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 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.
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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.

76 thoughts on “Real Emergency Survival Fund: Gold, Silver & Barter Currency”

    • 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.

  1. Good article. I am curious about the rationale of bartering alcohol and ammo. Even if was someone I knew I wouldn't give them a way to get drunk and shoot me if times got tight. Also the bartering process itself reveals I have goodies on hand. The ammo I barter away could be just what someone needs to come back armed for more. If you're going to set yourself up as a general store just remember stores get robbed and clerks get shot everyday.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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"

  8. 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!

    • 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. .

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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….

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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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  19. I was reading this article after looking at this… 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.

    • I thought about that until I read the President can execute an executive order to demand people to give up their gold. Like years before when that happened 1933 I believe. Then I changed my mind, don't know if that included IRAS in gold.

  20. 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.

  21. Excellent allocation!! A real emergency survival fund mentioned views are quite effective regarding financial management. I'm truly pleased to learn this amazing piece of brilliant writing.

  22. I have caught wonderful sites and I have seen not so fantastic websites. This website is very informative in many ways and certainly ranks in the former category. Really appreciate the information your providing. First time Home buyers

  23. 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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  24. 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.


  25. 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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  26. I am exceedingly influenced with the outlook issue. Thanks for distributing such helpful data in your blog. A great content for getting the correct data considering the subject.

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. It's large that you have setup is whole and you are ready to consign. I wish you will be aiding the most delicious parts and furthermore will comprise people's wellbeing into anxiety.

  32. 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?).

  33. 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!

  34. 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!

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

  36. Good suggestions, except you missed two key items that will be priceless in the time of need. Both items can be called Women's Wealth: Tampons and diapers. No joke. In a desperate time, you would be surprised what would be traded for these hard to get, high demand items.

  37. If we have a problem but not a freak out used tires are great I never let the tire store keep my tires they sell them
    as used and make money and I get squat I also trade vehicles now and again they get used tires with it
    I keep the best ones.
    good tires are not going to fall out of trees valve stems plugs and patches automotive oil antifreeze I keep 4 oil filters
    for each of my vehicles I like a certain brand.

    any / bad tires filled with dirt better if you use sand make good bullet traps and they can also double as a raised bed garden with some old fuel they can start a fire under water damn near.
    I do not keep to many just a extra set of 5 for each vehicle and it does not hurt to have a full size extra rim or 2
    buying on sales all of this at your local parts store
    of course you need to have penetrating oil and carb cleaner I keep my serpentine belt when I change my old one
    and a the old spark plugs and wires as I change them on a schedule not when they go bad.
    I end up with a extra cap and rotor lets face it if you have a vehicle you need all this in case your monetarily embarrassed over spending on STUFF or when everything is closed or holidays is when your Sh*t brakes down.

  38. 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.

  39. I'm going to put a mix of cash and silver in my safe as a start to my "in home" emergency fund.

    For the silver, would you recommend silver coins, silver rounds, or something else?


  40. Ok, just to critic your strategy: within the $1500 (30%) silver.

    You should buy: 90% junk/constitutional silver, .999 American silver eagles or 1 ounce rounds and fractional .999 silver rounds.

    You want to to have a variety of coins for different denominations and worth. How much of each one will depend on you and your strategy.

    Junk silver is only 90% pure but is more durable than .999 fine silver.

    .999 fine silver is usually stamped vs junk silver one would have to know the denominations and their weight.

    Junk silver is minted and backed by the US government whereas some rounds are minted by private companies.

    The best silver strategy is to diversify by buying a variety of coins for different purchases: small silver times and 1/10th ounce rounds for small purchases (ex bread), silver quarters, 1/4 ounce rounds , silver half dollars and 1/2 ounce rounds for mid level purchases (ex extra ammo, or food), and 1 ounce rounds for large purchases (Ex firearms).

    These are the denominations:
    1 ounce round .999
    1/2 ounce round .999
    silver half dollar .900=1/3 ounce .999 fine silver
    1/4 ounce round .999
    Silver quarter .900= 1/6th ounce .999 fine silver
    1/10th ounce round
    silver dime=1/14th ounce .999 fine silver

    When you buy silver, try to get the highest quality coins that are not damaged because this will result in you getting less silver for your money. Buy recognizable coins: eagles, Roosevelt, Washington, lady liberty, Kennedy, and mercury. These would be more readily be excepted in exchange. silver also comes in tubes so it easy to keep track of your stack. If you do buy metals, get a safe and also have a firearm to protect your family, yourself and your stack. Also, know your coin dealer so that you do not buy counterfeit coins. You could also use some of the 1oz coins in an inflation crisis to liquidate to pay debts before a barter situation takes effect in that type of scenario.

    That is my 2 cents. Best of luck and everyone stay safe out there and stay prepped. I hope that this comment helps someone.


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