Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Creating a Little Cushion

During a recession, it is common to hear financial gurus repeat over and over how important it is to keep some money in savings for those “just in case” scenarios. Like a job loss. Or an unexpected illness. Or an auto accident. Usually they recommend having 6 weeks to 3 months worth of expenses stashed away so that you can keep paying bills and buying food even when income is tight or stalls entirely.

And when we hear this advice, we don’t think to ourselves, “what an overreaction! These financial people are crazy! If they keep talking like this, people are going to get really freaked out and then things will just get worse!” No, of course we don’t think that. Instead, we think “that is pretty smart. I should probably do that. It would certainly make me feel more prepared if something bad were to happen.”

Why is it, then, that when the same advice is given about stocking up on food and emergency supplies that we don’t have the same response? Why, when someone mentions that we should keep a few weeks to a few months of rations in our basement do we say, “only paranoid people do that,” or “that’s just crazy!” Why do we not consider it wisdom to gather a few helpful items like extra blankets, fuel, batteries and first aid supplies, and instead shrug it off as an overreaction?

A Little Cushion
Why, when we could easily create a little cushion in our lives in case something bad happens do we only consider money in the bank? As if money is the only thing to tide us over if times are rough.

Needless to say, I am a big advocate of keeping my pantry full and my basement stocked with supplies. Why? Because it makes just as much sense to me to do that as it does to put aside money. In fact, it makes so much sense to me that it is one of the main reasons I wanted to write this Recessionista series in the first place.

What is (and is not) Debatable
And sure--just like with cash savings, you can argue about how much to set aside. Is it smart to have 6 weeks of food or 12? (By the way, the US federal government recommends that every household have at least 2 weeks worth of food stored for emergencies.) Do you need iodine or just bandaids? Is it necessary to have batteries and propane or just batteries? And as with money, the answers to those questions have a lot to do with your means and your personality.
But the wisdom of having something really shouldn’t be debatable. You should have food and first aid supplies in your home, just like you should have savings in the bank.

Getting Started
So, to get started on getting prepared, here a few places to check out.
* the US Goverment's Ready.gov
* link to various articles from Real Simple magazine on emergency preparedness
* the Red Cross preparedness kit

As always, share your thoughts and ideas on creating a cushion by posting your comments here!

Previous Related Recessionista posts:
Homegrown Resilience
The Two-Step Shuffle
It's So Trendy!


  1. So funny, this week we have run out of like everything, and I was starting the Costco list. Every 3-4 months I stock up on everything. I hate running out, especially of TP. But this reminds me that it is good and okay to be prepared!


  2. Back when people lived rural lives and had to travel long distances just to shop, they always stocked up for months at a time. I love our modern conveniences of grocery stores on every corner, but I wonder if maybe we've gotten too comfy...


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