Whether it’s total economic collapse or a natural disaster, people are going to need goods and chances are most of them will not have what they need saved away. In this type of situation, the dollar loses much of its perceived value. Barter has been a method of exchange for millennia as the most basic form of trade. It is a good idea to store up some extra items so you won’t need to part with any of your vital food stores or items that you need to survive. Here are ten ideas of items to barter when the SHTF.
1. Water filters: We all know it – you simply cannot survive without water. If for some reason water service ceases, or the water source is contaminated, water filters will be highly in-demand. When the taps stop flowing, people will look to other sources of water – nearby rivers, lakes, reservoirs, etc. – exposing themselves to risk of disease, parasites, or poisoning. Filters are widely ranging in cost, from relatively cheap mini filters to pricey high-volume ones. Set aside a little money for your purchases and over time you’ll build up quite a nice stock. Alternatively, you could make your own filters with layers of sand, gravel, and activated charcoal. In a true survival situation, people will likely care more about whether or not your product works than the brand name.
2. Food: Most people do not realize that local grocery stores only hold two to three days’ worth of inventory. That means in the event of a disaster that disrupts supply chains, after two days an entire city can run out of food. For those who did not prepare, or even for those who have the CDC’s minimum recommended store of three days’ worth of food, this could spell real trouble. Cans of vegetables, meats, and fruits will be a life saver for many people. If you have a garden or animals to produce products such as eggs, milk, and cheese, your fresh food will be an even greater rarity and a great option for trade.
3. Seeds: If you’ve been gardening for a while and saving your seeds, you may have more than you can plant in a season. Put those extra seeds to use by offering them for trade to people interested in making their own gardens. You might want to choose seeds for plants that produce a high yield of seeds and are easy to care for, such as carrots, corn, or parsnips.
4. Medicine: Just like grocery stores will run out of food in a time of disaster, it is likely that drugstores will run out of medicine quickly. People will be in need of even the basics: ibuprofen, cold packs, ace bandages, cough syrup to name a few. Prescription drugs (such as antibiotics) will be very hard to come by, so it may be worthwhile learning about natural remedies. For example, willow bark contains salicin, which extremely similar to lab-created asprin. Do your research learn how to use plants as medicine safely, and you’ll not only have a great way to care for yourself and your family, but also a great resource for trade.
5. Salt: Salt is valuable for a number of reasons. For one thing our bodies need electrolytes for proper functioning. In a survival situation, salt is extremely useful for drying food for preservation. Properly salted and cured ham can last for years. On top of that, salt just makes food generally taste better. A benefit of choosing salt as a barter option is that table salt and pickling salt are easy to come by during times of normalcy, so stocking up on them won’t put a huge dent in your budget.
6. Energy: If the power grid goes down, electricity is going to be a sorely missed resource. Consider for a moment just how many items or processes in your everyday life require energy, and now imagine all of that gone. If you haven’t prepared, as most people will not have, you’re going to be in for a shock if the power goes out for a prolonged period. Setting yourself up with solar panels, a wind turbine, or a water turbine will ensure that you’ll have reliable energy no matter what. If you can find a way to dole that energy out to others, whether it’s allowing them to charge batteries, power radios, even an electric car, then you have a valuable asset you can trade for items or skills.
7. Ammo: Firearms are going to be the go-to defense for many people, but they are useless without ammunition. In a collapse situation, prices of ammunition are likely going to skyrocket, and since they are consumables and are used up quickly through training and practice, they will be in high demand. Also consider that for the last several years, the federal government has been increasing its own stockpile of ammo. Not only does this create more demand, raising the price of ammunition, but it also serves as an indicator that maybe you should be building up your store of them too.
8. Diapers/Baby food: For people with infants in their family, diapers and baby food are an absolute necessity. Once the inventory is depleted from stores, families with babies are going to have to get creative about how to care for their children if they run out of these items. Your friends might think you are a bit weird if they find out you’ve got a few bags of pampers in your closet (especially if you’re young and single), but they won’t be laughing when you are able to trade when diapers become a hot commodity.
9. Tools: Things break down and houses need repairs, and for that you need tools. How many people in your neighborhood do you think own a gardening hoe (without which it would be quite difficult to plant a vegetable garden)? Maybe you have some extra tools laying around that you would be able to trade. If not, stop by your local thrift shop and see if there are any tool kits you can pick up for cheap. Even just a hammer and some nails would hold value for someone who needs to board up a window or improve fortifications. Don’t worry about getting shiny new tools. If it works, you can trade it.
10. Novelties: Creature comforts can make a dull situation seem a bit brighter. Try to think about what you would miss if you lost access to it. Something you don’t necessarily have to have, but that you enjoy. Maybe it’s coffee, cigarettes, candy bars, or hand wipes. Use your creativity. People may come to you looking for something vital, like a can of food for example, and then notice you have that pack of their favorite chewing gum. You never know what is going to brighten someone’s day.
These are just a few examples of items that you could trade in the event of a disaster, but of course there are many other options. Whenever you go to the store to get yourself some supplies, think about whether it’s something that might be in high demand and get a couple extra if you can afford it. You don’t want to have to rely on paper dollars to keep you afloat when SHTF.