I've been prepping for about five years now, and I thought I'd share a little “trick” I discovered, to cover three very important prepping problems, all at once.
We all want a more secure home, of course. If the SHTF, we may well need to hunker down and be self-sufficient for a while. But no matter how much stuff we've put aside, it's meaningless if we can't hang on to it. So home security is very important.
We also want a hedge against inflation, which seems sure to come. The way the Fed is printing money, and the government is deficit spending, I suspect high inflation is the best we can hope for. Hyper-inflation seems a genuine risk at this point.
Finally, we all need cash on hand for the trouble head. That could be vital to buying some scarce item you have forgotten to tuck away. Or in an economic crash, you may be able to pick up great treasures for bargain prices. (We've all heard how hungry people would trade cars for food during the Depression, because they had no money.)
I have found a great way to kill all three of these birds with a single stone.
You've been reading about pre-1981 pennies, and how they are worth about 3 cents each. That's a great return on your investment, but it's a lot of work to sort out the 95% copper pennies, from the trash they make today. Then you have to run the trash pennies back to the bank, and get some more to sort. Hard work for you, and unhappy bank staff.
They do make little machines for sorting the pennies – I see them for sale on eBay -- which rely on the weight difference to identify pre-1981 pennies. It seems easy enough to make one, but that's still a lot of unwrapping and wrapping of pennies!
I also worry about my home being vulnerable to armed attack. I live about 1 mile from the edge of a medium size town. I won't be the first place trouble comes if the SHTF, but it won't ignore me forever if things really fall apart.
In anticipation of just that kind of trouble, I have purchased heavy fishing netting, 12 feet wide by 150 feet long. I have cut this netting to size, so that folded over at the top and bottom, the pre-cut pieces more than cover each door and window for my ground floor.
I have special hooks ready to go around the outer edges, and can quickly put the netting in place over all the doors and windows. It will be held firmly against the doors and windows, but with a little bit of give.
You can knock my door right off it's hinges if you want to – it'll just hang right there where it was, held in place by my netting. You're still not getting in to my house for a long time working against all that secured netting, and all the while I'll be shooting at you, and dropping tear gas cans from the second floor.
My windows also have shatter-proof film on them as well, purchased on eBay, and are ready for the netting should the SHTF. Even if you eventually pound your way through those security-filmed windows with a sledgehammer, the nets will keep you out for a long time.
The nets will still let all the light in, and a nice breeze when the windows are open, but they won't be obvious from the outside, like heave bars would be. Important for OPSEC.
So I believe I can make it very hard for trouble to get into my house quickly, especially while I shoot at it. But even when I make the doors and windows nearly “impregnable,” I still have to worry about all the bullets flying thru my walls. If they shoot me thru the walls, it won't really matter that they couldn't get in to my house first.
And with the coming troubles, I also want some serious cash liquidity.
I want to have cash for when the banks don't open, and the ATMs are down. That could be from an EMP, a solar storm, or overseas cyber attack. Or just a general economic melt-down. Regardless of the cause, cash money will dry up fast, and checks and credit cards likely won't work.
I also want money on hand for crazy buying opportunities in the depths of an economic melt down. You just gotta keep some cash around, if the SHTF!
I've already got my “beans, bullets and Band-Aids” of course. Those come first. I have 6+ tons of food in drums and buckets, and 30,000 rounds of ammo. Water filters, batteries, and a hundred other little things I don't want to do without. Silver and gold as well. So I can afford to move on to the rest of my concerns.
Starting about a year ago, I began buying “boxes” of pennies from my bank. Not loose bags, but standard sealed bank boxes holding rolled pennies. I get four boxes each week – they expect it and order them for me each week. These boxes cost me $25 each [their face value], for a total of $100.
I don't open the boxes. I stack them along the outside walls of my upstairs bedrooms. When they reach four feet high, I start a new row. I have covered all the walls up to four feet high along the back side of my second floor. It took about 200 boxes, or $5,000. Now I'm starting on the front bedroom walls, which are brick covered outside, so they are already more ballistically secure.
So what have I achieved with this crazy little practice (other than building my biceps carrying all those 20 pound boxes of coins from the bank to my second floor)?
First, my upstairs bedroom walls are now basically bullet proof. Sure, a shell from a tank will blow them a way. But nothing I'm likely to face will go thru my siding, wall boards, and then boxes of pennies. No AK-47 or AR-15 round will get through all that. I've tested it! Anyone shooting from the ground, up at an angle, won't be able to hit anyone who isn't poking their head up to shoot back at them.
