Wealth and Survival

It is amazing to me how we allow ourselves to be manipulated by the concept of money.  People kill or die for pieces of paper that lost all of its intrinsic value when the government dumped green ink on it.

It had value for sending messages, writing down thoughts, saving receipts, jogging our memory or any of a hosts of other uses.  Now, after being covered with ink, it is good only to record the way we spend the hours of our lives at work.  It is only good for keeping score.

Rich vs Poor

We judge a person’s worth by how many of these essentially useless pieces of paper they control. Having more makes me wealthy, less makes me poor.  We consider anyone with more money than we have as wealthy; anyone with less as poor.  It is interesting that those who have a LOT more than we have many of the same problems as we do. The question is why?

The answer is our expectations.  The quote from scripture that we often hear as “Money is the root of all evil” is a misquote. The Douay-Rheims version of Tim 6:10 says “For the desire of money is the root of all evils” and the King James version reads “For the love of money is the root of all evil”.  Often enough it is how we spend our money, not how much we have that matters.

For the very wealthy, survival may well mean keeping their financial assets intact. If I had a spare $500,000 I’d consider myself well off indeed.  If Bill Gates “ONLY” had a spare $500,000 he’d consider himself in bankruptcy.  In order to break it into doable size bites let us consider the various ranges of wealth.

The very wealthy most likely prepare in a different way than the rest of us.  I have known a few (well, two, actually) Doomsday Preppers Apocalypse 101billionaires in my time.  Their concept of survival is to be somewhere else.  A dozen homes on 4 continents and highly trained armed guards gives one a sense of immunity.  Their money is in many nations, in many forms as are their corporations.  The idea that they might have to exist by themselves for an extended period of time is simply not a consideration.  Their idea of preparation is to protect their assets so that they are never put into a survival situation.  It seems like making a lot of money is so time consuming that preparing for serious black swan events is not possible.  The concept of ‘enough’ money seems to be missing.  These same people will get on their private jet or yacht and head out without considering what the result of a mishap might be.  Enough wealth seems to engender a feeling of invincibility.

Those who have wealth that is not quite so overwhelming are much like the rest of us.  I have a multimillionaire friend who has a year’s supply of food, medicine, hand tools, and defensive provisions in a hidden basement under a shed.  He keeps a low profile about his preparations and his wealth.  Of course, he met me before he was a millionaire so I may have tainted his view of life.  His preparations were based on bulk purchases after much though and preparation.  Money is valuable but only so far as it enables him to provide for his family.  He used part of his wealth to acquire in a couple of months what took me years to build up.  He continues to improve as he learns – a true survivalist.

Trust the System

I know others who are much like the banker in ‘Alas, Babylon‘.  Money is THE answer and the financial institutions will always provide.  Since it is the system that provides for their well being, it won’t (in fact CANNOT) fail. Very much the “Visualize World Peace” attitude.  If I ‘see’ it and want it badly enough it will happen this way.  These are the people who jump out of tall buildings when their net worth drops to ONLY $500,000.  They have learned to function, survive and prosper in the economic jungle and mistake that for real, physical survival in the world.  Their TEOTWAWKI event is loss of wealth without which they do not see a way to survive.

The important thing about wealth is to not allow it to control you.  I own my money and things, they do not own me. Ownership is the key to using wealth.  There are wealthy people who have little ‘love’ for their money.  Money is a tool to do the important things in life.  Then there are people of modest means who are totally consumed with money; acquiring it and being seen to have it.  A great many people see money as power.  Actually, money is time.  I can trade an hour of my life for a $20 bill but I can also trade a $20 bill to get an hour of free time.

