Reworking my numbers on the value of gold and silver

January 31, 2013

I’m looking at historical value of gold and silver.  Historically 1/2-1 oz. of gold will pay for your living expenses for about a month. If you go with silver figure about 5-15 oz.  should cover most needs for a month. This is a low ball estimate of the average cost of just needs like food, energy, water and shelter. I’m thinking about is value and not the cost in FRN’s and what is the value of basic need items in relation to gold and silver. Now historically the silver to gold ratio was 10-15 oz. of silver was equal to 1 oz. of gold. But today that ratio is about 50:1 and I believe silver may become even more valuable than the traditional ratio but at this time silver is very cheap in relation to gold.

If we look at the value of certain bulk foods in relation to gold and silver you can see a huge disconnect between value and price.  For example: family of four to eat for 2 months would need to buy 50 pounds each of rice, beans and lets add 2 types  grains such as wheat and dent corn would cost about $150.00. Now lets add in about 80 pounds of meat at an average cost of $2.50 per pound for that family of four would add another $200.00. Okay now we add in 15 pounds each of veggies and fruit at about $1.00 per pound for about $30.00. Last but not least dairy items like eggs, cheese and yogurt say about $40.00 that’s enough for a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk per week  for $20.00 and you can get cheese or whatever with the other $20.00.  So far we have spent about $420.00 on just food for a family of 4 but we need to get a few other items like soap, toothpaste, toilet paper and those other items that you put on your shopping list so lets budget $500.00 for groceries for a family of four that will last two months. Or about $250.00 per month on average for a healthy diet and a little extra for sales and some treats.

Now if we imagined the store accepts gold and silver along with FRNs  and using a value of $1700. 00 per oz. of gold and $35.00 per oz. of silver. The food is actually much more valuable historically than either gold or silver based on what you need to live each month. Because the food cost in gold is under 2/10 of an Oz. of gold or about 14 oz. of silver at today’s prices. If silver was valued at the historic value of 15:1 with gold or about $110.00 per oz. the numbers change quite a lot and go back to 1/10 of an oz. per day of silver for 8-12 hours of work. Now historically everyone in the family worked as soon as they were capable so let’s figure a family of 4 could work and bring in a value of about 2.5 oz. of silver per day.

As many folks point out you can’t eat gold or silver and many seem to forget you can’t eat FRNs either.  Though FRNs tend to have a broader acceptance than silver or gold in trade. But if we go back to the historic cost of living as well as the intrinsic value of silver and gold, 50 pounds of rice, beans  and 100 pounds of grains is actually worth about 3 oz. of gold or about 15 oz. of silver at today’s ratio of price if not value and you can get that food you know you will use for under $250.00 each month.  Fiat money will always return to it’s intrinsic value which is nothing especially in the age of digital money!

Silver is a great bargain but long term food storage is an even better bargain. But look at why you are storing anything of value such as food, water or fuel:

  1. You will always need food to eat and there is no substitute for food although it has a limited shelf life. If you can store bulk items like grains, beans and rice properly they will be good for 10-25 years. You can grow more food or supplement you diet with what the land provides via game animals, wild foods, gardens or even some small  farm animals.
  2. Safe drinking water is a must have. If you have no safe water to drink you will be dead in 3 days on average and 1 day of dehydration can be life threatening.  I live in the high desert and even I was stunned by how much water you could collect on average via rain barrels just from the surface area of my roof. Even here in the desert you could collect over 3000 gallons a year via a roof of 1200 sq.ft. home.  That is a fairly small home in the desert based on average yearly rain fall.  Sure you will need to filter some of the water to make it safe to drink and cook with but as long as you have a way to collect the water people could get by without using a well!
  3. Energy/fuel: This is a big item for me because while I can buy ahead of need as well as get many different types of fuel. I really don’t have the space for any type of  self sustaining power plant. Solar energy is about the best overall option and even at that batteries wear out and panels get damaged by weather. I’m physically handicapped/disabled whatever,  but I can’t do as much work physically as I used to because of my disease. I could do nothing or I can figure out another option such as solar energy and work in a little gas generator, propane, charcoal and solar ovens to try and survive for a few months to a year.

This an approach to value that  I have been working on and it seems to for me.  Sometimes  I feel like I’m taking advantage because people give me the stuff I need for little pieces of paper conjured from thin air.


I have a bad feeling about this….

January 30, 2013

I know we have all spent both time and money getting prepared but I have the oddest feeling that food, water and energy are the most important items to get now and for the next couple of months. Even more so than ammo, guns, PMs or anything else!

