Girlvivalist Blog

Can Delayed Gratification Be Its Own Reward?

Or, what if you sacrifice now for later, and end up with neither?

One of the happiest truths I’ve ever discovered is that I can find real joy in delayed gratification.

It’s a good thing, too. Because sometimes I make some dandy plans to cut out this and postpone that, only to find out that our income is about to get axed unexpectedly and we’re going to end up unable to afford this, that, or the other thing.

But what about the sacrifice I’m making in order to save money for a new car? Hey, I could have fake nails and an unrealistic tan and some tatoos that look a lot different after I gain ten pounds, if only I didn’t defer gratification. The LEAST I expect for denying myself those small pleasures (and many more) is to be able, in the final analysis, to spend my hard-saved money on something I truly want and need!

And yes, I’ve got a car fund. But our lives, in spite of our wonderful intentions, often interfere with our best laid plans. What if, instead of a new car, we need that money to cover economy-related down times with our business? What if we realize that we aren’t nearly as prepared for emergencies as we should/could be, and that a used car would meet our needs and give us some cash to further bolster our efforts toward self-reliance?

It’s a blessing in life if you find you can be content with the basics of food and clothing and shelter. It’s a fantastic blessing if you can train yourself to bypass what you think you want right this second in favor of what you’re reasonably certain you’ll need next month or next year.

And if it turns out that your fully-funded travel account, which you intended to spend on a cruise, instead is called upon to get your through a short term disability you had no way of predicting, well. How exactly is that a bad thing?

You’ll get your chance to travel, and in the meantime, you’ve been able to provide for a shortfall without having to take out another mortgage on the house or top off the credit cards.

That, to me, is the kind of instant gratification that thrills me no end—-being able to function as our own mini-bailout program.

I love it that delayed gratification really can be its own reward, and as an added bonus, I’ll never have to worry about a tiny rosebud tat on my rear end turning into a giant overblown peony.

I’m just sayin’.

If You Knew For Certain That Your Life Was About To Change

And not in a good way, what would you do to get ready?

I admit that I didn’t know for sure that the business my husband and I own and operate would eventually be hit hard by the downturn in the economy, but of course, I suspected as much.

It just makes sense, doesn’t it, that some clients are going to have to cut back on the goods and services they formerly purchased from us, until their own businesses are back on a better footing? Still, until last Friday, our corporation continued to earn as much money—-or more—-than before things started going south.

But all that’s changed now, if this past week’s news is any indication. In fact, after hearing from three separate long-term clients, we’re estimating that upwards of 40% of our income will be disappearing within the next month.

We’ll be scrambling to find new clients to replace this loss, but in the meantime, I’m happy that I’ve made some significant changes to our personal balance sheet that will serve us well going forward.

It’s useful to imagine bad scenarios in life, if only so that we can prepare ourselves to withstand hardship if and when it arrives. And honestly, is there ever a circumstance in life that can’t be mitigated more easily from a debt-free position?

Getting completely out of debt (except for a smallish mortgage) has given us a far better return-on-effort than any investment in the stock market has ever returned. Toward the end of working our Dave Ramsey-style debt snowball, I think I was sending two-thirds of our monthly income to finish off that final bill.

And guess what? No sooner did we make the last payment than the stock market crashed. We lost plenty of money, but the impact on our net worth would have been truly terrible if we’d had a pile of debt on the other side of the equation.

As it was, our net worth took a dip but not for long. Because the very next project I undertook after satisfying the debt was to start accumulating a much more generous emergency fund than we’d ever had before. Plus a car replacement fund, a home repairs fund, a Christmas fund, and well…you get the idea.

I didn’t know our car was going to start behaving really badly, causing us to realize that we needed to update with a late model used car sooner than we’d planned. But when the time came, we actually had the cash saved up in advance—-something of a miracle for us!

Last week, right after the exterior of our house got wrecked by hail and before we found out about our business problems, we closed on a refinance. We lowered our rate, shortened the remaining term to ten years, and will be saving $400 per month.

