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Saul D. Alinsky

This is where you start

Surviving in a Time of Crisis

This post is about surviving in a time of crisis most were not expecting. I, as an author, understand that most of you are out of jobs, have no money and are wondering how to survive during this crisis. Some of the things here might be of help, if not now, then in the future. But as the pin says, ‘This is where you start.’ Surviving a Crisis really isn’t all that hard if you are prepared.

Most the things contained in here come from a life of hard knocks where I had to learn the hard way what to do. Hopefully you will pick up a few survival things from this. Unlike a lot of others, I don’t believe in attempting to get people to use money they need to survive to buy a book at this time. If you have it, fine, but the books will be there when you are ready.

What is a Crisis

With the coronavirus running rampant, people are seeing this as a time of crisis for them and their families. But what is a crisis? According to Webster it is 1. The turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever. 2. A decisive or critical moment.

For many, they have panicked and jumped into survival mode without thinking things through, making this a crisis moment. Surviving this pandemic is as simple as taking care of yourself while protecting yourself from others who are sick. Surviving isn’t all that difficult. It’s called hand washing, keeping surfaces clean and saying home if you are sick.

For most people this is a crisis. Why? Because they weren’t prepared. It comes down to that awful moment when they are told that they are now out of work and can’t leave their homes. Few people were ready for this type of disaster.

Because of not being prepared, they now have to decide what they will need and  this led to panic buying of what everyone else was buying whether they needed it or not. Come on….how many rolls of toilet paper do you really need? Certainly not ten packages with 12 rolls each. Realistically, how many pounds of flour do you normally use? I’m sure that 40 lbs is more than most use in a year. How many bars of soap do you need? I’m sure that 30 bars is more than you would use in a year. Then there is the cleaning supplies. I came to believe that most of the people never clean their houses since they had nothing to use until now.

When a person is in panic mode, they aren’t thinking. All they see is others doing something, even if it’s stupid, and like lemmings, they follow along without engaging their brain.

Where you need to start is where you are now. What do you really need? What do you do next? What are your resources?


Wanting to survive has led to a panic mindset. The problem is, that instead of stocking up on things like food, people bought toilet paper, then soap and hand sanitizers in huge amounts. After wasting a lot of money finally they realized that they need food. This particular crisis has shown a propensity to poor thinking, hoarding and turning people into the “all for me and none for you” mindset.

When forced into survival mode, it appears that the goodly portion of the population out there panic. Why? Because they never thought about what they would need if they couldn’t work. Instead, most went out and bought things that weren’t of vital importance instead of the most important things they would need.

Survival isn’t guaranteed for anyone, but you have a better chance if you have what you really need, and believe me, toilet paper should be at the bottom of the list. You can do without it if necessary. Your great-grand parents did.

The Better Way.

What should people have done?

The first thing is: you should have been prepared. How many of you had at least a month’s worth of supplies on your selves? How many of you had an emergency fund that would cover your necessities for 3 to 6 months? How many of you have enough cash for a month?

Be honest. Were you really prepared? I’d bet that less than 10% of you who are reading this could answer yes to more than one of those questions, Today, I can say yes to those three questions above, but that was after I discovered that being unprepared meant you went hungry, lost your home and car and had to start all over again.

The basics to avoid panic.

To survive a crisis like this, everyone should have 3-6 weeks of food or more. An emergency fund that you can access, and cash on hand. Less than 10% of those who are now out of work have enough money or food to get through a month, let alone 4 months of a shutdown.

This is the reality of the situation. No matter what our self-serving government does (I’m chastising all of them for being greedy and self serving), it won’t be enough for many of those who are out of work and have no resources. Our government isn’t responsible for us individually or any company or business. That isn’t what the government is for. You are responsible for yourself and your well being. That is where the buck stops. Not with the government.

I’ve learned that for everything the government does, there is a cost. A huge cost. The major cost is how another sliver of your freedom hacked away and given to them. Sorry, but the government isn’t there to take care of us. So what should we do moving forward?

What do you do now to survive?

Well, let’s take stock of what you do have or need. Dried goods like pasta, beans, rice, cereal (like oats, cream of wheat, farina), flour, sugar, salt, coffee, tea. These are things that you should have, but most likely don’t. Hint: don’t run off to the store. A big share of those things are gone or are in short supply due to hoarders. (Yeah they are the bane of a crisis. Saw it in Florida with every hurricane.) The shelves are getting restocked but it is a slow process. These are the staples that you need.

How well is your freezer stocked? How many canned veggies do you have? Crackers? Powdered milk or shelf stable milk? Peanut butter? Canned meats? Again, don’t rush to the store. A lot of these are also in short supply.