I was in good shape on stored food even before starting my ” Food Drum” idea. But I have this overriding sense of urgency that food is going to become much more valuable as well as much more costly than I had imagined this year. I feel the same about adding water storage and fuel of all types.  Overall I have a few years of food, over 500 gallons of water stored and plenty of filters for making more clean water from my rain barrels.  I could get by a month on gas or up to a year on some of my fuels for lighting, cooking and my solar generator is coming along.

I’m trying to figure out why I seem to be focusing on food, water and energy instead of guns, ammo, communications and all of the other items you need to be prepared or self-reliant.  This does not seem to have a  rational basis on what I have already stored and what I original had planned for my 2013 goals.  Perhaps, I’m feeling compelled to get more stored to assist friends and family. I noticed my last few posts have been leaning that way on food, water, energy and the “barter boxes”.  But not towards stocking up on PMs, guns or ammo for security.

I think of my self as a rational person and try to plan based on logic as well as history. But when I get this kind of “gut” feeling I pay attention and try to figure out if it is an emotional thing or if my brain is connecting the dots my logical side has not pulled together. Perhaps it’s “Divine Inspiration” and I don’t feel it’s a panic reaction as compelling as the feeling is to me.  I can’t really explain it as I don’t truly understand this feeling myself.  I should be all freaked out about how little ammo and not getting my reloading set up done because a lot of stuff is out of stock or on back order. I find that my guns and ammo plans being screwed up isn’t bothering me much nor do I feel compelled to get ammo or guns at any price. Based on what most prepping sites suggest on what to have on hand,  I should feel more panic about my ammo stores rather than what I have on hand of food or water.

I’d like to ask you readers of my blog if you have felt a “gut instinct” or “intuition” that seems not to be based on logic or emotion but somewhere in between. Perhaps an answer to a prayer or “Divine inspiration” and how getting that thing done filled you with peace or made you move on to another task.  Do you feel as if your focus/goals have been pulled in a completely different direction almost without your own conscious thought?

What to get next or how to prioritise what you prep

January 28, 2013

It should go without saying needs come before wants.  At times I find myself confusing those two items. I suppose it’s human nature to want to get a bit lazy and a bit greedy and try and game any system. But I want you to take a hard and realistic look at yourself and what you have stored and is it enough to check the block of what some expert said or is what you really need?  The Government says have at least 3 days worth of food and water and yet after 3 months since Hurricane Sandy hit there are people living in tent cities in the middle of winter and flu season. Not a good situation and certainly not one I would choose for myself. But if you only had 3 days or even 2 weeks in that situation you would end up at the tent city!  Remember the PTBs and the people had over 7 days notice the hurricane was coming.

Keep working on your goals  of food, water, shelter, sanitation and basic first aid. I mean you should plan on not  going to the store, gas station or Wal-mart for 3 months. If you don’t have enough stored to go without grocery shopping for 3 months, you need to get busy.   When I read about places like Greece and Spain and they can’t buy an Aspirin for any price because the companies refuse to ship any more into the country until they are paid.  I’m thankful to be able to go to the local store and stock up.  If you can store it safely, A few cans of gas, propane, a gallon of kerosene for lamps for heat, cooking, light and emergency transportation. You don’t want to have to stand in lines to refill if you can avoid it. Even the little butane stoves I get can help with warmth and cooking. For the total cost of $30.00 you can have a little stove and 8 cans of fuel that should last for about a 7 days of cooking/boiling water.  Have a battery powered radio so you can keep up on the news if any is reported.

Guns and ammo is kind of hard to stock up on right now. Shotguns seem to be coming back in stock and I do see plenty of shot shells other than OO buckshot if you have not picked up a weapon for self protection yet!  Otherwise I think it’s best to wait and buy only if you can get a good price. Otherwise let this panic have a chance to calm down.  Hopefully people overbought and we will see all that stuff go on sale.  I got a BB/pellet rifle to practice shooting techniques to save training ammo and I want to pickup a sling shot or two for dealing with smaller critters. I’ll buy some of the ammo for slingshots but I have plenty of rocks I can use as a backup.

This panic buying of guns, shows how important it is to have whatever you need already on hand. But it is just as important to not let yourself get caught up in the panic and shift your focus to another part of your prepping or goals.  All of the electric space heaters were out of stock here in the valley, but the Mr. Heaters were still in stock and going for $70.00. Be flexible and adaptable to see all possible solutions to your problem!

Cash on hand: can you pay all your bills for 3 months with cash you keep at home and not in a bank? If you don’t want to keep that kind of cash at your home have you paid 3 months ahead on bills? Even in an economic collapse cash is king at least for a little while. Ironically in hyper inflation there is usually a shortage of paper currency at least in the short term.  You want to trade those bits of paper for whatever you can get and save your real tangible assets for thing of values.

