A Real Emergency Fund

A Real Emergency Survival Fund

When you hear a financial planner talk about having an “emergency fund” they are referring to a savings or checking account that will get you through tough times.  We think this is wise but we also feel that the “Prepared Individual” should also plan for dire situations and have a Real Emergency Fund.

If you are on this site then you have probably spent time thinking about long term food storage, how to get fresh water or how to get your family Out of Dodge if the SHTF.  If you have already thought about all this stuff,  how much time have you spent thinking about your economic well being after a disaster?  Any good survival or disaster plan should have an economic component to it as well.  Whether it is buying gas for your car, food to feed your family or safe passage through a group of hostile people in a urban survival situation.  You will need something to trade and barter with in these survival situations.  If you think that your platinum credit card will get you through any disaster then read no further, this article is not for you.

Here @ SurvivalCache we do not get into predicting the future and we do not know what type of disasters the future holds (complete economic collapse, earthquake, global pandemic virus, World War III, TEOTWAWKI, etc).  However we do know that good planning can get you and your family through the most difficult times and having a “Real Emergency Fund” along with a food, shelter, water, transportation and protection plan will help you do just that.

If you are living in the United States it comes down to the big four – Gold, Silver, The US Dollar, or Bartering Items (food, watches, fresh water, jewelry, ammo, warm clothes, etc).  Like any good financial planner will tell you, diversification is the key to success.  This is no different in a survival scenario.  For example, let’s say you only keep platinum in your home for an emergency fund because it is your favorite precious metal and your father told you that platinum is always the most valuable metal.   That is great for you and your dad but a lot people do not understand the value of platinum or its resale potential.   This means that if all you have is platinum, you either might not be able to trade for goods & services or you will get a reduced trade where you receive much less in the way or goods & services for your platinum.

On the other hand, everyone knows the value of Gold unless you have been living under a rock. Gold has been a source of value and wealth since the beginning of recorded time.  The problem with Gold is that it is so valuable these days that just 1 Gold coin can be worth well over a $1300 USD.  What if you have ten Gold coins in your Emergency Fund and all you need is a loaf of bread, how do you get change in a survival situation?  Do you want to pay over a $1000 for a loaf of bread?  Maybe if you are really hungry (or if it is really good bread) but I seriously doubt it.  So what is the best plan?

What to keep on hand

The best plan is to have a mix of Gold, Silver, US Dollars, and Barter items.  I personally like Silver.  A 1oz Silver coin is worth about $20 to $28 depending on the market and for a few hundred dollars you can have a pretty good mix of coins.  I also recommend having a good amount of Gold, Barter Items and US Dollars.  Some people would tell you that you don’t want US Dollars because they might not be worth the paper they are printed on.  I say having $1000 to $2000 on hand in $20, $10 and $5 bills might get you out of a jam.  What if the person you have to deal with in TEOTWAWKI still believes in the valve of the US Dollar?  In that case, the US Dollar is definitely worth having on hand.  Also the US Dollar is light and easy to conceal.

Where to keep your “Real Emergency Fund”?

A good safe (the first choice) is always nice and secure but they can also attract unwanted attention if they are not well hidden.  If you do not have a safe, look around your home or apartment for clever places to keep your Emergency Fund (never keep it all in one place!!).  Here are some ideas to get your started: air ducts, in bags of frozen food, hollowed out books, duct taped to the bottom of drawers, in a sealed bag in your toilet’s water tank, in the spare tire in the truck of your car.  Also check out these low cost hidden safes that work in plain sight.

Here is a breakdown guide for a Real Emergency Fund:

Let’s say you were going to set aside $5000 worth of currency for a disaster.  This is how I would break it down, you might do things different.  Come up with a plan that works for you.

