Where can I keep my money?: Alternatives to Banks

john-cash-cash-only

With what I have found in the Dodd-Frank Bill on Bank “Reform” that I published in My Post last week, I have begun to research alternatives to keeping my money in the bank, and wanted to pass along what I have come up with.

I have my money in the bank, currently, and I am not advocating pulling out your money NOW, not at all.  However I think it is time, if you haven’t already, to start divesting yourself and your wealth out of the bank and into more secure forms of wealth preservation.

CREDIT UNIONS

It think that this would be the first and best step, Credit Unions offer a much more stable atmosphere overall than regular “banks” such as Wells Fargo, Chase or others.  Credit Unions are ‘not for profit’ and often give much higher returns on savings than do aforementioned banks.  They also dont get involved in the schemes that often topple larger banks, such as real estate, derivatives, etc.  The downside is that often outside of your regional area, ATM access is limited/nonexistant.  This can be offset by going to a Cash carry for daily needs and gas, as well as keeping your bank account open with the larger bank and depositing a check into it if you need to travel.  While A Credit Union will not be immune from a large bank collapse, they will however be more stable than others for a short while.

SAFETY DEPOSIT BOXES

Once you take the step to moving to a Credit Union, i would find a branch that offers Security Deposit boxes, these can normally be rented for a a few bucks per year ($20 or so).  If you are going to continue to keep money at the bank, I would keep just enough to keep from getting penalized, and the rest in the safety deposit box.  Whenever you need to add money to the account you can go in, open the box, deposit the money etc.  I will talk about storing cash at home below, but the danger of having cash at home is always robbery, with a safety deposit box you can have it secure in a vault without worrying about some hoodlum stealing your life savings/rent/mortgage/etc.  While I admit this is still not a ‘safe’ option 100% in regards to the new powers the government has, it is not stored ‘digitally’ where it can easily be stolen through a few keystrokes.  You might still have the ability in the worst case scenario of going in to get ‘your grandmas jewelry’ you store there and walk out with it all vs, the guaranteed loss of having it stored with the bank in a ‘account’.

 

CASH AT HOME

This is the most ‘safe’ option from the new ‘bail in’ procedure the government has in place, since it wont be stored there at all.  You can store it in your gun safe or other safe, however this is also the most ‘obvious’ place for any thief where things of value might be stored.  If it were me, I would store what you would need to pay bills, etc. for the month there, so that it is easily available when you need it.

With the bulk of your cash savings at home I would not keep it in any obvious place like the mattress or tucked behind books or the freezer.  If you have ever seen photos of break ins to homes you will notice that they look in freezers, bust open safes and throw all the books on the floor.  They also throw the books on the floor because false safes hidden in books are often hiding place.  They will also pull off artwork from the walls looking for wall safes, why?, because they have seen the same movies as you have; you are not being sneaky by emulating them.

I would look to invest in a quality floor safe, that is built into the concrete itself and a thief will have to dig the concrete out around it to actually break in, and they will be protected from fire as well.

If you cannot I would consider burying it, using plastic pvc pipe with desiccant packets to absorb moisture you can ensure pretty well you will not dig up any rotted out bills, etc.  If you have a crawl space under the house I would pick a place that is not near the entrance to the crawl space but not near a corner or wall, but near the middle and where you can find it again; dont mark the spot…..  If you cant I would pick a spot that is outside and out of the way, but not visible to neighbors, etc you can find out about how to bury stuff in my article on gun caches.

Other options include using hollow core doors, those fake power strips, or anything else inventive you can come up with.  Perhaps you can buy a busted microwave or old t.v. and open it up, stuff you stuff inside and stick it down in the basement with other junk.  No thief is going to steal a 20 year old microwave with a busted window (I would smash it up a bit to make it completely worthless) and no thief can sell off a 20″ projection T.V. from 1992, so its pretty safe.  Always make sure that the item doesnt stick out. In the case that the government wanted to look for stashed wealth by those they consider suspicious (highly unlikely any house to house would ever happen), you would want it to blend in.  Perhaps have boxes of old clothes, old VCR’s, old tapes, just basic junk and hid it amongst that stuff, dont have it on the shelf in your office, when everything else is reasonably new and up to date.  This is not a cash hiding spot, but one i have mentioned before for precious metals is to put them in coin tubes and then open up a turkey or whole chicken and stuff it in there, fill it with water and re wrap it and freeze it.  Then it will be safely frozen and if it was looked at you wouldn’t notice it inside and no thief is going to defrost a turkey to check that spot!

