It’s highly likely that anyone reading the Prepper Journal is very aware of the events that are ongoing in Greece at this time. As of this writing, Greek Banks are announcing their intent to raid the deposits of their customers. This is being done they say, to avert a collapse, but the raw truth is that this is plain and simple theft. Rather than averting a collapse, banks are facilitating a collapse by causing panic which will surely cause harm to the citizens of Greece. They give this practice of legalized theft a cute name; a “haircut” which I assume we are supposed to think means they are taking a little off the top. Is that supposed to make it more tolerable than what it should be called?
The banks in Greece and the US as well have already stated that your money isn’t really your money at all once it has been deposited. You no longer own that money, you are an unsecured creditor to the bank and they don’t really have to pay you back, technically if they don’t feel like it. The risks for the people of Greece are real and tangible, but those same practices the banks of Greece are employing could hit the shores of America very quickly. Are you prepared for Greek style panic when that happens?
Inevitably, Greeks have been rushing to the ATM machines to take out the maximum amount the banks have graciously allowed each day of 60 Euros. They aren’t able to get to their money in the banks. They can’t buy food, medicine or gas and each is becoming harder to find every day.
Can you avoid this fate?
Well, I honestly do not know the machinations of all the political and financial dealings of the IMF and the World Bank. I can’t tell you with any certainty what will happen in the US, but I think we can all look to Greece and take some simple steps that could insulate you if a Greek style panic or bank bail-ins happens in the US.
Disclaimer – The following steps are just my opinions. Each of you needs to weigh your own risk/reward tolerance for yourself. I am certainly not any kind of “expert”. I have never been certified as qualified to give anyone financial advice. To me these steps below are common sense based upon the real life actions taking place in front of our eyes, but you will have to decide what is best for yourself in your own situation.
Step #1 – Keep only what you need for monthly expenses in the bank
I have covered this before in a few other posts, but your money is simply no longer safe in any banking institution. Oh sure, there is the FDIC which is supposed to guarantee your money, right? The FDIC gets its funds from banks themselves so if the banks are unable to pay into the FDIC due to some horrible problem they are having, do you think you will get your money back? If you do, how long do you think that could take.
I personally try to only leave as much cash in the bank as I need to cover my monthly expenses. The rest I have either invested in places I will discuss later or hidden where the bankers can’t find it. If the banks decide to take 30% of my funds, or limit ATM withdrawals, I won’t be up a creek totally.
Step #2 – Convert your IRA’s and 401K’s to cash
This is probably the most radical idea I am proposing now, but you should consider whether or not leaving your 401K in the hands of the financial system is riskier than taking the money out now while it is still worth something. Yes, there are tax penalties and you should consult with a financial adviser before you do anything, but if the market tanks, what good will that IRA or 401K be to you then? If you honestly believe that everything is sunshine and lollipops, leave your money in those vehicles and we’ll see who was right when the dust settles.
I chose to take the tax hit while the value of my IRA was almost normal again after the 2008 crash. I don’t think I would be able to do this if the market crashes again for a very long time in the best case scenario and all of that savings would disappear basically due to an accounting trick. Or, they would confiscate it and tell me that they will manage my fund now. Same difference.
Step #3 – Don’t store huge amounts of cash under your mattress
Taking your cash out of the banks is not completely risk free either. You could have that money stolen. You could forget where you put it. Your house could catch fire or your dog could eat it. Yes, just about anything you do assumes some level of risk. I am just looking at the risk with our financial system that they are openly talking about and making a decision for myself. There are several questions you will need to ask of yourself before you do this. First, how much cash do you need if the grid goes down? When you have the answer to that question, it might help you identify how much to keep in various locations. Next, can you afford to do this? If not, what changes can you make in your life immediately to get you in a better state? What would you do if the economy collapsed tomorrow?
If you are going to keep your money out of the bank, don’t just shove it in a jar and dig a hole in the back yard. If the economy collapses and there is a currency revaluation, that jar of money might be just as worthless as if you left it in the bank. Greeks right now are stocking up on supplies as much as they are able and inevitably stores are running low on the most common items. I am trying to convert my cash into tangible assets. These are real things that have value instead of fiat currency, that I can use and possibly sell later if I need to. Possibly some of these items could be used for barter. If the currency is devalued, you won’t be able to do the same with dollars.
What do I buy with the cash I am not saving in the bank? I am purchasing supplies my family can use. I am purchasing extra food, I am stocking up on gas, buying firearms and the implements to maintain them. I am acquiring training. I have purchased some precious metals although I am not confident that they would be worth much in the days immediately after a total collapse.
Step #4 – Learn as much as possible and pay attention to world events
Prepping for any type of disaster isn’t simply running out to the Sporting goods store to buy some sleeping bags, a few rifles and a case of ammo. It isn’t only going to the grocery store and buying 12 shopping carts worth of food. Acquiring supplies is part of it, but you can’t buy your way to preparedness for most things.
To be really prepared, you need to have a plan for what you are going to do and it helps to have thought a great deal about the consequences of your actions both currently that you are engaged in and others that you might one day find yourself participating in with your family. Preparedness is almost equally focused on awareness of your surroundings. This is true if you are walking through a bad part of town at night. It is also true with local, regional, national and even world events. To be really prepared, you can’t sit at home watching reruns of Star Trek on Netflix and expect to be able to move quickly when a disaster is imminent. If there is a financial collapse, we may only have days, possibly hours of warning.
I would recommend you regularly check out alternative sources for news. Drudgereport.com is probably the easiest source to quickly see what is going on in the world. If news of some contagion starts spreading you will need to act fast or else find yourself in a similar fate as the Greeks who can’t get any cash, can’t buy food, gas or the supplies they need.
Step #5 – Plan for chaos and violence and do your best to avoid it
If something like this comes to pass, there will be the obligatory riots and demonstrations. These are futile in my opinion and only cause you to risk your safety or freedom. Don’t participate in riots and burn buildings down. You won’t change anything in the world by kicking in windows or pushing police officers or throwing rocks. There is a time and a place for everything and when you are rioting, you are at the mercy of trained forces who employ riot tactics to control and in some cases escalate the violence of the crowds. You don’t want to be anywhere near this when it happens. Better to keep watch on your own house.
Which could lead to you having to defend your property from unscrupulous or desperate people who didn’t take the steps to prepare that you did. It may be necessary to defend your home. Do you have the training, the willpower and defense items you may need? Hopefully you will have taken the steps to prepare above already. If not, you may wish you had. Don’t wait until the banks are closed and you can’t get your money out. Don’t wait until you have lost your job to plan for these scenarios. Don’t wait until someone you love gets hurt to plan for defense. Your life, possibly the lives of your wife or children could count on what you do today.