In the Event of a Bank Run (Bank Holiday) – Instructions for my Wife

The following are instructions for my wife, in the event that a run on banks occurs, or a bank holiday is declared, or if a financial panic occurs.   The people in Cyprus have been in the midst of a bank holiday since this past two weeks.  The crisis in banking in Cyprus has reach the point that a bailout is needed.  Originally the bank holiday was to be 1 or 2 days.  Now the holiday is extending through 2 weeks.  The European Commission has granted Cyprus a bailout, but not without pain to the depositors in Cyprus banks.   Accounts holding more than 100,000 Euros will have a significant losses, since the insurance limit is

As I discussed this situation with my wife over dinner, she pointed out to me that most people in the United States are frightfully ignorant of the ramifications of a run on banks.   The stupid directive that depositors are issued a levy for a bailout may result in bank runs in Italy, Greece, Spain, and possibly Portugal.  Why leave your money in the bank, when the government may simply take a portion?

Can a bank run, banking collapse, bank holiday occur in the United States?  It nearly did occur in the 2008/2009 financial collapse.  It most certainly occurred after the 1929 stock market collapse.    The US Federal Reserve bank keeps expanding the money supply, which is creating real inflation.  Inflation is hitting the economy is unbalanced ways.  Yes, the price of real estate has dropped the past 5 years.  But who buys real estate every day?  My wife exclaims the increases in food prices these past two years.  California, how are you enjoying the price of gasoline at $5 per gallon?  The Federal government debt is nearing $17 trillion for direct liabilities.  Unfunded future liabilities are in 10 times the size of direct liabilities.   The global economic climate is heading in the wrong direct.   Another “black swan” event or major earthquake or another war could easily push the United States into a rapidly descending recession.

If a bank run occurs in the United States, there is very little time to react.  You need move quickly.  The first in line at the bank MIGHT get their money out.  Being last in line at the bank means you will lose EVERYTHING!

Instructions to my Wife:

Dear wife, this is a to-do list and set of instructions on how to handle a run on banks or an anticipated bank holiday.  A bank holiday will have tremendous impact on our town and on our family.  A great depression that will likely follow a run on banks and bank holiday can last for up to 10 years.  In those 10 years, we can expect our family will have a dramatically lessened lifestyle.   The first few days after a bank holiday will likely be stressful and confusing.  But there is much we can do to prepare and react to a bank holiday.   We need to react quickly, upon learning that a bank holiday is possible.  You and I will need to divide up our initial efforts.  These efforts are prioritized in sequence of actions (first to last actions).

Your Immediate Efforts:

First thing is to make sure you are safe.  Do not enter any areas that might have protests, marches, or riots.  At any sign of civil disorder, get home immediately.