It is a matter of perspective.  From experience I know it is much easier to go to a higher paying job than it is to a lower paying job.  I’ve done it both ways and I always liked going to the higher paying job better.  What I learned from experience is to recognize that anything more than the necessities is simply ‘more’.  There is nothing wrong with more, as long as we don’t begin to think it is required.  We allow ourselves to think of our wants as needs.  That trap leads to financial problems for the rich and poor alike.  If I mistake a want for a need I am tempted to use credit to get the thing I want.  That credit induced debt then uses resources I should have for more important things and I start into a credit-debt cycle that is ruinous.  That trap is easy to get into and incredibly hard to get out of.  Living within our means is critical.  We of more modest means must prepare more slowly.  If you are blessed with wealth, use it wisely.  In any case, prepare for SHTF events.  Showing off wealth is a waste and just makes one a target.  Moderation is the key for survival preparation as well as in living.  Never let money make you think you don’t need to prepare.  Just as importantly, don’t let a lack of funds make you think that you can not prepare.  Neither is true and either can get you killed.

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Alas, Babylon

Joel Jefferson
Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. 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.

31 thoughts on “Wealth and Survival”

  1. Money is a tool to get me to the place in life where I will feel most secure. That place will be a small homestead outside of a smaller town at least 100 miles away from any major city. I will be able to be self sufficent in that I will provide for most all I need with what I have and can make on my own land,. I will have a few small businesses on the side to meet any financial obligations I incur . I will have enough "money" tucked away for any emergency that comes along be that health, mechanical etc. After that my true "WEALTH" will be measured in how free I am from any of the systems of Govt etc that could cause me greif and how many friends and neighbors I have that I can depend on and will depend on me in any other events.

  2. Money is something that ties you to the system (if you have to get it, to pay for something), but on the other hand it might give you independence or self reliance (if you have enough to go by for a period of time).

    • True, sir, as long as money still has value. The problem hits hardest when inflation rates hit the thousands of percent point. Then, unless your wealth is in something other than paper money, you have only the things you previously used your money to buy.

    • I trust in non of those to feed and keep my family alive in a SHTF situation. Can't eat gold or silver and most people will hot give up their water for trinkets found all over the landscape of the dead.

      Believing in something more than you is a fine as long as you realize its a another person squeezing the trigger that took your head off. I believe in cold hard reality in a SHTF situation. So I fall back on my Psychology, Medical Training, Antibiotics, Hunting and Military experience, as well as Barrett Rec7 and MRAD for taking care of the rest, Cross wielding or not.

      Money is a tool I use for a purpose, when that tool is useless, then Food, Water, Ammo, and yes Force will dictate my currency. No real capital well then your up a creak with no paddle hope you brought the lotion because nature is a cruel mistress.

        • Knowledge and skills are King, It weighs nothing, it often costs nothing but a little time, and a thief can't steal it, but you can sell it or share it. If you have to run for your life you don't have to leave it behind. When tshtf thats your best wealth.

  3. Sadly today's wealth is actually mostly stored in digital media thus the wealth is mostly zeroes and ones. So in a complete collapse the ones with truly valuable commodities such as spare food or spare ammunition. The gold and silver won't have a real value until an economy is reestablished. In the mean time the gold and silver if taken in could be molded into bullets for muzzle loading firearms or non-semiautomatic repeaters. Cash until a more modern market economy is reestablished will make good TP if a bit rough.

  4. Great post! I have two comments, though:

    – People adjust to improved financial conditions with the greatest of ease – then the new living style becomes the standard. Reverting to old living style is much harder. Often they get into debt to maintain their increased standard of living.

    – Money can convert many, although not all, problems to expenses.


  5. Who is to say that all those well armed , well trained folks they depend on to protect them , wont decide to just take what they have and kill them , because they are in a position to do so as they will no longer need their masters/employers anymore . Happens all the time in a crisis …….your guards turn on you and take what they want .

    • Psychology of groups do. Plenty of research and documentation showing people don't turn on their employers in bad times actually they tend to look for directions from them even more.

      Monkey brain does not change. Weeding out the troublemakers should be something anyone with true wealth should do at every turn. No different from your own family and friends. The ideal that in a SHTF situation your biggest assess are your friends or family shows the lack of understanding of human dynamics.

      • Yep, the 'ride for the brand' or feudal loyalty or tribal cohesion; what ever you call it, it is a truth that members of a group stick together even past what makes sense from a personal survival point of view.

        A good point and making sure of the group's loyalty before it is required is a prudent move. Those who depend on loyalty and don't ensure it do so at their peril.

