There’s another Bug Out Bag (BOB) in the prepper family that you need to meet. It’s the Bug Out Bank, something that should be an addition to everyone’s G.O.O.D. plan. With the chaos going on in the financial world, and the uncertainty that goes hand-in-hand, the importance of this element of your plan can’t be overlooked.
We all realize there’s a bad moon rising. Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. It’s worse that it appears from up close. The official, underreported unemployment rate is hovering around 10%. The debt ceiling “fix” was done with masking tape and rusted wire. And the results? Significant stock market plunges. Gold at record highs. Silver climbing like a cat up a tree with a pit bull behind it.
Gas is a dollar higher than just one year ago. Food costs are steadily climbing. International markets? Mayhem and manipulation. Domestic trends? Downgrades and credit crushes. Yikes.
How about your paycheck? If it’s like mine it not only hasn’t increased, it has been cut. No matter what the gnomes say, this is inflation and if you want to extrapolate the possible future, start thinking about what happens when you put the “h” word in front of it. Hyperinflation isn’t just for Banana Republics anymore.
So how can you protect yourself against the worsening storms? If you’ve taken the precaution of creating a Bug Out Bank, you’ll find yourself in a far stronger position than most, for both the short haul and the longer term.
I’ve created a small kit, roughly the size of a shaving bag, that contains items that I believe will allow me to put some space between my family and the worst of the chaos. With it I believe I can weather at least two weeks, buying me enough time to get to a safer haven or tightening up my bug-in location. Other elements of the bank should allow me to exist from that point forward with a decent financial foundation.
First, I’ve included duplicates of my credit card and bank debit / ATM card in case the electronic systems are still operational. I don’t have a lot of faith in that, but using a piece of plastic isn’t going to draw any attention and will save me from digging into my other reserves. Know where the ATMs are in your vicinity – at home, at work and along the path of any planned escape route. Look for ones that are out of the way. People will flock to the financial institutions in the case of a bank run, quickly emptying the machines, but may overlook the ATM in the local corner store or restaurant. Search them out and make a map. Withdraw your limit and make sure you do it as inconspicuously as possible.
Next, stock up on whatever you need by using your credit card. Be careful not to overspend and put yourself in debt! I know many won’t worry about that in a SHTF situation, but it’s still a good idea to be mindful of a false alarm or the eventuality of having to pay the bill. I also suggest smaller purchases to avoid being targeted as a “have” and followed by a spiteful “have not”. Besides, your stockpiles should already be well in place at this point. This is strictly for last minute purchases such as filling your gas tank or replenishing items you meant to buy but haven’t “gotten around to” yet.
Act quickly. Once the electronic banking systems go down, your plastic will be worthless. Second in my line of financial defense is enough cash to get me through the days when federal reserve notes are still being accepted as currency. People are creatures of habit. Even if things are looking extremely grim, it’s going to be hard for the average consumer-driven sheep to pass up a handful of cash. For that reason, in my Bug Out Bank I have a total of $1,250 in the following denominations:
$600 in hundred-dollar bills. I realize that it’s not likely I’ll get change for them, but the power of a $100 bill will remain a big allure to many. They should work to acquire large items or make necessary payoffs.
$450 in ten-dollar bills. This is what I consider the ideal denomination for average purchases.
$200 in one-dollar bills. I got these new and flat from bank to save space – you’ll never get circulated bills to lie flat and orderly. Perfect for paying in conjunction with the $10s or for smaller items where change cannot be made.
$20 in quarters. Useful for pay phones if cell phone service is unavailable or bus / train fare if you’re in a city. Failing those needs, Charles Bronson once devised another good use for them.
Now on to the meat of my Bug Out Bank: silver. Realizing that it calls for a bit of optimism that my first two stages (plastic and paper) will be functional for very long, I’ve prepared accordingly. As the mainstream media reports more and more about the value of gold and silver, and the fact that the general public is becoming more aware of the inherent precious metal value in pre-1965 US silver coins, I’ve converted a portion of my savings into them with the specific goal of using them as currency. In fact, I’m betting many readers here have done the same. Some stores, like this one, are already accepting them.
I have accumulated 550 silver dimes and 34 silver quarters. As of this writing they’re worth $2.80 and $7.00 each, respectively, for a total of about $1,780. I figure that will get me food, water, fuel or whatever else people have and are willing to barter for. The only downside is their weight. It’s not much, just under 4 pounds, but it is added weight just the same. It’s a trade off I’m more than willing to make, however. “Worth its weight in silver” comes to mind.
Be sure to store them in such a way that you don’t jingle like Scrooge McDuck as you walk around. I use coin rolls. The main reason is so I can take out just one roll at a time if I need to use a coin and not display a sack of treasure that alerts people to how much I really have. To avoid tell-tale clinking, paper bank rolls work nicely since I’m able to roll down the paper on unfilled rolls. I’ve also experimented with using plastic tubes and putting cotton in to fill any gaps. Cotton balls have other uses, so this is a good alternative.
That covers cash and cash equivalents. I know that’s a lot for most people. It is for me as well. I made a lot of sacrifices to get to these levels. Clearly not everyone has the same financial realities. But the plan can be scaled down to fit any budget. Grow the numbers as you’re able.
I also keep copies of my important documents in the Bug Out Bank. These serve to establish my identity and preserve the important information I will need during and after a G.O.O.D. scenario. I’m going under the assumption that I won’t have my wallet, and have therefore ensured that I have placed everything I need in the bag. These are color photocopied front and back and include:
- Driver’s license
- Social Security card (ironic, I know)
- CCW identification card
- Insurance cards
I keep originals of:
- Credit cards and bank / ATM cards, as mentioned earlier
- My passport and my family members’ U.S. passports
I also keep a USB/flash drive with scanned images of all of the above plus photo documentation of my home and automobiles with license plates showing. I have scanned copies of my will, house deed, car titles, insurance paperwork, health records and other important documents. I have photographs of my valuable possessions with serial numbers shown on a sheet of paper next to the item, where desired. Clearly, this information needs to be securely encrypted, something that has been covered on this web site before by people far more experienced than I.
I want to touch on some unique elements of my Bug Out Bank. These are items that currently can be bought for a few cents each in most cases. However, in the case of a long-term societal collapse, they’ll be difficult or impossible to create from scratch and will prove valuable as barter items. I’ve intentionally limited myself to these items due to their compact and lightweight nature. I have filled an Altoids tin or small pill bottle with each of the following:
- Safety pins
- Small and medium sized fish hooks
- Anti-diarrheal pills
At this point it started to become tempting to trespass onto Bug Out Bag turf, so I resisted the urge and focused on what I was willing to carry that is most likely to be both barterable and in demand.
Realizing that possessing that much cash and silver carries a risk, I’ve also hired a sleeper security guard in the form of a lightweight, compact .38 special revolver. There’s no need for the gun/caliber debate here. This is strictly a “backup to my backup” gun and something that always stays in the bag. As always, be certain you follow your local laws regarding concealed carry and use of firearms. Concealment of the bag is also a priority, the method of which differs with each reader’s situation. Use your head – there’s obviously a lot at risk.
It took a lot of time, work and determination to get all the assets together for my Bug Out Bank, a constant evolution until I was able to reach my goal. I hope it can serve as an inspiration and template for yours. When you’re grabbing your pack, don’t forget this BOB. He can mean a huge difference in your ability to provide for yourself and your family.