 

PRECIOUS METALS

This is something i recommend while also not….I do not….DO NOT recommend you taking the money out of your bank account, and spending it all on precious metals, not AT ALL! do not sink all your savings into one vehicle.  While I think they are a great store of wealth it is not guaranteed you wont be hard up for doing so, there is no guarantee gold, silver, etc will be taken as currency any time soon, they may even be illegal (in that case the black market will always be open!), however once again, never have all your eggs in one basket, have 10-20% of your savings/wealth in precious metals and that is about it (however DO NOT DO THIS if you dont have any of the basic food storage items stocked away, have a year for each person before you decide to do this).

 

BITCOIN

There are many alternative digital currencies out there, but bitcoin seems to be the biggest, most accepted and a rising star in the currency world.  I dont know that much about bitcoin, however the basics are you have a digital wallet and can buy bitcoins from people on the street or through a internet intermediary, even on ebay.  With this you can purchase these coins for X amount of dollars (I think it is over $200 a coin now as of October 2013), and many people and businesses take them.  The currency in your wallet is very safe from what I have been able to find out, Kim DotCom the megaupload CEO who was arrested for running an online pirating empire still has all the wealth in his bitcoin wallet, the FEDS have been unable to crack it and take it as part of their investigation.  I have issues with bitcoin, while i support any alternative currency I see it as dangerous to being unusable if the government decided to outlaw its use in a worst case scenario.  Its up to you whether you want to use it or not.

 

For anything you do, realize that you will still need cash to purchase things, food, gas, pay bills/taxes, etc……  I would try, if it is possible, to get your paycheck in check form so that you can cash it yourself.  You can go completely bank free by cashing it at a check cashing center, however they will charge you a fee, usually based on the % of the check total.  Often you can cash the check at the bank that it comes from or even other banks without an account, but they will charge you a fee, but it is often lower than check cashing centers.

If you want/need credit card capability without a bank account, you can go to pretty much any store and use a Visa greendot card, often it is $5-10 a month and load it with what you want to use, or need for the month and buy things with that.

Western Union often gives you the ability to pay bills or send cash, for a fee.

As with any of these alternatives, it does cost you money to do so.  However I would very much recommend no longer storing the bulk of your savings, and anything past what is needed to pay bills, in a bank anymore.

If you have any tips on going bank free, please comment below!

 

 

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Comments

  1. LOL and for any thief reading this? all new places to look!!!

    • Great Northern Prepper says:

      I suppose that is true, but if one KNEW you had a in floor safe, fires they would have to find it, then jackhammer it out of the ground taking hours, not a good idea. However the chance a thief reads this and finds out you read this AND put it into place is quite small. The chances the thieves in washington want to steal your money are much greater :)

  2. First, I LOVE credit unions!!!

    That being said…

    They aren’t too much more protection for you than traditional banks. And, depending on where you live, or the type of emergency, they could even be riskier than banks!

    Examples: Most of us access our checking/savings accounts via our debit cards (and checks.) When a national financial collapse event occurs, this is THE FIRST WAY that the government “locks down” the public. (Just look at what Argentina has been doing.)

    e.g. In an attempt to slow hyperinflation, the government will HALT transactions by Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AmEx, etc. We won’t be able to transfer money in/out of the country (e.g. convert falling USD into other currencies.) ATMs will be completely shut-down (or tighter withdraw limits — such as only $100 per day) will be placed against our accounts. It’s the EASIEST way to “control the masses.” It’s even easier than shuttering all the doors of the big banks.

    Thus, when they shut-down the credit/debit card transaction — your funds will be in “lock down” (whether they are in a bank, or a credit union.)

    Another recent example: Hurricane Katrina
    People who lived in New Orleans, and banked with either “local/small/neighborhood” banks, or via credit unions, were soon “locked out.”
    e.g. The banks had to lock-down and bug-out, too. So, there were no back-end systems still running to validate bank balances and authorize debit/credit card transactions, nor to verify bank balances to cash checks.
    People on the run, were soon “locked out” of these bank balances.
    Whereas, the larger, “big/nationwide” banks were still up/functional.

