Post-Apocalyptic Currency: What will be valuable in the end?

What will you use for currency when the crap hits the fan?

If you've been following the doomsday movement or been interested in prepping for extreme disaster scenarios, you've likely heard of the term "SHTF". This is the point in time when it becomes apparent that you've got to engage your disaster preparedness plans.

Whether you're facing a global financial crisis or localized natural disasters, temporary to permanent financial changes could impact the value of your savings. In a highly electronic banking environment, there is an assumed risk of losing everything in a crisis that involves massive loss of data, the crash of markets, or standard devaluation of local currency as compared to the global market. Speculation and availability cripple these funds, so it should be assumed that anything that exists in electronic format is subject to forfeit in a doomsday scenario.

This can pose a significant problem for those of us who aren't all-in when it comes to prepping. Can we have the 401k, the home equity, the dream of a retirement we've been promised all our lives and still be somewhat secure in our preparations?

What are the alternatives for currency when everything we used to know falls apart around us? What common items around us are worth stockpiling? Can they be used over time with savings of buying in bulk upfront in the event that nothing bad ever happens? What are some of the more risky alternatives for wealth in disaster scenarios? We'll cover these through the course of this Hub.

Prepping Smart - A Little at a Time!

What will modern currency be worth?

Will your bills be worth anything after the apocalypse event? Not likely.
Will your bills be worth anything after the apocalypse event? Not likely.
What about coins? Maybe you can melt them down and turn them into something useful or keep them as souvenirs from a bygone era.
What about coins? Maybe you can melt them down and turn them into something useful or keep them as souvenirs from a bygone era.

Thinking outside the dollar.

You find yourself one of the survivors at ground-zero on the morning of Disaster X. Your paper and coin currency no longer holds face value. It's a whole new world and survival is at the forefront of everyone's mind. Once essential needs are covered, what will step up to take over from those old currency placeholders?

Rewind now. Go back days, months, years, decades. What are some of the items you would have stashed away for the new market? Standard conventions tell us that precious metals, primarily silver and gold, are some of the most secure investments for hard times such as these. Precious metals have caused countless wars throughout the history of man. There is definitely wisdom in the long term value of these items. But value is based on need. How long after the radiation settles, the last zombie is slain, the mobs stood down, the government take-over squashed, or the invading forces repelled before gold and silver will be worth a pound of salt, a packet of life-saving antibiotics, or food for your family?

A well-prepared person will have access to the high value items and can trade for services, loyalty, other forms of currency (such as precious metals or land). The access to these items can change a peasant into a baron or vassal, or can paint a target on you for peoples of nefarious pursuits.

Just like today, you've got to manage your new finances and secure your wealth. You have to make alliances with those individuals or groups you can trust -- connections which could be treated as a special kind of currency well before any event actually takes place.

Think outside the dollar. Look around you and question yourself and your surroundings. What do we have now that would be sorely missed if supply chains broke down? What are man's basic needs, wants, and lofty desires? At what stages of recovery will items catering to each of these phases of survival be worth the most? Once you begin to formulate the answers to these questions, you set off on your journey to being prepared for the new economic recovery.

If currency can no longer be measured by modern currency placeholders like the one, two, five, ten, twenty, fifty, or one-hundred dollar bills (U.S. example, your currency marks will vary depending on your location), what will you do to gauge worth? Is a meal worth 5 hours of labor at your trade? How many cans of corn will you be willing to trade for a tarp or a gallon of water? How much could you expect to draw in for a gallon of filtered and sanitized water? To understand currency in the new world, you've got to establish base worth for items derivative from some sort of commodity scale. If you're sent to market with one can of beans, you might get more for your trouble if you trade your beans to someone who needs it and has an abundance of what you need. If you have plenty of food and faith in the long-term, you might trade that can of beans for jewelry, gold or silver coinage, or other items of more immediate necessity.

In this case, you're not only selling the beans, you're selling the can as well. Someone can boil water in the can to help sanitize water. You've really got to think outside the box and know how to market the items people will need for long term survival.

Welcome to the barter system, the oldest financial system in the world!

Comfort items will sell well once the immediate apocalyptic event is over.
Comfort items will sell well once the immediate apocalyptic event is over.
Canned food will stay viable for long enough to get your gardens going.
Canned food will stay viable for long enough to get your gardens going.
Freeze-died preparedness meals are available now, but will become scarce once the SHTF.
Freeze-died preparedness meals are available now, but will become scarce once the SHTF.

What will people need?

The goal of this Hub isn't necessarily to make you rich or incredibly wealthy once the crap hits the fan, but preferably you'll be better prepared to have the supplies you need on hand and perhaps have extra enough to assist others who may also require assistance.

Knowing ahead of time which items will be most immediately required for sustaining life will depend greatly upon the nature of the apocalyptic event. That makes it very difficult to anticipate what people will need. Even so, there are certain staples you can always count on: food, water, shelter otherwise known as the triangle of life. Add specific disaster events and that list could grow to include oxygen filtration from chemical or biological agents. It might include antibiotics or antiseptic agents to ward off sickness or infections.

One overlooked commodity is community. If you've got a tract of land you're able to secure, you might consider finding members to bring in. You can offer them immediate food and shelter, help them to establish their own shelter over time, and set them up to practice their trade. A community such as this should have a fair judicial system and forum for settling disputes. The needs of the community should be monitored.

For providing this service as a community leader (as apposed to being a tyrant), your community members will have something to believe in: their voice and concerns will be heard, there will be social justice, and they will be able to contribute to the good of the whole and be fulfilled in their quest for purpose. The non-tangible, non-trade-able commodity of friendship and community can be more powerful than precious metals such as silver and gold.

