Those interested in how people cope in a crisis situation should go read a long, detailed, and very interesting thread on AR15.com about the experiences of a Russian man during and after the collapse of communism in that country. Here's just one excerpt from his recollections.
There were multiple money "reforms" after the collapse. Ruble was artificially tied to a dollar before the collapse. I believe the artificial exchange rate was a around 0.90 rubles per one dollar but ruble was technically considered as a non-convertable currency. I could't go to a bank and exchange rubles for dollars. Actually it was highly illegal to own any foreign currency. Only the special people who did travel abroad could exchange money and it was very limited too.
Also, before the 1991 collapse, prices on many goods, especially food, were much lower than what it actually cost. I remember reading that meat products actually cost around 8 rubles per one kilo, production cost but were sold at around 3 rubles per kilo. ALL prices were set by the government and were often printed on a box. This means, I could buy a kilogram ( about 2 lbs) of sugar for the same price anywhere in the country, Same for everything else.
I remember one money reform where they printed new 25 and 100 rubles banknotes. I think it was before the USSR collapse. This was done in an attempt to catch or to hurt all illegal businesses. People could exchange their old 25 and 100 ruble banknotes but up to a certain amount. Anything over that amount required an letter explaining where the money came from.
Something similar may happen here in the US, in the name of national security or the war on drugs. I keep my money in the bank but I try to keep a few hundred dollars on hand. for emergencies. If you do the same, it's best to have it in $20 bills or less . I know several hardcore preppers who keep most of their savings in cash. If you are one of them, don't keep it all in $100 bills.
What happened to the economy after the USSR collapse was called - "Shock Therapy". It was an attempt to fuse russian economy with the rest of the world. A rudimentary form of Market Economy was also being developed. This meant that everything was tied to a real market price, tied to the real currency exchange rate. Prices skyrocketed. People were walking around in shock and disbelief after they saw new prices on food and everything else. It was like 10, 100 or 1000 times more than a month earlier. Yes, food was readily available but people could not afford much because they were still getting paid very little.
I remember one day, one of my university professors walked in the class, all upset. He just got his monthly wages (everyone was paid in cash only) that equaled to 360 rubles. That day a dollar was selling at it's new high of 350 rubles per dollar, at Moscow currency exchange market. So he just got paid ONE DOLLAR for a month of teaching at a prestigious university. Now, keep in mind that teachers in Russia were like doctors and lawyers here in the US. Being a teacher was prestigious back then, before the USSR collapse.
Inflation was also getting out of control. Prices were getting higher and higher, almost daily. It was best to spend money as soon as you get paid. Most family incomes were spent on food.
I'm not talking about buying frozen pizzas or eating out. Heck, I never ate out or visited a restaurant until I was about 18 years old. Money was spent on things like sugar, rice, potatoes, tea, salt and maybe some meat products.
We had a small summer shack (Dacha) with a small garden out in the country. This helped a lot before and after the collapse. Everything the garden produced was eaten or canned for the winter. It was nearly impossible to buy fresh fruits or vegetables during winter months, especially during the soviet times. Most apartment buildings had basements that were partitioned to have small storage cells, about 10x15 ft, where temperature never got below freezing. We had one too and stored all of our canned goods and potatoes for the winter. Many people would not have survived without it. We canned tomatoes, pickles, fruits like apples and strawberries. We also stored about 500 lbs of potatoes in the cellar. every September we made a trip to a country side and bought the potatoes from small (often illegal) farms. Potatoes store very well in dry, cool and dark place.
Food was number one priority back then. Like I said previously, people were not really starving but they were not eating as good as what's considered normal here in the US. I often laugh when I hear on the news about people who "starve" here in the US. How is this possible when food is so cheap and available everywhere? Perhaps they call it starving when they can't afford to eat out everyday? Obviously they have no clue about basic things like cooking. Yes, it's nice to have pork chops or a steak every day but it costs a lot too. Why not make soup? It's relatively cheap and will feed a family for several days. A 50 lbs. bag of rice can be purchased at Costco for around $15 and will last for a long time. You can make a lot of mouth watering dishes from potatoes only. How can you go hungry in this country???
There's much more at the link. Very interesting to all 'professional preppers', as well as to those of us who aren't fanatical about it, but believe in being prepared for life's less palatable moments.