    So, before you go running to your nearest credit union with all your $$$, know that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere…

    Safe Deposit Boxes:
    Here’s something that might surprise folks:
    1.) When the banks (and credit unions) DO shutter their doors, this also means you have ZERO ACCESS to your safe deposit boxes, too! THINK about that… We used to put “valuables” in there like Passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. And, a couple of bundles of cash (of course.) Well, if/when things get REALLY BAD — it’s not going to be very easy to bug-out (of this country) if all your Passports and valuable papers and “run away money” are all still “locked down” behind closed/gated/barred doors (with no one even inside to hear your pleas…)

    2.) When there IS a bank failure. I mean a REAL collapse (when the FDIC doesn’t rescue,) the regulators DO lock-down the safe deposit boxes. They open them, and go through them, to indeed seize “assets” that can be used to cover the bank’s losses. They WILL TAKE almost anything of “value.” CASH? Certainly. But, ALSO things like watches, rings and other valuable jewelry. Precious metals? You betchya! ANYTHING that they can perceive a “value” to.
    What they WON’T take, and will (eventually) make available to you (after they have seized everything else): Passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption papers, divorce papers, tax forms/returns, and other items of “no value.”)

    So, THINK TWICE about using safe deposit boxes…

    “Yes!” They DO have a purpose! They DO provide your assets with fairly significant protection from the “public” at large.

    They aren’t always, but CAN be good places to “hide” things from the government. (e.g. cash inheritances that you want to pass along to your heirs, outside of the eyes of the courts.) “Technically,” this is ALL “supposed” to be disclosed to Uncle Sam, too. But, who’s to tell if a safe deposit box key gets passed from one generation, to the next?…

    Credit Unions are AWESOME!!! They are banking the old-school way — where your money works LOCALLY to help neighbors and local businesses (instead of padding the golden parachutes of some CEO in NYC or London.) It’s a very “honest” form of banking. It’s an asset-based method of banking.

    But, Credit Unions are still (generally speaking) just mini-banks. They are at risk of failure, too. They are also government-regulated. (They have their own version of the FDIC to oversee their actions.) They are subject to all the same “rules” and banks (e.g. gathering SSANs and IDs of all “members,” and “reporting” this to Uncle Sam.) They also monitor/report transactions of $10k or more. Almost everything is THE SAME as a big bank. (Except, your funds are reinvested locally to fellow members.) But, if the bottom is falling out of the real estate in your hometown, then your credit union is just as “at risk” (maybe even moreso,) than the big banks.

    As with ANY good financial planning, diversity is your best friend. It won’t necessarily eliminate your risk, and prevent loss. But, it SHOULD distribute your risk enough, to allow you access to SOMETHING — before it’s all “gone.”

    Other than a credit union, one of my other favorites is an investment (money market) account with companies like Edward Jones. These can be personal, or business accounts. You can get debit cards and checks issued for these accounts, too. They aren’t really very “cash-friendly” when it comes to withdraws and such. (They prefer to issue you a Cashier’s Check, instead.) But, it’s an additional “option” for diversifying your money domestically.

    I would also encourage people to eventually travel abroad, and try to open accounts outside the USA (with banks and financial institutions that have ZERO branches/affiliates in the USA.) Or, even a safety deposit box with them (if nothing else?) You don’t have to keep ALL of your money offshore. Just enough of a “nest egg” to be ready/waiting for you (in the event you need to bug-out of the ol’ US of A?)

    I do NOT recommend keeping much CASH in these accounts/boxes. (ALL currencies are fiat currencies, and ALL of them are at risk of hyperinflation, and ALL of them lose buying power of roughly 10% per year.) Therefore, you only want to keep $100-$500 (of the local currency) in these accounts. Instead, keep previous metals of your choice in these accounts (gold coins, or silver coins.) Different countries have different rules/advantages/disadvantages for previous metal transactions. Most countries are most-harsh when it comes to gold transactions. But, they often allow silver transactions to occur without taxes/penalties. BE CAREFUL — some countries are flip-flop, however! So, do your homework, and make sure you aren’t going to paint yourself into a financial corner.

    Precious metals appreciate over time — and essentially hold-pace with inflation. So, this is probably one of the BEST ways to keep cash “parked,” without being subject to inflation/deflation.

