets, whether you are investing for the short term or not.
- Don’t go aggressive. Even if you are young, a balanced investment portfolio will hold more promise in tough times than one that is super aggressive.
- Don’t sell all stocks. The stock market will likely bounce back when the economy becomes more healthy. Don’t panic and sell all your stocks.
- Bonds. Bonds are typically a safer investment than stocks. Consider investing in bonds while the market is volatile.
- Counter-cyclicals. Invest in markets that do well when the economy is down such as alcohol, tobacco, movies, and trade schools.
- Foreign currency. Invest in some other currency than the US dollar to ensure that you are backing a currency that is strong rather than going downhill.
- Diversify. Split your investments between a handful of more secure stocks such as public utilities, medical, and communications.
- Go gold. Gold is usually a very safe investment and one you might consider rather than stocks, bonds, or money markets.
- StockCloud. Follow your stock investments with this cloud that shows stock ticker symbols with different font size that correlates to how frequently the companies issues press releases.
- Which bond is better?. If you have decided to invest in bonds, use this calculator to help figure out the best bond for you.
When companies feel the effects of economic hard times, unemployment starts to rise. Protect yourself and your livelihood with these tips and use the tools to help with relocation or inexpensive commuting or job hunting.
- Become invaluable. One sure way to increase your job security is to become invaluable. If you are the only one who knows how to do a specific task or job that is important to the company, you are unlikely to be the first to go during layoffs.
- Learn new skills. Boost your worth at the company by learning new skills that you can apply to your current job.
- Tow the line. Now is the time to make sure you come in and leave on time, take the appropriate amount of time for lunch, and don’t take too many personal days. Show your employer that you are serious about your job.
- Have resumes ready. Keep a few different updated resumes current that accentuate different skills so that you can show off your abilities for different types of jobs.
- Outsource yourself. If you lose your white-collar job, sell yourself to foreign companies who may be looking for experienced professionals in your field.
- Network. Keep in touch with friends and acquaintances at other companies in case you do lose your job.
- Learn a trade that will always be in demand. Certain jobs will always be needed no matter the state of the economy. Think about your skills and abilities and consider what other career you could do if you lose your current job. Skills such as construction and health care will always be needed.
- Work a second job. Even if the second job is a minimal source of income, having more than one stream of income may be useful if you lose your major source of money.
- PayScale. Compare your salary with others who have similar job titles, education, location, skills, and experience so you can search for alternate employment markets in case you lose your job.
- Get to work cheaply. Carpool to work, or better yet, walk, ride your bike, or telecommute.
- Google Transit. If you’d like to use public transportation to get to work or find a new job, use this tool to map your route with Google Maps.
- Google Ride Finder. Find taxis and shuttles an any city using real time Google Maps to help you get to work or find work without a car.
Changes in your daily lifestyle now can make a huge difference if financial apocalypse hits later. Find out how you can prepare now with these tips and tools.
- Stop buying. Now is not the time to purchase a second plasma TV. Buy only the necessities and put that money you would have spent on the extras toward your emergency fund.
- Grocery shopping. Changing the way you buy your groceries can save you money. Look at prices and options available, use coupons, and only buy what is necessary.
- Clean out closets. Clear out everything you aren’t using and have a yard sale. Not only will you declutter your house, but you will have more money for your emergency fund.
- Create an emergency stash. If you feel comfortable having a storage of items that could come in handy if the entire US infrastructure craters, this article offers great suggestions on what you should keep on hand.
- Sell luxury items. Items such as jet skis, boats, and ATVs not only use gas you will have to pay for, they could also be sold for more money to pay off debt or add to your emergency fund.
- Get rid of big stuff. If you are renting a storage unit for all your extra stuff or have big items like unused furniture or old appliances sitting around, sell what you don’t need.
- Strengthen community relationships. If times get really tight, you may come to depend on those in your community for moral support as well as trading goods and foods. Strong relationships now mean you are in a better place then.
- Buy locally. Supporting local businesses keeps money flowing in the economy and you know the money is going to your neighbor for her living expenses rather than a corporation.
- Stock up. Keep a good supply of canned and dried foods as well as toilet paper as these will be in high demand if prices soar.
- Think ahead. Plan for ways you can cut back, earn extra money, or things you could barter if money becomes very tight for you.
- Become immune to ads. Learn to look at advertisements for what they are and you will be less likely to buy unnecessary items.
- Buy for the long term. If you have a choice between one item that costs less and another item that costs a bit more but will last considerably longer, go for the second option.
- Voluntary simplicity. Follow this trend of only living off what you need now so that if it becomes a necessity, you will not have to adjust your lifestyle. You can put away all your extra money into an emergency fund.
- Retailmenot.com. Get coupon codes for online shopping with this site that provides codes for over 13,000 stores.
- PriceProtectr. When you shop from over 120 online stores, use this tool to know if the price on your new purchase goes down. If the price drops, contact the store for a refund of the difference.
Do It Yourself
Learning how to do things yourself will help save money now and may make the difference for your survival if the economy craters. From cooking from scratch to doing your own electrical work, these tips and tools will help you take care of yourself.
- Grow your own food. Start a garden with some herbs and vegetables so that if money is really tight, you will still have something to eat. If you don’t have room to grow your own, join a community garden.
- Cook from scratch. Learn to cook your own food from scratch. A whole chicken can not only feed you dinner, but the carcass can be boiled down to create chicken stock that can be used for soups and other dishes the next few days.
