Prelude to Economic Disaster: Billionaire Liquidates All Real Estate Ahead of Crash

economy-rip

If you were to contact a real estate agent in any major market today they’d likely advise you the market is so “hot” that if you intend on purchasing property you’d better be prepared to act fast. They’ll adamantly point out, contrary to reality, that the housing market has recovered, available inventory is dropping, prices are rising, and they can only go higher from here.

But if you’re paying attention to what’s happening around us, and not just with our own economy here in the United States, then you’d likely have noticed that while many Americans are flying high on hopes of change and recovery, there is an economic disaster of unprecedented scale in the making.

First, we know that the third largest economy in the world, China, is going through a massive credit crunch as bad loans there have soared to near all time highs, meaning that loans are quickly becoming non-existent and credit markets are now frozen. This means that no one is going to be building ghost cities and empty malls in the Peoples’ Republic again any time soon. Moreover, it means no more easy cash. We know what happened in the United States and the rest of the world when the last credit crunch hit.

Second, as Sovereign Man points out, the richest man in Asia Li Ka-Shing (their version of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates with a reported net worth of $ 30 billion) has rapidly liquidated his real estate holdings and is existing the market as quickly as possible.

Here’s a guy you want to bet on– Li Ka-Shing.

Li is reportedly the richest person in Asia with a net worth well in excess of $ 30 billion, much of which he made being a shrewd property investor.

Li Ka-Shing was investing in mainland China back in the early 90s, way back before it became the trendy thing to do. Now, Li wants out of China. All of it.

Since August of last year, he’s dumped billions of dollars worth of his Chinese holdings. The latest is the $ 928 million sale of the Pacific Place shopping center in Beijing– this deal was inked just days ago.

Once the deal concludes, Li will no longer have any major property investments in mainland China.

This isn’t a person who became wealthy by being flippant and scared. So what does he see that nobody else seems to be paying much attention to?

Simple. China’s credit crunch.

But Li Ka-Shing isn’t the only one bailing. Luxury real estate investors are unloading their real estate assets as well in an effort to raise cash and not be the last one holding a dead asset. For all intents and purposes, the music in China has stopped:

Cash-strapped Chinese are scrambling to sell their luxury homes in Hong Kong, and some are knocking up to a fifth off the price for a quick sale, as a liquidity crunch looms on the mainland.

On the domestic front we’ve seen stock markets drop a fairly significant level in recent weeks. So much so that company’s hoping to launch new IPO initiatives have chosen to just sit this one out as they are worried that investors are running out of money to help fund their operations.

You wouldn’t know that, of course, because mainstream media pundits like Dennis Kneale continue to sell Americans on the notion that we’re in a robust recovery:

Yet the economy, both locally and globally, is in vastly better shape than it was when we took that terrible tumble, down to Dow 6,800 in March 2009.

Americans have cut back on debt, and so have companies.

Karl Denninger of the Market Ticker calls this one what it is – a complete lie – and points out that we are nowhere near cutting back on our debt.

I Despise Liars

US debt to present

“Cut back”?  Really?  Worse, ex mortgages this is not true at any level; there is $ 3,733.5 billion in non-mortgage consumer debt outstanding.  That is an all-time high; in Q4/2006 (just before the crash, remember?) that stood at $ 3,047.2 billion or nearly $ 700 billion less.

An awful lot of that increase since 2007, incidentally, is student loans — exactly where it cannot be for sustainable economic progress since the younger generation has to eventually take the reins from us older folks.  This is nothing more than an economic Ponzi scheme with its cheering section led by people like Dennis who refuse to look at and argue from facts.

As for corporate debt it never decreased at all.

Something is amiss, and the fact that no one in the mainstream, which is where tens of millions of Americans get their “facts,” is really talking about it should be a blaring alarm.

