Community Rules for Preppers and Survivalists James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio player provided! The community is our greatest ally. It’s not our bugout bag, our network of government moles or even our high-powered arsenal. All the information in the world cannot help you if it all comes crashing down. When you look at real … Continue reading Community Rules for Preppers and Survivalists!
How do you get what you need and want if you have little or no money to buy? I assume you have some sort of skills, something you know how to do and can do it pretty well… there must be something you can do, maybe it’s a job you do or have done in the past (or present), maybe it’s a hobby you enjoy, maybe it’s a talent you have, whatever it is, you can offer that skill in trade for something you need or want.
This is called “Bartering”, it’s an age old method of trade rather than using money, it just cuts out the middleman, you simply trade your skills with someone who needs what you can do for something they have, whether it’s a skill they posses, or an item, or even cold hard cash.
For me, I am able to do things that not everyone knows how to do or wants to do. I used to be a licensed cosmetologist, which is a fancy way of saying I know how to cut hair. I actually don’t enjoy cutting hair, which is why I don’t do it professionally anymore, I did it for 10 years, I paid off the student loan I got to go to school to do hair, the only reason I stayed in it the last few years is I was offered a management position in a department store salon and thought it would be interesting. It was interesting, until I developed another interest, computers.
But that skill is something that not everyone knows how to do, honestly I kept it a secret for quite a few years after moving to our off grid home. Little by little though, the news got out, I still keep it on the downlow, but people still ask me to cut their hair and I usually agree. I don’t do the ultra modern cuts, mostly just men’s haircuts and traditional haircuts for women, and no chemical processes, no color, no perms… just haircuts.
One of my neighbors (and good friends) get haircuts about once a month, they have chickens, lots of chickens, which means they have eggs, lots of eggs, so I get eggs from them and they get haircuts from me. We do other things for each other as well, he sharpened my work knife for me a few days ago, yes that is something I could do, but I asked him to do it for me while I was cutting his wife’s hair.
A few days ago, while cutting another friend’s hair, yet another neighbor and friend stopped by, I ended up giving him a haircut in return for some metal sheets to use for the roof on a carport that PB is building for me. That wasn’t planned, it just happened. In this process, I am very careful about sanitation, I keep a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol in my kit, everything gets sprayed and sanitized between “customers”, it doesn’t matter if I’m working in a salon, or in my front yard, I must use common sense, I must protect myself and my friends by keeping things sanitary.
Another “skill” I posses is I am pretty good at fixing computers. I am no computer expert, but I know enough and have the patience to be able fix problems, be it hardware or software, I’ve been able to fix what has been put in front of me to date. Again, I’m trading out services for either things I can’t do or for things I don’t have.
Did you know that there is even an IRS section for bartering? I know that because I used to “work” at a country store in the center of our neighborhood, I didn’t earn a paycheck, but rather I was paid in barter, I earned an hourly “wage” that was traded for goods at the store, food, snacks, medicine, fuel… I had worked consistently before that and knew I would probably work a regular job after that, I didn’t want the IRS to wonder why I had dropped out of the system, so when I found the section for bartering, I put in my “wages” there, I never had to pay tax on any of it, there just wasn’t that much financially involved, but it kept me in the system and off their radar.
If you are just trading on a small scale, then obviously you don’t need to let the government know about it.
Another way we barter is for our water. We get our water from our next door neighbor’s well, in exchange we look after his house while he’s out of town. We also do upkeep and cleaning on his house, small maintenance, the normal things that need looking after on a regular basis. It works out well for both of us.
Think about what your skills are, even something you don’t think of as significant, it can be a lifesaver if you find yourself in need of something and don’t have the means to pay for it. It’s best to have your network in place first though, you don’t want to have to go out and find someone in need of your skills right when you are needing something yourself. Word of mouth works wonders here, having your skills out there ahead of time means it will be easier and quicker to get what you need when the time comes.
So, what are your skills? Do you barter now? Let me know in the comments below!
Bartering, Then and Now! James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio in player below! On this special episode of I Am Liberty we talk about taking advantage of the barter economy that is alive and well out there. Dare I say it could even be growing. We are in the most entrepreneurial time in history. Everyone is … Continue reading Bartering, Then and Now!
Money can quickly lose its value in the event of a catastrophic event. In 1998 in Quebec and Ottawa, an ice storm crippled the power grid in those two provinces, forcing people to learn to live without electricity for several weeks. Credit cards and other forms of electronic commerce simply ceased to function.
In such a situation, bartering can replace cash and credit cards. Bartering is the simple act of exchanging one thing for something else. But it’s rarely simple.
Bartering begins when you need something you don’t have. The key is to find someone who has it and who is willing to trade for something you have and that they want. It could be goods, or it could be services or a unique skill.
Stockpile items that will have value if the manufacturing infrastructure breaks down. Items to think about include:
- Precious metals (gold, silver, coins with silver content).
- OTC medicines and supplies.
- Prescription meds and supplies.
- Vegetable and fruit seeds.
- Equipment and supplies for food preservation, from canning to salt.
- Sewing and knitting supplies.
- Water purification equipment and supplies.
- Personal hygiene items, from soap to tampons.
- Nails, screws and other building supply basics
As you can see from the above list, these are items that are difficult to produce or create on your own. All can be bought in stores or online.
But there’s a certain skill set you can learn that will allow you to produce items of value for barter. They include:
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Smoked fish and game.
- Fresh fish and game.
- Baked bread and other baked goods.
- Knitted items.
- Honey, maple syrup and molasses.
- Herbs and herbal remedies.
- Rustic furniture.
- Basic tools, from brooms to rope.
You also can barter your own skills. Someone who has the tools and the expertise to perform timber-frame construction easily could barter their labor for goods and services. The same is true for someone who is an expert at herbal remedies or who can construct and build cabins or furniture from rustic resources. You even could barter your help and assistance with simple labor for fundamental tasks. The critical thing is to have the ability to anticipate what others may need when times are tough.
To a large degree any barter transaction is a negotiation, much like at a flea market. That gets to a fundamental rule of barter. Only bring a small portion of what you have of any item, and don’t advertise the fact that you have more of anything. In a barter economy, you might encounter desperate people who will take desperate measures to get what they need.
Let’s look at the basics of bartering …
The 5 Steps of Bartering
1. What you want versus what you have. Try to assess the current value of what you need from a barter standpoint and assess what you can offer in exchange.
2. Identify potential trading partners. This might be neighbors or individuals at a barter market. Sometimes networking can help by simply getting the word out to your friends and neighbors that you are looking for a certain item or set of items. There’s also the remote possibility that the Internet may still be functioning, to some degree. After all, it was fundamentally designed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to survive total thermo-nuclear war.
3. Negotiate. Sometimes a barter exchange is a mixed bag of items. If someone has something of particular value like an ax, and you don’t have a comparable tool to exchange, you could combine items for trade such as nails, seeds, a gallon of vinegar and an assortment of first-aid supplies you can spare. You also could offer services in exchange for the item.
