This is How to Keep Your Money Safe When SHTF

Last Updated: June 1, 2021

Money will be completely worthless in a total SHTF situation, which is why preppers and survivalists stock up on supplies and learn valuable skills.

However, it is rather unrealistic to think that all money is going to lose its value, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. For that reason, you’ve got to consider how you will keep your money safe when SHTF.

Will Money Still Have Value?

Throughout history, we’ve seen many examples of economic collapse on a grand scale. We all know of the Great Depression of the 1930s in the USA, but there was also the Price Revolution in 16th century Spain, the Medici Bank failure in the late 15th century, the Russian Revolution in the 1920s…

But we have yet to see a complete global economic collapse.

Despite scary headlines, we aren’t likely to see fiat money (printed money) lose its buying power.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be scared of economic collapse. Throughout history, we’ve seen many regional economic collapses, and many are occurring right now. Just ask the Greeks how they feel right about now.

While it is possible that all fiat money will lose its power, what is more likely (and has happened in the past) is this:

  • Hyperinflation will occur
  • Government will seize bank accounts
  • Businesses will shut down
  • Civil unrest will occur

With these things in mind, let’s look at how you can keep your money safe in case of total SHTF situations and economic collapse.

great depression economic collapse
Man begs in front of a bank during the Great Depression

Gold Is Not a “Safe” Currency

None of us can predict what will happen in a total SHTF situation. But, for me, it seems ridiculous to think that gold will continue to hold value after all the other world currencies have become worthless.

You can’t eat gold.

You can’t make medicine out of gold.

The only really useful thing you can do with gold is throw it at an attacker’s head!

Let’s look at some examples of complete economic collapse in history.

One example is the collapse of the Weimar Republic in Germany from 1922 to 1923. In just one year, the price of bread went from 163 marks to 200,000,000,000 marks.

Did people start using their gold jewelry as currency?


The entire country went on a bartering system. They traded services and goods.

If you want to buy a small amount of gold – go for it. But history tells us that we shouldn’t count on gold as a currency in times of crisis.

Image of a woman lighting a fire with bank notes (Weimar Republic, 1922)
Image of a woman lighting a fire with bank notes (Weimar Republic, 1922)

Diversify Your Currencies

Another example of economic collapse is what happened in Yugoslavia during the 1990s. In the two years between 1993 and 1995, prices increased by 5 quadrillion percent.  This number is a 5 with 15 zeroes after it!

The hyperinflation got so bad that people literally wallpapered their homes with the money.

Once again, no one in Yugoslavia turned to gold as a currency. Instead, they started using German Deutch Marks (the Euro wasn’t invented yet) for currency.

hyperinflation in Yugoslavia
2 million dinar bank note from Yugoslavia

What can we learn from this episode? If you want financial security in case of economic collapse, you need to keep your savings in multiple currencies.

Today, I’ve got part of my savings in US dollars, Australian dollars, Euros, Swiss Francs, and Chinese Yuan. If one currency collapses, one of the others will still likely hold value.

*An interesting note about the Yugoslavia case: While some people had their entire savings accounts become worthless overnight because of the inflation, other people got lucky. For example, my Serbian friend told me how his parents took out a mortgage right before the economic collapse. Virtually overnight, their mortgage went from a huge sum to the same amount as a loaf of bread.   Few banks in the former Yugoslavia offer mortgages in dinars anymore for this reason. Loans are given just in Euros, which is seen as more stable.

Where to Keep Your Money in Case of Economic Collapse

Most people keep their money in banks. This is NOT the safest place for your money to be during an economic SHTF situation.

One of the things that happens during an economic collapse is that the government confiscates people’s bank accounts. They have also been known to confiscate property, including people’s homes.

Consider what happened during the Cyprus bailout agreement in 2013. The government seized money in accounts with more than 100,000 euros. It is estimated that 40% of privately-owned money was stolen.

Another thing that happens during an economic crisis is mass withdrawals from banks. Banks are only required to have a small amount of depositors’ money in reserve (3-10%). When everyone comes at once to withdraw their savings, the bank doesn’t have enough money to cover all of the withdrawals. This recently occurred when Greeks withdrew savings amid debt crisis.