So, yeah. Our lives are changing, and our successful business is facing difficulties we couldn’t exactly predict. And yet, in a way, we could. I don’t imagine we’re going to have the easiest time getting through this period, but I do know this: If we hadn’t buckled down and prepared for an uncertain future, we’d be in much worse shape going into this than we are.

Any steps you could take now that would soften a blow, should it come? Why not get started, while the stress isn’t as great as it would be during a full-blown disaster?

Who knows? It could even turn out that your pre-emptive efforts will keep disaster from striking at all. Or, if it does, its effects won’t take as desperate a toll.

Hail Damage Brings Big Changes

And my fledgling garden gets a fresh outlook

I’m not sure anyone’s ever totally prepared for a disaster, and sometimes even relatively minor ones can catch you off-guard.

We’re sure weren’t expecting the freak hailstorm that took the exterior of our house by surprise two weeks ago. Every year, it seems, the anecdotal reports of hail get larger and larger, size-wise. Personally, since I’d never witnessed hail much larger than a nickel, I had a hard time believing the hail chasers who called in to TV stations to claim golfball and (more recently) baseball sized stones.

I mean, you NEVER hear of anyone getting killed by hail, and if baseballs really came down forcefully from the sky, wouldn’t somebody somewhere get crushed?

Well, this hail was bigger than golfball sized and lasted for twenty minutes! And even though the temperature made it up to ninety degrees soon after the storm, five hours later we still had a layer of hail in our yard! It was by far the craziest hailstorm I’ve ever seen—-and it certainly took its toll in our neighborhood.

Essentially, the whole exterior of our house sustained enough damage that our homeowners insurance is paying, basically, for a whole new exterior. We’re springing for a new patio door, which did not get pelted but which needed to be replaced and there’s no time like the present.

A year ago, it would not have occurred to me to view my old French door as anything but trash. But these days, I look at everything with an eye toward identifying its hidden multiple purposes. And then, before consigning it to a landfill somewhere, I make an attempt to refashion it into something I actually need——and in the old days, might have spent money to acquire.

So guess what an old patio door with two big beautiful panes of glass and broken hardware looks like to me? That’s right! A cold frame for the garden!

I didn’t have the best of luck starting seeds inside this year, and rather than invest in grow lights, why not move the entire operation outdoors? I think my hubby can easily build the frame to go beneath the double-wide door and I’m excited to see how my shallow greenhouse pans out next spring.

Plus, no sooner did I lament the sorry state of my garden after the storm came through than we noticed the most darling pears on the two trees we planted four years ago! The pears kind of mimic the size and shape of the leaves at this point, so it’s hard to see them all. But I counted 21 so far, and that definitely renewed my enthusiasm for all things garden!

Excitement Over First Real Garden Wanes

After hailstorm destroys and clean-up continues

So, this morning my husband and I spent quite a while trying to clean up and salvage The Mess Formerly Known As Our Garden.

We’ve spent the better part of ten days dealing with the aftermath of a freak hailstorm that ruined our roof, siding, garage door, and gutters. Our insurance company has cut us a preliminary check and the contractors will come back on Tuesday with their detailed bid in hand. Everyone who’s examined our property so far just offers apologies when they see our pathetic veggies, though.

Anything that can be done to save them now, must be done by us.

At the beginning of the gardening adventure, we agreed that we’d each wear the same crummy outfit and pair of lousy shoes each time we went out to face the elements. (Read: mud.) I told my hubby that I wouldn’t even bother trying to keep these items of apparel clean, since they’d be getting filthy the next day again anyway.

“Just drape your gardening clothes over this basket and you’ll know right where to come tomorrow,” I said.

“Sounds like a plan.”

This morning, we’d been working for 30 minutes before I finally looked up to see him wearing a pale pair of pants I’ve seen him wear to church rather recently. I could not believe how he’d violated our pact to only ruin one set of clothes each! The nerve!

All my flowery, idealistic Mother Earth garden talk from months ago suddenly boiled down to a few terse syllables.

“Those aren’t your garden pants.”

“Oh? And those are your garden jammies?”

With the hailstone ice finally broken by peals of laughter, I imagine we’ll survive the rest of our first year of gardening just fine.

