When it comes to preparing for disasters, especially long-term economic disasters where paper currency either loses its value or even worse, 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 so long ago that people in this country got by simply by bartering for goods in their local communities. And during the Great Depression, basic items became more valuable than 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 couple of year.
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, dystopian novel.
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 Collapse
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 situation:
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 Accessories
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 with.
Alcohol: It’s always a Top Bartering Product
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 Supplies
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 in gold.
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 for trade:
- 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 trouble!
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.
Non-Food Barter Items
- 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 Knowledge
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.
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.