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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

PREPAREDNESS MATTERS

 

"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." (D&C 38:30)

Words of our Leaders:

"We encourage Church members worldwide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings.

"We ask that you be wise as you store food and water and build your savings. Do not go to extremes; it is not prudent, for example, to go into debt to establish your food storage all at once. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve."


—The First Presidency, All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage, Feb. 2007.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Provident Living: Ways to Lower your monthly expenses

We are facing challenging economic times. Finding ways to reduce your monthly expenses will help you better utilize the financial resources you have so you can save money for a rainy day. Here are some ideas to trim your monthly expenses:
Automobile
Automobiles are money pits - they constantly go down in value, devour fuel by the gallon, and often require all manner of repairs and maintenance work. How can we reduce the cost of automobiles in our monthly budget?
Buy used vehicles People with normal incomes cannot afford new cars. New cars lose 60% of their value in the first four years. Save your money and pay cash for a used car. You will pay thousands of extra dollars over the life of a car loan.
Use public transportation If you have an option that enables you to ride to regular destinations (such as work, the store, or a shopping center) instead of using your automobile, you can save quite a bit of money on gas and maintenance by just dropping a few coins on the bus or the rail system and leaving the car at home (or parking it at a station).
Sell an automobile If an automobile is sitting in your driveway or garage and isn’t used, consider selling it. If nothing else, the insurance expense will go away, and if you can use the money from the sale to pay it off or, better yet, pocket some of the money, even better.
Carpool If you have an opportunity to share a ride to and from work with someone else, that not only significantly reduces wear and tear on your car and gas expenses, it enables you to use any carpooling lanes on the commute, which almost always save time when commuting.
Keep the tires on your automobiles inflated properly Once a month, stop by a local gas station that offers free air and check the air pressure in your car tires, then fill each one to the maximum recommended amount as stated in your manual. This improves gas mileage by one percent for every two PSI of air you are able to add to your tires.
Energy
We all face a continual onslaught of energy costs, especially as we use more and more electronic devices. Luckily, technology has brought us a few effective ways to reduce costs as well.
Install CFLs Compact fluorescent light bulbs are receiving a big push right now and their advantages are great: a longer lifespan and significantly less electrical usage. Stick with the name brands for now, even at a premium - my entire house switched to GE CFLs more than a year ago and I have yet to replace a single one. A tip: when comparing bulbs, use the lumens number to compare bulbs, not the equivalent wattages - the lumens indicate the actual amount of light emitted by the bulb. Remember also that under normal usage (4 hours a day) and normal electrical rates ($0.10 per kilowatt hour), replacing a 75 watt bulb with a 20 watt CFL saves $0.66 per month. Multiply that by all the bulbs in your house to see how much you’ll save every month.
Install a programmable thermostat A programmable thermostat allows you to automatically alter the heating and cooling of your home when you’re not at home, when you’re asleep, and so on, saving significantly on your heating and cooling bills.
Unplug all unused electrical devices Are there any electrical devices around the house that stay plugged in, but that you rarely use? Most electric devices use a small amount of electricity constantly, a phantom charge. To eliminate that usage, unplug the items.
Utilize timers and power strips Along those lines, consider utilizing power strips and power timers to turn electrical devices on and off. A power strip with a switch on it, when turned off, blocks the phantom charge on those devices; a timer can automatically turn off the charge going to a power strip (or anything plugged into it) at a certain time each night. This is a great way to eliminate phantom charge on your home electronic equipment at night.
Install a blanket for your hot water heater and reduce the temperature In many homes, the hot water heater is a major energy drain; the water is kept hotter than most people ever use, plus the heat is constantly lost to the environment, meaning you have to burn more energy than ever to keep the water so hot. Solve both problems by dropping the temperature down to 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit (around 60 degress Celsius) and also installing a blanket on your water heater to keep in the heat - a blanket can pay for itself in about a year.