I’m not saying that you should give up on banks completely. But, considering what happened in other economic crises, it seems unwise to rely completely on banks for keeping your money safe when SHTF.

bank run during economic collapse
Image shows a massive bank run in Berlin as people scrambled to withdraw their savings at the start of the economic collapse.

Where to Keep Your Money – Alternatives to Banks

So if banks are a bad place to keep all of your money, what are the better options? Here are a few options – but remember to use your own judgment and use these methods at your own risk!

At Home

You could hide your money in places like buried in your backyard, inside your walls, or in secret drawers.

These are okay options for small amounts of emergency cash, but I wouldn’t trust my entire savings to be stashed away in my wall!

For starters, what if there is a fire or flood? Not only is your home destroyed, but all of your savings too.

If you stash your money at home, please keep it somewhere safe from disasters. The best option is probably a fireproof and waterproof safe, which is well hidden in your house.

Safe Deposit Boxes

When the Cyprus government confiscated bank accounts, they didn’t confiscate the contents of safe deposit boxes.

This doesn’t mean the government won’t ever raid your safe deposit box.

But, if it comes to this, you will probably have advanced warning – such as that they will first raid bank accounts and then come for safe deposit boxes.

Credit Unions

Credit unions have a lot of the same problems as banks, but are generally more stable. The only major downside is that getting your money out of a credit union during a disaster scenario could be really difficult.

Best solution?

There is no single “best” solution for keeping your money safe during an economic collapse. The best solution is probably a combination of all of the above.

Keep your money in different currencies in many different places. When SHTF, it is likely that some of your money will still hold value and be accessible to you.

Do you have a SHTF banking plan?  How will you keep your money safe?  Let us know in the comments below or join the discussion on Facebook.

Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-12023 by Georg Pahl; CC-BY-SA 3.0
NYC: National Debt Clock by Wally Gobetz; Found on Flickr; CC-BY-SA 3.0

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  1. Should I take my money out all at once or little at a time. I have my money in a small bank is it save? Will I loose all my money in a reset?what should I do I worked hard to save what should I do

    • Well, apparently if you take out $10k or more, this must be reported to the Feds by the bank. I am not an attorney and I only have a vague awareness of this rule – apparently you can be flagged and have some difficulties so it may be useful to talk to your banker and tell them you want to diversify the way in which you hold cash and that you want for example $10k – get it in writing that this was discussed. Likely you will also have to wait for the bank to have your cash available, that can be discussed as well. If you do take money, save the withdrawal slips so that you can show that it was your money and not earned from say a drug deal. just best to be safe than sorry. It sounds like cash is at risk regardless but perhaps the less you have (in any one place), the less likely it is to be confiscated so I would consider some in my bank, some in my credit union, maybe some in the money market account at my brokerage and some at home. That’s all I have gleaned so far – that and stock up on things you know you will need/use (so you don’t have to come up with money to buy them in the event of hyperinflation or confiscation/devaluation of currency) buy items that can be used to barter and try not to have any debt. Remember “The debtor is slave to the lender”.

  2. And don’t try to get around the $10,000 rule by taking multiple smaller withdrawals! You risk a “structuring” violation and confiscation of the entire amount!

  3. I have 12,000 in a credit union divided between to share accounts and checking. I recently purchased a used vehicle and took a loan out to help pay for the vehicle of $7,000. Should I pay that full amount and be done with the debt in case this whole pandemic ruins the American economy and we go into a depression?

    • If you have a job keep making payments. I would keep any lump sum of money for other emergencies. Once you pay off the loan you limit your options. Having said that it’s hard to give answers with limited information. Do not make any decisions out of fear.

    • My thought is to pay off the car – reduces cash (that can be taken) and gives you an asset you can use – unless of course an EMP takes it out of commission, then we are in bigger trouble (yes, I know cars lose value but that is subjective – if you keep and use the car, the value is the same it only loses the value when you go to sell. I never understand why people don’t consider the value they received from owning the vehicle.). Anyway, you will automatically earn whatever interest you would have paid to the credit union and you will reduce your expenses which will be critical as prices increase. Worst case – depending on the age of the vehicle, it serves as an emergency fund since you can use it as collateral on a new loan.

