Friday, March 25, 2016

Why You Should Consider A Car Auction

Ford F-150

             In most cities there is a car auction. Most of them take place in the same place weekly or monthly.  It may take you some time to locate them. Some auctions are dealers only and others are happy to do business with anyone.  For someone like me who lives in the country, it's a lot of work to seek out the car auctions and then to arrive in time for the lengthy procession.  However, it is well worth the work.
                   Yes, like the rest of you I used to go to a new car dealer, buy a car and make a monthly payment to a bank or credit union. When I have done that I have always had a great car, but a car with a lien on it requires additional insurance and so the cost of the car isn't simply the payment, maintenance and repairs. It comes with pricey insurance. In our state, it also comes with semi-annual fees for personal property tax.  Over the years with a farm, kids, animals, college for kids, the entire concept of a car payment became undesirable to me. I simply would rather own a used car for which I have paid cash, and where I get the chance to decide the level of insurance I have on it. I also like being in possession of my own title to my cars.

Yes, it's a Ford Focus

                  Typically at a car auction, you are going to need a debit card, a check for certified funds or cash. A few may take checks, but run careful checks on them in advance. Some require prior registration before bidding.  You won't be making a monthly payment to them. Most take a percentage down the day of the auction, once you've won the bid and you have about five days to make the remaining payment before picking up the car. Most of the cars are driveable because the cars did  have to get there for the auction. In our state, a special trip tag is issued by our Division of Motor Vehicles and so long as you are a licensed driver who has insurance on another car, you have a day to get the car you have bought off their property and home to yours. Your taking the title they give you to DMV and getting plates, a registration and a new title with your own name on  is your responsibility. Don't forget to put the car on your own insurance using its VIN # before you drive it home.

Toyota Tacoma

                The car auction I most recently attended occurs in the evening. Smart shoppers turn up in the daylight and look carefully at a bit more than a hundred and fifty cars.  Some of these cars are being auctioned by individuals and they have a minimum bid in mind. If they don't get it, the car will be there next week with perhaps a lower minimum. Many are repossessions owned by banks who are desperately trying to get something for them. When sales are slow both new and used car dealers will auction occasional cars in this manner.  The auction I attended had everything.  There were Nissan Altimas, Subarus, Toyotas, a mini Cooper, a  BMW, a Mercedes, a couple of VWs, Fords of every flavor, Chevys, Saturns, Hondas, a Saab, Kias, a variety of Jeeps, Mercury, Dodge, Pontiac, Chrysler, Volvo, Hyundai, Buick, Land Rover and Infinity.  SUVs, wagons, sportscars, trucks including a former modified vet's truck.  They had plenty of standard shift and plenty of automatic transmission. Occasionally they auction minibuses or motorcycles.  Sometimes other types of vehicles come up. It is not possible to look at every car pre-auction. You must make a decision as to which target cars you plan to look at, and restrict yourself to perhaps three to five of them, otherwise you will be bidding on a car you know little about.  Most have been through recent inspection, and have the paperwork in the car. If they have failed inspection, exactly why is written on the state certificate in the car.  Bring either a mechanic with you, or someone who is your family's gear head.  Fortunately, I have a few of those in my family.  Some of the cars look new and could be considered very good used cars. Others have significant cosmetic issues which can still be repaired.  The clearcoat needed attention on a number of the really good cars which is a problem in sunny Virginia. A good body shop or Maaco can take care of this for you, if everything else is to your liking.  Trucks with tow capabilities were abundant.  In this particular auction you are permitted to watch the auction staff drive the car from the lot to the auction area. You may listen to the engine. You may not gun the engine or place it in gear yourself. You may pop the hood and look at everything in the daylight prior to the auction.  With the VIN # if you have an internet enabled device you can run a Carfax report on the car if you wish. We did this on one of the cars we actually bought.