Get Out Of Debt, Fast…

If you want to be able to prepare for whatever life throws at you

When my husband and I were young (and unfabulously broke!) whippersnappers, we didn’t have a single credit card between us.

Somehow, we knew instinctively that if we’d applied for one (which, as unbelievable as this sounds now, required copious amounts of proof of income, length of employment, length of time at one address, etc.), we’d get turned down by people laughing their heads off on the other end of our request.

In spite of those censors, though, we did the math. (Hey, we went to Catholic schools!) We knew that if we wracked up $500 in debt, we would not be able to make even the minimum monthly payments without our young children going without macaroni and cheese (Aldi’s brand). And so we self-regulated, a habit I highly suggest for not only individuals but also banks, the mortgage industry, the healthcare industry, the auto industry, and the government. But I digress.  :)

We kept ourselves from giving in to the lure of debt for the first 15 years of marriage and managed to save just enough cold hard cash to bail us out of frequent minor emergencies. We never got ahead, though, in the sense of our standard of living seeming to increase. We stayed even with the world, period.

Gradually, our income increased and like magic, so did our expenses. Why did it look like we’d be able to really start saving for the future, when the reality was that our growing family’s “needs” took all the increase and then some?

You see where I’m going with this, right? All it took was for us to begin to feel firmly entrenched in the prospering middle class (plus a loosening of credit which, of course, we now recognize as one of the biggest reasons why our economy is now flailing…), and darned if we didn’t go out and get us a shiny new credit card. And a big old payment on a Dodge Caravan, too!

Evidently, our fortunes had reversed and all of a sudden—-miracle of miracles!—-we were “good for it.” Or were we?

I can’t tell you how many zero-percent-on-balance-transfers I’ve opened over the years. Granted, we never spent a single dime on interest to a credit card company. But the balances, and attempting to pay WAY more than the minimums in order to pay them off in our natural lifetimes, kept us from adding substantially to our savings. For YEARS.

Have you noticed that when you don’t have a hefty emergency fund, you seem to have no choice but to whip out that credit card yet again? But how do you build up your cash reserves while continuing to service debt?

They say the first step in getting out of a hole is to stop digging. If you want to get out of credit card debt, you must stop adding to it TODAY. And that’s exactly what we had to do. Two years ago, we accumulated enough of a cash reserve to get us through everyday life, and then every spare cent went to pay down debt, Dave-Ramsey-snowball style.

I truly enjoyed the satisfaction of watching several significant debt balances disappear one-by-one. I LOVE getting free-and-clear car titles in the mail, instead of bills from auto finance companies. And then, to be able to divert those funds into savings? The way I see it, that’s one of our Big Tickets out of the mess we (as a nation) currently find ourselves in.

If preparing for emergencies, downturns, and disruptions in services is an important goal for you and your family, I hope you’ll make it a priority to get out of debt as quickly as possible. Once you’ve accomplished that, you’ll find it easier and less stressful to go about building for your future.

And you won’t require a single credit card to make it happen. 

Freeing Up Cash For What You Need

Even if what you think you need is what you're paying for right now....

Monthly expenses. Who doesn’t wish they could whittle them down with little or no change in lifestyle?

Ooooh, the lifestyle word. As far as I’m concerned lifestyle is something most of us have paid a huge premium for, and we don’t even know what—-if anything—-we’ve gotten in return. Let me illustrate.

Sixteen years ago, when we were huddled over preliminary blueprints working with an architect to design our house, he got a serious look on his face and asked, “Tell me about your lifestyle.”

Honestly, I don’t know when we’ve ever laughed so hard. We were raising three kids on a budget, sacrificing things other families considered “normal” (like cars with basic amenities like sun visors and horns) in order to pay tuition at the Christian school, which we had prioritized over other uses for our money. But we’d scrimped and saved to buy a small acreage and now intended to build a modest home with the intention of staying there for many years.

When he pressed us to identify our hobbies, indulgences, and extravagances and our eyes glazed over, he finally rephrased, “What’s the one problem you’d like to solve with this house?”