Now my walls provide actual cover, not just concealment, and all my windows provide great protected shooting areas. I have a cadre of 12 friends coming to my place if TSHTF – that's why I have three years worth of food and ammo for 14 people -- so we'll have the manpower to shoot back at trouble. I have barbed wire and razor wire to slow the trouble down. I just don't want the bad guys to be able to simply shoot the walls, and hit us. With my penny barriers, that's not a problem now.
Second, I've turned $5,000 of “worthless” paper, into $7,500+ worth of copper investment. How?
Well, from what all the coin-sorters out there write in blogs, at least 25 out of every hundred of my stacked pennies are pre-1981 copper pennies, worth about 3 cents each. That means that, out of every $100 face value, I have $75 in copper, and $75 in current junk pennies. If the ratio is more like 1/3 pre-1981 copper, then every $25 box of pennies is already worth $40 the day I buy it. It's like printing money!
I could sort them now, so I know the exact number of old pennies I have, but why bother? If I just leave them in the boxes, I have an armor plated house. And the pre-1981 pennies are just waiting there for when they are worth much more than 3 cents each. There will be time enough for sorting after the world settles down again.
Third, by doing this I have also stashed away lots of cash money, for a rainy day. In the bank, the government or creditors could get at it. If I tuck paper bills under my mattress, thieves could steal it. Just try stealing my wall of pennies! (You'll need a serious truck to handle the 5 tons they weigh.) No matter how tough things get, I'll always have $10,000 (eventually) stacked along my walls, for emergencies.
Another advantage of coins over paper money will often appear during hyperinflation. When a country destroys its money – which America is doing today -- and ultimately must create a new, replacement currency, it tends to knock 3-10 zeroes off the end. They then have people trade in their old paper money for the new paper currency. Money still in the bank just loses most of it's value, with all those zeroes just disappearing.
But when it comes to coins, the central banks don't want to have to reproduce all those darn coins. It is literally small change for them. So they just declare that the old coins are good at the new level, and part of the new currency.
So your old coin money dodges the devaluation, and jumps right up to the new money value. They figure it can't amount to much, and for most people it wouldn't. But for me, it surely would.
And finally, if there is a severe deflation, and copper goes down to pennies for a pound, I'll still have my $10,000. Just like old junk silver coins, they will always be worth their face value at the very least. The same is true of my pennies. I expect copper to keep going up in value, and my pennies to outpace inflation. But if deflation comes, cash will be king. And I've got a wall of it!
As a final note, those who are still convinced that nickels are the better investment than pennies are welcome to line their walls with boxes of nickels instead. They will never need to be sorted, and will block bullets just as well. They cover a lot less wall, though, per dollar, so instead of spending $10,000, I would have to buy more like $45,000 in nickels. If you actually want that much money in cash, then nickels would be the better choice, since they would take up less space.
But if you really just want to line your walls with bullet-proof cash, and tuck away lots of copper at less than the spot price, then buy boxes of pennies and start stacking them up. - Scott in Wisconsin
JWR Adds: Despite the drawbacks (namely space and weight), the strategy that Scott outlines has its merits. However, my approach is to stockpile nickels rather than pennies. Unlike pennies, there is presently just one composition of nickels in circulation. They are 75% copper and 25% nickel. Although their base metal fluctuates there is no "sorting" factor. (The composition hast not changed since 1946. (It is the same in 2011 as it was in 1946. ) The dollar density of nickels is also higher, so there is less weight and space for each $1,000 invested. (So yes, getting the same volume for a defensive wall of boxes or ammo cans filled with nickels will cost you several times more than with pennies. But if your primary goal is ballistic protection mass, then sandbags are much less expensive than boxes of pennies. When I last checked over at the Coinflation.com web site, a nickel minted from 1946 to present was worth $0.0620596. That is 124% of face value. So that represents a 24% gain, just walking out the door of the bank.
If and when the time ever comes to liquidate your holdings of nickels, it will be far, far easier to sell nickels, where 99.99% of the rolls are all the same composition. (The only exception are the 1942-1945 "War Nickels, which are 35% silver. Each of those nickels is worth about $2.15 each! So that is just a nice bonus, if you ever developed a machine that could sort them.) Compare that to currently-circulating pennies, where you can encounter a wide range of ratios in rolls of newer (zinc) to older (copper) pennies. When you buy boxes of pennies for the bank, some of them might even be boxes of all new pennies. (All copper-flashed zinc tokens.)
I advise stocking up on nickels now, before their composition is changed!
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