4. Agree on a time and place to make the exchange. If you’re at a barter market, you may have these items with you. Otherwise, you need to determine a place to meet and complete the transaction. Make sure you inspect the item or items before agreeing to the final exchange. Refunds are rare and failing to live up to the bargain is not a good idea on either side of the transaction.
5. Build your barter network. If you are satisfied with the transaction, you have the opportunity to build a relationship with this trading partner. Chances are you will be able to continue to make exchanges in the future and it’s always best to do it with someone you trust and have come to know.
There are online websites and various locations already established for the barter of goods and services. You may not need to barter for something right now, but it’s good practice. It’s particularly valuable at some of the barter markets that have popped up. This recreates the environment that you will encounter in a pure, barter economy. It also will give you a chance to see what people offer or create so you have new ideas as you expand your barter inventory and hone your barter experience.
What advice would you add about bartering? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Top 10 Barter Items Every Prepper Should Have Along with those items that you store for your own personal use there should always be a little bit stowed away for the purposes of bartering. You know the average American doesn’t have much cash stored in their home. Once that cash runs out, if the ATMs …
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Barter Items For SHTF
Today Mike and I talk about What are the best barter items for SHTF. We change up the format and dig deep into the main topic. No news this episode.
Also, there won’t be an All geared up with Couch Potato Mike this week. Since he was salty all episode long.
We disagree on the storage of Precious Metals. Mike says that it is a stand-in for money. I.e you are not bartering with gold and silver you are buying.
I stand behind using precious metals being a barter item. Bartering is between two people without a government needing to be involved.
We talk about many of the well-known barter items. The things that pop to mind easily. We also cover a few less talked about items.
Barter items basically come down to two categories. Needs and wants.
Early on in an SHTF scenario needs will be most important. People will need food, gas, and medical supplies.
Once Things calm down, even a little, the wants will rule. During the great depression movie, theatres were filled. They had little to no money and still spent it on entertainment over needs. This is a valuable lesson.
Yes, you should stock up on needed items for barter. You should also store wants, vices, and addictions to barter with.
Alcohol, tobacco and titty mags will all have high barter value. The porn industry is not as big as it is without a reason.
Ammo. main calibers
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Get a few preppers together, and you can pretty much guarantee that at some point bug out bags and bartering will come up. My personal take is that it’s a little bit foolish to stock something solely to barter – especially stuff that relates to addictions, because people with addictions can be a little bit crazy about their vices. Stocking things that can get used by the household means there’s little regret about expenditures in 2-10 years, whether a disaster occurs or not.
There have been other bartering articles on TPJ, and they’re totally worth looking at. I have zero arguments with the gear, meds, candles, batteries, foods and feel-goods that show up on those lists and are so very common when it comes up on forums. Still, there are some things that are very, very useful, readily affordable, readily portable in a bag or loaded into a game cart to take to Bartertown, and that I see very few people talk about – period, but almost never in the “barter” conversations and posts.
So those are where I’m focusing today.
In many cases, they’re not going to be the first things to run off shelves. Know your area and know what disappears – and when seasonally it tends to disappear even without a disaster. I tend to focus my own efforts on those things I don’t expect to find 3-9 months after a major crisis. I’m also cognizant that some things are never in much bulk – or enough bulk – and that even beyond looters and municipal groups that stand up to try to save their communities and go salvaging, there’s the risk of fires spreading and taking out stores.
With that in mind, here’s my list of 8 barter items that end up ignored as barter items and that aren’t without merit as backups for our own stockpiles.
Canning Jars – Especially Lids
It’s pretty rare to find stores with nothing but canning jars on the aisles these days. In most cases, a store at its max display capacity has fewer jars than a single family would need to can only a veggie supplement for 6-9 months, and sometimes even fewer spare lids.
That makes lids and jars pretty much number one on my stock-up list, both for home use and to trade with neighbors and locals.
You’re not going to stick more than a box or two of spare lids in a bag, so this is one of the cases where if you’re on foot, you might want to go ahead and stick with some of those things like batteries, candles, an airgun and pellets, meds, and other lightweight items that will go pretty quick and that people 5 days, 50 days, 5 months and maybe even 50 months into a disaster will still be interested in taking off your hands.
If you’re big on health, go with dish soap, vinegar and water as a spray, and just skip on down to the next one. I’m pretty much required to turn in my greenie card for promoting Sevin Dust.
But, see, Sevin is pretty darn handy. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, my father used to coat pretty much anything alive in the stuff – ducks, horses, goats, veggies, trees, wasp houses. He used it as flea and tick control as well as on garden pests.
We now have health concerns and concerns about wiping out beneficial bugs and microbes, but if your garden’s getting eaten by eight different things, if you absolutely have to have it to have anything but beans and wheat – or if your beans are being eaten by three different things – you’re going to be willing to think seriously about pretty much anything on the table to get your hands on an easy-to-apply dust that will kill almost any of them, something you can spot treat by hand or hook up to a backpack blower.
I specify the dust because it’s more compact, stores easily, and comes in both big bulk bags and small-container three packs that make it a viable option to cart to the church or community potluck, market or specific neighbors. It also has some of the shortest interval-to-harvest periods of a commercial pesticide.
Liquid Sevin doesn’t store as long, but it does kill extra things and it’s easier to get on the underside of leaves than powder.
First, an apology to our Canadians. I have gathered the impression that this stuff can be tough for you guys to get ahold of, especially in bulk, and it’s not especially cheap there. Here we can just swing by on a whim and get it in packaging from the size of a deck of cards, by the gallon, or even by the 55-gal barrel.
There aren’t as many uses for Diatomaceous Earth as there are for baking soda and Epsom salt, but, man, it’s pretty handy.
It’s the active ingredient in SMITE for poultry, it clears up everything from bed bugs to livestock and pet ear mites, ants to roaches. It can form protective barriers around plants or be spread over them as a powdered insecticide. It’s natural, physical as opposed to chemical, has a nearly endless shelf life because it’s really just ancient plankton shells, can help protect stored foods – especially those we’re harvesting and our next-year seeds – and it has at least a dozen health and beauty uses.
The more uses something has, the less variety we have to store and the better the chances that when somebody has a problem, we have a valuable solution. DE checks those boxes in a big way.
Baking Soda & Baking Powder
It’s hard to bake without leavening of some sort, and baking soda has about a million uses outside baking – and about a million more totally outside the kitchen. Both have long expirations and easily extend beyond their best-by dates even at room temperature and with fluctuations from 60 to 80 degrees. They’re sensitive to moisture in their smallest packaging forms, but it’s easy to get several or a whole handful in a gallon bag to keep in buckets and pull out as needed.
I don’t expect them to simply run off the shelves as soon as a disaster is announced, but they’re inexpensive, cheaper yet to buy in bulk bags, and it’s worth having some baking soda stocked because it’s one of those that when you want it, there’s not a lot of substitution.
