imageI can’t believe it.

Here we are, in a monumental market and I get an email from someone asking me what they should do.

Yeah, times seem worrisome, but they are now.  But it’s easy to be swept up in the stampede of fear and go off and do stupid things.  I know people who sold at the top in 2008 and some who sold at the bottom in 2009.  So how does a person avoid the traps?

The short answer is:  Learn to think.

Once you have THAT underway, then get some good economic perspective from outside the box and consider longer-term historical views based on basic market fundamental analysis with an appreciation of long wave economics.

But don’t write in – as a non-subscriber to our service and expect me to drop everything to issue personal pearls of wisdom.  I don’t do that.

The fact is, this site costs me a bundle in expenses and getting up at 5 AM to explain how the world is NOT ending.  Along the way, I might mention what we would would have done  if we’d won the PowerBall last night.

The second fact of life is that people only value information they pay for.  If I were to lay out the next 6-years of global economic history, handing it over on a silver platter (with a side of French toast) would you pay any attention?


More than likely you’d whine that I misspelled something…

Don’t get ne wrong:  I like that you reading UrbanSurvival – that’s what it’s for.  I especially when people post thoughtful comments.  The future is a dance, and every time we speak or interact with others who help create the future, we take part in shaping it.

But if you write to me seeking personalized advice or comment, and you’re not a subscriber, I quickly infer (since you can’t afford $40 bucks a year for our newsletter).  Now, since you can’t afford $40-bucks, is it worth my time to answer a financial question? 

In a word: No.

There is a class of exceptions – and this is part of our economic education mission:  If you are either retired on fixed income and are already set in your ways, or you haven’t figured out how to start the “saving $500 per month” habit.  That is another matter.

I can’t tell you often enough about the importance of setting up a regular savings habit.

Most people have stupid vices that come up to t$500 a month.  Hell, I know people whose bar tabs come to this – and more.  .

Consider this:  How many people have season tickets for sporting events.  Or, they will go out to dinner twice a week.  They buy humungous Cable packages and  have phone bills are $250 per month.

There is another way, honest to God. 

Think about this.  Let’s pretend that when Elaine and I got married (which we did in 2000) we had zero in savings. 

Reality check:  We owned a sailboat and that was about it.

But think about this:  Saving $500 a month,  run the math. 

$6,000 per year, 16-years,. and it’s not all in a bank.  We have a paid-for home, a recording studio, a marvelously equipped shop and it sits on 29-acres.  Ham radio gear…airplane…greenhouse, every garden tool on the planet and even a well-drilling rig for water and all the pipe to lay in another well.

Is that because I made a crap-load of money?

Sure, a bit.  Because I study all the time, I’m very good in sales and marketing and when you are really, really good in sales, making six-figure ain’t impossible.

But you can do it in any other field, as well.  The key is to grow out of working for someone else and learn to pay yourself first.  And to do that, you need to become the absolute world expert in what you do.

I can go on all day about this – and if you know someone who hasn’t figured this stuff out, it’s not like you’re alone.  Hell, even my own kids don’t listen to me.

Pearls before swine kind of thing.

Here lately, I’ve been thinking about having my kids PayPal me $5.00 before they ask the usual “Dad, can you solve this problem for me?” kind of question.

If they get the answers free, they ignore the parenting advice, screw things up because they don’t value the information. Then they call again.

But when someone pays, they listen.

Once you are saving $200-$500 per month?  Life gets easy.  You have a fat cash cushion and nothing that comes along can phase you.  You get financial control of your own destiny.

Some times it’s little stuff, other times it’s bigger.

Our septic tank needed pumping and that got done Wednesday morning.  The guy who did the job is an old-timer (John, age 57) and a great fellow.  While he was here, I had him explain to me where I should dig in additional drain field lines so we don’t have this problem here next time is rains 8 inches in three days.

We live on the side of a hill (in Texas, it’s called a Mountain, but Texans tend to…oh, you know…).  So when it rains, tons of water from “up there” flow down to our creek – through our septic field.

John was more than willing to share.  And his company made $216.50 for the pump out…so I wasn’t freeloading.

We caught up and this and that (he’s going to vote for Trump, thinks Cruz is too lawyerly) and he even threw in who had the best prices on gravelless drain field pipe.  Explained how that stuff was made and offered an exposition on how not to pack the back fill on it too tight because it would crush the styro peanuts used in place of gravel.  The kind of small detail that really matters.

That’s how you do business when you have cash on the barrelhead, an agreeable, respectful personality such that people like to chat with you, and you admire their work and tell ‘em so.. 

