If you’ve followed the news for the last while, you’ve probably heard the question, “are we headed for a recession?” come up now and then. For those of us who have lived through a few, as well as those who have not, this is a universally important issue to be aware of - and prepared for - from both a financial and tactical perspective. Read on.
“Recession” - what does it even mean?
“Recession” can apply to all sorts of things. At its core, It means to recede, go back, or shrink. The type of recession we are talking about is called an Economic Recession - a normal part of any capitalistic nation’s business cycle. On one side of this cycle, you have Economic Expansion; on the other, Economic Recession. History has proven that this circle will continue to do its thing, over and over - although the intensity of each cycle will inevitably vary.
Oxford defines an Economic Recession as the following:
A period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.
By this definition, the United States officially entered a recession after the 2nd quarter of 2022, since the GDP shrunk during the first two quarters. Predictably, the White House and other authorities have gone to great lengths to convince the nation that the United States is not in a recession - a tactic they would most certainly use in reverse, if their opponents were in power.
News flash: If you want reliable information, politicians and mainstream media are probably the last two sources you should consider. For anything.
Numerous events can trigger a recession, including a financial crisis, trade shock, the bursting of an economic bubble, natural disaster, and so on. Recessions see a significant decrease in consumer spending, and an overall weakened economy. It is easy to see how a politician wouldn’t want that on their track record, right?
How does a Recession impact me?
Definitions aside, it is important for the American citizen to understand how economic recessions may potentially impact their everyday lives - and not just in economic ways.
One of the more common staples most recessions see is job loss and higher rates of unemployment. Companies need to run as lean and tight as possible to remain afloat during these times, which means cutting back on as many “non-essential” expenses (and employees) as possible. This effect will inevitably trickle into other qualities of life for the average citizen - including loss of healthcare, unpayable debt, and more.
As inflation weaves its way through the economy, another recession staple reveals itself - increased prices. Changes in the average American’s spending habits see a large shift towards essentials and significantly less on… well, everything else.
Another common recession theme is spiking interest rates. When inflation starts to hit hard (like we are seeing in 2022), the Fed will raise interest rates to “cool off” the economy, so to speak. There’s a lot more to this, but suffice it to say that this will increase the cost of borrowing money for most people. In other words, the absolute worst time to take on debt is during a recession. For those who were old enough to feel the effects of the 2007-08 recession, these principles resulted in a combination of rising home prices, loose lending practices, and an increase in subprime mortgages pushing up real estate prices to unsustainable levels - resulting in one of the worst housing market crashes (and recessions) the nation had seen in recent history.
The final staple of a recession is less of an “impact,” so to speak, and more of an opportunity. Assuming you are savvy with your money (and perhaps a little clever), recessions provide virtually anyone living within their means the opportunity to become financially healthier than they were before. Famed investor Warren Buffett has outspokenly reaffirmed, time and time again, that you should “always bet on America.” Remember, recessions are part of a cycle - in other words, temporary. If the stock or housing markets plummet and the nation is plagued with economic fear, that is the opportune time to act. There is a reason 2007-2008 saw a spike in newly-made millionaires. Be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy.
Okay, so why is Predator Armor talking about economics and recessions?
Remember our motto?
The Prepared have Nothing to Fear.
We’d love to be able to sit here and tell you the worst impact of a recession is going to be temporary financial hardship, but that’s not always going to be the case. As we mentioned, the severity or intensity of each business cycle is going to remain largely unknown until it actually happens - on both ends. You’ll get people before every recession claiming it will be the worst in history; but until it actually happens, you truly will not know.
That uncertainty leaves a problem - should you prepare for a “regular” recession? Or should you prepare for something worse?
When the supply of food, water, and other necessities become scarce, the supply of generosity often follows suit. Morality becomes a very subjective thing when it comes to providing for a family in difficult times. Everyone is willing and eager to come together as a community and help each other… until the drinking water supply runs out, and only two local families have a sustainable source. Point being, since you can never know how severe a recession will be, you need to always be prepared for the worst. Anything else becomes a legitimate gamble - and even if you’re wrong 4 out of 5 times, you’ll be damn grateful you were ready for the 5th.
What can I do to prepare for a recession, big or small?
Regardless of the “size” of a recession - or whether we are approaching one at all, for that matter - the following advice should be incorporated into your everyday lifestyle. Let us say that in a more concise and powerful way:
Preparing for a Recession does not begin with the Recession itself.
The most dangerous time to prepare for an emergency is right before it happens, or is allegedly going to happen. Remember trying to get Toilet Paper at the start of the COVID pandemic? When the United States population decided Toilet Paper was never going to be in stores again, you saw stampedes of people hoarding into grocery stores, literally brawling over rolls of the stuff. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have had a reasonable surplus of Toilet Paper on hand at the time?
