INSTANT SURVIVAL TIP: Go retro with your quarters and dimes!

A few weeks ago I read a comment that asked, “What if you came across a bucket of old silver quarters that your grandma or grandpa had collected?  What would that mean to you and your family right now?” (paraphrased)

Well, that would mean my family had several pounds of silver!  Silver we could either sell or, at some point in the future, use as currency.  In other words, grandma or grandpa would have blessed us with a real form of wealth.

I’ve decided to be that grandma.  Granted, my kids are only 10 and 12, but someday, a bucket of real silver coins could make all the difference in the world to their lifestyle and future plans.  It’s so easy to start collecting these 90% silver coins.

  • Go to a coin store and ask to see a pre-1965 quarter.  Look at it carefully and compare it with a newer quarter.  Quarters and dimes minted in 1964 and earlier contain 90% silver.  Anything minted in 1965 and later does not.
  • Keep track of the current value of silver at this website.  It’s updated frequently throughout the day.  When you see a nice little dip, head to the coin store with a few dollars or more.
  • You will pay the “spot price” of the silver, which is the value as tracked by Kitco and other websites plus a “premium”.  The premium is the profit charged by the coin dealer.  Not all premiums are the same, so shop around to find the dealer who charges the lowest premium.
  • Check jars (or buckets!) of coins you might have around the house.  You might get lucky and find some of these coins right under  your roof!
  • Keep your silver in a safe place.  Consider splitting it up into 2 or more hiding locations.  Don’t store it in a bank safety deposit box.

To give you an idea of the value of silver, in the spring of 2011, it was selling at $27/ounce or so.  In the spring of 2010, it was selling for less than $18 an ounce, and a year before that, $13. A key concept is that it’s not silver itself that is gaining in value but, in fact, our dollar is losing value!

Remind yourself that you are not buying quarters with a value of 25 cents!  You are buying silver.  The first time I bought pre-1965 quarters, I couldn’t believe I was giving the clerk $20 for a handful of quarters.

By the way, if you’re Canadian, you’ll want to pick up silver coins dated 1966 or earlier.  These are 80% silver.

In a post-SHTF world, there’s no telling how much value a handful of pre-1965 silver coins will have, but I would love to be the grandma who blesses her children’s children with something that has real wealth.

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

(48) Readers Comments

  1. I’m curious, why not store them in a safe deposit box?

    • When FDR gave the order to confiscate privately owned gold in 1933 by Executive Order, gold that was held in safe deposit banks was taken. If someone had gold coins at home somewhere, the government had no way of knowing about it. I don’t expect gold confiscation to happen again, but I still don’t want precious metals locked away. In a banking crisis, banks would shut down for a period of time and, again, valuables would be inaccessible, perhaps when you might need them most.

      • Thanks for pointing out that the “great” FDR stole a generation’s wealth and gave them inflated paper. That seems to get misplaced in the history books some how. Nowadays we have the modern worry of the government coming after our 401K’s, and IRA’s. But it will be for our own good of course.

        • Let’s be clear – it wasn’t just confiscation. FDR, through an executive order, confiscated the gold with an exchange of 20 some paper dollars per ounce. A year later, the federal government devalued the dollar by making the official exchange rate $35 per ounce. Since gold was still used to settle debts between nations, the federal government realized a huge profit while all imports immediately became more expensive for Americans. Also, the confiscation was bantered about some time before. The wealthy power elite who had significant holdings squirreled it away in Switzerland before the executive order. Everyone else lost.

          Unlikely the government would do the same today for the simple reason so very few people have any gold to speak of. The little that would be raked in would probably be offset by the larger cost to administer a confiscation program.

          For safe deposit boxes – check your copy of the papers you signed when you opened it or go to the bank to get the latest copy of the rules. Your access to it is very tentative and not only dependent on an order from the government. Usually, there is a clause that says even the bank administration may refuse to open the vault if they perceive some sort of danger (civil unrest, etc.).