Land Rover

               The keys to success are making sure you have adequate money to make both the downpayment and then close the deal within five days. You must remove the car immediately upon paying so that they can bring new cars in.  If you are not a mechanic, then you should bring a professional or gifted amateur to help steer you. Do your brand research ahead of time.  Don't plan to get a Toyota and be seduced by the Land Rover, pretty as it may be.  Look carefully prior to the auction in the harsh light of day at the cars you believe you would bid on.  As the auction starts you will see some cars where a number of people bid. However, there are great cars where no one bids, and the car remains for sale after the auction.  Often people have never clear ideas about what they want, and something just off their radar won't get any attention. Don't get carried away. If the bidding gets too high, walk away.  . Your bid is your contract and you will be held to it. Bid on something else from your reserve list. Understand that you are buying at your own risk, so don't overpay.

               In our state, only licensed professional dealers are permitted to buy cars, fix them up and sell them again. The law also requires that the cars have warranties if they are sold in a manner other than auction.  So, this is likely not to become your next way to make money. It is however, a brilliant way to get a spare car, a car for a teen or college student, or one for a mother-in-law with an horrendous driving record.  It was a great way for me to buy and outfit an evacuation vehicle slated for occasional use.

                It IS possible to buy a beautiful car for very little money if you are willing to repair something or detail the car afterward.  Cars sell for anywhere between $400. and thousands.  The day that I was last there, cars sold for about $2000. on average and there were some amazing buys.  During the auction, there are often police present. (People may carry cash.) Your competition for the cars are often dealers, although there are dealer only auctions elsewhere.  The dealers still may not be difficult competition because they are incredibly particular and as a rule won't pay much.  Individuals and families tend to be there for a particular car. Often if someone is clearly committed to a particular vehicle, others will stand back and let them get it. (Why compete and pay more ?) On the night we last attended, there were about 150 people looking at a bit more than 150 cars.  Even dealers won't buy more than one or two cars per night. This means the odds are very good for people who wish to buy.   Some of the people who attend are simply learning and plan to buy another time.  Some couples were there for date night, because it can be fun and there is carnival style food served.

Subaru Forester

           Our extended family has bought some amazing vehicles this way.  For preppers especially, this may be a good way of acquiring a needed vehicle without taking on a car payment. It will also build to your knowledge on cars, what their parts cost, what to look at on an engine prior to purchase, and how to do routine maintenance. Most importantly, it helps you keep cash available for your emergency fund, paying down other debt, emergency food stocks etc.  Do some research as to what is possible in your own area.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thoughts to Belgium


Brussels Airport, in happier and safer times.

       On a preparedness forum it is not always possible to address all of our eras terrorist attacks, or political issues. Sometimes attacks or political issues do bleed into our reasons for seeking to be prepared. I have compassion for all of the people in all of the places in the world who are being attacked in terrorist actions. It is natural, however, since we all write things of which we know, that I would choose to write about a terrorist attack in a place where I know families who reside there.

               This morning,  according to Belgian broadcaster VRT , there have been two explosions at the airport in Brussels and one explosion in a subway station also in Brussels. The Belgians had been anticipating an Islamic extremist attack following the attacks in France. As of this hour, 34 people are confirmed dead and 150 have been injured, the result of all three of these attacks. Since some of the injured are critically injured, more deaths are anticipated. Belgium has raised its terror threat level to the highest level possible.

               Also reported is that the subway station that was bombed is located in the area in which the European Union is located.

               There is no official confirmation yet that these attacks are the result of Islamic extremism, although it is likely, as ISIS has been looking for ways to attack the European Union, and Belgium specifically.
                We send our best wishes and prayers to the people of Belgium during this very challenging time. We send condolences and prayers as well to those who have lost loved ones or have had loved ones injured in these attacks.  Stay safe, my friends.


We have official confirmation that ISIS has claimed responsibility for these attacks.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Trip to the Country


        In our quest to live more self sufficiently, we try to provide whatever grasses are needed for our horses, alpacas and sheep.  Much of the year in this climate, there is enough grass on our own farm to graze upon.  In Winter though, we have to buy a fair amount of hay to supplement livestock food.  Whenever possible, we try to buy our hay from local sources. Not only does this help our neighbors, but it's often less expensive in terms of our trucking it to the farm. Last year however, a lot of local farmers didn't plant hay. Many of them planted corn or other crops.  Over the Winter, our sources of quality hay disappeared, and we consumed the hay we'd stored more quickly than we had anticipated.

