Apocalyptic Bartering

In a post-apocalyptic world, paper money won’t be worth, well, the paper it is printed on. Starting a fire or wiping your ass will be about the only real uses for it.  Odds are pretty good that barter will reign supreme as the chief means of commerce.  There is a knack for this that will need to be learned.  You need to figure out how to consistently get the best deal.  I’m not suggesting you try and get a guy to put a new roof on your house in exchange for a bucket of fish.  That probably won’t happen now or ever.  But, don’t hesitate to try and bargain for services or products you need.

Take a look around your home and see what you might be willing to part with.  Then, hit up Craigslist and other classified ad sources.  Offer up what you have and see what you can get in trade. Then trade that item for something better. See if you can beat this kid.

Learn now how to dicker over item or service values, but don’t be a jerk about it.  Keep in mind the best trades are when everyone involved thinks they screwed over everyone else.

Personally, I’ve always felt the ideal items to stock up on for potential barter purposes down the road would be the ones that play to the vices.  Tobacco, booze, candy/chocolate, and coffee for example.

Consider buying a few of the tins of tobacco commonly sold for rolling your own smokes.  Add in a few packs of rolling papers as well.  Wrap the unopened tins in foil and put them in the freezer.  They’ll keep a fairly long time that way.  And let’s face it, if it were to go a bit stale, in a post-apocalyptic world I doubt smokers will be all that picky about freshness.

Booze can be the cheap stuff as well.  No need to go all out with a case of Glenfiddich single malt.  Keep it in a cool, dry place and don’t open it until needed.

Candy and chocolate may be the hardest to store long-term.  But, again freezing can keep the sweets fresher longer.

Coffee can be purchased as “green” beans, then roasted and ground as needed.  After the end of the world hits, what might you do for a fresh cup of coffee?

Some folks advocate stocking up on extra boxes of .22 shells for barter purposes.  Personally, I never advocate supplying anyone outside your immediate group with ammunition. You never know when that might turn around and bite you in the arse.

As for gold coins and other valuable metals, not my cup of tea personally.  I know if I were starving and willing to work for food, I’d not really be interested in receiving a few gold coins in payment, then trying to figure out where I could “spend” them for my next meal.  If at some point a form of hard currency were to become established again, so be it.  Until such time though, I doubt many people will be interested in items they can’t immediately put to use.

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ApocalypseGuide had written 112 articles for How to Survive The Apocalypse

6 Responses to "Apocalyptic Bartering"
  1. Rion September 28, 2010 22:54 pm

    Don't forget about food! When the time comes where we can no longer just walk into a building and have food provided for us(whether scavenged OR bought) the man with a meal becomes king. Vital nutrients will become scarce(Where do you get a nice dose of Vitamin C in the middle of New York after the shipments end?) and ancient diseases like scurvy and dysentery will come back with a vengeance. Think about things you have plenty of that others don't, even if out of your immediate area. I live by a river, and can always rely on crabs, fish, birds, and water BUT folks within a 40 minute bike ride inland have NO such resources. How much would they be willing to give up for protein? Or cleaned water? Folks stranded deep in the suburbs, loathe to take apart their home, might trade canned goods for fire wood come winter. Hell, leather will be worth blood when the stores have been picked clean of every rag, dish towel, and shirt!

    Take stock of items that are plentiful to YOU but scarce to OTHERS. These you can trade at great profit to yourself, without truly endangering your own ability to gather these supplies.

  2. Pyromaniac January 22, 2011 07:46 am

    Keep in mind that items such as toiletries,shampoo,soap etc could be of some use in bartering in a post-apocolyctic settlement.I cant help but imagine that some would pay a subtantial price for what would become a luxury at such a time…also other usefull items such as batteries,flashlights and flints could be essential..Keep your eyes open and stock up…they could save your life and insure long-term survival…inspect items your bartering for before you accept a deal to determine wether the item may be faulty or broken…be very dicerning.