First, sorry, Australian readers (and maybe Brits). I know this stuff is expensive and controlled to a ridiculous degree for you guys. It’s cheap and plentiful in the U.S.
Epsom Salts is what I consider an absolute, 100%, no-arguments prepper must-have. If there’s not already a reminder of how awesome Epsom salt is on an annual basis, there should be. Epsom salt is another one like baking soda, with fifty million uses for human health and hygiene, cleaning, livestock, and gardens. There are so many uses, it truly deserves its own article just as a primer on how useful Epsom salt is.
I’ll take just a moment here to point out that Epsom salt is far, far different from table salts. Epsom is magnesium sulfate, not sodium chloride.
When you want to burn it down and salt the earth so nothing grows (or clean a cutting board and preserve food), use table salt, kosher salt and sea salt.
When you want to encourage flowers, reduce soil deficiencies so plants can uptake their macronutrients properly and produce healthy, bountiful yields, fix an ear infection, reduce swelling, pamper your feet and skin, create barriers for certain types of pests in the home and garden, clean a wound, clear up skin conditions in humans, poultry and hoof stock, that’s what Epsom salt does.
As with everything else mentioned here, it can be purchased in bulk, or it’s available in small, moisture-resistant containers that make it very viable for trade when somebody’s struggling with any of a multitude of issues.
Rat traps have a ton of uses, but number one is their actual pest-control job. Eventually I think the rat population will level out one way or another, but between death and waste-removal shutdowns, I think they’ll boom for a while first. There have also been some historic accounts from Rome, London and other sites of major fires, where rats flee the cities and end up a plague on outlying areas in waves – and I anticipate fires since they happen daily even now.
Rat traps also have applications as squirrel and songbird traps for feeding families and pets, protecting gardens from small raiders, and combining with fishing line and various magnetic strip alarms or things like chem lights to create visual and audio alerts for home and property alarms. They can also be rigged with bells on a line to alert a barrier run of pigs that something has tripped the wire, and with some training the pigs will rush in to remove threats to chickens and gardens.
They’re small, light, and typically pretty cheap.
For smaller rodent controls, there are several ways (at least) to turn cans and buckets or rubber bands and 2L bottles into pretty effective rodent traps, and some additional ways to use PVC for squirrels and rats. They’re reusable and potentially can be made out of scavenged refuse or scrap, so it’s worth looking up those, too.
After all, sometimes know-how is as valuable a barter object as a physical item.
Water Catchment Faucets, Spigots, & Overflow Fittings
We’re almost guaranteed to see increased attempts to catch and store rain if a disaster ever occurs. Drought and periodic no-boil orders already make water a valuable – and expensive – resource right here in North America.
Having extra fittings for turning our emptied and scavenged buckets, totes, barrels, and tubs into more effective catchment systems has the potential to make not only our lives easier, but convince somebody to share a tool or pasture they’d rather not, or sweeten a deal over somebody else’s offer.
I doubt hardware stores will empty of plumbing fittings super early, but there’s always a chance, since few areas have enough in to truly impact catchment for every farmer and rooftop in the area. There’s also the risk of fire.
The washers and faucets for making the simplest conversions are lightweight, and at most should cost a few bucks. They have the potential of appeal to a much larger community than just smokers, drinkers and tokers, and will appeal to those as well. That makes them a pretty easy item to keep in even an INCH bag and definitely worth throwing in a cargo pocket when we patrol or go to a neighbor – you never know when the opportunity for new boots, tampons, or better bullets will appear.
Various silicone tubes and thread tape have value even outside the rain barrel creations. Some of our local stores and contractors are pretty happy to let us have odds and ends of PVC from jobs for free. The faucets or spigots valves and washers are the more pocketable pieces, but some short runs of PVC and small tubes of aquarium repair silicone can sweeten a deal even more when suggesting or building a system for somebody.
Portable Solar Chargers
Small, portable battery and device solar chargers abound on the market today, from $5-50. The battery chargers are useless without fresh batteries to charge, but having access to downloaded music, movies, games and pictures may mean a great deal to some folks.
They’re small enough even for folks who aren’t ready for $100-3,000 systems to keep phones, iPods, walkies, and headlamps going, and their value will go up further in protracted crises or a situation with regular brownouts. They’re already something you see folks gouge prices on and hit the streets with during “normal” natural disasters.
I wouldn’t fill up buckets with this one, but having a few for us, a few as backups, and a few I’m willing to part with for the little pocket versions and maybe a couple of the larger laptop-tablet or C-9V or combo chargers and rechargeable batteries for them is worth it to me. I also keep Nokeros and some of the little flat flashlights in my windows, though (and use them nearly daily instead of a bedside lamp or regular flashlight).
Backups and Bartering Alternatives
Like I said, I tend to think folks should focus on things they’ll use in a disaster or daily life over something they never have and plan to never want. I also really like the items that can sit on a shelf for years even before best-by dates expire, especially the ones that don’t need additional packaging.
I have no problem with the lists of the common items like meds, batteries, and knife sharpeners. There are always going to be others, from things like clip-on book and cap lights to the ammo that leads to so much back-and-forth and conditional settings. This is just a list of options that I rarely see discussed as storage items, and almost never see on the bartering lists – even though they can be had compactly and they offer so much in so many ways for the most part, that really don’t have replacements, or are rare to find on shelves even now.
I love bartering. I’ve been bartering since lunch period in elementary school where I would often trade a chocolate milk for a Lunchable pizza. I’ve bartered everything from CDs to subwoofers to paintball guns to high-end letterpress business cards from Lithuania. Sure, bartering has its downfalls. Situations like… Louis needs a cow and has chickens
Being a Survival Mom means you have a plan to feed your kids, no matter what, whether by having some food storage, growing as much as you can, or even finding free food.
That means not just if SHTF, but also if you experience unexpected, personal events that leave you actually wondering about your next meal, as happened when this couple hit rock bottom. For example, with one of my children, maternity leave lasted twice as long as I planned. We had savings for the expected time, but found ourselves in a financially tight spot when I had to stay out of work longer than we anticipated.
Life happens. Before it happens to you and you find your bank account empty and your pantry bare, here are a few ideas on where to find free food. Whether they will work for you or not, may depend on local regulations.
Find free food with these tips
- Pet-sit. I recently asked my neighbors to watch our backyard chickens for our vacation in exchange for any eggs. They ended up with 8 dozen eggs! If you don’t know of anyone with farm animals, check with your local 4-H or poultry groups.
- Side of the road. In our metro area, it’s acceptable to leave items you don’t want at your curb for others to pick up. Sometimes it’s a dresser or kids’ bikes, but frequently, people leave out extra garden produce like zucchini and tomatoes. If you see something, though, stop immediately and grab it. It probably won’t be there on your way home later.
