I can­not deny it.  I have not bartered or trad­ed any­thing in about 20 years.  The last thing I bartered was wen I was in busi­ness for myself, and my cus­tomer was an out­door out­fitt­ter type of retail estab­lish­ment and I bartered a Sol­stace Jack­et, Eure­ka four man tent, and a new sleep­ing bag for sev­er­al hours of com­put­er net­work­ing ser­vice to help them get their then new com­put­er­ized point of sale sys­tem up and run­ning.  It was almost 20 years ago.  I still have the jack­et, tent, and sleep­ing bag.  I still use them.   Best deal I had got­ten in a LONG time, to this day.

How­ev­er, as kids, we bartered and trad­ed all the time, and we did­n’t even know what we were doing.  We just did it because we want­ed what our friends had, and they might have want­ed what we had.  What we did­n’t know is that we were engag­ing in one of the old­est forms of trade and cur­ren­cy.  As we got old­er, barter and trade fade to work and pur­chase.  It is the nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion of things.  How­ev­er, barter in my opin­ion is a lost art.  In my opin­ion, peo­ple do not even know it exists any­more out­side of own­ing your own small busi­ness or the sur­vival­ist cir­cle.  While that may not be nec­es­sar­i­ly true, I am sure if  the lay per­son had to nego­ti­ate and barter for some­thing, a more savvy per­son could take advan­tage of them.  It s the way of the world.

There has been quite a bit writ­ten about barter in the sur­vival­ist cir­cle.  You can look it up after read­ing this post if you wish.  Wikipedia defines barter as:

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.[1] It is usu­al­ly bilat­er­al, but may be mul­ti­lat­er­al, and usu­al­ly exists par­al­lel to mon­e­tary sys­tems in most devel­oped coun­tries, though to a very lim­it­ed extent. Barter usu­al­ly replaces mon­ey as the method of exchange in times of mon­e­tary cri­sis, such as when the cur­ren­cy may be either unsta­ble (e.g., hyper­in­fla­tion or defla­tion­ary spi­ral) or sim­ply unavail­able for con­duct­ing com­merce.”

Pret­ty com­pelling def­i­n­i­tion by Wikipedia, would­n’t you agree?  I think the def­i­n­i­tion applies per­fect­ly to the mind­set of the sur­vival­ist.

To me, bar­ter­ing is not unlike the skill of sell­ing.  You may have mar­ketable skills (ser­vices) or prod­ucts that you need to pitch and sell oth­ers on in order to receive the prod­ucts and ser­vices that you need to sur­vive in a post SHTF or TEOTWAWKI.  TEOTWAWKI is not a term I use a lot, because I am not sure how real­is­tic it will be in our life­time.  Call me naive, stu­pid, or what­ev­er, but I see short term and long term SHT­F’s chang­ing our lifestyles first, such as hyper­in­fla­tion, etc. pre­vent­ing peo­ple from afford­ing milk, bread, or the basics.  While a lit­tle off top­ic here, I am going to try to make the point that the sell­ing of your mar­ketable goods whether ser­vice based or prod­uct based will be essen­tial.  If some­one has a need or might have a need, you will have to present them with the ben­e­fits of your prod­uct or ser­vices and get a pos­i­tive response to pro­vide them with what they need so you can get what you need.  I urge many read­ers of this blog to famil­iar­ize them­selves with sell­ing and nego­ti­a­tion tac­tics.  I urge this because in a sub­ur­ban or urban sur­vival sit­u­a­tion there will be a LOT of unem­ployed skilled sales peo­ple nego­ti­at­ing what they have for what you may have.  Being able to nego­ti­ate to get the most val­ue for you and your fam­i­ly should you have to resort to bar­ter­ing to sur­vive.

