Wednesday, February 11, 2015

consuming to invest

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As survivalists, we madly consume to build a hedge against collapse.  Yes, the ideal is to grow our own food outside our super insulated earth sheltered home, reducing our consumption down to a few machines and a lot of firearm cartridges, but if we do that we’ve gone from being consumers to being debt slaves, and so we’ve really only traded one less than ideal living standard for another.  A mortgage for thirty years, praying and hoping the economy provides a job for us for that long, or working a detested job in an urban area long enough to then stop consuming?  Hobson’s Choice, either one, which is only one form of control or another.  Neither one is better than the other as either one surrenders too much control, and that goes against our trying to regain control over our destiny which is what being a survivalist is supposed to be about.  Being a survivalist means accepting surrendering to the same system we know is leading us to our doom.  For that, I have little to help you with.  But I do have a way to alleviate the worst excesses of consumerism.  Rather than consume to have enough product to see you through the future, only consume enough to free you from a reliance on any particular consumer item.  We’ve all talked about it and to some extent we have all practiced it.  Rather than two years for each child buying disposable diapers, you buy one set of cloth diapers.  Rather than a lifetime renting a signal from the cable company, you install a rooftop antenna.  


Once you’ve bought your beans and bullets, gotten out of debt and have savings and precious metal, what are you left with?  I’m tired of just consuming.  Another can of coffee, another big bundle of toilet paper.  I want my money to go to more permanent investments.  You use a consumable, in the future it is a one time use.  You use a tool, it not only saves money but might make you some ( well, barter, but same or better difference ).  So, my next book after the Frugal Living is going to list two types of investments, those for after your typical survivalist consumer items ( even precious metal is a consumer one time use item ).  Hobby tools and their skills, and items you use to stop hemorrhaging money today.  The skills are ONLY non-petroleum.  No mechanics, no computer programmers.  Old school trades only.  Here is the list I have so far:



Leather Working



Paper/Ink making


Herbal  Remedies

Chemist ( using raw ores and material )

Soap maker

Candle Maker


I was unsure of some others.  Will mercenary or bounty hunter be a thing?  Will modern soldiers be as handicap with today’s skills as are doctors due to their modern material reliance?  Will a gunsmith be needed if ammunition runs out before guns break?  Should you concentrate on flintlock manufacture rather than center-fire repairs?  Will a librarian be a skill worth paying for?


Next are the “invest now to stop consuming later” items that are skills required but not a trade in itself.

Clothe Diapers ( replace both disposables and TP )


Seeds/Garden Tools

Manual Tools ( reduce electricity )

Reference Books

Non-Firearm Weapons ( replace ammo )

Wool Clothing ( reduce heat )

Wool Blankets

Canning Supplies

Shaving Brush ( replace cans cream )


Razr Savr

Solar Panels ( reduce many AC appliances )

LED Bulbs ( almost a Forever Bulb )

Bike/Bike Parts

Manual Sewing Machine

Thrift Store Clothes

Grain Grinder

Thermos ( reduce cooking times/coffee maker )

French Press

Pressure Cooker ( less cook time if crockpot impractical )

Sprouting Trays/Seeds ( replace veggies if garden impractical )

Buried Tube A/C ( 12v fan to replace energy hog A/C )

Garbage Can Wine ( replace store bought liqueur )

Small Livestock ( dairy to replace some meat )

TV Antenna

Carding Hair ( to make own yarn.  Terminology correct? )

Passive Solar-clothesline, food dryer, enclosed clothes dryer,   

   Dish washer, water heater, cooker, window heater.


These are what I came up with after a few hours of pondering.  I’d like all of your input, either to add new ones or refute any I have.  It is not a new concept, but I think putting it all together in a book might be helpful in getting the concept across better.  Thanks, in advance.


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  1. Mason
    Fixer (not parts replacer)
    Furniture maker, woodworker, tree harvester
    Farmer, vegetables, fruits, animals

  2. YES...I want to hear about garbage can wine! what about hangman or mortician!

  3. I wouldn't discount the mechanic . A good mechanic can re purpose many electric powered tools to operate either by animal , human or hydro . OR can build from scratch , a tool for most any purpose . A good mechanic would be useful to other trades in helping them be more productive , all the while , using hand tools .
    A good mechanic with blacksmithing skills would be a VERY useful .person.
    Depending how you define a "mechanic " , it could be said that this trade is as old school as any other , if not more so . Any type of machinery , even from ancient times made of wood , required a mechanic , or at the least , someone with mechanical skills to envision , design , construct and maintain any form of machinery regardless of the material used to build that machine .
    Define that person anyway you wish , but " mechanic " will HAVE to be part of that definition .

  4. True that about exchanging one type of consumerism for another.
    Will ponder your lists and return later.
    Oh yeah, saw short hobo documentary that mentioned Elko. Thought of you.

    1. Don't see too many Cool Hobo types here, just Crackhead Wanna-bes anymore.

  5. You forgot rechargeable AA ,AAA batteries and cheap path lights.

    1. I'm trying to stay Old School, for longevity. PV falls under Intermediate/Short Term, like ammo and med supplies.

  6. Wool is carded. Felting wool is hard work and rough on the hands, pounding it while in water, and mills were finally made to do this. Linen has a different, more intensive process. There are videos that show some of the steps online. Cotton can be spun directly after picking and possibly cleaning. But you have to grow it first. Fur and short-hair hides are tanned, which might be the easiest way to make clothes at the beginning than the other labor-intensive ways.

