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June 15, 2023 | How You Store It, Part 1: Gold In Hand

John Rubino is a former Wall Street financial analyst and author or co-author of five books, including The Money Bubble: What To Do Before It Pops and Clean Money: Picking Winners in the Green-Tech Boom. He founded the popular financial website DollarCollapse.com in 2004 and sold it in 2022.

Gold bugs have a saying: “If you can’t hold it, you don’t own it.” This is emphatically true. Our banks, brokers, and crypto wallets can be looted by hackers or rapacious governments, or they can simply go dark during a power outage, cyberattack, or bank holiday. So the only wealth we truly own is what we can get our hands on in an emergency.

But of course, you already know all this and want to know how to store your physical wealth to keep it both safe and accessible.

This, alas, is more challenging than it seems because the list of choices ranges from the proverbial tin can buried in the backyard to a sophisticated safe monitored by state-of-the-art security tech. Each strategy has its strengths and weaknesses, so every solution is idiosyncratic. That is, it has to be tailored to your own attitudes and abilities.

Let’s start with some general guidelines

Avoid the obvious. To defend against thieves you have to think like one. So imagine a person who has picked the lock on a stranger’s back door and is ransacking their house in search of something worth taking and selling. Our thief is obviously nervous and wants to be out of there ASAP. So they prioritize, starting with the highest-probability targets like master bedroom dressers and closets. Which means nothing of value should ever be stored in those places. You want hiding spots that are both counterintuitive and hard to reach.

Tell exactly the right people. Someone besides you has to know where your valuables are hidden in case you can’t access them.

There’s a sad story (well, sad for one person, happy for another) about a collector who bought an old army tank and found 60 pounds (869 ounces) of gold inside. The tank’s previous owner apparently hid the gold and then failed both to come back for it and tell someone who could do so, and the effort, risk, and creativity that went into accumulating and hiding that fortune was lost. Don’t be that guy. Tell the right people where your physical wealth is stashed, or at least include clear details in your will or some other document — and store those documents wisely.

Here’s the catch: If too many people — or the wrong people — know your plan, then word will spread until it reaches the ear of someone willing to act on it and rob you. So tell one or two people whom you’d trust with your life. And then shut up. Don’t hold forth at dinner parties about the wisdom of gold-in-hand and don’t swap stories about cool hiding places. You are now a person with a big, serious secret. Literally never speak of it again.

If you’re still not convinced of this guideline’s validity, here’s a real-life account from gold analyst Jeff Clark:

My father had a friend who was a gold coin collector. He had one of those big, fancy combination-lock safes. My dad said it looked like it would require a forklift to move it. Unfortunately, a couple local thugs found out he had some gold. They forced their way into the house and held both Robert and his wife at gunpoint.

Once they found the safe, they demanded the combination. But Robert refused to give it to them. He’d been collecting gold and silver all his life, and it now represented a large chunk of his net worth. He also planned to leave much of his wealth to his children. He wasn’t about to lose it all to two seedy lowlifes.

The rest of the story is very unpleasant. His wife was brutally tortured until he gave up the combination. They were both shot as the thieves fled.

My Dad’s friend didn’t have loose lips. All it took was word getting around that he was a “gold guy.” People began to talk, and once word was out, he had no control over who found out. We can’t stress it enough: no one else should know you have gold stored at home!

Be well-protected and let everyone know. If you’re going to keep valuables at home, you should be prepared to defend them. This applies not just to precious metals but to jewelry, cash, high-end electronics, and collectibles. Put another way, if you’re reasonably well off you’re automatically a target in today’s world and you should prepare for the possibility of home invasion. So consider a security system, a serious dog, and/or some guns and the training to use them effectively. And as circumspect as you are about your home-stored wealth, be that loquacious about what how much it costs to feed a 100-pound rottweiler or how your new shotgun can blow a man in half at close range. Behave like a high-risk target and thieves will treat you like one.

Consider natural disaster risk. Home-stored gold and silver aren’t protected against fires, floods, tornados, or earthquakes. If a tsunami washes your house away, whatever you’ve stored there might be lost. On the other hand, insuring your stack creates a whole new category of people who know what you have and might blab about it. And that insurance might cost more than remote storage, which skews the risk/reward calculus towards the latter. This is one of those things that lacks a perfect answer but still has to be resolved.

Now for the fun part: Home storage options

There’s a thriving community devoted to the subject of secret hiding places. This is great because they’ve come up with lots of useful ideas, but also a bit overwhelming because of all the choices. Some possibilities:

Fake safe. In crime-ridden cities people sometimes carry two wallets, a real one plus a fake one containing some old credit cards and a $20 bill, on the assumption that handing the fake one to a mugger will end the encounter at minimal cost. This concept also applies to safes. If you put a relatively portable one containing a bit of money and cheap jewelry in your master bedroom closet, anxious thieves might just grab it and go.

A floor safe. Sink a safe into the floor and cover it with floorboards and it will be very hard for thieves to find and access. That’s a lot of work, but the result is highly effective.

Backyard burial. The “tin can in the backyard” concept is more metaphor than actual plan. In reality, you want a container that’s waterproof and otherwise impervious to the elements. This strategy is vulnerable to metal detectors and nosy neighbors who see you digging. But regular thieves will never find it. One (obviously) crucial thing: Find a place on your property that you’ll always remember and that is easy for a trusted confidant to find using your directions.

Toe-kick hideaway. There’s a four-inch-tall cavity under most kitchen cabinets. Getting in there takes a bit of carpentry, but once you’ve made a toe-kick removable you’ve created a great space for high-value items.

Old appliance. Put a junky old appliance in a crowded corner of the garage and thieves will probably overlook it. But make sure your family doesn’t throw it away.

Fake plumbing pipes. Another thing that no one notices. Roomy, dry, and easy to access.

Fake air vents and wall sockets. There are lots of fake versions of common things that tend to escape notice.

 

More resources

The amount of material on this subject is almost literally endless. So block off an afternoon for browsing how-to articles and videos to get acquainted with your new sub-culture. Here are a few to get you started:

40 Places to Hide Gold, Guns, and Preps in Your House (Survive Doomsday)

10 Secret Hiding Places (Home Handyman)

Secret Hiding Places You’ve Never Thought Of (Family Handyman)

As with literally everything else, there are tons of YouTube videos on this subject. Search for “storing gold at home” and prepare for hours of sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating advice. Here’s a creative example:

Don’t get obsessed with hiding things

Once you start down this rabbit hole it’s easy to go a little overboard and start stashing things all over the place. This is fun, but ultimately costly because you’ll end up losing track of where everything is. And you’ll have to update your will or your trusted-friend instructions after each new addition, annoying everyone involved. So have a little fun exploring the various options, choose the one or two that are consistent with your personality and means, implement them, and then let the subject go.

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June 15th, 2023

Posted In: John Rubino Substack

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