12 Ways To Prepare For The Next Great Depression

Written by Charlie Jane Anders

Our economic future could be even bleaker than you expect โ€” and last year was the moment to unleash your inner survivalist. If the financial system suffers any more crises of confidence, credit gets even tighter, and the fed falls into a liquidity trap, we could be in for several hardscrabbling dystopian years. Forget maintaining your current shiny standard of living โ€” how will you feed and clothe yourself, in the worst case scenario? We’ve compiled a few suggestions for things you can do now to brace yourself.

Avoid debt at all costs. If anything, you’ll want to save up as much money as you can, in case you have to live off your savings. Thanks to recent changes in bankruptcy law, it’s much harder than before for an individual to declare bankruptcy. So if you’re stuck in debt with little or no income, you’ll still be working for the banks. And as this guy points out, the banks will be hurting, so the moment you miss a payment, they’ll be quick to try and liquidate your collateral for whatever they can get.

Get out of your mortgage before the housing market collapses any further. As this site says, if you paid $300,000 for your house and it sells for $200,000, you could end up not owning your house and owing the bank $100,000.

Buy some cheap land in a rural area. Build a house, or just get a used RV. Either way, make sure you own your home free and clear, so you can live rent-free and mortgage-free for as long as you need to.

Go off the grid. Get your own power generator โ€” or, better yet, some of those solar helium balloons. Or some wind turbines. Don’t be dependent on the power company to keep all your necessities running.

Cultivate some skills that will always be in demand. Become a decent electrician, handy-person, carpenter or cook. There may not be much need for someone who understands content management systems during a total economic shutdown, but someone who can build a house will always have a place to crash.

Offshore yourself. As the dollar gets weaker and weaker, U.S. white-collar service workers will be the cheap overseas employees for Europeans and Asians, predicts Robert Scoble in his roundup of how to recession-proof yourself. So as long as someone, somewhere, is still making use of those white-collar service skills (like programming, or customer support) you may be able to offer yourself to overseas companies as a cheaper alternative.

Invest in the ultimate counter-cyclicals. Some industries will always be in growth mode โ€” like any business that caters to the rapidly growing senior population. Also, “sin and comfort” industries, like cigarettes, gambling and booze, do well during downturns and will probably make bank this time around as well. (Too bad booze and cigs are generally part of huge diversified conglomerates these days.) Also, movie companies are quietly bragging that the movie industry had one of its biggest growth spurts ever in the 1930s, as people craved escapism.

Invest in some Euros, or some other currency that’s not the dollar. Chances are the U.S. dollar will keep getting weaker, so you’ll be better off holding a more stable currency. You could also try investing in gold or silver, but those commodities are already skyrocketing in value.

Have some liquid funds on hand. MSN Money suggests reducing your contributions to your retirement plan or 401(k) (if you have one) so you can put more money into your savings instead. And remember, the banks are still FDIC insured, so your savings are probably safe โ€” but other investments have no such guarantee.

or take part in a community garden in your neighborhood. Try to position yourself so you can get as much of your diet as possible from food you’ve grown yourself, instead of being hooked on sushi.

Learn to hunt. These fine people claim that hungry people are already hunting small animals in the parks of San Francisco, and during the 1930s deer and squirrels were hunted almost to extinction. Learn how to trap, kill, prepare and eat a squirrel now, so you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Stockpile medications. Your biggest problem, in an economic meltdown, could be getting health care. If you’re dependent on prescription meds, try to get some extra pills now so you’ll have some on hand later. Just make sure you’re always taking the oldest meds you have, to minimize the risk of taking expired pills, these folks advise.

And hey, here’s a meeting coming up in New York on how to “prepare and profit” from the next Depression. If any of our readers are in NYC, please please go to the meeting and tell us what they said, so we can learn how to turn abject economic misery into pure lovely gravy.

37 thoughts on “12 Ways To Prepare For The Next Great Depression

  1. Desmond

    You forget one thing about surviving depression: accumulate gold! The coming depression will probably not be the deflationary type of depression: rather it will be a stagflationary (or even hyperinflationary) type of depression. Even gold is recommended in times of deflation.