    1. I think tanning will run into a few issues. The stench and Yuk Factor, not to mention competition of resources. Will leather be needed for shoes, rather than cloths? Probably need both. Plus, cloth can be done in every home but fewer will want to tan, outside occassional seasonal deer or whatever. Kind of a whole can of worms

  7. Tailor, ropemaker, and horse trainer comes to mind. Weaving(carding is a step before spinning), old time engineering skills before lasers and gps also. Heck prospecting and mining. Of course medical and dental.

    1. Prospecting for ores for chemical industry. Duh. Thanks

  8. Old school trades

    Wainwright- builds and repairs wooden wagons and carts.
    Wheelwright- builds and repairs wooden wheels.
    Plowwright- builds and maintains horse drawn plows.
    Casket maker and primitive undertaking.
    Primitive dentistry- Most likely just extractions. Read where there is no dentist or other similar publications. Purchase an emergency dental kit.
    Primitive doctoring- Read where there is no doctor or other similar publications, and get a U.S. military field surgeon kit, and hope that you never need to use it.

    invest now to stop consuming later items 

    Straight razor (I know they scare you, but they're totally practical for this situation. Learn to properly strop and home it.)
    Am/Fm/shortwave - alternative power, batteries, solar, and dynamo crank generator model.
    Dental floss
    Fishing line, hooks.

    1. I think, until industrialism got along far enough, and consumerism and disposable income, straight razors were barber rather than household located. Probably return there, as I see few folks spending $100 on the off chance they need a Forever Razor.

  9. Here's where I have my master list of skills:

    I haven't done much with it in the past year, and not everything fits your criteria, but feel free to browse and see what inspires you.

  10. Carding fleece is not even the start of weaving cloth (which you should have as one of your old time skills). Shearing fleece/wool bearing animals is a skill that way too few people have. After shearing, you clean the wool/fleece, then card. Also, to prepare sheep wool, it has to be cleaned of the excess glycerin. In the pre-industrial world, this was done by soaking it in aged urine. Then rinsed. After carding, you have to spin the roving (carded wool) into yard. Spinning can be done by hand, drop spindle or spinning wheel. Then you can knit, crochet or weave. A lot more complicated a process than many people realize. Then you have the plant based fabrics...linen (from flax), hemp fabric and cotton. All equally complex with many steps from plant to fabric.
    The feudal *crofters* frequently had a loom as part of the household goods. The looms were a part of the family! Passed down generationally, they were a necessary item to clothe and support a family. So, you'll need loom makers as well!
    Sorry to get so detailed, but the past few years I have focused on the subject. And I have alpacas for fleece! (More adaptable than sheep, the fleece is warmer than wool from sheep and doesn't itch!)

    1. You are bringing back a lot of memories from my mom's hippie period- she became quite the Renassonce ( sp? ) Woman. She did everything self-reliance ( every year I recognize more what a stamp she put on me ) but specialized in weaving. And she dabbled in carding and spinning, which you reminded me of.

  11. Everybody-Thanks! Got a good extra 13 items to add to the skills list. Try to think on it some more, but if that well is dry, no worries. You've all just improved everything quite a bit.

  12. Don't forget my pet hobbies;
    Arrow making
    Flint knapping

  13. shipbuilder, sail maker, sailor.... best way to re-establish long range trade!

    1. I think Orlov's strategy living on the boat then using it for the future coffee trade is brilliant. Must not be a vodka drinker, kept some brain cells

  14. Potter/Kilner/Brickmaker - finding, procuring, working clay goods and finally firing them. Pots, urns, Bricks, water filters, zeer pots, etc. There has been some advances in these techniques over just the past few decades. And, since ceramics are somewhat fragile (but some are recyclable) there is likely to be a continuous demand. Working with a mason, can build a nice house able to endure lots, either bricks or adobe.

    1. Got it, and good point. When Rome centralized pottery, after the fall a lot of areas had lost the knowledge. It will prove to be embarassing when you can't cheaply construct rodent proof food containers.

    2. Ceramics aren't "recyclable" in the way aluminum cans are, but they aren't toxic in a landfill and make good rubble drainage.

      Cast ceramic rocket stove liners are useful.

    3. Okay, I was wondering on the Recycle term.

  15. I have a creative grandson who isn't interested in college. I am suggesting to him that he take a course at the community college that will let him get started in physical therapy. After a great deal of thought, I have decided that it is a field that is in great demand now and will translate later when the bad times come. Many of the machines in use can be duplicated by a creative person who comes up with non mechanical substitute. What you think? Julia

    1. Well, I have an issue thinking ANY health care professional isn't in for a world of hurt, because of when the field disintigrates violently ( but, as you know, I'm Worse Case Scenario all the way. Malthus Rules! ). And I have doubts that a physical theoropist is anything other than a luxury in a collapse. Not saying I'm right, just saying that's what it looks like through my prism

    2. Physical Therapist is not what I would do first, but it is a start.

      Austere Environment/Wildlands EMT trained/experienced people will not be without a tribe for long. A real GP with some 3rd world experience is going to be Da Man in yer village when child mortality and mother mortality is kept low (like Romania, now).
      A dentist could be useful in preventative, with some capability until the supplies run out, but he's going to need the special tooth pliers a lot (for the pre-apocalypse peeps raised on twinkees, soy oil & orange juice, not the pretty-teeth young). Brushing and flossing, combined with minimal diets, will mean teeth that last as long as people do (teeth longer, people less-long).


    3. I know Rawles pointed out a source for dental pliers once. Anyone? Make a great investment.