Armageddon and the value of practical skills

 Maybe I’ve been watching too much Discovery Channel.  I’ve been thinking about Armageddon lately.

All these programs on asteroids or super volcanos or global warming or viruses or alien invaders or an ice age or the reversal of the magnetic poles or AI robots or nanobots or maybe Zombies taking us out.  Well, relax.  It ain’t gonna happen.  At least not on our watch.

 (Except, of course, The Walking Dead.

For my part, I’m still working on whether to throw my lot with Rick or Shane….)

(Opps.  Looks like Shane would have been a bad bet)

The Earth’s been around for some 4.5 billion years.  Multi-celled life has been running around on it for about 1/2 a billion years or so.  Major Armageddon extinction events, like the asteroid that took out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, have happened about five times.  So that’s about one every 100 million years or so.

Are we really arrogant enough to think it’s going to happen in the geological eye-blink we’ll be around?  That we’ll be the ones to witness it?  Not likely.

But if it did owning gold, the most popular end of days choice, isn’t going to help you.  People aren’t going to care about a fairly useless, in a non-technology world, metal.  If they do, someone bigger and stronger is just going to take yours.  But then, no other investment will help either.  We’ll be beyond investment considerations.  Guess I’ll stop blogging then.

Time to stop blogging

If Armageddon — that is the real collapse of worldwide financial, social, moral and political structures — ever does occur, what’s in our portfolios will be the least of our concerns.  Here’s what will matter:  Your practical skills.  Can you fix the machinery? Plant new crops? Build shelter?  Get water flowing?  Get the electricity back on?

In the post apocalyptic world, should I be one of the few survivors, I imagine us all sitting around the fire.

Know any good postapocalyptic campfire songs?

“You know,” someone will say, “we should go around the circle here and take an inventory of what skills we all have.”

“I’m a carpenter,” the 1st guy might say.  “I can help us rebuild.”

“I’m a chef.  I can prepare the food we gather and the game we hunt.”

“I’m a farmer.  I can get our crops planted and nurture them to fruition.”

“I’m a hunter.  I can provide meat and protect the camp.”

“I’m a fisherman.”

“I’m a mechanic.”

“I’m an electrician.”

On and on they’ll go listing useful skills until, at last, they come to me.  “Ah, well let’s see now,” I’ll say.  “I can publish our “Armageddon Today” newsletter…”

Guess who’s gonna be dinner when things turn tough?

I’ve always admired folks who can actually do stuff.  Not only are they more self sufficient, if they’re good they’ll have people like me lined up to pay for their services.

My now-not-so-little girl said to me recently, “When I buy a house, I want to be rich enough to pay people to keep it in good repair.”  Hey, that was my plan! Trouble is, it is as much work finding people who are willing and able as it is to do it yourself.  If you expect quality work at a reasonable price, it’s damn near impossible.


My pal Serge is a retired master carpenter.  He does, on a selective basis, jobs that interest him or that help his friends.  That my house hasn’t crumbled to dust is largely his doing.  So is our gorgeous  kitchen and master bath.  But he is accepting less and less work these days.  Time to sell the house.

Develop these skills, treat your customers fairly, and it’s like money in the bank.  You’ll always have the freedom to choose your path.  Even if Armageddon doesn’t come.

But if it does and if we’re ever around the campfire together, remember I’m old and the meat would be tough.

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Important Resources

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  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


  1. femmefrugality says

    I’ve thought about this a lot lately. Go figure. I’m hoping it doesn’t happen, but if it does I’m trying to get prepared. Not heartily enough, though. I have a tent. And a few packets of seeds. I like your perspective. It makes me feel a lot more calm. I should invest in some flint or something, though, so my little post-apocalyptic group can have a fire to sit around. Like actually go out and buy some flint. Not put some money into it’s stock.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      not sure Armageddon is something we can really prepare for. very sure we don’t need to.

      As for flint, after the event, you can stroll into any abandoned store and help yourself. just keep you eye pealed for lurking zombies. 😉

  2. DollarDisciple says

    My skills at computer programming would probably be equally useless given how “high level” they are. I could probably set up the Armageddon Wiki page or maybe I could moderate the Armageddon online forums.. Assuming someone smarter than me managed to get the power back online..

  3. Andrew says

    First, learn how to make a fire.

    Thanks for the mention, Jim. I’ve since met a couple more retired fellows in the same mold as your carpenter friend and the guy that repaired my boat motor. They’re constantly turning down side work.

      • Pat says

        Actually spinning, weaving and knitting are all massively mechanized now – relatively few people know how to do them with basic equipment. So most people are not willing to pay for hand-processed goods, because they are so expensive relative to machine-made. Crochet, on the other hand, has never been mechanized, so when you buy a crocheted something for $1 at the dollar store, someone somewhere probably got paid $0.20 to make it.
        I suppose the equivalent would be the modular house versus a house built on-site with modern equipment versus a house built on site with hand tools (no nail guns, circular saws, etc.)

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Jack…

      Nice to see this old post still getting some attention.

      Oh, and it’s also nice to see the world hasn’t ended. 😉

  4. Dan says

    Great article, very informative!

    Just wanted to let you know that the link you provide for “A cool post” about freelancing ideas is a broken link. Looks like that blog went under, which is a shame, I was looking forward to reading that post!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Dan…

      Nice to see this old post getting some attention.

      Thanks for letting me know about the link. I’ve taken it down.

      Too bad, as it was a good one. As was that blog.

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