Bartering for Preppers

Bartering is going to be one of those skills that will almost guarantee that you and your family will not only survive, but thrive in a post-apocalyptic world. One of the most dreaded things post-disaster, following the initial death-toll, after subsequent deaths due to lack of food, water and various pandemics will be the uselessness of money.

Bartering is the exchange of goods and services without the use of a currency such as money, bitcoin, or precious metals. The premise is that both parties need the physical goods or services directly, as opposed to accepting a currency which then must be traded off in a subsequent transaction.

DIY pantry shelves with various items stockpiled
DIY pantry shelves with various items stockpiled

After an economic collapse or some other catastrophe, the banking system is going to be seriously crippled. Cash in hand is going to be pretty much useless too (at least at first) because no one will want it. Everyone will want the physical items that will help them survive even if it’s just for a couple more days.

Gold and silver are good, even money might be worth something eventually, but having food, water, guns, ammo, and the ability to fix things (and people!) is going to open more doors than any gold bar. Any of these items could be the next currency post SHTF.

Why Aren’t We Using Bartering Today?

We used to barter exclusively, a long-long time ago. But bartering proved very inefficient, hence the need for a currency. Let’s say for example, that you need a basket of tomatoes from someone and that person needs beef.

You have a cow. If you give him the entire cow, that’s going to be worth a lot more than the tomatoes. IF he gives you enough tomatoes to compensate for the cow, you’re going to have much more than you need and most of the tomatoes will spoil unless you barter them for something else. That means, of course, that you’re going to have to find someone who wants your extra tomatoes.

Problems, problems, problems. The need for currency was born. But good currency can’t be just anything. Good currency has to be finite and divisible.

Gold and silver are finite and somewhat scarce, that’s why it made good currency. In addition, the fact that it doesn’t spoil made it great for jewelry (and an increase in social status for those who wore it).

american eagle silver coins
American Silver Eagles, one of the most popular and recognizable silver coins

Gold coins were also divisible. That meant that instead of giving a whole coin for a cow, you could cut a piece of the coin and give only a part of it.

One of the coins that gained a lot of traction in the 16 and 17 centuries throughout Europe was the Spanish real. It was also called the “piece of eight” or “silver dollars”. Since one such coin was worth 8 reals, it was often cut into 8 pieces that looked similar to these:

Top Bartering Items to Hoard

Here’s a quick list of items with a long shelf-life that you may want to stockpile even though you won’t be using them yourself. If you have enough storage space and you can get them cheaper than anyone else, then why not? It’s going to be fantastic to have leverage, in the form of bartering potential, on the rest of your community post-SHTF.

toilet papersewing kits
old clothesfootwear
shoe laces duct tape
Heirloom seedsmatches
coffee solar lights
tamponslivestock (for breeding purposes)
motor oilmanual gardening tools
natural pesticidesfirewood
hand tools vitamins
gas cansbaby diapers
zip lock bags clocks
canning suppliesnail polish
dollsstory books
stuffed toysair pretties
mirrors coloring books
fuelcast iron cookware
nail clipperscombs
paper, pencils and pencil sharpeners canteens
fire starter kitsrazor blades
potsfirst aid supplies
food – canned, dehydrated etcplastic bags
fishing gearsugar

These are just a few of the most common bartering items. If you’re looking for more, we complied a list of over 60 of them you should consider.

When you think about it, a lot of the items that we take for granted today are going to have huge bartering value. Another way of putting this is that you should hoard anything you can within the limits of your available space. Don’t go to the extreme of becoming an actual “hoarder”.

Pretty Much Anything Can Be Traded

A lot of people argue that you should only stockpile items with a long shelf life. And I’ve given you quite a list of such items. But why not take things further?

For example, I have a feeling eggs are going to have a lot of value post-SHTF. But you can’t start stockpiling them now, can you? They have a pretty short shelf-life. You could raise chickens so that you have a steady supply of fresh eggs available for consumption or for bartering post-SHTF.

The point I’m trying to make is that everything can be used for bartering purposes: fruit, veggies, energy, labor, various skills. In a word: EVERYTHING. If you can store it properly or figure out how to have a steady supply when it’s needed.

Stockpiling Multi-Use Items

five rolls of colored duct tape: gray, brown, green, black, red
five rolls of colored duct tape: gray, brown, green, black, red

It makes sense, doesn’t it? The more uses an item has, the higher likelihood of someone needing it. Here’s a quick list of things that have dozens of uses in a survival situation:

  • duct tape (making a spear, starting a fire, fixing broken pipes, etc.)
  • dental floss (can be used as a fishing line, shoelace, trip wire, etc.)
  • baking soda (to make toothpaste, for cleaning)
  • paracord (to build shelters, tie animals, etc.)
  • bandanas (to protect mouth and nose, filter water, as a splint, etc.)
  • … and on and on.

Keep These in Mind

Bartering is nothing without the crucial skill of negotiation. If you don’t know how to negotiate, you will easily get double crossed or, worse, even killed! Think about it, what if the ammo your get is full of duds? What if the food is poisoned?

You need to be able to tell if you’re falling into a trap, because post-SHTF bartering is not at all like what takes place at flea markets or even between companies. Right now there are laws to protect us but after Doomsday, there might not be.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always trade what you don’t need. Things are going to be tough. Everyone is going to look for food, water, antibiotics, and so on, which is why you can’t afford to trade those.

Taking food from your child’s mouth to help someone else might put that child in danger. Always trade your surplus items and items you know you won’t need.

a mess kit
Mess kits are dirt-cheap to buy at flea markets and surplus stores, but could be worth a lot more in post-SHTF situations…

Bartering Rules

  • Bring a gun with you
  • Bring someone to assist you
  • Make sure you don’t get followed on your way back home
  • Always do business with people you know or who have a good reputation
  • Always barter in a public location
  • Don’t let anyone know you have valuable things at home
  • Be aware of your body language. If you’re desperate, the last thing you want to do is to show it to them.