          • A great educational piece on this and ALL money is called “The Money Masters” or an updated version of this documentary called “The Secret of Oz”. Both are on youtube, amazon, or netflix.

        • Exactly! Expect the government to “nationalize” 401k accounts like a form of social security. They know what’s best for your 401k now and they will give you some kind of payment when you get to retirement. Cashed mine out and took the hit now before they get their hands on it. As I told my wife, only time will tell if I’m insightful or a fruitcake.

      • Unfortunately unlike during the 1933 confiscation current “law” requires the dealer to report the transaction. I would definitely purchase coins ONLY with cash since that is much more difficult to track. If you plan on purchasing from one of the more recognizable companies I would purchase old coins. It appears the government (at this point) will not confiscate “collectibles” as the value is much greater than the value of the metal (or whatever reason they have). Also consider a hidden safe which is not located in the usual places. Purchase the safe with CASH from a local store and install it yourself. If you are really paranoid (tongue in cheek) purchase a second safe using a credit card. Install this safe in the obvious places and put in your standard documents and things you would want to keep somewhat safe. Use the Cash purchased safe for storage of metals and other things you would want to ensure the government doesn’t find.

        • Liberum1776 – they aren’t taxing or tracking the purchase. When you go to sell it is when they will ask for all your information and a vial of blood.

          • When you buy large amounts of (at least gold, haven’t heard of silver) they do tax you. It is considered an investment and coin shops where you would buy this stuff requires you to fill out paperwork. Then you are taxed on capital gains. I buy small quantities at a time. Such as quarters or silver dollars.

    • Heidi, there’s not enough room in a safety deposit box for silver coins. Or actually silver anything. Plus WHEN the Fed comes after our gold, (I don’t think they’ll even bother to go through the Congress) even Bernanke might be embarrassed to confiscate coins we used for so long as United States currency. It’s also much more difficult to steal silver than gold. Go to a coin dealer and hold a 100 oz silver bar in one hand and two 1 oz gold coins in the other. They both are roughly the same value.

      However, nothing would surprise me in this era of The Banksters. Our ONLY hope for our Beloved Country and our children is to Vote each and every incumbent OUT of office, regardless of Party with NO exceptions, in each and every Federal Election. All else is “voices crying in the wilderness.” They simply don’t care. The only politician who does care is Ron Paul and he’s not running for re-election again. How can we be so stupid as to re-elect 80% of the Senate and over 90% of the House when our approval rating of Congress is at an all time low of 30%?

      • The main reason for keeping silver coins handy is that everyone knows US coinage. If you need to buy something a 100 oz bar or a Krugerand can be difficult to make change for. Also, I bought an additional sum of I/10 oz Golden Eagles for much the same reason. People know the coinage and the small denomination is easier to make change for. Assuming that any form of currency is being used small denomination precious metal coins will be king, if not, seeds and booze make good trading bartering items,

    • Bush put into law that the gov can confiscate your safe deposit box. Never use one for anything. If you have one cancel it and keep your assets at home and tell your family and friends,

    • Because if the bank goes bankrupt or we have a currency collapse you will not get them back.

    • The IRS can seize your safe deposit box. So can local police departments using confiscation laws, though I’m sure this happens infrequently. Judges can also sign warrants allowing government agents to legally search or seize your safe deposit box contents.

      BTW, kudos for not calling a safe deposit box (a box deposited in a safe), a safety deposit box (which I assume is a box deposited in a safety – a football payer). Yuck. LOL

    • During the 2008-2009 Recession, there were many reports of banks opening safe deposit boxes without the owners’ permission. Just remember this: Anything you keep in a bank is under their control, not yours. When they want what you have, it’s already where they want it.

