After running last week's article (They're Coming for Your Accounts), we received a number of questions about how to actually protect oneself. So, this week I'd like to address that subject.First Words
I need to make an important point before I proceed, however: I am not involved in the financial industry, and I do not know the many rules that apply to IRAs, 401(k)s, and so on.
So, please understand that I'm speaking in rough terms and that you'll need to apply all my suggestions to your own situation intelligently. I simply do not have precise advice to give you.
But with that said, here are some suggestions:Partial, Multiple, and Incremental Solutions
Solutions to financial problems do not have to be all or nothing. If you think that IRAs are ripe for picking (as I do), then you can begin by ceasing to fund them. Take your money as regular income, pay taxes on it if you must, and put it to use as you see fit. That money will no longer be in the "first grab" pile.
If you do something like this, you will be slowly moving your assets out of easy government control. And if you hold your earnings in the form of cash, rather than in a bank account, it becomes very difficult for a government to seize.
Everyone will have their own opinions and risk estimates, but in my opinion, money left in registered accounts is becoming riskier than cash that is thoughtfully stored.
There is also the common issue of spouses disagreeing on what to do: One thinks registered accounts are a risk; the other doesn't. While these situations are difficult, they don't have to be as dramatic as we make them. We can simply do several things at once: Leave the 401(k) as it is, but start putting new money into silver and gold. Or create an offshore structure and fund it bit by bit, instead of continually funding the government retirement account.
There's no reason we have to go 100% in any single direction; We can go several ways at once. Better to do this than to fight and make our lives miserable; money should make our lives better, not worse. It is useful and important, but not that important.Warning Bells
Whatever your plans may be, it's a good idea to have a backup plan: "If they do X, we'll do Z." What you'd like to do ideally is to not get hurt too badly when the alarm bell is rung.
So, I'd suggest that you keep the least money in the place that's likely to be hit first. And in my opinion, that will be the place that's easiest for a desperate government to loot.
I gave several examples last week of what has been happening, so that would be a good place to begin your analysis. And remember that predators always hit the softest target first.Specific Options
Here are several options for keeping your money under your own, personal control:
Cash: Still easy enough to get, and easy to store. Theft is always a concern, but when governments start stealing directly from bank accounts – as they did last year in Cyrpus – which is the lesser risk?
Gold and silver: Very similar to cash, but with two differences: During normal times, it may need to be exchanged for local currency, which is an added expense. In bad times, however, local currency becomes worthless, and the metals retain their full value. There are many local coin dealers that make purchasing silver and gold easy.
Bitcoin: While new, sometimes volatile (though not recently), and not universally accepted, Bitcoin is easy to get, easy to use, and easy to secure. And it remains solely under your control. In addition, crypto-currencies can be used internationally without expense or permission.
Invest in local businesses: We covered the specifics of this in FMP #19, but investing locally diversifies your risk, while still giving you the ability to oversee your investment. And it helps your neighbors directly, rather than giving Washington and Wall Street a skim on all your investments.
Offshore structures: Holding your money in another country is a very large speed bump to your local government. Yes, if you're a real criminal, the other country will give up your money promptly, but such places are dependent upon foreign bank accounts, and they will not want to scare their customers away by giving up their money without a fight.
Furthermore, offshore structures are not terribly expensive to obtain. You'll want to use a professional to do the work for you (it's too hard to do yourself), but the expense is not as bad as you may think.
Offshore real estate: Offshore real estate, I am told (please verify for yourself), does not have to be declared to the US government.Breaking Inertia
The most fundamental need in situations like this is to break the inertia that entangles us. That inertia moves always in the direction of compliance with authority and a mute servility.
What matters most to us is that we leave the camp of the perpetually obedient and start acting in the world according to our own judgment. In the end, that's the only way to live our own lives (financial and otherwise), rather than "being lived" by outside forces.