I like gold and silver as a store of value but they are both far to valuable to waste on stuff you can buy with paper dollars. I know some folks think they will trade gold or silver for whatever they want. I think they maybe disappointed in the exchange rate. A 50 pound bag of rice will give you over 500 servings or 2 meals a day for over 8 months and costs about $20.00. An oz. of silver costs over $31.00 and might go up in value compared to dollars and will feed you for…. I figure a 50 pound bag of grain, rice or beans is worth more than an oz. of gold to me because I get to eat for 6-8 months. I would never trade my 50 pounds of food for less than 18 oz. of silver or an oz. of gold just based on historic values.  Remember it is about value, not cost in fiat dollars as that is arbitrary. Your choice on what you wish to buy and store today but,  a 50 pound bag each of rice, beans and a grain will cost under $100.00 that will feed a person for 8 months is more valuable than an oz. of gold that cost about $1600-$1700.00. Silver and gold are only worth what you can trade for them and since I don’t want gold for it’s own sake. I’m not saying silver or gold don’t have a place in prepping,  I’m saying evaluate the actual value to you and not based on any fiat dollars.

Getting some good buys, 55 gallon drum setup and when did Oats get so expensive?

January 27, 2013

I finally found butane fuel for my little mini-stoves. Four 8 oz. cans cost $6.67 at Cash and Carry, each can is supposed to last about 2 hours on high heat and 4 hours  on low, so I’m figuring about 1 can per day for cooking/reheating canned foods.  I want to pick up at least three more of the mini-stoves for the BOB and the barter box. I’m going to get another 8 of the butane fuel cans for my self and the barter box this week and keep buying as I can afford more of them.  I think these little stoves are perfect for giving out to friends and family and will be quite valuable as a barter item.

My beer lady is having a sale on the the 15 gallon water barrels only $20.00 each. I’m thinking of picking up a couple more of them to have on hand. I’m in good shape for my water storage but I know most people store very little water.  While the 15 gallon barrels weigh 120 pounds full of water, that is still somewhat portable via a hand truck or a couple of strong guys could put one in my van or in a truck and deliver it to whoever needs water. Each barrel would provide a gallon a day per person for a couple of weeks and give you time to set up additional water collectors/filters for drinking water.  I worry about family members having enough water on hand. Of course I still have to get 3 more collapsible rain barrels and the water mister for staying cool this summer. I could also loan out the collapsible rain barrels to friends and family if they need it. I don’t think people pay enough attention to how critical clean drinking water is to personal health. I know I didn’t appreciate having tap water until I did my own no tap water test.

I got my first 55 gallon metal drum, pallet and 100 pounds of grain to start my 7 year food storage. It’s going to take a little longer to set up my metal drums as I’m going to work on making a safe area along with food and water barrels and I will need to move some stuff around to make it work.  I have been taking pics of the food and how I’m putting it all together but it is taking a little more effort and time than I what I first had in mind.  The two gallon food safe bags look like they are going to work out even better than I first anticipated.  Each bag will hold about 12 1/2 pounds of grain so grabbing a bag to use is going to be easy to move and place into a smaller container.

I have some oatmeal already in storage but I concentrated on getting corn and grits because of the drought/ethanol mandate and I guess I missed the rising price of oatmeal. I stopped into Cash & Carry and all they had was 25 pound bags at $15.08. You get about 8 servings per pound and it still a good energy dense food but I thought it would cost less.  I was planning on the cost on a 50 pound bags would be about $20.00 and so I will have to take a bit more time on getting the oatmeal,  I want to see if I can get a better price.   With Chinese New Year coming up in Feb. we may see some good deals on rice we can use to fill a drum.  I have it planned out for the budget to get another 100 pounds of dent corn and perhaps another drum for next month which gives me a very good start on adding some variety to my existing grain storage and add 200 pounds of grain for just over $100.00 total cost counting the cost of the first drum and bags. I’m really quite excited about this project and I think it will work out even better than I  had originally planned.

It’s going to take a little more planning, time and work . I want the metal drums filled with the latest food purchases and maintain a good food rotation. But once I build the safe area the wood platform would make a great shelf for my smaller food buckets that I have already on hand that need to be used first.  After the first 55 gallon drum or 2 are filled I should have a better concept of how everything will work overall as far as space needed and how to set it up for proper rotation of first in first out. I know these drums are for the long term food items but there is no reason to make them to hard to get at and use the stored food.  If the drums have any weakness it’s via the rotation of food as most folks won’t rotate stored food. It should not make a big difference if you fill the drums within 6 months to a year. But first in first out is a great rule for everything a prepper stores.