  1. Go to a series of ATM machine immediate to withdraw as money as permitted.  Continue to go to a series of ATM machines until the account balances are drawn down to zero or the daily withdrawal limit is reached.  Similarly I will also visit multiple ATM machines.
  2. Go next quickly to the drug store.  Please obtain the following items at the drug store:
    1. Please obtain refills of all of our family’s prescription drugs.
    2. Also at the drugstore, buy over-the-counter medicines that our family uses regularly.  Buy at least a year’s worth of medicines.
    3. Buy 3 years of vitamins focus on multi-vitamins for us and the children.  Also get extra vitamins for Iron, C, B complex, and vitamin D.
    4. Buy dietary fiber to prevent constipation
    5. Consider buy things that your elderly parents might obtain from a drug store, since we’ll likely be helping them.
  3. Next stop is the grocery store.  Please buy food and household supplies in large quantities — as much as you can handle.  Make multiple cycles of (1) loading the grocery cart, (2) pay for the items, (3) unload the grocery cart into the car, and (4)  repeat until the vehicle is filled or your run out of money.  Cover the items in the vehicle with a blanket, so that people passing by are not tempted steal.
    1. The first focus is canned goods.  Canned goods last much longer than their stated expiration date.  Focus on purchasing canned goods on items that have long shelf life.  These items include: (1) Canned meat (Tuna, Salmon, Anchovies, Sardines, Spam), (2) Canned beans (kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, white beans, navy beans, baked beans, black-eyed beans, etc.), (3) Canned vegetables (green beans, carrots, potatoes, yams, corn, spinach, whole tomatoes, tomato sauces, and peas), and (4) Canned fruits (pears, peaches, fruit cocktail, mandarin oranges, cranberry sauce, etc.)
    2. The second focus is milk.  But don’t buy fresh milk.  Instead by powdered milk.  Buy several boxes of powdered milk.   I’ll repackage the powdered milk at home into glass jars.   Also buy cans of evaporated or condensed milk.  Again, buy as many cans of condensed milk as are available.
    3. Dry goods are next.  Load up on dried pasta of all types.  Dried pasta will keep for two years or more, if properly stored.   If you find bags of dry beans and uncooked rice, load up on those as well.   At home, I’ll repackage the dried goods in mylar bags with an oxygen absorber.  This will further increase the self life of these items to 10+ years.
    4. Purchase several containers of olive oil.  Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet.  Olive oil is among the healthiest of fats.  Avoid canola oil – it is not a natural source of fats.
    5. Another good source of fats is salad dressings.  The salad dressing on the shelves has preservatives to extend shelf life.  Normally preservatives are to be avoided.  But salad dressings will keep well for two years without refrigeration.
    6. Avoid frozen foods.   First, our freezer is typically well stocked, and has little room for more items.  Secondly, frozen foods spoil quickly in the event of a power outage.
    7. Avoid fresh foods, such as raw meat and raw vegetables.  Now is the time to focus on foods that will preserve for a long time.
    8. Stock up on basic sanitary items.   Buy bath soap, hand soap, laundry detergent, bleach, toothpaste, shampoo, tampons, and toilet paper.  Bleach is especially important, since it can be used for both water purification and for cleaning.
  4. After unloading the groceries, then I’ll ask you to go shopping for clothing.
    1. Please go buy the next 3 larger sizes of shoes for our children.  Buy two shoes for each of the next three sizes.  It may be years before we can buy shoes for our children again.  This will give us a couple of years worth of shoes for our growing children’s feet.  Pick up a pair of hiking shoes or boots for yourself.  Fortunately, I already have spare pairs of hiking boots.
    2. Buy winter coats for the children which are two sizes larger than their current needs.  They can grow into the coats over the next couple of years.
    3. Buy extra socks for the entire family.  Focus on thick, warm socks, which can be worn while sleeping or in our hiking shoes.  Socks will be invaluable, since we’ll likely be walking everywhere after the bank collapse.
    4. Buy several outfits for our children in their next larger sizes.  Focus on basic clothing that will last for several years, such as jeans, long-sleeve t-shirts, and wool sweaters.
    5. I’ll suggest that you go to Goodwill Store to buy used clothing.  For a little bit of money you can buy a lot of clothing at the Goodwill Store.  We are not looking for high fashion at this point.  Rather we are looking to buy clothing that our kids can grow into for several years.

My Efforts:

  1. If the bank is still open, I will go to the bank immediately to draw money from our accounts.  Also, I’ll empty the contents of the safebox.
  2. My first stop after the bank is the large hardware stores in our area (Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware).  There are many things that I anticipate buying at the hardware stores:
    1. I’ll buy as much home canning supplies as available.  I’ll focus on glass mason-type jars in pint and quart sizes.  And will buy as much lids as available.  I’ll include canning salt and citric acid, if available.
    2. I’ll buy a portable kerosene heater.   Home heating will be very difficult, if the economy collapses.  I’ll buy as many cans of kerosene fuel as available.
    3. I’ll buy small and large containers of propane fuel.   The small containers will be used for our camping stove.  The large containers will be used for portable heaters and barbecue grill.
    4. I’ll buy more oils for our lawn mower, chain saws, portable generators, and our vehicles.  I anticipate oils and lubricants will be in short supply soon.
    5. I’ll buy lots and lots of batteries.  Since we have a lot of gadgets that run on batteries, we’ll need a lot.  The list of gadgets include walkie-talkies, CB radio, portable AM/FM radios, world band/ham receivers radios, flashlights, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, security devices, games and toys.  The difference between civilization and the dark ages is batteries.
    6. Empty fuel cans will be worth their weight in gold.  In every disaster situations, empty fuel cans will be in short supply.   I’ll need the empty fuel cans for the next part of the journey.
  3. After the hardware store, I’ll like return home to unload and head back for the next stop in my quest to prepare.  The next stop is the gasoline station.   I’ll fill every empty fuel can that we have.   We’ll need gasoline for our vehicles and portable generator.  I’ll preserve the fuel with Sta-bil, which will extend the life of gasoline from 2 to 5 years.  A special emphasis is placed on kerosene, which will be used for the portable heaters, in the event that we lose electrical power.
  4. Next, I’ll be going to the sporting goods store.  There are several items that I want to obtain from a sporting goods store.  These include:
    1. Ammunition – First buy ammo for our defensive pistols and rifles.  Then I’ll but ammo in common calibers for barter and as a store of wealth.
    2. Lubricants, cleaning fluids and cleaning patches for our firearms.
    3. Long underwear for the entire family.
    4. Spare sleeping bags and sleeping cots — we’ll likely have family members showing up at your doors.
    5. Any available long-term camping food, such as Mountain House.
    6. Another camping stove, as a backup to our current camping stove.

