If there’s one survival value I’d like to instill in my kids, it’s simply this: Live with Breathing Room. Leave space in your living habits to accommodate emergencies. In our “just in time” society most people live with absolutely no breathing room. I never lived like that, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it came from my dad who grew up very poor. I don’t know, but I always live with a bit of margin in my life and never above my means. I remember a long time ago I left a job to take another and took a couple of weeks off between jobs. A coworker looked at me incredulously. “What are you going to do for money?” “For two weeks?” I felt like asking, “you don’t have enough money to carry you for two weeks?” I don’t mean to criticize those in tough financial situations who simply don’t have that amount of breathing room. But regardless of your situation, you should know that not having a few weeks of savings in the bank makes your situation dire. Strive to put away a bit. I do mean to criticize those who live right at or above their means while having the ability to save. This is true of most Americans regardless of income level. There are plenty of doctors married to lawyers who simply cannot afford to miss a week or two of work because they’ve moved into McMansions and must make payments on the McYacht. When you get into the habit of putting a little aside, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your wealth AND preparations will build up. How do you do it? Move into a smaller house. Sell a car or vacation property. That motorcycle that scares the hell out of you should go too. Ride a bike or carpool instead of driving everywhere. Consolidate your trips. Take a cheap vacation in the mountains instead of the islands. Quit those hobbies that you don’t have time for anyway. Eat at home. Food is a huge waste of money for most folks. Think about what you spend each week on food. Now think about what you would eat if you were flat broke. Ramen noodles? Rice and beans? Calculate the cost of that and try to set a goal somewhere between your current budget and the flat broke one. Once you have some breathing room, there will be some temptation to spend money on toys. A new gun? Some firearm accessories? A DVD player? Don’t do it! Spend your money on a few extra bags of rice each week and some canned soup. Put it away. Fill up a gas can when you top off your tank. Buy a couple of flashlights. Make these things your toys. Take pictures of these things and gloat over them. Life can be a whole lot more fulfilling when you forget about “keeping up with the Joneses” and focus on “outlasting the Joneses.” Live with breathing room.