Bartering for Survival in a Post-Collapse Society
By Frank Bates
It’s easy for people to think they don’t need to worry about preparing for a disaster because they have the financial resources to carry them through tough times. They’ve become accustomed to relying on money to take care of their problems, assuming their finances will help them weather any storm. What about bartering?
The truth is, no amount of money will protect you if the U.S. suffers a total financial collapse, something many experts believe could happen in the near future. Peak oil, currency collapse, an EMP attack—any number of events could easily bring the country to its knees, decimating our savings or keeping them locked up in banks for months or even years. There’s also the very real possibility of inflation making our currency virtually worthless.
No matter how fat (or slim) your bank account may be, it’s critical to recognize there may come a day when currency is unavailable and/or completely useless. If our economic system collapses, it’s likely that the goods we’ve stockpiled and the skills we possess will be the only things that hold any real value. In this situation, many of us will have to barter these goods and skills to survive.
To see this in action, you don’t have to look farther than Greece, where many now rely on bartering after the country’s economy came crashing down in 2015.
“In Greece there’s a major liquidity problem,” butcher Thodoris Roussos said in a recent New York Times article. Roussos trades his meat for items like tires, part of an online bartering system that’s helped him stay afloat during the crisis. “People are finding it more convenient to trade because money is not readily available,” he adds.
Of course, there’s no guarantee we’ll have the Internet or even electricity in a post-collapse society, so protecting yourself in such an event means two things. First, you need to make sure you have the necessary supplies for your family’s survival. Then you’ll want to stockpile additional supplies for bartering.
For your personal stockpile, start by storing enough food and water for your family for 72 hours. Once you have that, you can graduate to storing enough for one month, three months, six months, one year and even longer. You’ll also want to collect as many non-food items as possible, such as clothing, blankets, flashlights and batteries. It’s important to stockpile these items in at least two locations, in case you’re forced to flee your home.
When you’ve covered your own family’s needs, you can start stockpiling items and acquiring skills likely to help in a post-collapse society where bartering is the only form of commerce.
Which items should you hoard for bartering? The list is limitless, but you’ll do better to focus on those items that will give you the biggest return on your investment. That is, choose items with a long shelf life that are likely to be very valuable later compared to their current cost.
The most valuable items in a post-collapse society will likely be food and water. However, trading any extra essentials from your stockpile is risky, given that we won’t know how long it will be before we can buy those items in stores again (if ever). Instead, you’ll be better off stockpiling things that others haven’t but will be in high demand, like coffee, cigarettes, alcohol and candy.
Some other items that could be valuable include:
- Gasoline and oil
- Tools, nails and other hardware
- Reading glasses
- Personal hygiene products
- Toilet paper and paper products
- Lighters, matches and other fire starters
- Flashlights and batteries
- A wide variety of non-GMO seeds.
In addition to supplies, you’ll want to consider which skills you currently have or would like to develop that would be useful in a post-collapse society. These may include:
- Medical services
- Construction and carpentry
- Gun repair
- Small engine repair
- Appliance repair.
Finally, it’s critical that you take steps to protect what you’ve stockpiled. That means making sure you’ve stored up enough weapons to protect your store, and never revealing the extent of your supplies to those you barter with. If you do, you run the risk of getting robbed.
We need only look at what people endured during the 20th century’s world wars to see that when supplies get tight, people have little regard for the law or human life. In this kind of situation, you simply can’t rely on money. You’ll only have your wits, your skills and whatever you had the forethought to store ahead of time.
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.