After these shopping trips, we’ll both come home and unload our vehicles.  We’ll take inventory of the items we have.  Then we’ll calculate how long our food will last.   Once we know how long the food will last, we can make good decisions about allowing extended family members to join our household.

An important part of all our supplies is diversify the storage location.   It is unwise to have all our worldly goods stored in just our home.   In a rental storage unit, we’ll store a cache of weapons, food, water, clothing, and camping gear.  In the event that we are forced to leave our home quickly, some of our critical supplies are located within walking distance.  We’ll also store some items with extended family members, who are within a short drive.

An important part of planning at this point is money.  We need to make sure we have enough physical cash to cover several months of bills.  If the banks are closed for an extend period, we might need to pay our electrical bill with cash.

A run on banks is the end of prosperity and the start of struggling.  Fortunately, we have enough food and water to cover our needs for up to two years.   After that, we’ll need to rely on our own ability to produce food.   We’ll increase our garden.   Unfortunately, we are not allowed to keep chickens and rabbits at our home, due to Home Owner Association (HOA) rules.  But after a bank holiday and subsequent economic collapse, everyone will be scrambling to produce their own food.   We’ll use some of physical silver to purchase chickens from local farmers.

People lived, survived, and thrived during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  Since we are prepared and have some homestead skills, we’ll survive the Great Depression of 2010’s and 2020’s.

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39 Responses to In the Event of a Bank Run (Bank Holiday) – Instructions for my Wife

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  4. Bill says:

    Most on your list is done already. The additions I gleaned from your article are:
    Dietary fiber
    Olive oil instead of the lard that comes my way
    More socks
    More batteries
    More cash and
    More gardening tools and seeds

    The things I might add to your list:
    Buy some of your canned food in gallon cans which can function as a small outdoor stove
    Go maximum on powdered baby formula and milk (good for bartering and making allies)
    Water proof containers suitable for burying or hiding outdoors.
    For those who store imperishables ahead of time, use an airtight food grade 5 gallon bucket and dry ice (CO2) to purge the O2. This extends the shelf life to decades.
    Go maximum on hygiene articles, especially for your females

    Thank you for a great article.

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  8. Harvey says:

    Too late, and risky! Also, I believe it is immoral to buy so much when tshf. You should be ready, and on the day, only buy what the herd won’t want, maybe extra five gallon water bottles, a few cases of wipes.
    If the writer bought as he suggested, just ten people would clean out the groceries and less fortunate people by the afternoon would have none – you would be at least partially responsible for their misery, jmo.
    If you are so convicted to write your wife, grow a pair and pretend it happened today, don’t be a hog when the masses, mostly ignorant now, will need it and truly be hungry.
    Everybody’s glad when they don’t use fire insurance, spend thirty dollars a month, beginning by paying last year’s premium entirely now and buy big bags of beans, milk, cases of cans, etc., hopefully you won’t need it.

    • suburbanprep says:

      The posting is an illustration to get people to think ahead. I am well prepared far ahead of time. Please read my past postings.

      But if the situation calls for it, human nature is very elementary. If there is one can of beans left on the grocery store shelves, I’ll choose feeding my children over yours. If you are expecting people to act otherwise, well, you are entitled to your own opinions.

  9. Brian says:

    All good but your to late, I already have done all that :-)

  10. The Dog says:

    Oh yeah, another thing…….
    May not be quite right but…..whenever I or mine go to the Dr, we always invent another little problem. We have quite a store of prescription only meds.

    Cheers……The Dog

  11. Chris in WI says:

    That’s a good prep list that many, including myself, have already started. I do not plan to wait for a bank holiday…nope not me!

  12. Leslie Anne says:

    …and here I sit too lazy to go out to the car and unload the 80 rolls of toilet paper, 10 large containers of kitty litter, and 24 rolls of paper towel I bought yesterday just because I noticed my stockpile of each of those items at home is now “only” as tall as I am.

    Why wait for a bankrun? Be prepared ahead of time.

    • suburbanprep says:

      I agree. I am well prepared with nearly 2 years worth of food for my family, plus many other supplies and skills. The posting was an illustration to get people thinking. Hope all my other readers will form the same conclusion. Wish you well.

  13. Harold in Maryland says:

    My advice for my wife? Get the kids, I’ll pick up some steaks. See you at home. (We started prepping before the bank run.)

  14. John B says:

    This is a well thought out reply, I am adding this to my list of emergency lists! You may also want to think about buying some veterinary antibiotics in case your “fish” get sick!

