I’m in my 20s. Just a few years ago, I feel like I was pretty oblivious to the world, to the economy, our politics, etc. I’m a different person today. I read constantly from a variety of sources on news and opinions of the economy, geo-political events, and more. So, how did I get here? What shifted my perspective on the world we live in? I’ll explain…
I was a typical college student at the University of Florida. Pretty focused on grades, focused on having a good time, and then towards the end, focused on breaking into the “real world” and getting a job. During my junior and senior years, I became very much interested in investing and the stock market. As a result, I started to follow the stock market intensely and started becoming an econ-junkie, reading and following everything I could about the economy.
Joining The Real World
Upon entering the work force as a entry level “consultant” for a large IT consulting firm, I quickly became focused on responsibility, managing my finances, and planning out my career path. Additionally, my strong interest in economics and the stock market only intensified. Since I was working, I also started to accumulate capital (not much, but still capital) to put into play in the stock market. I always say, the only way you’ll learn the stock market is by having your money at risk. By having my own money at risk, I began to follow it very, very closely.
The Last Couple Years
Starting in 2007, my economic views started to shift. I began reading interesting pieces on the economy that I typically didn’t hear from mainstream outlets like CNBC. I was incredibly bearish on housing, since I was always in the camp of being pretty shocked and surprised at how crazy housing was. Living in Florida, I saw some insane things in real estate (like staying up all night to enter a raffle for the opportunity to put a deposit down on a crappy condo that hasn’t even been built yet — yes, that would be defined as a bubble).
In 2007, I started shorting the stock market. My experience as a trader and a investor was very limited at this point, so my beliefs were based on real economic indicators but my conviction about my trade was weak. Shorting the Dow at around the 13,000 level in 2007, the Dow went on to rise to 14,000. Since my conviction wasn’t solid being a new trader, I exited my position when it started to move against me. The reality was that I was right, I was just early. And still a very unexperienced trader, I bailed on the trade. As we know, in 2008 the market tanked.
This wake up call shattered many American’s ideas of security and stability in this country. Not only did the market tank, but we heard terms like financial collapse. We were told the money markets were on the brink. It was a scary time. Unfortunately, most people have already forgotten about the fear they felt.
For most of 2009 and still today, many Americans think things are getting better. The solutions, in my opinion, which have been mostly just to print money, transfer private debt to public debt and bail out corrupt or incompetent institutions, will do more harm than good. The solutions, in my opinion, are setting us up for an even bigger crash ahead as we continue to kick the can down the road. Enter survivalism.
As I absorbed every kind of economic data and analysis regarding the economic policies of our country, the stock market activity and the mainstream economic indicators like unemployment, I became increasingly convinced that we’re only in the beginning of a prolonged economic downturn. Call it a depression, or a severe recession or multiple recessions – it doesn’t matter. The reality is that I think things have changed. We can no longer take for granted the economic growth (if you can even call it growth) of the past. We can’t assume that our standard of living has an ever increasing upward trajectory.
In addition to the economy, I’m extremely concerned about the political direction of America, and that it will continue to lead us in a dangerous direction. Unfortunately, the economy and politics are glued together these days.
A Neo-Survivalist Is Born
Some point in 2009, I started considering many what if’s. What if the market crashes again? What if there are major spikes in commodities like oil due to a number of factors like lack of supply or middle east war? What if there are major disruptions in supply chains? What if there’s another terrorist attack on US soil? These what if’s drove me to find answers. Many answers came in the survivalist community that I found on various websites.
The only problem is that I didn’t identify with many of these people. I’m not building a bunker. I don’t have an arsenal in my house. I have young children that I need to plan a future for (save for college?). I have a house in the suburbs with a dog. I go to work every day.
I want to merge the techniques, strategies and skills of these “hard core” survivors into my pretty normal American life. I want to increase my self reliance and responsibility while monitoring economic and political developments. I want to diversify away from (but not abandon) the typical financial system of having a multitude of paper assets. I want to be able to more things on my own versus being helpless if something breaks or runs out. I realize that I can’t control everything and that much of the future will unravel regardless of what I want or do; however, I can increase my preparedness for a variety of outcomes. I can be ready for many events. I can increase my chances of survival and/or prosperity.
Can you identify with me?