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Letter Re: Don’t Stockpile, Get Global — Conversations with a Rhodesian Expat and Being Financially Global

Dear Jim,
My mantra has always been “In a world of uncertainty….Diversify!”  Sure, it does make sense to stockpile (only to a rational degree) at one’s primary location and at one’s primary retreat.  However, this stockpiling should not be done beyond the optimal level such that it would disallow planning for other contingencies.  You are correct that “other” countries may be worse off than the US in the event of, for example, a financial collapse….but that does not preclude these other countries being a better option in the event of other sorts of problems.  Other more localized issues might include domestic political unrest, climatic changes or disasters, legal changes that preclude staying in your primary locale, etc.  Rhodesians, of course, know all too well about the latter.  Similarly, it would be totally irrational to place all one’s eggs (or even most of them) in a single or even a few foreign baskets.  I believe it does make a great deal of sense, however, to keep two or three foreign bank accounts with say $1,500-$2,000 in each.  From my experience during the Arab Spring, I can tell you that there is a world of difference between being a refugee and a being refugee with even temporarily sufficient means.  Fleeing domestic political unrest and arriving with the clothes on your back is infinitely inferior to arriving in a foreign country with $2,000 in the bank to pay a month’s rent and buy groceries while you, as the Rhodesian’s often say, “Make a plan”.  That time to breathe and regroup is absolutely invaluable let me tell you.  

As I said, one does not want to park vast sums of money in these places but, depending on where one’s social or familial support mechanism resides, having a few bucks or even a land title stashed away in Canada, Europe, Belize or elsewhere is a very decent and rational idea as part (only part!) of a larger prepping plan.  A potential retort to all of this, of course, is to horde gold and silver and cash outside the domestic financial structure so that one’s wealth can be transported anywhere they might choose to flee.  While this seems like a great idea, and I know someone who did it with diamonds upon leaving South Africa decades ago, for practical purposes it might be a bit tricky to transport cash or gold outside the country in the event of a major disaster.  Airports are probably not going to be friendly places for people trying to do this.  Further, given the weight and size of many silver stashes, this might even be a more difficult option.  It seems a much better idea to diversify one’s positions before things go bad: to buy your geographic and financial insurance before you need it and where it most benefits you, and to own your umbrella before it starts raining.  

Best, – Eightbore