Barter is a very important aspect of prepping
Barter is the gold standard (pardon the pun) of trade and commerce whenever there is a breakdown in a society. Barter is also a common facet in any society, commonly it is called the “Black Market”, but this has a negative connotation when most people see the word. Often “Black Market” conjures up images of folks selling drugs, explosive and elephant ivory, this may be true in some places, but most often it is just the selling of items that you dont pay taxes on.
So if youve ever sold something at a garage sale or on Craigslist and not claimed the income on your taxes then you have yourself sold on “The Black Market”! Not so scary now right? Barter is basically two individuals who are freely conducting a transaction at an agreed upon price. This could be 20 bucks for your T.V. or 3 pounds of Rice for a Deer Hindquarter. In the current world, despite its problems, we are still in a relatively safe and “normal” scenario Barter can be used now, i recommend you look into conducting barter for things you already need now, there is a “Barter” Section on Craigslist already, If you cut hair consider offering free haircuts for a family that runs a gas station in exchange for a fill-up or something to that effect.
This is just an example, but it is one that can be used today. NOW to the REAL reason we are looking at barter today. In a total or partial collapse scenario, barter will be the main source of exchange between individuals. If the whole thing has crashed down, your dollars are now nice pieces of linen with some faces on it that resemble the founding fathers who instituted a system that would have stopped this from ever happening, but we didnt listen. For all the Cries of the Gold Bugs and quite a few on the Forums, your Gold and Silver are now nice shiny hunks of metal. I know, I know, “Patriots the Coming Collapse” By J.W. Rawles showed us that everyone is going to be trading in pre 65′ silver coins when The proverbial Shit hits the fan! Well even in Rawles’s book this sort of trading came about YEARS after the “Crunch” If there is a TOTAL collapse, where rioting is rampant and the world seems to be collapsing in on itself, guess what people will need the most.
FOOD, and shortly after, guns/ammo for defense and hunting followed by the many common items we take for granted today, like soap, toothpaste, boots, etc. The old adage is “You can eat gold [silver]” and thats very true, if you have a pile of silver that you bought after dumping your retirement account and the guy down the street has a hog farm, he needs wheat to make bread for his family, or food to feed his pigs, not shiny pieces of metal. I mentioned this in the PRECIOUS METALS INVESTING section, but ill say it again.
DONT PUT ALL YOUR EGSS IN THE METALS BASKET! If you truly feel you want to get out of you’re investments and into tangibles I couldnt disagree with you. BUT dont take all that and just buy gold and silver. You need to have your other preps handled like food, water, shelter, defense, etc. 1000 pounds of beans, rice, wheat and meat stored away could mean your families survival, versus an inheritance they cant spend. Silver/Gold should be around 10% of your total wealth/investments/etc. you can push those numbers up if you wish but never put all your money in one place, diversifying is the name of the game in survival.
Okay So what should I buy to have for Barter?
Well for the worst case scenario you will need two different categories of “things” to have
Tangibles and Intangibles.
What I mean by tangibles, is things you can hold, use and trade again
Intangibles are skills, experience, labor and things you can pass on.
- Labor – You are fit and able to dig holes, haul things, help on a farm, be hired on as security, etc.
If a local farmer needs help harvesting or planting a crop, you could trade your LABOR and your ability to do so efficiently and effectively for a cut of the produce, or whatever you agree upon.
You could dig holes for the lady down the street or hire on as security for the town. Many folks dont even realize how valuable their labor could be, If you have been a stay at home mom, you have a great labor that can be bartered with. You know how to raise and take care of children, child care will be a very important thing to offer as many folks will have to work the land or be away from the home for long periods of the day to scrape together what they need to survive. If you watch 5 families kids all day you could trade that for food, wood for the stove, etc. Theres a thousand different things that could be listed here so just think about it.
- Experience/Skill – These are the thing you know how to do, and can sell that knowledge
You may know how to cultivate tomatoes in a greenhouse better than anyone, or be an excellent shot and great teacher of rifle/pistol shooting, these are things that others may not
know how to do, but you do and can barter that knowledge and skill for the things you and your family needs. This is why it is paramount that you break out of your box that you live in, learn new skills, take gardening classes, learn how to weave, churn butter, milk a cow, etc. These are all skills (and along with the books of “How To”) that you can sell and barter with your neighbors with that could help bring in the other items that you dont have.
Skills to learn
These are a list of some skills that you can start diving into, that will give you a needed edge in the post collapse economy.
This is just a basic list,but also just look back at 150 years ago and the skills needed then, well most of them will be needed again.
