How to prepare for an Economic Collapse

April 05, 2023

The Failure of Everything

How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can’t scare him—he has known a fear beyond every other.”

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath.

We recently conducted a survey on the Community Tab on our channel and asked what your primary concerns were given the escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.  Cyberwarfare taking down infrastructure was #1 which we addressed in a recent video along with a free download guide.  The second most significant concern was “How to prepare for an economic collapse in your nation.”  Believe it or not, when you prepare for an economic collapse in your country, you should also expect the infrastructure to collapse around you.  You prepare in similar ways.  In this blog, we will look at a few things you can do now to get on better footing should a more significant collapse occur, ways you can endure through the collapse, and where you should be focusing on your preps.  Some of the ideas we will express may seem simple, but they give you a powerful defense when compounded into a plan.  Let’s take a look…

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City About To Have An Economic CollapseSome would say we are already on the cusp of a collapse.  Others will tell you that we are riding a bubble.  Others will say to you we have been on a long and slow decline for years that will be punctuated abruptly soon enough.  Still, others will point to the events around the world and domestically as evidence that an economic collapse is possible in the future.  Maybe our collective hubris or our sense of exceptionalism convinces us to ignore the facts, history, and the real world.  We don’t know.  We know that economic collapses have happened in the past in economies around the world.  We know that no economy is immune to that possibility, whether it is riding high or plummeting low.

From the Weimar Republic to the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, history is riddled with examples of extreme famine and hardship brought on by economic collapses.  The difference between then and now is that we are today dependent upon a global supply chain that will cease to function if our economy or other economies fail.  We are no longer obtaining our sustenance from the farm just outside of town.  Take a trip to your big box store and look at the labels of where your food came from or originated.  If you want to eat grapes, they probably come from Chile.  If you want Asparagus, it may have come from Peru or Mexico.  That ground beef may have come from Canada, the United States, or Mexico.  We guess they’re not really sure when they put that label on it.  

It’s not likely that the palm oil in your favorite cracker was grown and processed in the next state over from you.  Just the journey from your state’s farms to your table is a journey of many miles and many hands.  How will that food get packaged and delivered to you when that cardboard manufacturer closes operations?  When the price of fuel and electricity goes way up even as the currency becomes worthless, how many orders for food from other countries will go unfulfilled?  How many crops on large corporate farms will be left to rot in the field?

The question is less whether an economic collapse is possible and more to what extent the failure will be when it occurs today.  If it’s just your economy, you could grab up all your gold and all the goodies you can carry and flee across the border.  If the collapse involves several countries, it could stretch worldwide and leave you no safe haven at all.  Besides, if gas were in short supply, not making it from refineries to station, or at an astronomical price because the currency was so worthless, could you really make it the hundreds or thousands of miles to neighboring and more stable countries.  The reality is that you will probably be stuck where you are if your economy collapses.  Accepting that fact, you have to know what that will look like, what things will no longer work, and what you can do to leverage your position.  If you look at the long arc of history, you will see that if you can put any nationalistic ego and exceptionalism aside, economic collapse isn’t just possible; at some point, maybe in your lifetime, it’s highly probable.  You may have endured a recession, a mere loss of some value, and the inflation of goods, but an actual economic collapse means everything stops, and you are totally on your own.


Infrastructure CollapseIf an infrastructure collapse– a collapse of essential services– doesn’t precipitate and exacerbate an economic collapse, it certainly follows one.  Police, fire, teachers, social service workers, the folks who mix the chemicals at the water treatment plant, the folks who fix the lines and pipes, flip the switches, turn the dials, pick up the trash, and keep the world moving behind the scenes that you never see, might work for a little while out of goodwill and habit; however, they will eventually have to tend to their own families and will be hard-pressed to justify working without pay.  The definition of infrastructure varies by source or which politician you listen to on the television.  In a nutshell, “Infrastructure is the set of fundamental facilities and systems that support the sustainable functionality of households and firms. Serving a country, city, or other area, including the services and facilities necessary for its economy to function.”  It’s your most fundamental arteries like roads, tap water, electricity, other utilities, education, healthcare, railways, ports, and airports.  It’s also those teachers, city workers, trash collectors, street sweepers, and people engaged in community-assisting activities.  These workers are all around you.  You may be one of them, and you know that what makes it all go around is money.  If the currency bottomed out and did not look likely to recover, how long would you report for duty over taking charge of your home and getting your garden producing like never before?  If looters are in the streets near your house looking for resources, will you be hanging out at the office or driving a truck for the city?  Well, neither will the other millions of your fellow co-workers.

