#14 - Triage : The Prepper’s Plight
A good friend of mine is prepping for everything under the sun. We’ll call him Bill. Bill reminds me semi-regularly to have spare food, water, and be able to cook with different fuels. I agree with him (I have done off-grid 6 week trips as a teen, pre-GPS). He also tells me two or three times a week what his future plans are when he gets his money straight. Currently he relies on getting his tax refund in time, even though Bill makes a decent wage. I remind him that prepping for an unknown catastrophe is one thing, but failing to prep for weekly realities is a bigger problem. We both mean well, and our differences really come down to what we value. Bill's earnings are turned into 100% consumption, where mine aren't.
I do prep, but I triage based off of probability of occurrence rather than the level of doomsday. I buy an extra canned good or soup every time I grocery shop, I put money aside into an emergency savings account, and I operate on a budget with clearly defined guard rails. Bill thinks that I need to get a lot of other things for the worst day that may, or may not, come in the future. I think Bill needs to get his finances in order for next week and next month, because the rent has to get paid one way or another. Our priorities are different due to different expected problems, therefore we triage dramatically differently.
Triage is important. Triage is sorting your problems from most important to the least, and it’s important for putting resources to work where they will have the most positive impact. I’ll add a bit of clarity for purposes of this article : it also includes figuring out what you can and can’t control, along with preemptively mitigating risk where you can. We likely can’t control if the world goes to hell in a hand basket or if our company shuts down. However, we can triage these two and determine which can reasonably be prepared for with the most positive impact. This triage can easily be integrated into operating on a monthly budget, as we build guardrails to keep us in our lane and ensure we can take care of what matters most.
In my view, preparing for the most likely events, at the smallest levels, provides the most stability in times of chaos. Conveniently, these problems are low hanging fruit. Those extra canned and frozen goods came in handy last month. I found myself walking away from a company who was at the point of failure and hunting for new employment. The $20 I had been saving each week for the last 8 months was enough to pay all my bills, afford gasoline to drive to interviews, and buy a few home repair items I hadn’t anticipated.
The triage I did allowed me to get through a realistic hardship that many people face on a regular basis. I didn’t spend all my money getting a 6+ month food and water supply for the end of the world as we know it, but rather I put money into an online savings account that I could access from anywhere in seconds. I gradually built up a 1-2 week food stock of frozen and canned goods (which are always cheaper than fresh, and don’t spoil in the fridge), and I paid my water bill. If the world truly did come to a screeching halt with all the different ways it could happen, would I have had enough to get by? Probably not, but with all the infinite possibilities, I can’t reasonably prepare for every single outcome and be effective in any of them.
A common phrase or prayer many people on the globe say goes something like this :
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
So I drink coffee for the things I can control; I sip a beer for the things I can’t; I budget for my future goals: and I triage for effective resource allocation.
“If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die” ~Warren Buffet
"You have the rest of your life to solve your problems. How long you live depends on how well you do it." ~Clint Smith
Highlights from my Free Resources
Money Guy Free Resources (specifically Financial Order of Operations)
Hoopla - The Free Digital Library (a free library on your phone - like the books below)