Preparedness & Survival by Capt. William E. Simpson,
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Gold & Silver: Should I Buy Some?

get a fair amount of email from readers on various subjects related to economic collapse leading to hard-times, social unrest and a lack of monetary exchange. And one particular question that keeps coming-up is: Should I buy some golf or silver?

We are barraged with commercial ads saying one expert or another is forecasting that gold and silver will be going up and that, gold and silver will be an important form of monetary exchange should there be a collapse. But even if it does, and you have enough risk capital to play that game, is an investment in metals a smart move? And more importantly, is it a smart move for average Americans who likely don’t have risk-capital laying around to throw at speculative investments. I am not an investment advisor, and I want that to be clear. So my position on this subject is largely based upon my discussions with people who lived through relevant historical world events and my studies on those past events which affected monetary exchange between ‘people’, as opposed to governments.

piles of gold and silver bars and coins

If you’re a Prepper or just a prudent American and are looking for some alternative form of exchange should the currency market collapse, there are other historically proven methods (under actual conditions) that don’t require the acquisition of gold and silver. But before we get into that, we all should take a long hard look at the utility of gold and silver.

A crowd of kids and police offers at an outdoor soup kitchen

In order to study the utility of gold and silver during crises, there are historical real world events that have important lessons for all of us today.

Europe during World War II is a good example, and people who lived through those very hard times can really fill your ear about monetary exchange and barter in tough times. My father who fought in that war as part of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne in Europe had a lot of interesting stories about ‘monetary exchange’ and barter between people as well as soldiers. One example was the ‘pack of cigarettes watch’: The German submariners had watches that were highly prized by German and American soldiers alike; after all, these watches were made by the Rolex factory. When things got bad and food and other commodities were in short supply, that very special and valuable watch would only fetch a pack of cigarettes as a barter item. When I asked my father what items had the highest barter value, he rattled off the list, which I will repeat, not necessarily in any order of priority:

staples of milk butter cheese sugar and some bread on a table

1. Food, especially canned meats and other portable non-perishable foods.

outdoor ware of boots, gloves, jacket and pants

2. Warm clothing; a watch (even gold) would not necessarily fetch a warm coat in trade during cold weather.

shelf in a store stacked with headache medicines

3. Cigarettes, liquors and medicines; depending on the need of the recipient, these items could be as valuable (or more) as food items.

bottled water

4. Water: My father was stationed for a time in North Africa and in the region, potable water was more difficult to access than in Europe, so it had some value as barter. There are many geographical places today that have water issues, and as such, during a crises that involves a collapse of the infrastructure, water may be valuable as barter as any of the foregoing commodities.


5. Guns and ammo: In the case of an on-going war, the utility and value assigned to guns and ammo in a war-zone will likely be higher than in other scenarios, and possibly less. In not combat zones, the firearms and ammunition that will likely have the highest value and utility are those related to hunting; .22 caliber firearms and various shotguns and the ammunition for those guns.

Honda emergency pack
6. Fuel, equipment and tools: In a long term crises, these items will emerge as having great value, albeit not as much value as some of the above items.

It’s my opinion that when compared to gold and silver, the foregoing items are the superior forms of barter when there is chaos and monetary collapse. And in the worst case, you can use many of these items yourself when you’re not engaged in bartering.

When it comes to gold and silver, my father told me that during really hard times, only the extremely wealthy, who had all the other commodities very well covered, were interested in accumulating gold, silver and diamonds. And when you did business with them during tough times, these buyers or their agents, paid very little. The ultra-wealthy have a very long-term approach to investing (it’s generational). So they can wait until they can buy when there is ‘blood in the streets’ and then sell when the good-times are back. Average Americans cannot play that ‘rich man’s game’ as my Dad called it.

So should you invest in golf and silver? My answer is to simply use common sense; my Dad would say; an ounce of gold won’t fill an empty stomach or warm your back.

Why worry? Get prepped!

Cheers! Capt. Bill

This article first appeared at

William E. Simpson spent his formative years growing up on a working ranch in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon. William (aka: 'Capt. Bill') is a retired U.S. Merchant Marine Officer with decades of boating and expedition sailing experience, having logged more than 150,000 miles at sea. Capt. Bill has successfully survived long-term ‘off the grid’ at sea and at remote uninhabited desert islands with his family for years at a time. In early 2013, he appeared on National Geographic’s hit TV show Doomsday Preppers (Season-2 ‘A Fortress At Sea’) and received the highest score in two seasons for disaster preparedness and survival, earning the title of ‘Best Prepper’.

Capt. Bill is also a commercial airplane and helicopter pilot and a PADI DiveMaster. Simpson is an accomplished writer covering all aspects of disaster preparedness, including a recent book ‘The Nautical Prepper’ (Ulysses Press). His articles have been featured via numerous magazines and websites and he has been a featured guest on various disaster preparedness radio talk shows. More info at

More columns by Captain William E. Simpson


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