    • Vikhana December 26, 2012 21:12 pm

      Maybe its kinda of true, i dont think that we meet the apocalypse conditions nowadays, but is good to know all of the needs in a post-apocalypse world, i think that, instead of preparing us, we should try to be a better society and fight for our world, and PREVENT all this.

  3. TripodXL March 28, 2011 23:03 pm

    While the I support the sentiment of barter as generally described, I would differ on a point or two. While any firearm has the capacity to kill, I would rather be up against a .22 than a modern battle rifle or any center fire long gun. Now all of this is predicated on being a well supplied and prepared prepper. I have a number of inexpensive .22 single shots and magazine fed rifles, i.e. Marlin 795 (about $125 a pop at academy sports) in storage for barter. If someone came by and wanted some .308 ammo for their bolt gun, that they have 9 rounds for, you could offer to trade them a few boxes of .22 and a rifle for their rifle and however much ammo they still have for it. This would give them a fair chance out in the world and you take a more powerful and deadlier firearm out of the local mix, and put it in your collection, both of which would enhnce YOUR safety. At least this way you can dictate what weapon they would have to attack you with if they chose to do that. As far as gold and silver, you disregard them at your own peril. Times will eventually get better again and when real trading takes place gold and silver will be involved, unless you are going to stay in the flea market business. If you are well prepared for survival and have stocked up on extra necessities that people want, and I certainly applaud the tobacco and alcohol, at some point you will have all the bolt action rifles and tools and crosscut tree saws and all the other stuff that you will ever need. You will need to take in other things. Solid sterling silver is 90% silver, the same as pre-1965 silver coins, except for nickels (40%). Gold American Eagles are a good as it gets for gold coins, but you have to know what you are doing, but it isn’t hard. You should have some of your own precious metals as part of your prepping. If you have all that you need physically and more, why keep collecting junk? You will need to take gold and silver and have some knowledge of it. What will it be worth, who knows, but word will get around as to what a silver quarter will buy and what a 1/10th oz gold piece will buy. People that are well stocked up will make a profit, people with gold and silver will be the first in line at my place, unless they have something special, which if you are well stocked should be very unlikely. If you’ve taken in 5 beat up lever action .30-30s for trade and someone brings up another one while someone else comes up with 10 gold eagles for a .22 rifle, a brick of ammo and a katadyn water filter, who you gonna do business with? Anyway, just sayin’.

  4. Ryan March 29, 2011 09:58 am

    This is how I know the pre-apocalyptic stockpilers will be kings and queens of the wasteland.

    If your the kind of guy who made his basement into a fallout shelter/army base in preparation for the next cold war, you definitely have something to look forward to.

    People who are desperate and starving will do ANYTHING for food and shelter. Consider your living space and food supply legal tender for any kind of service or product you need-or want. Indentured servants in the making will come in the form of people begging at your shelter hatch.

    Take advantage of them, and gain their loyalty. Have them do your laundry or your busy work. make them make themselves useful. have them build a fort if so needed. If females are in short supply, build a harem and repopulate humanity. Vis a Vice Versa for all you ladies with stockpiles. If you have loyal enough servants and enough weapons and ammo, command your own security force and/or army.

    Just don’t be a dick; these people are desperate and you may be their only hope. Give and you shall receive, just don’t give for free.

  5. TripodXL March 29, 2011 15:59 pm

    Well said Ryan! That’s why I have prepped items for “charity” to others. It’s a lot easier to give someone a few cans viennas and some peanut butter and a tube of crackers and wish them well than to put a gun in their face and tell them to FO. Makes them mad and if you have enough mad people around and not enough security, you will have a problem. If they do a little work and you can give’em enough to hold them for a few days, explaining that they can’t come back, they will go away a lot happier and less likely to become an enemy. Absolutely do not be a Richard to anyone on purpose. There will be enough people that will force you to be that way without it becoming your normal way of being. See you at the Apocalypse!

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