FIVE AND FIVE
Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to stop taking myself too seriously, stop trying to save the world personally or stop worrying overly much and relax just slightly and have a Wonder Bread article rather than a dense as lead whole wheat nutritious one. So in that spirit, a bit of more fluffy material, an article on the five biggest money wasting prep items I ever bought and the five preps I wish I could afford, as per the usual suspect minion suggestion. I’ve actually put off this for awhile, as really, if I think about for any length, I have a hard time completing either list. I never REALLY wasted all that much, nor have I sacrificed all that much, because that is not in my nature. I over think and over analyze everything in my life and it is hard to make too many mistakes that way ( although, you could fault that brain wiring for the lack of a career in law enforcement which I had aspired. It wasn’t just the little boy fascination or the following in my fathers footsteps kind of thing, but also a desire to make a difference and have a career rather than a succession of jobs-but endlessly ruing what isn’t physically possible is foolish and I usually can avoid it except those odd 3am sleepless moments ). You could claim I screw up most relationships because I DON’T analyze my partners close enough, but long ago I decided I didn’t want to be alone so the bad partners were just the price of that. The decision itself was sound, just not the practitioners sharing in that.
I’ve made a lot of decisions that turned out to cost a lot of money, but I hesitate to call them the worst prepper items. I have the acre of land four miles from a power pole, that is too far away to plow in the winter. For twelve years I held a piece of property that I couldn’t live on since I worked in town. It still seems like a good thing to have as it is the perfect retreat property. Nobody is going to disturb me there. Yes, it is four miles to the river, either south or east ( basically in the crock of the L as the river moves north to west ), but with rain catchment and a bicycle that isn’t terrible. Getting into town is a bear, about a thirty mile round trip, but I’d imagine if I ever need to live there I’ll mostly be eating wheat anyway and the feed store is at the beginning of town on the east side. Store shopping would be marginal as the economy implodes and meat and dairy prices skyrocket. But just because I can use it and so don’t get rid of it doesn’t mean it wasn’t the biggest financial prepper mistake.
#1 PREPPER MISTAKE-$3300 unoccupied land.
I don’t rank this number one even if the dollar amount is higher. When we decided to leave Florida, the wife unhappy living near family and I unhappy to be left there after my kids left the state, plus really getting to hate my job which was getting chock a block full or corporate idiocy, the original plan was to head for Kingman Arizona ( the wife’s pick, not mine ). Low elevation and heat to appease her, low city lot prices and friendly zoning to appease me. Alas, there were few job opportunities so we had to choose somewhere else to live. I wasn’t moving back to California so the nearest place to Lake Tahoe ( redneck boonies when I lived there as a kid, crowded with douche bag asswhore tree huggers when I lived there when the kids were born-but I did love the Alpine clime ) was in Carson City. Yes, my folks lived fifteen miles away and that was a bonus but really it was the only place out west out of California that I was familiar with so that is where we ended up. Within three or four days I was hired by a casino in slot department management.
I worked that position for three years and I hated every day. I loved who I was working with, a great bunch of gals, but there was the constant daily drama of herding cats when a group of females works together. Sadly, the customers were easier to deal with. However, the job paid well. It was going to be the last job I hated but stayed for the money ( by this time I was half way through my two decade child support and I was bone weary working crap jobs for the few extra penney’s just to make ends meet ), and it was. Oh, I ended up hating my last job at the Food Bank as I was saddled with one of the world’s worst bosses of all time, the perfect intersection of total incompetence masked by ass kissing and a growing laziness in which any part of her job I didn’t do was cause for conflict, but I didn’t stay there for the money. It was minimum wage and the job economy locally isn’t so bad I had no other options. I had started out loving the job and didn’t want to leave. The Queen Bitch Whore eventually forced me out. But, to return to Carson City ( middle left of the state, Elko is the upper right, so as to save you a trip to the atlas ), I didn’t regret working the job as it paid VERY well in tips.