                The solution was to travel to another rural part of the state where a particular farmer grows and stores a wide variety of grasses and hays for different types of animals.  My husband and I traveled down one weekend, and returned with almost fifty bails. As the trip began,t I thought of the journey as a real chore, until I began to see unfamiliar countryside.  Normally when I travel, I am the one driving, but this time, I was free to notice all of the farm houses, barns, rolling green grasslands.   Every ten miles or so, there was a little country store often with food, a few groceries, drinks and sometimes gasoline or diesel fuel.  The traveling went more quickly than I had anticipated.  About ten minutes before we arrived at the large farm with the hay, we passed through a small Southern town.   A few century homes, a hardware store which also sold groceries and had a butcher shop, and an animal feed store were on one side of the road.   A small diner, a pharmacy, and a consignment shop were on the other. There was also a charming county courthouse building. I really wanted to stop and look at these on the way back, but there was no parking for as fully loaded a rig as we would then have. I resolved that sometime, I would make the long trip during the week to explore the town.

                This week, we have had a couple of days that felt quite a bit like Spring, and so yesterday, the small town and surroundings were on my mind.  I took two relatives with me, and we began the trip that morning.   Most of the places I go these days are accessible by an interstate highway.  This town is not. The only way to get here is through one or two different paths on winding country roads through farm country.  This time, driving, I could not notice as many things as I had before, but it was still a lovely drive.   We arrived just before lunch.  We looked through the consignment shop first.  It was fairly small but the two relatives I'd brought with me found things they really wanted at reasonable prices.  One found some great toys and the other found some nice video games and dvds all at fair prices.   Then, we stopped at the hardware store that had the butcher's shop, and found that they also sold reasonable priced ammunition of unusual types.  Then, I stopped at the local animal feed store.  I found something I had been seeking for awhile.  I bought a couple more implements to go in my farrier kit.  Although I am not a farrier, it's nice to have a couple of the tools they use in order to keep the horses hooves neat between farrier visits.  Although I could have bought such implements online, I got a chance to look at them, hold them, and pay much less for them. I also found some unusual welding supplies priced some time ago that will please one of my sons, the sculptor.

                  Later, we decided to travel East to a neighboring county where we knew of a restaurant where we agreed that we would all like to eat.  Afterward, we stopped at a brand new pawn shop which had a great deal of lovely merchandise of all kinds.  We made the trip, ate there, and returned to our own farm using different farm roads than our journey out there.

                  As you work toward more self sufficiency don't forget to take days off in order to recharge. If you can incorporate such days with errands you need to do anyway, then it's all the better.  Don't forget that most of us have sleepy little bergs wherever we live and that often there are wonderful opportunities to purchase things we need at fair prices. Use this time to set up new supply lines. You help others as well as yourself.  Stop and smell the roses.  Buy some of the items you need online. Buy fruits and vegetables from neighbors or friends when you can.  Be open to buying items you need at new places.  Don't let prepping and the other demands of life keep you from truly enjoying your life, your family and friends.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Find A Redoubt



     By definition, a redoubt is a place that protects or holds a way of life.  It came to English from the 16th century French word redoute.   In Italy, the word is ridotta  It has evolved to mean a fort or fortification, often for soldiers.  It is also sometimes used to describe a secret fortification of place of safety. Most simply, it is a place of retreat.

                Over the last seven years on this blog I have been regularly providing reasonable advice for families either in the Americas or overseas.  I have felt called to pass along whatever information I have garnered in our own family's quest for some degree of self sufficiency.  It seemed to us, some years ago, that infrastructure wasn't being maintained. It seemed to us that the political and governmental figures who are being paid to protect us not only know little of the countries who are presently our adversaries, but nothing of their history and almost none of our own.  We were concerned about the large debts being taken on by our nation, and by some of  its general spending habits.

                  General education in the US, and to some degree worldwide has deteriorated.  Students might know how to set up excel spreadsheets, but they likely don't know who their congressman is. If something is 20% off, almost no one can calculate or estimate the reduction without a device of some kind.  Meanwhile, the educational systems of the Third World have improved. Many other nations are tapping their youth, educating them for productive employment and in turn, developing products which go head to head with our own.