  6. Bravo Captain Bart! An excellent post all around. Haven't all of us played the rich man/poor man game in one way or another? Where everyone gets lost, is wants versus needs; bigger and better versus paid for and comfortable; or accumulating stuff versus storing wisely. I have an elderly neighbor that complains how poor she is all of the time. She even had to declare bankruptcy (but kept her house). Yet, she has 10 cats, 3 dogs, 10-20 house bunnies (depending), and a house packed with stuff. I suggested a garage sale. She has an old Westmore enamel stove that is a lovely behemoth -8 burners, built in grill, 3 ovens, etc. I had a stove restorer offer her $12,000 for it-knowing that he could flip that stove for $25,000 in nothing flat. You know the answer: "Oh no! I can't sell it! My children (39 to 58) may want it some day!" So, it continues to take up a space in her garage, and her married children have no need of this stove. People are incredibly stupid. And you cannot fix stupid. As for me, I have found that I store what I need, enjoy what I have, and I am done with the hamster wheel. I have downsized from 2800 sft and have found I enjoy 1400 sft just as much-especially the cheaper utility bills. I would rather have my weekend to walk trails or have some fun instead of working my 9th weekend for the overtime $$$.

  7. If you should find yourself in a situation where you simply cannot be happy because you have too much money, I am here for you. Send me a check, cash, gold bars or coins. Nothing is to inconvenient, no amount too much. I am here for YOU, because I care.

  8. im often reminded of the television show gilligans island, and the millionaire had all that money , but it did him no good at all on the island. no one cared how much he had . in a real life situation, money wouldnt matter to most folks, beans, bullets, and safe drinking water , shelter and warmth will be the deciding factors. you see, zombies dont care how rich you are….

  9. Lets face it…in the end there is no difference between the rich man and poor man other then their personal preparations. How long will the rich man have armed guards if and when things get bad and they have no reason to stay anymore. The motivation for any armed guards staying at this point and time is as has been stated in the article "MONEY". If it all goes away then there is of course no reason to guard someone who cannot benefit you.

    If I had the money that a billionaire had I am sure I would have many things I want and probably didn't need, but then many of us would. However, my mindset since I joined the military in the 80's was one of being prepared for whatever might happen.

    This goes without saying that there are rich people who prepare well and poor people who are oblivious, but that is just human nature.

  10. This is a damn fine article and your concept of money and wealth rings true with my own experience as well.

    I've always seen money as a lever over time. I can buy a house with cash that I have saved over 30 years by living like a pauper. Or I can get a mortgage and own some property right now.

    You said it right – when it comes to money, it is important to OWN it and not let it OWN you.


  11. The best form of wealth you can attain is by leading a healthy lifestyle. Regardless of the world condition, if you don't have your health, it doesn't matter how much money you have. Quit smoking and work out regularly. If the SHTF you are going to need a healthy body!

    • Smitty,
      no disagreement, sir, but remember, perfect health means dying as slowly as possible. As I have aged, my health has deteriorated. There will come a time, when survival is no longer possible. That is not a pleasant thought but it is reality. You can delay that reality by prudent prepping of body and gear but you can not permanently postpone it.

  12. My wife and I live off of two disability checks, but because of our health, our three girls, and the fact that we will servive when teotwawki happens, we are some of the riches familys in the world. Money is very helpful, but be careful it can truck your life up.

  13. The fact that there are such vast differences in wealth/poverty in this world is one of the major causes of strife. Every since man became 'civilized' some have considered themselves better because they had more possessions; (they usually 'took' them) but we all are born the same and we all push up daises in the end! If we could built a society (loners die alone) based not on wealth but on common factors; such as we must all eat, but not all eat lobster! We all need shelter but not mansions! Our greed as a species is changing (not destroying) the world we all live on to our detriment and perhaps extinction! If we are the only "intelligent" life in the Cosmos, then we must begin to act like it or go ahead and write our wills that no one may survive to read. Life on Earth will probably continue without humans just fine! 10,000-10K for the future of man! Good Luck!

