We haven't seen civil unrest in the US, the likes of which other people in the world have experienced (Argentina, Bosnia, and Russia come to mind) but there is always the possibility that such a calamity could occur. Unfortunately such a thing could happen sooner rather than later so beginning to prepare right now will probably be of little help (we are talking within weeks which greatly limits what you can do to prepare as opposed to having a year or more to get ready) but you should at least be familiar with the kinds of things that could happen when the bottom drops out of your/your country's finances. Read these:
- Surviving a SHTF experience in Bosnia
- 25 things you should do to prepare for an economic collapse
- Prepare for an economic collapse
- Prepper tips for the coming economic collapse (a huge list of links)
- Surviving economic collapse tips and gear
- How to survive the economic collapse
What you shouldn't do:
- Cash out the kids college fund and go on a shopping spree
- Put your head in the sand and pretend like nothing bad can happen because this is America
- Stockpile only gold (or silver or firearms or any other single item)
- Believe everything you hear on TV (this will either make you terrified or stupefied)
- Ready/watch or otherwise ingest the news 24/7 (this will make you depressed)
- Stop living your regular life and becoming a super survivalist which scares both the neighbors and your spouse
What you should do (ie: common sense things that won't hurt you if such dire predictions don't come to pass but which could greatly help you if the alternative happens):
- Get 90 day prescriptions for your medications instead of 30 day prescriptions.
- Skip the $50 dinner out and buy a 50 pound bag of rice, some canned meat, and a few loss leader gallons of milk (actually buy the food you would regularly eat but buy enough to hold you over for an extra week/month/year...this is a slow process, building up a stockpile of food)
- Instead of going shopping at the mall this week, hit up the Goodwill or other thrift stores instead. If you usually spend $200 on stuff at the mall (which equates to a pair of shoes and a pair of pants), spend that $200 at the thrift store and buy useful stuff (some cold weather gear, tools, etc).
- Take the family backpacking for the weekend (you will see how very little you actually need to survive...and the kids will think it's an adventure).
- Do some recon: where are your local water sources? How long does it take you to walk into town? What can you learn online that would help you in the event of a disaster (ideas here, here, and here)? Take a walk around your neighborhood and see what you can find (birds nests, wild animals, fish, edible plants, hidden pathways, etc).
- Do those repairs you have been putting off around the house (mend the fence, reinforce the window locks, set up the closed circuit camera system that has been gathering dust in the garage, etc).
- Go hunting or fishing or crabbing or what ever food-acquiring season it is where you live (this is mostly for fun, to get away from all of the doom and gloom news on TV, to brush up your food-acquiring skills, and to give you some meat to put up in your freezer).
- Do an inventory of your home and make a shopping list. Low on razors/toilet paper/batteries? Write these things down for your next shopping trip. Have a hundred cans of beans and no cans of tomatoes? Put tomatoes on your list. Rarely ever use baking powder? A new can might be in order.
- Work on your side business. Hopefully your side business will be less on the artsy side (not a bad thing but not a necessity in a SHTF scenario) and more on the technical side (people NEED certain things like their car to run, food, and their plumbing fixed when TSHTF...concentrate on these things).