Air seal your home Air sealing your home can prevent drafts, which can often cause the loss of cool air in the summer and the loss of warm air in the winter, both of which can increase your housing costs. Here’s
a great guide to this weekend project from the EERE.
Entertainment
Many people look at entertainment as the first thing to cut when trying to trim costs, but they often forget to look at the regular expenditures that slowly eat away at your financial foundation month in and month out. Here are some things to consider that you may have overlooked before.
Cancel club memberships Look at things like a health club, a country club, and so on. How often do you really use these services? If you’re using a gym membership less than once a week or a country club membership less than once a month, you’re likely throwing away money.
Reduce or eliminate your cable/satellite bill For many people, this advice is beyond the pale, but it’s worth looking at. Perhaps you could trim back on your premium channel selection and just go with basic cable, or perhaps you could even eliminate your cable bill entirely - it will also help with electricity costs because you won’t be watching television as much and you’ll suddenly find you have much more free time.
Look for inexpensive entertainment options Do you utilize the local library? Do you attend local community events like municipal band concerts and so on? Are you aware of local volunteer groups and organizations? Your community often offers many options for inexpensive or free entertainment of all kinds - you don’t have to have a big entertainment budget each month.
Strongly reduce or eliminate travel By being selective about what we travel to - and also open to inviting people to visiting us - we signifcantly cut down on travel expenses.
Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions If you get a magazine or newspaper in the mail but simply don’t read it, cancel that subscription when it comes up for renewal, no matter how much you “like” the magazine. An unread subscription is nothing more than expensive clutter.
Look at and consider reducing/eliminating other regular paid services Look at services like Netflix - are you really getting $19.95 a month out of these services? If not, just drop the service and look for other options, like a local rental store. What about satellite radio? If you use that but find yourself not using it or just sticking with the same things you listen to on regular radio (like NPR or top forty), then cancel the service.
Food
For many people it just seems more convenient to eat out, even though it’s incredibly expensive and not as much of a time saver as you might think. Consider these options.
Cook (and pack) your own meals at home When you cook at home, make plenty so that you can freeze some of it for future meals and, even better, take some of it as leftovers to work, drastically reducing the cost of the typical workplace lunch. Some people may shy away from leftovers, but you can make leftovers as good as the original.
Reduce or eliminate eating out or getting take-out Take-out and dining out can be a huge timesaver for a busy family, but the expense can be tremendous - and it often doesn’t save much time, either. Instead, look at other options for dining at home: prepare lots of meals at once and freeze them for easy cooking later, focus on simple recipes, and choose recipes that utilize the fresh produce in season in your area.
Buy nonperishable items in bulk Many people never even bother to look at some of the larger packages of nonperishable items - they think it’s just too much. Try looking at the cost per unit of all of the sizes and choose the one that’s the best deal; often, it is the big bulky package, but that just means you won’t be buying it again for a long time. Spread out over months and over a lot of items (think of all of the nonperishables in your home - food is just the beginning), this can add up to a lot of trimmed fat.
Start a garden Vegetable gardening is a splendid hobby that can often turn a profit if done well. Focus on vegetables that are easy to grow and produce abundant fruit, like tomatoes, and learn how to store the excess through such processes as canning. Opening up a jar of tomatoes in the winter that were grown by you in the summer and canned in the fall is a wonderful experience - and it can really help with trimming the food bill.
Buy generic Many products (not just food) are available in a store-brand or generic form for significantly less money - quite often with the name brand, you’re paying for their advertising budget with the higher cost. Look carefully at the ingredients in generic and name-brand products and if they’re the same, go with the generic one on a regular basis, which will consistently trim money from your shopping bill.
