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.