Money and negotiable valuables in an emergency


Aesop, writing at Raconteur Report, emphasizes the necessity of money as a fundamental element of being prepared for whatever life might throw at you.  In general, I agree with him, although I differ on some specifics.


Nota bene we did not say “cash”. Cash is nice, but it’s not money. In fact, it’s explicitly something commonly accepted by people AS IF IT WERE money, thus not money, per se.

Gold is money. Silver is money. Other precious metals (nickel, copper, platinum, etc.) can be money. US dollars (nor Euros, British pounds, Swiss francs, Japanese yen, etc.) are NOT money, and haven’t been since they stopped being readily exchangeable for actual specie.

Other things (jewels, bonds, stocks) are worth money, but they aren’t money either. Nobody prices gas or milk in gallons per carat, for instance.

So as you’re stocking up on canned goods (both in #10 cans, and in olive drab ones), and storing water, fuel, and all sorts of consumables from pins to nails to bolts to lumber products – you are working on that, right? – make sure you’re storing money. And cash. In a cache. Or ten.

. . .

So part of your efforts should include adding “junk” silver (i.e. U.S. coinage prior to 1965, which is 90% silver by content), and gold (ideally in fractional ounce denominations – 1/10th oz., 1/4 oz., etc. – as coins worth $1800 and up for full ounces are a bit too concentrated for everyday items) to your stockpile(s). I made that plural, because you shouldn’t keep all your nest eggs in one basket. In any sense.

And, as every devotee of Dave Ramsay knows, have a cash reserve.

Six months’ gross income is a worthy goal. It gives you options, not least of which is “F**k You” money, to cope with a bad boss, a bad situation, or a bad location. Anything you can’t solve with six months’ cash is pretty much catastrophic levels of problem. Probably 90% of life’s problems are readily solved by a six month float.

Any or all of this should be stored, safely and securely, and not in places or institutions that do not have your best interests in mind. IOW, safety deposit boxes suck. Try getting into yours after a disaster, or a bank run. Or after a tax lien. [Hint: It ain’t happening. And you’re therefore screwed. Possibly terminally. Think about that.]

. . .

So your emergency cash stash should be ready to hand. It’s your bugout bankroll, or most of it. Cash will likely solve most of your small problems, and still be accepted (howsoever briefly) in major disturbances to society. IOW, long enough for you to get from current home to safety, if they suddenly cease being one and the same place.

The melt value on a roll of silver dimes is currently about $100, btw. A shade under $2/@, at the moment. In 50 years, it will still be 50 pieces of 90% silver. The $100 in a crisp Benjamin will not be nearly as valuable in 50 years’ time, or even in 20 years. Bet on that reality. Ignore that truth to your own financial peril.

There’s more at the link.

I did a little calculating the other day.  I bought our (very small) stock of silver coins (US Silver Eagles, Canadian Silver Maples, and Austrian Wiener Philharmoniker, all containing 1 oz. of pure silver) in 2015.  Looking at their price, then and now, they’ve appreciated by something like 50% – which, when you think about it, is just about the overall rate of US inflation (real inflation, not government statistics) since I bought them.  In other words, they really have been a store of value for us, retaining the value of the dollars with which we bought them.  They’re a worthwhile hedge against inflation.

I’m not sure about Aesop’s advice to buy pre-1965 US silver coins for their 90% silver content.  There are an awful lot of fakes out there, including well-worn coins where the year mark has simply been re-stamped.  Some are obvious, detectable with the naked eye, while others are not.  Furthermore, there are people who’ve made their own molds for them, pre-worn, and are casting coins that contain no silver at all.  I probably won’t have time to figure them out in an emergency situation, so I won’t be accepting them in exchange for anything I have to sell.  Brand-new 1 oz. silver rounds, on the other hand, from a reputable source (complete with dated sales receipt) and bearing a reputable “brand” . . . that’s another story.

I agree with Aesop and others about the utility of a cash reserve equivalent to several months’ expenditure.  Sadly, we don’t have that, because we simply can’t afford it on our limited income.  We have a small cash reserve, and I’d very much like to expand it, but right now that simply isn’t possible.  As I get back to publishing books (five are in the pipeline right now!), I hope I’ll earn enough to add to it, one book at a time.  Meanwhile, even a few hundred dollars tucked away somewhere safe can be a life-saver.  According to CNBC, “Fewer than 4 in 10 people have enough savings to pay for an unexpected $1,000 expense in cash.  The rest would have to borrow, use a credit card or take out a personal loan.”  I think it’s a worthwhile goal for all of us to try to accumulate at least that much in an emergency reserve, as a starting point.

A mistake many “preppers” make is that they put all their resources into accumulating food, essential supplies, weapons, ammunition, etc.  I agree, all those things have their place in our preparations . . . but you can’t eat toilet paper, or ammunition, or an AR-15.  If nobody wants your goods in trade (or it’s too dangerous, in [say] an urban unrest situation, to lay them out on a table at your local market to offer them for trade), cash or negotiable valuables like precious metal coins are going to be king.