Insurance
We all have insurance to protect against the unexpected, but when we overpay for insurance, we leave ourselves vulnerable in a different way by stretching our budget too thin. Look into these options for ways to reduce your insurance premiums.
Comparison Shop for homeowner and auto insurance If you haven’t shopped around for homeowner and auto insurance lately, now’s a good time to get a few quotes, especially if your credit is strong. If you can save a substantial amount and maintain your current coverage, it’s well worth switching to another provider, but give your current one a chance to match.
Switch to term life insurance If you’re paying for whole life insurance or universal life insurance, look strongly at a term package instead. The cost per year will be significantly cheaper and at the end of the term, your life insurance needs will likely be far less than they are right now.
Raise your deductibles If you’re paying a large premium in order to have a small deductible, you might want to consider switching that, particularly if your claims are infrequent. Raising your deductible can often significantly reduce your annual premiums, easing the monthly strain on your bills.
Other
There are many other areas of your budget that can also afford a bit of fat trimmed from them. Let’s look at a few more possibilities for lowering your regular expenses.
Reduce or eliminate your cell phone bill Ask yourself how much you really use your cell phone; if it’s not all that much, look at perhaps getting a prepaid phone with a small number of minutes on it for those emergency situations when you actually use it. If you do use it a lot, look at the features you’re paying for on your bill and see if you can trim any of those.
Reduce or eliminate organized child activities Look for activities that your child is sincerely interested in (if you don’t know, ask them what they really like) and focus on those while cutting back on the rest.
Eliminate services (housecleaning, landscaping, etc.) If you hire out household services to others, consider trimming back or eliminating them. Instead, put aside some time each week to do them yourself - not only will you save money, but you’ll find that many activities can get the whole family involved (like housecleaning).
Shop Garage Sales and Thrift Stores You can find great deals on clothing, children's toys and household items at garage sales and thrift stores. Rather than buying a new bike for our son when we discovered his new bike was too big for him to ride without training wheels, we found a perfect-sized bike for $5.00 at a garage sale. Now he can ride his used bike sans training wheels and will grow into his nice new bike eventually. We often find name brand childrens' clothing at garage sales for ridiculousy low prices.
Strongly reduce or eliminate clothes shopping I have a close friend who insists on having a significant monthly clothes budget. I challenged her to trim her spending in half and instead focus more on looking for bargains - and she’s never looked back. If you need to dress well for work, don’t let that slide, but putting in some effort to look for a bargain can often pay huge dividends. Even better - have a moratorium on shopping for new clothes until you really need something new.
Reduce grooming expenses Instead of having your hair cut and styled weekly, cut back to every other week. If you have your nails done twice a month, cut back to monthly, or have manicure parties where you do it at home with your friends instead. If you buy expensive shampoos, look at lower cost options. It doesn’t have to cost a truckload to keep up appearances.
Move to a less expensive area Many people leave this option out when looking at trimming their budget, but if you can find work in another area, it may be worth considering. Look around at other areas of the country where you can find employment, see what your salary would be there, and look at the housing costs. Quite often, you’ll find yourself significantly ahead by looking at areas like Minneapolis rather than areas like San Francisco, even at a significantly lower salary.
Clean out your house and sell your stuff
If you aren't using that old set of golf clubs in your basement, sell them. Hold a garage sale or sell them on e-bay. You might be surprised at the money you can add to your budget when you sell unwanted or unnecessary items.
Using even a few of these options can really open up some breathing room in a budget, enabling you to break free of debt and chase your dreams.
Source: Most of this is quoted from an article by Trent found at http://www.thesimpledollar.com/ with a few of my ideas injected as well as those of Dave Ramsey http://www.daveramsey.com/etc/cms/why_buy_a_used_car_5153.htmlc