$1000 – Gold Bullion Coins – 1/10 oz. size (20% of your EF)
$1500 – US Dollars – by $20 and $10 bills (30% of your EF)
$1500 – Silver Bullion Coins – All sizes (30% of your EF)
$1000 – Barter items (see list below)  (20% of your EF)

Remember – come up with your “Real Emergency Fund” after you have completed your water, food, weapon/ammo, shelter, transportation and Bug Out Bag plans.

Here is a short list of ideas for Emergency Barter Items:
Tobacco: If packed in an airtight containers can keep for a very long time.
Canned Meat: Spam, don’t laugh it stays good for a long time and it is great source of protein and fat.
Batteries: Alkaline and Lithium’s batteries will be hard to get items.
Synthetic Oil: Full synthetic oils have long shelf lives and numerous uses. Also If filtered they can be re-used many times.
Antibiotics: Another great barter item worth huge exchange when your sick you’ll “make-a-deal”.
Multi Vitamins: Often overlooked but in a survival situation this will be essential to maintaining good health from poor nutrition. (Check out Raw Source Organics - keep them in the freezer, I do)
Seeds: Another great barter item especially if you live in a good growing climate.
Ammo: Shotgun (12 gauge & 20 gauge), 22LR, 9mm, .45 ACP, 5.56mm/.223, .270, .308  (Note: Even if you don’t own a .22, stocking 22LR ammo is a wise choice for barter because it is cheap and a lot of people own .22 Rifles)
Shampoo: A good barter luxury hygiene item that can double as soap.
Disposable Razors: People will like to be clean shaven.
Soap & Laundry Detergent: Good hygiene is important
Allergy medicine: You might not have them but a lot of people do.
Hard alcohol: It will keep for a long time and it also has a medicinal value as well.  Wines will also last a long time.  Beer, sorry not a good choice.
Aloe Vera:  Good medical uses
Animal traps: An easy way to hunt without leaving your house.
Antacids – Heart burn may follow a bad diet
Antibiotics – Good medical uses
Anti-histamines – Good medical uses
Antiseptic – Good medical uses
Apple cider vinegarMany uses
Aspirin - Good medical uses
Baby formula – Might be worth a lot to the right person
Can openers - Nothing worse than wasting half of the can of food trying to get it open
Candles - Beats sitting in the dark
Canned food - Easy to trade and always in demand
Coffee - Good coffee might be worth a lot to the right person
Cooking oil - Many uses
Fishing gear - Low stress way to gather food
Flashlights - As long as they come with batteries
Flour - Many cooking uses
Sea salt: See The Survival Mom’s article on this, good read.
Tea - Medical uses and worth a lot to tea drinkers
Toilet paper - like gold
Tools - if you have extras and can trade they will be valuable

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{ 89 comments… read them below or add one }

cautionaryprose November 23, 2010 at 2:53 am

Snow and cold weather. It's Free water and a refrigerator so stop whining.

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Emerson November 30, 2010 at 4:47 pm

I like your way of thinking. Great response about giving the person a way to get drunk and shoot me. Give them simpler things, if that is your way. If my family needs the goods, nobody is getting anything.

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Kevin November 30, 2010 at 5:03 pm

What about knives?? You can pick up cheap ones at walmart and gun shows for trade only. I just got 20 mid size folders at Walmart in the camping section for $20 bucks!

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usnyhockeyguy November 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I think hygiene items are a great idea because people often overlook storing them. Plus travel size items are cheap and you can store bunches of them. Who knows what a hotel soap will get you from a guy whose wife hasn't showered in weeks. Also keep in mind female hygiene products, TEOTWAWKI isn't the end of the monthly friend as we know it.

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ke4sky December 1, 2010 at 9:51 am

I carry emergency cash in an Altoids tin containing five pennies, two nickels, five dimes, four quarters, five-$1, four-$5, two-$10 and ten-$20 bills, sealed with Scotch Super 88 electrical tape and sewn into a pocket of my coat or travel vest. The planning concept for emergency cash is "enough for a tank of gas, a hot meal and a motel room on the way home," hence $245.65 when you add this it up. If you get marooned on the way home a little “mad money” makes things less crazy and adds a level of relative comfort and security.