Now he was speaking my language! I instantly knew the answer and couldn’t wait to share.

“The sock problem!” I said. I had read how Ethel Kennedy, when her brood was young, kept all the clean socks in the deep bottom drawer of her kitchen and let the kids scrounge for matches. Let’s just say she was WAY more organized than I.

“Sock,” he said, dumbfounded but definitely not dumb.

“Yes. If you could design my house in such a way that each member of the family could always find their clean socks, I would be completely happy.”

“Don’t worry about a thing.” He smirked and had a twinkle in his eye. Kind of a swirly twinkle, actually, sort of the shape of a dollar sign. “I can solve the sock problem.”

A series of shallow shelves in the laundry room, each one holding a clear Rubbermaid bin which slides out and contains one of five family member’s socks, improved our lifestyle by miles! But did it really take an architect to figure that out? I’m thinking, not so much.

These days, three of those bins are empty. The time has come to seriously reconsider how many other “sock problems” we’ve spent our hard-earned money on. However we’ve inadvertently ramped up our lifestyle in the past fifteen years in ways that no longer make sense, we are now determined to take it down as many notches as necessary for the sake of our future.

How can it be that not long ago, we believed Starbucks was something akin to a right? How could we have ever thought cable a necessity? How did it elude us that you can purchase “New Car Smell” in a can and save a boatload of money?

The thing is, I’ve always counted myself frugal. And yet until recently, while I would never pay a fee to use an ATM machine, I didn’t question the fact that my checking account had a monthly service charge attached to it. And our business checking account did, as well. $240 per year for the business and $180 for the personal account? I won’t even admit how many years I paid these fees until I finally switched to a regional bank and put the kabosh on the rip-off.

Nickel and diming my way to lowered expenses, thus freeing up cash for items and services (and savings accounts!) with genuine value for the lives we’re living now, is one strategy. But I much prefer to go after the big-ticket cash outlays and attempt to bring them under control at every opportunity. So far in 2009, we’ve updated my husband’s life insurance policies for a significant annual savings, raised the deductibles on our homeowners and car insurance (in the process discovering a $600 overcharge we were refunded) for much lower premiums, bundled some of our communications services and ditched a cell phone in favor of sharing, and are nearly ready to close on our house refinance.

We locked in a rate of 4.625% for ten years. We only had 11 years left on a 5.875% loan, and while this refi doesn’t sound like it would make a tremendous difference in either monthly outlay or total amount paid, it does. We’ll be paying several hundred dollars less per month (can you say beefed up emergency fund?) and will save $25,000 in interest over the life of the loan if we don’t pay it off early.

When you really get down to it and behave ruthlessly toward some of your larger expenses, you too may find that you can make some changes that don’t affect your quality of life (*ahem* lifestyle) at all, but put money back in your pocket for uses more in line with your purposes as a bona fide girlvivalist.

If you haven’t started whacking away at your monthly expenses, give it a try! I hope imagining how much I paid to solve my sock problem is all it takes to motivate you to bring those line items under control.

Hey, how’s this? For every $50 per month you cut back, buy yourself a cute pair of socks.

When You’re Garage Saling, Stay Focused!

Or you may end up with knick-knacks and paddy-whacks, like me...

So the last couple of weeks have been freakin’ fantastic around here when it comes to garage saling. Luckily for me, I live in the quasi-boonies but still close in enough to take advantage of sales in some pretty classy suburban neighborhoods.

In fact, these neighborhoods think highly enough of themselves that I have a feeling their Home Owners Associations prevent individual families from staging sales at will, and only allow the garage doors to be opened and the stuff hauled out onto the driveway on one week-end per year.

Yes, I am the beneficiary of multitudes of Neighborhood Garage Sales, where you can literally park your car once and visit four or five sales before moving on down the road. I am learning, though, that the blessings of so many sales assaulting my sensibilities all at once can easily be mitigated by some devious drawbacks.

Last week, for example, I dragged my hubby with me for an hour of pennies-on-the-dollar enjoyment and we happened upon this gentleman who collected antique glass dishes, plates, vases, etc. He had it all displayed in china cupboards and on handsome bookcases in his garage, which looked almost like a permanent installation now that I think back on it.