    If you don’t own gold in such a time, you’re in trouble.

    I recommend this article: “Why should you invest in gold?” http://cij.inspiriting.com/?page_id=296

  2. Wal

    Dont have any collateral for the banks to take and borrow up to the hilt. What? it only works for the banks – not if youre clever enough…

  3. Wal

    BTW io9, cool list, but nobody takes this seriously, even you. Helium balloons? Offshoring yourself? How about pulling yourself?

  4. Jeff

    Don’t laugh too hard. If it happened once (and it did), it can happen again. Planning for a worse-case scenario makes sense.

  5. Lonnie

    I’m surprised that a gun wasn’t listed on the ways to prepare.
    When everyone is out of money and food, you may need a gun to protect yourself. Or, you may need it to take someone elses food and stuff if you run out.
    Better get a good firearm.

  6. bob bobberson

    Some of this article is somewhat juvenile, and some of it is insightful. Sure, I’ve thought about outsourcing myself to Europe. I’m more likely to do that than sell my house for a loss and buy a good used RV…

    If the banks go under, they go under. Collecting my home, or anything else for that matter, won’t help them beans if they cannot sell it to anyone. Get it? They aren’t comin a knockin so you need to ditch that mentality.

  7. Puppy Pabulum

    Learn to eat rats, bugs, and worms. Also a lot of dogs and cats will be abandoned and run wild. They’re edible.

    Think like a raven. You can also start buying bright objects which are bound to go up in price along with everything else. They could just about be used as currency.

  8. Steve

    In the first Great Depression, alot of people were prepared because they knew how to put food back. Most importantly they were mentally stable, unlike most people today. As you can see by some of the postings here.
    Good luck to the like minded people as myself. Good-bye to the rest.

  9. Me

    I suspect in todays modern global economy, outsourcing yourself will NOT work. The last great depression devastated the world economy. Imagine in todays global economy.

  10. Obb Zervant

    Hasn’t anyone observed that economic times have been crappy during lame duck season? To me, these bad economic times are PLANNED! These have been planned years in advance in order to stage more thievery by those that hold all the beans. Like rich corporations and their paid labor in congress. The goal is to make you worry and suffer needless cost and loss while your will bends to their ‘good ideas’ to which they gain. Then magically the economy ‘returns to normal’. I mean, who makes money while people lose money? Where does the money go when the DJIA drops? Does it go poof; it’s evaporated? Or into someone’s pocket? Seriously folks, we’ve been had over and over again, and what’s missing on this list is a serious effort to begin to change our government from the ground, up. Otherwise…I feel that they want us all numbered and registered at a local bank and we all work for a global corporate entity and our existence is just to be their tools for their gain with the compensation being continued existence without ever getting anything more out of life other than today’s bread. The luxury of our so called freedom today is something that will be obsolete in that next step of our world where those luxuries are for the ULTRA RICH and then the rest of us are just numbers stamped on our heads. We get to have nothing but polluted air to breathe and processed food to eat living in a cubical that’s just big enough for a bed. We the sheeple. There will be those that can escape and live like nomads, but they will stay away from civilization. Nothing normal for them, and no money either, just trade. Maybe something decent.
    This sounds bleak and dystopian, but really, that is the plans of our leaders. They want nothing more than total conformity. Their ultimate plan is to ruin what is left of America, and equalize the world economy into a third world nation. Make money obsolete so that no one person has enough to be “well off”, except those who are in the 120 most wealthy bloodlines (if not less), and keep people sick in such a way that free thinking is impossible, because they are too sick to think about other things other than their horrible health. Keep the sheep occupied in mind, body, and spirit. How do you do that? Break the spirit with constant torture. Do that with poor diet, environment, and illness. Does anyone get it yet!? The crazy events that happen around us is just preparation for the insanity to come. TV and video games are all training videos for that. The designers of those shows don’t even realize it practically. They just think, oh here’s a great idea for a game, or a tv series. Let’s make it. Then it comes out, and it becomes something for the masses to get into. It’s new, it’s cool…..oh, it’s really happening now, how weird is that? Why so many remakes with movies? Out of ideas already? Creativity all stagnant? Has anyone seen a great painting lately? Our culture is nearly totally STAGNANT! This economy is in denial! What’s next people? That’s right….War. everywhere! all set up and ready to go. The draft has been repealed, they just need an excuse. Is everyone dressed up and ready to move out? This time, it’s all ages war! everyone is invited to participate. see ya at the front!
    However, the best case scenario is that everyone wakes the hell up, gets their shit in order, and really turn things around. Businesses decide to get their acts in gear, move toward helping the economy by doing the best job they can, and employ people, pay them well, and do their thing as best and safe and as clean as possible. Make the wheel of progress go around. Imagine a well ran economy? All businesses working together. 100 percent employment. people able to live again and support themselves, children, and local economy, wherever they go. Schools, actually getting the kids prepared to use their brains and get ready for a world of wonder, creativity and invention. Trade schools ready to teach the trades they offer. Colleges that aren’t fishbowls of beer, but of possibilities for multiple choices for futures to be realized.
    I want that nice ideal world to be here, not the one that the bilderbergers have planned for us. or whatever nwo one world gov’t people have planned. Really, those richer than rich people hate us, and would want nothing more than utter misery for the world. That’s the conspiracy.

