Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Emergency Funds

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping. 

Along with the current international disturbances there has been talk of banking disruptions and other systems being attacked. While the chance of any these things actually happening is remote, plans need to be made to get through a hopefully short-term crisis.

Cash on Hand
Just last month, three men were convicted of plotting to attack the U.S. electrical grid in the hope of bringing on civil unrest, while 60 Minutes had a segment on how the grid could be attacked or held for ransom by foreign hackers. There doesn't need to be a large group doing coordinated assaults on many transformer substations; just one could knock out an entire region. From the 60 Minutes article:

"Should a transformer explode, like this one in Manhattan during Superstorm Sandy, the system is designed to trigger a localized, grid-preserving blackout. But if several sections of the grid go down at the same time, the shutdowns can cascade like dominoes. That's what set off the great Northeast Blackout in 2003, leaving 45 million Americans without power. A few months before the assault on Metcalf, Jon Wellinghoff of FERC commissioned a study to see if a physical attack on critical transformers could trigger cascading blackouts.

Not only would the power to your house would be out, but everything else, too: water supply, sewer service, grocery stores and banks

Most of us have plenty of food stored to get through several weeks of an emergency, but what about easily available cash? 

  • I personally don't have the ability or funds to keep several weeks of cash around the house right now, but I certainly do have the ability to start expanding the cash that is on hand. Right now, I have hidden in my car enough cash to fill the tank twice (well, there's enough cash to fill my car twice at last week's prices, anyway). 
  • Make sure to have a decent assortment of denominations; showing up with only $20-$50 bills might not cut it if no one has change. I also have $5 in coins, to help make things as easy as possible, and I've cashed in my change stash several times when stores don't have enough in their till, which has built up some good will and earned me the title of "a Regular" when I shop there. 
  • Look at your weekly grocery shopping total and try to double it at a minimum. Prices are guaranteed to continue to rise, so your target for cash should try to keep up also.

What's Next?
Check on how much cash you have right now. Let's say you're out with friends when the lights go out and you get separated. What are you doing to get home if you didn't drive?
  • I have $100 on me (not in my wallet or pocket) for "Oh SH!T" times like these. While that may not get me home, it will certainly make the process and trip easier. 
  • In my GHB and sling bag I have cash rolled up in plastic wrap and stuck to an inside pocket with duct tape. The tape makes it look like it is a repair and not a way to hide anything. 
  • Check that everyone has at least some cash on them at all times. I have been in line at shops waiting to check out, only to see teenagers using debit cards to buy candy bars. 
  • The Purple Pack Lady has cash set aside at her work for emergencies from before we met, so adding a bit more was an easy sell!  

Recap and Takeaway

  • Have a plan, but be flexible in how you work it. The potential for a problem is there; whether it is a high probability or not I cannot tell you, but if national electricity grid operators think it could happen, I want to have given it some thought beforehand.
  • I have set aside some more cash last week and will be adding to it each paycheck, just in case.
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NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

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