Real Emergency Survival Fund: Gold, Silver & Barter Currency

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.

Emergency Fund Prepardeness

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.

The Big 4: Gold, Silver, Dollar, and Bartering Items

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 a significant amount. For example, as of 04/19/2020, a 1oz gold coin can be purchased for the market rate of $1,864.17 on Golden Eagle Coins (our recommended partner to buy gold, silver, etc.)

Best Silver Coins To Buy For Survival

There are two types of silver coins that one can buy.

Silver Eagles

The U.S. government mints Silver Eagles which are 99.99% silver. These come in 1oz (ounce) increments. These are great to have since you do not need a ton of “junk silver” to build up a nice stash.

The challenge though is that these are 1oz coins, thus have a market value of $20-$28 depending on the economic situation. What happens if you need to buy something cheaper? That’s where junk silver coins come in to the picture

Check out the best deals on Silver Eagle coins.

Junk Silver

Before 1964, U.S. coins were produced with 90% silver. Therefore, there is a ton of “junk silver” in circulation. It comes in good use when you need to give out smaller denominations when trading or buying something if SHTF. You do not want to just give out 1oz coin worth ~$25 for something that costs $3. You need variety in your prep.

For more details on how much silver you should have on hand, check out this article.

Where To Buy Silver Coins For Survival Purposes?

We highly recommend using Universal Coin & Bullion, as they have reasonable premiums that they take as there profit. You can also buy smaller quantities down to just 1 coin; that is usually unheard of since bigger players require minimum purchase amounts of $100-$500 or more.

Universal Coin and Bullion review
  • Types: coins, bullion, bars at close-to-market rates
  • Sells Gold, Silver, Platinum, Rhodium, Paladium
  • Trusted since 2007. Family owned and operated in the U.S.
View Latest Prices

Other options, which are not that recommended due to safety, is to use eBay auctions, local coin shops, and Craigslist. These all have pros and cons.

What To Keep On Hand – The Best Plan

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?

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.

You can buy gold, silver, and other metals via online websites like Universal Coin and Bullion. Once purchased, they will ship the items directly to you so you can store them yourself. Check out the services for buying metals that we highly recommend.

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.

Here is a breakdown guide for a Real Emergency Survival Fund

Let’s say you were going to set aside $5,000 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)

You can buy all of these metals at trusted sites that we have vetted and recommend. Check them out below:

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: they can last a while if packed in airtight containers.
  • 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 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.
  • 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: Heartburn may follow a bad diet
  • Antibiotics – Good medical uses
  • Anti-histamines – Good medical uses
  • Antiseptic – Good medical uses
  • Apple cider vinegar – Many 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
  • 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

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 you 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.

Photo credits:,,,

Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.