It seems that every time I look around, or turn on the tv, I get bombarded with news about the state of the global economy, and conflicting messages about how "your money is safe, and you have nothing to worry about" and "economists are predicting hard times ahead, potentially as bad as the depression in the 1920's". Even if these seemingly pessimistic predictions turn out to be incorrect (which is entirely possible. I'm not here to spew doomsday messages, I'm here to inform!), it definitely seems like a good time to start to prepare some emergency funds and plan for whatever may come. As famously put, "hope for the best, expect the worst!".
The first thing I suggest you do, if you don't already own one, is to purchase a strong, fireproof safe, and find a suitable place to hide it in your house. It needs to be hidden enough so that if someone breaks it, it wont be stolen, but at the same time it needs to be in a place where it would be easy to recover in the case of a fire or collapse of the house (however that may happen). Many people I know simply use a tin or a money box for their valuables, and to be honest, this isn't really good enough. I can't stress enough how important it is to have a safe.
Now, I want to you learn how to open that safe, and memorise it. There's no use having a page hidden in your desk which describes how to open it if your house burns down and you can't find it to read it.
The next thing to do is to sit down, and plan exactly how much you would need to survive for a few months. Yes, a few months. It may seem unreasonable, but if there was an extreme financial collapse, and the banks closed, it could be potentially months before you can remove money. You need to be able to cut your spending substantially, and ration your cash reasonably. So what I am suggesting is that you go and remove cash from your bank, and put it in your safe. Don't do the typical "hide it under your matress" or similar techniques. Buy the safe. Spend the money, and you can have peace of mind. The amount of cash you put in the safe depends on how much you would spend in that situation, and how many people you would need to financially support. If you need to support your whole family, obviously you're going to need more.
If you can't afford to remove a lump sum from your bank account, then start putting away a few dollars a day. The way my parents used to do it is that anything that was saved during the week, was split into a cash storage safe, and put into the bank. As their income increased, this changed, but while they were earning smaller amounts this was the most effective way to do it. This is where any tips I have previously provided for saving money will come in handy.
By the end of your saving, you should have a large sum of money (for my parents, after quite a substantial amount of time, it was upwards of $20,000, although this was for use in a scenario where 5 family members, plus possible extended family, may need to be supported, and the amount you require will obviously be different).
Now, I am sure there are many of you reading this who are thinking "this is ridiculous, there's no way the economy is ever going to get that bad". Well, for all of you out there thinking that, do whatever you want. Don't put any money away. Live your day to day lives as if no bad can ever happen, and don't prepare for the worst. However, if the worst does occur, don't go running to your family and friends requesting money or food. You will have brought it upon yourself. It's like the story of the 3 pigs. Only one of them was prepared for the wold, and he had to support the other 2 when their happy little bubbles popped and they were thrown into chaos. Don't be the 2 stupid pigs. Be the clever one. And when those 2 pigs come knocking, send them on their way, because you're going to have more important things to worry about than helping them out of the situation they got themselves into.
I'm not preaching the end of the world, or telling you what is going to happen in the future. I just want you to be prepared. What's the worst that can happen with a large sum of cash hidden in your fireproof, lockable safe? You have to put it back in the bank in the future? Oh, catastrophe.