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Is Stocking up on Gold and Silver Smart?

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Regular Joe. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.


There is a strategy among some survivalist and preppers that is included in their preparations. It’s the accumulation of gold and silver for use later after a SHTF event. I’m not trying to start an argument as to whether this is a smart strategy or not, only put forth my thoughts. Some will agree and some will disagree with me and that’s OK.

First off let me say that people prep for different reasons. Some do it in anticipation of TEOTWAWKI and some do it on a smaller scale for seasonal natural events like hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and temporary power loss from storms. Others are preparing for the end of civilization and law. I think it’s the latter group that is primarily interested in having gold and/or silver on hand to use in a bleak future. I’m going to let you know my reasons for NOT stocking up on precious metals as a hedge.

Why stocking up on precious metals is a bad idea

First off most people who are in the process of prepping have found that it costs money. Now don’t get me wrong, I have read numerous articles on prepping on a budget etc., but I don’t know anyone who has prepped properly and not spent money on it. I for one am not what would be considered wealthy. My wife and I are comfortable and we have very little debt other than our house. I make a good wage so money is not a huge issue for us. We do keep cash on hand for the possibility of power outages that last a short period of time. That being said, we are not as prepared as I would like us to be and therefore need to continue our preps. I simply can’t afford to put money towards hording precious metals at this time nor do I think it’s a smart thing for me to do. Why do I say that? One reason is what I stated above, we’re not fully prepped. I want my extra money to go toward my supplies at this time. It’s kind of like needing to pay off your credit cards before you can start saving money.

Another reason I don’t think I would put gold as one of my supplies is simply a practical matter in my mind. Let’s say the worst has happened and we are all in survival mode. You know someone who knows how to make bread and you want bread. You have a gold coin that you paid $1100 for back when the world was still somewhat sane. Do you offer that coin for a loaf of bread? 100 loaves or a years supply? The person making the bread may not want gold. They want a pig instead. You go out and find someone who has a pig and offer them the coin. They don’t want it, they want alcohol. This is starting to sound like bartering isn’t it?

What value would you put on food for your family?

The next reason I don’t want to keep precious metals is this . . . Once society has collapsed there is no unified value set for your coin. In your community of survivors maybe a coin is worth a cow. 5 miles down the road in another community they may say its worth one box of ammo but a cow might be worth 50 boxes of ammo. Everyone sets their own value to things. If you were in the desert and dying of thirst and would be dead by the end of the day without water, how much would you be willing to give for just one 8 oz. glass of water? Living in the Northwest, water probably doesn’t hold the same value as in the desert. I think values will be set individually and by community. Who’s to say that the prepper that stocked up on cans of tuna isn’t richer than one who has 1000 ozs. of gold? Money itself has no value per se. Money derives it’s value as being a medium of exchange, unit of measure or storehouse of wealth. It is what allows us to trade goods “Indirectly”. Money is only valuable because everyone knows it’s value and accepts it. In some ancient cultures sea shells were highly prized and used as currency. Sea shells have very little value as a currency in today’s world. This is the reason that the $1100 dollar gold coin might be worthless if civilization ends.

I believe it’s more realistic to think that the surviving members of the human race will live by supporting each other and trading, much like our ancestors did. I’ll give you a stone axe if you help me kill that Sabre Tooth. They traded salt or other spices. Salt was once one of the most valuable things on earth believe it or not. During the era when the Phoenicians ruled the Mediterranean sea and surrounding area they basically had a monopoly on salt and could charge whatever they saw fit. It is more than likely that the value of salt was equivalent to gold with it trading ounce for ounce. This is where the saying “Worth your salt” comes from. Why was the value so high? You have to remember that in ancient times it was hard to preserve food. Salt was used to preserve fish and meats as well as seasoning not to mention the Phoenicians had the salt market cornered. I’m not saying go stock up on salt, just making a point. Who knows what value certain things will have? Again, I think values will be set regionally. Another example of setting value is the diamond. They are not rare, they are controlled. The ones who control it create the value by locking up the extra stock and marketing. There are other precious stones that are much more rare and cost more because they are in fact rare.

Most preppers think Ammo would be highly valuable in a SHTF Event.