Catering to desires.

Specialty items will bring in a great return at the market once people move from day-to-day struggles for needs to fulfill desires.
Specialty items will bring in a great return at the market once people move from day-to-day struggles for needs to fulfill desires.
Other parts of the world are familiar with techniques to hide the flavor of slightly-off tasting meat. Seasonings, spices, and sauces will cater to finer palettes.
Other parts of the world are familiar with techniques to hide the flavor of slightly-off tasting meat. Seasonings, spices, and sauces will cater to finer palettes.
Alcohol is and always will be a commodity people are drawn to. The Great Experiment of Prohibition proves that reduced supply will translate into higher demand. Stockpiling is great, but you should also be familiar with techniques to brew your own.
Alcohol is and always will be a commodity people are drawn to. The Great Experiment of Prohibition proves that reduced supply will translate into higher demand. Stockpiling is great, but you should also be familiar with techniques to brew your own.

What will people want?

Can you think of some things that people may not need to survive, but would desperately desire once primal needs are sated? The closer to the actual event, the more likely people will be prepared to hold onto old attachments. We've probably all heard the phrase that starts with the unforgettable words of, "What I wouldn't give for a..." Right?

Once people have adjusted to long term survival, you'll find that old currencies begin to hold weight once again. That's not saying your wad of twenties will be much good, but precious metals will recover once the immediate emergency has ended. This will also be the point in time when invading forces might also be a very big threat. A basic desire of humans is to stockpile goods with the least amount of effort. Peaceful communities that don't have a means of protecting themselves will invariably be the target victims of marauders.

This is where sound business practices come into play. Community will be very important during this stage of recovery. An area without means of banding together to repel invading groups will succumb to invasions from hostile forces. Ammunition, experience, and leadership will be characteristics in high demand. There's no money in it directly, but having a community to help protect your goods and services is one very effective measure of retaining wealth or prosperity. One person need not take from another in order to have his or her fill.

This category would be largely comprised of convenience items or delicacies. Off the top of my head: toilet paper, toothbrushes, soap, salt, sugar, spices, alcohol, generator usage, gas, hot prepared meals, bottled water (as opposed to filtered or well water), and essentially any other item that would cause one to reminisce about the good ol' days of first-world wealth.

On a deeper level, people will want to know they have others they can depend on. Those around them should have the skills and resources available to make a contribution to the whole. Do you have special expertise that will make you a valued member of the group? Can you garden or tend to animals to help raise food and herbal medicine items for the community? Can you treat wounds and dish out sound medical and alternative medicinal advice? What good is a doctor who can write prescriptions for drugs that no longer exist in the local pharmacy?

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Comments 5 comments

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

Interesting article. Do I dare ask if you are a prepper? As for currency, it really is weird to think of that since obviously if the end of the world comes, those things literally won't matter until things become more stabalized. I have to say, as I was reading this I kept thinking, I am glad I have a skill others will find helpful. As a person who cuts hair - I think I will have some bargaining power. After all, if the world is coming to an end, you might as well go out looking good! :)


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

I don't even trip over this stuff. I have my camping equipment, which is adequate preparation for any local natural disasters. We always have plenty of food in the pantry, so while we might end up eating some weird combinations, we wouldn't go hungry.

If WWIII hits us, it won't matter--we'll all be dead of radiation poisoning, and I don't think dead people have much need of either money or items to barter.

If it's a different kind of "apocolypse," such as a giant meteor hitting the earth and ending things, there is no preparation to be had; none of us will exist.

That said, you've laid out the article very well, and given some good advice to follow for such disasters as riots and local government coups or civil war.

I guess you'd say I'm a fatalist--whatever happens, happens; when we die, we die, from whatever cause. In the meantime, I focus my efforts on living. Carpe Diem!


BradyBones profile image

BradyBones 4 years ago from Somewhere Between a Dream and Memory Author

Thanks for the comments!

barbergirl28, While being able to cut hair is a skill you could use to your advantage, you may want to try to expand that skill to offer even more service during harder times. Have you ever been trained to use a straight-razor? We likely won't have electricity in many disaster scenarios, and some men will cling to the imagery of having a freshly shaven face. Are there any other skills you have that you could exploit to your advantage? Do you have room for another hobby? You might try to learn a few good dishes you could prepare with items that grow naturally in your area, things other people might not even consider to be food. Urban foraging is a very good skill that more of us, including myself, could stand to benefit from.

DzyMsLizzy, I believe it's safe to say that many disaster scenarios play out without many of us receiving a quick death. Financial collapse might find us all starving to death, unable to sustain the population we've built on top of old farm fields. If other countries feel the hurt, there goes our imports.

So far, I'm only a partial prepper. I know there's a lot more I can do to be ready for an apocalyptic-level event, but I also choose to enjoy life. Little steps can be incorporated into everyday activities. We usually dump all our change into a jar and cash it in at the bank. Now we all look through the jar for coins with old dates to recover what's called "junk silver coinage" before dumping it into the counting machine. We buy a little extra here and there, keep some cans in the pantry, and can up fresh goods before they go bad.

Being a prepper doesn't mean you have to give up your life, but it can mean living a much better life than you would have if you'd never prepped at all. It's like saving for retirement on top of social security. Will you plan to be prepared, or will you count on someone else to do the planning for you?

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I appreciate you both so very much!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

;-) My husband has military survival training -- no worries; 'nuff said.


That Grrl profile image

That Grrl 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

If it ever happens, people will have a hard time changing their values from paper currency to trading and bartering.

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