- Community events. If you live at an apartment complex or you have a neighborhood association, watch for community events involving food. Often these will be pizza parties or cook-outs funded by member dues. Or see if you have a friend who might live where these sorts of events occur, and go as their guest.
- Serve at a catered event. Longer term, finding a job as an on-call catering server could net you more than just an hourly wage. In my experience, employees often get to take home leftover food from weddings or other events. Or volunteer to help at friends’ weddings or graduation parties. One family sent me home with enough leftover catered food to feed my family for 2 full meals after I helped with their son’s graduation party.
- Craigslist. Check ads for extra garden produce, or post an ad yourself saying you’ll take extras. Just be careful meeting people—I usually like to meet people at public places, like parking lots with video surveillance.
- Gleaning. This is the old fashioned word for “picking up leftovers after harvest.” If you live near farms or community gardens, get permission to go through after the harvest. It might be some hide and seek, but with a little effort, you could probably find dropped produce, extra fruit still on the vine, or discarded imperfect veggies.
- Church food pantry. Many churches keep food pantries. Call around to houses of worship in your area and ask. Often there are no strings attached in regards to membership, but usually there’s a limit such as visiting once a month per household or something similar.
- Community garden.In our city, we have at least one community garden where you earn a share of the produce by volunteering 2 hours a week. Check in your area, or with local CSA’s to see if you can exchange time for food. Even better, you will have helped grow it yourself!
- Hotel breakfasts.If you are traveling, or for any other reason find yourself staying at a hotel with an included breakfast, consider taking a little extra to eat later. For example, a yogurt and an apple would make a morning snack. Just be reasonable.
- Grocery stores. Make friends with your local produce, dairy, and meat market managers. Perishable foods can’t be sold after their expiration date. I’ve gotten half gallons of milk for free or nearly free (25 cents!) on that expiration date. Produce might be sorted in the morning, whereas meat might have to be tossed at the end of a business day. If you know what days or times to show up, you might be able to collect a whole meal’s worth!
- Foraging. If the idea of foraging seems daunting, then just think of this as a “snack” category. Pick raspberries along the bike trail, or the mulberries hanging over the sidewalk. Food is food, and if times are bad, every little bit–especially fresh fruits and greens–will make a difference. Always stick with plants you know–NEVER eat anything you aren’t sure about. You’ll find important foraging safety guidelines here.
- Freewill donation meals. Find the Pancake Breakfasts or Spaghetti Dinners in your community that ask for a freewill donation. Usually, they are fundraisers for the local fire department or Lions club. But if you’re in a tight spot, you could take advantage of these meals. Pay what you can, then when times are better, you could make a more substantial donation.
- Feed bread. Our local bakery outlet store will set large garbage bags of past-date bread as feed bread for farm animals. You are asked to sign a form saying it’s not for human consumption, but if times are really bad, you may find it worth going through to see if anything is still edible.
- Trade or barter. Offer your skills in exchange for a meal. Help a friend move and get pizza. Help your brother in law build a garage and stay for dinner. Help your co-worker fix his computer at home and let him pay for take-out. This is a win-win for everyone. I’ve found this book about bartering to have valuable tips for getting started.
- Your own pantry or food storage. This is why you have food storage, right? If you need it, by all means, use it! But it will go much, much further if you can stretch it with some of the above ideas.
- Bountiful Baskets or another food co-op system. If you volunteer to show up early and help out, any food that is left over or unclaimed is divided among the volunteers.
If you find yourself on hard times, you’ll probably need to rely on a combination of ideas and avenues to feed your family. But stay calm, think outside the box, and no one in your house needs to go to bed hungry.
What other ideas do you have?
A while back I was in a novelty store, looking at humorous refrigerator magnets. One of them read: “I haven’t had my morning coffee yet. Don’t make me kill you.” Another read: “Coffee… because crack is not allowed in the workplace.” Yet another read: “Give me coffee or give me death.”
Movie scriptwriters have also taken advantage of Americans’ obsession with this caffeinated beverage in a variety of comedy films, including Airplane II: The Sequel. Peter Graves plays a flight captain who takes in stride the news that two of his crew members have died after being sucked out of an airlock. But when a flight attendant informs him that they’ve run out of Joe, he goes ballistic, loudly reminding everyone how many times he’s asked for extra coffee to be stored on board.
We laugh at these refrigerator-worthy phrases and comedic movie moments, but they bring up a valid point. Who wants to live in a world without coffee? When a disaster strikes it will be one of the items many people will wish they had stockpiled. And not just for the enjoyment of the taste or because of the headaches they will experience without their daily “fix.” They will also crave it for it’s ability to help them stay alert in night watch situations and for its use as a bartering tool.
When a crisis causes supermarkets to run out of food and other items quickly, coffee will be a coveted commodity because it is seldom included in personal stockpiles of food and water. It might be considered a luxury item by some, but others are convinced they need it to survive the day. Regardless, making it a part of your food stockpile is a great idea that will pay dividends.
(Editor’s Note: APN’s editor enjoys the Folgers Single Cup Bags. They allow you to make one cup at a time which cuts back on the smell of brewed coffee as you can cover your cup. It also makes it much easier to keep track of exactly how many cups you have. Let’s say you drink 2 cups a day; there is 365 days a year x 2 = 730 singles packets. On amazon (Follow the link above.) you can get 113 bags for around $28.oo
Here are five reasons for including coffee in a survival stash:
- Coffee will disappear quickly from store shelves in an emergency. Those who stockpile food and water for emergencies are in the minority, and even many of them do not include coffee in their stashes, so it’s likely to be swept up right away by people who thought of stockpiling everything else except a good cup of joe.
- Stay alert in night watch situations. A disaster that causes power outages will also cause people to behave in ways they would not otherwise. Some families and groups may be forced to have one person stay awake at all times. Coffee not only keeps you awake, but also more alert and able to concentrate.
- Use as a bartering tool. During the Civil War, Southern soldiers had plenty of tobacco but little coffee, while soldiers in the North had a lot of coffee but little tobacco, making for a perfect bartering situation. When stores run out of the necessities, there will be plenty of trading going on. Coffee will once again be a valuable bartering item following a disaster.
- It’s good for you. Once considered harmful, coffee is now known to be rich in flavonoids, a group of antioxidant compounds. Some studies show that coffee can actually protect the heart, lower the risk of several forms of cancer and reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. And it puts most people in a better mood, which can be helpful in a stressful situation.
- Enjoyment. Smiles and laughs in a post-disaster society will be few and far between, so people will want to occasionally savor something simply for its taste. Coffee lovers will argue that their beverage choice is delicious. And if coffee is as addictive as they jokingly say it is, they’re going to need it as much as want it.
Frank Bates, founder of 4Patriots LLC, is a contributing writer to Patriot Headquarters, a website featuring hundreds of articles on how to be more independent and self-reliant. He also offers Food4Patriots, a supplier of emergency food suitable for long-term storage, survival and emergency preparedness.
