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Currency Post SHTF – Cash? Gold? Money? BTC?

In a world that teeters on the edge of uncertainty, the subject of currency post-SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan) becomes a vital conversation, especially among preppers and survivalists.

Drawing from my time as a soldier, where resourcefulness was not just a skill but a survival mechanism, I’ve come to understand the intricate dance of value and trust that defines what currency really means when society’s traditional structures begin to crumble.

The essence of currency lies not just in the physical or digital forms we’re accustomed to but in the perceived value and utility it holds in a post-crisis world.

In this article, I delve into the viability of cash, gold, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), and other forms of money when conventional systems fail.

My experiences have taught me that the real currency in such times is not just about what’s in your wallet or digital wallet, but what you can use to secure your needs and safeguard your future.

Key Takeaways

  • Versatility and Accessibility: Cash, despite its potential devaluation, offers immediate accessibility and universal acceptance in the early stages of a crisis.
  • Intrinsic Value: Gold stands out for its timeless worth and tangible value, serving as a robust long-term investment against inflation and currency devaluation.
  • Digital Resilience: Cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, present a decentralized option, though they rely on digital infrastructure which may be vulnerable post-SHTF.
  • Adaptability and Trust: The essence of any currency lies in the trust and utility it holds within a community, making bartering and locally accepted commodities potentially valuable currencies.
  • Preparedness and Diversification: A diversified portfolio of cash, precious metals, and digital currencies, alongside practical goods for barter, is crucial for comprehensive preparedness.

Drawing from my background, I’ll explore each option’s strengths and weaknesses through the lens of survivalism, backed by anecdotes and lessons learned in the field.

Let’s dive deeper into what each form of currency could mean for a prepper post-SHTF.

Cash: The Immediate Go-To

In the initial aftermath of a crisis, cash is king. It’s accepted everywhere, requires no verification, and most importantly, doesn’t rely on the internet or power grid. My first experience in a disaster zone highlighted cash’s value when electronic systems failed, and we reverted to paper transactions for essentials.

However, the value of cash is intricately tied to the stability of the government that issues it. In hyperinflation scenarios, like those seen in Zimbabwe or Venezuela, cash quickly loses its value. The lesson here? Keep enough cash on hand for immediate needs post-SHTF, but don’t bank on it long-term.

Gold: The Eternal Safe Haven

Gold has been a symbol of wealth and a store of value for thousands of years. Its intrinsic worth comes from its scarcity, durability, and the labor and resources required to mine it. Unlike fiat currencies, gold cannot be printed or digitally created, protecting it from inflation.

In my deployment in regions where local currencies collapsed, those who had gold could secure goods and services when paper money was deemed worthless.

The lesson was clear: gold’s physical and immutable nature makes it a reliable store of value in times of uncertainty. However, its portability and the practicality of converting it into usable goods in a dire situation can be challenging.

Cryptocurrencies: The Digital Frontier

Cryptocurrencies, led by Bitcoin, offer a decentralized alternative to traditional banking systems.

Their digital nature makes them less susceptible to physical damage, theft, or governmental control. In places where I saw currencies rapidly devalue, crypto provided an alternative means of preserving wealth that could be accessed globally.

However, cryptocurrencies depend on the internet and electricity—two resources that may be scarce or non-existent post-SHTF.

The reliance on technology infrastructure is a double-edged sword, making them potentially invaluable or utterly useless, depending on the situation’s specifics.

Bartering and Local Currencies: Community Trust

The oldest form of commerce is bartering, and in many SHTF scenarios, it becomes the most immediate form of currency.

Goods like food, water filters, ammunition, and medical supplies can become more valuable than any form of money. In my time in isolated outposts, the trade of practical goods was often more appreciated than any cash or gold one might offer.

Communities may also develop local currencies or IOUs based on mutual trust and the necessity of trade. These forms of currency rely entirely on the social contract within the community and can vary widely in form and acceptance.

The Prepper’s Approach: Diversification and Practicality

Drawing from these insights, the prepper’s strategy should be one of diversification.

Relying solely on one form of currency post-SHTF could be as risky as not preparing at all. A mix of cash, gold, possibly some cryptocurrency, and tangible goods for barter can create a resilient economic safety net.

Moreover, understanding the local context, potential risks, and adapting your currency portfolio accordingly is key. The real currency in any SHTF scenario is the ability to adapt, the skills you possess, and the community you build.


The question of which currency will hold value post-SHTF is complex, influenced by numerous factors including the nature of the crisis, the stability of global and local economies, and the resilience of technological infrastructure.

Based on my experiences, the answer lies not in choosing one form of currency over another but in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each and preparing accordingly.

The ultimate currency post-SHTF is the ability to remain adaptable, resourceful, and resilient. Whether it’s cash, gold, cryptocurrencies, or barter goods, the best investment you can make is in your preparedness, your skills, and your community. These are the assets that truly hold value, no matter what the future holds.


Q: How much cash should I keep on hand for a SHTF scenario? A: While the amount can vary depending on your situation, having enough cash to cover expenses for at least one month is a commonly suggested guideline.

Q: Is investing in cryptocurrencies a good idea for prepping? A: Cryptocurrencies can be part of a diversified preparation strategy, but their reliance on digital infrastructure should be carefully considered.

Q: Can gold be too cumbersome to use in a post-SHTF economy? A: Gold’s value is undeniable, but its practicality for everyday transactions can be limited. It’s best viewed as a long-term store of value rather than immediate currency.

Q: How do I determine what goods are best for bartering? A: Focus on items that are essential for survival and have a broad appeal, such as food, water purification methods, medical supplies, and fuel.