You might be better off thinking instead of where you PLAN on spending the End Of Days and stocking up on things that won’t be easily obtained in that area. The reason that the word plan was put in bold letters is that you must have a plan. It may not work out and you might wind up somewhere completely different doing something you didn’t think you would be doing. Live in the desert? Salt might be good. Water most assuredly. Live somewhere with a short growing season? Home canned fruits and vegetables might be the choice. All I’m trying to say is we don’t really know what will be valuable. If there is an Economic collapse, Gold and Silver may be a really good choice and I will be left eating my MRE’s while others feast on fine wine and steak. Who knows? I certainly don’t, but what I do know is I have skills to offer and those will always be valuable. All I can do is prepare the best way that I can using logic as to my situation and go from there. My logic won’t be your logic. My beliefs may not be your beliefs.

If you really think about it no matter what SHTF event happens, be it EMP, asteroid, zombie horde, alien invasion or super-volcano, the economy will collapse and it will probably collapse for a long time. When you are in survival mode buying gadgets and what not on amazon will be the furthest thing from your mind. Chaos will reign at the beginning and things will eventually settle down to various areas controlled by someone. That someone will be the one to set value to things. Maybe they will want to have gold jewelry all over them to show their power. My logic says that we will be in a bartering economy for quite a while. Eventually, we will revert back to using what we term as currency because bartering becomes too cumbersome. As populations come back and skills are developed we will need a way to trade and that way might very well be gold and sliver or some other precious metal or mineral. I think that if it truly was the end as we know it, where a very small percentage of people survive, it will be a very long time before we get back to monetary currency. More than likely the “currency” will be what ever you can trade or offer in service.

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  • Cbt_Engr

    I agree completely with this author’s perspective on hoarding gold or silver for any kind of serious “end of days” event. I have a friend who does just that and we’ve had conversations that are very close to what this author brings up. You have a gold coin that you paid hundreds of dollars for, but you don’t even have a quart of water left in your supplies, or not even so much as a can of tuna — how much is that expensive coin worth now? You can’t eat it. And nobody is going to give you much for it. Be smart and plan for what you and your family will really benefit from — food and water.

    • Les

      In the scenario you describe what matters as to how many dollars were paid for the gold? If that piece of gold gets you the water you need then it was good that you had it. I would bet a fistful of those dollars wouldn’t have gotten water for you.

  • John Hertig

    It is true that gold and silver are not critical for survival; you can’t eat it or drink it or cure your cut with it or protect yourself with it, and it won’t keep you warm and dry in inclement weather. Definitely, skills and necessities of life should be the priority. Extras for bartering and/or helping others are secondary. Gold, and particularly silver, are a useful part of only some bartering strategies so are third priority.

    If something which crushes the transportation system occurs, gold and silver will not be desirable for long because there will quickly be nothing to exchange it for. But some of the disaster scenarios we consider are financial in nature, and these are where precious metals have the most utility. Obviously, there is no guarantee which scenario will occur, but the most versatile ECONOMIC prep is a collection of some cash, more small bills than big (for when cash still is thought to have value but is not readily accessible, ie due to bank excitement). Plus, some silver dimes (“two dollar bill”), quarters (“five dollar bill”) and 1 ounce coins (“twenty dollar bill”) for when stuff is available to purchase but cash is not accepted or there is major inflation. Some smaller gold coins (1/10 ounce, 1/4 ounce) may be of value for larger “purchases” as well as “bribes” (“hundred dollar bill, two hundred fifty dollar bill”). Sure, you can probably get by with pure bartering, but what if the stuff you have is not what is desired, or it expires or is damaged? How about if you have to move it?

    Basically, the primary benefit of gold and silver is as “insurance” against money losing the value it is currently perceived as having either due to lack of confidence or severe inflation. it is also viewed as a way to make wealth portable, but this is not a reliable methodology. Yes, it is portable, but its value as wealth depends on the circumstances.

  • Bill

    I would take issue with the article concerning PMs. First, gold is not normally considered as bargaining or purchasing power. Gold is for the purpose of establishing yourself on the other side of the disaster. Silver on the other hand will be used for purchasing and bartering during the disaster. There are some who hold junk silver( pre 1965 silver coins) which will come in handy. It wont take long for the value of all things used for barter to be established. There will be those who will wish to take advantage of you in the barter, but then you have those people around today. It wont take long for us Americans to establish a way to help each other during a crisis. We have always been, and always will be that way!!

  • GregChick

    Best I have read on this subject to date. A smart baseline needs to come before a smart reaction. This entry is such baseline, also I just agree with it. So that is my 2 gold cents worth.