  11. Surviving A Recession

    I am definitely in agreement that people should prepare themselves for surviving a recession. The problem is that most people wait until it is too late. Even when signs of a recession are there they wait until the very last minute to prepare themselves. It can be financially painful to prepare for a recession. Some of the measures you outline here are a bit extreme. For instance, most people will never be able to go “off grid.” And keeping your money off shore will do very little to protect you from the affects of a recession. But you do make some good points about getting out of debt. If most people did not carry the debt load they have recessions would not affect them as badly.

  12. TheBlade

    During the Great Depression society in the US had a strong moral fiber which we don’t have now. Corruption and crime will rampant and very organized, so security and defense of what you own will be important.

  13. becki

    at last an article that makes absolute sense! we have been doing some of these things for years ( used trailer, garden, useful hobbies, solar panels on the trailer roof) somethings i didn’t see in the article are also very important during these bad times; learning to sew, quilt, knit and crochet. the reason these are important is not only to keep your clothing in good repair so you don’t have to go out and buy new. but you can also make a respectable income from these. people will always need warm covers, hats and the like to stay warm.
    i’ve been trying to tell a couple of my younger siblings this for years before any of this cracked off, maybe now they will listen!

  14. Bob Thomas

    100% with Obb Zervant on this one. I know he is right on. We are in a planned demise. You do need to be prepared, like having a gun. Or at least expecting that others will have them. You will have to go off the grid if it gets that bad. And yes, people are NOT as mentally stable as they were in the Great Depression. These articles are garbage as far as they are not dealing with the REASON that we are so screwed. If the people gave a shite before this all went down, instead of caring who has an iPhone, then we could have avoided this possibility. But we fell for the trap, and here is the arcticle, and Obb Zervant is right. So store up your food. And head for the hills when you see the tanks coming down the block, to take back your house. God’s Will be with those of us who care!

  15. Ralph

    The problems with the article:
    “Go off the grid.”
    This is a very good idea. However, I’ve never had the $50,000 to go off of the grid. When I built my home, around 15 years ago, I built it with this idea in mind. But I haven’t found a way to get this financed or the knowledge to do this myself. The website, that I’ve found are pretty worthless as far as expenses per watt and their seems to be no “free” knowledge. I’ve tried to build a tiny solar collector for heat from the leftover stuff that I’ve had in storage. So far, it’s not working very well. But it’s very cold now, so I’m trying to get enough money to insulate the ducts and try again in the spring.
    “Buy some cheap land in a rural area. Build a house, or just get a used RV. Either way, make sure you own your home free and clear, so you can live rent-free and mortgage-free for as long as you need to.”
    I did that – built my house by myself, worked myself to the bone to accomplish that. Now the greedy legal system is trying to take my PAID OFF home.
    I’m the last person to be a “conspiracy theorist”, but I also agree with Obb Zervant! Except I haven’t bought a gun. I would have been in jail by now, because I’ve gotten so angry by the things that have been done to me. I do have antelope on my land occasionally, but I’m not sure if I have the right to shoot them. And it is so hard to find a non-mainstream thought from anyone. I guess the brainwashing from the media is working well.
    I’ve tried to garden. Again, I’ve lived in this brained dead society for so long that I’m not very good at it. I bought land in the mountains and it’s pretty cold most of the time, so I finally made a little cold frame
    (again from the junk that I had left over from building). I finally got a few squashes to grow, but basically I’m starving and freezing to death.
    Anyway Charlie, keep on trying and thinking. I’ll check back and see if I can get some pointers from ya later!

