O'Donnell Kerr Financial Planners
  • 12 March, 2020

If it wasn't so serious, it could be quite funny

Like many readers of this blog, I have been avidly watching the evening news for the latest information on the coronavirus (COVID-19). To ensure our family is prepared for any lock down, we have stockpiled about a fortnight’s supply of food and personal items, including toilet paper!

There…I admitted that I am a closet toilet paper hoarder! But I only have a fortnight’s supply, which is probably what we would normally have in stock anyway.

I have to admit, I found the coverage of two women brawling in a Sydney supermarket over jumbo size packs of toilet paper very sad. It is a very poor indictment on us as a society when we resort to such pathetic acts. But then, in fairness, I only know the side of the story that the media portrayed.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know I am a bit of a fan of having an emergency fund. That is, having some money set aside for emergencies. Whether that amount is $1,000, $10,000, or even more, is almost immaterial. It is knowing that some money is available in the event of an emergency that provides immense comfort and security.

Extending the idea of an emergency fund to include a supply of basic household items (non-perishable food, water, household and personal products) is probably also a prudent strategy for households to adopt.

Imagine never having to go to a supermarket and get into a brawl to get a packet of 24 rolls of 3-ply toilet paper again?

But how much do we really need to have on hand?

Some years ago I heard that adherents of the Mormon Church have a practice of storing food, water and money for emergencies. It is based in their doctrine to “organize yourselves: prepare for every needful thing”[1].

The idea is that if for any reason people are unable to leave their home, perhaps due to a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or some other event, households will be able to get by for at least a couple of days without external help.

From what I have read, Mormons aim to have three levels of food storage:

  • A 72-hour supply of food and drinking water, then building to a

  • Three-month supply, and eventually a

  • Longer term supply.

Supplies can then be used on a rotational basis to prevent spoilage.

And, it doesn’t mean rushing out and buying up a three-month supply in one outing. The idea is a stockpile should be built up over time so as not to cause undue financial strain.

Of course, putting aside a store of food for the lean years is not new. We can go back to ancient times where the practice of putting stores aside to cover times of famine was commonly practiced.

And then there is the modern-day “prepping movement”. This is a part of our society that is preparing for the coming apocalypse.

There are varying degrees of extremism when it comes to prepping. At one end of the spectrum are those that have a basic supply of food, water, personal and emergency household items, to get by in case the “lights go out” for a couple of days, through to those looking to be self-sufficient for potentially years.

If you would like to find out more about the prepping movement, check out YouTube.

So, where does this leave us?

Having witnessed the uglier side of humanity where people degrade themselves by fighting over a roll of toilet paper, there is a clear message that having a small stockpile of non-perishable household good, along with a modest emergency fund of cash, could be a strategy worth considering.

After all, Australia is a land of contrasts and as we have seen over recent months, nature can throw all sorts of challenges our way from drought and bushfires, through to flood and Covid-19.

Having the resources to be self-sufficient, even for just a short time, could relieve a lot of stress.

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