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ke4sky December 1, 2010 at 9:51 am

I carry emergency cash in an Altoids tin containing five pennies, two nickels, five dimes, four quarters, five-$1, four-$5, two-$10 and ten-$20 bills, sealed with Scotch Super 88 electrical tape and sewn into a pocket of my coat or travel vest. The planning concept for emergency cash is "enough for a tank of gas, a hot meal and a motel room on the way home," hence $245.65 when you add this it up. If you get marooned on the way home a little “mad money” makes things less crazy and adds a level of relative comfort and security.

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Hawaii5OH December 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm

If the situation were local or regional in nature then cash would be useful. If the situation was a national one then in my opinion cash, gold and silver would be useless. Bartering or outright theft would become the norm. There is no possible way for the average person/family to stock pile every conceivable item for future use.

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FTW December 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm

yes we are all here to learn or give information, you should learn more and post less.
i worked at a gas station when i was younger so i know the openings are 4-6" and the tanks are almost 10 feet from the surface to bottom of the tank. the tube leading into the tank is around 18". so unless you can fly i dont think your getting anything but shot at using your method of choice. you cant back the pipe out at an angle because of the 18" or so straight path into the tank. even if you did all that you still have to get the fuel into a container from almost 10 feet away while keeping an air tight seal with your hand even if it a kiddie pool which you so "happen" to have.

get real! im not attacking you as a person but your proposed idea is a fantasy! i like to call it a "pipe dream"

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Chefbear58 December 12, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Another bartering tool that is touched on in other posts but not really here is an individuals skills. After TEOTWAWKI skills like food preservation, tanning, blacksmithing, carpentry ect. have the potential to not only keep your family "fat and happy", but also give you the ability to trade your services for goods.

While I agree that having a good investment in food, goods, monetary items ect. is a great and essential idea, IMO there is no replacement for well honed skills. As others have mentioned in other posts, somebody can take your food, gear or gun (if their lucky and don't "eat a bullet!") the only way they can take your skills from you is to take you completely out of the picture!

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Fernando January 30, 2011 at 12:49 am

How long can you store Tobacco?

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charlie December 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

I was in basic trainging at Ft. Campbell,KY in 1971. We received a k ration that had the little four pack of cigarettes. The date of manufacture was 1949. I was born in 1952 and was smoking a cigarette older than i was in 1971 and it was ok. .

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KvG March 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

Salt, coffee, sugar, and tobacco are your best bets for barter, that is If you feel the need to barter. Never give up your water, ammo, or medicine and never invite strangers into your perimeter. In a SHTF situation your way of thinking has to change. Your objective becomes survival for you and your family. There are poeple out there with the mindset that they will kill to get what they want or need, and will not hesitate to kill you or your family to get it.

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kdub May 27, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Great post! As a financial advisor, I have often debated the merits of the nominal value of gold in a total government collapse/ financial meltdown and oddly enough I also used a loaf of bread as an example! It's all about perceived value, so in my opinion the relevancy especially short term for precious metals is nil. My general recommendation is that the two most valueable items you can own in a total collapse are shotgun shells and water (with food a real close third). Incidentally, in talking about emergency funding I am trying to work in the emergency planning aspect without completely freaking my clients out so I'll be sure to recommend this site. Keep up the great work!

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Emmy July 5, 2011 at 1:19 pm

You can really save money if you buy hamburger from Sams and store it in the freezer. You can save money on meat if you invest in a giant freezer as well.

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beenthere4real September 13, 2011 at 7:30 am

Great tip for good times,but freezers take power and in a SHTF situation unless you have a generator and plenty of fuel not a very practical suggestion.

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PolishPrepper84 October 12, 2011 at 11:40 pm

I did see a solar-powered chest freezer on Amazon….