    If you have more $$$ than the “average Joe,” then I’d recommend putting some of your nestegg into rental properties (domestic, and/or abroad.) First, it’s a source of income — that can be adjusted dynamically to stay in-sync with hyperinflation and such. Second, it inflates in value (generally speaking.) e.g. almost ALL land in the world, is worth MORE than it was worth 200, or 500 years ago. Sure, it has it’s booms, and it’s busts. But, generally speaking, over the long haul — it goes UP in value.
    Secondly, if/when push comes to shove, you could always kick your tenants out, and move your family into the property, instead. It’s like having a pre-staged, actively-maintained, ready & waiting bugout site. (e.g. your tenants are making sure the place remains occupant-ready.)
    Better yet, invest in a small farmstead, and rent it out to someone. Thus, they will be working the fields, gardens, barns, coops, etc. on your behalf. Maintaining fences, fixing broken wells pumps, etc. So, if/when you ever need to bug out, you indeed have what COULD BE a fully-stocked farm/ranch that is ready/waiting for you. Heck, maybe even filled with “crew” to maintain it for you (e.g. why kick-out the current tenants?)
    Instead, give them the option of cohabitating, or leaving. Chances are, they will attempt to stay and share the place with you and your family. (And continue to work the land/property for you.)

    KEEPING MONEY AT HOME:
    “Yes,” we should ALL be keeping a healthy amount of cash at home. Both in USD, as well as another current or two (or three.) When considering how much to keep at home, REMEMBER the rules/restrictions for travelling abroad with cash. e.g. The non-disclosure limit is $10k per person.

    But, that’s not REALLY quite true…

    First, if you have “bundles” of money in your carry-on bag, or on your person, and the TSA/customs people see it with their electronic scanning equipment, they ARE going to pull you aside. You may only have $5k on your body — and ASSUME that you are “fine.” But, that’s NOT necessarily the case. Remember, you are dealing with Uncle Sam, who ASSUMES that everyone is “guilty until proven innocent.” They will likely “seize” your bundles of cash, unless you have some sort of “proof” of how you got it. e.g. They will ASSUME that it’s “drug money,” and “seize/hold” it in their possession, (forever,) until you can provide PROOF otherwise. (e.g. your picture in the newspaper from winning the local lottery, or a document showing that you received it as a death benefit payment (and paid your taxes on it already,) etc. They likely WON’T accept “bank withdraw” receipts are “proof” that your $$$ is indeed legally yours. (They will just assume that you are money-laundering, instead.)

    Here’s a hint/reminder: The money said “United States of America” on it. It doesn’t have YOUR name on it. It’s Uncle Sam’s money. You are just temporarily holding it. You are playing by HIS rules. He can take his ball, and go home anytime he wants. (The game is rigged.)
    Oh, and any money that doesn’t have HIS name on it, isn’t YOURS, either. (So, he CAN take that, too!)

    The rules say that you don’t HAVE to disclose amounts under $10k per person when travelling. But, do NOT assume that this means that you have some sort of “right” to travel with this money.
    Respectively, you CAN travel with MORE than $10k per person. You simply have to “disclosure” it to the authorities. If you have some sort of supporting documentation for it, they will most-likely (in peace time,) allow you to take it aboard.
    But, if you do NOT disclose amounts over $10k, you are 100% putting that $$$ at serious risk of being seized by Uncle Sam!!!

    Now, here’s a POSSIBLE little loophole:
    If you are travelling with precious metals that indeed have a dollar value stamped upon them, you could POSSIBLY (technically) skirt the law by putting 199 American Eagle $50 gold coins into your luggage (e.g. a face value of only $9,950 USD.) Thus, you would (technically,) be below the travel/disclosure limits.
    With each of these coins currently being worth $1,400 each, you would essentially be travelling with a nestegg with a REAL value of $278,600 USD!

    Uncle Sam isn’t as dumb as we would assume, however. He KNOWS the value of gold/silver. The law (technically) says that you have to disclose the VALUE of precious metals (if it’s over $10k.)

    So, don’t put too much hope in your ability to travel with a pocketful of $50 gold coins…

    But, there’s STILL hope!

    Not ALL coins are created equal.
    e.g. there are some “rare” coins that are worth almost as much (due to their rarity.) As I write this, there is ONE gold Russian coin on eBay that’s supposedly worth $149,600. Just slip one or two of these in your pocket with your spare change, and TSA & customs officials probably won’t even notice?

