Book Review
Title: "The Ultimate Suburban Survivalist Guide: The Smartest Money Moves to Prepare for Any Crisis"
Author: Sean Broderick
Publisher: Wiley, 2010; 329 pages; $27.95

There are lots of books about how to invest and stockpile assets in the event of a financial emergency, like a depression or job loss. In "The Ultimate Suburban Survivalist Guide: The Smartest Money Moves to Prepare for Any Crisis," small caps investment specialist Sean Broderick goes one further, covering all sorts of natural and market disasters and offering a guidebook for disaster-proofing your household by making it as self-sufficient as possible, without giving up the 21st century creature comforts to which we’re all accustomed.

This book appeals to both the Y2K set and the more reasonable Boy/Girl Scout types among us, who simply experience a comfort level only when living up to their eternal mandate to be prepared. While the introductory material very intentionally calls to mind images of Manhattanites devolving rapidly into cannibalism in a post-zombie invasion scenario, Broderick quickly offers some proofs of the real-world need for such a hybrid financial/practical preparedness plan, for even the least extreme set.

In the first chapter, Broderick offers some disaster scenarios that are actually likely to occur, if not as entertaining as a zombie takeover: fire, flood, energy and food crises. Adding to his "plan over panic" mantra a convincing case that these disasters are unfortunately near-fetched, Broderick offers a practice set of bullet points with practical, largely nonfinancial steps readers should take to bolster their defenses against these possibilities.

The next chapter includes the cautionary tales and "been-there, done-that"-style lessons learned by a man who was able to keep himself, his companions and his pets alive and relatively well through a government detention camp, among other horrors, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and another survivor who made it through what Broderick calls "the crashed society" of 2001 Argentina.

In Part II, Broderick turns his attention to personal finance, offering financially wise yet survival-minded strategies for managing debt, spending, investments (from 401(k)s to gold, silver and alternative currencies) and mortgages to protect your household from the dangers of today’s economic climate, including the Obama administration’s rescue efforts (which Broderick vividly refers to as "rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg"), and to profit, where possible, from the market impacts of Broderick’s 5 Emergencies: energy, water, food, climate and debt.

He has some hard-core survivalist stuff in here, like careers that will see you through a total societal breakdown, like beer-making (!), and a list of the 100 most barter-worthy items to stockpile for use as an alternative currency in a disaster (Hint: Dollars to doughnuts you’ll not see the words "portable toilets" in any other personal finance book you read this year).

Part III drills down into the non-economic essentials of surviving a disaster, focusing on how to shop for, store, and even grow food and clean water, saving money where possible.

Part IV ("Health, Home and Education") focuses on health, fitness and emergency medical preparedness and preventing disease in a disaster; protecting your home’s power and security; ensuring children will be educated and entertained if and when the you-know-what hits the fan; and planning and packing for your worst-case scenario: evacuation.

My personality is inclined toward calm and against alarmism, so this was not my typical choice of weekend reading fare. Hence, I was more than a tad bit surprised to find this book to be neither fear-mongering nor boring nor painful as a read.

In fact, as a mother, homeowner and an aware, newspaper-reading resident of The Planet Earth in 2010 (albeit with glass-half-full leanings), I found this book to informative and actually somewhat soothing, with its offering of plans that came across as doable, non-onerous and actually likely to probably be effective in protecting myself, my lifestyle and my family.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Ask her a real estate question online or visit her Web site,


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