- Mechanic, Engine Repair
- Firearms Repair, Ammo Reloading
- Architect, Home Reinforcement
- Agriculture, Farming Expertise, Seed Saving, Animal Care
- Bee Keeping
- Doctor, Medical Assistant
- Well Construction, Water Table Expertise
- Engineer, Community Planning, Manufacturing, Electrical
- Firearms Proficiency, Security, Self Defense Planning
- Martial Arts Training
- Wild Foods Expert
- Sewing, Textiles
- Soap Making, Candle Making, Hygiene Products
- Small Appliance Repair
- Electronics Repair
- HAM/CB Radio Expert
- Homeschooling, Tutoring
- Leather Working
My goodness this list could go on for 1000 pages, but ill list some of the common and uncommon things that you may not have thought of
Spices- Salt may be a staple and should be part of your preps, but to be able to add some different taste to your foods, would be a great luxury barter item
Coffee- Coffee may seem a “necessity” but coffee doesnt keep well, and it is not natural to the U.S. Buy nitrogen packed bricks or instant coffee crystals
Candy- Great for a gift for kids or adults with a sweet tooth, and a great item for diabetics as well.
Baking Soda- Both for cooking as well as deodorizing and cleaning/toothpaste.
Sponges/Scrubbing pads- from Steel Wool to Brillo Pads
Canning Jars/Lids- Canning will become paramount for people to preserve their food to make it through lean years and long winters.
Bleach- Can be used to disinfect food preparation areas, clean wounds and sanitize water for consumption.
Tea- Same as coffee, tea can be made from local plants, but variety is always a nice luxury, in any case have teabags or tea balls.
Aluminum Foil- A great modern convenience for cooking, can be re-used over and over again if used carefully.
Baby Formula/misc items – A cash of Baby formula, vitamins, reusable diapers, etc. May not be something you want to “barter” with but to help others in charity.
Towels/Wash cloths- for kitchen cleaning and drying, you dont want to use your clothes or bathing towels for this.
Hand Sanitizer- Before food preparation not just medical care, food poisoning can be a deadly affair without immediate medical care available.
Ice Cream- No i dont mean freezing hundreds of gallons, but those simple ice cream ball makers or even the traditional style churners would make a great luxury item
Utensils- This may sound basic, but most of the utensils we have today are cheap plastic junk that break often and not made to stand up to the harsh use of survival and
“Traditional” cooking. Having extra sets of forks, knives, spoons, ladles, wooden spoons, spatula’s etc would be a decent little addition to a barter kit.
Pots and Pans- This goes along with the Utensils, but having extra cast iron dutch ovens, large cooking pots and pans that can stand the test of time would be worth their weight in gold
to the unprepared.
Matches/lighters- for use in lighting cooking fires, if you have never tried lighting a fire without a lighter or match, its not easy or fun.
Cooking/Heating Stove- This is a large item and not to be had in bulk and only if you have a large retreat/home, but to have an extra traditional wood cooking stove, or even some homemade
Drum Stoves with a modified cooking top, anyone with ALOT of extras themselves would be willing to pay a hefty price for this.
Cooking Oils- This should be a part of your preps, but to can bacon grease and cooking oils for barter use, and if in a warm enough climate to have plants (olive, sunflower, peanut, etc) that can produce oil for cooking would be a great day-to day necessity for barter.
Fuels- Propane, Coleman Fuel, Lighter Fluid, Charcoal, etc. These types of fuel would be a great luxury for those who don’t want to cook with a wood fire constantly or cant because they don’t have it easily available.
Tang/Drink Mixes- Mostly for kids, and a nice treat but some can be useful, gatorade has decent electrolyte counts for use with someone who is dehydrated
Toilet Paper- not much explanation needed!
Deoderant- Not necessary but nice to not smell bad
Soap- completely necessary to keep clean, stock up and learn how to make it, could be a great cottage industry
Toothpaste/Toothbrushes- When the cheap generics are on sale buy a bundle and fill up a small rubbermaid container.
Water Filtration- From the Big Berkeys, to Katadyn to plain old Bleach or the Pool Shock products (See Water Section of the Site).
Sanitizing Products- From Bleach to Alcohol to Hand Sanitizer, any number of Sanitizing products will be of great value.
Tampons/Pads- This is not just a luxury but a needed hygiene item.
Garbage Bags/Cans- Large Garbage cans can be of a number of uses, you dont want to brew beer or cook in your garbage, garbage can.
Clothes Pins- You may not have power or even if you do you will still want to hang dry most of your clothes.
Belts- Belts from leather to riggers to Paracord belts will be very much in need.
Nail Clippers- every tried to cut your nails with a knife?
Razors- Soap can be used or just water but look into getting straight razors with a leather strap to sharpen, they can last a lifetime.
Bobby Pins/Scrunchies-For caring and to keep long hair, your ladies will appreciate this.
Qtips/Cotton Balls- for keeping you body clean as well as medical and firearms cleaning uses.
Gold Bond- Cant say how nice this is when you work outside or are hiking alot and you get that chafing and bad foot issues.
Mosquito Netting: Bugs are not just a nuisance but also a health hazard, such as Malaria and West Nile (Submitted by Renee Bulmer)
Fishing gear- Along with your own supply of line, lures, weights, poles, waders, etc. Have extra fishing gear even if its just a couple cheap rolls of 20 lb test line. A couple thousand feet of line will only run you about 15 bucks for the cheap stuff, and when the stores arent opening anytime soon, this could be a lifesaver for someone.
