I can't claim to have good advice for people who are already in a tough spot: if your household earnings are well below median, you may simply have no disposable income to build a personal safety net. But for most other folks, the ability to prepare for the zero-income contingency is well within reach - and it would be unwise not to give it a go. Sure, even a lifetime of belt-tightening won't make the average middle-class family fabulously rich. But rainy-day funds work in a different way: their purpose is to get you through a rough spell, not to pay for a mansion or a fancy car. Since the amount needed is directly proportional to how much you currently make, it makes relatively little difference if your household brings in $70k or $140k a year. Either way, if you set aside 10% of every post-tax paycheck, you should have a 6-month financial safety net established within 3 years and a change.
Some preppers look at all of the potential work involved in finding coupons, price matching, finding sales, etc., and get overwhelmed. Yes, there is a lot of money to be saved on accumulating a stockpile with coupons, but the work might hardly seem worth the difference. Depending on your financial situation, this could be true, if there were not a secret: coupon blogs. There are dozens of couponing blogs out there that match current coupons to current sales promotions at most major stores. Some of these are specifically prepper websites, but there are many more directed towards housewives, college students, etc. Do some research and find a coupon blog that is tailored toward your desired products and your desired stores. Yes, you will still need to find the coupons on your own, but you can usually get someone else to do all of the research for you, making couponing for your stockpile a no brainer.
For folks interested in getting a nice, compact Geiger counter, Radex One ($120) is pretty hard to beat; it is tiny, inexpensive, and can be hooked up to a PC to continuously monitor the environment (and send e-mail or SMS alerts). The one caveat is that similarly to many other low-cost units, this device maxes out at 1 mSv/h - enough to know that something is very wrong, but not enough to tell if you're going to receive a life-threatening dose in an hour or somewhere within the next six months. In other words, some of the more hardcore preppers may want to invest in a more capable unit, such as ADM-300 (which goes all the way to 100 Sv/h) or RAD-60R (3 Sv/h). Decommissioned military and civilian devices in excellent working condition can be found on eBay for around $200.
The value of such a step extends beyond the mere task of shielding you from glacial shifts in the job market: if a major disaster suddenly cripples the local economy, there may be no more jobs for insurance claims adjusters or account executives, but carpentry or metalworking skills could be in high demand for the coming year or two. You can never predict it exactly, but the more you can do, the better you can cope with whatever adventures come your way.
When it comes to recommendations, there is no short list of hobbies that are objectively better than the rest; the selection is vast, and the right choice will inevitably depend on your own interests, natural talents, the space you have available, and on countless other constraints. That said, here are some fairly popular options that may be worth thinking about:
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