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Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Art of Swapping, FreeCycling & Underground Economy

Poor Man’s Recession Bulletin
Your Choice for Usable Information

Inside this issue:

· Primer on becoming prepared
· Blacklisting consumers
· Notes on the Underground Economy
· More free deals
· The Art of Swapping
· Our Earth Day Giveaway-Eco Friendly Guide/Save $, Save Planet

Vice is the spice of life! --Unknown

Sin, Vice, Black Market & the Undergound Economy

Several years ago, a friend of mine was shot six times at close range with a .22 caliber pistol after leaving his place of business about 5am – he survived. He and his wife ran a speakeasy or after-hours gambling and drinking establishment.

Although he was able to joke about the event during my visits with him in the hospital, it brought home the dangers of participating in the underground economy. Most folks associate the underground economy with vice of some sort and that’s a pretty accurate statement but not always. I have another friend who sold pirated copies of movies to a private list of buyers, not nearly as dangerous.

Annual revenues from off-the-book activities range from $650 billion to as much as $1.5 trillion dollars and as the economy worsens for many, that figure will only grow. The government never leaned its lesson from Prohibition when dozens of street hoodlums became incredibly wealthy by smuggling booze. Once Prohibition ended, liquor sales in this country actually fell (much to the chagrin of one smuggler whose son became President).

Study after study has shown the underground economy always grows whenever governments increase taxes and/or regulations. The underground economy is growing in Europe as well. For example, due to insanely high tobacco taxes, terrorists are now finding it profitable to smuggle cigarettes – thank you Uncle Scam.

As the economy tanks and middle class jobs and wages vanish, there isn’t much choice for many people - allowing this true form of free enterprise to expand further. Most decent paying jobs are never coming back. Use of barter and alternative currencies will also continue to grow.

Take this as a reminder that our Poor Man CD Rom contains a terrific ebook on 45 Ways to Make a Living-Without a Job. You can order it at our site.

What is America’s favorite recreational drug? Viagra!

A Primer on Becoming Prepared…Down & Dirty Guide

1. A 4 week food reserve Why? If your bank closes down, or you are snowed in, or roads are closed for rioting for a while, you’re not left hungry from the inability to get to the store.

2. A 30-60 day stock of any essential medications you or a family member needs Why? Same as item 1. Additionally, you risk needing a refill precisely when the doctor is on vacation or the pharmacy is closed. Another advantage of a larger supply is that buying in bulk saves money per dose.

3. Heat source other than your gas or electric items. Why? Same as item 1.

4. At least $1,000 cash stashed in your home. Why? Same as reasons one, two and three, but for yet another reason as well. Imagine another banking system virus that shuts down ATMs (already happened in 2003 due to a Microsoft Worm).

5. At least a week of water / juice / hydration Why? If your municipal water is contaminated, pipes are broken due to an earthquake, or if the construction crew was careless and cracked your pipe and the city cant afford to fix it for a while, you arent left high and literally dry.

6. Next size up of essential clothes like jackets, underwear, and one pair of shoes for kids. Also have 2-3 packs of next size up diapers for babies. Why? Kids grow. (If not, see a doctor.) Unfortunately, we often dont realize that theyve literally outgrown their britches until something breaks. If you have a spare next size up jacket, you dont find the dual emergency of a child too large for the jacket they had and not being able to get to the store or having the money to get another one. And the shock of not being able to fasten a clean diaper on Junior while stranded at home is not an emergency if you have a stash of the next size up on hand.

7. Spare glasses and other medical equipment Why? If your only pair of glasses breaks, you may find yourself both blind for lack of another pair and too strapped for cash / credit to get another pair. So have at least one spare pair of eyeglasses on hand. The same goes for hearing aid batteries, wheel chairs for those who are mobility impaired, and other medical equipment a family member is dependent on. This prevents the theft of such an item or its damage or simple wearing out from becoming both a health disaster and financial one. If you have the spare on hand, use the spare and search for options for a new one at leisure.

8. Car maintenance emergency stock Why? If your car can’t go, neither will you. Have a gasoline can or gasoline substitute on hand. Car oil, other car fluids, and a spare battery can also be life- savers.

9. Pay off all of your secured debt. Why? Car loans are between five and ten percent right now. You cannot get that rate of return in the stock market, and you cannot afford to pay those debts when unemployed or during high inflation. So pay it off now.

If you own your car out right, you do not have to worry about repossession if money becomes tight. If you own your cars, pay off your house. Late, lost or stopped credit card payments ding your credit score. Late, lost or stopped house payments can lead to foreclosure. These literally physical investments can prevent a sudden need from become both a financial and personal emergency. Consider it an investment in your personal security and sanity.

Thanks to

Sign outside nursery…It’s Spring – We’re so excited we wet our plants!

Free Deals for You

Share Your Goods & Services (see Art of Swapping below)*

Sign up for a free account & manage your health, weight, etc.

Select a lawyer-vetted document (like living wills) from a database

Get free backup storage
for your computer (I use it)

Free office software – good quality

This site provides valuable coupons & contributes to charity of your choice…passes along 60% it earns whenever you print coupons

Join this site and each day it will alert you to offers from local businesses-the catch…the bargain kicks in only if a minimum number of customers buy it.

