Consider two questions.
- If your local government currency, such as dollars or euros, did not exist, what do you think you could you use to buy a meal that currently costs $10?
- What do you think will hold its value after purchase?
You need something that is easy to trade, at the current market price, and at any time. A TV is not good because it loses value immediately after purchase, requires extra effort to find someone who wants that model, and can’t be broken into smaller pieces.
You need something with these characteristics:
- Already valued by people in your community
- Won’t decompose
- Easy to break into smaller pieces (divisible)
- Light compared with its value (portable)
- Stable value
- Similar to other instances (gold is gold, regardless of where it is mined)
Keep in mind a few points:
- Money organically comes into existence. Fundamentally, people choose a product that is valued at that time, in that area. When enough people choose the same product, that product becomes money.
- Value is subjective and preferences change. Different communities value different things at different times. If fewer people wear silver jewelry and electronics start to use another metal, then silver would lose its value and you might want to consider another money product. Similarly, spices once traded as money but as they became accessible, the value decreased, and people chose new products as money.Many people have used silver where available. In times of crisis, people use water. In prison, people use stamps and food.
- Money substitutes such as a credit card or paper certificate, could be used to transfer any product. This makes the weight less of an issue.
- Some ethical points. Mining for gold and other minerals often harms the environment. Cows and chickens want to be free, not used as money.
- Emergencies can happen at any time. One day all is well, the next day your house burns down or you have to flee your country. Having portable accessible money can reduce your risks.
- Diversify physically and geographically. Don’t keep all your wealth in one product. Don’t keep your money in one country or one city. If you do open an account elsewhere, comply with all tax and reporting laws. The goal is to preserve your wealth, not go to jail.
- Double-taxation on purchases affects the vast majority of items that could be used for trade. If you buy dinner with copper coins, most governments consider that two purchases and apply sales tax to each item. The restaurateur pays a tax on the copper and the diner pays tax on the meal. The sales tax needs to be abolished or reformed to remove the bias towards central bank currency. Some U.S. states such as Alaska and Delaware do not have a sales tax.
- Financial gains in unconventional money products are taxed whereas this is not done with the central bank currencies. If you own U.S. dollars and the value increases by ten percent (due to deflation), meaning you can buy 10 percent more of gasoline, the government does not consider this a gain. However, if the value of your copper increases, then you will pay a capital gains tax. For monetary freedom, we need to abolish or reform this tax. Some countries, such as Sri Lanka and Singapore do not have a capital gains tax.
Items to preserve wealth and facilitate trade. Some are good for both.
- Gold: Keep in mind that many governments add extra taxes to gold and other precious metals. Still, it has high value relative to its weight so it’s easy to store and carry. If you have to leave your home suddenly, you want gold in your pocket, not a valuable painting.
- Silver: You’ve probably heard of the silver dollar. At one point, quarters, dimes, and nickels were made of silver, until the silver became more valuable than the “face value” of the coins, so the government switched to inexpensive metals.
- Bitcoin: The advantage of bitcoin is it has a predictable increase in quantity each year, compared to national currencies which can inflate or deflate dramatically at any time. The disadvantage of bitcoin is that it does not have a “primary use” in society so it is difficult to value.
- Gems: Diamonds, rubies, etc.
- Cigarettes – Syria regime’s payment to mercenaries
- Singapore Dollar– This is a national currency, which usually are not good options as money, but Singapore, at the time of this writing, does not have a deficit, which is often the main reason for central banks to issue more currency that is lent to the host government.
- U.S. “Forever” Postage Stamps – they increase in price every year and do not have an extra tax. The only problem is finding someone who will buy them.
- Copper: Pennies are made of copper b/c copper has a value. At some point, maybe even now, the copper in the penny will be worth more than the value of a penny and, though it’s likely illegal, some will melt them down to get the copper value.
- Tide Detergent – Favored in the illegal drug trade; see also this article.
- iPhone 5s
- Permanent Portfolio Approach – The Permanent Portfolio is a mutual fund based on the idea that the government and central bank manipulate the economy. This fund could be used to preserve wealth. The fund divides assets into four quadrants: stocks, gold, US 30-year bonds, and US short-term debt. If the government is increasing the amount of Fed Reserve dollars (inflation), decreasing the amount (deflation), or meddling in any other way, one of the four areas rises. Most importantly, it rebalances when one quadrant reaches 35%. Theoretically, it is much more conservative than many other funds and stocks. Learn more.
- Raw materials via ETF Futures – Similar to precious metals, raw materials such as oil or wheat could be used to store wealth. You purchase oil with a “future” or a promise to buy an item. Airlines use futures to lock in fuel prices. Futures can be sold before the date when you are supposed to buy the good. In modern times, you can easily purchase futures via exchange traded funds (ETFs). If you are worried about food prices, store your wealth in an agriculture ETF fund. If you’re worried about energy prices, choose an energy ETF.
- Chia seeds
- Cocoa beans
- Salt slabs (the word “salary” comes from “salt”)
- Tea bricks
- Vadmal (cloth)
- Conch shells
- Spear heads
- Shmoney – Shmoney matches people who want things done for them with people who can help them. Post a job that you want done, someone does job for you, that person gives you a sum of Shmoney that is equal to the TIME spent doing the job (i.e. 3 hours work = 3 time credits), and you spend that Shmoney on someone doing a job for you.
Unethical monies: Cows, chickens, goats, beaver pelts (the word “buck” comes from using animal hides)
Options Tied to Central Bank Money
The value of these currencies is based on the value of U.S. currency falls. One Amazon.com coin is equal to one cent and if the value of one cent falls, so does the Amazon coin. Whereas if you bought a bottle of Tide for $10, and the value of the U.S. dollar fell by 50 percent, than the Tide bottle would be worth $20, preserving your wealth.
Disaster Areas & Prisons
- Unstable Economies
- Prisoner-of-War Camps
- Whatever is delivered by aid groups.
- [Read about money in prisoner-of-war camps]
The internet and digital commerce might lead to people use these options as money.
- A basket of minerals (gold, silver, platinum). All stored in different locations, likely near the sources, and digitally collected as a basket. If you wanted to take possession of your money, you would need to convert the basket into one of the products, otherwise you’ll have substantial shipping charges.
- A basket of minerals and non-mineral products, such as oil.
- A basket of shares from many mutual funds
- A basket of mutual fund shares and minerals and oil