      Another thought is to use your $7k to purchase food, water storage containers, filtration options, first aid supplies, any maintenance items needed, perhaps a generator, some precious metals, some cash in your hand, a bicycle and any 2nd amendment accessories you need. If you have any left, then you pay down the vehicle maybe even refi for longer term lower payment again to have lower expenses – you can always pay sooner if you get the money and you would have locked in the use of the money for whatever period at whatever rate you are able to get.

  4. Totally agree with your advice about banks. Not the safest place for sure. Even safe
    deposit boxes are not safe. There are many reports of people who thought their
    valuables were safe and found out later they were stolen. Google it. Totally disagree
    with your advice about diversifying to other fiat paper currencies. They are made of
    paper and Voltaire said it best: “Fiat currencies always eventually return to their intrinsic value–zero.” In bold contrast, Gold has proven reliable over centuries at preserving purchasing power. During the hyperinflation in Germany people who owned gold instead of paper saw their purchasing power expand 1.8 times more
    than the inflated currency. You may not be able to buy something with
    a gold coin but you can easily liquidate it into any form of fiat paper currency to buy
    goods and services.

    • What I think about, as retirement approaches, is what country should I have a second home in where I can park assets out of the US and in a currency not pegged to the dollar, but with maybe more exposure to Asia. If the S does HTF, assuming I can travel, I have a home, assets, maybe income that are not attached to whatever is taking place here.

      Secondly would be owning businesses (or investing in one) that have global revenue streams from like 100+ countries. And many of the software applications with monthly subscriptions would fill the bill. And many of those do not repatriate the profits. Theoretically, if a portion of their customers were in countries that suffered sudden acute depreciation, at least 40-60% of their revenues would be unaffected.

  5. I plan to sell a rental property and hope to profit around £50,000. I have a mortgage of a similar value left to pay on my own home. Should I pay my mortgage off immediately or buy gold/silver and liquidate at needed to pay mortgage to take advantage of golds hedge against inflation?

  6. I’m retired and don’t own much. With a small savings in diversified accounts in a credit union out of state from which I moved. I’m now thinking to open an account in the state I just moved too. Yes my credit union has very low fees and good interest, but it’s probably better I get my money closer to me now if I have to grab. Do you agree?

    • Ideally, everyone should have cash accessible. In major emergencies, ATMs run out of money and banks close — so opening an account with a nearby bank isn’t necessarily a sure thing. But it does sound better than having money in out of state, less-accessible accounts.

  7. What is the best place to put your during an economic depression or recession and can get it when you need it.I have heard banks can steal your money.Well where should I put my money like $5000.

  8. Bitcoin sellers and buyers are ALWAYS told the internal blockchain encryption algorithm is unbreakable and this fact can be proved. When you think of China educating their best software and mathematicians to crack and create new counterfeit money and history is complete with cracking “uncrackable” encryption algorithm (read the many books on how the German enigma “uncrackable” encryption was broken by Bletchley Park), you just lost your savings. “the digital yuan is a version of the normal Chinese currency deployed on a blockchain, which is the tamper-proof online ledger technology that underpins digital coins like bitcoin and ethereum. However, this blockchain is permissioned, meaning the People’s Bank decides who can use it”. Guess who controls your digital yuan and soon, bitcoin, etc…?

  9. Best advice I have ever heard (which I took and have benefitted greatly) is to (1) get out of debt, including any mortgage. (2) at the same time, build a nest egg of 1, then 2, then 3 months current living expenses (ensures against income/job loss). Keep 2 weeks or more income at home in small bills. (3) build an emergency supply of 1, then 2, then 3 months of food and other consumables. If possible include fuel for 100 miles. Don’t forget clothing for any local season. (4) Keep things in good repair. (5) be on good relations with neighbors. Never know when you or they will need help. (6) have a useful 72-hour emergency kit/bug-out bag. Always drive on the top 1/2 of the gas tank.

