Resiliency : Strategy for the years ahead


I just finished reading Thomas-Homer Dixon’s the Up Side of Down.  That might be one factor in my dire prognostications.  The Up side in Dixon’s down is the opportunity to adapt to a new and better way of living.  This adaptability is the key component.

In Saskatchewan we can readily identify the generation that lived through the thirties.  While the "dirty thirties" were difficult everywhere Saskatchewan was particularly hard hit because drought turned the place in a dust bowl.  The people who came through that became experts and making do, reducing and reusing everything they could.  They adapted and learned new skills that helped them cope.  Adaptability and resiliency are key for the years ahead.

Here are some things I heartily recommend people consider:

Plant a garden
Carol and I made our first attempt.  It seems as though gardening is as much art as it is science so it is helpful to start small and expand.  Not a lot of effort can get you lots of fresh vegetables.  It was not that long ago that backyard gardens were very common. 

Move close to where you work
Everyone has watched fuel prices increase.  One good way to reduce that bill is reduce the distance you have to travel.  Work from home if it is an option.  Another trend to consider is the transformation of inner cities.  Traditionally the suburbs are where the middle and upper class life while the inner city is where the poorer people live.  This will reverse and the process has already begun.  I live just over 2 blocks from downtown and I’ve seen a tremendous amount of change in the make up of the neighbourhood. 

Downsize to a smaller home or share it
2 people probably don’t need a 1000 sq/ft home with a developed basement.  Why pay to heat 2000 sq/ft when you only really need 1000 or 700.  If you have the opportunity turn your basement in to a suite.  The best way to reduce energy costs is to have more people share the same heat and light.

Renovate your home
Make your home as energy efficient as possible.  Take advantage of government programs that will help pay the bill.  Newer appliances like fridges can save so much electricity you would be financially ahead to lost the older model.

Downsize your vehicle
If you need a car purchase the most fuel efficient one you can.

Invest more cautiously, pay down debt
In the two most notable economic down turns we see two different scenarios.  In the 30’s people panicked, pulled their money out of the bank and put it in their mattress take millions of dollars out of circulation.  This caused deflation.  If you had stocks you were hosed but if you had cash you did very well because each dollar purchased more.  I think deflation is less likely than stagflation which is what we had the 70s.  Low growth with high inflation.  Eventually central banks raised interest rates so high they caused the economy to go down for a reboot.  Stocks took a hit in this era as well.  People that had mortgages were in serious trouble because the interest rates were so high.  I’d consider moving from variable interest rate mortgages to fixed rate mortgages and I certainly wouldn’t get a Home Equity Line of Credit.

Learn to share, become a generous friend
No household is an island and if times become tough real friends are one of the most valuable and resilient assets you can have.  Give up on the "stuff makes you happy" dogma and focus on thing that really matter….must resist iPhone.

Learn skills
Cooking, sewing, gardening, home maintenance (carpentry, electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation etc…) , repair (auto, electronics etc…).  Collect cheap used books on the skills you don’t have time to learn now.

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