The bottom just dropped out all of your warning triggers are telling you that it’s time to pack everyone into the family bug out mobile and leave town before it gets worse. Much worse. You thought ahead which is fortunate for you and your family. You have a vehicle adequately equipped for the journey to your bug out location with essential gear, plenty of fuel with extra in reserve and everyone in the family has their bug out bags stowed safely away. Nervously, you pull out of your driveway in the middle of night to avoid most of the trouble already brewing. This may possibly be the last time you see your home and just like every trip before, you have that nagging sensation you forgot something.
Many disasters that preppers think and plan for could require you to leave the safety of your home, possibly forever. In a situation like this, your well stocked bug out bags and any other gear and supplies you are able to load and carry could be the sum total of all your worldly possessions. Some disaster scenarios assume the worst, a complete destruction through various means that leaves the civilization as we know it destroyed beyond repair for years. In a complete disaster like that, we make assumptions that normal commerce as we know it would effectively be over so the subject of bartering after SHTF comes to mind.
In other scenarios, which some might argue are many times more likely, the world won’t just stop spinning overnight. Every store won’t be closed and you will be able to buy supplies with whatever monetary instruments you have on hand that are still worth a commonly understood value. For most of the world, certainly here in the US we look to cash as the main fallback, but some people are saving precious metals as well to hedge against a currency collapse where that cash you are stowing away is worthless.
Assuming that money in the common forms we are talking about here (cash, precious metals) is able to be used to our benefit during a bug out scenario, have you ever thought about how much you need to put into your bug out bag?
A reader asked me about this subject today and after he pointed out that I hadn’t really addresses the subject on my site, I decided to write an article.
Question from Sam:
I have one question, how much money or other valuables (gold, silver, etc.)do you have in your bugout bag to buy/trade or barter with? I have looked on many prepper sites and have not found an answer to this. Can you please give me some guidance or advice for me?
First, let me thank Sam for this great question and I would encourage anyone else who has questions, or comments about anything you have seen or not seen addressed on the Prepper Journal to please contact me using our contact form or through the comments at the bottom of this article. I personally read every single comment and try to respond as often as I can.
Back to Sam’s question, which reminds me that I had another question from a different Sam that we discussed last week. Popular name! OK, so how much money do you have in your bug out bag? That part is simple. I have as much “money” as I can carry but I will break this down into specifics with my reasoning why below.
What are some reasons to have money in your bug out bag?
Why have any money in your bug out bag in the first place? Well, there are many good reasons I can think of. Imagine a scenario where the power is out, possibly for weeks. You wouldn’t be able to use ATM machines because they rely on power. Stores couldn’t run credit/debit card transactions without power because they all go through the internet now which relies on power. If the electricity is out, the way we commonly get access to our money or conduct electronic transactions is gone until the power comes back.
You could just drive to the bank and pull out as much as you need, right? Not necessarily. You only have to look to the people of Greece who still can’t get more than roughly $50 out of the bank each day. Would you want to have your cash reserves limited by what the banks could or would allow you to take out? No, I wouldn’t either and that is the main reason why I advocate keeping as much money as logical for you personally out of the banking system.
So having a supply of cash makes sense for the simple fact that you might not be able to get it when you need it most, but what could you possibly need cash for if you were a good prepper and have your fully stocked bug out bag and your BOV with a full tank of gas? I can see situations where a cash bribe might get you past security or could buy your temporary safety. There could be checkpoint guards who could be swayed to let you past if you empty out your wallet and having some cash could facilitate your escape. What about being able to purchase a ticket on a train, plane or some other means of transportation out of a country that is collapsing? It happened all of the time in Germany back before WWII. There isn’t any reason to think we in the US would be immune from needing to migrate ourselves if it got bad enough.
Cash might still be able to be used to purchase supplies if you were out ahead of the panic or were prevented from leaving. If you needed to purchase additional fuel along the route for example and you found a gas station that was only accepting cash, you would be in luck. I think the majority of people might not realize the effects of a currency collapse or revaluation of the dollar, but if you were on top of your gain, you could find someone still accepting cash that could for all intents be worthless.
How much money do you keep in your bug out bags?
I try to keep as much cash as possible where I can access it relatively quickly without needing to go to the ATM or bank. If I had to bug out I would be taking all of the cash I had with me. I don’t have tens of thousands of dollars or anything like that so weight isn’t really a consideration. Money in smaller denominations will probably be better to take with you on one hand because people might be less likely to make change. I don’t imagine anyone is going to worry about getting change for a dollar back but if you needed something that cost $5 and you only had a $100 bill that might hurt a little more. $20, $10 bills seem to make the most sense for regular day-to-day transactions where in a society like Greece, the stores are open but capital controls are keeping you from freely accessing your cash. You could use these small bills at stores to purchase food, pay for meals etc.
In a total collapse though, $100 bills might be needed or could be used more appropriately for extreme inflationary prices. If gas went to $100 a gallon, and you could find someone selling, that $100 bill could spend nicely. Flashing a $100 bill to buy your way through a checkpoint is instantly recognized and might get you through faster than a stack of $20s. I keep a mix of both, but the overwhelming majority is smaller bills ($20). I think if I had $1000 in my bug out bags that would cover me for most conceivable disasters so that is what I plan for.
I would not keep all of your money in whatever form together. I would store some in a shirt pocket maybe. Some in one pants pocket, some in the wallet, maybe more in a fake wallet, maybe a shoe or elsewhere. You don’t want to get robbed of all of your cash in one instant. Diversifying where you have your money could allow you to act like you are giving a bad guy or even a someone driving a hard bargain that you have given them all you have.
Is silver and gold a good idea for your bug out bag?
But the other part of Sam’s question had to do with Gold and Silver. Do precious metals make sense for your bug out bag? I think they could, but the situation would need to be pretty unique I think. Some advocate buying 1/10 ounce gold coins because they are worth less than a standard 1 oz coin and they rationalize that one of the biggest complaints about having gold would be reduced. Most people would have a hard time bartering a 1 oz gold coin because they are worth about $1200 each today. Can you imagine trying to get some groceries and giving the person at the register a gold coin? Even if they knew what it was and the worth of it, do you think their manager would allow them to take the coin in the first place, much less give you the accurate change for your transaction? I don’t see that happening.
The 1/10 oz. gold coins are worth about $130 now so the change factor might be lessened, but you would still likely not be able to purchase anything at a traditional store with Gold. What about Silver? The benefit of silver is the value is much smaller, approximately $20 right now in July, 2015. The lesser value makes this precious metal easier to purchase for preppers with limited funds and would seem to be easier to trade with because the change factor wouldn’t seem to be as prominent. You go buy $100 worth of groceries and give the person at the register 5 Silver coins. However, I still think you would have the same problem using these after the grid goes down, at least for a very long time.
Do I keep precious metals set aside for bugging out? Yes I do but I am not counting on using them in the short-term. I probably wouldn’t take more than 10 coins per person with me for the reasons I mention above and their weight. At the present time that gives me roughly $200 in silver if I can use it in some way.
I know that some will say that Gold and Silver always have value so their worth after a collapse would only go up. I disagree with that from the standpoint that anything you are talking about only has value if the person you are trying to conduct business with agrees with you on the value. A gold coin might be worth $10,000 after an economic collapse, but what good is it if you can’t get anyone to give you something worth $10,000 for it?
If you are talking about taking a box with all of your precious metals to another country and finding someone to give you fair market value, then that does make sense, but getting back to the Bug Out Bag scenario, I think precious metals have a low potential for usability in the days and months after some calamity and that is why I am not taking too many along with me.
That’s what I think anyway. How much money do you have in your bug out bag?