               I can't tell you whether there will be a US or worldwide collapse. I do know that I see ineptitude, inappropriate spending, and a widespread discussion of issues other than the true economic ones. It simply makes sense to regulate your own family spending. It makes sense to become as self sufficient as is reasonably possible. This way, you and your family will have some degree of insulation from a world which could see an economic collapse of some kind.

            Perhaps your redoubt is an apartment in a small town with a low rent where you have a job where you are saving money.  Your focus can be departing quickly should things at that location deteriorate. You have the very real benefit of easy mobility.    Perhaps your redoubt is a small cabin on its own acreage, adjacent to a national forest.  You don't have much storage, but what you do have is well organized and prepared for the long haul.  Perhaps you have a single wide trailer on some good land where you already grow a portion of your family's food. You have a very real advantage of not looking as if you are wealthy or have abundant supplies. This can be a great advantage.   Perhaps you have already invested heavily in a redoubt which is best described as a prepper palace.  This is a great structure to have and affords lots of storage, but remember not to neglect plans for evacuation for not only you but your animals as well.    It doesn't really matter what you choose.  Choose what you can afford, and a location in which you are comfortable and secure.  It's time to find a redoubt, preferably away from urban centers.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

An Ounce of Dental Preparedness

                    There are few things that are as disruptive to your day as a significant toothache. Most of us dislike dental interventions anyway.  Most of us don't like paying for it any better.  Most of us especially don't like to have to see a dentist when we are already in significant pain, and we know that quite possibly there will be more pain in the quest to seek a resolution to the problem.   Imagine for a second that there has been a local disaster where you are. Most businesses are closed. Certain sections of town are closed off, and a clean up of some type is in progress. All at once your tooth, an upper molar, that had simply been sensitive to cold now hurts. It doesn't just ache. It's an intense nerve pain which travels from the tooth you had filled about three months ago, to the tooth below it and beside it.  You feel cold, and your ear on that side hurts too.  You may have an abscessed tooth !  When you eat anything hot or cold, even on the opposite side, it hurts. You can barely tolerate the cold on your face as you walk to the car.   At the very least you have either a reversible or an irreversible pulpitis.  You took two ibuprofen which normally upset your stomach, but that's how much pain you are in.  In a local or widespread emergency it could be very difficult to find a dentist.  In a local or widespread disaster, it could also be hard to find a physician who is willing to treat your potentially abscessed tooth with an antibiotic until a dentist has been located and has the time and location ready to treat it.  This is particularly dangerous because an abscessed tooth can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and infect the brain or the heart.  Even young people have died from untreated or even undetected tooth abscesses.  I recall a patient some years ago in her forties who had new and rapid onset dementia that was eventually traced to an infected tooth which infected her sinuses and traveled to her brain. She did endure a significant hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics but ultimately survived and experienced a reversal of her acute dementia.

                 Of course, we can't control everything that will happen to our teeth and when they will occur.  Heredity and luck do make an appearance here. However, having ordinary six month check ups and following up for problems which occur will go a long way to avoiding being caught within a dental nightmare during some type of a regional emergency.  Having a dental emergency kit as outlined in the link I wrote some time ago, is also very helpful.   Really good dental hygiene which includes brushing at least twice a day, and perhaps rinsing with a small amount of peroxide daily and then rinsing with water will also help to keep your gums in as healthy condition as is possible. Having a dentist with whom you have a business relationship is particularly helpful. During a dental emergency is not the most desirable time to be seeking a new dentist.  Having some type of dental insurance is helpful, although this has never been covered by my husband's employer and so we have generally had to pay ourselves.

             The best steps to the avoidance of the dental emergency nightmare is to simply keep up with the personal dental maintenance we all need to do.

Other posts of mine on the subject of preparedness and dental health: 

Monday, March 7, 2016

An Historic Election...Any Way You Slice It

Apologies folks.........Survival and preparedness have been intertwined with politics lately.

             My vote will be for Ted Cruz, by the way.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Is Mrs. Clinton Up to the Task ?

              Is Mrs. Clinton healthy enough to be up all night, awoken at three am when there is a crisis in our nation ?   She already suffers from hypothyroidism, some visual issues, and has a proclivity to stroke.  She wouldn't be permitted to become a private pilot.  Do you want her running the country ?

               Her lack of honesty aside for just a moment, is she physically well enough to be president for four years or would she die  in office ?