  • Thomas Paine in the butt

    Silver has more value than as a medium of exchange. Silver has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. The earliest use, that I know anyway, of silver in medicine is in the Roman legions as a closure for wounds.

    Copper and gold can also be used as conductors.

    When thinking about precious metals think outside of monetary value.

  • Duane

    First, I don’t think possessing precious metals, especially gold, is a bad idea. But I do think there are two sides to this thinking that need to be mentioned.This article deals with a scenario of which most of the country, or world, is in disarray and turmoil because of a catastrophic event created by some act of nature, or war, in which people are better served by proper prepping, survival, and bartering skills. The other scenario is the fear of economic decline or collapse on a national or global scale. In this scenario, possession of gold or silver may be more beneficial to filling your immediate needs. Gold will always be valuable and useful to possess. Of course depending on the severity of the collapse it will not be the entire answer, nor should one expect it to be, but it will most certainly help with the quick acquisition of priority stores such as food, water, shelter, and self defense items. Whether you possess gold or silver, these metals will always bring the things you need the most faster than bartering. Let’s face it, people are greedy by nature, and will continue to be so in the weeks after a collapse. I understand the author’s stance on not agreeing or disagreeing on the subject of possessing gold or silver. Proper prepping and learning even the most basic survival skills are the best ways to be prepared for whatever may happen. But having some gold or silver around, no matter how small, should be part of the equation. I’m a prepper myself, and like the author, can’t afford to build up my stores and buy gold at the same time. One step at a time preppers, it’s smarter and more beneficial to have both.

  • Poorman

    Just a couple of comments. the example you show of one person wanting a pig and another wanting alcohol is the exact reason that humans went from a straight barter system to using gold,silver and copper as a medium of exchange Another comment is you saying you are not prepaired yet so you don’t want to purchase silver or gold and I agree that should never be a first or most prep but I do feel it has it’s place so I wouldn’t consider my preps complete ( if we are ever complete ) without having some on hand. I put a much higher value on skills,food,water ect than PM’s but do have them.

    • Regular Joe

      You are right about the reason humans went to using PM’s to make it easier than straight barter for trade. That is why I used the term “inderectly”. I do believe that at some point after things have gone horribly bad we will re-establish using some form of currency for trade. It might happen quickly and it might not. I also agree with the potential usefulness of gold and silver in the wake of an “Economic Collapse”. In that particular scenario Gold and Silver might skyrocket in value and those who choose to store it as part of their preps will be much better off than I will. As stated in the article, I believe that no matter which EOTW event happens, there will be economic collapse that accompanies it. Thanks for all of the comments. They give me things to consider

  • Sam

    I certainly wouldn’t hoard PM’s to the detriment of other preps, BUT. . . There have been numerous SHTF events in the last couple of millenia, and PM’s have proven to be of value in most of them. A modest supply of silver, and possibly small gold coins might prove very helpful. I wouldn’t consider a PM stash until I had beans, bullets, bandaids and training / experience squared away.

  • John Wheeler

    I agree mostly with the author. You need to be well-stocked first before you even think about precious metals. Once space becomes an issue though, AND you have several month’s supply of emergency cash, then if you have the money, precious metals are worth thinking about. But only after the basics are covered.

  • EgbertThrockmorton1

    My wife and I take what we refer to as the “long view”, (strategic), when it comes to our PM acquisitions.. First, we see, having silver and gold fractional coins, as wealth protection, as equal in importance as food, water, shelter and means of physical defense.
    Even now, when we travel, domestically, we each carry in our EDC on-person gear, a supply of fractional gold coins, as a means of decreasing the likelihood of carrying a larger amount of FederL Reserve Notes.(commonly misinterpreted as “cash”)
    I have no desire to have anyone see or detect what we are carrying for our preparations, and we do enjoy our road trips, they are a joint hobby we share, besides, we enjoy and love our grandkids.p, so we travel around to visit often.
    I am of the personal(very subjective) opinion, that as I all war-torn, breakdown in societal moray areas, certain items/supplies will always have a value, in which they can be bartered. While some may cringe at this, I personally see nothing inherently “wrong” in the barter of SMALL amounts of.22LR ammunition. In fact, I have used many a Food-Saver roll to seal up five rounds of ammo at a time, in minute bags, to be used for “barter”, of course, my price will be premium.
    More than twenty years ago, I felt “strongly impressed”, to start stockpiling quality .22LR ammunition as well as .22 Magnum ammunition for those firearms in our family possession at the time, and since the Great Ammunition Drought, never “felt”, a scarcity for plinking and practice ammunition. We’ve also done the same thing with the main calibers of centerfire ammunition our family uses.
    How much is enough? Depends on your personal needs and determination of your own “salvation”.
    While we fervently continue to store/stockpile food and water, as well as other commodities to replace what we normally use each month, (we store what we normally eat), we believe in barter.
    Now, back to the points of the article, PM’s are good for wealth protection on the far(long side) of any personal or societal collapse (disaster), and should be considered by each person prepping, in accordance with their long term views and plans. That being said, some will and some won’t, and that is OK, because each of us is responsible for OUR OWN “salvation”, in the long term.
    Great posts, excellent thoughts in the article! Love this site!!