Camoflauge- not just for the rambo starter kit of many preppers, this actually does have some hunting uses. Animals like Deer dont see colors so thats why the orange with black stripe stuff will suffice, but turkeys and other prey do see colors, so having camoflauge can help. Also look into the military surplus ghillie netting, could be used for a ghillie suit, but the standard camo netting that goes up on poles to hide military vehicles could be a great addition to a hunting blind or Look out Post.
Firearms/Ammunition- Many folks dont have weapons or ammo, look into cheap weapons and cheap ammo for barter, .22 is about 20+ a 500 round box, cheap and worth its weight in Gold in hard times.
Knives- Cleaning animals, fish, cutting, defense, many many uses. Swiss Army knives could be the Iphone of Post Collapse America.
Rope- Twine, Ropes, paracord, etc. cordage has a multitude of uses cant be underestimated, not easy to make!
Sharpening Stones- Knives need to be sharpened or you will have spoons cutting your meat very soon.
Laundry Detergent- There are cheap and organic options, you can stock up on single use packs.
Binoculars- You will need these to spot game or even see who that is coming up the road.
Fire Starters- From matches to lighters. But also look at magnesium and fire iron strikers.
Insect Repellant- Not just for hunting, insects can spread diseases depending on your location.
Flashlight’s- Flashlights whether they are high end mag lites or cheaper types like the Handcrank VIATEK Dyna Light Most folks wont have good ones, or in the case of a hand crank LED flashlight, ones that will last longer than the batteries they contain.
Needles/Sewing Items- You wont be able to just buy whatever you need, or cant afford to you will need to learn to sew your own clothes. if you become an accomplished seamstress this could be a great business. Look at traditional foot pedal sewing machines.
Patch Kits- Goes along with the Sewing items, but patches for knees, elbows and other areas can be the difference between a useful shirt and looking like a vagabond.
Socks- You need em, stock up.
Washing Board- You can use this to clean your clothes without power, labor intensive buy better than dirty clothes.
Thermal Underwear- In the winter especially in cold climates, this can be the difference between life and death and losing appendages to frostbite.
Gloves- Same as thermal underwear above, but also work gloves for working around the house.
Broad Brim Hats- without large amounts of sunscreen you will need this to keep from getting sunburn on the face and neck, not just for old ladies who garden.
Duct tape- So many uses, would be a a GREAT barter item.
Bibles- Even if you aren’t a believer many are and will need them for comfort and spiritual help. Keep one for yourself, Pray.
Nylon Cord- Same as for rope above, but small nylon cord has multiple uses around the home and in the woods.
Cigarettes/Chewing Tobacco- Even if you dont use the products (I recommend you quit if you do) those who are addicted will do pretty much anything to trade for it.
Pencils/Paper/Note Pads- Learn how to make paper, but also this will be very useful, when you cant go out and buy it, imagine not being able to write a not or keep a journal?
Reading Glasses- Many folks need them or will need them, they break often, so they will be needed constantly.
Liquor- Liqour can be used for drinking, but especially for sanitizing or wound care, or making liqeurs from fruits.
Tarps- For keeping out rain and the elements for many different things.
Gardening Tools- With everyone needing to garden a few extra spades, shovels, etc will be worth their weight in gold.
Hand Tools- Like the gardening tools, everyone will need to start digging and building things themselves, buy a few extra hammers, rulers, nails, etc.
Manuals- From Boy Scouts to the Military and Gardening and Animal Husbandry have written knowledge to pass on borrow out or sell.
Vitamins/OTC Meds- Multivitamins, pre-natals, calcium, Immodium, etc. All these things will be very needed for charity or Barter.
First Aid Kits/Supplies- Buy or put together some small first aid kits to give out or barter
Batteries- Flashlights, Radios, Weapons sights, everything needs power, look into low discharge high capacity (they are spendy) rechargeables with the charger, would be a great loan out item or barter a whole system.
Solar Calculators- Doesnt need batteries and there arent too many abacus’s out there!
Radios- Whatever news sources out there or music stations will be a great item for a families piece of mind.
Flashlights/Lightsticks/Lanterns- You need light, also look into rechargeable lanterns as well as kerosene and propane types as well along with the fuel.
Candles- If you dont have lanterns or alot of fuel or power candles will become very needed. A blog article I had on Crisco Candles
Bicycles/Chains/Tires/Air Pump- Non motorized (gas) vehicles will become the transportation of the day, extra bikes and accessories will be needed.
Playing Cards/Games- You need entertainment, cards and board games will be a very good thing to trade with.
Axes/Hatchets- For cutting wood, Brush, etc. Have a few extra ones around or just some extra axe heads for replacement you can make your own handles.
Plastic Sheeting- Can be used for gardening as well as insulating a house or patching a hole.
Sunglasses/Sunscreen- Glasses and sunscreen will be very much a needed item.
Glues- without glue furniture will have to use the more traditional woodworking skills, but super glue is also a great item for closing small lacerations.
Musical Instruments- Like cards and board games, musical instruments will be a great loan out item or bartered for those who want to give a gift.
Any other suggestions? I know there are thousands!