  16. Backwoods


    Dude….. $50,000 ?? … solar collector ???!! Seriously. I have two words
    for you. Barrel stove. I have lived off the grid (and off the road for that matter) for over five years now. You need to use methods that are simple and effective. Stick with the gardening-it is a worthwhile pursuit. Pronghorns? for cryin’ out loud, get yourself a copy of the hunting regs!
    they’re free! Get some archery equipment and learn to use it.(No noise).
    If you’re hungry, it’s in season! Never take more than you need. Keep your spirits up, and good luck!

  17. student

    cook versus eating out.

    if you loose your job go back to school on loans and grants,you might have to pay it back later but in the meantime you get a trade and a refund check three times a year.
    if you can’t work or go to school its better to do something with your time versus nothing at all.

    exchange and barter services with friends,family and nieghbors. no money changes hands…someone cuts hair,another cleans,someone fixes computers,another sews,another bakes bread maybe several trade child care,pet sitting etc…….sure you gotta do your part but its nice to know that if you got a need it doesnt cost you a dime to get it filled.

    for those that can knitting,sewing,hunting,fishing and gardening is great but if you don’t already have the tools to do it its more of an expense that some cannot afford to immediatly take up.

    but that doesnt mean you are useless…..
    shop your local buisnesses when you can,from your community churches,mosques and temples whether you worship there or not….
    I would rather buy veggies from my local mosque,temple,church or farmer than a huge conglomerate…it typically comes from a local farmer or a community,neighborhood garden…less carbon stamp and the prices are fair.

    I only shop at unionized grocery stores,if I don’t shop at those I visit my asian,arabic markets…I am not asian or arabic but I know the owners,they live in my community their good people and I’d rather give them my money than a huge frigging store that treats it worker poorly and very little of the money stays here. at least in my unionized stores the workers get benefits,and in my ethnic markets the buisness is ran by a family or combination of families who employ their neighbors and everyone is able to make a living.

    I changed my diet…
    beans,rice,pasta,whatever veggies are in sale or season,oatmeal….grits etc…..and of course milk/eggs/butter/cheese/yogurt…..and homemade bread…I lost a dress size,the kids are better behaved my ex has more energy and my current boyfriend diabetic blood sugars are finally under control.

    when you eat mostly beans for protein and no processed food the fat in dairy is really not an issue for the post part.

    buy your spices in bulk and reuse the little spice jars.

    make your own stock with veggie scraps and the meat carcass you’d typically throw out…bones too are great.

    cut out the extravagant extras and replace them with simpler cheaper items….

    examples are:
    almond oil or coconut oil for face cream
    baby wipes to remove makeup
    almond oil for eye cream
    cocoa butter or suave lotion for body
    suave has a great line of salon knock of stuff for hair
    costco cells great mineral makeup that is dirt cheap

    cut down or off cable as well as internet(we did and we barely notice)

    my boyfriend and I talk more,have better sex and I have more time to interact with the friends,and family around me because I am not glued to the boob tube or monitor….

    we own like four video games over and over,we read,make art and take walks…….

    unrullly teens should be sent to job corps or forced to do volunteer work in their community,forget the shrink and the rehab programs…if your teen is a pain in your ass and refuses to listen and is constantly in trouble send them to job corps…free for you,good for them. I went there as a teen and if my oldest doesnt shape up she’s going too. if your teen wants a cell phone,a nintendo etc…I have three words for them…

