What a Relief!

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When I was a young boy, I loved collecting things. You name it, I collected it; antique toys, baseball cards, basketball, football, and comic books.

Of course I thought that one day these things would be of great value.

When I was a university student I was watching TV one night. On the news there was a report about a Mickey Mantle baseball card that sold for $5000 — or was it $50,000? I can’t remember. I do remember, though, that I saw that report and thought, “I have that baseball card!”

The next weekend I went to my parent’s house and searched for the card and, sure enough, I still had it. Off to the card collectors store I gleefully went. The store-owner took one look at the card and told me that he’d give me $5 for it. What disappointment! The problem with my card was that it was pretty beaten up. Well, of course it was. What good are baseball cards to a six-year-old if you can’t put them in your bicycle spokes and make your bike sound like it has an airplane engine in it?

Kids are kids and even though I collected these sorts of things, I still played with them. So all of my stuff was pretty well bashed up.

Of course, kids still collect stuff. It’s the stuff that adults collect that are, by far, the most curious. Here’s an example: Go to Amazon.com and see these Star Wars toys that sell for thousands of dollars! Of course, these sorts of items are not for kids to play with, but for an adult who thinks they could make money investing in this sort of thing. Who in their right mind would buy this kind of junk? Top it off with the fact that you have to use a credit card to buy it.

Madness. I guess it is a painful reminder of how our society has lived on a credit-fueled economy that just has to end someday. If I had a collection of toys, cards, or postage stamps, today, I would sell them as quickly as possible. This stuff is going to be worthless very soon. Get money for it while you still can. Or, I suppose it might be nice to give this stuff to a child and let them play with it. Toys are just that; toys.

I reckon that the Star Wars toys that sell for thousands of dollars might be something like those toxic assets we are always hearing about. I suppose I’d sell a toy for $3000 too, if I could find someone crazy enough to buy it. When the economy crashes, though, what will these toys be worth?

Thankfully, the one thing that I did collect when I was a boy — that is worth anything today — was old coins. I looked around my house for those too recently and I found them. I showed them to my son and, when he held one, he said, “Treasure!” Interesting. He’s never said that when he held fiat currency that we use today. I guess kids just have a knack for seeing through things and recognizing the difference between BS and the real McCoy.

Having cash on hand seems to be a very good idea nowadays. Funny thing about having cash readily available, is that it allows you to save money. How? Well, if you have the cash on hand, then it is easier to pay with it instead of using a credit card and having to pay interest. Or, it will save you money by allowing you to not have to run down to the ATM and pay extra service charges all the time.

The other day, when the stock market was playing roller coaster once again, I convinced my wife that we need to buy silver and gold. We drove to one of the few stores in Tokyo that allows you to take the coins or bars home with you. When my son saw the gold coins in the window, once again he said, “Treasure!”

Now, I am greatly relieved. I have my home stocked up with food and water; we use cash and keep it on hand; and we’ve started to protect ourselves with silver and gold.

Of course I wish I had more of all the items I listed above. How could you possibly have too much food, cash, or silver and gold? But procrastinating and worrying about it is not going to help.

There’s an old saying in Japan, “Success is always due to spending 80% of your efforts on preparation.” It’s true. Following this rule, you can protect yourself (even at work) and protect those you love.

Keep cash on hand. Stock up on food and water, and buy silver and gold. Being prepared is a great relief.

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He is the president of a mass-media production company and also runs a talent agency in Japan. He is now the Producer/Director/Co-host of Good Morning Garage, the most popular FM radio morning show in Tokyo. His book, Schizophrenic in Japan, went on sale in 2005.

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