Planning for family and friends or adding to the barter box

January 24, 2013

During my little adventure I  have met many people who refuse to prepare in any way and quite a few of them are related to me or are friends.  Needless to say I have had very little luck convincing these people to prepare.  I think that was a big reason I started this blog was to try and help people who wanted to prepare but it look to expensive or there was just to much info to take in.  At least that’s how I was when I started out.  I hope I have been able to show how a disabled person on a fixed income can not only prepare but start working on becoming self reliant.  But it’s been very tough dealing with people who refuse to even consider prepping for a disaster. Or somehow that being self-reliant is some kind of “fringe movement”.

If you have been prepping or are into self-reliance, I’m sure you have had very similar conversations as I have and are just as frustrated by them as I am. You probably have given up talking to people about preparing because they just refuse to listen or say something like “I don’t need to prepare.  I’ll just come to your house”!  Now I have worked very hard and went without for years to make sure I’m as ready as possible and now I am supposed to support 10 other people who decided that a Wii, Iphone, Big screen TV and going out every weekend to dinner and drinks at the bar was more important than having some extra food, shelter, first aid, water and sanitation items stored.  I do understand that kind of frustration and have often thought I won’t share with those greedy SOBs but I know I do love them and I will try to help them if I can afford to help!  They will also pay for what they get from me, though it might just be in muscle power, instead of cash.

I started my charity buckets and I keep a few gallons worth of water in soda bottles that I can give out and move refugees along. No,  I’m not planning  take them in as it will be to dangerous for me. I plan for helping family members but they may not like the cost of that help as they will work, pull security and learn, or they will leave and get nothing.  Sorry it has to be that way but life is hard and it ain’t fair.  Now many will refuse to pay the cost and that is where my “Barter Box” comes into my planning.

A lot of the stuff  I have in my barter box started off as cheap backups for me then for the non-preppers I know. My little sterno stove and canned heat fuel for example cost less than $15.00 and if the power went out I could still heat up a can of soup or boil up a little water for a cup of coffee or whatever I had to eat without using electricity.  I now have better stoves and oven for backups, so the Sterno stove goes into the barter box. Same thing starting off with candles for light. Then I got good flashlights and kerosene lamps, so some of the candles go into the barter box along with some of the cheap flashlights, now that I have higher quality lights on hand.  Some small items are always great barter goods like bic lighters or wooden matches.

Just because you start out prepping getting the cheapest you can afford does not mean those items will have no value as barter in the future. A small battery powered or wind up radio can have huge value if the store sells out. Or in a power outage that little sterno stove!  I’m darn frugal and hate the idea I may have wasted money and I don’t feel as if I have wasted anything.  Because I always had a backup as I moved up. So  set aside a couple of boxes for those little items for family, friends and barter.  Sure you are not giving them the best that you have but if they complain tell them to eat that Ipad or burn that big screen TV.

It’s not different for me than it is for you. Yes, you will be pissed off that you are aware of how bad things are and at times you will wish you could go back to being a sheep for a few minutes. Then you will look at what happens in a storm of sitting on the freeway waiting for a pileup to clear and you have food, heat, water and blankets or warm clothes to put on and you will know it’s worth it. Or all of the stores sell out of heaters during a cold snap and you have all you need already on hand.  The ATMs and debit card readers all go out and you reach into your wallet for your “Mad Money” pay cash and walk out with what you need/want.  You are no longer living paycheck to paycheck, out of debt, have your little emergency fund and are even a month ahead on paying your bills.  I’ll tell you that is a huge stress reducer and will give you true peace of mind!


Paying a few bills ahead seems to be working out so far

January 23, 2013

2012 was the first year I stopped living paycheck to paycheck.   I did pretty good not having to worry about shopping on payday or juggling bills to make sure they got paid on time.  I have a small emergency fund I could use but that was for emergencies not everyday bills. This became a bigger worry after reading about some of the banking problems in the EU.  England had empty ATMs and banks basically blew off their depositors for a week or more saying they were under attack by “hackers” and would not refill the ATMs nor allow withdrawals.  Italy had a major bank that froze all funds for 30 days because of “accounting errors”. Spain, Greece and Cyprus all have had banking issues and people could not withdraw money or a limits were placed on how much money a person could withdraw. This is not a sign of a healthy banking system and since I’m making less than 1% interest and losing ground via inflation it seemed a good time to try paying ahead.