  14. great post
    I do like stuff as long as we are in mortal bodies we will have the need for possessions I hate to think one day we or I may have to harm someone who want's to harm me to take what I bought with what I earned.
    I would just as soon never harm anyone but people in general are greedy money is not really the problem it is
    want envy greed people kill or ruin for political physical stature or mental gain.

    politics has ruined businesses destroyed millions of jobs and all over ego in fact I think ego has more to do with the problems of the world than money look at Napoleon even Hitler Chang kai shek and a hundred others money never stopped them Alexander insted of enjoying it he like all the others lived like kings but thought nothing of it
    only venting their ego's on everything and anyone.

    I see it a bit different it is not money it is ego and power that seduces people vengenance hate make more fuel
    money it means no more than toilet paper to a madman one victorey is not enough one country one world
    even if they rulled the world they would slaughter people because they had no further equal and despise anyone less than themselves and theirselves even more.
    I cannot remember the quote in the movie Tombstone where Val Kilmer as Doc Holidy is explaining to Kurt Russel
    playing Wyatt Earp as why Ringo is so visious it is because he hated being born and everyelse for not being that way.
    Serial killers and ponzi schemers narsisissts egotists all have the same quality a hole in their soul that can never be filled no matter how much blood money or fame another victim another deal another comeback and until they draw their last breath and even after like their books like mein kamph etc. they keep lashing out even from the grave there are of course local freaks of nature just be glad some never break out of town.

    A wino or crack head is the same only he or she is self destructive never enough booze or drugs or debasement the worse the better for them their canvass is not the world but everyone they can touch family friends and strangers a local manifestation of a black hole sucking the life out of everything and everyone that is stupid enough to care or come near.

    they hate life and especially others that are happy or have a life.they are to cowardly to commit suicide until they can take everyone else or as many as they can first.

    I was very surprised when they found Saddam Hussein alive I figured him for a suicide I bet if he would have fore knowledge of what was to come he would have never let himself be captured alive to be put on display as a failure.

    I vote for ego money sea shells or foreskins of phillistines it is not the value it is the vanity that drives them a good person can have these qualities as well and wrestles all their lives with their conscience I think it was said of General Patton his guts and his mens blood he cared about his men but his ego would not let him flinch from his victory we needed a man like him then but fought his demons as many other famous people have they know that they are crushing the life out of people around them but they can't stop themselves and the supporting or enabling
    can't stop either it is like watching or being a passenger in a car wreck they can't look away it is like their distiny and they cannot or will not even try to escape.
    Funny part is that the supporting characters are just as egocentric as the main character these people are sucked up into the whirl wind and feel if they leave it will fly apart or they are envious and are waiting to take their place and the wheel keeps on turning.

    Poverty may be a cause but then look at Pancho Villa he was considered a peasant general powerful and dangerous but if he had money he would have bought guns to further his ambitions Charles Manson another egomaniac if he had money he would have got more lsd to control more people.

    Many rich people knowing they would be worshipped if they gave a million to a charity would spend double to
    ruin an enemy even if they were hated by evryone and yet no one ever knew they did it.
    Like owning a stolen piece of art they get a thrill knowing they have it and no one knows now that is just weird.

  15. If you want to have a stash of valuables in a very small package colored stones such as rubies and emeralds
    A new generation of rare stones are now popular I would not bother as for now they are too expensive and not well emough known.
    I would not break the bank but if your going to buy them anyway at least buy good quality in the size you can afford.
    14 K gold and platinum settings.

    My thought is I am not sure what will be valuabke in days to come that neither takes up space and weight.

    In the past I looked for hints and found spices and salt I think quickly these would pay off as any war reduces
    export and import.
    Diesel treated and stored air tight will last many many years
    Wax or Parifin for candles as well as soy wax and wick
    If you live where you can find seed to extract oil for lamps or cooking a extractor would be a great tool to have
    Millers have done ok they took a percentage for milling flour corn etc. some the sold for animal feed and human consumption.

    Water was is and always will be the commodity depends on you location and ground and depth with laws and
    mineral rights troubles I have no idea what may happen.

    Portable light weight wealth has always been gem stones.


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