A little empathy, a cup of hot coffee, and a sincere interest – it’s AMAZING WHAT PEOPLE WILL DO AND HOW MUCH THEY WILL SHARE WITH YOU.

But people who will do that can spot a BS’er a mile away.  They know who’s a doer and who’s on the couch.  John’s been here a few times before (septics are a recurring maintenance cost) but he know “Crazy George” is a check in hand (no quibbling or chiseling) on the spot.  Not collection issues.

So if you’re really worried about an economic depression, you may be early, but it’s not too early to start planning to shift into a lower-cost lifestyle at a much better price-point now so you can reap some of the spread for future use.

Somehow in the discussion I feel like I should offer up some pointers on using some of that money to buy things to save even more money.

Assuming you keep track of every penny you spend, and you only go out to lunch like once a month and dinner twice a month, then it’s easy to see how bringing your own lunch to work is a money-saver.  So is eating at home.

We had steaks last week that were unbelievable. USDA Choice filet mignons.  I know, sounds extravagant, right?  $46-bucks for four nice filets.  Hand cut by Kevin the butcher.  Again, you have to know all your suppliers.  After a bit, you get extraordinary service because you treat them like the extraordinary people they are.  Everyone has a gift.  (I will admit with some, it’s hard to find, though.)

But they were four 8-ounces each (a bit over 2” thick) and they were as good as anything you could buy out until you’re up to (or over) the Ruth’s Chris category and up.

Now, on price:  The meat cost us $46-bucks.  But that was $23 per meal and they were special meals.  The rest of the week was dirt cheap.

You know how much these meals would have been for two if we ate them out?  OMG, it would be on the order of $35 per person per meal out and that’s for the entre.…and another $16 for two drinks each, so we’re at $100 for dinner and that is before parking/valet, tip, and whatever.

At home?  $23 for the meat for two.  A couple of bakers, a salad…so what’s that?  $28 bucks?  Vodka is running $25 for a half gallon…so that’s a steal at home, too.  No DUI risk.  Loud music if we want it.

My buddy JB ( ) has an even  better deal – he makes homemade rum with a still.  And yes, all the paperwork, but the price and the quality one he’s made the initial investment….are you kidding?  He buys sugar and water.

And his book on hydroponics – three large tomato plants and down comes the price of food.

I don’t mean to get out of bed grouchy…but OMG people…look at your money and try to do something other than spend it on corporate BS.  Manage your time, money, and headspace, and squeeze every nickel that passes between your mitts.  $250 a month phone bill?  Really?

I actively traded markets for years and you know what?  All without a phone.  Just the computers at home and work on dial-up.


Save a few hundred a month.

Then, when the market drops and you’re looking for “free advice” you will already have the wherewithal to have anticipated what comes next and you’ll be on the same page with the rest of the grown-ups in the world.

The time to worry about thrift is not when the market is in a free-fall to the 1887 or 1760 level, but make it a way of life and in no time, you will find the skills, know-how, and most important: MONEY will be piling up around you.

Money is not wealth.  Wealth is near total conscious control of your personal world.  Money is just a tool to get there.   Your vendors are what matter.  Corporations won’t save you when the crap hits the fan.

But I will still get “the butcher’s cut” and I will still be top of the list for the septic guy.  In the long ride of life, that’s the difference between first class and coach.

Life of an Encyclopedia

Pappy was known around the fire station as the “human encyclopedia.” 

Hey Cap…what’s the right way to [fill in a problem]?”

Invariably, Pappy would have the answer.

In fact, he was so full of so many answers, that it drove my mother crazy.  They would forever be betting a ceremonial nickel on Pappy being wrong and Mom being right.  But she didn’t win many.

The second point of this morning is this:  Find a couple of new facts every day.

My four learnings for Wednesday were:

a.  I had acquired a needle scaler for my air tool collection  and I brought a part from the airplane home to overhaul.  It’s an air filter cover.

Removing the old paint?  There is NOTHING like a needle scaler to take off flaky pain in no time. 

It would tear up wood something fierce.  But with a light touch, it works dandy on 6061 aluminum.

b.  When my airplane is climbing, each 1 horsepower lost will cost 11 feet per minute at full power climb.

c.  We set a record of 14 red tail hawks in a tree overlooking the yard.  Alfred Hitchcock would be proud.

d.  I had a half-hour seminar on septic installations.

Point again is simple:  Learn three new things every day.  Eventually, you’ll be eating well off the tree of knowledge.

Write when you break-even,