He spoke so lovingly of each piece as we ooohed and aaahed over it, that we started to feel a bit guilty, since we both realized that we had no intention of buying anything at all. The last thing we need is another piece of Depression glass, as much as I love it and cherish the items I already have.

We’re looking for preps, people! Tools! Non-electric small appliances! Coleman camping lanterns, still in the box! And yes, books. Always books. No girlvivalist is perfect, you know.

But here was this fellow who’d obviously fallen on hard enough times that he had no choice but to begin liquidating the collection he still clearly loved. And he was taking the time to bring us up to speed on the nuanced differences in color between the blue glass pressed in the fifties and the new-fangled items made in the sixties. He invested in us!

And so what did I do? I fell in love with a etched glass vanity dish, topped with a plated silver lid. And then my husband, who tends to buy me everything I sigh over if I don’t bodily prevent him, pulled out his wallet and handed over the cash.

All the way to the car I mumbled, “Why did I buy this? Do I need any more do-dads for the rest of my born days?”

Then, of course, we had no choice but to keep scavenging through the neighborhood until we found items which we really DID need, or which we could repurpose into something truly useful to us. In other words, I had to spend more money in order to “average down” the money I’d just spent! Sheesh.

Well, it turned out OK, after all. We discovered a bunch of hardback books marked 50 cents and when the lady saw us shuffling through them, she said, “Let’s say a quarter each. I do NOT want to take them back in the house.” We now have reading material (both fiction and non) ahead for a year if not longer, and have spent a total of about $15 on 40 or so hardbacks—-all of which we can sell at Half Price Books or donate and take the tax deduction.

I got a blouse with a $26 price tag still hanging from it for $1. I got a set of shower curtain rings, still in their box, for free, and two large pillar candles for 25 cents each.

And finally, the piece de resistance: We found a fantastically durable wrought iron table base (with no top) for FREE. Next spring, we’ll use this base to hold several large rectangular planters full of veggies. Waist-high gardening is our thing!

Every once in a while, I flub up and buy something silly at a garage sale. But even then, if I persevere, I end up coming home with some truly wonderful finds for little to no money. And if I stay focused on items that will improve our situation long-term or bring some genuine joy to our lives in the short run (like novels!), garage saling often turns out to be a worthy venture.

Any good garage sales in your area this spring? I will gladly share bragging rights with you! And a silver-lidded glass jar, too, if you need one.

About Girlvivalist


Enjoy Surprises? Do A Household Inventory

Food, Water, Candles, Matches, TP. Check! Dishwashing Liquid? Not So Much.

I’ll admit right here and now I’ve never really used a dishwasher. I tried to imagine, once upon a time, that loading it and unloading it and listening to it make all that noise would be worth my while, but I just never got over the feeling that hand-washing was easier and faster and maybe even cheaper.

So you would think that when my hubby and I started (and nearly finished!) an inventory of our household supplies, I would have counted at least a dozen large bottles of dishwashing liquid. Instead, I found a total of three bottles in my kitchen, basement, and garage storage areas. THREE.

I’ve got TONS of toothpaste, bar soap, deoderant, anti-bacterial hand cleaner, shampoo, hair color, make-up, razors, Wet Wipes, and toilet paper. I’ve got trash bags aplenty, plus foil, Ziploc bags, paper towels, napkins, oil lamps, lamp oil, flashlights, batteries, and a wind-up radio.

But, besides the lack of dishwashing liquid for the long-term, there’s a woeful absence of cleaning supplies in general. Evidently, in a crisis situation, I subconsciously plan to go on a prolonged vacation. I guess don’t intend to do dishes or laundry, clean mirrors or the kitchen sink, or polish the furniture. Maybe that explains the copious number of paper plates I’ve stockpiled—-along with the plastic cups, bowls, and silverware.

If the clothes don’t get laundered for lack of a supply of detergent, we’ll be OK. The deoderant should get us by for at least 72 hours.