A collapse of infrastructure preceding or resultant from an economic collapse means you have to be completely self-reliant.  You won’t be able to go to the store to pick up a few items you need.  You won’t be able to go through a drive-through because you didn’t feel like cooking.  It seems obvious to say this, but most people don’t consider the implications until they face them.  Even then, there’s an inclination to blame others over admitting your need and finding a personal solution.  We witnessed quite a few people new to prepping due to the civil unrest years before, even more after the power outages of the big Texas freeze, still more after every flood, fire, hurricane, or tornado.  More and more people realize that government, FEMA, neighbors, or insurance companies won’t always rescue them.  Even passing emergency relief funds through congress has become a partisan struggle that can take days or weeks.  At the same time, infrastructure equals government and big business.  Big businesses supply the services that the local or federal government doesn’t provide.  When the profit disappears because the currency collapses, it isn’t likely companies will be prioritizing you, the consumer who can no longer pay.

When you contemplate this infrastructure collapse, which you absolutely should, imagine how the pioneers lived.  They had no running water or electricity.  They had no natural gas or gasoline power.  They had no store bigger than a general store, maybe a day’s or more journey away.  How did they survive?  They set aside what they needed to survive the winter.  They wasted nothing of what they grew or processed.  They supplemented with what they foraged and hunted.  They learned to make candles from beeswax, rushes, or tallow to provide them light.  They adopted methods from their ancestors to fit their modern times.  You have to do the same, and prepping involves doing that ahead of time.


Prepping For An Economic CollapseWhen the economy collapses, you and every single person around you will suddenly need to do everything for yourselves.  From gathering and cooking the food you need without electricity or natural gas or stores or farmers to collecting water and removing waste from your premises, you need to plan on doing all of these things for yourself.  When the economy collapses, gas will become too expensive to make food deliveries from farm to table possible.  Pumping stations will cease to operate when the grid goes down.  If you live in one of the many areas of the country that is only inhabitable because of the water pumped in or only cooled or heated because of the flow of natural gas or electricity, your area instantly becomes inhospitable at best and uninhabitable at worst.

You can compensate for the sudden loss of resources and services by prepping what you need to get by with a more spartan lifestyle today.  Focus on a prepping plan like the Prepper’s Roadmap or some other guide, and start working at all angles of that plan, from food to water, medicine, energy and fuel, and security.  You need to prep from a 360-degree approach.  Most will not.  Most will be unprepared.  Even some who do prep will find massive gaps in their preps because they failed to take a 360-degree approach.  Essentially, if you need to do everything for yourself and survive on only what you have, what do you need to do to make that happen?  From the food you need for sustenance to cooking it, to getting rid of the waste, you need to plan each phase meticulously.

An actual economic collapse isn’t merely a market correction where many heavy investors lose their shirts, and you lose value in your retirement account. An actual economic collapse will result in a catastrophic failure of everything you currently value.  If you don’t know how to do it for yourself, it isn’t going to get done.  Realize, too, that most everyone around you has failed to prep at all.  That’s hundreds, thousands, or millions of desperate people now being forced to take things into their own hands.  They will be ignoring established social order and taking what they need to survive, banding together to be more powerful and secure, and expecting you to give over what you have prepped for your own survival.  Awareness of this basic fact is why many don’t disclose their prepping, and you should never reveal the full extent of your preps.  At the same time, you do need to get the conversation going and build a network of friends, family, and acquaintances you can rely upon.


Community Helping Each OtherWhere you are when the bottom falls out and who you know will probably be some of the most significant determinants of your ultimate survival.  If you commute miles to your job, leave early, come home late, and barely know your neighbors, you are probably going to be alone when the economy collapses.  If you have built up a few neighborhood relations, cultivated a few like-minded friends through church or groups or classes, you are likely going to fare far better.  We will give you an example. Just as I was writing this, a good friend and neighbor of ours we met years ago when our kids were in the same Cub Scout pack texted me to ask about solar cookers and water purifiers.  He recently got a 55-gallon barrel of water set up in his garage, “just in case.”  We have a mini-network where we can help each other out, look out for each other, and maybe trade or exchange resources if we need to.  