  • Steve

    Gold and silver are hedges against inflation which makes them a very good choice for economic collapse. Look at what’s happening in Venezuela right now and you will see the value of PM. The Bolivar has depreciated by 500 percent and gold has increased in value also by 500 percent. Missionaries in Venezuela are reporting that one once of gold will purchase three months worth of food. Before buying gold however you should be stocking up on other non perishable items. When you run out of storage space then go for the PMs.

  • christopher

    I have to be one that disagree with you on this.. just because you personally don’t have the money for it, or want to spend your money for it, doesnt make it a reason NOT to do it. you say you keep cash on hand but anybody buying gold or silver is hoarder? arent you hording cash then, by that logic? but each to their own and that is your choice. I have a 1/3 of my salary in gold and silver and in cash and investments. you can actually buy less than ounce in gold if your not aware of it already, so you dont have to trade a 1100 dollar ounce of gold, if you dont want to. Of course you want to get your food & water preps first, then work on other preps. thats a no brainer. no, you shouldnt go in debt and buy 10 grand in gold and silver. just a piece at a time.. like prepping for everything else, little by little… right now you can buy silver for 17-18 dollars a ounce. that is less than pack of cigeretts or going to movies, or a video game. gold and silver has been around for centuries across the globe as a currency. can you barter other things? sure you can, but everybody wants gold, who is to say the STHF will last forever? even if there is no major disaster, I can go and sell some coins when prices are high and pay off a credit card or buy a car or even buy more preps! plus the goverment cant keep track of it or confiscate it. Cash wont do you much good if it becomes wortless or if banks limit your atm transactions withdrawls or impose interest on money you keep in bank like they did in Greece. I dont have to worry about that since i have enough in gold and silver i can barter or sell to local dealer… its good to make friends with coin dealers if they are in your area. buy & sell a few coins once in a while just like with gun dealers. when SHTF it will be nice to have those people as friends. a new face in sthf situation they probably won’t deal with you, but if they know you by name you may get some help when you need it.. Dont go over board on buying it, and if you buy, wait and buy when prices are low… little by little!

    • Regular Joe

      I appreciate your comments and understand that we all have reasons for assigning “Value” to our strategic preps. As stated in the article my cash on hand is for short term problems like a snow storm that cuts power for a week, which I have experienced. I guess that I didn’t do a very good job of explaining my vision of “Total Collapse” and why I thought it would be beyond our lifetime before we got back to a currency based system. People who have PM’s in their preps might very well be way ahead of me if the SHTF

  • Stephen Maro

    Oversimplified and too personnel. Of course you need to determine where/when to rank the necessity/desirability of different preps. However, because this doesn’t currently rank for you does not mean it is wrong. I realize you stated everyone’s situation is different, but then you gave a history lesson that was kind of silly and forgot lots of angles. If you are bugging out, can you take a cow, 50 boxes of ammo, a years supply of bread? Probably not. Can you take a coin? Yes. Additionally, a 1oz gold coin is not your only choice. They’re are .1 oz, .25oz, .5 oz. … there are silver coins. I wouldn’t put junk silver in my bag because it isn’t worth enough for the weight you carry, but having some at a bug out destination may be desirable. What if you are considering trying to get out of the country? Do you think a ships captain wants a cow,… or some gold? I will agree that you need certain other preps in place first, but after that, well,… nice try at writing an article I guess. Please consider this as constructive criticism.