These are all things you need to keep on your self, rotating them yearly during the winter when you don’t get out much, You can use them to cook simple meals or make soups replacing what you use by buying one or two extra on regular shopping trips. Today, if you need something, get enough for two or three meals but don’t hoard. Leave something for others who are in your situation. But do start stocking up for the next crisis. There will be one within the next four years.

Panic versus prepared.

The problem is that instead of doing normal shopping, the panic buyers have over stocked, believing there would be a shortage of those items, not realizing that they are the ones who creating the shortage. If you get only what you need for two weeks, everyone would be able to get what they also need. Simple. But those who panic don’t see that. Realistically, how many bars of soap do you need for three months? I’m sure that those six packs of six bars each is way too many, even for a family of 4. I know that I use 1 bar a month. Double that for extra hand washing, that would mean I’d only need one six pack to get through 3 months.

Bottom line, don’t panic buy. You end up with way to much and leave others to do without. Get only what you need like you would normally. Did you know that you don’t even need soap to wash your hands. 60 second of briskly rubbing your hands, making sure to hit all the surfaces, under running water is just as effective as using soap for 20 seconds? Yep. That was one of the tests we did in microbiology class. If you run out of hand soap, remember that.



To prevent this from ever happening again, start planning now for what you will need for the next crisis. (There will be another one. There always is) You have plenty of time especially if you aren’t working. Go through those cabinets and pull out what you have and inventory it. Then decide how much of everything you would need to survive at  least 1 month (preferably 3 to 6 months.) (Hint: If you plan this and start buying pastas, beans, flour, put them in the freezer for at least three days to kill any weevil eggs before putting them on the shelf otherwise you’ll end up with a weevil problem that isn’t easy to get rid of). Gradually add to your stockpile by buying a few things with each shopping trip until you have what you need. This includes canned meat, veggies, crackers, peanut butter, and other things that don’t spoil that you use all the time. There is no need to get it all at once.


Now that you have the food covered, the next thing is money. Take 5 to 10% of your paycheck before you spend a dime and put it into a locked container. Label it whatever you want, but that is going to be your emergency cash fund. You want what you earn for at least one month in cash. This is for those times when you can’t get cash from a machine or use a card to buy things.

This fund is for that just in case scenario when there is no electric. This fund can be used for that emergency car repair that happens at the worst possible time or to get that stove when the old one blows up. Do not use it to get things like new living room furniture or a that vacation in Tahiti. This is an emergency fund. If it ain’t essential and it ain’t broke, you can’t use this fund for it. If able, have a second fund for repairs and replacement of things that will and do break down.

What I did was to take the 10% from my check and split it, putting 5% in a savings account for an emergency fund and the rest in cash. When I had my target of cash, I put the full 10% into the bank emergency fund. That fund can only to be used if I’m out of work to pay only necessary bills and for basic food items (no steak or lobster). I currently have 4 months in an emergency fund to pay my essential bills.

What is essential?

Remember, there are a lot of things that aren’t essential. You don’t need the expensive package for cable or satellite TV. Internet that is essential for work and school is a must.  All those cell phones…cut all but the essential ones. The kids can do without a phone. Keep at least one phone active be it a land line or a mobile phone. Your priority will be your mortgage/rent, utilities and food. Figure out how much you will need for the 3-6 months you might be out of work and keep saving until you hit that target. I discovered that six months was the best.

When the emergency funds are full, continue to save that 10% you aren’t really missing by now. Before long, you’ll have enough to do some really fun things like travel for 18 months without worrying about bills. Get that $5,000 computer you didn’t think you’d ever have. Have a down payment for that house you wanted. Be able to get that motorcycle you’ve wanted for years. Sacrifice today, for what you may need or want tomorrow. You can survive on less than what you think you can.

How I did it.

I took 10% of my income while working for $0.25 an hour over minimum wage and put it back. I had 2 children at the time and was divorced with no child support, so don’t start with the excuses. The junk food can wait. If there is a choice between saving that 10% and getting a ham vs hamburger for a meatloaf, for me, that meatloaf won every time. I didn’t want to ever have to try and survive on peanut butter and cracker again.

My goal was to never be without a place of my own and to never have to ask for help from the government, This came about after being after being turned down for help when I needed it the most. At the time I was working for $1 a hour with two children. We ate a lot of beans and cornbread and peanut butter but we did survive. I did end up asking for help later, but it was for a good reason. It was so I could get through nursing school while supporting 4 children with a job that barely covered rent and utilities.