  2. Two words…..VENDING MACHINES!

    Seriously, my youngest son makes it a habit to check vending machines. He found a quarter, a nickel, and dime the other day. His older brother looked at the quarter and noticed it didn’t have the tell-tell copper sandwiching on the side. He looked at the date and found that it was a 1963 coin! The family erupted with enthusiasm! The melt value was over $6! After some negotiating, our oldest son bought the quarter from his brother for the melt value. It’s now in his bedroom safe, with the hopes that is will only increase in value. Love to watch our prepper skills being passed along to the next generation! ;)

  3. Yep-the bankers and progressives have been at it over 100 years. My mom was 10 in 1930-she told me about standing in line with her parents to get 10 cents on every dollar and any gold in a safety deposit box was Uncle Sam’s. Like it or not. My grandparents went from being very wealthy to poor. Considering that my grandfather was 72 when my mom was born,(her mother was 43), going “back” to work was a big deal. I think that it is very wise for each of us to keep some prep ideas very low key. I must have 40 rubbermaid totes full of material and sewing stuff-and it provides lots of cover for other goodies! The government (and others) may come knocking-but whatever they want, I am making them work for it!!

  4. I also read the other day our nickle currently is worth more than face value. The article also said to store them with pennies (which I’ll be checking all the dates on!) and cash in ‘newer’ dimes and quarters. I’m trying it and hoping its true. I’m loving the book Lisa. Got it yesterday and on chapter 3!

    • Over at survivalblog, they have an article on this. The nickel is much easier to store than pennies. A hedgefund manager in Texas bought 2 million dollars worth of nickels last year. If that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what will.

  5. I’m going to poke through the change today. My copy of your book looks like a multicolored porcupine with all the book marks and highlighting and notes stuck through it

  6. Whenever you go to the bank, peek over the counter at the teller’s change arrangement. Once you’ve learned how to spot the tell-tale silver edge of a silver dime or quarter, you can spot them even from a distance when you look at a line of dimes or quarters. However, I haven’t spotted a dime or quarter at the bank for a long time with this method. Either more people are keeping their silver, more silver is being circulated out, or the tellers have gotten wise and are keeping the silver for themselves.

  7. My grandkids have been getting a silver dollar along with their cash from grampa for the last 6 years. I paid less than $15 for them and they get to pick them out of a pouch every year. They didn’t know what a silver dollar was so I am showing them. It’s fun for them now but it may be a big deal for them shortly. I have told them to hold on to them till they are worth $200 each and then they can sell them and buy what they want. by that time they will know what they are worth and won’t be wanting to sell them. It’s fun for me too.

  8. When each of my grand kids were born I gave their parents a $20 gold piece and a silver dollar. The other grandparents give them US savings bonds. With 10 grand kids it was a reasonable when gold was selling for under $500 per ounce and silver at $8. One of my daughter-in-laws, with a Masters and working on her PhD looked at me like I was from outer space and asked “what am I going to do with $21?” My son, growing up around topics economic, and later graduating with a degree in economics, rolled his eyes and said “Honey, you are holding over $1000, not the $21 face value”. Since then these coins are worth about $2000 for the gold and $40 for the silver. The bonds yield next to nothing and the face value are deteriorating due to the higher than admitted inflation rate. These coins are the best gift I could ever provided them.

    • Al, a few things about bonds people don’t realize: The yield is a joke. If you look at inflation rates and the yield from the bonds you actually are in negatives. Another thing about it is you have to pay taxes on the bond. If you purchase a $50 bond ($25 at purchase time) wait your 7 or whatever years depending on the interest rate and then cash them in you have to pay taxes on the $25. Coupled with the negative interest rate and the taxation you actually would have done better spending the money on something such a gold or silver in terms of real value. The only people making money on treasury bonds are the government of the USA and foreign countries purchasing short-term bonds. One other thing, I purchased bonds back in the 80s. These bonds collect interests forever ($50 bond is now worth about $280 bucks or so) but the new bonds (Don’t know how long this has been going on, more than 10 years though) stop receiving interests when they mature. The Max you can get is the face value (the term “value” is used loosely here).

  9. You can also buy silver dimes, quarters, and Kennedy halves on ebay.

    • I’ve never done that, Doug, but plenty of people buy coins on eBay as well as numerous online sites. Personally, I like going in and hand-picking my coins, but not everyone is able to do that. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. A website that tracks the exact dollar value of the metal in coins. Check out what the new presidential dollars are really worth!

