By George Paul Tire

Many of us assume that money will lose its value during a crisis. Since bartering could take the place of cash if cash goes bad, having something to barter with along with the skills to do it is a good prep to think about now.

My first thought on bartering is that anything I stock for barter should be useful for my family should we not get a chance to trading it.

So what to put away for barter? Many think guns and ammunition are ideal. I have no doubt of their value, but I remember the scene in the movie The Terminator where Schwarzenegger strolls into a gun shop and has a bunch of stuff laid out to look at. He starts loading a shotgun and when the clerk says don’t do that, bang, he drops the clerk, sealing the deal. I don’t want to wind up like the clerk.

What else is there? Alcohol is another suggestion and it isn’t a bad idea. Some will always want a drink and the stuff has other uses. It can be a disinfectant, anesthetic or a dandy fuel and fire starter. We decided that inexpensive vodka was a good choice for this purpose. It is cheap enough to lay in a good supply, but not much pricier than rubbing alcohol which serves similar uses, though it can’t be imbibed. The size bottle was a conundrum. The larger the bottle, the cheaper the purchase cost per ounce, but it creates a more expensive barter unit. I settled on fifths, but will consider breaking it into smaller units if needed.

 Tobacco is also frequently proposed. Smokers will want their poison so I plan to add some to our stash, but since we don’t use it, it could be a waste of precious resources and space. There is also the issue of keeping it palatable. My research says cigarettes can only be stored for six months or so, so I’m planning to buy papers and canned tobacco.

Coffee is another item with potential. Many of us are addicted to it and caffeine could be an important stimulant in a crisis. With all the new stresses of a collapse scenario coffee can be a very important moral booster. What type do we stock? I hate instant, but it has advantages. It is easy to prepare and if it is all they can get, coffee junkies will drink it. Ground coffee tastes better and might be worth more, but I think instant wins. You can learn more about some primitive meathods of brewing loose ground coffee here

Food strikes me as the best barter item because people will probably be hungry. MRE’s and freeze dried foods are hard to beat, though they are pricey to stock. Canned goods with pull tops strike me as the best bargain item. Vienna sausages and Spam are compact and dense in food value, so very attractive for trade. Things you can eat straight from the package would be best. Some P-38 can openers might be good for trade too.

Luxury items like chocolate and candy could go a long way, especially in trading with families with kids. Clothing also comes to mind. Comfortable, rugged shoes and socks could be really valuable in a worst case scenario. We might be doing a lot more walking and how many people have solid shoes?

Rechargeable batteries and a way to charge them, solar comes to mind, could be worth more than gold or silver, speaking of which, I’m unsure of how helpful gold and silver will be during the worst of a crisis. They are better than paper, but when life is really bad, people will prefer things they can use more than precious metals.

I thought about cheap radios. I don’t however, want to equip people with gear that can monitor my own communications. Perhaps if you have GMRS or amateur radios, you could get some FRS or MURS only models that can’t monitor your channels.

Some considerations on the process of barter include not revealing what you have and being on guard at all times. In troubled times, good people may do things to feed their families they would never do normally. Allowing them to see all your goods might tempt them to take it. Be cautious and have a backup cover you when bartering.

Assigning a price to your goods will be tough and will have to be done by the seat of the pants. Values will change as the crisis goes on. You might want to practice now by shopping for things with negotiable prices at yard sales and flea markets. Don’t hesitate to trade for work if you need help and always be ready to trade for good will. Helping others when possible is always a good plan.


20 thoughts on “Barter”

  1. One item I would add to the list for those living in cold climates is hand, toe and body warmers. They’re part of our vehicle survival supplies. Since they’re fairly flat, storage isn’t really an issue. Since they can be used by the prepper and makes a great barter item, it’s a must have in all our supplies.

  2. Soap, toothbrushes, combs, razors, diapers, female hygiene supplies, baking soda, vinegar, baby food/formula, matches, bic-type lighters, charcoal, propane cannisters, rags for cleaning (can be washed and reused), cheap pens, pencils, paper (cheap spiral notebooks). Instead of toilet paper, as Rob suggests, wipes take much less storage and disposal room, old fashioned hankies (again, can be washed and reused), 5 or 6 gallon buckets (for storage or using to do laundry, washing dishes, etc), plungers (for doing laundry in said buckets), seeds….

  3. Know what people in your area need. We own horses and we will need feed. Both my grass hay farmer and my Alfalfa farmer have agreed to take gold or silver in exchange for hay. We use about 600 70-80lb. bales a year. Work out deals now for what you may need later. Marty

  4. Colloidal silver, food grade H2O2, fish or bird antibiotics, allergy meds, OTC pain meds (buy at dollar stores to save money), plastic knives, forks and spoons, trash bags, contractor bags (3 or 4 mil), lots and lots of AA and AAA batteries (keep the rechargeable ones for your own use), cheap flashlights, solar garden lights, solar motion detectors, light bulbs, light bulbs and more light bulbs.

