Living in chaotic times means not only concerns about war and terrorism but also the consequences for our household budgets. Did you read Ronald Millet’s article last week California Egg Regulations and Creeping Tyranny? If you have not read it please do that. Do you really know what is driving food prices? Have you heard about the labor unrest at the West Coast ports?

Members of the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union have been engaged in a work slow down since November slowing down the loading and unloading of cargo ships in and out of all the west coast ports bringing commerce to a crawl. Why have you not heard about this? Good question as it dramatically affects the economy. Let me give you the two-minute version of the problem.

Each day thousands of containers are loaded on ships heading to the pacific islands, including Hawaii, on to Asia and also Europe. Exported containers carry produce, manufactured products, and raw materials purchased from U.S.A. companies creating jobs and stimulating the economy. Thousands of containers also come into the ports carrying produce, manufactured goods and raw materials for use here, creating jobs and stimulating the economy. Unfortunately, we as a nation no longer produce enough food for our needs and we are forced to purchase food from other countries. That is another huge problem for another discussion, but for today it increases the cost of our food.

Right now there are dozens of ships carrying thousands of containers anchored off the west coast. The ports are taking days and even weeks to get goods on and off ships. You can see this is a problem for produce as it spoils and entire containers of food need to be destroyed costing the growers huge losses. This also creates price hikes, as supplies are delayed to consumers creating shortages.

What about jobs? Yes jobs are lost as those who would normally truck the goods to port are now sitting and waiting for their next loads, which come less frequently. The shipping companies are losing money as they sit anchored and wait. They are therefore imposing surcharges, not to the dockworkers, but to those who are shipping goods, adding to the cost of those goods to the consumer. Sound absurd? It is. The bottom line for us as consumers: prices are going to go up not just on food, but on everything.

Consider this: do you purchase decorations, fancy plates, baskets, or new clothes for Easter? Those should be in warehouse now, but they are not. They are sitting on ships or waiting on docks in Asia to be shipped. What do you think will happen to the prices of those items if this port slow down is not settled? Prices go up as supplies go down.

We know egg prices will be going up, especially in California. I am sure some egg producers will stop shipping to California instead of destroying their flocks to comply with new laws that restrict the number of chickens per cage. As a disclaimer here we used to own and operate an egg business with half a million chickens – just so you know I understand the egg industry.

The drought in California continues, and in fact has in many ways worsened. You have heard we had rain in December. That is true and was a huge blessing. Unfortunately the weather was unusually warm and as a result there is little snow pack, only 40% of normal. Also, unfortunately we have had no rain or snow since and only a few nights of frost. Bottom line, fruit and nut trees have not had a long enough dormant period, there will be little snow for spring runoff during the planting season and the reservoirs are still low. If California doesn’t get rain every day for the next six weeks, or if the federal government does not release federally controlled water to the farmers, we are facing a serious dust bowl scenario. This will lead to higher food cost now and for years to come. Once topsoil is blown away it is not easily replaced. Consumers to be concerned – warn your neighbors, write your federal representatives and prepare to care for your own food needs.

Due to the Affordable Care Act health care prices rose on January first and penalties also rose significantly. This will also impact all our budgets.

Have you noticed the rise in civil unrest in this country and around the world? What about terrorist attacks increasing? It is frightening to hear that radical groups are now competing with each other to determine who is the most influential, thus the rise again of al-Qaeda declaring dominion through the attacks in Paris.

This past year on our Totally Ready facebook page we have advised you concerning what foods to store every week to accumulate a three-month supply in your homes by the end of 2014. If you did not do this what is holding you back from preparing?

This year each Monday we are sharing items to purchase that week, which are essential non-food commodities. Each Wednesday we will be sharing ideas for saving money to help meet the demands of these higher prices while still allocating funds for self-reliance needs. We will also be sharing recipes specific to saving money and to rotating the foods you already have stored. Please take a minute right now to “like” the Totally Ready facebook page.

Ask yourself some serious questions today: could I feed my family for a week without going to the grocery store, or a month? How will my living expenses be impacted by events in the country and the world right now? How will my living conditions be impacted? Am I ready? Am I truly doing all I can do? Am I ready to follow the counsel of the prophets?

Prophets of God have long warned us to prepare. They have never declared what we are preparing for but it seems this may be one of those times.

Self-reliance concerns? Visit and ask your questions or contact Carolyn at Ca*****@To**********.com