Posted by Kerri at 9:59 PM 1 comments

Labels: Provident Living

About this site

Preparedness Matters provides information to help individuals and families become more prepared for adversity in life.
The site emphasizes five areas of preparedness:
1. Food and Water Storage: 3 month supply and Long-term
2. Financial Preparedness
3. Spiritual Preparedness
4. Emergency Preparedness
5. Provident Living
The blog began as an information resource for members of my church congregation. Its scope has expanded to aid people throughout the world in their preparations for life's challenges.
Preparedness Matters is updated frequently so check in often or become a follower.

Posted by Kerri at 5:43 PM 0 comments

Cooking with Basic Food Storage: Black Bean Recipes

Black Bean Soup
1 lb black beans (or 2 cans--15 oz.)
6 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp margarine or butter
1 c onion, chopped
1 c carrots, shredded
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano
1 c celery, chopped
1 c potatoes, shredded
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 2 large cloves, minced
1/4 tsp pepper
1-6 oz. can tomato paste
3 tbsp lemon juice
sliced lemon, if desired
Soak beans as directed on package, drain. In a large, deep pot, bring beans and chicken broth to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. In large skillet, melt margarine, saute onion, carrot and celery for 3-5 minutes until crisp. Add vegetables and remaining ingredients except lemon juice and sliced lemon. Stir well. Simmer covered for 1 hour. Add lemon just before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.
Source: Michelle Shoemaker

Bean and Corn Salad

3/4 lb. green beans -- trimmed
3 tablespoon. cider vinegar
3 tablespoon. olive oil
2 tsp. honey Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 can black beans (15 oz.) drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked fresh corn kernels or 1/2 10 oz. box frozen corn -- thawed
1 medium red onion -- thinly sliced
Cook green beans in boiling water until tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Combine vinegar, oil, mustard, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Toss in green beans, black beans, corn, and onion.
Bean and Barley Salad
2 cups barley -- cooked
2 cups black beans -- cooked
2 cups garbanzo beans -- cooked
4 medium plum tomatoes -- chopped
3 stalks green onions -- sliced with tops
4 whole roasted red peppers -- chopped
1/2 cup white corn -- or to taste
3/4 cup fresh parsley -- chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar -- or to taste
Mix all ingredients as you add them. Add dressing last. Chill for 2-4 hours at least.
Serving Ideas : as a main dish with whole grain bread
Bean and Pasta Salad
4 ounces rotini (corkscrew) pasta
15 ounces black beans -- canned , rinsed and drained or dried which have been soaked overnight
1/2 cup red pepper -- cut into small dice
1 small red onion -- peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons fat-free Parmesan cheese -- grated
3 tablespoons parsley -- -- finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup fat-free Italian salad dressing
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cook pasta until al dente in plenty of boiling salted water. Drain and place in a large bowl.
Add black beans to pasta along with parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano and dressing. Toss well and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Bean Burritos
2 c Cooked black beans -or- 1 can Black beans
1/4 md Onion Minced garlic (to taste)
4 c Steamed rice
2 tsp Black pepper
Bring the black beans to a simmer in their own juices. Use fresh garlic and slice it very fine so it nearly dissappears when you add it to the beans with the pepper After about five minutes, add the onions. When serving, use twice as much rice as beans and about a third as much lettuce, all wrapped in a nice flour tortilla.

Posted by Kerri at 4:29 AM 0 comments

Labels: Bean Recipes, Cooking with Basic Food Storage, Legumes

Monday, October 13, 2008

Three Month Supply: Downloadable spreadsheet

Here's a downloadable spreadsheet to plan your three month supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet and an accompanying instructional video. It is an outstanding tool to get you organized! Thanks to Emily for sharing this information in her comment!
http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/babysteps/step-3-three-months-of-normal-food/
Source: foodstoragemadeeasy.net

Posted by Kerri at 8:13 AM 2 comments

Labels: 3 Month Supply

Friday, October 10, 2008

Food Storage: Inventory Sheet

Here's a printable food storage inventory sheet you might find helpful in determining what you have in your food storage and what you need.
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=ps15Ins3FkraNs6vS4ho8Hw
Source: http://safelygatheredin.blogspot.com/

Posted by Kerri at 7:15 PM 1 comments

Labels: Food storage, Food storage inventory sheet

Cooking with Basic Food Storage: Chocolate Chip Cookies made with white beans!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(Made with white beans)
½ cup cooked white beans
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs (1/4 C. Egg Powder + 1/2 C. Water)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ¼ cups wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup pecans (or walnuts) chopped
Beat beans and sugar together. Add eggs, vanilla. In separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add flour moisture to bean/sugar mixture. Stir until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips, and nuts. Cover and refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350°F. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes depending on size of cookies. Makes 4 dozen.
Source: http://everydayfoodstorage.blogspot.com/

Posted by Kerri at 7:08 PM 1 comments

Labels: Bean Recipes, Cooking with Basic Food Storage, Legumes

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Emergency Preparedness: Unit Emergency Response Plans

1. In case of emergency, the unit leader keeps in touch with the stake presidency. The following information will need to be provided to the stake leadership:

  • Name, title and unit of the reporting officer
  • How the presiding officer can be reached
  • Description, location and magnitude of emergency
  • Numbers of injured missing or dead
  • Location and extent of damage done to Church or member property
  • Actions being taken to help those in distress
  • Needed assistance that is unavailable locally

2. Have current membership lists and an area or street map with all families marked, if possible.

3. Make sure that all families have home and visiting teachers assigned. Organize a telephone tree so that emergency instructions and other messages can go out in an orderly fashion.