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Tommy July 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Alot of good comments, and good barter items. As far as some saying they would never barter some items, you never know what you are going to do when you are desperate, very few people know the true meaning of hunger, where if you do not eat something today you and your family may not be alive 2marro. I say what ever it takes to survive, at this point you will have to become a true survivalist, and you will find a way to barter and still keep you and your family as safe as you can. One more good item to have is honey. It lasts forever….

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HillbillyME September 10, 2011 at 10:59 am

I firmly agree that skill is more valuable than gold. The picture that comes to mind when I read about stockpiling gold is the 'elite' riding through town, and flinging some coin on the ground to the 'peasants'. The more I know how to do, the more valuable I am. That is true supply and demand.

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beenthere4real September 13, 2011 at 7:26 am

I have two types stored in hermeticaly sealed bags, cigarettes and loose type tobacco for rolling your own. If you keep it in a cool dry place you can store it for years.

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beenthere4real September 13, 2011 at 7:41 am

Barter is probably going to be the way of trade in a SHTF situation and all the suggestions for barter items are excellent and I really liked the one that said toilet paper would be like gold (so true). Depending on your level of preparedness barter items should be a big consideration after you make sure you have enough supplies for you and yours. I started preparing over 15yrs ago for everything from natural disasters to TEOTWAWKI and aprx.3yrs ago I started putting together a barter cache with just about every item mentioned. Remember priority #1 is your personal supplies, then worry about barter items!

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steven October 24, 2011 at 7:53 am

I would tend to stay towards the medical supplies myself, or the skills that I have. I am thirty years old but worked in my families business from twelve to sixteen, then I have had many other jobs since then. I am a licensed EMT, a trained field medic, a small arms instructor, I can weld, have a "green thumb" in both North Eastern climates and down here in the Houston area where I currently live. I have worked in lumber and currently have a small easy to use mobile lumber mill. On the side I have taught fire building at the Texas Ren Fest. I would stay away from bartering any intoxicating substance or my ammunition for all of the reasons mentioned above, I prefer to be the one who doesn't have to get down to hand to hand for defense.

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malbernaz January 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

It would appear that our almighty dollar is not carrying the same weight it used to, even inside the US. Check out this article on the local currency movement CNN.com
http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/17/pf/local_currency…

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anthony barbuto December 13, 2012 at 9:44 am

Try the dollar store. You will be surprised what they have…all for $1. I have doubled and tripled up on my tools, having 2-3 hammers, 2-3 pliers, etc. The idea is that I have the dollar store tools to barter and the good tools I keep for my self. My wife drives me nuts…some times she buys food at the dollar store when I tell her the GROCERY STORE and not convenience stores are the best buy. Recently she bought some coffee for $1. It was 7 oz or almost 1/2 lb. There is no coffee in the super market for $2 per pound…so it pays to look at the price per lb or ounce….Consider the dollar store for barter items, maybe evrn to stock up ( coffee as an example)…

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Accountant Sevenoaks March 12, 2013 at 12:37 am

I would be viable if the government set up disaster and emergency schemes for each region – but then it would give them another factor to tax on….

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Barie April 2, 2013 at 10:56 am

I was reading this article after looking at this http://www.investingoldonline.org/gold-and-silver… in that article they were discussing how the China do not want to be the next world reserve and that the IMF in 2015 when the next SDR regulations are to change are going to be adding gold and silver plus the USD, GBP, Euro and Chinese Yuan as the combined next world currency reserve. It was a real interesting read and well worth looking at, good luck with it, I invested a load of my IRA into gold after reading this page.

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James April 9, 2013 at 3:18 am

Good article. I appreciate the list of barterable goods. I haven't spent alot of time on that, but as I finish up other preps, I can look to this list and start gathering some of these items. I don't think I'd barter ammo either and I hadn't thought about alcohol one way or the other since we don't drink.

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What do you guys think about the Bitcoin phenomenon? It seems to be ever increasing in terms of popularity; although, it recently had a sudden drop in value. Even with the drop in value, the average price of a single bitcoin hovers around $100 bucks.