Surviving Today

Things you can do now

First of all, in any crisis, don’t hoard. Most who do so will end up discovering that they didn’t think things through when they bought $400 of fresh food that their family can’t eat or that all those cookies and potato chips aren’t very filling and those 40 packages of toilet paper take up a lot of room they don’t have. You can survive without spending money you will need on useless stuff that only takes up space. Buy only what you need for 1 to 2 weeks (or a month if you shop like I do.) If you have food that you have been keeping back for emergencies, now is the time to use it.

If you are out of a job, look at what you can do without if you don’t have an emergency fund. Cancel all those things you don’t need, letting the vendors know that it’s only temporary until you can get back to work. A roof over your head and food on the table are the two most important things. Utilities such as electric are also needed for your appliances. A mode of transportation is you next concern. If you are like me and your nearest actual grocery store is 25 miles away, you need transportation. There are no buses in this area and using a horse would mean a full day to get to town and back, so yes I need my car. (I do have a horse I could use in a pinch though.)

Practical tips

For most, getting down to essentials is all you can really do to get through a crisis like this intact. Hunkering down and doing the best you can isn’t that hard. Let your creditors know if you can’t make your bills and why. It shows that you are taking responsibility for the bill and aren’t ignoring that you owe them money. Make contact at least once a month with an update as to when you might be able to resume paying them. (Hmm…guess you can tell I’ve been in a crisis situation before where I was out of work) That also goes for the electric company and your mortgage company or landlord.

Another thing, if you have extra food, share with someone who doesn’t. Because I believe in being prepared for the unexpected, I have enough to help those who weren’t prepared and don’t have anyone else to help them. Surviving for the elderly who are on limited incomes, for the disabled who have less income can come down to food or a place to live. No, I won’t deprive my family, but I will share part of what I have. That is what communities and neighbors should be doing. You can’t rely on a government that votes themselves a $25 million expense package even though they are still drawing their wages while not doing a darn thing other than complain while most of the nation is out of work by their order. (My second political dig against the opportunistic people in Washington, DC. I promise I won’t do it again.)

On to the fun stuff

Now what do you do with all this time that you have while supposedly locked into your house?

Option 1

Binge watch TV, Netflix, Facebook, YouTube or any other mind numbing electronic things like mastering World or Warcraft or Lord of the Rings. Beat level 1000 on candy crush. (Boring after two days, maybe three at the most.)

Option 2

Read all those books you’ve been putting off. (Okay, I’ve done one whole series. I’m done)

Option 3

Do something you’ve always wanted to do that doesn’t involve leaving home. Now is the time to learn how to do needle-crafts or paint or learn Yoga or Tai Chi  or that exercise program for at home, etc. Write that book of poetry. Learn to play that guitar languishing in the closet. There are tons of things you can learn without ever leaving your home. The internet is a wonderful resource in a time like this, so use it to learn something new. There are a lot of free courses out there like Imagineering in a box by Khan Academy where you can learn how to do animation for FREE. (I love free for things like that when you need it most.)

Option 4

Deep clean the house, rearrange the furniture and get rid of all those things you’ll never use. You now have all the time you need so get busy there. No time like the present to clean the attic or basement, rearrange aunt Betty’s salt and pepper collection or your mother’s spoon and tea cup collection..

Option 5

Find inventive ways to connect with your family. Play games. All types of games. You can get out in your yard if you have one, so use that to do something fun. As a teen, my siblings and I would lay out a croquet course that would make you have to go through a wicket on the top of rock. The ball would roll out of bounds if you hit the ball too hard. Needless to say, we made up our own rules and it was a ball (pun intended). enjoy getting out in the sunshine. Not only is it healthy but you need to be outside for at least 15 min a day to get vitamin D.

If you don’t have a croquet set, make your own. Use coat hangers to make the wickets, tennis balls with different colored stripes for the balls, and a base ball bat or broom for a mallet. (that was our first croquet set BTW) The idea is to have fun doing silly things with what you have round the house. Let the kids make that hide out under the table using a couple of blankets. Join them. It’s a lot of fun to be a kid.

What are you doing during this time?

Let me know what you are doing and how you are surviving this crisis. As the Pinterest pin above says, “This is the world as it is. This is where you start.” So where are you starting?

Let me know at  I’d love to hear from you and what you are doing.

What am I doing?

As for me, I’m editing and blocking out a new book. Reading a couple of books. Taking a class and over working as usual. I treat my writing as a job, so I work 8 hours a day on it with rest breaks and lunch. I’m enjoying having the time to concentrate on writing full time with minimal interruptions.

My last interruption was watching these guys. This is from what will soon be my back yard. These guys visit a lot to graze and run. They are beautiful animals and are only a few of the wild life in my area.

Antelope grazing

Two antelope notice the photgrapher

Antelope in my back yard

antelope running

Antelope in my back yard

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