4. List of unit members with special needs who may need help, e.g., those with medical or transport problems as well as those with family members in leadership callings who may be away from home.

5. List all members with especially useful skills or professions: medical personnel, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, engineers, etc.

6. List of members with extra room in case of need to lodge others, as well as members with room for tents, campers, etc.

7. List of members with useful equipment or implements, e.g., chain saws, pickup trucks, generators, etc.

8. Look after the missionaries.

9. Who will make decisions if unit leader is not available?

10. Someone needs to be assigned to help with communications, perhaps one of the clerks.

11. How will communications be handled if there is no telephone service?

12. Convene welfare committee to assess needs: injured, deceased, homes damaged or destroyed, families separated.

13. Know what kind of civil emergency plans are in place in communities where members live.

14. Have a plan on how space in the ward/branch building can be used as a shelter.

15. Basic instructions for different kind of emergencies: earthquakes, floods, house fires, social unrest, etc. (Ensure that information is obtained from reliable source.) This should not be part of the body of the plan but can be an appendix.

16. Organize a plan to make contact with those who work out of the area in the event of a terrorist attack. These individuals have a responsibility to attempt to contact family and/o friends.

Other things to consider:

1. Sacrament meeting talks about preparedness

2. First or fifth Sunday Priesthood/Relief Society Lessons about preparedness

3. Relief Society enrichment meetings/activities about preparedness

4. Young Women/Young Men activities about preparedness

5. Encourage use of dry-pack canner

6. Encourage families and individuals to have personal/family emergency response plans

Source: LynnKay Brown

Posted by Kerri at 10:33 AM 0 comments

Labels: Emergency Preparedness, Unit Emergency Response Plans

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Preparedness Quotes

"Avoid the philosophy that yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. They aren't necessities until we make them so. Many enter into long-term debt only to find that changes occur; people become ill or incapacitated, companies fail or downsize, jobs are lost, natural disasters befall us. For many reasons, payments on large amounts of debt can no longer be made. Our debt becomes as a Damocles sword hanging over our heads and threatening to destroy us."
- President Thomas S. Monson, April 2006 General Conference
“We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster. But the real storehouse is the family storeroom. In words of revelation the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing’ (D&C 109:8.)”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
"We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult--the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value.
"We are living in the prophesied time 'when peace shall be taken from the earth' (D&C 1:35,) when 'all things shall be in commotion' and 'men's hearts shall fail them' (D&C 88:91.) There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current 'commotion' is spiritual." Elder Dallin H. Oaks
“Every father and mother are the family’s store keepers. They should store whatever their family would like to have in case of an emergency…(and) God will sustain us through our trials.” President James E. Faust
"Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year's supply of food. . . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year's supply of debt and are food free." President Thomas S. Monson
“Maintain a year's supply. The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for the difficult times, and put away for emergencies, a year's supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families can be sustained through the dark days. How many of us have complied with this? We strive with the Lord, finding many excuses: We do not have room for storage. The food spoils. We do not have the funds to do it. We do not like these common foods. It is not needed -- there will always be someone to help in trouble. The government will come to the rescue. And some intend to obey but procrastinate.” - The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.375

“All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress” - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

"Be prepared in all things against the day when tribulations and desolations are sent forth upon the wicked." D&C 29:8
"Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not aquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them." President Ezra Taft Benson

"Fear not little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . .Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." D&C 6:34, 36
"I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ. . . They (five foolish) had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. They knew the way but gave only a small measure of loyalty and devotion.
"The foolish asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant. . . . This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. . . . In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living." - President Spencer W. Kimball

“We encourage families to have on hand this year’s supply; we say it over and over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where he says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” How empty it is as they put their spirituality, so-called, into action and call him by his important names, but fail to do the things which he says." - President Spencer W. Kimball

PREPAREDNESS MATTERS

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