Book Review – Thriving During Challenging Times

food, energy, FIRE

After I finished reading The Simple Path to Wealth I was waiting for the Money Mechanic to do our book shopping at the annual used book sale in town. While I was waiting I was browsing the local library (online) and came across Cam Mather’s; Thriving During Challenging Times – The Energy, Food, and Financial Independence Handbook. It sounded interesting and I ordered up to my local branch.

Isn’t the Library Great!?!

In the first few pages, it was pretty clear what I got myself into; this was definitely more of a Doomer book than a Financial Independence book – but I was very interested, mostly because it was written during the Great Recession – before the recovery – and my morbid curiosity was telling me I needed to know how bad the author would prove to be in his predictions.

I was not disappointed!

There was a chapter titled Why It’s Different This Time – OOPS!

There is advice to stay out of the housing market so that you can get back in when house prices come down. I hope not too many people that were interested in buying a house in a big Canadian market followed that advice. There is also some talk of market timing the stock market in the book – a fool’s errand.

The book isn’t all bad though:

There was some interesting discussion on energy saving and how we should consider the life-cycle cost of the products we purchase (e.g. a $20 lightbulb that lasts 20 years is a better buy than a $1 lightbulb that lasts 1 year but uses 3X the energy).

There is a nice little graph that shows the Return On Investment (ROI) of energy saving and energy generating devices. Some energy saving devices have an incredible ROI and I can attest to that – about 3 months ago I bought a $40 clothes drying rack (I couldn’t find one in the local classifieds) and I have already been paid back in savings from not using the clothes dryer.

There is a discussion on solar hot water systems that I found interesting – it turns out it is significantly more cost-effective than solar panels or any other renewable electricity generation.

There is also a good discussion on gardening if that is something that interests you – the same author has written a whole book on gardening.

There is some financial discussion which has good bones – Spend Less Money and Stay out of Debt– but then becomes ultra conservative/doomer-y in what to do with the money you save – buy precious metals and trade-able goods.

There is some FI Garage approved advice included late in the book – it is recommended to stock up on beer, hard liquor, and wine – all excellent bartering items.

This was an interesting read, but I wouldn’t suggest that you should move it to the top of your reading list.

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About the Author: The Economist

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