I bought land, even if the wrong lot, three trailers ( one arriving in town, the other to double the living space-a fifteen foot trailer is NOT a great place for two kids to visit a couple for the weekend, and if you throw in their half sister it was a nightmare ), more guns and ammo, gold and silver, more land I eventually sold as I was never going to use but the price was right ( except for the east Texas lot which I’ll gladly give away for $100 plus you pay the paperwork for the title. Look for Gun Barrel City-the lot is five miles from there. You can hook up to village utilities, and it is a double lot for a mobile home. No employment there, and for a bizarre reason I’m paying property tax to two counties which may or may not be indicative of a problem. But they are charging tax on $300 value, so it is like $3 and $5 each a year. Not sure how much that would increase with a home parked there ), the van I’ll cover below and a bunch of other stuff all with the view of living off grid, getting out of debt, and in general never being forced to work a stressful job again. THAT was worth the pain. Where I went wrong was staying in Carson two years past that job.
It all worked out well in the end. I worked the two years at the Carson City FISH food bank, which got me the job at the Elko FISH food bank ( founded by the same person in the ‘70’s although ran separately. But surprisingly identical management as both places pissed away money like the good times would never end. And by working at the Elko food bank, as crappy as it turned out, I met the New Old Lady, who is the only really good wife I’ve ever had ( my luck I find her at the ass end of both our lives ). So I don’t regret any of it, except that by staying another two years in Carson, rather than moving up to Elko and living on my land ( it would have worked if I had rented a trailer space in town the three months of winter. It would have been a God awful commute at an hour forty-five minutes each way, but I would have had few problems at that age ), I had the very unfortunate experience of paying the local greedy hump trailer park owner $350 a month for rent. Anyplace else would have been around $200, but all other parks wanted trailer no older than ten years. Poor folk unable to pay that premium had to pay the extra rent to the one park in town allowing twenty year old trailers. So, while not directly a prepper cost, I wasted that amount of money that could have gone to preps. Two years rent, minus the two winters I would have paid in Elko.
#2 PREPPER MISTAKE-$6300 rent when I could have off-grid lived.
Next up is a project that I rather enjoyed, the Hippie Bread Van. At the time I was in the first half of my five year stint living in Carson City I was making good money and knew I needed a Get Out Of Dodge vehicle. I already knew living there was a mistake, hemmed in by the California hoards on one side, the Reno idiots on the other and on a third all the Yuppie Scum from California that bought up all the ranch-ettes filling up a huge living space from there to Fallon. I allowed myself to be talked into staying for the prepping investments, as well as the fact my dad who had a heart attack several years prior was nearby. Again, no regrets as we had five years of weekly visits to enjoy each others company. I’m glad I rolled the dice and stayed. It was foolish, but not regrettable. Now he is so old, only living due to no longer achievable generous health insurance with many drugs and numerous emergency hospital visits, it is difficult to impossible to enjoy the visits with him. So I’m glad we got our time in as I love the bastard. My mother and I never really bonded and I’m lucky I did with one of them. Not that it changes the fact staying was silly and a bug out vehicle is a retarded concept.
I knew at the time it was not a great idea. But, remember, this was prior to the ‘08 economic collapse. In general, there still wasn’t that feeling of eminent danger last seen prior to Y2K and before that last sensed prior to the Soviet Union collapsing. It was merely choosing the less retarded action. Nowadays, if I repeated that, I would deserve all the disdain someone like myself could heap upon such a choice. Just remember, I usually am guilty of all the wrong choices I advise against. You may view this as hypocritical, but I see it as making mistakes and learning from them. I’ve made tactical and strategic mistakes more than financial ones, but of course we need some kind of focus in this article so I’ll try to stay on topic. This wasn’t a huge money waster, I think I put about $2500 into the van, some mechanical work and the cost of insurance over the years that it just stayed parked. I did drive it once a month to charge the battery and churn the fluids, but that was just a grocery trip I had been making on my bicycle anyway. For all intents and purposes it was just sitting awaiting the apocalypse. So not only is the BOV concept flawed, as I knew it to be from the start, but in the end it ended up being turned into a storage shed. It could have easily been an RV, as it had a V-6 installed and got great gas mileage, but I’ve never thought RV living was sustainable or intelligent. Given my concerns with Peak Oil, junk land is superior in all ways. All in all, at the end of the day, it turned into a money pit.