  5. Reading glasses. Many people over 45 or 50 cannot read without them. Cheap at most dollar stores. Lots of things can be purchased now in large quantities now very inexpensively and doled out for barter items. I have purchased bags of disposable razors from walmart, boxes of pens, bags of various sized combs. You can, at least in season, but groups of solar yard lights which can be brought inside at night for several hours of light. Walmart often sells those for around a dollar each at the beginning of spring. And with the OTC medicine, go generic – same product (Usually) much lower price. I buy the professional quality batteries at amazon by the box of 12 to 24, sometimes good prices on multiple boxes. And for now I store much of that in metal trashcans inside other metal trashcans for protection from EMPs, with metal tape sealing the trashcans. You don’t have to go high dollar items, people will need a lot of stuff that is now very cheap but will not be available other than by barter, with you determining its value. Oh, and if you have pets or know people who do, store some canned cat food. Takes less storage than dry food and stores longer and better. Cat food will work for dogs and cats, dog food will not work for cats, not enough protein. As the economy weakens prices are already going up, buy while stuff is still affordable. I have seen prices on everyday items that were around $10 last month already up to $12-13 in one month. It will get worse. Check out stocking stuffer items during the holidays. the stores are in a make it or break mode and there are going to be sales you will not want to miss to stock up while you can.
    Oh yeah, one more item, lighter fluid, both for lighters and for charcoal. Gas stabilizer, machine oil, engine oil.

  6. A lot of good comments and input.

    Most people don’t have the money and/or place to store a hundred different items for bartering.

    I look at it a bit differently. Most of the people out wondering around will not have anything worth bartering with except a skill set or labor. That may or may not be some thing you need.

    With that said, there will be things people want and there will be things people need. The things people want are things they would be willing to barter for. The things people need, they are more likely not to barter for but just simply take by force or kill for. As such, I would be inclined to pick maybe 5 items and stock just for barter (things people will want but not need). I would never consider bartering away food, meds, ammo, etc. simply because if they know you have extra and they are in NEED, your life is in much more than normal danger.

    Items people would want (NOT NEED) and that keep a long time are alcohol, hygiene items, cloths, OTC meds (aspirin, band aids, anti itch cream, etc.) and other similar items.

    NEVER forget that people are the most savage animals on the planet, especially when their life and their family lives are at risk.

  7. Silver is better than Any antibiotic, and requires no refrigeration. Colloidal Silver, along with a Bob Beck Protocol setup, will kill something like 650 or more viral, fungal or other parasitic infections. One ounce of silver will produce many years of daily doses of Colloidal Silver.
    A Bob Beck Tuner can get you off those addictions, so alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, among other addictions, do not drain you, or your supplies. And, for those willing to surrender their addictions, just that service can have significant value.
    You can make both of those devices, at home, from freely downloadable schematics, for less than $150 worth of parts. Or, you could just wait til you need them, and try to find someone who would sell you the services.
    Wonder how many providers you will find, in WROL conditions…?

  8. My opinion on bartering is that if there is something you may need bad enough to barter for, you should prepare in advance and stock it. I don’t want anyone to think that I have anything "extra". In fact, I don’t want anyone to know that I have anything period.

  9. Lighters, matches, candles, spices are not very expensive and will be needed in a shtf or wrol scenario….. specially common amo such as 12 gauge etc…. etc…..

  10. I simply don’t have some of the skills some folks consider necessary, like hunting skills. Maybe some day, but there are only so many hours in the day to do and/or learn, choices have to be made. Stocking up is great, but if we got into a true long emergency, that only goes so far; bartering’s a good idea in certain circumstances. Building relationships now is a good way to prepare for the future; you can’t buy good will.

    On things that might be useful for barter, I’d suggest needles, thread, buttons and other fasteners. Those are more of a long-term investment, but as someone who mends and sews to keep things going a little longer, any time I can acquire a few more buttons for the stash, I do – they keep well and don’t take a lot of space. Plus, fasteners can be used for other things besides clothing like bags, packs, tents, etc. My hiking and bugout kits always include a couple of needles and thread.

  11. I’m gonna start with those people who tell me that I’m a hoarder, that my preps are junk, that I’m wasting precious time, money and storage space; and that I’ll never need that stuff in a million years. Yes, those kind of people I would happily barter for anything I might need.

  12. Don’t forget some Vitamins. The Vitamin B in your body will be used up in hours, (due to sudden stress). B vitamins regulate mood, temper, clear thinking, endurance, etc., so you will definitely need some B vitamins. B12 is cheap and lasts a very long time. A good daily and some vitamin C would be good also.

  13. I Save ALL PLASTIC Containers, Maybe Silly. But I Figure If I have or Someone Else has 50-100 lbs of some food item, but no way to break it into smaller containers, my plastics will come in handy….as well as to plant seeds in and barter small starter plants! Of Course, ALL 2 Liters are Filled with Water, As are MILK JUGS, Which Don’t hold up as well, And I Do Not Intend to Drink, But They WILL Water the Garden, Flush the Toilet, Wash our Hands!! I have been Prepping for 5 years, My BIGGEST Problem is Space for Proper Rotation! Don’t Forget Lyme And Sand for those potty Dumps! Also, Don’t Forget Radiation Tabs or KELP, In Case it is Nuclear that We have to Survive, Taken Immediately, They Will Save Your Life!!!

  14. Hello, here are a couple of items that are essential. 1) Get ziplock bags: easier to store, still use what you have; and disposable. So anything you give to another person you put into ziplock bag and not have to worry about how to dissinfect. …..2) Salt with Iodine … enough said

  15. One might consider Bibles and such spiritual material, a lot of folk will turn to such material for comfort when things get real hard. Spices can come in handy to give a lift to repetitive meals. Eggs are another item for barter, pickled eggs might be handy if you are making Beer, hops and other beer ingredients are a good bet too. One might also have a number of recipes for various staples used back in the good old days. Molasses comes in handy too if one gets tired of beans in other dishes.

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