Find Out What Auto Repairs Really Cost
Get a free, independent, unbiased price range & estimate at:

For designs that might move one to contemplation
check out:

Unixarcade Zazzle’s*

Resources for Stockpiling and Disaster Preparation

Make Your Own Energy
Step-by-step guide reveals how to
make your own energy for $100 or less.

Terrific site for resources and green, eco-friendly goods
Earth Day Special
DYI Energy Efficient Updates can help you save some big CASH!
FREE-30-page PDF saves an average of $175 per month or $2000 annually – Not getting this is like leaving money on the table.

Poor Man’s Guide to Eco Friendly No Cost, Low Cost & Low Tech Ways to Save $ & the Environment…click on the Poor Man Free Reports folder, the PM Eco Guide PDF

Newsworthy, Noteworthy, Naughty

Scamster Offers No Apologies

Back in the '80s, a New York area electronics chain, Crazy Eddie, collapsed after a financial scandal. Its convicted CFO, Sam Antar, now exposes the alleged financial fraud of others and writes about it

I am a convicted felon and a former CPA. As the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I helped Eddie Antar and other family members mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980s. My responsibilities at Crazy Eddie included skimming, money laundering, insurance fraud, securities fraud, and a list of other criminal activities too long to list here. More at:

Dealtree is the leading provider of auction management, logistics and returns processing services & software for Manufacturers, Distributors and Retailers. Dealtree provides a full service, single source solution that efficiently moves goods and information through the reverse supply chain.
It’s owned by Best Buy & sells returned merchandise and it’s launching it’s newest site soon called CowBoom – potentially a good source of electronices and other merchandise to acquire for resale purposes. Laptops, games, digital cameras and more & from brief exam – about 30-70% less than retail.


Good Housekeeping reveals the "Top Five Mistakes" consumers make and provides tips for what people can do to protect themselves in the future:

1. You Don't Know Who You're Dealing With:
You wouldn't buy a watch from the sketchy guy on the corner so why entrust your credit card to a questionable website? The same is true for flyers you receive in the mail for discount services, or an unsolicited e-mail offer.
Before you are wooed by a low price:
See the rest at:
Consumers using credit cards online: Be wary of retailers that attempt to blacklist you

The Fair Credit Billing Act allows cardholders to dispute charges that they had previously agreed to pay. When this happens, the credit card company investigates and decides whether the company or the consumer is in the right. Much to retailers' dismay, the credit card companies generally defer to consumers who seem like they're on the up-and-up and don't make a habit of requesting charge-backs.

That's not how Brian Heideman sees it. He's president and chief executive of, a Santa Monica, Calif., firm that bills itself as "The Net's Largest Shared Database Of Charge-back Risks – See more at:

Here are three steps you can take to join the freecycling movement.

1. Find a freecycling group near you at Recycling Group Finder. If you can't find a group near you, consider starting one, either on your own or through organizations like the ReUseIt Network,, The Freeuse Network,, Sharing Is Giving or The Freecycle Network. Freecycling works best when the group members live geographically close because it's more convenient and uses less energy when stuff is exchanged.

2. Each freecycle group will have its own rules, so learn and abide by those rules. But commonly there are four kinds of posts: Wanted is you searching for an item; Found is telling others that you got what you were searching for; Offer is letting the group know what item you have to give away; and Taken is informing the group that you found a person who needed the item offered.

3. Before buying something, check to see if any one in your group is looking to get rid of the item you need. Before throwing an item in the trash, post an offer for the item to see if any one needs that item.

“No revenue is sufficient without economy.” Benjamin Franklin regarding government spending

The Art Swapping

I’m planning to host a swap exchange in late May. My kickoff event will be a community wide garage sale coming in the middle of that month. We have enough room to host a dozen families who wish to sell their items with plenty of parking (no charge). We thought about selling hot dogs & burgers but were warned the food police will slap us with a fine for doing so without a food vendors permit (typical pinheaded bereautwit), so we’ll ask for donations instead.

We’ll ask those interested to sign up & provide an email address. Several weeks prior to the event, we’ll send out a notice promoting the date & time. We’ll also lay out the ground rules including how many items someone can bring, what kind of condition it should be in, what can participants take home. We’ll use a point system to value the goods from 1-4 with number 4 being the most valuable. These rules will also be posted around the event as a reminder to everyone.

If you don’t have the room, consider approaching your church or community center. We’ll have help from friends to organize and host the event and to keep track of points and tickets. Leftovers will be donated to charity. After the event, we plan to have a picnic with everyone bringing a dish and we’ll provide the beverages.

You can set up the same in your area and many swaps include skill exchanges ranging from haircuts, massages, baking cakes, accounting work, lawn mowing, etc. It’s best to establish the value of your swap in advance so when you approach another person so both parties know upfront if it’s a good deal.

If it works out, we’ll try to establish an area barter network…probably using Yahoo Groups to set up a free exchange much like and other groups.

As always, we welcome your suggestions and input. Laissez nous faire

Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Siam of Swapping” Poor Man

A Shallow Planet Production
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