  1. That argument is invalid.
    "Money" is ony a medium of exchang:

    "but you can't eat toilet paper, or ammunition, or an AR-15."
    You can't eat silver, or gold, or even paper money either.

    You CAN trade goods for other goods or services directly without using silver, or gold, or other money as a medium of trade.

  2. I am a simple man. Money is what you pay your taxes with.

    It's the coin of the Kingdom. It's what you buy stuff at Wal-Mart with.

    Everything else is Barter that includes silver and gold coins. When silver rounds can pay my taxes or I can buy at Wal-Mart THEN they are money again.

    Peter your correct when you say a silver or gold coin is a STORE of Value because when they Stimmy up even MOAR fake money it just takes MAOR of them to buy that ounce of Gold for example. Except for moment of manic panic there is no real bonus in value.

    It's been correctly said an ounce of Gold in Victorian England would buy a Gentleman's suit including nice boots. STILL True Today if you match the quality of materials and skills making it.

    Inflation is TOO Many Dollars chasing that loaf of bread.

    Hyperinflation is where the second cup of coffee at the café costs MORE than the First one.

    Fakes in silver and gold is all too common. Knowledge of what real coins look like and real current values helps.

    During the Great Depression (A mostly Deflationary event BTW) desperate folks would sell bad eggs or lime water as milk to get a few bucks. So EXPECT MOAR of that as things get more frisky.

    Trust but Verify when your bartering for anything folks.

    The best deal is when BOTH sides think they did well. Barter from safety with trusted folks or a position of strength, lest you be found dead and robbed.

    Get to know your Creator and be in good terms with Him. We will all die, it's how we Live that matters.


    Micah 6:8 8He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

    Ephesians 4:1-5 1As a prisoner for the LORD, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5one LORD, one faith, one baptism;

    Pray for Wisdom, He will give it freely

  3. I'll dispute this just because it lets me tell a story 🙂

    " . . but you can't eat toilet paper"

    –apparently you can. I was working on a fashion show, backstage, eavesdropping on the models while doing my job, and I overheard one telling the others– "When I'm really hungry, I eat toilet paper soaked in water."

    These girls were all very thin, pale, and covered in bruises and marks. (poor diet, they don't heal from even minor bumps) Granted this was before the Kard– I mean BIG-assians began to be pushed down our throats as the height of beauty.

    That one girl's statement and the matter of fact way she shared the "tip" was horrifying to me.


  4. I occasionally see ad's from this "mint" or that selling silver or gold "coins". I dont have a clue how to acquire legitimate gold or silver in useful units. Suggestions please.

    1. Try They don't have a minimum purchase amount on domestic orders, and if you want to sell to them, the minimum amount is only $1000.

  5. I'll disagree here with you, Peter – the 1oz rounds can be counterfeited more easily than the junk silver coins. Not saying that it doesn't happen, but it is rarer than just plating new larger coins that have more 'value'. I stay away from gold in some part because I am poor, the other reason is because it attracts more counterfeiters due to the high value placed on it.

    If you have a glass table or counter, flip a silver coin onto it and listen to the ring, as opposed to the dull clank of our current change. Mom showed me this, explaining that there were slugs made in the Depression and her mother would do this to not be cheated.

  6. Ages and Ages ago I heard a fellow put it thus, in the late 19th century, 1 ounce of gold would buy one really good men's suit. And after all the changes in technology, economics, etc. a century-plus later… one ounce of gold would buy *one* really good men's suit. It's NOT a "build value" investment, but a "will NOT lose value investment."

    And, like everything (aside from new tech.), the best time to buy is years ago…

  7. I'm with Tweell – experience (and Secret Service records) show that larger value coins and bills are MUCH more likely to be counterfeited than small ones. For example, no one counterfeits $1 bills; they focus on $20s and $100s.
    In the same vein, I've read about fake 1 ounce and larger coins – I haven't read about fake junk silver, except Morgan or Peace silver dollars. My preference is silver dimes and so far they haven't been worth enough to fake.

    But buyer beware! Always buy from a reputable source.
    Tsgt Joe: My suggestion is to stick with coins from major mints in common amounts. In the US, buy ounces, partial ounces, or junk silver – I'd stay away from gram amounts. I focus on US, Canadian, and European national mints. I do NOT buy novelty, collectible, or limited edition coins and I always look at the value of the silver or gold in the coin. A premium is the amount you pay over the 'official" price of the metal to get it in hand. The larger the coin or bar you buy, the lower the premium is. The common way to compare premiums is what percentage the price is over the melt value. Right now premiums are running high, but there are still (relative) bargains to be found. Silver seems to be running a 30% premium and gold 5% to 20%. Larger coins usually have a lower premium, but will be harder to use for future purchases. I tend to think of bars as a store of value, NOT as a medium of exchange.
    Given the concerns about fakes, fraud, ad delays, at this time I would avoid eBay. Some metals dealers don't actually have the inventory they claim and won't ship for weeks or months after your order. I have ordered from several of the larger coin sellers online in the past, but at this point I buy exclusively from – they prices are as good or better than anyone else and they are very professional with great customer service and fairly fast shipping.