There are, however, some Americans paying attention. As in China, it’s the billionaires and elite who have direct access to the puppeteers pulling the strings, and like Li Ka-shing, they have been quietly and rapidly dumping millions of shares of stock:

Despite the 6.5% stock market rally over the last three months, a handful ofbillionaires are quietly dumping their American stocks . . . and fast.

In the latest filing for Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has been drastically reducing his exposure to stocks that depend on consumer purchasing habits. Berkshire sold roughly 19 million shares of Johnson & Johnson, and reduced his overall stake in “consumer product stocks” by 21%. Berkshire Hathaway also sold its entire stake in California-based computer parts supplier Intel.

Fellow billionaire John Paulson, who made a fortune betting on the subprime mortgage meltdown, is clearing out of U.S. stocks too. During the second quarter of the year, Paulson’s hedge fund, Paulson & Co., dumped 14 million shares of JPMorgan Chase. The fund also dumped its entire position in discount retailer Family Dollar and consumer-goods maker Sara Lee.

Finally, billionaire George Soros recently sold nearly all of his bank stocks, including shares of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs. Between the three banks, Soros sold more than a million shares.

The big money, often referred to as the smart money, is getting out of the game and they are dumping these assets on unsuspecting investors.

They know, for example, that earnings growth has now plunged to its lowest levels since 2012.

As these in-the-know elites unload their positions, average investors depending on their financial advisers to tell them the truth are slamming money into these stocks and paying, in some cases, 500 times earnings. Real estate investors are, likewise, overpaying for homes based on the idea that markets are “hotter” than they’ve been in years.

It’s a recipe for disaster and it won’t end well – at least for 99% of people who blindly believe the opinions of their favorite “experts.”

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SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

New Study Confirms: “The United States Is No Democracy… But Actually An Oligarchy” Dominated By The Economic Elite

oligarchy

Most Americans wake up every morning believing that they live in a democracy. We have the right to vote, the right to work, and the right to freely express our opinions without threat of imprisonment or worse. Our political leaders often tout the United States as being a democracy of and for the people. We even spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year spreading this democratic influence to the rest of the world.

But a new study from researchers at Princeton and Northwestern University titled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens starkly contrasts the notion that America provides an equal playing field for every citizen, as it was intended to do at its founding.

After a multivariate analysis of key variables involving 1,179 policy issues the results provide “substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination,” wherein economic elites and organized groups representing business interests maintain “substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” while average citizens have little or no independent influence.

Essentially, you as an average American citizen have no say whatsoever as it pertains to public policy, legislation, or regulation.

A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.

Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America].

When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.

(Via CommonDreams.org)

Given that even the Federal Reserve announced this morning that their policies make the rich much richer and the poor poorer, can anyone really argue with the fact that the political and socio-economic systems of this country are specifically designed to benefit the interests of the elite?

As Congress debates cuts to food stamps and unemployment insurance to the tune of a few billions dollars, the government pumps tens of billions into the coffers of investment banks and financiers on a monthly basis.

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(Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testify before Congress with other elite bankers)

Those convicted of petty non-violent crimes like possession of marijuana could spend a lifetime in prison, while the individuals responsible for wiping away 40% of America’s wealth in the 2008 crash have not only avoided prosecution, but are rewarded within their respective organizations.

Whistle blowers spreading the truth to the masses about the the duplicitous nature of politics and business have to hide in non-extradition countries to avoid prosecution for releasing “sensitive” material, all the while the elites who engaged in criminal acts like bribery, conspiracy and murder are hardly even given a second look.

And just last week we saw a perfect example of elite domination in the form of a land grab when hundreds of government officials converged on the ranch of a family that has been engaging in the same activity for over a century without any trouble. That is, until a conniving Senator with ties to foreign companies determined it was in the best interests of his pocket book and legacy to force a rancher off public lands and put thousands of people in harms way just to achieve his ends.

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The stories of such corruption and overreach against average Americans are countless and prove without a shadow of a doubt that, while we may call the United States of America a “democracy” or “republic,” it’s now only rooted in rhetoric and not reality.

