MESSAGE FROM TESS
Earlier this week, I was at the grocery store placing my items on the conveyor belt when a cashier began talking to another employee about her financial situation. She was broke. She admitted that she had gone as far as canceling her health insurance because it was $140 a week too much. As I stood listening to their exchange, my heart went out to her because in this economy I knew her financial problems were likely to become more complicated. I am not a pessimist, but the economic problems are not going to melt away. As I left the store, I sent up a prayer for God to provide a financial break, and then I realized that we all need a break. Financial health is another crucial component of emergency preparedness and we will be discussing this element of preparedness in this week’s issue of Get Prepped.
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PREP OF THE WEEK
Week 13 of 52: Financial Preparedness
There was a time in the not too distant past where I was enslaved to debt. I supplemented my income with credit cards in order to maintain an overindulgent lifestyle, and when my daughter needed emergency medical care, my financial situation worsened because I didn’t have medical insurance. The medical bills were a nightmare, and paying them off seemed like a never ending uphill battle. For years we had to live below our means in order to sort out our financial mess. During this time frame, I repeatedly asked myself, “Why didn’t I set some money aside for harder times? Why didn’t I prepare for this?” It was these questions that led me on a journey of financial discovery. Instead of wallowing in self pity, I educated myself in finding practical ways  to fight back and to simplify my lifestyle, which became a huge lesson in self control.
Emergency agencies suggest a person have at a minimum 3 months pay saved up to fall back on. Although, this can be a difficult amount to save in our economy, it is possible if you simplify  your lifestyle. Here are 7 Ways To Save a Buck  :
1. Counteract financial emergencies by preparing for them in advance. Even when times are financially prosperous, it is a good idea to have a financial contingency plan in place and some emergency funds set aside to fall back on; this money can act as a buffer when things do go financially awry.
2. Focus on meeting your practical needs, i.e., food, water, shelter. As long as you have shelter and food to provide for your family, you are ok. The rest of the financial mess will eventually sort itself out.
3. Stop spending frivolously. Cut the following from your budget: restaurants, manicures, and Starbucks (my sister just fainted). Set a goal to save as much money as you can.
4. Take advantage of grocery store advertisements and coupons. You can save a substantial amount of money when you search for discounted goods; throw away brand loyalty.
5. Buy products in bulk. Purchase a few extra short term  food supply items (e.g., canned goods, formula, flour, sugar, etc.) each time you visit the store. Accumulating a few extra items will not break the budget, and when the money gets tight, you have the items on hand.
6. Trim the budget and shift your focus to the bare necessities. If you have children and one of the parents isn’t working, don’t spend money on daycare. If you are concerned about a lay off, start conserving your money by cutting back on energy bills, cable bills, etc. Speak with family members and let them know that you may be losing your job. Sometimes friends and family have good advice and possibly some contacts.
7. Have a garage sale to get rid of items that are no longer used. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” You may be surprised at how much money you could get for your gently used items that are collecting dust in your garage.
Finding ways to cut corners can be a proactive way to learn new skills. Rather than paying a company to landscape your yard or paint your home, do it yourself. The more skills you allow yourself to learn, the more self-sufficient you will become, which is the reason we are trying to become prepared. As an example, one of the ways I cut back and became more self-sufficient was to start baking my own bread and making my own condiments. If I hadn’t made the choice to be more frugal, then I never would have learned how to make fresh bread and can vegetables.
Preps to buy for Week 13:
Rather than purchasing emergency supplies this week, concentrate your attention on your family’s short-term and long-term financial goals and discover ways to trim your budget.
1. Create a financial contingency plan.
2. Look at your budget and begin eliminating unnecessary debt.
3. Try and save 5-10% of your paycheck to use as a back-up plan.
Finding ways to cut corners can be a proactive way to learn new skills. Rather than paying a company to landscape your yard or paint your home, do it yourself. The more skills you allow yourself to learn, the more self-sufficient you will become, which is the reason we are trying to become prepared. As an example, one of the ways I cut back and became more self-sufficient was to start baking my own bread  and making my own condiments . If I hadn’t made the choice to be more frugal, then I never would have learned how to make fresh bread and can vegetables.
In Our Home:
I love the saying, “home is where the heart is,” and this week my heart is in Dallas. As many of you know, I used to live in Dallas, and I have remained in contact with some very dear friends. This week my children and I have been taking in the sites, spending time with friends, and reliving old memories. La vie est belle. (Life is good.)
I did not purchase any preparedness supplies this week. (It’s ok to take a small break every now and then to enjoy life.) This week I have given my children and myself the gift of fellowshipping with friends. We can cling to good memories during rough times, so don’t be shy in creating them.
Aside from spending time driving and looking at the state of Texas, we have not spent too much time outside. The heat index is dangerously high this week, so we have had to be selective with our outdoor activities. I hope everyone is staying indoors where it is cool.
In case you missed this week’s articles, be sure to read this:
Beer Bread Recipes 
STATS AND FACTS
Did you know that July is Awareness Month?
Situational awareness involves (1) being aware of your surroundings, (2) being perceptive enough to know what is going on around you, and (3) and listening to your intuition (gut instinct). Being aware of dangers around you will keep you safe and teach you how to gauge possible threats around you. Here are some tips to help you sharpen your situational awareness skills through personal safety:
1. Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, something is probably wrong.
2. Be aware of your surroundings.
3. Be alert!
4. Keep your head up (and put the cell phone down).
5. Know where the emergency exits are.
6. Avoid being around confrontations.
7. Vary your routine. Predictability makes you a target.
8. Lock your home, car, and office. (Locks are your first line of defense.)
LETTERS TO TESS
One of the perks of my job at Ready Nutrition is to address questions and/or concerns that you may have with your prepping endeavors. Feel free to ask anything that is on your mind because no question is too big or small. You can email questions to: email@example.com 
This week’s question addresses helping children understand emergencies:
I am wondering if a long term emergency were to happen or a long term economic depression, how and what would you say to your children? I don’t want to scare my kids, but I want them to know how serious the situation is. What would you say?
Thanks for everything and God bless.
That’s a great question, and I’m sure that many of our readers have asked themselves the same thing. My response to your question is to keep your answer as simple and concise as possible. Children’s attention spans last about two minutes, so giving them a simplified explanation for what is going on will help them to process what you need them to hear. When they are ready for more information, they will let you know by asking questions.
In the event of a long-term disaster, you need to be a leader for your children, which is someone who doesn’t demonstrate fear, but gently reassures their family that, as long as everyone works together, things will be fine. Approaching disasters in this manner creates a teamwork approach to solving problems. Acknowledging the difficulty of the situation and explaining that life will be different is a great way to begin the discussion.
Another consideration is to prolong discussions until you have a plan in place. When you begin the discussion process, you open a flood gate to questions, and, when you do not have the answers to those questions, it may do more harm than good. Remember that children are looking for leadership and guidance.
Ensure that any conversations you have with your children are age appropriate and that your motives are not fear based. A good rule of thumb is to rehearse what you are going to say with your spouse to make sure they agree with the discussion points you are going to make.
Click here  to learn other ways to help a child adjust after a disaster.
Thank you submitting this question. I think a lot of readers struggle with this.