Gold and Silver—an Alternative Currency in an Emergency

May 21, 2013 by | 2 Comments

A natural disaster can disable our debit and credit card infrastructure, preventing you from purchasing basic necessities for day-to-day survival. The continued inflation and manipulation of our currency will eventually devalue the dollar to the point of worthlessness just as we’ve seen in countless countries over the last few years. And in a world of ever-increasing and unwarranted surveillance, you may want to keep the details of your finances away from the watchful eyes of the government.

In each of these situations, barter of physical products will take the place of traditional cash or credit transactions. You can (and should) stock up on items that will be valuable in an emergency, but none pack the value that gold and silver do in such a small, easily transportable package. It’s a currency that has worked well around the world for thousands of years, and will continue to do so long after you and I are gone.

Success means starting with the end goal in mind; in this case, financial stability and security in an uncertain world, so you need physical gold and silver in your hands—not paper assets like gold or silver in an IRA that can disappear at a moments notice. Remember Greece? Those who are financially well-off may be tempted to buy expensive coins or larger bullion to simplify the process; I don’t recommend this. Instead, I recommend purchasing smaller pieces because a $55–1 gram gold bar will be infinitely more useful than a $1,400–1 ounce gold coin. Why? Do you think you’ll need to buy $1,400 worth of food, supplies, or gear at once? Smaller denominations give you more flexibility for purchases.

Both gold and silver have recently dropped in price, and  but remember, you’re not buying them as an “investment” like stocks or bonds. You’re buying them as an alternative currency for use in an emergency. The price will continue to fluctuate, just like it always has.

We all know (or can easily find out) the value of gold and silver now, but what about during an emergency? When the Internet goes down and you can’t look up the market price—or worse yet, if the economy falls apart and the markets go haywire? Whether in a perfect world, amidst absolute chaos, or somewhere in between, the price of gold and silver is determined the free market. It is up to an individual to decide if their next meal is worth 1 gram or 5 grams of their gold.

Before you can use gold and silver as a currency, you must differentiate authentic precious metals from forgeries. Fortunately, this is easy to do by measuring the specific gravity using just a digital scale, a lightweight cup, some string, and a tripod, as seen in the video below. For reference, the specific gravity of gold is 19.32 and the specific gravity of silver is 10.49.

I’ve investigated several vendors, and found that most operate on an ethical level slightly lower than that of a politician. Some of the biggest names, pimped by some of the biggest media figures, don’t even offer pricing online; they force you to speak to a sales representative. Others offer misleading pricing—I found one company that appeared to offer the same 1 gram gold bar for $7.85 less than a competitor, which doesn’t seem like much, but it worked out to a 15% price difference. Further inspection revealed that you must buy $10,000 worth of that product to receive the advertised price. You’ll need to do your homework; talk to several vendors, check reviews, and pay close attention to the real price. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide which vendor is right for you—but don’t wait until it’s too late.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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  • Cris Wentz says:

    This article was well thought out, and useful to identify precious metal, but I personally believe its a myth. When tshtf, we are thrown back to perceived wealth. So far, most disasters still accept greenbacks- offer gold coin to the guy with a working generator to sell after a hurricane and he will be amazed and will still probably gouge you til it hurts, but he’s be more happy with cash that he perceives as being valuable. In a dollar-is-worthless situation, real wealth will be much more prosaic. Real wealth will be the shovel in your shed, the cans of beans in the cellar, the rolls of toilet paper in the closet. The perceived value of these things will be more than their weight in gold or silver. The possessor of this real wealth (whatever concrete form it takes in your area) will be able to barter for what he needs…because gold and silver are abstracts of wealth. You can’t eat them, or build with them, or wipe your spoiled bum with them.

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      You have a logical concern, however, I think it is incorrect. You claim that people won’t care about gold and silver, but what did they use as currency for thousands of years before we started printing fake IOUs by the truckload?

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