Economic and political cyclical analyst Martin Armstrong warns that it is this very effect of moving power from the people to the elites that led to the failure of previous ‘democratic’ societies:

Dealing with Washington over the years taught me a lot. I have been inside the belly of the beast as well as on the outside. I have seen it all from every angle. Government is not run by democracy – it is a republic oligarchy pretending to be a democracy. Now a study is coming out an it confirms what I have seen over the years that this is just an American Oligarchy.

There is no hope of honest politics until there is major serious reform. We are at the same point in our history as the fall of the Roman Republic and for the very same reasons – outrageous corruption..

When we surrender our power, influence and money to the elite as we have done in modern day America, then we have likewise surrendered to them our liberty.


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

The Reckoning: “All Evidence Points to US Economic Failure in 2014″

The-Reckoning

Earlier this week economic strategist Marc Faber warned that some time in the next 12 months the U.S. stock market will experience a crash worse than the massive drop seen in 1987.

He’s not alone. Many contrarian economists seem to agree. And given the state of economic and geo-political affairs they could well be right, much to our detriment.

On the domestic front, the much touted economic recovery is in significant danger of being revealed for the illusion that it really is. Nationwide home sales, for example, have dropped off in record numbers in the last few months and a report released this morning indicates that mortgage originations are as bad today as they were just before the Lehman crisis of 2007. Couple that with a jobs market that is at best stagnating and at worst completely falling apart, and you can probably deduce that if there is any economic growth at all taking place it is about to come to a standstill.

Internationally, the world is fed up with The Fed and the U.S. government’s unabashed debt growth. China, Russia, Iran, India and a host of other countries are establishing trade relationships that are bypassing the U.S. dollar altogether, a move that will soon see the world’s reserve currency lose purchasing power and status. In anticipation of this imminent collapse gold is being hoarded by private and public entities from Berlin to Beijing in an effort to preserve wealth before the Tsunami hits.

In light of these developments, former Undersecretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts suggests that there are only two possible outcomes given our dilemma – World War Or The End Of The Dollar – neither of which bodes well for global economic, financial, social and political stability.

This means a big drop in the demand for US dollars and a corresponding drop in the dollar’s exchange value.

As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear, the US economy has not recovered from the downturn in 2008 and has weakened further. The vast majority of the US population is hard pressed from the lack of income growth for years. As the US is now an import-dependent economy, a drop in the dollar’s value will raise US prices and push living standards lower.

All evidence points to US economic failure in 2014, and that is the conclusion of John Williams’ April 9 report.

This year could also see the breakup of NATO and even the EU. Washington’s reckless coup in Ukraine and threat of sanctions against Russia have pushed its NATO puppet states onto dangerous ground. Washington misjudged the reaction in Ukraine to its overthrow of the elected democratic government and imposition of a stooge government.

Across many fronts, Washington is emerging in the world’s eye as duplicitous, untrustworthy, and totally corrupt.

This audacious recklessness comes on top of Washington’s overthrow of the Ukrainian government, the NSA spying scandal, Seymour Hersh’s investigative report that the Sarin gas attack in Syria was a false flag event arranged by NATO member Turkey in order to justify a US military attack on Syria, Washington’s forcing down Bolivian President Evo Morales’ presidential plane to be searched, Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” the misuse of the Libyan no-fly resolution for military attack, and on and on. Essentially, Washington has so badly damaged other countries’ confidence in the judgment and integrity of the US government that the world has lost its belief in US leadership. Washington is reduced to threats and bribes and increasingly presents as a bully.

The self-inflicted hammer blows to Washington’s credibility have taken a toll.

China and Russia protested but accepted Libya’s destruction even though it was to their own detriment. But Iran became a red line. Washington was blocked, so Washington decided to cause major problems for Russia in Ukraine in order to distract Russia from Washington’s agenda elsewhere.

