It is easy to take the value of modern-day currency for granted, because it is so widely accepted and commonplace in our modern society. Most preppers feel comfortable holding cash money because electronic forms of payment can fail very easily — particularly after an emergency situation has occurred.
However, it is important to understand that most forms of currency in the world don’t have an underlying tangible value — that is, the metals or paper the currency is constructed from hold little real value. Currency only holds value while the government and the financial system are both stable.
Some of the scenarios where modern-day currency might lose value include:
Economic Collapse and Hyperinflation
The value of a currency can change very quickly in market economies due to fluctuating economic conditions. While it may seem like a very old historical event, the great depression occurred less than 100 years ago. If there is a financial depression, the value of cash can quickly plummet.
Many Western governments have increasingly found themselves in debt and the United States government is no exception. In recent years the government has had to shut down certain services as politicians haggle about the best way to reduce the debt burden. If foreign nations call in the debt that the United States owes, it could quickly devalue the currency.
War or Civil Unrest
War creates such instability that modern-day currency quickly becomes less valuable and more practical items become valuable.
If a tyrannical government is oppressing the population, they may begin tightly controlling the flow of cash within an economy or monitoring its use.
Natural Disaster Causes Cash to Lose Value
Following a major flood, earthquake, tidal wave or other natural disaster, shop owners may decide to stop accepting cash or they may greatly increase the cost of items. The $1000 that you stored as a part of your survival plan won’t stretch very far if shop owners begin charging $100 for a can of baked beans!
Currency Options in a Survival Situation
Many of the items that preppers already collect can become valuable commodities in a survival situation. When paper money has become worthless, these forms of currency will be used to buy almost anything you need.
When preppers are creating their disaster plan, it is worthwhile to include additional stockpiles of these items or the ability to create them.
When choosing items that may be useful as an alternative to currency, consider these factors:
Shelf Life — Will the item be viable in six-months or twelve-months? If you stockpile certain foods they may only be useful as tradable items for a short period.
Desirability — Is it an item that people will desperately require for survival or is it a luxury item?
Portability — Is the item easy to collect and store the item? It might be more efficient to stockpile seeds or water filters instead of rice or machinery.
How Soon Will the Market Demand It — If a survival situation occurs, some items will be in demand immediately, like water and food. Other items like seeds and renewable energy may not be in high demand for a few weeks or months.
Here are the top 15 currency options in a survival situation, from most valuable to least valuable.
Water will always be extremely valuable in a survival situation because humans can only last a few days without it. The ability to purify or filter water will also become immensely valuable. A gallon of water could become an extremely valuable commodity in the right situation.
Long Shelf Life Foods and Staples
Food items that can last for long periods will also remain extremely valuable in a survival situation. Preppers should stockpile at least 6-months of long shelf life foods to feed themselves and their family.
Then, they should stockpile about 2-3 months worth of food to use for bartering or in case they decide to help a neighbor or friend.
Many staples like salt, honey or sugar are very long-lasting and will become very valuable in the medium or long term.
Ammunition and Weapons
Self defense items will remain valuable for long periods. For ammunition, store common military caliber bullets including 9mm, 7.62 x 39, 7.62 x 51, 12 gauge, .22 and 20 gauge shotgun shells.
Medicine including pain killers, bandages and antibiotics are extremely valuable in an emergency situation.
Additional survival gear can be easily traded with other survivalists. You may have an extra water filter and you need some navigational equipment. Many survival items are very compact and hold their value for many years. If you meet someone who has no way of starting a fire, your spare flint rod will be worth millions!
While they might not seem like a valuable asset in the early stages of a survival situation, seeds are crucial for medium and long-term survival. Seeds are also extremely small so you can carry a large quantity of them for long periods.
Tools are necessary for being self-sufficient and for surviving for longer periods. In a long term survival situation you will need items to build or repair shelter, establish a garden, and maintain your defensive perimeter. While they are worth a great deal of currency, tools can be difficult to transport, so only stockpile them if you intend to bunker down.
Alcohol has a number of uses and makes a fantastic form of currency. It can be used as a disinfectant, mouthwash, pain reliever, fire starter, bug repellent and much more.
While many forms of long-life food are quite nutritious, they still cannot beat the flavor and nutrition found in fresh produce. In a survival situation, fresh produce may become a rarity and hold an extremely high level of value.
When tomatoes are extremely rare, they might sell for the equivalent of $100 each! Preppers should incorporate plans for growing produce not just for self-sufficiency but to use for trade.
All food and particularly fresh food will hold a great deal of value after any form of social upheaval
Renewable Energy and Batteries
After a survival situation has occurred, the ability to produce energy will help any prepper remain self-sufficient. Preppers who have more than enough energy may be able to trade it to other survivalists. It could be as simple as them bringing you a battery to charge and in return they give you food or other supplies.
Your personal skills may be a useful commodity in a SHTF situation. If you have useful skills, make sure people know about them. People with the most useful skills will be mechanics, doctors, veterinarians, builders, farmers, hunters, chemists, soldiers, bee keepers, soap makers, electronics experts and architects.
Gasoline, firewood and oil will all hold a great deal of value, particularly in cold environments.
Food Producing Animals
For many thousands of years, tribal people have celebrated weddings by offering the new family a goat or some chickens. The reason is simple — food producing animals can help with you survive.
Precious metals and gems
While many preppers hoard precious metals and gems, they are not always the easiest items to barter with. Generally, economies need to be more advanced to recognize the value of precious metals.
It seems like a strange item to keep for trading, but many toiletries are very valuable in a survival situation. Most people don’t appreciate the value of soap until they haven’t had a good shower for 2 weeks! Stock toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and anti-bacterial washes.
In an emergency situation, being dirty can lead to serious infections and the toiletries we take for granted are much more valuable.