Building Wealth for a TEOTWAWKI Scenario
By Robert McCauslin
There are all sorts of articles available providing advice and guidance suggesting what you should collect and stockpile to be prepared for a wide variety of disasters. If you have been following the Trading Post, you will have seen many of our articles doing the same thing and are by now familiar with us repeatedly telling you “one is none.”
Today’s article approaches this from a slightly different viewpoint. Most ‘experts’ suggest stockpiling precious metals for trade following a major, culture-altering event. The thought process and reasons are good as far as they go; precious metals are nearly universal in acknowledgement of value, recognizable, relatively easy to purchase for all income levels, and relatively easy to discretely store. I do not discount these reasons. I DO want you to consider an alternative seriously and decide what makes the most sense for your planning.
For those unfamiliar with the abbreviation in the title, it is usually pronounced “tee-oh-tuh-WAH-key” and stands for ‘The End of the World as We Know It.’ This is the scenario I’ll be building upon for this article. I’m not crazy. But I do know that you must always plan and train for the worst case you can imagine, and anything less severe will simply be easier to handle.
Following every major disaster to which we have responded, we have seen the same pattern patterns occur: Food and water grow scarce. Civilized people begin acting in decidedly Uncivilized manners as basic needs go unfulfilled. Eventually, as the trappings and conveniences of our modern society re-emerge through recovery efforts, they become embarrassed by actions they took when an empty belly, thirst or need for shelter drove them to the point of desperation. BUT; in a TEOTWAWKI scenario; those recovery efforts aren’t going to arrive.
It doesn’t matter what the event was that drives it. We could be attacked with nuclear weapons, it could be a massive solar like the Nov 4, 2003 event that is focused directly at Earth instead of away from it, or it could simply be total economic collapse. All would put massive strains on our society and life as we know it would be disrupted for the foreseeable future. Some would be safe from the effects, most would not. Let your mind wander to what you would want to have in that situation… This begins our exercise for today.
At that moment, all your needs fall back to the basics: Shelter, Food, Water, Defense, Future Provision Capability, and Medical/Health. Hopefully you have a bug-out location that will be safe and provides you the basics of shelter and a defensible position. Hopefully you have saved and stored a year’s worth of basic food for every member of your group. Hopefully you have a source of water and a stellar filtration system with plenty of spare parts. Hopefully you have weapons, ammo and spare parts to last your projected lifetime (really!). Hopefully you have stored and are rotating a couple of year’s planting worth of non-GMO/heirloom seed appropriate to your bug out location. Hopefully you have all the necessary non-power tools and spare parts to repair them. And finally, hopefully you have purchased our Survivalist’s Natural Remedies Kit, learned how to make a homeopathic field remedy, and stocked up on spare bottles to make them in. https://tradingpostinthewoods.com/shop/survivalists-natural-remedies-kit-2/
We’ll continue the article assuming your answer is yes to each. Now, what do you do about wealth for this time?
If you look at the list of ‘hopefully’s’ you will note ‘repair parts’ showing up about 50% of the time. There is a reason. In a typical disaster, if your first item breaks or is used up, you have a spare since ‘one is none.’ (You do have your back-ups, right?) You have a high likelihood that major assistance will get there before you also have a backup fail if you have reasonably good quality items. In our TEOTWAWKI planning, no help is coming.
The food distribution network is down for good – you only have what you start with or can grow – but that’s a long-term project.
There is no longer a corner pharmacy, so if you can’t make it, you have nothing to help with the health issues that are absolutely going to arise.
There is no longer a hardware store down the road to buy needed screws, tools, or replacement shovel handles – you either have spares, or you are going to have to make replacement handles from available wood. Trust me, you’ll end up making a LOT of them because they WILL break. Etc.
So now back to the original question – what is ‘wealth’ in this scenario? If the entire monetary system has devolved to a bartering economy, silver and gold bits will still carry recognizable worth to those with excess, but:
You can’t eat gold coins.
You can’t plant silver dimes.
You can’t repair a fence with a piece of platinum.
To the individual in desperate need, the food or tools or seeds they want are the most valuable things on Earth. And therein lies my suggest for you to consider: Rather than sinking discretionary funds into precious metals, consider building up your stores for personal use or barter. Of specific note, your emergency food supplies can be used regardless of events and their use should be rotated into your regular diet. If you don’t like what you’ve stored up, change to items you do. We personally use, recommend, and sell the Thrive brand. You can find the link on our sight.
Take stock of what you have accumulated in your preparation stores. Break them into convenient categories and keep a true inventory of the totals you have personally, and also for your entire group. Your finances are finite; you do not want to duplicate effort beyond the ‘one is none’ mantra with the notable exceptions of food, spare parts, and defense.
But on what should you bulk up your stores? The easiest answer is to consider what staples will be in shortest supply and therefore carry the most value. Personally, I consider food staples the greatest value, but suggest tailoring to your local area. More clearly put, salt has always had value (Roman soldiers were partially paid in it) but most areas do not have it available naturally making it a natural barter value. If you’re your locale has a salt mine, this would likely not be a good investment. Stockpiling corn isn’t a good plan where the local farming community has vast fields of corn. The examples can go on.
To get you thinking, here’s a partial list of items with relatively high barter value in alphabetical order:
Alcohol (medicinal/recreational value but a caution – quantity of barter is critical.)
Toilet Paper and Women’s hygiene items (these products have been considered like gold in disasters we have responded to.)
Basic building supplies (nails, screws, wood, etc.)
Note: I personally recommend AGAINST bartering bullets which do have high value; it is too easy for them to be used against you to then take whatever you have accumulated
Candles or wax and wicks to make them
Dog or cat food
Echinacea or other herbs you have grown with medicinal or culinary uses
Game meat you have harvested
Handmade wooden items you can replace yourself (carved wooden spoons, bentwood chairs etc.)
Honey and wax if you are raising bees
Instruments for sharing (music is a gift during black days)
Jelly (homemade and they provide the container)
Knives (if you have a large stockpile – note these can also be used against you)
Lessons in school subjects if another group has children
Livestock (like for like to keep you breeding lines pure)
Milk (if you have goats or cows)
Nails, screws or other miscellaneous hardware (provided you have enough to last you/your group for years)
Oil (non-replaceable so only for extreme need/value in return)
Personal skills that someone else doesn’t have (medical, labor, hunting, etc.)
Quilts (if you have access to lots of material, thread and needles)
Radio search (if you have a Ham in your group)
Salt or Sugar
Turkey feathers (or other game skins and feathers)
Unneeded school books
Vino; the fruits of your Vintner efforts (they provide the bottles)
Wire (if you have a large stockpile)
Note that many of these items can also mark you for raids if you aren’t absolutely certain of the individual you are bartering with. (i.e., milk identifies you as having livestock and a man that is trying to keep a family from starving may see the meat as more valuable than the source of milk.)
This list is by no means intended to be complete. You must honestly evaluate the supplies you have and determine what you have enough of to barter and judge the relative worth in your area.
Note that bartering is a skill that can be learned and now is the time to learn it. The most prevalent and easy place is to visit garage/tag/yard sales and learn. You can also pick up great items for your preparation stores at great prices.
I hope this article has you thinking about how/what to do with your available financial resources. Investing in precious metals is one good use, but there are others The choice is yours.
Until next time, happy bargain hunting!