Originally published October 11 2008
A Safe May Be the Safest Place for Your Emergency Stash
by Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) One investment idea that looks bright even in these bleak days is companies that make safes. Confidence in banks and the overall economy is at levels not seen since the Great Depression. People are removing money from their bank accounts at record rates and they have to put it somewhere. Safe deposit boxes were once the first choice as a place to stash cash and other valuables, but with some banks closing it is becoming apparent that emergency money belongs elsewhere if quick access to it is needed.
Safety deposit box holders and depositors are not given advanced notice when failed banks shut their doors. If people have their emergency money in a safe deposit box or an account in a bank that closes, they will not be allowed into the bank to get it out. They can knock on the door and beg to get in but the sheriff's department or whoever is handling the closure will simply say "no" because they are just following orders.
Deposit box and account holders are not warned of the hazards of banking when they sign up. It is not until they need to get their cash or valuables out in a hurry that they find themselves in trouble.
Rules governing access to safe deposit boxes and money held in accounts are written into the charter of each bank. The charter is the statement of policy under which the bank is allowed by the government to do business. These rules are subject to change at any time by faceless bureaucrats who are answerable to no one. They can be changed without notice, without the agreement of the people, and against their will. People can complain but no one will care because this is small potatoes compared to the complaints that will be voiced when the executive order that governs national emergencies is enforced. That order allows the suspension of habeus corpus and all rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.
A look at the fine print of the contract signed when a saftey deposit box is opened reveals that in essence the signer has given to the bank whatever property he has put into that deposit box. When times are good people will be allowed open access to their safe deposit box and the property that is in it. This also applies to their bank accounts. But when times get really bad, many may find that the funds they have placed on deposit and the property they thought was secured in the safe deposit box now belong to the bank, not to them. Although this was probably not explained to them when they signed their signature card, this is what they were agreeing to.
During the Great Depression in the early 1930's people thought that many banks were going to fail. They were afraid they would lose their money so they went in mass to take it out, in what is known as a run on the banks. The government closed the banks to protect them from angry depositors who wanted their money back. Throughout history, governments have acted to protect the interests of banks and the wealthy people who own them, not the interests of depositors or box holders.
In a time of emergency, people will have no recourse if access to their safe deposit box and bank accounts is denied. If they are keeping money in a bank that would be needed in an emergency or in a time when credit is no longer free flowing, they may not be able to get it out of the bank. The emergency may occur at night or on a weekend or holiday when the bank is closed.
The solution is to take emergency cash or valuables out of the safe deposit box or bank account and secure them somewhere else, like in a home safe. An even better idea may be to close the safe deposit box account completely, letting someone else entertain the illusion of safety.
Americans have learned a few things since the Great Depression. They now have the FDIC to liquidate any failed banks. The FDIC promises to set up a series of dates and times when safe deposit box renters can access their boxes by appointment to remove their property and surrender their keys. The FDIC also promises to mail bank customers an announcement of the dates for such events and include a question and answer page that addresses safe deposit box access.
The people have the FDIC to give them back the money they had on deposit that they were unable to get out of any failed bank that carries FDIC insurance. Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC, promises that depositor`s money will be available in 24 hours or less. But people should remember that the FDIC is just another bureaucracy, and it`s probably best not to rely on a bureucracy in an emergency.
About the authorBarbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
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