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justin May 4, 2013 at 3:09 am

You can really save money if you buy hamburger from Sams and store it in the freezer. You can save money on meat if you invest in a giant freezer as well.
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Clean House May 6, 2013 at 10:37 am

Hygiene will be of little importance when survival mode hits I am afraid….

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Kevin May 7, 2013 at 8:01 pm

What I appreciate most in this article is the list of barterable goods.
Good Thoughts and Good Advice
And for me, I would surely trade, though keeping in mind the warning that you have given regarding the robbery factor.

Kevin

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Thanks,

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david May 8, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Alot of good comments, and good barter items. As far as some saying they would never barter some items
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Michael May 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm

I like flashlights…

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Kenneth Janes May 25, 2013 at 12:47 am

If the scenario were local or local in characteristics then money would be useful. If the scenario was a nationwide one then in my view money, precious metals would be ineffective. Bartering or overall robbery would become the standard. There is no possible way for the common person/family to inventory heap every possible product for upcoming use.
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matthieu June 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm

So you are saying that emergincy fund are our savings in any form…it is interesting. I think that one should not keep his savings only in cash.

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condo for sale June 29, 2013 at 6:08 am

Our emergency fund IS easily accessible…as cash in the house. We recently had our hot water heater go out…but did not have to panic because we had to the cash to pay for it. No credit, no interest, no bills later. I want to build it up further but am also working on debt reduction at the same time.

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Coffee Guy July 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I agree about the coffee. In an emergency, it can be worth quite a lot to some.

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Richard@Tax Service July 9, 2013 at 3:37 am

Thanks for sharing this article, its been a really interesting read. I hope they can get it all figured out.

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Jelly Gamat Gold G July 12, 2013 at 4:29 am

"If the scenario were local or local in characteristics then money would be useful. If the scenario was a nationwide one then in my view money, precious metals would be ineffective. Bartering or overall robbery would become the standard. There is no possible way for the common person/family to inventory heap every possible product for upcoming use. "

I agree

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Selling scrap gold can be good idea in bad time, try http://www.sellgold.co.uk for good prices.

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John July 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Good list, but I think I'd probably take a solar powered battery charger too..

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GunSafes4Sale August 9, 2013 at 1:01 am

some valuable information shared here! what assets you can invest depends on where you are living. Some countries offer the so called best opportunities for investment, but it might be a trap, as the regulation and monitoring system are different from country to country! So, be smart!

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Webtuu August 12, 2013 at 11:05 am

Wonderful article. you must always be prepared for the coming times, as you do not have any idea on what is to happen tomorrow. Use the methods mentioned here and you will get the desired results.

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buy condo August 16, 2013 at 7:45 am

My emergency fund is a bit anemic right now, but I'm hoping to jump start it with a bonus that will hopefully come through. I figure if I can get it mostly funded then it doesn't seem like such a giant task. Then I can breathe a bit and save for other "things"

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When you have associate degree emergency fund, you have got peace of mind. Your cash is wary, thus to talk, simply waiting to be referred to as into action. You don’t need to scramble to return up with cash you wish and you don’t need to address credit cards. though your emergency fund isn’t large enough to handle everything, it will still facilitate cut back the number of cash you want to seek for from friends and family, or credit cards.

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Carguy123 August 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I really think the only currency of value in the future will be ammo. I mean think about it, how are you going to trade gold, when it doesn't help you survive. People will always need to protect themseves. I'm not saying I'm doing this, but if the threat does become imminent, I will be selling all my gold for ammo/protection/food and possibly a viable shelter.

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Hailey Lawrence September 17, 2013 at 3:19 am

Empty lipstick or chapstick cases even empty tictac packs are great places to hide and access your real emergency funds. The frozen food ziplocks are new to me but I use ziplocks to secure my passbook and wallet though especially when I head out on a rainy weather.