Which brings me to what skills, hob­bies, or trades you may or may not already know.  If you are a welder, plumber, elec­tri­cian, horse­man, what­ev­er, you have mar­ketable skills that will go with you wher­ev­er you may be.  If you end up vagabond­ing from one place to anoth­er, your skills could help to feed, cloth, shel­ter, and hydrate you.  Your expe­ri­ence will be invalu­able.  Sev­er­al months ago I met a sur­vival­ist who hap­pened to be a school teacher.  In his off time he is a firearms instruc­tor, has learned to weld, and is acquir­ing many skills in the lux­u­ry of his off time.  He will be an invalu­able resource to many in a bar­ter­ing sit­u­a­tion.  I don’t think you have to be a trade expert to cap­i­tal­ize on this, just do a decent job for the one you are bar­ter­ing with and make sure the ser­vice is intel­lec­tu­al­ly bank­able and that what you did for them works.  Not that you want to do a crap­py job, just that you can­not be all things to all peo­ple, but if you have a range of skills, be sure you are okay at all of them.  Besides, the more you use those skills in the field the bet­ter you will be at them.  That said, as I write this, there are a host of trade skills I wish I had more knowl­edge of.  Years ago, I was not bad at pulling an engine apart and putting it back togeth­er, with help.  Today, I could not do it to save my life.  Real life gets in the way, and many of these skills you and I might have learned go to the way­side.  It is unfor­tu­nate.  How­ev­er, if you can knit afghans, load up on yarn and mate­ri­als to knit.  You may find that keep­ing peo­ple warm with a afghan blan­ket is your skill, and you can trade a blan­ket for food if you had to.

As for prod­ucts or goods for barter I am a pro­po­nent of bar­ter­ing only prod­ucts that are vice based if I can.  Prod­ucts such as those that come from food stor­age or water stor­age do noth­ing but short­en your lifes­pan or the lifes­pan of your fam­i­ly, unless of course you are on a farm, and that farm is well defend­ed, you have a sur­plus of food, and it makes sense to use it for barter.  How­ev­er, on the flip side of that you should always be look­ing to increase your stock of core life sus­tain­ing prod­ucts if you can.  My belief, and I may be wrong, is that items such as tobac­co, alco­hol, beer, etc.  I also believe that items such as flour, sug­ar, pro­teins, etc. will be high barter items, but this lends itself to your core stor­age.  I have had dis­cus­sions with oth­ers in the past around build­ing “care pack­ages” for oth­ers that might come in handy in barter sit­u­a­tions.  The down side to care pack­ages is that they rep­re­sent “more stuff” that you might have that the per­son you are bar­ter­ing with does not.  You inno­cent­ly cre­ate the oppor­tu­ni­ty to become a tar­get for a sin­is­ter act if the per­son you are bar­ter­ing with is not eth­i­cal.  Many peo­ple are of the the­o­ry that if you barter your core stores that you should only offer up a bag of rice and/or a bag of beans and say that is all you have to spare, and that you so not have more.  On the oth­er hand, if you are bar­ter­ing a bot­tle of vod­ka, not only can you can con­sume it, but you can cook with it, dis­in­fect with it, etc.  Maybe load up on Vine­gars and salt for pre­serv­ing foods, and offer that up.  Both items are inex­pen­sive “at the moment.”

As for the urban or sub­ur­ban envi­ron­ment, I think that you need to real­ly be on your toes here.  In the TEOTWAWKI or SHTF, there will be MANY loot­ers dis­guis­ing them­selves as barter­ers.  In fact, in NYC I know MANY peo­ple who have less than a day’s worth of food in their apart­ment because  they are out to eat all the time.  It is the lifestyle there, and I have to believe it is sim­i­lar in many major met­ro­pol­i­tan areas.  Peo­ple use their refrig­er­a­tors and ovens as clos­et space, not to cook with.  Yes, it is true.  While your apart­ment clos­et may be filled with your Bug Out Bag, Water Stor­age, and oth­er sup­plies, theirs are filled with cloth­ing, and noth­ing more, if they even have a clos­et.

The val­ue of your net­work of con­tacts is also impor­tant.  Both local­ly if you are bug­ging in, and remote­ly if you are bug­ging out.  The more peo­ple you know, are friend­ly with, have busi­ness rela­tion­ships with, etc, the more mar­ketable you may be to them based on your skill sets ad vice ver­sa.  If you are not a good net­work­er or your social cir­cle is small, I urge you to get out and get to know more peo­ple…  You don’t have to tell them why.  Be gen­uine, make friends.  Friends trust each oth­er.  Friends help friends when things go sour.  If they don’t then you know what the bound­aries are.  Bar­ter­ing may be the way to a bet­ter rela­tion­ship when/if things go south.

In con­clu­sion, if the econ­o­my goes south, or some oth­er dis­as­ter, man made or oth­er­wise strikes and changes the land­scape in which we live, bar­ter­ing may be the dif­fer­ence between life and death alto­geth­er.  Embrace it today, learn some new skills (even I have to), and feel good know­ing that even post SHTF, you will be able to con­tribute to help­ing those rebuild in return for goods and ser­vices that you need as well…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email