  8. I have bought and sold gold and silver. Nobody who is in the business does it without the use of a x-ray fluorescence detector. The round coins and small ingots of gold, and silver coins and ingots are widely counterfeited. It is amazing how good the counterfeits are. But you can't fake the XRF. I would only buy from a dealer who has an XRF and I would witness the tests of each coin after providing test coins, both real and fake, to prove the XRF is working. That's how shady this business is.

    Money is a concept. A medium of exchange. I am pretty sure that ammo is going to be better than gold for exchange if the paper money goes to hell, because you can shoot it, too. 9mm and 5.56 will be far and away the most fungible. I know this because right now small pistol and small rifle primers sell for half what large pistol and large rifle primers sell for, telling me that the larger calibers are nowhere near as popular, even in these difficult times where the actual ammo itself is more expensive in the larger calibers. Rather than try to store physical precious metals, I plan to store extra ammo.

  9. Oops, meant to say that LARGE rifle and pistol primers sell for half of what the small do.

    1. Midway, et al charge the same for all primers, differing cost only by brand, in my experience.

  10. Worrying about whether or not it is safe to set up barter deals reinforces the fact that a well rounded plan provides you with a much better chance of making it thru what is surely coming.

    Being ABLE to barter food/ammo/supplies for silver/gold is a better position to be in than HAVING to barter silver/gold for food/ammo/supplies.

  11. Money is nothing but trust, Destroy trust and money is meaningless. No commodity can support a growing economy, let alone a global reserve currency. So, as always, we live in a time of fear and greed.

  12. Good luck bartering goods and services when even venturing out past sundown is iffy.
    Even worse when you have nothing the other party wants.

    And bartering ammo?

    Best wishes with that plan.

    No one in history has ever had to worry about their "money" coming back at them at 1100fps.
    Except the dolt who traded .22 rounds for bread, and wound up with neither. And dead.

    Anything can be counterfeited.
    A "junk" silver dime is worth about $1.90.
    Silver is currently about $27/oz.
    A 1 oz. gold Eagle is worth >$1800, just for melt value.

    Ain't nobody got time to counterfeit junk silver dimes and quarters. It practically takes more time and trouble (and silver) than the possible profit margin, moving anything less than tons of the stuff.

    Good luck with that idea when the blowback for trying that is watching your brains fly out the back of your head. desperate folks tend not to have much sense of humor about things, you might have heard.

    And you don't get specie to "invest", unless you're an idiot.
    You get it to not lose your @$$ to inflation, which is guaranteed with all fiatbux. It's baked into the cake from the get-go.

    An ounce of gold in 2001 bought $200; $200 from 2001 is now worth <$30 in real terms. The ounce of gold is worth $1800.
    [Hint: when the Arabs figure this out, gas will be $28/gallon. Good luck in that world.)

    If this was news to anyone, you're not tall enough for this discussion. Sorry, but there it is.

    Peter and any number of folks have been warning you for weeks that hyperinflation is coming.

    Maybe when it clouts you across the face like a dead mackerel, you'll understand: you're about to live in Weimar. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually. If you avoid for awhile longer, use the time to best advantage.

    Diversify, and get out of things that cannot hold value over your lifespan.

  13. I personally don't use APMEX etc.

    They keep records and so do your credit card or debit card or bank.
    Get ye henceforth to a reputable coin dealer.

    Exchange Federal Reserve Credit Coupons (cash) for your metals.

    Peter, I also disagree in reference to the counterfeiting of junk silver (pre-‘64 US currency) vs. “rounds” or bars from some “mint”.

    Far far harder to counterfeit a US minted coin than a simple slug or worse a bar, stamped with a weight and an unknown mint. And in smaller increments, not as profitable for the counterfeiter.

    As to the ability to barter ammunition, or other consumables (mini bottles of liquor I think are good items) for food or fuel, I also disagree.

    What would a drinker, who's out of booze, swap for a drink?

    Right now a box of 9mm that cost $9.00 two years ago is worth $35 or more. That’s a 400% increase in cost (using fiat cash), if you needed that box badly now, how much would you pay in silver?

    At today’s silver prices that’s like 18 junk silver dimes. Silver has had about 162% increase since 2019 according to what I just googled, ammunition is 400% at least, primers are 600%+ (if you can find them or would trade them).

    I’ve read far too many post-apocalyptic novels where .22LR was the most accepted barter currency because of its popularity (everyone has a .22), and use in small game hunting to gainsay the idea, it’s based on a commonsense idea.

    CCI MiniMags were $0.04 each in Dec 2018 (if you bought quantity),

    Ammoseek today says $0.23 each!!!

    Better at value holding than silver!!

    Bottom line, anything you have that somebody needs is a possible barter situation.

    Now, swapping someone ammo is tricky, they might use that ammo to rob/kill you.

    Swapping gold / silver / anything is fraught with danger, think about minimizing the risk!!

  14. Peter, One ounce rounds are faked all the time. I don’t believe 90% pre 64 have ever been faked, they are just too small to be worth the hassle. JWR The Godfather agrees with this.

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