Here’s my story of how I discovered a simple, common weed can be used to make coffee from chicory!
For several years, I’ve noticed a beautiful blue wildflower lining the road during the summer. It starts out looking like a weed, but when it blooms, the flower is the color of a Tanzanite gemstone. I’ve noticed that it also grows well along sidewalks, in gravel, or any other harsh environment you can think of. The plant is a dark green and is about 12-24 inches high. The bluish flower petals are flat at the ends, and slightly “fringed”. The leaves closest to the ground look exactly like dandelion. If you are looking for it on a sunny day, they are easy to see. But, on an overcast day or late afternoon, the flowers close up, and it’s harder to spot.
I decided to take some photos and find out what it was.
To my surprise, I found out it was chicory. I remembered hearing that it can be used to make a beverage similar to coffee, but wanted to learn more about it. I also wondered if it had any medicinal properties.
According to Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants & Herbs, the root can be mixed with water to make a diuretic or laxative. It’s used homeopathically for liver and gallbladder ailments, it can lower blood sugar, and has a slight sedative effect. Chicory root extracts have been shown to be antibacterial, and its tinctures have an anti-inflammatory effect. You can learn how to make your own tinctures fairly easily.
Next, I wanted to find out what parts of the plant were edible and how to use it to make “coffee”. I learned that its root must be dried and roasted before making a hot beverage. Its’ leaves are good for both salad and cooked greens. The white underground leaves are great as a salad green in the spring, and the outer green leaves can be boiled for 5-10 minutes and eaten. I decided to go dig up some roots and try roasting them for coffee.
Make coffee from chicory
I found plenty of chicory right around my house and along my street. I thought I could just pull them out of the ground but I was wrong.
It’s had been dry for the last week and we have a lot of clay soil, so I went and got a shovel. Once I started digging, I found some of the roots are very long. Many broke off as I tried to pry them up with my shovel, but I got a decent sized batch quickly.
I soaked them for a short time, then scrubbed the roots clean, and chopped off the rest of the plant. I put those parts in my garden to add to the compost, which is an ongoing project. I patted the roots dry, and sliced them up. I did have to get a heavier chopping knife because some of the roots have a center that is like wood. The really tough stuff, I just added to my garden, and the rest I put on a cookie sheet.
I thought I’d try roasting it slow and low. I turned my oven on to 250 degrees and watched it for a half hour or so. It seemed to dry out but not really “roast” the pieces. So, I turned up the heat to 350 degrees, and about 20-30 minutes later, a wonderful smell came from the oven. The root pieces were turning brown and smelled like chocolate, caramel and coffee, all in one. The darker it got, the better it smelled. Once I thought the chicory root was dark enough, I turned down the oven to 300 degrees, so it wouldn’t burn but just roast a little bit more. I would say the total time was about and hour and a half. I took the roasted root pieces out of the oven and let them cool to room temperature.
I took out my blender, and used the “chop” setting to grind up the roots. I checked on them after several seconds and found it was still too coarse, but once again, the smell was incredible. I think the blades created enough heat to warm the grounds and send the smell wafting up in the air. I knew I needed a finer grind, so I set the blender to “liquify”, and that worked much better. I ended up with a finer grind that almost had the appearance of cigarette tobacco.
I was finally ready to brew a cup of chicory coffee! I added 2 teaspoons into my coffee filter and add enough water to the pot for one cup of coffee. I watched it brew, and it looks dark , just like regular coffee. By the way, in a power outage, a French Press is highly recommended for every coffee lover. You can get one for less than $30, and it’s worth every penny.
Now, the taste test. First, I tried it black. It tastes just like a strong black coffee (too much chicory?) but with a definite mocha, possibly caramel flavor. I may have used too much chicory, so next time I’ll use 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons per cup when I brew.
Since I don’t normally drink black coffee, I added a tiny bit of stevia (here’s Survival Mom’s preferred brand) and some Coffee Mate to this aromatic concoction. Oh, my, GOSH!!!!! This is like a fabulous cup of coffee from a pricey coffee house. I really thought it wouldn’t be this good. I can’t wait to go out and gather more chicory root! If SHTF, this will be priceless. There is no caffeine in this drink, so you can have a warm beverage, late at night. I had no idea how easy it would be to make coffee from chicory.
I highly recommend foraging for this wonderful and amazing plant. I can’t believe we’ve lost so much knowledge over the years about living off the land. We all should learn foraging skills. This coffee alternative is free, abundant, delicious, and a great barter item. Better yet, just try it now to enjoy, but save some for yourself for later!
There are options when we talk about stockpiling wealth or currency in preparedness folds. Precious metals (PM) as a preparedness item are a topic of some debate in and of themselves
The post Considering Precious Metals? – the Case for Suisse Bars appeared first on The Prepper Journal.
In ages past, bartering was not only an acceptable way to conduct business in the community, but the only way to conduct the business necessary to sustain a household.
The modern culture shuns bartering for goods or services. Credit is king in a world filled with unnecessary goods and a culture that pushes the use of services that are purely for convenience, not because of necessity. Those who propose to barter are often mislabeled as a miser, a cheapskate or a penny pincher.
But for those who are looking to escape the consumer-driven culture and focus on living a more self-sufficient lifestyle, the art of bartering can help lessen the financial burden. Bartering is, by definition, the process of exchanging a good or service for a different good or service. Relying less on cash, or on credit, to maintain any portion of a homestead is possible with careful and considerate bartering. With practice, successfully bartering to provide for the needs of the homestead may become an integral part of a well-devised financial plan.
Historic Overview of Bartering and Currency
The concept of bartering is evident in many ancient cultures. Trading goods in exchange for different goods within the local area and across borders was routine in ancient times. It was not until roughly 600 B.C. that the first currency was minted for use.
Currency hastened the consumer process, allowing a greater number of goods to trade hands quickly. As currencies were developed around the globe, the demand for a currency-based financial system overpowered the natural social practice of bartering within and around the community.
Modern Day Bartering
Many modern day homesteaders are using their bartering skills to meet a wide variety of needs. From building materials, livestock and seeds, to skilled labor, any task or any good can be used as part of a successful bartering agreement. Though their stories are not in the headlines, many people have pulled back from the consumer culture and fully funded a portion of their annual budget by instead bartering.
If no currency is exchanged, how does a person determine if it is helping his or her bottom line? The value of bartering can be measured in time, as it relates to imparting knowledge, or measured by the exertion necessary in physical labor. Or, it can be measured by the amount of currency saved by bartering instead of paying outright for the good or service.
The most common item used for bartering is foodstuffs, both livestock and produce. In a world where naturally raised meat and poultry, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables are in increasingly high demand, the potential for bartering is greater. Even unexpected needs can be met through bartering. For example, I’m aware of a local holistic practitioner who has been known to accept organically raised poultry in exchange for medical care from careful and conscientious households.