Negotiation Techniques

Lots of books have been written on the subject of negotiation, but here are some of the most important lessons that many of these resources seem to highlight:

Negotiation is an art and there are quite a few strategies to get what you need, including:

  • Do your homework. The more you know about the other guy and his or her needs, the better. Nothing is too unimportant to be left out.
  • Set expectations. Know exactly what you want form the negotiation.
  • Use visualization techniques to see with your mind’s eye how the meeting will unfold. See yourself leading the other party to agreeing to the deal that you want.
  • Become a good listener. The more you listen, the more information you can acquire from the other guy. Then you can use that information to your advantage, you can use his words and body language to (very subtly) mimic him so you can build rapport.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. And don’t be afraid to make offers to them that will get them to say no to you.
  • Use deadlines and scarcity to pressure your counterpart to make a decision.
  • Review the agreement before you seal the deal. This is to ensure you’re both on the same page, and will stay on it.
  • Know exactly what you what out of every negotiation.
  • Never try to screw your partner. You never know what he’s capable of, particularly in a WROL situation.
  • Be prepared to walk away out of any deal. In other words, avoid bartering when you’re desperate, and if you are, do your best not to show it.
  • Learn how to build rapport.
  • Let the numbers do the talking. If whatever you’re looking to trade has features or benefits that can be expressed in numbers, do share them.
  • It’s OK to brag your product or service – so long as you’re not lying.
  • Learn how to bluff.
  • Talk in a pessimistic matter (I can’t afford it, I’m not sure it will work for me etc.).
  • Make a low-ball offer (one of the many amazing tactics in Chris Voss’s book, Never split the Difference, one of the most practical books about negotiation you will ever read).
  • Use ultimatums (You either take it or leave it!).
  • Making future promises.

Go to a modern day flea market and negotiate everything. Schedule a meeting with your boss and negotiate a raise. Use every argument you can to prove to him you deserve it, even if you’re not sure you do! The more you practice, the better you’ll become at negotiating and the easier it will be for you when the brown stuff hits the fan.

One More Thing…

Remember that you can also barter your skills. Plumbing, carpentry, fixing appliances, even dog-walking or babysitting can help you secure free food and water. All you have to give away is your time, which you’ll have plenty of post-collapse.

Good luck and stay safe!

bartering for preppers pinterest image

3 thoughts on “Bartering for Preppers”

  1. Thanks for the info in the article. I would suggest that those who are not experienced in negotiating, either check out the library or google on line for titles of reference material on negotiations. There is a lot out there. When the situation gets to the point that bartering becomes the medium of exchange, one wants to keep mistakes to a minimum.

  2. When jobs were scarce in the sixties my Mother taught me how to start and run a second hand store. I had five hundred dollars upon being discharged from active service in the Navy. Having been trained in electronics I could repair most anything electrical. My Mother had so many skills having been raised on a farm she was a bottomless source of everything else. While most of our business was done with money we had customers who were dirt poor and we used trade to do business with them. Many had children and as children do they outgrow their clothing quickly and most of the clothing only needed washing to be usable. Mom mended the clothes and patched the knees to provide that extra months of serviceable ware. Many were able to provide the kids with clothing by trading in the old and a small fee buy other that would fit. Home goods like pots and pans and glasses and canning jars provided many with the means to stretch those valued dollars. In the years I had my store I never needed to paint the walls or cut wood for my pot belly stove or even sweep the floor. I even bartered a bike to a young man who couldn’t afford it to stop in every day after school to deliver packages to people who couldn’t carry the packages and their children too. Because I had a reputation of keeping my prices reasonable and the willingness to barter when needed I always had people standing at my door when I would open. Auctions are always a way for people to liquidate their belongings when needed and we operated this service for them. Having the trucks I could even deliver for any who could buy but wouldn’t normally because they had no way for transport. I always had many young strong people willing to take the jobs of hauling for some extra spending money. I would certainly teach all who wished to learn but today it would become very hard with all government regulation and taxes imposed by a government that thinks it has a right to a share of everything we do. Yes things were much simpler in my day. First rule the less government knows about you and what you do the better off you are. We have many people with talent and the ones that are useful are the ones that repair and make things last longer. If you plan to use your skills dont be afraid to try anything. The only people who succeed are the ones that try all the ways not to do a project till they find a way that works. No one is born with a skill. They are developed and cannot be issued with government permission on a piece of paper. Americans succeeded in building a prosperous nation because the cost of failure was too great. The first step anyone should do is remove the two words “I Cant” from your vocabulary. Good luck to those who believe you can because you can.

  3. Your advice about the stuff we can barter is quite rational and acceptable, But I saw (I’ll not name it) on one website where they advise you to save and then barter with – Marijuana weeds. I find it extremely juvenile, idiotic and dangerous. Starting right from the ’60s, American people have seen how hippies, their drug culture and their later generations (even now) have become physically, mentally, emotionally and of course financially so weak . I read and also believe that such persons wouldn’t be able to survive the coming apocalypse. My question is when all the things will be scarce, the life will be hard and demanding if you want to survive, why do you want to make those survivors weak again? Are such things productive, useful or healthy for them? How can you even suggest such foolish notion when the situation is so serious? This is in a very bad taste to suggest, even as a joke. A completely tasteless joke that could mislead immature preppers and thugs. This is what is called taking advantage of the vulnerability of people. Such advisors are either circus clowns, or selfish black marketers or ruthless opportunists. Self-indulgence like this has no place in the time when your very survival is at risk.

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