    GET a job

    quit smoking
    quit drinking
    keep soda and chips to a minimum…

    but i’m keeping my coffee ….

    ditch the overpriced mortage…short sell the house if your in an arm. move into a rental with a free pool/gym/hot tub etc in the city closer to your job and leave the expensive suburbs behind.

    if the credit cards raise your rates to a crazy amount because interest rates go up,or your income is cut in half try to make lower payment arrangments…if they refuse screw em and file bankrupcy….trust me they made a profit 10 times over on whatever you borrowed….if they can’t be willing to compromise with you cause you lost your job,got a pay cut etc…then they can suck it and enjoy your chapter 7 and get nothing or your chapter 13 and get 25% or less of your montly income with all their fees and interest cut completely out or to a minimum……its unreasonable to expect a human being to hand over 50-80% of their income…..sure you borrowed it,spent it,but your circumstances changed and you can’t kill your self doing the impossible. Credit card companies,banks and mortgage companies got bail outs and relief! what about you?You mean only rich people and big companies are allowed to screw up financially and be forgiven? wow isn’t that convenient.

    learn to live within your means….

    there are two things I cannot stand right now……

    The lazy who complain they can’t do anything..

    and the rich who whine because their quality of life is cut in half.

    I’m blue colar,and I don’t begrudge anyone for their success but what sets my family apart from some of the rest of those who find themselves in this sitatuion….

    we always worked,we never had much to begin with and we never missed it cause we never had it….we all paid for our own retirment by making sacrifices and saving…..few of us are on welfare though we definetly qualify or it and none of are lazy……many of us work 6 day a week and work from the time we can walk until well in our seventies if our health so allows. we take care of our own and we don’t complain because the cable gets shut off or we can’t buy starbucks…..we accept sacrifices and compromises as part of life and suck it the heck up!

    how do you survive in a great depression….

    suck it up!

    don’t whine
    and lay on your butt crying and be lazy…..

    whatever you can do,do

    even if it makes no money it can be bartered for something you need or do you some good in some way.

    if you can’t work but you can survive on what you have volunteer to do stuff for your community,it will help you and everyone else…
    share resources as a community and learn to share,do your part and not be so frigging self centered all the time

    we live in the richest country in the world…
    we have fairly clean air,water and plenty of food.

    we don’t live in slums on dirt floors in lean to shanty boxes for the most part nor do we eat cakes made of mud and clay and live amongst cholera in piles of garbage…..

    we are for the most part able bodied,with fine resources and living in a land of opportunity.

    this country is what you make of it…..

    come together,help each other, do your part and suck it up!

    and if sucking it up means sharing a home with a roomate or roomates,eating beans with no cable no social life and second hand cloths,pots and underpants then suck it up……

    When I see the middle class homeless I laugh

    When I see the rich wearing wallmart duds I laugh

    and when Macy’s has a bad year I laugh……….

    boo hoo,now the rest of you get to suffer like the rest of us,


  18. Billbarker

    Well, FuckU, you dumb *#@!…how’s your portfolio today? Still listening to the idiot Crammer upper asssher on CNBC, FOX, CNN, or any of the corprofascist controlled media. Oh, yes the market is climbing isn’t it, but what’s that mean when the dollar has been devalued 80% in the last ten years? Can you say screwed?
    Wake up stooge, youre just an ill educated idiot without a clue.
    Heal thyself brother! Try reading brother and if all else fails try following what successful people like Gerald Cellente say.

  19. mike

    obb zervant i couldnt agree with you more. during this depression people will be so poor that they will revert to crime. it will get so bad that the people will cry out to the government to do something about it. so the government will say, ok, time for MARTIAL LAW, lets use the military and police to take away everyones rights AND GUNS. when everyones guns are taken away the government can do whatever they want and theres not a dam thing we will be able to do about it. people on the governments hitlist are sure to be murdered. and when the country has hit rock bottom, the chinese will invade destroying what is left of america because america owes SO much to china. also it will be easier to invade because everyone will be disarmed.
    so first theres a depression, causing rampant crime, giving the government the excuse to impose martial law, the last of our rights and only means of self-defence taken away from us, making it easier for an invasion. when its all said and done the JESUITS who run the country will have their NEW WORLD ORDER!!!

