Do you know how to barter? In preparedness circles, the term barter is used a lot when describing a post SHTF situation when goods and services may no longer be available through normal channels. According to Wikipedia, ”barter is a method of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money”.
A lot of people think of bartering as something to do when they are down an out, perhaps unemployed, or low on cash. But nothing could be further from the truth. Bartering has been around for eons and is simply a smart way to acquire goods and services under the radar screen.
Today I would like to share some very simple tips for bartering as well as my own suggested list of items and skills that may be useful for barter in a post-collapse economy.
How does simple barter work?
In a simple barter, you look for someone who is looking for particular kinds of goods or services in exchange for goods or services that you may want. For example, let’s say you do plumbing work but you need some gardening equipment. A simple barter would be exchanging some plumbing repairs for a used plow or rototiller.
Getting started is easy. One of the simplest things to do is to put up a small ad on the local community bulletin board, perhaps at the grocery store or bowling alley. (And by the way, I don’t know why but bowling alley’s are particularly good for this sort of thing.) You can also peruse Craigslist or the Little Nickel want ads for people trying to sell the item you need. The next step is to simply phone them ask and suggest a trade.
One of the very best ways to barter, though, is to put the word out among like-minded friends, relatives, and neighbors. Let them know what you have for trade and see what they offer in return. What I am describing here is bartering in its most simplistic form but I think you get the gist.
Beyond simple bartering, there are more complicated and dare I say sophisticated scenarios such as three-way barters and barter clubs. But that gets beyond the scope of this article which is merely to get you into the bartering mindset.
The Best Items to Use For Barter in a Post-Collapse World
There are a lot of different opinions as to what items will be best for barter in a post-collapse world where the underground economy may be the only viable economy for the passing of goods and services. That said, consider this a starting point as you begin to acquire goods for barter.
In no particular order, consider accumulating some of the following items for barter purposes. And keep in mind that in a post-collapse world, the items do not necessarily have to be new, but simply serviceable.
- Water purification supplies including purification tabs and filters
- Hand tools including hatchets, saws, machetes and general fix-it tools
- Fire making supplies, including lighters, matches, flint fire steel
- Sanitary supplies including toilet paper, feminine products, and diapers
- Disposable razors and razor blades
- Fuel, any and all kinds (gas, diesel, propane, kerosene)
- Prescription drugs, painkillers, and antibiotics
- First aid remedies such as cough syrup, cortisone cream, boil-ese, calamine lotion and topical pain relievers
- Spirits such as bourbon, rum, gin, and vodka
- Coffee and tea (instant coffee is okay)
- Solar battery charger and rechargeable batteries
- Standard Batteries
- Reading glasses
- Bags, including large garbage bags as well as smaller zip-close bags
- Plastic sheeting
- Duct tape
- Tie Wraps
- Heavy plastic sheets and tarps
- Toiletries including toothpaste, dental floss soaps, shampoo (tip: save those small sized toiletries that are provided by hotels and motels)
- Latex or Nitrile gloves in a variety of sizes
- Hard candy
- Fishing supplies
- Knives of various types including fixed blades, kitchen knives, and box cutters.
- Condiments and Spices
- Paperback books on a variety of subjects
- Tobacco and cigarette rolling supplies
- Amusements such as playing cards, crossword puzzle books, Sudoku
- Pencils & paper
- Pepper spray
- Garden seeds
- Vinegar and baking soda to use in DIY cleaning supplies
- Empty spray bottles and squirt bottles
- Hand pumps for both air and liquids
- Mylar blankets and tents
- Hand warmers
- Sewing and mending supplies
- Knitting or crochet needles and yarn
One thing you will notice that I have not included firearms or ammo and for good reason. In a post-collapse society, you might not know your barter partners well and may run the risk that they will use these items against you so that they can steal the rest of you stuff. One person’s opinion, anyway. (Here is another view on this matter.)
A Caveat for Businesses
As you get started with bartering in a pre-collapse world – and after all, like any other survival skill, you should hone your skills now – keep in mind that in the United States, the IRS does have some rules for business bartering and most certainly, states probably do as well as it pertains to Business and Occupation taxes. Just something to keep in mind.
The Final Word
Times are tough. Many are unemployed. And many have had their retirement funds decimated by the sneaky (and dare we say corrupt?) Wall Street types. Perhaps you have a useful skill. Or perhaps you have a healthy flock of egg laying chickens that provide more than you can consume. Whatever you have in excess capacity, now is the time to learn to trade your skill or extra commodities for something you either need or covet.
There are lots of resources online, at the libraries, and in eBooks to help you acquire bartering skills. Start small but start now. Bartering is the “in” thing to do these days.
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Bargain Bin: Each of the items in my own Portable Pocket Survival Kit would also make good barter items. The only change I would make is to pick up some larger sized LED flashlights than the Nano flashlight in my kit (which, by the way, is a very cool flashlight!).
Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing. About $23.
Streamlight Nano Light Keychain LED Flashlight: extremely small and light weight yet it will throw off a decent amount of super-bright light. At just .36 ounces and 1.47 inches long, the Streamlight Nano Light Keychain Flashlight will take up a minimum of space in your pocket or bag. About $7.
Paracord Survival Bracelet: Why a Paracord Bracelet? So you always have some of this useful cord on your person!
Windstorm Safety Whistle: This particular whistle can be heard a long distance away and above howling wind and other competing sounds.
Swedish Firesteel: Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions. This is a small, compact version.
Pepper Spray: It is always good to have some form of defense that will temporarily halt a bad guy that is in your face.
Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets: These come in compressed packets small enough to fit in a pocket or wallet. You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you. About $8 for a pack of 10.
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