Alright, let’s talk about how to prepare:
1. Food and Water. There are numerous foods that can be stored for a significant amount of time - 10 years, 25 years, even 100 years, if properly done so. If you need a place to start, begin by working up a storage of basic foods that would be required to keep you alive for one year if you didn’t have anything else to eat. From there, add various preserved foods and ingredients of your choice, even foods you are accustomed to eating regularly, and so on. It may be wise to keep a spreadsheet of everything stored, as well as expiration dates, so you can cycle food in and out. It should go without saying, but make sure you learn how to prepare the food you store.
Storing at least 2 weeks worth of clean water is a good start, as it becomes difficult to store more. That is about 14 gallons of water per person. Make sure it is stored properly to last as long as you need it to, and don’t be afraid to add more if circumstances permit.
2. Supplies. Apart from food and water, take time to make a list of other needed supplies. This will vary depending on where you live - a list of supplies for someone living in a wintery climate will look different from someone living in a hot climate. That list will also look different for someone living in a large city, versus someone living in a rural area, or something in between.
After addressing area-specific needs, start with the basics - First-Aid, flashlights, maps, batteries, dust masks, tools, toiletries, local maps, warm clothing, and so on. A good practice is to invest in a good foundation of basic gear, then perpetually add to it in small degrees every now and then. Maybe this month you’ll add a knife or hatchet, maybe next month you’ll add some rope. Maybe take some of that work bonus and get a nice bugout kit.
It goes without saying, we at Predator Armor would also strongly recommend means of self-defense. If you end up being the only one in your area with supplies and word gets out, you’ll need to be ready for desperate people to do desperate things. Body armor and plate carriers are a great investment, as are firearms with easily-found ammunition - this includes 9mm, 5.56/.223, .308, and our personal favorite do-all survival weapon: the good ol’ .22 Takedown.
3. Money. While savings are great, remember that if things really go south, the value of cash is going to plummet - hard. Since the only thing giving money its value is our perception of it, don't expect to use it for much more than kindling if the world falls apart.
Assuming we are talking about a less-severe recession, the obvious advice here would be to keep an emergency savings account ready for job loss. Our recommendation is to have savings that can cover at least 3 months worth of expenses - or better yet, 3 months’ worth of salary. For the record, that is money in a savings account - as in, not invested into fluctuating markets, and not shoved under your mattress. As difficult as it may be for some to believe, your money will be safe in a bank for as long as money itself has value. As a bank teller, my wife has relayed to me more than a few instances of people’s life savings going up in flames, literally - because they chose to keep it in physical cash form, within their home, and had a house fire.
While we also recommend playing the market and utilizing investments, do so with caution - only play with money you’re willing to lose, and most importantly, DO NOT sell off your dropping investments at the start of a recession. That is the time to purchase more. Remember the cycle: Buy low, sell high. Cash out during expansion, cash in during recession.
4. Community. The importance of this point cannot be overstated. The single greatest advantage or disadvantage you can possess in a bad situation is your relationship with your neighbors, family, and friends. Being a lone wolf may be advantageous at times, but certainly not always - especially if you live in a populated area. Taking important steps like creating emergency plans and rendezvous points is great, but this goes even deeper. When supplies get scarce, so does trust - and you want as much of it as you can possibly get.
What we’re saying here is simple: don’t be an asshole to your neighbor just because they have different opinions than you. You want them on your side, regardless of who they are. Just because they are blue and you are red, doesn’t mean you aren’t both people with values and needs. You want every possible advantage when things fall apart.
Two is One, and One is None.
With that being said, there is a word of caution needing to be put here: As important as those neighborly relationships are, DO NOT ADVERTISE THAT YOU ARE PREPARED. You may trust your neighbor, but do you trust your neighbor’s neighbor? Word can travel fast, and although you may be proud of your excess of food, water, and supplies, the world does not need to know.
One crucial parting thought
Remember: Do not live in fear. Learn to respect dangers, rather than fear them, and learn the difference between being paranoid and being prepared.
We get it - the world is a scary place, and it isn’t getting better. While I love my son with all my heart, it terrifies me to think of the new evils and horrible things he will have to experience in his lifetime, that I did not. Is that going to stop me from providing him (and myself) with every opportunity to be happy and live a fulfilling life? Of course not. Does that mean I cannot be adequately prepared at the same time? Also no.
Being prepared does not mean living in paranoia, as much as people (who are generally unprepared themselves) would have you think. There is nothing wrong with building and maintaining a surplus of food storage, medical supplies, survival gear, and so on. While you hope you never need it, you still have it in case you do. And let’s be real - if you don’t use it, your child or their child more than likely will.
Your attitude is a bigger deal than you may think. Whether we’re going into a recession or the apocalypse itself, there is no reason you cannot do so with confidence - and even happiness. Tactically speaking, that mindset will do wonders for you. Ask any seasoned soldier who has gone on lengthy missions about the importance of mindset. Being strong-minded, strong-willed and optimistic will do wonders for your ability to learn, grow, and adapt - and who wouldn’t want that?
Remember: Prepared, not paranoid. You can do it.