- Fix it yourself. If you would normally pay a repairman for the broken dryer or a patch on the roof, learn how to do these tasks yourself. Not only will you save money, you will also learn an important skill that can be bartered.
- Learn to hunt. If you are really starving, hunting and eating a squirrel or rabbit may be a viable option–but only if you know how to do so.
- Make. Learn how to make almost anything you can imagine with a little technology and this popular online magazine.
- Instructables. Find out how to make an underground rainwater storage tank, solar powered gadgets, and more.
- Chic Knits. Learn to knit the clothes you wear with this blog that offers suggestions, tips, photos, and more.
- DIY Woodworking, Home Improvement, and Art Projects. Whether you want to learn to make a guitar or install a toilet, learn how to do it all here.
- How to Compost.org. Learn how to compost and you can use your trash to create good soil for your garden and lawn.
- Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning and Ventilating. Find out how to keep these parts of your house running smoothly without paying a professional to do it.
- Home Improvement: Electrical Systems. Learn how to do several electrical jobs around your house with these instructional articles.
Whether you lose your health insurance or a fractured infrastructure leaves you without access to medical care, these tips and tools will help you manage your own healthcare.
- Stockpile medication. Make sure you have a surplus of any prescription medications you take, but also make sure you are always taking the oldest first so you aren’t saving the expired medications.
- Learn first aid. If you can treat minor illness and injuries at home, you will not need to pay for medical care that may even be too expensive to afford.
- Stock up on OTC medications. Medications like ibuprofen, antibacterial creams, and hydrocortisone ointments can be purchased on sale or bought in bulk so that you can eventually have a stock of them on hand.
- Learn about alternative healing methods. Many herbs and items found around the house can be used for healing and wellness. Learn how to use items you can grow yourself or buy inexpensively in place of medication.
- Find practitioners who will barter. For emergencies or illnesses that require professional treatment, it would be beneficial to know practitioners who are willing to barter for goods or services when money is short.
- Become proactive. Eating naturally, staying physically active, and knowing your body are all excellent ways to prevent injury and illness from occurring in the first place.
- MEDgle. Enter symptoms, diagnoses, drugs and more along with age and gender into this interactive tool or click on the great visual menu to find out what you need to know about your health.
- DoctorPricing.com. If you don’t have health insurance, this tool is invaluable. Find physicians in your area to discover what their fees are when you pay cash for their services.
- DoubleCheckMD. Enter any prescription drugs to find side effects or drug interactions. You can also enter symptoms or an abnormal lab test to discover if your medications might be creating the problem with this easy-to-use tool.
Everyone needs a place to live, so whether you want to protect your current situation or want to plan for an emergency back-up plan, these suggestions and tools will help you have a comfortable place to live no matter what.
- Get rid of balloon or ARM mortgages. Convert these loans to fixed mortgage rate loans immediately.
- Get out of your mortgage. If you owe almost as much as your house is worth, you should consider getting out of your mortgage. If the value of your house depreciates and you are unable to pay the mortgage, you will not only no longer own your house, you will likely be in debt for the difference.
- Buy cheap land. Purchase some inexpensive rural land where you can live in an RV or build your own house and live debt-free.
- Get alternate energy sources. Buy a generator, invest in solar power, or get wind turbines to ensure you have an energy source in case public utilities are not available.
- Rainwater collection system. Catch rainwater to use for your yard and to reduce your bills, or in case of water systems being compromised, having water for daily living.
- Downsize your home. Consider moving to a smaller house and eliminating some or all of your mortgage debt.
- Have a portable form of housing. Whether you get an RV or a sturdy tent, have some form of housing that you can take with you no matter the situation.
- How much house can you afford?. Use this tool to determine how much your next house should cost and the advantages and disadvantages of the various loans available.
Don’t let a financial apocalypse catch you by surprise. Follow these blogs and use these tools to stay on top of the latest information so you can act instead of react.
- Schneier on Security. This security expert and popular author blogs about security issues as they pertain to computer security and the reaching effects that has on personal security both individually and as a nation.
- NPR: Planet Money. Keep up with the global economy with news from this blog and you will be the first to know about impending economic crisis.
- Emergent Chaos. This group blog focuses on privacy, security, liberty, and economics and includes contributors that are technology and security experts.
- The Security Practice. This collaborative blog written by employees of PayPal write about Information risk management, particularly as it pertains to the work they do at PayPal, but specifically as it affects society as a whole.
- Ceci n’est pas un Bob. Get the latest on issues about security, privacy, identity, and risk at this blog.
- Perilocity. John Quarterman blogs about risk management with posts on spammers, phishing, and banding together for the greater good.
- Conspicuous Chatter. This collaborative blog offers research and opinions on the latest topics from the fields of anonymous and covert communication, traffic analysis, and censorship resistance.
- Carpe Diem. Keep up with economics and finance on this blog written by Mark J. Perry.
- Secrecy News. Find out about any government scientific research going on from this blog sponsored by the Federation of American Scientists, which supports disclosing government secrecy in science.
- Global Incident Map. Follow patterns and make your own predictions to stay ahead of terrorism with this mapping tool.
- Incident1. Track police, fire, and emergency services on this map where you can search by zip code or within a region of any state.
- Google Maps Mania. Find or create a map to track economic crisis, structural collapse, or any other trend you want to follow with these interactive maps used in conjunction with Google Maps.