Thursday, December 24, 2015

Book Review: Prepare Your Family for Survival

Linda Loosli, founder of Food Storage Moms, is the author of  Prepare Your Family for Survival.   Linda is someone I've come to know her through her blog and the preparedness network.  I know Linda lives what she teaches and that's what made this book so wonderful for me.

First of all, I love the colors and the design of the cover.  It's yellow and black, which screams to me:  CAUTION!    These colors work great for her message because instead of trying to scare the reader, she uses common sense ideas and suggestions that make you pay attention, assess your own situation, and want to do better. 

Some of the topics covered in the book include:

* Water - We can only survive 3 days without water.  Do you really have enough to drink, prepare food, and also provide for laundry and hygiene?

* Simplifying food storage - Store what you already eat.

* Emergency cooking devices - There are several options for cooking without power.  Linda included the thermal cooker as one option because that's what she uses, but I personally use a  wonder oven because it's even more versatile - it's an insulator for hot or cold.

* Surviving without power - Everything requires power, doesn't it?

* First Aid - Do you even have the basics stored?

* Hygiene - This is so important and so often overlooked. 

* Laundry - Yes, it continues to pile up even in emergencies, so what do you do without power?

* Importance of pulling together - How families and communities can help each other.

* 72 Hour Kits - FEMA suggests every person have one because emergency teams just can't get to you the first day. 

* Essential Documents -  It is crucial to have your documents in one place in the event of an evacuation ... or even death.   Linda leaves space in the book for you to record some of the information, but if you don't want to write in the book, you could put that information in a separate notebook, or visit Prepared In Every Way for another option that allows you to type the information and save it on a flash drive. 

* Evacuation Plans - Where would you go?  Does your family know where to meet?   What if you're not all together when emergency strikes? 

Prepare Your Family for Survival is good for someone who is just wanting to get started, but it's also a good checklist for those who may have been working on being prepared for years.  It's a good review of the basics, and I know for me, her checklists helped me see that my own preps might not be as complete as I'd like them to be.  This is where Linda's experience at using these ideas in her own life can benefit others.

I guess if there was anything I'd change about the book, and it has nothing to do with the information, but the print is a bit small for my aging eyes!   When I first opened it, the print seemed really small, but once I got into it, my eyes adjusted and I had no problem at all.  I'm sure the reason for the smaller print is so that her publisher could give us as much information as possible in just under 200 pages.

While I had intended to just flip through it one night and read it later, I found myself so interested that I read it cover to cover in one evening.  Linda does a great job sharing her knowledge in a manner that is very easy to understand.  It's almost like you've got Linda right there leading you through your own preparedness journey.  Definitely an important resource for anyone wanting to be prepared for real emergencies.

Book available on Amazon.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dealing with Paperwork

March 22, 2017
Image result for paperworkIf you look down at the bottom half of this post, you'll see what I used to do at the first of every year. In reviewing it today, I realize that so much has changed.  In the past, I had a manila folder for every account.  Now I have a scanner, and while I do still have a few paper files, most of my paperwork is managed in the folders I maintain on the scanner.  I love it because if I can't find it in the folder where I think I put it, I can do a search.  It's so much easier than sorting through an entire file cabinet.
Here's my process for handling paper.  Maybe you'll have another way of doing it that works better for you.

1.  When the paper comes in, if it has anything to do with money, I enter it in Quicken, and then I scan it.

2.  Once it's scanned, I put a check mark in the top corner, and put it in a folder that simply says, "Receipts - 2017."

3.  When I have paperwork that relates to household goods, like appliances or warranties and receipts on small appliances, I put it in a notebook.  I have page protectors inside, so I just slide the paperwork inside the protector.   Lots of times I enroll for the warranty online, so I will not only save that confirmation email, but I will also "print" to the scanner.  That way I never have to print it on paper.

4.  I have eliminated a lot of paper by stopping paper statements.  I do all of our banking online, and even our credit card statement is electronic.  Once again, I "print" it to the scanner, then balance it in my Quicken account, and schedule the payment.   Throughout the month, I have checked the balance online and entered the charges in Quicken as I go, so the balance isn't usually a big surprise. I know how much I can spend and still be able to pay it off each month.

5.  I do keep a paper file for our automobiles and a few other things where we have a lot of paperwork.  If possible, I scan it so there's always an electronic copy, but in some cases, like information from opening a new bank account, it doesn't seem worth it.

Since I've talked so much about using the scanner, I should mention that I'm using the neat desktop scanner shown here.   I am really happy with it and wish I'd bought it years ago!  I can put a stack of receipts from Home Depot, for instance, in the "receipts" slot, or use the "cards" slot for business cards.  I no longer have to keep a stack of business cards on my desk.

So what are YOU doing to cut down on the amount of paper you manage?


Image result for dividing line
2012.  It's tax time.  Well, almost.  I've started the process of moving last year's files into a different space and replacing them with files for this year.  Many of the file folders will be the same, and in duplicating the folders, I realized that I also have files on appliances and household items.   That's not something I want filed away in a closet.   It occurred to me that maybe they should all go into a binder that anyone might be able to find.  I think binders have a useful purpose and they help me feel oh, so organized.

1.  I had an empty binder on my bookshelf, so I started by filling it with page protectors and the even cooler ones that have pockets on each side.       

2.  I pulled file folders out of the drawer and put the contents of each  one in a page protector/pocket.

3.  I used my handy, dandy label maker and made a label for the binder.

4.  I'm still thinking about whether I need to make a label for each page protector/pocket.  I'm thinking not, since you can easily see the contents.  I might want to use the protector for something else some day.   Okay.  Eliminate #4.

5.  While I was at it, I browsed through the information I was "filing" in the binder.  I realized I had at least one warranty card that had never been filled in.  Good time to do that while it's in front of me.

6.  I put the binder on the bookshelf in my office along with other "preparedness" books.    Should be a good place to keep it since I refer to those books often.  It feels pretty good to have all of that information in one place.  Since I do have some new appliances this year, and have required some minor work while still in warranty, I've already had to refer to this paperwork.  Fortunately, the first time around, I wrote in the information that was required, so it should be even easier if there is a next time. Now that I'm finished with that project, I'm ready to tackle something else.  I've eliminated a handful of manila folders from my file drawer.  Maybe now I'll go through last year's bills and see what I really need to keep.  Utility bills?  Doubtful.

What are you doing this year to make your information more accessible?