That’s just one person.  Imagine if your neighborhood or church had classes on preparing a 72-hour disaster kit for surviving after a natural disaster.  How many contacts and resources could you cultivate from that?  Have you ever taken a class in woodworking or soap making, or canning?  How many of those people do you think are more prepared than the average person?  Do you have “a guy” from the farmer’s market who supplies you with fresh eggs, produce or meat?  How well do you know this resource because it could be critical to you when the economy collapses? Take steps now to cultivate a community and a network.  You make your community stronger right now when you do.

The other aspect that can’t be overlooked here is location.  We have lived in apartments in sketchy parts of town, the country, small towns, big cities, and the suburbs.  We have seen all walks of life and all levels of self-sufficiency from all over the world.  Let’s admit it if you live in a rural setting, your chances of survival are much greater.  When you have four neighbors separated with a bit of acreage, likely, you will all be looking out for each other even a little bit when the economy collapses.  If you have a hundred neighbors, most of whom you don’t know, will that neighbor have your back or put a knife in it to get your resources?  Both situations have the element of isolation as the key.  The rural person is isolated from competitors for resources.  

Urban people need to look out for their resources by maintaining a low profile and containing their resources within their walls.  If the power is out, you don’t want to be running your lights and radio off your solar battery at night with the windows wide open.  When there is widespread food insecurity, that’s not the time to be cooking up that apple pie or frozen turkey or searing your steaks.  You don’t want to advertise your food and energy stability.  There are three levels to this: having more than you need, having what you need, and not having what you need.  Most will not have what they need when the standard systems of their economy collapse.  You want to have what you need to get by.  If you signal that you have what you need or more than you need, others will eventually come and deplete you of your resources to bring you to their level, which is not having what you need.

Build a network and understand the landscape of where you are at.  You can survive an economic collapse no matter where you are geographically located.  It will be harder for urban dwellers, easier for those in neighborhoods in the suburbs, and far easier still for those in small towns or rural settings.  As much as things fall apart, people are also remarkable at coming together through a shared tragedy.  When we are all suffering from the same disaster, we no longer have the luxury of divisiveness.  There’s a collective understanding that we need to put differences aside and come together as a community.  There’s an instinctual understanding that surviving as a group is far easier than surviving entirely on your own.  Start waving hello to that neighbor.  Start asking questions about what your friend will do if the big one hits.  Start the conversations and cultivate the relationships in your community and the human resources of your location. 


Money 2Assume you can’t get anything with your paper currency.  Most coinage these days isn’t worth as much as the metal it is minted with.  Many turn to precious metals as a solution, but this assumes a recovery.  We think the person who knows how to bake a few loaves of bread with squash flour will have an easier tradeable commodity than a person with an ounce of pure silver or gold.  Gold is great, and all, but people have to eat first.  After an economic collapse, you could offer someone an ounce of gold or a loaf of bread and a pound of beans, and they may be more likely to take the food.  How much would a lighter, flashlight, knife, or gun get you in trade versus an ounce of metal?  That’s not to say that precious metals don’t have their place.  If you needed to buy a piece of rural land from someone not as desperate because they produce much of what they need, those silver and gold bars might have the right exchange value.

Looking through history, you will see instances where people had wheelbarrows heaping with their worthless paper currency, still barely enough to buy a quart of milk or a loaf of bread.  Precious metals and gems were only beneficial to them by providing them a means to carry value from their country to another.  In a global economic collapse, even precious metals and gems won’t be as valuable as food, water, and other essentials, and how do you break a bar of gold or a diamond or emerald into the correct exchange amount for an everyday purchase?  The people with tradeable goods or services faired much better through regional and national economic hardships.  The person who raised rabbits or farmed eggs would fare far better than the banker or real estate investor.  The local doctor could no longer get paid in cash, but people still paid for his services by giving him commodities like fish or grown food or some other item that retained perceived value even as the currency was worthless.

The fact is that the currency buys less and less every year, but this has been a slow and consistent decline through countless administrations ever since we abandoned the gold standard.  In an economic collapse, this decline is like the bottom falling out from underneath you.  Suddenly price tags are meaningless because prices can no longer be met equally with the appropriate amount of currency.  Far more valuable are usable things, tradeable resources, and useful skills.  If you know how to fix the only power generator I have, that’s priceless.  If you know how to fix my shoes, that’s worth a lot to me.  If you know how to hunt, fish, forage, sew, brew, caseiculture, garden, make soap from fats, weave, process water to make it drinkable, or even render plastics into biodiesel, you are worth more to people than a wheelbarrow full of worthless bills.


