I simply don't think that hoarding one or two items to see you through a particular disaster makes sense. Whether you are focusing on gold to get you through an economic collapse or hoarding food to see you through a potential world-wide agricultural disaster, the simple fact is that, as my grandmother used to say, "it doesn't make sense to put all of your eggs in one basket."
What if the disaster you are planning for doesn't happen? What if you put all of your efforts toward preparing for economic collapse by hoarding gold and then there is an earthquake and your gold ends up in the bottom of the rubble of your apartment building with no way to access it? What if you are stockpiling food and there is a huge flood that washes away all of your hard work? In my humble, and somewhat knowledgeable opinion, you need to spread your preparedness efforts out in a number of areas instead of focusing on only one area, such as stockpiling gold and silver.
Should you have some gold and silver? Of course (although buying any commodity at the top of the market like people did did with houses before the real estate bubble burst isn't such a great idea). There are some great things about precious metals such as the value that they generally keep, especially when paper currency is taking a nose dive or when the general economy is unstable, but there is also a down side, namely, the fact that precious metals are actual items that you need to hide, transport, protect from theft, then try to "cash out" when you need to "buy" things. In many disaster scenarios, a loaf of bread or bottle of water will be more valuable than your shiny trinkets.
Instead of focusing 100% of your efforts (and money) on acquiring gold and silver, here are some other ideas:
- Focus 50% of your time and money on learning things. Of the many, many people I know who have survived war, famine, and countless other natural and man-made disasters, very few escaped with any tangible items whether it be food, gold, or tools. The ones who survived and, in fact thrived, after a disaster, were the ones who knew things. They knew things that made them valuable--everything from skills they could trade for food or money, to social skills which made people want to have them around and want to help them--and they knew things that helped them survive until the main disaster had passed (ie: how to hide and survive in the mountains/jungle/desert until they could evade the main threat and get to a safer location). Many also had basic business knowledge (generally not learned at university but rather in the streets) which allowed them to parlay their skills or good ideas into money which kicked into gear as soon as the initial threat passed.
- Focus 10% of your time and money on paying off your debts and saving up some cash to use in the event of an emergency.
- Focus 10% of your time and money on gathering stuff that would be useful before, during, and after a disaster such as stockpiling food/water/tools/medicine/etc.
- Focus 10% of your time and money on acquiring the "money" you think you will need after a disaster whether it be gold and silver, gasoline and tools which you could use for barter, or Japanese Yen and European Euros.
- Focus 10% of your time and money on building a social network. No matter how much gold or water you have, if you are in dire need of help (ie: a doctor to treat your wounds or a neighbor to help you pull a tree off of your house), you need to have some sort of social network in place before disaster strikes so that you know you will have people you can rely on when you most need them.
- Focus 10% of your time and money on enjoying yourself now. Always preparing for disaster takes the fun out of living for today.
Anyway, that is how I am preparing. My crystal ball is a bit fuzzy and I hardly know what is going to happen day to day, let alone what specific kind of disaster will strike and when it will happen. There may be a disaster that happens that will make me want to kick myself for not having more gold and silver on hand but I think it is much more likely that many smaller disasters will occur before the "big one"--what ever the 'big one' is--that will require a bit of all of my preps, from the Euros I have on hand to the water stored in my garage to the assortment of meds in the first aid box to the use of my emergency fund to my outdoor survival skills. Be prepared for anything.