In another case, a family was able to add an outbuilding and repair an additional building by being willing to exchange labor for receiving reclaimed building materials. In addition to this, meeting the wants of those in the community can also be easily accomplished through skillful bartering.
So, what do you do first? Perhaps there is a local general store, a diner or a pub where locals gather and agreements can be struck, but in most areas, this is no longer the case. Farmers markets, health food stores and the like are good places to start looking for potential connections. Come prepared with an idea of the goods or services that you could offer, but keep an open mind. Part of the art of bartering is learning the strengths and weaknesses of the community. Being prepared to fill a need in the community will provide ample opportunities to strike beneficial agreements.
Many members of the online community are also turning to bartering to fill the wants and needs in their lives; however, most are not utilizing the barter system as a way to promote financial independence. Caution is, of course, very necessary in negotiating any agreement online; nevertheless, there are avenues for securing legitimate agreements that benefit both parties. Practice good security measures to ensure everyone feels comfortable throughout the entire process.
Another aspect of the art of bartering is the building of relationships. Whether in person, or online, a relationship built with trust earned from satisfactorily fulfilled agreements promotes the overall wellbeing of society, as well as promoting financial stability for the individuals involved.
Add value to the community while lessening the financial burden of the homestead by practicing the art of bartering.
Do you barter? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
Silver, the unseen benefits!
James Walton “I Am Liberty”
If you frequent any prepper website its likely you are inundated with information about buying gold and silver. Most adds can be as ostentatious as to tell you that “quickly before the dollar is devalued to 0” you must buy gold and silver. Then there is a quiver inside you. Fear begins to chip away at your common sense and you make poor decisions. If you have a desire to get into buying silver read this article to find out the benefits that go far beyond an economic collapse.
Early on I bought into this idea. I bought silver at $25 and I have bought silver at $13. There was a time when I felt pressured to purchase silver because I thought we wouldn’t be able to afford bread if I didn’t have an alternate means to pay for it. The wheel barrels of money type of thing had a hold of my consciousness. Pretty soon, however, something began to happen.
I started to fall in love with these gleaming pieces. These incredible designs and the weight and worth of the metal began to take me over like a spell. Soon it became less about price and more about design. I started seeking out certain pieces with my son and we enjoy going to different locations and buying silver.
Silver pieces that are brought out only on “special occasions” are a great way to inspire your children to begin counting. They are these beautiful, shiny things that kids want to touch, when they are permitted to. This is a great way to get children excited about counting and math that doesn’t involve flash cards or phone apps.
If you find a quality dealer they will have the ability to engrave coins as well. This gives you an incredible option for creating very important and nostalgic pieces for your collection. Just recently Silvertowne, one of my favorite dealers, has created a small case for silver coins that transforms that coin into a Christmas tree ornament. Awesome.
Of course beyond all of this warm and fuzzy that goes along with collecting, buying, hoarding, storing or stacking, there are also the benefits of owning a very real and tangible asset.
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Personally, I intend to do some bartering, if things fall apart. Now what you trade and how you go about it is a bit complicated. First there is two things that I would be very careful about who I bartered with, ammunition and alcohol. Now I know that many people have stored extra ammo with the idea that it will be good trading stock. I believe that there will be a demand for many different types of rounds, particularly 22 and 12 gauge birdshot for hunting.
When you trade ammo, you want to be sure that it is not going to be used on you. You may be arming the person who intends to rob you. I have talked with people who have schemes to set up snipers and other ideas to protect themselves while bartering. If you trade with anybody that comes along, you will end up in a nasty situation eventually. I don’t want to end up in a shooting situation.
I have also talked to people who think that they can survive by setting up a still and bartering alcohol. Now this is not a totally bad idea, some alcohol is needed for medicinally purposes. But if you are selling it for drinking, word will get around and there are lowlife alcohols that will do anything for a drink, including kill you and your family.
Now don’t think that I am against bartering, because I am not. I think that bartering will revolve around what we grow, produce or the skills we possess. Simple skills and having the tools to perform them will become valuable. Things like sharpening a handsaw, soap making, candle making, tanning hides, blacksmithing and other types of repair work. It seems like everytime I grow a garden, I have an abundance of something. This can be preserved or traded for something else.
I think that the single most valuable items other than maybe food will be medical supplies. Many people who have chronic medical conditions will run out of medications rapidly. These types of medications or there herbal substitutes will be extremely valuable. Knowing and being able to produce herbal medications will be a good skill to have.
One thing that our family has a lot of is miscellaneous hardware. My father taught us to go to garage sales and buy the odd boxes of nails, screws, bolts and fitting. There always seems to be one in every garage sale. Normally you can buy them very cheaply. When people have to start repairing and building things for themselves these items will become quite valuable. Don’t forget that some of the people who made the most money on the California gold rush were the ones who sold picks and shovels.
A local economy based on bartering can function, just be sure you are careful whom you deal with and don’t deal so tight that you make enemies.
Note from PJ: This article is a guest contribution and while brief does touch on a good topic. Lots of opinions floating out there about what to stockpile for bartering, or if one should even attempt to barter at all after something like SHTF. Read the article and then post comments / opinions below. Thanks!
As a student of life you probably already have a basic idea of the barter system. If you are getting ready for its advent in the near future, you need to start stocking up as soon as you can. The items you stockpile have to actually be useful for bartering with. Before you go out and buy gold by the truckload, stop and think.
What do you need?
Ask yourself what exactly you are looking for in a barter trade. If your plan is to trade something you have for something you don’t, it would be easier to simply get the item you won’t have right now, wouldn’t it? Well, this is true but it simply can’t be done for everything. You would have to have a pretty massive space (preferably underground) if you wanted to store all the items you think you would need when the collapse of the economy occurs.
5 Necessary Items
There are some items that are extremely valuable when it comes to bartering, such as guns and ammunition. In a world without law and order, you are going to have to be able to defend yourself after all. While the 5 items listed below probably won’t get you weapons or ammunition, they are going to help you immensely in the fight for survival that is soon to come. All you have to do is make sure you store these for a “rainy day”.
1 – Food: This is one of the hardest to get out in the untamed world. There will be people who don’t have enough food to survive. Of course, some decent folk will probably give up their food to help a family in need. For the most part though people will be trading out their essentials in exchange for food. If you are lucky enough, you could probably get a weapon in exchange for a big portion of your food supply.
2 – Water: Potable water is one of the most important things in a post-apocalyptic world. Diseases are the biggest risk factor after a natural disaster occurs and there isn’t enough healthcare to go around. The water supply quickly becomes contaminated, especially if a factory nearby collapses and starts leaking waste into the nearby rivers. Thankfully, you can stock up on water filters to clean the water supply for you. Trading these can be the difference between life and death for a lot of people.
3 – Ammunition: This is more expensive than gold in a new world without currency. Ammo is going to be at a premium soon enough, as people struggle to stay alive and defend themselves. For every community of decent, peaceful people, there are bound to be bands of criminals, murderers, rapists and thieves roaming around.