  20. Jerry

    The next Great Depression is underway – expect a 75-90% deflation in stocks, bonds, commodities, gold, silver and real estate. Put back cash, not in a bank and get out of debt now. The rocket ride we are about to take to the bottom will not end until 2014 and recovery will take a long time. God told Abraham to stay out of the cities – you better too. The government will be powerless and broke. Inflation will begin once we hit the bottom – that’s when you will want to purchase gold or silver. 35 to 45% unemployment, 75 to 85% of banks and insurance companies will go broke. 50% of all businesses will go out. Plan to live with family or have family live with you. There’s no chance of war because this will be world wide. Every country will be broke, We will have to start over. Hopefully our Republic will survive! Our Nation could possibly break up and a new world power rise up. That’s when world war will become a great possibility. Protect yourself, your family and community and get ready for a different world.

    1. urdum

      Sorry to have to tell you this, STAY AWAY FROM PAPER!!! Worthless from any nation. Most of europe is socialistic they will fall first. Look at greece, they spend more than they produce, there is no turning back for them. The rest of europe is right behind them.

      Invest in Food, it will be the only commodity with value, then fuel, then gold and silver. Develop Skills that can actually repair something or produce something that others need and I don’t mean programming a cell phone.

  21. KennethSPoodale

    Included in the Bankruptcy Code, chapter 7 is a bankruptcy plan accessible to both individuals and institutions on filing a petition and all chapter 7 bankruptcy mandatory declarations in connection with the debtorโ€™s assets and income. You'll find expenses amounting to several hundreds of dollars that comes with processing the petition. Still, payment with installments can be outlined, granting the debtor to increase payment as long as 180 days. Chapter 7 is normally, though not exclusively, a voluntary option.

  22. Jeremy Bowers

    @ Charlie Jane Anders

    Saving won’t even matter during hyperinflation, now is not the time to save but to spend! Spend your money on anything you can invest in now:


  23. Ask

    Every country will be broke, We will have to start over. Hopefully our Republic will survive! Our Nation could possibly break up and a new world power rise up. Thatโ€™s when world war will become a great possibility. Protect yourself, your family and community and get ready for a different world.

  24. Ask

    when everyones guns are taken away the government can do whatever they want and theres not a dam thing we will be able to do about it. people on the governments hitlist are sure to be murdered. and when the country has hit rock bottom, the chinese will invade destroying what is left of america because america owes SO much to china.

  25. Ask

    A friend is a kind of help. Rain the life on the road, friends can block wind chill for you, for you share sorrow, remove the pain and difficulties, friends will always friendship.
    He is you climb up the escalator when you were injured, is a medicine, is you when a bowl of water of hunger, is when you across the river is the boat; He is money can’t buy orders not to come of, only the truly can track, and the most valuable for the real thing.
    A friend is a kind of acacia, a friend is each other, each other about miss, mutual concerns, each other on. Missing is like a flow of endless river, like a gentle frivolous, like a cloud of a fragrant flowers, like a piece of lingering sound made by the wind.
    Sometimes he also is a kind of light memories, light tea, light resonance……
    Have the friendship, little a lot of worry, gloomy leaves, won’t fall on the earth, and float on the surface, to distant drift, friendship is the river is, is a kind of pure and fresh air, behind out in front……

  26. Ask

    He is you climb up the escalator when you were injured, is a medicine, is you when a bowl of water of hunger, is when you across the river is the boat; He is money can’t buy orders not to come of, only the truly can track, and the most valuable for the real thing.
    A friend is a kind of acacia, a friend is each other, each other about miss, mutual concerns, each other on. Missing is like a flow of endless river, like a gentle frivolous, like a cloud of a fragrant flowers, like a piece of lingering sound made by the wind.
    Sometimes he also is a kind of light memories, light tea, light resonance……

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