“Post borrowed from 21st century Preppers”
Thanks to Jim Cobb
Barter and Trade
This is one of the most common topics in prepper literature, especially online. I’d estimate it ranks just under bug out bags in terms of popularity. My theory is that many preppers are broke and relish the thought of not having to worry about money and instead could “pay the bills” with stuff they’ve stockpiled. That and the whole idea of not having to pay taxes, of course 😉
Barter and trade was probably the first type of financial transaction in man’s history. Uggo trades Shek three fish for a rabbit pelt, that sort of thing. Today, most transactions are made using currency of some form, which makes things vastly easier in many respects. After all, who wants to stop in at Wall-Mart and haggle over how many dozen eggs equal a tube of toothpaste, package of paper towels, and a hair dryer?
The problem with barter has always been deciding the relative worth of the items in hand. This is a decision that is relatively arbitrary. A lot depends on how badly each party wants what the other has to offer. If Uggo really, really needs that rabbit pelt, he might be willing to part with a lot more fish. Of course, if Shek already has so many fish they are starting to rot, Uggo better have something else to trade.
This leads us to the question that is often posed – what items should a survivalist stockpile for use in future bartering? There are many schools of thought on this topic, with both good and bad points for each. A key element to remember, though, is that for a barter or trade to happen, both people involved must bring something of perceived value to the table. You could have stockpiled all the greatest trade goods on the planet but if no one around has something you want or need, then what?
There are essentially two categories for what you might have available to trade or barter – stuff and skills. Stuff refers to the physical items you have on hand you could trade to someone else for either goods or services. Skills are the services you could provide in exchange for what you need.
The key elements in my opinion as to what items to stockpile for future use in barter are:
1) They must be relatively inexpensive now
It makes little sense to spend a ton of money on potential trade goods. I’d much rather see you invest your finances, time, and energy into stockpiling the stuff you and yours will need for the long haul.
2) They must be long lasting and easy to store.
Investing money in anything that goes bad before you need it is a bad move. You and your family also probably don’t want to be living in a Costco simulation. Stick with stuff that will last a long time and won’t be a headache to store.
3) They must have inherent use for you, whether you trade them later or not.
This is important. There might very well never come a time when you’ll need to use the items for barter. Concentrate on storing items that you’ll use anyway.
4) They must be easy to divide into small quantities.
When we’re dealing with trade goods rather than currency, making change can be tough. You don’t want to be in a position where you’ll need to part with a large item in trade for something small just because that’s all you have to give.
- Some suggestions for stuff to stockpile for use in bartering:
Coffee / tea
Yeast infection creams
Cheap folding knives
Strike anywhere matches
Here are some skills that would have high value after a collapse. Again, same with stuff, the skills must have inherent value to you and your family.
Medical (including herbal remedies)
Automotive, small engine repair
Home brewer, distiller
Leather working, tanning
Smithing, metal working
Obviously, if you have skills to offer, you should have stockpiled the necessary tools and supplies to do the job. Most of the above skills would be well suited for a cottage industry after a collapse.
- The key elements to a successful trade either now or later:
1) Both sides should be happy with the result. Ideally, each party will feel they got the better end of the trade.
2) The trade should take place in a safe manner, as best as is possible. Thus, I highly discourage the idea of trading ammunition, just in case the other person feels like returning their “purchase” using some form of quick delivery system. If the other party is a neighbor or friend, obviously that is a less worrisome transaction than someone relatively unknown. In the latter event, perhaps you can work out a neutral location to swap goods.
3) After TSHTF, it is important you don’t “tip your hand” and make it known you have a stockpile of goodies just waiting for someone to decide they want for themselves. Although, with the right system of protection in place, setting up shop as a trading post may indeed be lucrative.
While the whole idea of prepping is to have all you’ll need to last for as long as necessary, we’re all only human. We might overlook something. We might run out of something. We might find our supply of this or that has gone bad. Prepping for barter assumes there will be someone else who has what you need, of course, but if you stick to the rules outlined above, you shouldn’t end up sitting on a pile of stuff you’ll never use.