4 – Antibiotics: Medication is going to be one of the hardest things to stockpile. You are going to have to steal the better painkillers from a hospital if you really need them at the time. For now, try buying over the counter antibiotics and painkillers for the bad injuries.
5 – Candles: These are going to be far more valuable than you think. The power grid is going to go down. There isn’t going to be electricity. People are going to need candles instead. If you can figure out how to make them, you are going to be wealthy.
There are tons of other items you can stockpile. However, think about priorities and get the essentials first. These are bound to be the most valuable.
The answer to that question is a wholehearted YES. Whether you know it or not, the barter system you learned about oh so long ago is still up and running. You make use of it every single day to do a whole variety of things! The barter system (which is thought to have ended when we first used currency) is defined as an exchange of goods or services. This applies to just about any type of goods, including money.
A perfect example of this is hiring a plumber. When you hire the services of a plumber to fix the leaky faucet and the pipes in your home, you pay him money in exchange for the services he is offering. We use paper, issued by the state, to barter for services. Of course, when it comes to a world-destroying disaster, paper is going to be absolutely worthless to barter with. Government collapse would lead to a complete devaluation of money. It would be better to just to last you through the fallout.
No currency means goods need to be traded
Without currency backed by the state to support barter using currency, there is only one option left: to trade goods with actual value for others that you need in return. To survive, this is something that will have to be done in a survival situation. Of course, you could go all Rick Grimes on the people around you and kill them, but you would probably get arrested and sentenced when rescue came along.
A prime example of this type of situation is any natural disaster today where people are trapped for weeks without a rescue. Examples include the 2004 South Asian Tsunami and the more recent Hurricane Katrina. People stuck on the inside would trade food and clothing in exchange for other goods that they had dire need of. Remember that when it comes to a survival situation, your very life hangs in the balance. Barter carefully.
Essentials and material comforts
There are two categories that you need to sort everything into the second a disaster occurs and you get to your stockpile. These are the bare essentials for survival and the objects that are more materialistic, made for comfort rather than survival. The priorities are food and water. You can survive without anything else, but you will die off soon enough without a steady supply of food and water. Make getting these your highest priority.
One tip is that if you need food and water to live, so does everyone else. This can make that sheep you found wandering about after the disaster as valuable as its weight in pure gold. If you trade food items and water, you can be sure that the people you are bartering with will give you just about anything that you need.
Ten useful barter items
In addition to the bare essentials, there are a number of items you should try stockpiling right now, so that you can trade them when the need arises, for the right exchange of course. Here are 10 of them right now:
Magnifying glasses(fire starting)
Some of these may seem worthless right now. When the time comes for them to be used, everyone is going to want them. You are going to be the man with a plan.
Should You Prep For Bartering?
I guess you could say my wife and I have been “preppers” for several years. We have always believed in a debt-free lifestyle, and except for a couple of home mortgages decades ago, that philosophy has served us well. My wife and I both have had steady jobs through the years and never fell victim to the conspicuous consumption routine of “keeping up with the Joneses”. (That alone keeps a lot of stress out of family life.) Without going into details, I can say that my spouse and I are fairly comfortable with our preparations for most things old man Murphy could throw at us, short of something like a nuke or serious asteroid strike close to our home. Water? Got it. Food? Got it! Defense? Got it! PM’s? Got some! BOV and camper? Got it! Remote bunker? Working on it! We even have a friendly and supportive MD and have managed to get important medications (thankfully we don’t need many) stocked up.
During the course of reading up on prepping, talking to others, listening to “experts”, etc., the issue often comes up about acquiring goods for “barter” in the wake of some wide-spread calamity. This got me thinking. Should anyone deliberately acquire goods they know, or at least are pretty sure, they themselves won’t use but are just acquired for trading purposes?
This begs a couple of questions.
First, how do you KNOW you won’t need something? After all, circumstances change, and what is prepping all about anyway but preparing for the unexpected? Like it or not – we don’t know what we don’t know.
Second, should you spend your limited resources acquiring things you believe will be important to others but which you presume you will have little or no use for yourself? And, which “others”? If the time comes, the line of “others” is apt to be quite long, diverse and needy.
Let’s play pretend for a minute. Here are four possible scenarios which, I hope, will help illustrate the point.
- You are a tea-totaler! You have no use for alcoholic spirits. Since you have stocked up on disinfectants such as hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, soap, topical antibiotics and other medical supplies, alcoholic spirits are irrelevant to you. But one of the most common barter items mentioned by preppers far and wide is booze. In normal society, alcohol is widely available, relatively cheap, has a long list of uses other than just for drinking, and has a tremendously long shelf life. After any significant catastrophe alcohol will likely disappear within hours. Demand is certain to outrun supply many times over. Should you purchase a supply of booze as a trade good?
- As a prepper you have a comfortable (at least to you) supply of firearms and ammunition. At a garage sale you find several hundred rounds of XYZ ammunition, and for an unbeatable price. You do not have a firearm that uses XYZ ammo, you don’t know anyone who does, and you have no intention of getting one. XYZ is not one of the top popular calibers, but it is somewhat common. Do you purchase the ammo, knowing that, for you, it’s only a trade good?
- Here’s a tougher one. You are allergic to penicillin. Do you stock up on Fish Mox, (Amoxicillin)?
- In several recent inner-city riots, news reports usually focused on liquor stores as targets of looters. Since we considered alcohol in the first scenario let’s move on to another item pretty high on the list of looter targets. (Guns, cash, and jewelry are of course top targets of looters, but these things are more easily removed from view, already protected with infrastructure or receive extra protection from security forces.) Believe it or not – disposable diapers. OK! You do not have diaper dependent toddlers in your group. Do you buy some anyway?
No doubt you can think of dozens of other scenarios and items based on your unique view of the world. And there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to acquiring goods solely for barter. Google “preppers and trading” and you will get hundreds of suggestions about what to stock up on now to trade after TEOTWAWKI. Some lists are well over one hundred items long. As none of us has unlimited resources, it’s a fool’s errand to try to acquire some of “everything”. So what should you do?
In the minds of some, I’m going to touch a third rail here. My advice is no. Don’t do it. Do not deliberately acquire preps just for barter.
The typical prepper (is there a “typical” prepper?) has a limited horizon of people and assets to protect. As altruistic as you may be, you cannot save the world. Your first and highest priority is to those you choose to throw your security blanket over. Thought, effort and expense devoted to trade goods diverts resources from your primary goal of protecting loved ones. Anything you envision trading for after the fact should already be on your ‘A’ list.
And what about storage space? A place to put all those trade goods may be of no real concern for a suburban homeowner with rooms to spare, but for some, storage space is limited. If you are an apartment dweller do you really want to use some of what little space you have to store things you might, someday, somehow, be able to trade for something, maybe, you are not sure what? All those trade goods will have to be put someplace; protected from weather, deterioration, theft, etc.