#3 PREPPER MISTAKE-$2500 Hippie Bread Van.
This one wasn’t even really a financial hardship. Only around a hundred bucks, this would be considered a rounding error by most preppers. But it is the one that has stuck in my craw, far worse than the ones that cost so much more. Where all the rest of the mistakes were still helpful, or one time expenses, this one was just pure ignorance on my part which is probably why it irks me so. The battery powered junk fuel stove. You know which ones I’ve talked about, the ones that use twigs or pinecones or forest debris as fuel and the little fan blows over the fire making them burn more efficiently. I think it was around $60 and I bought multiple spare motors so it would never stop working ( I already had solar chargers and rechargeable AA batteries ). Well, as you know, you can use a Dakota hole or a rocket stove to get the same results without any moving parts. It wasn’t like I was foreseeing being mobile-this was a permanent camp item. But it is just a toy. It isn’t needed at all, a discarded tin can turned into a rocket stove ( more of a Hobo stove, but close enough ) doing about the same job for free.
#4 PREPPER MISTAKE-$100 unneeded battery powered cook stove.
Back during pre-Y2K days, I was living in Florida. I always thought of Florida as a swamp infested with malarial mosquito’s and gaters, no place for a western white boy to live. As it turned out that was a terrible place for the apocalypse due to its population, unless you want to be a swamp rat. But it seemed like a good enough choice for Y2K, a winter collapse event. No need for heat. Since I was poor from first paying all the separated wives bills, then her legal financial sodomy, it seemed like a good idea. I should have gone to a small Nevada town and bought desert junk land and buried a travel trailer, but at the time I didn’t know these things existed. Florida also had good choices while prepping for the collapse. My town had a retired guy selling guns cheaper than elsewhere and allowing layaway’s on them. And not too far up the road was a survival retail shop. I got many a professional sealed bucket of wheat from them, amongst other items ( I had already been getting my wheat from feed stores, but never moved with them, re-purchasing new wheat at the new location. It just seemed that Florida begged for extra protection for my buckets, so I paid extra ).
One of those items was a Katadyn mini filter. I love the brand name and will always choose them over Berky, but this one was priced for both the times, a Y2K premium, and the nature of the genre, a specialty shop charging extra to pay the bills. If I recall correctly it was something like $250. And it only filtered something like 500 gallons. I still have it, it wasn’t a complete waste, but it was way overpaying for very little. There were other bone head purchases. $130 for three Lee-Enfield no.1’s. As you might recall, no.1’s have crappy sites. How did I miss this on three different buying trips? I’ll go ahead and blame my working graveyards for four years, my brain a soft gooey concoction at the time ( if I’d read the studies then that I did later, how utterly destructive health wise screwing up your sleep cycle is, I would have known better ). The $300 on the Chinese SKS’s. The $500 ( in mid ‘80’s dollars, so NOT cheap ) Springfield Armory 45 that gave me piece of mind until the front site fell off on its forth box or so of ammo. But none of those had the same sting as that water filter. At the time, I was unaware of the filter element in the bucket trick which would have been one quarter the price and delivered twenty times the volume, so perhaps it is my ignorance causing such consternation. I don’t mind being wrong as long as it is a teachable moment. But when looking at it from hindsight it still does sting.
#5 PREPPER MISTAKE-$250 water filter of low volume.
Okay, I think that will do for the day. I’ll finish up tomorrow, going with the five prepper item wish list.
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