China has been uncertain about the trade-offs between its trade surpluses with the US and Washington’s growing encirclement of China with naval and air bases. China has come to the conclusion that China has the same enemy as Russia has–Washington.

One of two things is likely: Either the US dollar will be abandoned and collapse in value, thus ending Washington’s superpower status and Washington’s threat to world peace, or Washington will lead its puppets into military conflict with Russia and China. The outcome of such a war would be far more devastating than the collapse of the US dollar.

Read the full article at the Institute for Political Economy

What’s coming in short order isn’t just a result of lackluster job growth, or consumer spending, or a degradation of America’s economy.

The leading developed nations of the world no longer trust the United States and America’s status as the “world’s only super power” is being challenged on all fronts.

According to cyclical theorist Martin Armstrong the cycles of change (political, economic, war) are all converging. This year will see a turning point in June of 2014, and some time in late 2015 the rug will be pulled out from under the global economy, leading to a series of events that may well destroy the world as we’ve come to know it in modern times.

We’re already seeing the prelude to this with civil unrest taking hold across the entire world (including Bunkersville, Nevada), and that trend will continue until the system finally buckles.

This is no plain modern event with civil unrest erupting because of an interconnected world. These are grassroots uprisings cross-fertilized perhaps from a world contagion yet they often have similarities – corrupt governments. Turkey, Ukraine, Thailand, Venezuela and Bosnia-Herzegovina are all middle-income democracies with elected leaders besieged by people angry at misgovernment, corruption and economic sclerosis. These days it is no longer just dictators who have something to fear from the crowd. This is the promise of Marxism that centralized planning and false promises are coming home and governments are too corrupt and incompetent to deliver what they have claimed for decades.

Communism is dead. The socialistic agendas that have lined the pockets of government and filled the coffers of banks is over. The national debts are on average composed of 70% interest payments not programs to help the poor as marketed. The debts that keep growing with no intent upon paying anyone back are draining the national productivity and turning the people into economic slaves.The standard of living has declined and it now takes two incomes to survive where one use to be just fine. Women won the right to work and lost the right to stay home.

The promises that you save for the future have collapsed into dust as interest rates have been driven lower making savings utterly worthless. There is no such thing as saving and living off your fixed income. The elderly are being driven back into the work force and the whole ideas that a generation believed in are vanishing before their eyes.

So it is no longer communists and dictators that are the targets. All governments are now the targets and when the economy turns down after 2015.75, the threat of civilization will be pulled apart by the self-interest of politicians clinging to power to the detriment of the people.

Martin Armstrong Via Zero Hedge

There are terrifying events on the horizon. Most people haven’t a clue and won’t until it’s already too late to act.

We best get ready.

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SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

16 Signs That Most Americans Are NOT PREPARED For The Coming Economic Collapse

This article has been generously contributed by Michael Snyder. You can follow his regular writings, research and analysis at The Economic Collapse Blog and The American Dream. Read his recent book The Beginning of the End to get an idea of what America may look like in the very near future.

Disaster-Is-Coming-300x300Sometimes I think that I sound like a broken record.  I am constantly using phrases such as “get prepared while you still can” and “time is running out”.  In fact, I use them so often that people are starting to criticize me for it.  But the truth is that only a small percentage of people out there are actively taking steps to get ready for what is coming.  Most of the country is not prepared at all.  In many ways, it is just like 2007 all over again.  There were many people that could see what was about to happen and were doing all they could to warn people, but most did not listen.  And then the great financial crisis of 2008 struck and millions of people lost their jobs and their homes.  Unfortunately, the next great wave of the economic collapse is going to be even more painful than the last one.  It is imperative that people get prepared for what is on the horizon, but for the most part it is just not happening.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that we have such short memories and such short attention spans in America today.  Thanks to years of television and endless hours on the Internet, I find myself having a really hard time focusing on anything for more than just a few moments.  And we are accustomed to living in an “instant society” where we don’t have to wait for anything.  In such a society, we are used to “news cycles” that only last for 24 hours and very few people take a “long-term view” of anything.