  • BigBarry

    In Argentina after their collapse gold and silver were not well received. How do you make change for a tank of gas with a gold bar? What was accepted was gold jewelry. Specifically rings and necklaces. The rings used to barter, the necklace links used to trade. In the past I have purchased silver ingots. Instead of a birthday card I use the money on a small ingot to mark an occasion. The gift that keeps on giving.

    • W8

      Smaller gold denominations are used frequently around the world today for purchasing essentials. Whereas some who were in Argentina’s collapse reported so so usage of gold/silver I promise you the rich elites which left Argentina to avoid a massive loss of wealth knew all about gold and silver. Nigeria had people using grams of gold during their currency crisis. Had you left Argentina, escaping with your family and went to a new country with a stash of gold, that gold bar you spoke of might have gotten you a car or a plot of land, a house, etc. None of this is either/or. It’s all important and all worth consideration.

  • W8

    You’re off on your thinking. It’s not simply a matter of opinion or preference. You write an article about PMs being a bad idea. There are thousands of years of history and current events around the world which directly contradict your assertion. Gold/Silver are what is used when fiat money fails. You imagine Mad Max, The Road or WWZ I suppose and see no place for silver and gold. Food, water, guns, ammo, meds, cash, gold, silver and even skills and expertise can all be looked at as insurance policies that you control yourself. Prioritizing makes sense and if your assertion is that PMs should rank behind other life essentials, fine, that’s a good debate.

    But there are many possible scenarios where you’d be fortunate to have a stash of PMs around to offer you and your family a leg up in acquiring items of value, procuring safe passage or establishing a foothold in a new area. If your cash stash is worth less or worthless PMs might be quite valuable.

    The history of money is bartering, which becomes unstable, unreliable and tedious in a larger marketplace which eventually, inevitably leads to a money system. And the oldest money system is gold/silver. Not seashells or bullets or small bottles of alcohol. Those items might have value, but all items are subject to the ever shifting laws of supply and demand. My own family used gold/silver when emigrating to the US early last century (their currency wasn’t worth squat) and gold has been used in Africa recently during a currency crisis. Ignoring what is proven throughout most of human history and around parts of the world today is unwise and not a message I would make a point of spreading to those who don’t know any better.

  • Les

    Gold and silver have been a medium of exchanged for five thousand years. Its portable. Its frangible (can be divided). Its recognized globally as wealth and it has value. Its difficult to carry a chicken around in your pocket. A handful of Mercury head dimes are a lot easier. The US Dollar today isn’t even a real Dollar. Its a promissory note. Its just debt passing from one to another with the feds being the debtee. It isn’t backed by nothing, and the day is swiftly approaching when it will be worth exactly that…. nothing. Having PMs is just one leg of emergency preps same as food, ammo, and a means of getting around. It should never be the first priority of any prepper. But once the necessities are fairly covered, PMs should be of consideration. A SHTF scenario could have a lot of different endings. Chances are, however, that sooner or later an economy will develop even in the worst scenarios and there will be someone interested in your old silver or gold coins. BTW, to the author… you will never be “fully prepped”.

  • FRANK

    I believe the author failed to include possibility that either all your preps will be taken away from you by force or you have to flee on foot carrying only what u can on your back. There are numerous stories where individuals literally left everything they owned and fled a country because a dictator came to power with a few gold coins sewn into their clothing which allowed them to start over in a new place. PM have there place in prepping it’s not an either or decision.
    One last note, an article on another site said a man purchased some silver dollars for $15 each and then sold them when the market went up to almost $50 an ounce. He said a $3600 investment allowed him to buy a $12000 car for cash which the person was willing to trade the silver dollars for the car.
    Don’t know if the investment of PM will work out that we’ll for you or me but I like the idea of having a few of the 1/10 ounce gold coins which are about the size of a dime to take with me if all else fails.

  • robert

    vaalue is very “failures” a tornado in one area is a SHFT to them. Hurricane to another. Having something of value that can easily be transported is wise. The only reason that bartering will take hold and I agree it will. Is that most people do not plan and are not ready. Just look how popular garage sales are. So much junk people are trying to peddle. Same in a barter scenario. Eventually things will recover and gold/silver has beena medium of value for over 5000 years. No other “money” can say that. Also remember that the dollar is not a currency owned by the USA. It is owned by the FEd. I believe the day will coe when the FEd decides to take over the nation and will wiped out all of their “dollars” and then work with the government to force us onto a new currency. Just a though and somthing to think about. Having an eaisly carried value is very important no matter your preps levels.