Storing Your Value

Old-School Wealth Management

by Stephen Von Worley on July 26, 2011

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.

Hundred Dollar Bills

A pile of Benjamin Franklins.

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
Wheat $0.14 120,000
subterranean silo never hungry bulky, mildew, mice, locusts
Moonshine $0.16 130,000
7gal stills
corked clay jugs many lovely banjo solos blindness
Gasoline $0.58 270,000
underground tank Peak Oil, baby! fumes, third degree burns
Ammo $2.10 525,000
surplus ammo cans gun owners need you you need owners with matching gun
Vodka $7.80 1,800,000
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
Guns $60 2,500
water-tight firearm lockers reinforces Alpha Dog image ATF raids, terrorism indictment
Silver $580 1,700
rolling plastic totes Werewolves begone! not Gold
Caviar $2,400 1,100
Arctic tundra endear yourself to power elite must ice or eat within 3 hours
CPUs $6,000 4,000
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
Gold $22,500 200 bars,
100g each
treasure chest time-tested currency metal detectors, confiscation
$100 Bills $45,000 43″ stack mason jars backed by U.S. Government worthless beyond Thunderdome
Diamonds $175,000 black velvet
vault with lasers and trip wires profit, intrigue, girl’s best friend low utility, De Beers assassins
Plutonium $2,000,000 1.3 inch
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!

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