Country Living Series

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cash under the mattress or chickens in the yard?

We've been watching the situation in Greece with great concern. It seems the instability in the Greek banking system has reached crisis proportions, and the EU itself is threatened.

And it is the ordinary Greeks who are suffering. Anyone drawing a pension is limited to taking out 120 euros per week, and others are limited to 60 euros per day (in some places it's 50 euros, since apparently Greece is running out of 20-euro bills).

Yesterday I saw an interesting article entitled Greek villagers' secret weapon: Grow your own food. "Ilias Mathes has protection against bank closures, capital controls and the slashing of his pension: 10 goats, some hens and a vegetable patch," starts the article.

It goes on to say that while rural villages are by no means immune to the financial crisis, at least they're not in imminent danger of starving.

Meanwhile in urban areas, grocery store shelves are being stripped bare as people desperately stock up. At the moment grocery stores are resupplying from their own storage areas, but the cash crunch means incoming supplies are slowing down. I doubt anyone is going to let Greece starve, but it's not a fun situation for the ordinary Greek citizen.

Now consider this article I tucked aside from a couple weeks ago in which one of Britain's most senior fund managers urges people to "hold physical cash" (euphemistically referred to as putting money under the mattress) to prepare for a "systemic event." I'm sure Greece was on his radar when he said this.

Quoting the article: "'Systemic risk is in the system and as an investor you have to be aware of that,' he told Telegraph Money. The best strategy to deal with this, he said, was for investors to spread their money widely into different assets, including gold and silver, as well as cash in savings accounts. But he went further, suggesting it was wise to hold some 'physical cash,' an unusual suggestion from a mainstream fund manager."

As as the Greeks are discovering, cash metaphorically under the mattress is great, but you can't eat it. The rural Greeks who have chickens, goats, and gardens -- even if they have no cash whatever --
are in a better position than those who are facing bare grocery store shelves and riots in the streets. If nothing else, it gives them goods to barter.

This is why I urge people to consider what we call tangible investments. Some interpret this term to mean gold and silver. That's fine and dandy if you can afford it, but we've taken a different route. We're "investing" in our farm and its infrastructure and livestock.

As the Greeks are discovering, it's not a bad investment tactic in the long run.


  1. Could not agree more. I actually went and "invested" some birthday money in some lemon and lime trees that were on sale yesterday. Whatever I would buy with the money would not last as long as the trees and their output will.

  2. Don't be surprised if our government outlaws home food production in order to insure our dependence on Washington.


  3. Tangibles, folks. Tangibles.

    Bathroom tissue. Extra everything. More chickens. Vegetable seeds. Plant some fruit trees.


    A. McSp

    1. I so agree. On your list you might add knowing basic skills ie canning, drying, fixing things, tools, etc.
      I am proud to be almost self-sufficient. Almost. I do not grow wheat for bread nor feed for chickens yet.

  4. A simple life wins every time.

    But I keep wondering, why couldn't the Greek people see what was coming when they were living right in the middle of it the whole time? When the lifeboat springs a leak, you don't poke another hole.

    The socialist country of Greece really has officially run out of other people's money. It's so sad to see so many suffer who didn't need to.

    I've a feeling we're the ones who'll end up paying: "Hello, Mr. Obama? ... Hey, buddy, this is Greece calling ... can you spare a dime?"

    Just Me

    1. I believe it is just human nature to believe that these things will not come to their final conclusion. We like to believe that someone will come rescue us from the problem. It is too often that we discover that our "emergency" does not really register on the list of importance of others.

    2. The answer is in the question. They "were living right in the middle of it the whole time". Go talk to someone in a state less free in some area than your own. They can't tell the water is hotter in their pot, but you can.
      -old soldier

    3. You both make a lot of sense. Makes me wonder what I'M not seeing.

      Just me

    4. "why couldn't the Greek people see what was coming"

      This is an important question. The answer is many in Greece were either working for the government and thus were in favor of the continued spending beyond the governments ability to pay OR they were not working for the government but were hooked on "free stuff" that the government was giving them and promising them more so they too were in favor of continuing the spending. Socialism is seductive, it lures you in makes you dependent and sucks your will to be self supportive. Then the voters who are invested in a government payng them off will simply not vote for or accept austerity or reasonable economic policies. Think about how many Americans are hooked on "free stuff".

  5. Last I read , Puerto Rico is close behind Greece in defaulting on their debt. Sadly, we WILL be on the line for that as it is a USA territory. And to Anonymous that mentioned the possibility of outlawing home food production the ground work has been laid. We were recently thrown under the bus in case you are unaware this article:

  6. On May 20, I posted the cost for 100 lbs. of each of the following: Rolled Oats, White Rice, Black Beans and Green Peas (vendors: Costco, Walmart, and Azure Standard).That’s a whopping 400 pounds of quality food. In just 6 weeks the value of these commodities has increased 22%. Wall Street calls that ‘return on investment’. Main Street calls that common sense. Patrice rightly calls it ‘tangible investments’.

    What is the #1 lesson from Greece? It is not the availability of money, but rather the availability of food.

    Here is my point. Quality bulk food is STILL AVAILABLE today. You can bet that the evil Banksters have food preps for themselves. Do the same for your loved ones and do it NOW!

    Montana Guy

  7. gold and silver IS affordable for most people.
    silver is still under $20/oz..most of us can spare $20 most of the time.
    gold is near $1200/oz..a price most of us can come up with without thinking long and hard about....BUT...most dealers offer fractional purchases...1/10 oz is much more doable for most of us.

    don't forget to invest in brass and lead in that ever size is available/affordable.

  8. ..coming to a country near you!

  9. Yes, the more self-reliant we are the safer we are in the long run. Being stocked up, having solid skill sets and making sure our property does not look like we have anything worth stealing . . .

  10. There was something about the earlier part of this trend in the Wall St. Journal a few years ago--it profiled some adult Greeks who had returned to rural areas where they grew up, subsisting on livestock, gardens, and limited income from part-time jobs or selling olives as a cash crop.

    Although not well off in comparison to their former incomes, they were much better off than those who lost their jobs in the cities and had no alternatives.

  11. I saw you had a new posting while reading another blog. Portrait of a nanny. It does not come up.
    Just letting you know.

    1. Yes, it's a post I have in draft, but I accidentally posted it, then immediately reverted it to draft since I wasn't ready for it to go up yet. My bad.

      - Patrice

  12. The people of Greece, God bless them, had faith. Misplaced faith, but faith nevertheless. They were told those pensions would last forever. They believed that universal healthcare is actually free. They were sure that those ebt cards and obamaphones were a right. Sorry wrong country. Be careful what you for.

  13. "Wish for" be careful what you wish for. Sorry