Unknowingly, my motivation for self-reliance happened at a quite early age. Ever since grade school, us generation “xers” were told continually by teachers, parents and just about anyone that thought we may be listening to them that social security is bankrupt and there will be no funds left for us to retire on. So, you better be wise and start saving on your own early or you will keel over at age 80 while still being employed for “the man” never having the opportunity to enjoy your golden years. Years later, while I got my first real job that paid decently, I heeded the warnings of my elders and pooled all the money I could in the world together--which amounted to $2,000. “That is plenty.” The financial planner said. “It will grow exponentially at a minimum rate of 20% so when you are ready to retire, you will be more than set.” He assured me that a high risk portfolio was the way to go as I had so many years ahead of me to survive the ups and downs of the market. I left his office that day feeling accomplished. I was only 18, so if what he said were true, I’d be able to retire at the age of 40!! How exciting. Three months later I received my first quarterly statement showing my whole life savings, my ticket to financial freedom, totaling a whopping $200!! I was devastated. I immediately called the company hoping this was some sort of error. “Could you explain to me how I lost $1800 in three months’ time?” I asked hoping the employee at the other end of the phone had already seen the error and he would tell me, everything was fine and my money is safe and secure. Instead, he simply said “We placed you in all high risk funds. We talked about this, remember? You will earn it back in time, don’t worry.” My heart sank. Looking back on this incident, the lessons that came out of this debacle: 1.) No matter who it is that tells you what to do, always think it through to make sure it’s the correct decision and you trust it for YOU and 2.) Always prepare for the absolute worst. I’ve spent many years of my life doing just that, even though my friends and family all think I am nuts! Even the best “preppers”; as us striving for self-reliance have sometimes been labeled by the general population, forget this fact. They tend to plan, but don’t have a back-up plan for the back-up plan. When has anything ever gone as we wanted it to--especially on a homestead where nature and animals have their own ideas on how to mess with your day!