Since Nov.2012  I started adding a little extra to some bills or paying smaller bills a month ahead of when they are due.  The whole idea for an emergency fund is to pay your bills. So if you get a month or two ahead on bills that will make that emergency fund stretch last a little bit longer. I have lost all trust and confidence in the financial and banking system of the USA. If it is paper I don’t like it and that’s everything from mutual funds to bonds, money markets and 401 k. This my choice!  I believe after MF Global and the Libor scandals no financial instruments should be trusted. I’m not a financial adviser or guru so you can do as you wish and evaluate your risks as you see fit. I’m only telling you this so you know what my basic reasoning is for paying ahead and should not be considered  financial advice for you and your situation.

Now a few downsides of paying early to be aware of:

  1. You lose the ability to use that cash and it will have an effect on your “cash flow”.  On thing like cable/Sat  TV, cell phones and other items that are not needs, you can’t cancel and get that money back.
  2. You might not have the cash on hand for a great deal/sale see #1
  3. Some bills may reset the due date if you pay early so make sure the new due date won’t be a burden if you need to go back paying month to month. Dish TV seems to do this to me.
  4. I have started small on bills that are less than $50.00 and I know that might not be a big deal to many people it’s given me some peace of mind to know that my car insurance is a paid for a month or two in the future.
  5. Many utilities will let you add a little extra when you pay your bills. In a way you are doing a level pay plan but you retain control if you want to pay ahead if you want or not.
  6. I hate Auto pay. While I do use online bill pay,  I want to be the one who decides when my bills are paid.  I would rather pay a small late fee because I’m late with a payment as opposed to a “bounced check fee”.
  7. If you decide you want to pay ahead on your mortgage, look at the breakdown between what you pay on principle and what you pay on interest on your loan. The difference can be quite large so be aware unless you designate to pay extra  on the ” principle” only you might end up paying  interest you don’t need to pay!

Power bills  are becoming a big deal here in Idaho with this cold snap. The local news is running stories on how people are having a huge energy bill and who to ask for help such as Salvation Army or the local power companies “Project Share”.  I did not pay ahead on power, but getting all those other little bills paid ahead leaves me a buffer for the next power bill. So it looks like this little plan of mine is working out!

It looks like the PTBs have decided to play ” kick the can” on the debt ceiling till May so it looks like SS and vets will get paid at least a few more months. So it’s time to get the seeds and things that you will need for gardening this spring along with all your other preps.  Getting the first drum of bulk food filled up has me darn excited about the 7 year project. I think my second barrel will be the dry beans as that’s my next weakest food. Once I fill the second barrel with a couple hundred pounds of  different beans and lentils I can start the next barrel. It’s going to take a few months to get done but I should be “food secure” for just about anything life can throw at me.

Just some observations from SW Idaho

January 22, 2013

I got a bag of wheat and a bag of corn  and the 55 gallon drum for about $55.00.  Add in the cost of the two gallon bags of $5.00 and I’ll start transferring the grains into new bags and getting the Metal drum in place this weekend. 100 pounds of grain stored for $60.00 is a good deal. I’m  starting on the misc. barrel first as I have been wanting to add more oats and dent corn to my food storage for variety but I bought the wheat because it can be hit and miss when they have it in stock.  I can get a 50 pound bag of oats at Cash & Carry any time and it is usually under $20.00. By the first weekend of February I should have about 150 pounds of grains in the metal drum and know for sure exactly how much I can store in each drum.

There are very few electric heater to be had here in the valley which really surprised me. Home Depot, True Value out local farm store  and Kmart are all out and as soon as they get a shipment in they barely get to the shelf before they are out again!  I guess this zero degree weather caught a lot of people off guard and the are supplementing the main heaters with some little electric ones. The last few years we have had mild winters and with so many transplants and new housing getting built perhaps those homes are not quite warm enough for people. Of course a lot of those new homes don’t have a real basement, or the pipes aren’t very deep compared to an old 1940’s house like mine.  So they might be using the heaters to keep the pipes from freezing.

It’s a very strange feeling for me to have been caught unaware on the heaters. Simply because it’s not an issue for me any more. Mom and Dad are set with both a wood and a gas fire place and Mom and have the small Mr. Heaters for backups for any of the kids along with some tanks of fuel.  We are supposed to warm backup into the 30’s tomorrow and hopefully we won’t see another cold snap for the rest of winter but I can tell you I’m sure glad I had enough propane on had for a couple of weeks if it had been needed. Time to refill and get a couple of more tanks if we get paid 😉 next month.  If I have to go to all propane I should be able to cook and heat with 3 tanks for every 2 weeks.  Even in very zero degree weather, six tanks should last about a month.