The New Net Worth (After the Zombie Apocalypse)

What's My Zombie New Worth?

Nothing warms the soul during the Holiday season quite like a discussion on zombie invasions. This topic might have been inspired by the impending 2012 Mayan Apocalypse, or today’s once-a-lifetime date of 12.12.12, which just begs for doomsday/conspiracy talk. But regardless, it’s a meaningful discussion worth having any time of year.

When I hear “net worth,” the usual suspects come to mind: cash, investments, retirement, real estate, auto, etc. These are the assets we’re taught to focus on acquiring and expanding. And I won’t be saying any differently.

But sometimes I like to think in the hypothetical. Let’s say I Am Legend was merely a trailer for the year 2013. Don’t buy into flesh-thirsty zombies? Fine. Take your pick. A natural disaster destroys our modern infrastructure; the global economy self-destructs; nuclear war escalates; Twinkies stop being manufactured… I guess that already happened. Yikes.

Whatever the catastrophic event might be, the question is the same: what’s my net worth now? That green stuff I used to use to buy Skittles with? Firewood. That Google stock or government bond I had? Poof. The rude reality is that a lot of those assets would become worthless.

So what would my new net worth be comprised of? I’m glad you asked.

Remember the Oregon Trail Game?

Here’s a good place to start: if it’s something I could buy, barter, or have stolen from my campsite by Native Americans in Oregon Trail, it’s something that should be on my list:

  • Food/Water
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Weapons — for hunting and self-defense
  • First Aid/Medicine — bandages, painkillers, prescription medication
  • Tools — basic set for repairing/building/farming/salvaging, rope
  • Transportation — bike, scooter, extra shoes

And although a disaster might set me back to an Oregon Trail-manner of living, there have been a number of technological advances since that time that would be beneficial.

  • Power Supply/Fuel — generator, gas, batteries
  • Safety Instruments — hand-crank flashlight/radio, CO2 detector
  • Modern Conveniences — toilet paper, diapers, glasses, Snuggie (maybe)

Unless I could eat it, drink it, or use it to keep myself warm, safe, or healthy, it wouldn’t be worth much. Which is precisely why I left precious metals off the list. While silver, gold, and other metals might be considered a worthy investment in someone’s current portfolio, they wouldn’t be worth anything more than a pretty stone/mineral in a disaster. It would likely take years of stability before they might be of value in a bartering system.

I’m not predicting the end of the world or trying to instill fear. I’m a pretty practical dude who doesn’t buy into conspiracy mumbo jumbo. But because we live in an unstable world on an unpredictable planet, I think it’s prudent to diversify our assets with those things that would allow us to provide and protect ourselves and our loved ones. That’s not to say anyone should stop working toward financial goals. But I don’t think there’s any harm in taking a step back and analyzing our true (zombie) net worth beyond our investments.

What else would you add to my disaster asset list? And was I the only person that was totally unphased when family members contracted cholera or typhoid fever on Oregon Trail? Am I terrible person? Share your comment below.

(Original  photo by DigitalSextant)

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  • Reply jefferson @SeeDebtRun December 12, 2012 at 8:41 am

    We keep a small stash of bottled water and non perishable food items in our basement.. Just in case… 🙂 Not really worried about the zombies, but if there are ever food shortages, I would like to have a small safety net.

    • Reply Johnny December 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      “Just in case” is a good philosophy. You might never ever need it, but it seems like a worthwhile investment. After all, Hurricane Sandy left a lot of folks without the basics. And a lot of those communities were in/near one of the biggest cities in the WORLD with access to everything.

      Better safe than sorry (or eaten by a zombie).

  • Reply John S @ Frugal Rules December 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    We’re like Jefferson and have a small stash of water bottles and non-perishable foods. I would also add some small but convenient things like a manual can opener to make things a little easier.

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      We’re hoping to grow a small stash in 2013. Before this year, we’ve lived in tiny apartments where lack of space made it not feasible. But now we’ve got at least an extra closet we could put some emergency preparedness stuff in. Hey, no one ever wished they’d been less prepared, right?