  11. If you have access to coins from other countries my book http://www.lulu.com/shop/keith-hamburger/investing-in-junk-coins/paperback/product-10990100.html gives metal contents on thousands of coins.

    (I hope you don’t mind my posting a little relevant plug.)

  12. A better website to track coin value is http://www.coinflation.com/

  13. When the donkey fazoo strikes the rotating blades, it will probably also be helpful to have cigarettes. I do not smoke, but along with gold and silver I stash cartons of Marlboros. When we get hit with hyperinflation, the grocery store shelves are emptied out in a few hours, and ATMs are out of cash, I want to be able to barter to provide for my family. I can just about guarantee that a fair number of people will be willing to give me some things I want in exchange for a pack of smokes.

    • I at one time had a vending machine business and sold smokes. If they aren’t kept in a temp and humidity controlled area, they will dry out and not be worth much. Two years is about the longest you will want to save them. that is why I don’t hold them for barter. I don’t smoke so it would be easy to hold them, but silver is better.

  14. I learned this lesson from a coin dealer in 1979 and also who Ron Paul is at the same time.
    One lucky guy! When I first learned of him and his message, I said to myself, Now That’s
    The Guy We Ought To Have As Our President. Both the facts about Silver and that we need
    Ron Paul as our President ring true today! IMO U No Who

  15. Any time you purchase silver or gold you should double check to ensure it is made of silver. Yes, the edge check is a good first check but there are other means to check for silver and gold using chemicals. I’ve seen a few “kits” on amazon and ebay but if you do some research you will find these kits are made from common household chemicals. You can also check based on density (grams/unit volume). My father got hit with fake silver. It had some discoloration to it so I ran a couple of tests (acids) to see the reaction….epic failure.

  16. confiscation will be met with the 2nd…as opposed to fdr days

  17. Ciggies may well be in demand, but they won’t “keep” as noted above. Two years is way too optomistic imo, a couple few months is pushing it. What you want is, naturally, canned tobacco. There are some excellent rolling tobaccos available that will keep for 3-4 years in good shape. They will dry out too, how exactly I’m not sure.

  18. Bottles of liquor can be a good barter item. Smaller sizes (half pints & pints) would equate to the smaller denominations of coins versus the larger bottles. Distilled spirits (if tightly capped) should not evaporate away and can be traded. I prefer the glass bottles to the plastic variety.

  19. Ooo I’m so glad my dad was a numistmatist. I grew up with coins, I go to coin shows. I know coins. I’ve seen gold pieces that you’d ache for, but my husband had a fondness for silver, so that’s our cache.
    My weakness was always ancient coins and wheat pennies and small antiquities. Anyone wanna trade a 2 thousand year old Roman glass bottle for a stale pack of smokes?! lol ;)

  20. Want a fun hobby?

    We all now know that dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollars were 90% silver 1964 and before. Did you know that the Kennedy half-dollars are 40% silver from 1965-1970? What a lot of people don’t realize is that they have probably handled a silver coin and spent it for face value!!

    I discovered this when silver was on the rise last year, and I cashed my near worthless savings bonds and bought some silver. I used the rest (about $700) to go hunting. Not hunting for meat though. I went to every bank/credit union in a 50 mile radius and asked them for a box of half-dollars ($500). Most of the time they looked at me like I asked them for a box of euros. Half-dollars aren’t very popular (as you probably know). So I ended up picking up a few rolls here and there and a few loose coins at some of the older banks. I took them all home and went through all of them. It took me and my girlfriend an hour to check each one. I came up with 4 40%ers and 1 90%er. When I was done, I took all the worthless half-dollars and rolled em back up and took them to my bank. I ended up spending $2.50 for $27-$28 (I think that’s what they’d be worth today). It was fun and it’s really something you can do with your loved ones. My dad likes to collect coins and since I’ve picked up this hobby we have spent so much time together going through rolls of coin.