Anything you’re avoiding stockpiling? Do an inventory to find out!

Starting Small

We live in Tornado Alley, and have our entire lives. To make things even more intense, we have a meteorologist in the family who, in tornado season, calls us at every wee hour imaginable to inform us that it’s time to go to our “safe place.”

Huh? I grew up with a father who wouldn’t leave his station at the kitchen table, armed with a newspaper for entertainment and a transistor radio for news, come hell or high water. Mom and we kids would tramp down to the basement, pleading with him to come with us, but nothing doing.

“If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go,” he’d say.

And then one of us would invariably call back to him, “But what if it’s just your time to go TO THE BASEMENT?”

Over the years, I’ve turned into my father. I really don’t love the basement. There’s not a Sleep Number bed down there, and I’m spoiled. I figure I’d hear that freight-train roar that everyone associates with a tornado about to blow the roof off, and have at least three seconds of warning to get myself down the stairs if I really had to.

But now, there’s the meteorologist to deal with.

Last spring, he sent us to the basement at ungodly hours three times in one week. We’ve got a little TV down there, and a couch, and honestly, we could just set up housekeeping I guess. And you know what? Maybe this tornado season I will. Because I finally figured out how to make the transition from Sleep Comfort to discomfort a little bit easier.

Instead of stopping off in the kitchen and rummaging through cabinets and drawers looking for flashlights in case we end up in the basement sans electricity, I realized that one little hook screwed into the wall of the stairwell would solve half—-or maybe all—-of my Basement Resistance. Now I’ve got two flashlights, one for each of us, with fresh batteries hanging from that hook, ready for our next tornadic descent.

Hanging those flashlights where I could grab them on our way down prompted me to add further items to my tornado preparedness. A few more simple strategies, and suddenly I don’t dread the drag out of bed nearly as much as I used to. I’ll share those steps with you, too, but for now, do this one little thing: Hang a flashlight on a hook.

Then if, as you’re heading downstairs, you want to philosophize like my dad and say, “If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go,” you’ll at least be able to shine a bit more light on the subject than he did.

I Smile Every Time I Run Across This Quote

So I thought I'd pass it along.....

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” — Robert A. Heinlein

I might add a few items to this list, like grow a tomato, homeschool a small child, dance a two-step, and kill a snake. But I LOVE Heinlein’s premise: Specialization doesn’t always cut it. And it REALLY doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to become ever more competent in the skills that promote basic self-reliance. Getting to know your neighbors so that you can pool your strengths, tools, and talents in a trying situation will always be important, of course.

But there’s just no substitute for knowing how to handle what life throws at you without always having to sound the distress signal.

Now, I think I’ll go kill the wasp that’s been dive-bombing me in the kitchen all morning, instead of making my dear hubby do it. Wish me luck!

The Prepared Automobile


My son, several years ago, spent a semester in Europe. When he got home, unbeknownst to him, I had renewed the license plates on his car and placed the stickers and paperwork—-including his current proof in insurance—-in the glove box.

But I forgot to tell him to grab those stickers, scrub the grime off the plates, and adhere the new stickers before driving off on his first jaunt stateside. And so he just figured that the cop who stopped him that night for expired plates was justified in giving him that enormous traffic ticket.

“But everything you needed was right there in the glove box,” I said.

“I dug around in there and I couldn’t find a thing,” he answered.

How many times have you had the same thing happen? Your hands are sweating profusely because of the flashing lights and (quite possibly) the siren and the police officer has asked to see your papers. You reach over to the glove box, open it, and out falls everything including the kitchen sink——but no papers that look like anything he’d want to see unless you count someone’s report card from the third grade and an old church bulletin.

Here’s the best idea I’ve heard maybe ever, and it comes to me via my baby sister: Purchase a $1 zippered pencil case from Walmart. The kind that come in lots of colors and are made of canvas or whatever—-in other words, not plastic and not clear like a Ziploc bag, as that might get more easily confused with other similar contents in your glove box. Into the pencil case put your current proof of insurance, the automobile’s registration papers, and maybe copies of the drivers license you keep in your wallet (in case you manage to leave home without it….).