  • Reply Brian December 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I have one 55 gallon drum of potable water in my basement (my grandpa would be ashamed I got rid of the other 9 he had) and a large amount of honey (it never goes bad!). I also always have a couple cases of bottle water since we are constantly buying some from Costco.

    I’m no prepper, but I have a stash to survive a normal disaster and some firepower to protect my home.

    And HOW DARE YOU not care about your digital Oregon Trail family! Those people risked their lives for your silly journey west! No wait you are right they are expendable. I think a t-shirt I saw summed it up best “If we are being chased by Zombies I am tripping you”

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      Yeah, the nice thing about Costco is if you shop there often, you unintentionally have a decent back-up supply of food and water! And based on that t-shirt, remind me never to go to this ( zombie theme park with you! 🙂

  • Reply Catherine December 13, 2012 at 11:38 am

    hahah I remember that game! We don’t have a stash of anything :S If there are natural disaster or zombie apocalypse warnings I would make sure we have extra pet food too!

    • Reply Joanna December 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Too true! We can’t forget our beloved pets! And knowing ours, even in a crisis she’d probably still refuse to eat anything but her favorite food 🙂

  • Reply Chris December 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I consider junk silver to be a worthwhile investment for any TEOTWAWKI scenario. Gold and silver have always had value for some reason or another. Silver has many medical uses. Gold would be super valuable to a dentist in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. I’m just saying, don’t write off your precious metals. Of course, you should always cover your beans, bullets, and bandaids first ;).

    • Reply Joanna December 14, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      Good point! And you forgot to add toilet paper to that list 😉

  • Reply Moonwaves February 17, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    You left the most important thing off your list. Knowledge. It’s all very well to have a toolkit, but if you’re in the habit of always paying someone to come and fix things for you, just having the toolkit won’t necessarily take you far, for example. If you’ve never hunted before, will you even know what to look for, where to find it, etc., etc., etc. I started thinking about this kind of thing seriously during the beginning of the swine flu scare a few years ago. I had moved country not long before and didn’t know a huge amount of people and was living alone. It was sobering to think about what would happen if I got sick and had to stay home for a few weeks on my own recuperating (and I live on the 4th floor with no lift so although shops are close, just popping out for a few minutes isn’t that easy, especially if I were poorly). I built up a stockpile of some food and bottled water so now at least I know that if there really was an emergency I have enough to keep myself fed and healthy for a few months. I’d gotten interested in canning and preserving food a few years before that anyway so it kind of tied in with that anyway. But I did end up with a list, as well, of things I’d still like to learn more about and how to do. Like a first-aid course that doesn’t involve ‘assume the emergency services will arrive within ten minutes’ as the guiding principle of how to act (which is the only kind of first-aid course I’ve done till now).

    • Reply Johnny February 17, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      Very, very astute point. Tools without knowledge is metal. Great point. It makes me wish that I could just download hunting, auto mechanic skills, first aid, and hand-to-hand combat to my brain like they do in the Matrix.

      Thanks for the addition.

  • Reply Moonwaves February 17, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Oh, I should add that I’ve also made a good few friends in the interim and that’s another thing that should have an important place in calculating your zombie net worth, I reckon. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny February 17, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      So you’re telling me my anti-social tendencies will come back to bite me (no pun intended) during the zombie apocalypse? Fine, fine, I’ll be nicer to people.

  • Reply He Says/She Says: Pillows | Our Freaking Budget February 22, 2013 at 7:06 am

    […] There’s any number of ways to do just that with your assets (even ones that might matter in a zombie apocalypse). And in our house, it’s really not too hard to figure out Joanna’s “investment” of choice: […]

  • Reply Laurie @thefrugalfarmer March 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Great post, guys. I’ve got a list that I got one time that survivors of the Sarijevo War put together: The Top 100 things you’ll need to survive a disaster. Near the top of the list? Toilet paper, hard liquor, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant. Why? People during a disaster will give anything to feel “human and normal” again, and these are the best bartering items. Well, except for the liquor, that’s just for getting schnockered and forgetting your troubles, and for pain relief if you should need to do stitches or surgery. Interesting, huh?

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