And another one of the big problems that we are facing is something called “normalcy bias”.  The following is how Wikipedia defines it…

The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to amental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

Over the past several years, the U.S. economy has been relatively stable.  And that is a good thing.  But it has also lulled millions upon millions of people into a false sense of security and complacency.  At this point, most Americans consider 2008 to be a temporary bump in the road, and most assume that the U.S. economy will always be strong.

Unfortunately, that is not the truth.  As I have written about previously, the long-term trends that are destroying our economy have continued to get worse since 2008, and none of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.

We are steamrolling toward the edge of an economic cliff, and most people in our entertainment-addicted society are totally oblivious to what is going on.  So they are not doing anything to get ready for the immense economic pain that is coming.  The following are 16 signs that most Americans are completely unprepared for the coming economic collapse…

#1 Could you come up with $ 2000 right now?  According to a shocking study that was just released, most Americans could not

Forty percent of individuals in the U.S. said they could not or probably could not come up with $ 2,000 if an unexpected need arose, according to research by Atif Mian of Princeton University and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

#2 In that same study, Americans were asked the following question…

“Do you have 3 months emergency funds to cover expenses in case of sickness, job loss, economic downturn?”

An astounding 60 percent of people that responded said that they do not.

#3 Another study found that less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.

#4 Some people are actually trying really hard to get ahead, but admittedly that is really tough to do when we are all being taxed into oblivion.  In fact, it was reported this week that Americans now spend more on taxes than they spend on food, clothing and housing combined.

#5 Right now, more Americans are dependent on the government than ever before.  In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that currently gets direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

#6 It is estimated that less than 10 percent of the entire U.S. population owns any gold or silver for investment purposes.  That is a stunning number.

#7 It has been estimated that there are approximately 3 million“preppers” in the United States.  But that means that almost everyone else is not prepping.

#8-16 The following are nine more statistics that come from a survey conducted by the Adelphi Center for Health Innovation.  As you can see, a significant portion of the population is not even prepared for a basic emergency that would last for just a few days…

  • 44 percent don’t have first-aid kits
  • 48 percent lack emergency supplies
  • 53 percent do not have a minimum three-day supply of nonperishable food and water at home
  • 55 percent believe local authorities will come to their rescue if disaster strikes
  • 52 percent have not designated a family meeting place if they are separated during an emergency
  • 42 percent do not know the phone numbers of all of their immediate family members
  • 21 percent don’t know if their workplace has an emergency preparedness plan
  • 37 percent do not have a list of the drugs they are taking
  • 52 percent do not have copies of health insurance documents

What do you think is going to happen to these people once the economy collapses and there is chaos in the streets?

How are they going to survive?

After all of these years of writing about the coming economic collapse, nothing has changed as far as the long-term outlook is concerned.

We are still heading toward a complete and total economic meltdown.

But most Americans continue to have faith in the system, and the mainstream media keeps assuring them that everything is going to be just fine.

And in this “dumbed-down” society of ours, most people are perfectly content to let others do their thinking for them.  In America today, only one out of every six Americans can even find Ukraine on a map of the world.  That is how far we have fallen.

In this day and age, it is imperative that we all learn how to think for ourselves.  The foundations of our society are crumbling, our economic system is failing and the blind are leading the blind.  If we do not learn to make our own decisions, we are just going to follow the rest of the herd into oblivion.

In addition, we all need to start taking a long-term view of things.  Just because the economic collapse is not going to happen this month does not mean that it is not going to happen.  When you step back and take a broader view of what is happening, it becomes exceedingly clear where we are heading.

Sadly, most Americans will never do that.

Michael T. Snyder is a graduate of the University of Florida law school and he worked as an attorney in the heart of Washington D.C. for a number of years. Today, Michael is best known for his work as the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and The American Dream. If you want to know what things in America are going to look like in a few years read his new book The Beginning of the End.