    I work at a credit union and a member recently paid a loan payment with half-dollars. I bought them as soon as I found out. I found $3.50 face in 40%ers and $1.00 in 90%ers. This was a few monthes ago. They are still out there!

  21. This is folly so please let me explain – Look at recent disasters in the US- Katrina, 9/11, any major flooding, wild fires, etc. Who in the aftermath was using gold and precious metals? What would have helped you more in Katrina – a good supply of stored fresh water and food or some gold coins? Granted, for the sake of argument, we have not really experienced any long term disasters or SHTF times but would not a seed vault of fruits and veggies be a better investment than gold or silver. What about taking that money you would use to invest in metals and buy some land to live off of and protect. You will not need too many acres of farmable land to survive off of. Instead of spending time researching investing in gold and silver how about learning how to preserve, can and store food. $500 in gold in the hand is cool but what about $500 in pots, pans, tools and knowledge to process and can a few bushels of fresh corn, peaches, tomatoes, etc to last through the winter. What about the concept of ballistic wampum? You could store up some 9mm, .45 ACP, .308, .30-06, .223/5.56, and several other common calibers and trade for what you might need in the future. $500 in gold in the hand is cool but what about $500 in equipment and knowledge to make a whiskey/brandy still? That same still could be used to make medicinal alcohol to clean wounds and such once the hospitals run out. I have the first 10 of the Foxfire books and I would not trade their weight in silver or gold. I sincerely believe that any spare money someone may have to invest in gold would be better served by buying some books dedicated to living off the land, basic farming/gardening, primitive or rustic living.
    The dirty part of this argument about investing in silver/gold/whatever is – who will pay for an ear of corn with a roll of silver quarters? No one will pay and no one will accept that kind of payment. No one will pay because desperation would have long since set in and they would have digressed in civility to more desperate measures. No one will accept that kind of payment because what would they then do with a roll of silver quarters and since they have the supple of corn they can demand other forms of repayment. Remember that civility is out the window at this point so supply and demand transactions can get pretty immoral.
    I know this was a long post but I would like to see some replies. Thank you SurvivalMom, my wife and I really like this blog and your book.

    • Aaron, it’s not folly to preserve what little wealth people have, which is what gold and silver are all about. The catastrophes you mentioned were all regional and short-term. As the dollar continues to decline and governments around the world are in disarray, I don’t think it’s a folly at all to try and preserve whatever wealth we can.

      • So G. Gordon Liddy is has done commercials for Rosland Capital and Glenn Beck is a paid spokesperson for Goldline International. Who is cutting you a check to promote gold and silver investing?

        • You just won 1st place in, “Funniest Comment of the Year”. Congratulations!!!

  22. Gold and silver and copper have been the standard for “money” since biblical times. I expect in a TEOTAWAKI situation, we will revert to it again. Barter can carry you only so far. No one can make or find or store everything they will ever need. We need commerce, and commerce requires money. Sound money is based on the traditional three metals or is the metals themselves.

  23. I buy a box ($100.) of nickels when I can afford it. Wheat is cheap from Emergency Essentials. Ammo and guns and water filters from Cheaperthandirt. Get ready people, the US dollar is just paper and is headed for the furnace. In my work I gather copper pipe and have several hundred pounds. What are my candles and mousetraps and sox worth to you?

  24. We goofed. My mom sold my dad’s silver coins 3-4 years ago for a little over $3000. She’s 90 now & not too worried about the collapse of the dollar. I wish I had given her the $3000 & kept the silver myself. What about sterling silver dinnerware? Will it be of any value if the dollar collapses?

  25. Pingback: Action Step: Buy junk silver (By USAPrepares Instructor , Lisa Bedford) | USA Prepares.com Vincent Finelli

  26. This link talks about saving nickels. But I would imagine that the principle is the same. He actually buries his nickels. I thought this was an interesting thing to do with money. My husband and I buy and sell silver all the time. He picks up what they call culls or silver rounds. They still have the value of the silver in them, but they are worn flat and there is slim to no detail at all. But the price of silver is the same whether it is smooth or a coin.


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