Even with a bad case of nerves, any driver could easily fumble around and pull out the pencil case, delivering into the officer’s hand only the documents that are relevant—-and every one of them, at that.

I’ve always had basic emergency kits (albeit modest ones) for the cars, but THIS is the “emergency” we’re most likely to have. A simple answer, finally, and one that works for virtually everyone!

The Hiding Place

One of my very favorite books of all time is The Hiding Place, the story of Corrie ten Boom and her family, who decided to hide Jews during the Holocaust and were rewarded by being forced into concentration camps.

I guess it’s the manner in which they hid the Jews that’s always fascinated me. Corrie and her sister Betsy started as messengers, helping to place Jews with families on farms in out-of-the-way spots where they were unlikely to be found. But eventually those locations were filled and it fell to the ten Boom family to begin lodging Jews themselves, in their own home and at great personal risk.

So they devised an ingenious room on the upper level of their home, hidden behind a false wall, and held regular drills with their “guests” in order to ensure that should the Nazis ever beat the front door down, everyone would be safe.

I won’t tell you what happened, only that Corrie ten Boom survived the concentration camp and was released due to a clerical error. When the war ended, she spent many decades traveling the world and telling about her experiences and the faithfulness of God during those bleak times. You’ll have to read the book for the whole story!

Suffice it to say, I think every home should have hiding places. And that even if you aren’t currently using those hiding places, you should have a plan in place for how to use them should the need arise.

But what do I have that needs to be hidden? you might ask. Use your imagination! If you keep any cash in the house, or jewelry, or ammo, or a coin collection, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to divide up the valuables and put at least a portion of them somewhere more secure than the fancy display-case coffee table.

Some home-security advisors say to keep one gold coin (if that’s what you collect) available as a decoy to hand over to a thief if need be. The burglar may think he’s gotten everything when actually most of your collection is hidden in places that represent too big of a challenge for the average home invader.

Of course, you’re going to have to share your cache locations with someone. It’s one thing to have a faultless memory, but if you die, your memory goes with you. Make sure that at least one other person knows where you’ve stashed the goodies, just in case.

A Little Bit About Me

Prepper Since Y2K, First-Time Gardener, Life-Long Bargain Hunter, And Debt-Free Aficionado

I wish I could say I’ve got self-sufficiency and homesteading and food preservation skills down-pat. But not only would that be a terrible lie, it would also fail to serve my goal of reaching out to wannabe, newbie, and advanced beginner girlvivalists.

You see, until the Y2K scare, I couldn’t have found a flashlight in a power outage to save my life. If the water supply to our house had been cut off, even for a few days, I would not have known that you can drain your water heater for a surplus 50 gallons. It would never have occurred to me to keep even a small amount of cash on hand in case, by some small chance, ATMs stop spitting out money.

But over the years, I’ve changed. I’ve become a disciple of those who’ve mastered all kinds of domestic and suburban self-reliance skills, right down to and including cooking from scratch! (Who knew that loaves of bread weren’t born that way?) I’m not saying I’VE mastered what my mentors have, only that I am willing to learn and have come a long way since I started on this journey. These days, I still wouldn’t call myself a survivalist, but I happily think I’ve finally become a girlvivalist.

What’s a girlvivalist, you ask? Well, if you’re like me, you’ve probably never met a hardcore survivalist in your life—at least not the kind who are portrayed in the media as being white supremacists and members of militant militias. Still, you’re coming to the slow but sure realization that you just don’t have a level of preparedness necessary to protect yourself and your family in the case of emergency or disaster, whether that hardship comes in the form of a personal difficulty like a lay-off or prolonged illness, a natural disaster like a tornado or hurricane, a terrorist attack that affects an entire region of the country, or even the swine flu.

This site is for you! With even the basics of emergency preparedness in place, you will be far ahead of the rest of the pack and can consider yourself a bona fide Girlvivalist. And as long as you keep your plans and preps organized and updated on a regular-enough basis, you’ll sleep a lot easier at night.

Especially, of course, if you keep a flashlight with fresh batteries in your bedside table.

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