 


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

Weathering the Economic Collapse: Can You Reduce Any of These 10 Fixed Expenses?

This article has been contributed by Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper and author of The Pantry Primer.

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The bells are tolling on the American economy.  Every day, another expert is warning us of the imminent demise of our way of life. If you’re paying attention, you can see it coming, like some huge storm system, bearing down on you. You don’t stand there and wait for it to hit you.  You don’t have to be a passive victim of the economy. It’s time to sit down and take a long hard look at where your money is going. Lots of financial experts give tips about reducing your discretionary spending but what about those fixed expenses? You can free up some large sums of money by reducing your monthly output.

Most of us have a set of fixed expenses.  Some of these are vital, some are not, and what is vital for me might not be important for you.

What fixed payments come out of your bank account every month?

  • Mortgage/Rent
  • Home Insurance
  • Car payment
  • Car insurance
  • Cable/Satellite/Internet
  • Gym membership/Exercise classes
  • Loan payments
  • Cell phone bill/Home phone bill
  • Child support/alimony payments
  • Tuition
  • Extracurricular activities for the kids

Some of these, you can’t do anything about.  However, some of these payments can be reduced or gotten rid of altogether.

The real question is, if your financial circumstances changed dramatically, could you afford your current lifestyle? If the answer to that question is  ”No” then you need to figure out how to reduce your regular monthly output.

Keep in mind that what works for my family may not work for your family.  It will depend whether your spouse is on board, how dire your situation is, and with how much importance you weigh your frugality makeover what you opt to change. Some of these measures would be drastic, and others would only cause a minor change in your lifestyle. Let’s take a look at each of these expenses individually and ask some important questions.

