When it comes to preparing for disasters, especially long-term economic disasters where paper currency either loses its value or becomes completely unusable, bartering is a preparedness skill that could come in very handy. Those who like to dicker and know how to negotiate are going to have a valuable skill that helps ensure their ability to thrive in a post-collapse world.
While some may dismiss the need for stocking up on goods for trade, a quick look back at our history will show you the very real value of being able to barter during times of crisis. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that people in this country got by simply bartering for goods in their local communities. And during the Great Depression, essential items became more valuable than the currency itself.
The History of Bartering for Goods: The Great Depression is a Great Example of Why Bartering is a Necessary Post-Collapse Skill.
The history of bartering systems can be traced back to biblical times. In fact, numerous
passages mention people trading things like livestock in exchange for
food or other services.
So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys, and he fed them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year.
But in terms of bartering during times of
crisis, there is no better recent example than that of the Great Depression.
During the Great Depression, a great number of
American families relied on the barter system to pay their bills, feed their
families, and survive. While some bartered goods, others who had valuable skills
to offer traded their knowledge and their time.
But if the 1930s is too far back for you, and you believe something like that could never happen in today’s society, just take a look at what has been going on in Venezuela over the last decade.
In the hyperinflationary South American country,
where their currency is extremely unstable and scarce, many have reverted to a
barter economy. Paying for even the
cheapest goods literally requires piles of
banknotes, of which there simply aren’t
enough circulating. It’s estimated that hyperinflation
in the country has reached 42,000%.
Once one of most prosperous Latin American counties,
socialist policies have transformed Venezuela into an apocalyptic-style,
To survive, businesses have started trading their services
for things like loaves of bread and canned goods. People have even started private
Facebook groups to barter goods with others in their country and have taken to
various social media channels using the hashtags #Trueque (barter/exchange) and
#Vzla to find others to trade with.
Survival Bartering: Trading your Way through a Long-term Disaster or Economic
If you’re fully stocked and prepared to survive,
then you need to put some serious thought
and effort into stockpiling some popular bartering items for those times when paper currency becomes worthless.
What are the best bartering goods to stock up on before things go bad?
What bartering supplies you choose to start
stockpiling will depend on the situation you’re planning for; but in general,
the following items will all probably be in high demand after a total collapse
Water Purification Supplies
Most people don’t realize how hard finding clean
drinkable water will become in a post-collapse situation. When the water
treatment plants stop running, people are going to be scrambling to find a way
to purify their drinking water. Iodine tablets, bleach, water filters,
canteens, and even cooking pots will all be needed and in very high demand.
Guns, Ammunition and Firearm
1 out of every 3 Americans owns a gun, but how
many of these gun owners stockpile an adequate amount of ammunition? After the
economic collapse in 2008, ammunition became very scarce. Some types of
ammunition, specifically .22lr, were impossible to find, and those that had it
were selling it for 10-20 times its original price.
During a long-term disaster or collapse, ammo is
going to be a highly sought after and will quickly become a very popular barter
item. I recommend stocking up on calibers that you actually use, followed by the most common calibers (.22lr, .223,
9mm, .45, 30-06, 12ga, & .308)
If the SHTF, those two out 3 Americans who don’t own guns are going to be wishing, they did. That means guns and firearm
accessories are going to be in high demand. From people looking for parts to
repair broken guns, to those who are currently anti-gun and will quickly change
their position when the chaos hits, I can almost guarantee that firearms will
become one of the most wanted items after a collapse. Even pellet guns might be
good items to stock up on; They’re cheap, easy to find, and would be easier to part
Alcohol: It’s always a Top
The history of using alcohol as a bartering tool
is long and complex and dates back probably to the beginning of alcohol itself.
For early American moonshiners, making and selling alcohol wasn’t a hobby; it
was how they survived.
Let’s not beat around the bush here; during hard times there is always a market
for alcoholic beverages. And during an apocalyptic SHTF scenario, there’s going
to be a huge number of people who will want to drink their sorrows away. Hard
liquors like Whiskey and Vodka are going to be the best option because of their
long shelf life.
Medications & Medical
Almost half of all Americans are currently
taking at least one prescription medication. In a post-apocalyptic world,
prescription medications will be another highly sought-after item. From people
who need to treat life-threatening illnesses with antibiotics, to those that
will just want to forget everything
that’s happening and dull their senses, medications will be worth their weight
Check out our list of top
medical supplies; everything
on the list will be helpful in a barter economy.