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A Persse September 20, 2013 at 3:17 pm

There is some really good information here an emergency cash fund is always a good idea.

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It is very important to keep cost in mind. I know as a college student that i have trouble finding a good place to shop for cheap stuff. The other day my windshield wipers were broken and it cost 29.99 for a replacemnet at walmart. Looking around locally for cheaper options is a great way to find deals instead of going to big box stores. I went to this super all in one dollar and party outlet store by me. HUGE and has almost everything i need for cheap. Best Orlando Dollar Store around for me. http://www.dollarandpartystore.com is where its at! if youre a UCF or valencia student go here to shop!

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I've just taken up CrossFit to get my mind & body right when SHTF. Great article BTW, I'll pass this on to my friends!

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Gold is always a good things to invest…

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Oregonbdpeds October 11, 2013 at 6:15 am

Item of material. I appreciate the history of barterable items. I haven't spent a lot of your energy and effort on that, but as I finish up other preps, I can look to this history and start gathering some of these items. I don't think I'd settle ammo either and I hadn't considered about alcohol one way or the other since we don't eat. Outstanding concepts and assistance. Thanks.

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Duo Residences October 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

The part about keeping silver is very important, but you definitely don't want to be trading anything in a city environment. Back in Kosovo they were running around on the streets looting but didn't have any real skills, so with all this stuff you stockpile if you don't have say, survival wood or medical skills you're as good as dead (who needs you anyway?).

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Chris October 31, 2013 at 8:58 pm

I think a lot of people forget to consider protecting al of these supplies as well. If you have a lot of resources and others do not, they will want to get at them. Lock them up!

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dper November 20, 2013 at 9:54 pm

rs to TEOTWAWKI and aprx.3yrs ago I started putting together a barter cache with just about eve

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LearnMore November 26, 2013 at 10:09 am

Good comments… hygiene and extra cash are my two favorites to put at the top of the list! Don't skimp on batteries… Dollar Store batteries are hit or miss. Make sure you check the date on them and buy brand names.

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Buy or sell emoney December 6, 2013 at 4:10 am

There are many ways to make your future secure. Having a bank account or mutual fund or investment in any currency would be a good option.

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Roger January 14, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Some barter items I would like to add to your list include disposable lighters, needle and thread, instead of hard alcohol, rubbing alcohol which can also be used as stove fuel as can candles be used. Maybe having the equipment and knowledge to make drinking alcohol (or rubbing) would be much more valuable in the long run than storing a lot of alcohol! Hygiene, if anything, will be more important, so hydrogen peroxide, bar/liquid soap, toilet paper and/or wet wipes, tooth brushes are all good. The most important medical difference between people now and in the dark ages (according to my doctor friend) is personal hygiene! I agree that a few hundred US dollars in several different places is a good idea, gold and silver are priced way beyond any real value. Hide some of that money (no more than a hundred at a time or place) on your person (not just in your wallet) in case you can't get back to your house SHTF or someone else, a less than savory person or two is already there, or it may burn down! The toe of your shoe might be a good place as well as your underwear; if someone finds your money there, poverty may be the least of your worries! As far as money in the bank, they are, after the government (if there's any difference) by far the biggest thieves around! More than one person has gone to his 'friendly' bank in an SHTF situation only to find it closed until further notice. (Stock Market crash?) Good Luck! Never barter weapons or ammo, not only could they be used against you, you might need to use them against that hungry mob who thinks you might have whatever they need! People in need have always been able to justify (to themselves) pretty much anything!

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jasonvkennedy May 31, 2014 at 12:56 pm

How about allocating 30% of EF to Gold Bullion Coins. Is it better because gold price is making consistent return over time

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sdf March 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm

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Diana June 15, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Even in a non-SHTF situation, mad money has gotten me a cab ride or a bus ticket home if you get stranded or car breaks down.

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Forge_Survival February 21, 2014 at 7:26 am

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