We survived. What was supposed to be the end of the world, as we know it, turned out to be just another Friday. Sure, one small town in France that was supposed to be spared the epic, earth-ending event had more than the usual number of people hanging around (and sold a lot of apocalypse-themed t-shirts), but aside from the faithful few, it was largely business as usual.
However, there is also a serious side to this sort of lighthearted event. Sure, one day something could happen that ultimately changes the landscape of the world. If you are going to experience a doomsday scenario, however, it is far more likely that it will play out in a local way.
Would you call the recent Superstorm Sandy a doomsday-type event? How about Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 or one of the many other larger-scale, statistically outlying events?
Let's take Superstorm Sandy. Current figures show Sandy caused $62 billion in damage, which included knocking out power to 2 million homes. Not only did homes lose power, businesses did, too. That included banks and ATMs, which made access to money difficult. Lack of power caused food to go bad. Finally, looters appeared throughout affected areas.
Sound a little like the apocalyptic stories that play out in movies? Although Sandy did not last long by doomsday standards, it lasted long enough to remind people that they should be better prepared. Here are a few ways to strengthen your financial well-being should a doomsday scenario strike your community.
Keep Some Cash
As we become more reliant on technology, paying with cash has become more and more rare. Without power, however, your credit card is useless. Cash is a physical currency that is universally accepted and will allow you to purchase needed items as stores re-open.
How About Gold?
Yes, gold is also a physical currency and may help in a time of crisis, but according to Smartmoney, it isn't any better than cash because the value of gold is no different from the value of the dollar. It's worth what somebody will pay for it, and in a doomsday scenario, people won't be all that interested in debating such intricacies. The only advantage of Gold may come from the idea that it has lasting value. To be fair, Arthur Bradley, author of the "Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family" believes that owning gold and silver is a good idea because of its perceived value.
Buy Actual Goods
If you are worried about the price of staple items skyrocketing when times get tough, you should be. It's a form of inflation, and the best way to guard against it is to already own the items. Purchase non-perishable food, a generator, extra blankets, shoes and anything else that you would need before the event happens. In the case of some of the staple items, buy two of everything and keep rotating your supply to keep it fresh. By the way, all of those goods you stored up may come in handy as a way to barter. Goods may be the method of choice instead of paying with cash or gold.
Pay off Your Debt
Tired of hearing that you should pay off your debt? It is like going to the doctor and hearing that you need to lose weight. If you suffer a temporary layoff because of damage to your business, the mortgage company and credit card companies are not likely to give you a reprieve. They will still expect payment.
Your Most Valuable Asset
Investments might plummet in value and the things you own could be stolen, damaged, or even wear out. If you have a marketable skill, it cannot be taken away. It will be how you earn a living. Whether you are paid in money or food, your skill will be valuable. And, not just any skill. Think of your hobbies. Maybe you are a financial advisor during the day but love woodworking to blow off steam. Can you guess which one of these skills would be more valuable in a post-doomsday world? If you're worried about an apocalyptic event happening in your lifetime, your hobbies may be worth cultivating.
The Bottom Line
Breathe a sigh of relief. We made it through the Mayan calendar doomsday scenario with little more than the weariness of a long workday, but a doomsday scenario does not have to be of global proportions in order for you to feel the effects. Make reasonable preparations, but keep things in perspective. Living your life worrying about what's to come is not healthy either.