Editor’s Note: In October 2009, I wrote the first version of this post, shortly after the stock market bottomed in the wake of the Financial Crisis. The economy has since righted itself, but now, while the band in Washington bickers about what song to play, we steam uncaptained towards the icebergs. To help in the event of a second crash, I present the original below, with light edits and updates for 2011.
Suppose that you snapped. It might have been the blood-red 401k statement that arrived in yesterday’s mail. Or that last year, you paid your broker $10,000 to lose $100,000. Or, perhaps, that while everyone else, by government largesse, refinanced houses, replaced clunkers, and recouped bad investments, you received nothing! Except a letter from the tax man.
So you went online, made a few phone calls, and faxed your John Hancock here and there. And, lickety split, there’s a pile of $100 bills in the middle of the living room floor. You cashed out. Now, what to do next?
You considered going big: the Insane Vegas Weekend, purchasing a yacht, giving it all to charity, etc. However, that’s not you – it’d be best to keep a few bucks around to cover your obligations and save the rest for a rainy day.
Which means that your slug of cash needs a safe, secure hiding place. You could squirrel it away in the house: beneath the floorboards, inside a wall, or under a mattress. But them thieves done seen all the TV crime dramas, and they know the usual stashes. Besides, if your humble abode burns to the ground, your nest egg goes up in smoke, too. Major bummer!
For the ultimate in cash protection, we look to the masters of liquid wealth, the venerable Pirates. A quick consult with Parakeet Pete yields the following solution:
Arrrr, bury your booty in a hole, matey!
Which sounds like a fine idea, but there’s one very important, unexplained detail: What to bury, exactly? The $100 bills? Their equivalent in silver? Gold? Or something else? What is the best store of value?
To help you determine the answer, I’ve created a table that details some of the most likely materials, including the price per pound, the quantity that’s worth $1,000,000, what to bury it in, and the pros and cons of each:
Stuff That You Might Put In Your Hole
|Material||Value Per Pound||Size Of $1,000,000||Bury In||Pros||Cons|
|subterranean silo||never hungry||bulky, mildew, mice, locusts|
|corked clay jugs||many lovely banjo solos||blindness|
|underground tank||Peak Oil, baby!||fumes, third degree burns|
|surplus ammo cans||gun owners need you||you need owners with matching gun|
|Russian-proof bear boxes||the Bloody Mary||requires V8 and Worcestershire|
|Jerky||$18||27 tons||duct-taped lawn bags||infinite lifespan||everything stinks like jerky|
|Cigarettes||$57||7 pallets||basement of abandoned 7-11||captive market||nicotine stains|
|water-tight firearm lockers||reinforces Alpha Dog image||ATF raids, terrorism indictment|
|rolling plastic totes||Werewolves begone!||not Gold|
|Arctic tundra||endear yourself to power elite||must ice or eat within 3 hours|
|sealed anti-static tray||light weight, inert, brainy||loses half of value every two years|
|Cocaine||$9,000||50 kilos||legs of faux llama keepsakes||world-wide demand||unstable customers, Scarface|
|treasure chest||time-tested currency||metal detectors, confiscation|
|$100 Bills||$45,000||43″ stack||mason jars||backed by U.S. Government||worthless beyond Thunderdome|
|vault with lasers and trip wires||profit, intrigue, girl’s best friend||low utility, De Beers assassins|
|argon-filled, lead-lined bunker||ultra-compact||CIA, critical mass, death by inhalation|
ObDisclaimer: I am not a financial advisor, and this is not financial advice. All prices approximately USD as of July 15, 2011. Burying your life savings in a hole may incur risks, including, but not limited to, mold, worms, plunderers, and loss of map and/or principal. Underground balance is not FDIC-insured.
Hope that helps!