  15. When I initially read this post, I didn’t take it as a “this is what unprepared people should do.” I read it instead as a “let’s do this to top-off our preps.” I think it is valuable because it gets us to think about what we should be doing and what we should prioritize for ourselves if this situation ever occurs. So this plan doesn’t serve as a one-size fits all plan. We are all at different levels of preparedness.

    As I read the comments above, you should consider:

    1. This is not about an emp or solar flare. ATM’s and electricity will be up in this scenario. If it was an emp or solar flare, the game would totally be changed.

    2. As Suburbanprep’s wife said above, most people don’t understand the ramifications of a bank run. Even if people heard that on the radio, online, etc… They would go back to thinking about who was going to be on Dance’s with the Stars later that night…. I mean come on, aren’t the banks FDIC insured? 😉

    3. For those of us who are “aware” and keep our eyes open, there will be time to make last minute purchases. Of course we don’t go into riot filled areas, etc…. But again, I believe most people won’t understand what is truly going on at first.

    4. We currently have generations (plural) who have never been through a major crisis that lasted any significant amount of time. Yes we have had earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, etc… but they have been regional in nature, nothing that has swept the country. Even those baby boomers who went through the Vietnam War didn’t really experience the lack of resources that those who went through WW2 experienced.

    5. Even if you are prepped and stocked, isn’t there some stuff you would still like to get “just in case?” I think that medical preps are so important. The fact is that you leave money in your account for savings, etc… You should have some on hand too. But if you knew that there was going to be a bank holiday and they would, “tax” what you have saved, wouldn’t you want to take it out and purchase hard assets if you could? There are some people who buy/purchase items as they save for them, but in this scenario, there might be some preps that you would just bite the bullet on and get at that time.

    6. Lastly, something to think about…if this was a real scenario, I wonder what paying bills would look like. You might need to have cash on hand, but if the whole financial world is turned on it’s head, what would that look like?


  16. Montana Mike says:

    Dear sububanprep Your itemized list is very complete. But please do not wait until the life changing event!! You and your wife will be facing a hoard of shoppers, some not so friendly either. Many of the items on your list will already be sold out. If the power goes out ATM’s may not work. Have a supply of money hidden away in your home and motor vehicle to make those emergency purchases

    Thank you for including aging or infirm family members in. Also consider having all your legal documents with copies secured in a sealed waterproof container. Everything from marriage license to home owner paperwork. Investing in a US passport for all family members would be good idea.


  17. Drew says:

    Try doing this with no credit limit, In just one day, a lot of that should be done already, wait till the last day good luck,On this day many will wonder why, and the people who deiced to wait till the last day will be filled with lots of regret.

  18. CJ says:

    Great post with good ideas, but do you actually think you’ll be able to accomplish all those things once a bank run begins? I highly doubt it.. Better to get prepared and stay that way, and when things go south, you don’t have to leave home. ESPECIALLY your wife! (speaking as a woman) :)

    • suburbanprep says:

      Actually, it will be very difficult to do this in one day. For the most part, I am already prepared. But adding more items in the final days of a bank collapse will top-off your supplies.

  19. mikes87stang says:

    I enjoyed your post but have to ask why wait for the Bank Runs to begin?

    I ventured out right before Hurricane Sandy hit us here on Long Island and all I can say is I will do my best not to be doing ANY last minute preps at busy stores ever again. Except for the Drug Store,I’m only heading home.

    Thanks for the thought provoking blog!

    • suburbanprep says:

      Yours is the conclusion that I hoped most people would reach. Wish you well.

      • The Dog says:

        Yeah, I thought it was a bit silly. Am I missing something ?
        Was it tongue in cheek ? Dont you have all those things already ?
        I certainly do, and more.

        Cheers…….The Dog

      • Kevin says:

        I lived through Hurricane Ike here in Houston. Standing in line at the Kroger , allowed 5 at a time to enter a darkened store to buy non perishable basics, started us on our way to prepping for disasters. The economic situation has accelerated that. I have most of what you list and can do basic sustaining for 2-3 months. I got the ammo first and was lucky that I was able to secure it before the recent shortage started. Good article.

    • J says:

      Ditto. No last minute running around. Sit back and watch the sheep do that. I am also on Long Island, and during and after Sandy, didn’t have to get anything and 11 days without power for me and my family

      The one thing I learned is a lot of people want to quickly become your “friend” for the preps you have worked hard on. Watch your a**, and only allow those in that can bring some form of contribution.

      My wife and I, because of genny power offered hot showers and warmth to family and friends, but gave out no supplies.

      Great post!