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Financial Apocalypse? What Would Truly Be Valuable?

by Miranda Marquit

I live in an area where there are a lot of what some people would term “preppers.” There is a lot of talk of economic collapse, and many see the possibility of a breakdown in society coming in the next few years.

One of the main tenets of the people in my neck of the woods is the idea that it’s vital to stockpile precious metals – particularly gold. While they do talk about stocking up on ammo (mostly for hunting rifles and shotguns, thankfully), when they talk about “true value” and “real money,” they usually mean gold.

All the talk about gold, and preparation for a financial apocalypse, got me thinking. If things really do as badly as many of these folks seem to think it will, how useful will gold be?

Things that Could Be More Valuable than Gold

What is the value of gold during the apocalypse?

Gold might not be the solution during the apocalypse!

Among my favorite books of all time is Making Money by Terry Pratchett. It’s a satire on the banking system and how the modern economy works, set in the fantasy realm Discworld. One of the arguments is over the usefulness of gold and what actually counts as real value. Moist von Lipwig, the main character, points out that on a desert island, gold is useless. A potato, though, is valuable. You can plant part of the potato, and it will grow into other potatoes, and you can eat the rest of the potato.

The point, of course, is that value is a matter of perspective. If the financial apocalypse really does happen, and if society does actually break down, having a stockpile of precious metals might not actually help you long term. Some of the things that might be considered more valuable than gold silver might include:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Protection

You might have a pile of gold in the safe in your basement, but who is going to be able to afford it? And who would get rid of their food for a piece of metal that they can’t eat? It’s worth thinking about.

What Skills Do You Have?

I am a firm believer that skills can be more valuable than any amount of money. If you have a marketable skill, you can usually find a job – or at least find a way to make money by starting your own business or side hustle. Your skills and knowledge are yours forever. It’s very difficult for someone to take them away from you. And you can use them again and again.

During a breakdown of the economy and society, there are some skills that might trump having money. Can you prepare food? Do you have the ability to mend clothes (or even make them)? Do you know how to get more food when your food storage runs out? Can you build a fire? Do you know how to construct a crude shelter? Are you prepared to live in your home without electricity or heat?

Even though I’m not what most would call a “gun enthusiast,” I know how to use one safely. I’ve been to the firing range and used a variety of handguns – although I have no illusions that I would be able to accurately use one against another person, no matter how great I am at shooting targets. I passed hunter education, and I used to go hunting with my grandfather. I know how to dress game, and I can catch and prepare fish. These are skills that I don’t necessarily need right now, but if something were to happen, I’d rather have my survival skills than a pile of gold and silver coins.

In the end, our entire system of value depends on perception. What is valuable depends on the circumstances, and what you think is truly likely to happen.

What do you think is valuable? And what would you do in the event of a financial apocalypse?

Photo credit: digitalmoneyworld.


Published or updated December 21, 2012.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Grayson @ Debt Roundup

Quality post Miranda. There would be no need for gold or precious metals in a financial collapse. The world would be chaos and no one would be able to afford anything, even with gold. Luckily, I know how to fend for myself and family if I needed to. I know how to cook food, hunt it, and do anything necessary to survive. I am not a prepper, but I do enjoy the outdoors. I can live outdoors with no issues. These are the skills that are vitally important.

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2 Barbara Friedberg

Miranda, Love the picture. My mother in law just passed, so I’m thinking a lot about existential ideas. So much of what we think is so important, really is not!

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3 Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin

There will ALWAYS be a need for money in some shape form or fashion. Maybe not during the initial “collapse” but shortly after. For example, I think you’re absolutely right nobody is going to want gold or silver when there stomachs are empty. But take a look at the other side of the trade. If a “prepper” has plenty of food he/she can sell that food for an ounce of silver or whatever the buyer is willing to pay. I know some people see this as predatory but it’s the free market at work.

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