    • The problem w/emergency funds right now is that the cash will likely loose value or if in a bank, can be unavailable for whatever reason. It may be a good idea to keep your emergency fund in a tangible asset that can be traded for a. new currency b. goods c. services or that would be accepted as payment of bills – so likely gold and silver (barterable items too). Gold is currently hanging out around $1900 but many expect it to go higher, silver around $28, also expected to go higher. Both effectively cost more due to premiums. Still, they may serve as a stop loss tool and store of wealth during any transition.

  10. If I don’t need fast access to my savings and I just want to try and protect it in another way than cash in a bank savings should I put the money in real estate, precious metals or what?

  11. I have just sold my property/business for $500,000 (in Australia). I am very scared and do not know how to keep my money safe. I am 60 and will not have any other source of income. I am going to be living in my motor home due to these very unstable times. I need to use cash whilst on the road. I may look at buying a piece of land to use as a base due to what is happening in Australia at the moment but didn’t want to for at least 6 to 12 mths. Settlement is in a couple of weeks and I was wondering if I should have part as a bank cheque and part as cash (enough to live for a year)?

  12. Due to a recent drop in salary I am living paycheck to paycheck and don’t have available money to stock emergency food and other items. Should I take money out of my retirement accounts to prepare. Will we lose our retirement accounts anyway?

    • I know it’s hard right now, and understand your problem, most people spend way to much on extra without thinking about it. Do you go out a lot, on the average people spend about 40% on waste a month, look at what you spend every month and start cutting things that you really don’t need, also try to buy every time you go to the store one or two cans of meat, vegetables and fruit. This will help you be more prepare, and also don’t tell anyone your are doing this no one, the answer to your question this is a hard one, for one the banks may or may not take it anyway.

    • What did you do? It may be time to take money from Retirement fund if in U.S. as the fiat former petro dollar is essentially worthless, buy some Au and Ag, keep some cash, pay off or down any debt; especially variable rate, buy some non-perishable food items, get meds you take for 3-6 mos. if you can.

  13. Why do you say it would be particularly difficult to get money out of a credit union? More difficult than out of a bank? And how do you go about obtaining these other currencies? For those who don’t travel to other countries?

    • You have to set up accounts at your bank in the foreign currencies. If you want cash, you have to ask the bank in advance. Most banks will have Euros on hand but not yen, swiss francs, etc.

  14. What do you do with a substantial IRA? I took it out of the stock market and it’s just losing value in the money market. I have gold and silver, but really, how much can you have? I’m already prepped to the gills. I have more than a years worth of food, a Burkey water filter, cases of drinking water, and everything you can think of. I don’t want to lose my life savings. What do you suggest?

    • Consider a few convertible bonds, or a fund of them. They earn some return (below inflation) but have the potential of stocks if everything continues well. Again, however, they will be denominated in fiat currency so I would keep such investments to a minimum.

      Also silver bullion coins. Canada’s one-ounce silver coins have a face value of $5. Not much (worth $25 as silver) but if silver were to crash the coins could still be spent.

    • Pay off vehicle, credit cards, house or consider a property even in another state, that you can rent or flee to if necessary.

  15. I know the government could raid our bank accounts, etc. But what about our brokerage accounts? Does anyone know if these are protected from government theft?

  16. Gold never loses its value, has not done so for millennia. It is the safest store of value. You can always trade gold at any stage in the future for any currency of your choice.

  17. For every day trade, if there was an economic collapse, I’m pretty sure my local farmer would trade meat and dairy for silver coils, for example. I’m not so sure they would accept Chinese Yen, on the other hand.

  18. I completely agree with you on gold and silver. If a complete crash and I had a pound of hamburger to sell and someone showed up with gold, a file, and a scale and someone else with a gallon of gas, then they’d be eating hamburger. Gold may have its place to hedge inflation, but it won’t be a replacement currency in a collapse. I’d think safety deposit boxes would be a concern if banks lock the doors.


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