    Granted, once your get to your destination, you have to find someone who’s actually willing to PAY your $149,600 for your rare coin, too!

    BITCOIN:
    Since your article mentions this new, alternative currency, I feel that I should mention a few other “options.”

    First, PayPal. Sure, much of it is often used just like Credit/Debit cards, and it’s often tied directly to your bank account. But, if you can keep some of your “credits” in your PayPal account — it kinda avoids some of these situations? (e.g. you can buy stuff via PayPal transactions online, instead of using credit/debit cards.)

    Second, eBay. If the time comes when you need to move cash offshore, you MIGHT want to consider leveraging eBay as an option?
    When the rouble began to crash in Belarus, people couldn’t get out of their roubles fast enough. They were trying to buy ANYTHING (food, furniture, ANYTHING) to avoid the collapse of their local currency.
    If this starts to happen domestically, consider QUICKLY buying assets online via eBay. You could essentially unload your USD in a matter of hours. A few days later, the items would start to arrive at your doorstep. Survival food, vehicles, precious metals, postal stamps, real estate — there are TONS of options to “dump” your cash (should the need arise.)
    eBay is like the bluebook of fair pricing nowadays. e.g. you see EXACTLY what people are willing to pay for items (thus, you see their REAL value.) Why pay retail at a big-box store, when you can pay the REAL-value price via eBay?!!!!
    This “real value” also means that your purchases will essentially hold their value (for at least the short-term.) e.g. if you are competitively-bidding for a car in France, and you end up winning that auction for a value of let’s say $7,000 USD (aka 5,190 Euros.) Chances are, when you fly to France, and then relist/resell that same vehicle two or three weeks later, it will STILL have a value of about 5,190 Euros. Even if it resells for slightly less (locally.) It’s better than the 50%+ loss of your local currency in the same amount of time.
    Thus, you effectively move your money offshore, without having to carry it through customs, etc.
    Plan/do this wisely, and you could have food, supplies, property, vehicles, etc. — all ready & waiting for you when you bug-out to your country-of-choice.

    Again, homework is required! European countries have all kinda “gotchyas” regarding VAT (value-added taxes.) Also, anything that needs to be registered/licensed, will also raise eyebrows, or have you standing in front of “officials” and dealing with bureaucrats and red tape.
    So, DO YOUR HOMEWORK on your bugout destination of choice. KNOW what will be “safe” transactions for you. Have a PLAN of action (even if you never actually have to act upon it.)

    Lastly, it’s NOT just Uncle Sam’s radar that you will be trying to fly under. In 2010, a gentleman travelling from the USA to Panama with 100 gold coins in his possession, had them SIEZED when changing planes — in MEXICO!!! Their legal limit is ALSO $10k USD in value (which these coins were indeed below that value.) Nevertheless, the Mexican authorities indeed seized his coins (assuming he was financing some sort of drug transaction.)

    Sorry for the length… Just wanted to contribute…

    Peace.

    • Great Northern Prepper says:

      The jist of what I was trying to do was to give options from regular banks, from the small step to Credit Union to the larger step of precious metals and backyard banking. Not saying Credit Unions are 100% or even 2% safer, just that they have slightly less risk than a larger bank SO IF YOU ARE GOING TO INSIST ON BANKING IN A BANK…go to credit union.
      With anything I talked about that has to do with entrusting your money to any business or institution you are always at risk if the big one comes….doesnt really matter. Just that Safety Deposit boxes may be slightly more safe if you cant afford to buy a good in floor safe, etc. Its about weighing options.
      You had quite a bit of info in there and much of it was very good. However I will have to say when it gets bad enough for me to consider leaving the U.S. I don’t think that Mexico or the EU will be any better off than we are. In that situation I think that the honest and law abiding customs officers both in and out of the U.S. will be ‘confiscating’ any and all cash, jewelry and metals that come there way.

      Awesome response!

  3. I told my Mom to wrap money and tape it behind washers, dryer, stoves, fridges and or even behind the water heater.

  4. I’ll store my benjamins in a few locations around my home. If said intruder can get past my locks, alarm, dogs and shotgun I guess they are welcome to it. lol

    • Great Northern Prepper says:

      exactly, if you hide it well, then it wont be easy and fast for them to grab, and if you are home, well then they can either leave in a bag or the only property they will be carrying is some 200 grain rounds lodged in their body

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