Food & Water
This category is really
a no-brainer. During a long-term crisis, food and water will be the most traded
items on the market. Historically, these are some of the most-values items
- Canned goods: Vegetables, fruits, and meats
- Beans: These are relatively cheap and are a
great long-lasting item to store.
- Rice: You want to go with white rice because brown
rice goes rancid after six months.
- Flour and baking goods
like cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, etc..
- Sugar, Honey, and Spices
- Cooking oils
- Powdered milk and powdered
- Popular Snacks and Candy: I know this is just a
movie, but for those who have seen Zombieland, do you remember how obsessed Tallahassee
becomes with finding a Twinkie? People
are going to want comfort foods and things that take their minds away from
Check out our list of some of the most important foods to
stockpile. These will all be in high demand and are all good
items to start stocking up on before things go bad.
- Toiletries: Toilet paper, toothpaste, soaps, and hygiene products.
- Batteries: I would stockpile batteries like crazy, especially rechargeable, AA and AAA varieties.
- Lighters and Matches: I would also add things like candles, camp stoves, and oil lamps to this category.
- Fuels: Propane, butane, and other long lasting fuel.
- Flashlights: When the grid goes down this is a no-brainier.
- Leisure: Playing cards, dice, books and board games.
- DIY Duct Tape and WD-40: I would also add items like JB weld, glues and adhesives, and other DIY construction and home/vehicle repair tools.
Skills, Tools & DIY
Having a good stockpile of tools, combined with
the knowledge of how to use them, is not only a sound investment but can also
ensure you have a method for generating income when things go bad. If things
ever completely collapse, those who can fix things are going to be some of the
most sought-after people in the new economy.
Plumbers, carpenters, and handymen are all going
to be able to trade their services for almost anything they need. That means
the best thing you can do to ensure your survival is to start learning skills
that will be important during a collapse.
The great thing about this category is you’re not giving away anything that you might need in the future.
Never barter with something that you may need.
Tips on starting a Local Bartering Network
During an all-out economic collapse or breakdown in government, traditional currency may lose its value very quickly, making it incredibly difficult for people to obtain the goods and services they need to survive. This is where knowing how to barter may become a lifesaving survival skill. If you’ve never had to barter or haggle with someone, head out to some local garage sales this weekend and try it – just like any other survival skill, it gets easier with practice.
Here are some tips on bartering for trading goods and services during a SHTF collapse or crisis.
Identify your skills and resources: Before getting started in bartering, you need to know what you have to offer – these can be goods or skills that may be valuable to others. Make a list of your skills, such as carpentry, sewing, fixing vehicles, cooking, or gardening. Then, list your resources, such as food, water, medical supplies, fabric, or tools.
Find potential trading partners: Don’t wait till things go bad; you can get started now! Reach out to people in your community or online who may be interested in bartering. You can post on social media groups, join local prepper groups, or attend events where preppers and hagglers attend. Look for people who have skills and resources that you may be lacking.
Set up a trading network: Once you have a group of potential trading partners, set up a network where you can communicate and make these trades. This can be a social media group, a forum, or even better, a physical meeting place where the government or other troublemakers can’t watch your every move. Make sure that everyone is clear on the rules of the barter system and that there is a system in place for resolving disputes.
Determine the value of goods and services: Without a traditional currency, it can be challenging to determine the value of goods and services. One way to do this is to assign a point system where each skill or resource is assigned a point value. For example, an hour of carpentry work may be worth two points, while a gallon of water may be worth one point. This way, people can trade goods and services of equal value.
Be flexible: People’s needs and resources will quickly change in a crisis. So be willing to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. For example, if someone needs medical supplies but doesn’t have anything to trade, you may be willing to offer them in exchange for something else down the line.
Build trust: Bartering relies heavily on trust between trading partners. Be honest about the quality and value of your goods and services. Follow through on your commitments and don’t try to take advantage of others. Building trust in your trading network can help ensure the success of your barter system.
While bartering may become a real part of life in a post-disaster world, you really need to consider what items you can and can’t do without. That means when it comes to bartering, the only thing you should be trading are items that you have a surplus of or items that you are sure you won’t need in the future.