Consider also that in the event of widespread calamity; most of the needy will likely have little to barter with. You could well find that most of your trade goods will acquire next to nothing in return, thus making them nearly worthless in their ability to improve your situation. Even worse, your barter goods could make you and your family an even greater target of violence. If someone or group wants what you don’t need you may decide to give it away to avoid confrontation. Paradoxically, giving away goods, even things you don’t want, can make you an even greater target than before. Reference the many suggestions that for your own safety you should distribute welfare through front organizations such as churches – not through your front door.
I have nothing against bartering. It is a time honored tradition and a textbook example of a free market. When two people freely exchange goods, both gain. But bartering should not be a strategy depended on in the early/middle stages of a catastrophe. Successful bartering needs a relatively stable economic and social environment; something unlikely in the early/middle stages of the kind of event most preppers envision.
In defense of barter as a tool, it is likely that many preppers will make mistakes in their acquisitions. I know I have. Most of us will over-prepare in some areas and under-prepare in others. Still other items or categories may be completely overlooked. Nobody has a crystal ball that says you will only need this much X, and that much Y. Who among us can foresee every need? Careful bartering after some calamity may have a place but it should be practiced the way porcupines mate – very carefully!
My guess is that most people who talk about bartering after TEOTWAWKI envision something like a friendly get together at a flea market type environment where everyone has a good time and goes home with goodies they didn’t have before. If that is how you see post-apocalyptic trading taking place, I strongly suggest you take off the rose colored glasses and start thinking realistically. It may take months or even years for that kind of order to be restored. Bartering in a disorderly lawless world is apt to be a very dangerous activity. Tempers will flare and you may not be able to safely ‘back away’. Someone who envisions themselves or their family desperately in need of something you have is probably going to be pretty insistent. Wouldn’t you? When order and some semblance of civilized society return, barter will probably flourish, but for now, the longer you can stay away from it – the better.
Realize also that historically, bartering goods and services is cumbersome, inefficient and a tremendous drag on individual and societal economic improvement. Even under ideal circumstances bartering is a slow hit and miss proposition. That’s why money was invented. Money speeds up a society’s improvement in lifestyle and security. Consequently, in any post-apocalyptic environment, some type of “money” will eventually emerge. Some will be tempted to think they know what that form of money will be. I have no idea what it will be, but I do know most who guess will guess wrong. And that thought leads to my concluding advice.
By all means – prepare. But do your homework. Spend your resources on things you are sure or reasonably sure, you and your group will need. To do less is to waste precious time, money and energy on a “hope”. Hope is not a strategy. Remember, anything you envision trading for after the fact should already be on your ‘A’ list. If the time comes and you find yourself “over prepared” with some items, you may find a way to carefully barter some away for things you do not have. But be extremely careful when doing so.
Your list of necessities will not match mine, your neighbor’s, or some armchair expert’s list. Don’t let that weigh you down with doubt. Learn from others. Listen to their ideas. If invited, and you are so inclined, share your ideas with them. Adopt good ideas from others and discard bad or irrelevant ones. Learning what others are thinking will pay off in ways you would never think of on your own.
Be a positive force!
The Retired Professor
The “Retired Professor” signature is correct. I was a college Professor for many years, teaching Finance, Economics, and Management. During that time I also spent 15 years as a LE firearms instructor. Now happily retired in Utah pursuing several hobbies, including prepping.
This article first appeared on American Preppers Network and may be copied under the following creative commons license. All links and images including the CC logo must remain intact.
Occasionally while reading survival forums or prepper blogs I run across the following 5 criteria for barter goods, typically accompanied by a list of over 40 goods that match the criteria. Although the posts or articles tend not to provide attribution for the criteria, based on those that do I believe they come from Joel Skousen’s pamphlet, 10 Packs for Survival. I think these 5 criteria for barter goods really nail it:
- High consumer demand
- Not easily home manufactured
- Durable in storage
- Divisible in small quantities
- Authenticity easily recognizable
Let’s consider why these criteria are so useful:
High Consumer Demand
iPads and HD televisions may be in high demand right now, but if our currency fails the economy has failed and chances are the power grid is failing as well. Look for items that will see soaring demand in the face of likely disaster scenarios–bicycles, for example, or solar panels or wood-burning stoves or water filters.
Not Easily Home Manufactured
It’s not hard to imagine the sorts of things people will start making at home when times are hard: more people will be sewing their own clothes, for example, or growing their own food, or brewing their own cider. But how likely are they to be making their own batteries, pliers, or aspirin? Items that are not easily made will be worth more simply because of that difficulty in manufacturing.
Durable in Storage
Several groups of items, including food and fuel, have relatively short shelf-lives. It makes little sense to stockpile goods for barter that could easily go bad before they are needed. Sometimes an item can last over a decade if packaged one way, but less than a year if packed another way; guess which items will be useful in barter? Sugar and salt will last forever, properly stored; but powdered milk and beef jerky will only last a few years. Knives and binoculars will last; dynamite and cardboard will degrade. Freeze-dried food in unopened #10 cans will outlast the same food by the same manufacturer packed in Mylar envelopes.
Divisible into Small Quantities
Many people would love having a horse for transportation and to help with work around the homestead. However, a horse is the smallest useful unit of horse, unless one just wants the meat for food. Few people willing to trade will be able to offer something as valuable as a horse in exchange. Compare this with something of similar value, say 1,000 pounds of wheat: one could easily dip into the store of wheat and come out with enough to trade for a needle, a roll of toilet paper, or a bic lighter. The wheat is divisible into sacks, pounds, or cups, and so in this regard it fits this barter criteria where a horse does not.
Authenticity Easily Recognizable
I often hear people recommending silver or gold for purchasing goods after the collapse of a currency. But while precious metals can help one retain wealth through a crisis, they may not be the best for barter, even if they meet the other criteria. The problem is that most people won’t know the value of an ounce of gold or silver, or how to know if what you’re offering even is gold or silver. You could try to educate them, but you know how people are–they won’t see you as the most objective source of information in this scenario. You’ll probably have to accept less than you think your metals are worth, rather than much more than you paid. Even when bits of gold or silver are hallmarked or stamped or coined to attest to their purity and value, people will feel more comfortable knowing the value of a candy bar or an axe.
In a similar vein, chemical compounds or common liquids can be hard to assess. Is that codeine or aspirin powder? Is that gasoline still potent? Is that whiskey watered down? Is that water pure or contaminated? Unless you want your barter goods assessed at the lowest possible rate, it’s best to stick with things that almost all people can easily assess.
Personally, I plan to start my barter goods with items I’ll want extras of for myself: medicines, ammunition, firearms, canning jars and lids, and the like, with the thought that if there’s something I forgot to stockpile, I’ll have an abundance of such things to trade. But eventually I see myself stashing small portable items such as needles, tools, salt, and others that fit these criteria for no other reason than to barter.