  1. Mortgage/Rent This is often the biggest expenditure that many families make each month.  When you buy a house, realtors will nearly always show you homes at the top of your price range. When you are looking for rentals, most people search at the high end of their budgets.  That’s fine in good times, but if things go awry, you’re stuck at that same level because banks and landlords don’t care that you lost your job or took a financial hit.  Sometimes moving to a less expensive place is your only option if you wish to make big financial changes. This can free up as much as a thousand dollars a month for some families. Moving is expensive, though, and you have to figure that in to the potential savings. If you are only going to save, let’s say, $ 50 a month by moving, it will be more than a year before you recoup your expenses, and that is going to do little to change your overall outlook. If you are moving to drop your expenses, it needs to be a substantial monthly savings to make it worthwhile. If you own your home, consider refinancing at a better interest rate.
  2. Home/Car Insurance You have to have insurance so this is not an expense that you can cut out of your budget altogether. However, you can shop around for better prices. You can look into changing your coverage. Do you have duplications in coverage? For example, my insurance company offers roadside assistance for about $ 40 per year, but my vehicle came with 3 years of free roadside assistance. You can drop your rate further by increasing your deductible, but if you do that, be sure you have access to the deductible amount should an accident occur.  If you have several cars in your family, you might not need to have rental car coverage on your policy.
  3. Car Payment As with a home payment, most people push the envelope and get the nicest vehicle that they can afford. What you drive is a status symbol in North America, and practicality doesn’t always come into the decisions.  The best option is to get something that you can afford to pay for in full so that you don’t have a payment. Consider trading in the vehicle you are making payments on for one that you can pay for outright or make payments on for a short period of time. But if you made the decision in less frugal days, you might be what car dealers call “upside down” in your financing. That means that you owe more on your vehicle than it is worth. If that is the case, then you will basically have to pay someone to take it off your hands and that is not always worth your while. If you find yourself in that situation, the best thing you can do is use some of your freed up money to pay off your loan as quickly as possible. At least then, the bank gets less interest from you. If you have more than one vehicle, is it possible to become a one car family? This will drop your automotive maintenance costs, get rid of an insurance payment, and take away a monthly payment if both vehicles are being financed. If one of your vehicles is paid for, consider getting rid of the one that is being financed.
  4. Cable/Satellite/Internet This is an area in which cuts can almost always be made.  We don’t have cable or satellite, but we do have the best internet available.  In our home internet is vital for my job and also for my daughter’s school.  Since we have internet, if we have the urge to watch something we can stream it for free online.  For your entertainment needs consider something like Netflix. It’s a fraction of the price of a monthly cable or satellite bill and you can choose what you want to watch commercial free at any point in time, not just when it’s on network television.  You have the added bonus of avoiding those pesky commercials too.  Expect an outcry if you get rid of these services, but also know that your family will get used to it quickly.  Trust me, they’ll live.
  5. Gym membership/Exercise Classes Being healthy is a top priority if you want to live a frugal lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend high monthly fees to do so.  You can kill two birds with one stone by coming up with some productive active things to do: chop wood, build, garden or farm.  If you live in a place where it’s reasonable to do so, walk instead of driving – you’ll get some exercise and save gas money and wear and tear on your vehicle.
  6. Loan Payments Look at paying off your debts as quickly as possible using the snowball method.  Instead of just making your regular monthly payment, take the smallest debt and pay it off as fast as you can while still making your minimum payment on other debts.  Once the smallest payment is paid off, take what you were paying on that and apply it to the next smallest debt, and on and on until you are beautifully debt-free! Then, once you have no debt, commit yourself to staying that way.
  7. Phone Bills Most people do not need both a home phone and a cell phone. One or the other will nearly always suffice.  I actually don’t have either one.  I use internet phone service which costs $ 2.99 per month for the odd telephone call I have to make and email for everything else. It takes some getting used to but you might find that you welcome the peace of people being unable to interrupt you just as you sit down to dinner. You can free up a lot of money each month by getting rid of the phone, but expect people to look at you strangely when they ask for your number and you say, “I don’t have one.”
  8. Child Support/Alimony Payments There really isn’t a lot you can do about this kind of monthly expense. These numbers are set by the courts and you will go to jail or have assets seized if you don’t make them. As a single mom, I can tell you that there were times when we depended on child support payments to buy our groceries, so the argument can be made that if you have children, it’s your responsibility to make these payments.
  9. Tuition If your child is in college or a private school, tuition payments are a fixed expense that you can’t really do much to reduce.  You can apply for scholarships, but aside from this, the price is the price. You don’t want your child to start off adult life in debt if you can help it, so if you can find a way to make these payments instead of using student loans, you are giving your son or daughter the biggest possible gift: financial freedom.
  10. Extracurricular Activities for the Kids This one really depends on your family. If your child is just killing time, then the extracurriculars may not be of high importance.  On the other hand, if they are a talented athlete or budding musician, you may find this is a very worthwhile expenditure.  Some families who homeschool look to extracurricular activities as a way for their kids to socialize with their peers, and that is also very important.  If the activity is not a serious pursuit, sometimes it can be replaced with lower cost activities through the local community center or YMCA.  Some children are really over-programmed, with an evening activity every day of the week and two on weekends. Kids need downtime and the freedom to just go outside, climb a tree, and look at the clouds floating by.

It’s far better to make these changes before you’re forced to do so by circumstances.  If you can reduce your fixed monthly expenditures, you’re less likely to default on things that are true necessities, like keeping a roof over your head and food in the cupboards.  I would prefer to control the cuts myself rather than have the decisions made for me by foreclosures or repossessions.

Despite what the government wants us to believe, the financial situation in this country is not getting better, and it isn’t going to improve for a very long time. The economic storm is bearing down on us, and the most important preparation you can make right now is to figure out how to weather it.

Have you made any dramatic changes to your fixed expenses? What advice can you give to people who are just beginning to make these changes? Please share your suggestions in the comments below.

The Pantry Primer

Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.

Daisy Luther is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

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