FamilyWe are a mobile society that seeks luxury and the easiest path.  So, there isn’t always a way for us to learn these things.  As much as my grandfather taught me how to grow the best and sweetest tomatoes or catch a 4-foot blue catfish, much of his knowledge didn’t get passed on to us.  We learn something new every year about my tomato plants, and we struggle to catch fish, and that is with the luxury of having a great teacher where many don’t even have that.  Another problem is that we are far removed from the nature that provides us with the sustenance we need to survive.  If you live in an apartment or condo, it may be challenging, to say the least, to grow any of your food or get water from the wild.  Even if you have some yard space that isn’t otherwise occupied by a pool, driveway, or non-edible landscaping, it’s hard to press it into service to feed one person, let alone a family.  Twenty-one states have an average lot size for a house of under 11,000 square feet.  

As a general rule of thumb, you need anywhere from 100-200 square feet of growing space per person you intend on feeding.  That’s just the space.  You need the knowledge, skills, tools, and seeds to cultivate and maintain that space.  There are only a few plants that you can set and forget.  Growing everything you need simply isn’t an option for everyone.  Still, you should be growing something, whether that’s sprouts, mushrooms, microgreens, patio tomatoes or peppers, or a window garden, grow something.  A mushroom spore print can last up to 18 years.  Beans, peas, and lentils will sprout for you even when they are 5-years old.  There are creative ways to produce your own food for years into any disaster.

Knowing you can’t grow it all unless you plan on abandoning your area for an area of land you own in the country, you need to focus on building that pioneer level of 1 year or more food storage.  Unlike your pioneer ancestors, you have the technology of freeze-drying and moisture meters, electric dehydrators, and fancy pressure canners.  You have hundreds of years of big and small companies striving to extend the shelf life of their products.  Most of the meat sold in cities in the 1800s was rancid by the time it got to the consumer’s kitchen.  That’s why we have steak sauce and ketchup today.  That’s why we have jerky and smoked meats still today.  We also can leverage technology to maximize shelf-life.  

A low-acid food like a canned vegetable can have 2-5 years of shelf-life.  It’s pretty easy with some meal planning and know-how to build a reserve slowly, just one can at a time, of food sufficient to feed every person and pet in your home for 3-weeks, then 3-months, then well over a year.  Above all else, don’t believe that you can simply make it through a prolonged collapse on beans, rice, and Ramen.  Will you survive? Yes.  But if you think you can get by just on these, put them to the test and eat nothing but these three for 3-days straight.  After 3-days, your gut will be a mess, and you will be horribly dehydrated and bloated from the high sodium.  Have your food storage contain a full spectrum of foods from salts to proteins, sugars, and greens.  Then cook from this pantry, so you aren’t trying to figure it out after the infrastructure collapses.

Finally, know how to use everything.  Stop throwing food out and wasting food.  If you are regularly cleaning out your refrigerator of leftovers or moldy food, you need to learn to use your resources more wisely.  If you are going to the farmer’s market and trimming and throwing away the carrot tops when you process your carrots, you need to learn how to use these things.  Make this year the year you make your own dill pickles or sauerkraut.  There are videos for doing this on this channel.  You will pick up a valuable skill that will enrich your life now and equip you with some basics of surviving when the infrastructure collapses and refrigeration is a memory of a former time.


We witnessed how fragile and interwoven our economies and dependencies have become from lockdowns around the world.  Even as we try to make corrections from the damage caused by those months, we face the threat of a global war, decreased production, sanctions, embargoes, and still numerous and increasingly inflamed political divisions and civil unrest.  Any one of these things could be the lit fuse of a broader economic collapse involving your country, countries bordering yours, or the entire global economy.  Understanding the total loss of resources and services is the first step in surviving that.  Prepping for the possibility of such a collapse now will increase your personal odds of survival.  Economies often stutter step into recession, but we rarely see them collapse entirely.  That should not make us bury our heads in the sand and ignore the realities, nor should it make us simply wring our hands and shrug our shoulders at an unalterable fate.  Prepping now for an economic collapse in your country can put the odds of surviving in your favor and decrease the desperation that those around you will undoubtedly face almost from the first day.

What do you think?  What are some of the things you are doing to protect yourself from the possibility of an economic failure?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. We try to read the comments and respond to them when we can, typically within the first hour of releasing a blog. Please consider subscribing to the channel and click that bell icon that will appear next to the subscribe button if you’d like to be notified when I release a video. Give this video a thumbs-up or leave a comment to help the channel grow.


As always, stay safe out there.

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