This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.
I spend 40 hours a week sitting at a desk. I have a decent knowledge of accounting via the hundreds of hours of studying and application of the skills, along with a degree in Economics. After perhaps reading too many post-apocalyptic books, I have come to realize that if push came to shove I really don’t have a whole lot to offer outside of these skills.
In the latest “collapse” book I read (Patriots by James Wesley Rawls) an economic collapse was triggered in the US which caused society to basically break down into anarchy, with people forced back to homesteading as food and other supplies ran out rapidly.
I’m not a part of some fringe sect of survivalists, (really, I promise I’m not) but as part of my personal finance plan, I generally look at the worst-case scenario of any possible situation and attempt to insure I have at least some sort of a plan to combat the down-side scenario. In a situation where I may have to live off of what I can produce by myself, I’m thinking that my desk-sitting ability may not come in too handy and my knowledge of accounting would not be overly useful to anyone.
It seems to be over the past 30 or 40 years or so that a sort of “hyper” specialization has taken place, with people gaining knowledge in only a few areas, while not bothering to figure out the basics of life, some people don’t even know (or care) where their food comes from. My grandparents, when they were growing up still butchered their own meat, built their own houses and really didn’t look for outside help unless the task they were carrying out was new or extremely intricate. Compare that to me, who can barely do basic home repairs without breaking something, and there seems to be a disparity of skills.
So, I have no “real” skills – I am not really all that handy, have never really built anything substantial by myself and really don’t have the opportunity to do so at this time. The main thing I’m missing and I think my grandparents (and more so my great-grandparents) had was time – none of them worked in “town” they all lived and worked on farms and essentially grew the food they ate. In doing so, they learned real skills which, other than a small percentage of people in North America have largely disappeared.
I have previously written about Homesteading as a quaint lifestyle – I don’t believe it would be easy, but I do think even a partial setup which would allow some self-sustenance would not be out of place. I really don’t think that there is a significant risk of financial collapse occurring, but gaining some real skills, such as the ability to build something (anything really), hunt/fish/farm would be useful. What it all boils down to for me, is that what I know how to do, if there is a major problem with the economy doesn’t really translate into survival all that well.
Do you have any “real” skills? Does the possibility of a significant Economic collapse concern you?