10 of the Best Bartering Items if the Grid Goes Down

P. Henry
By P. Henry December 10, 2014 14:09

10 of the Best Bartering Items if the Grid Goes Down

If we have an event similar to the nationwide power outage portrayed in American Blackout, there is little doubt that we will eventually have widespread panic, looting and rioting by people who either don’t care or are driven to criminal behavior because of fear or need. The duration of the hypothetical scenario in American Blackout was only 10 days, but for events lasting longer as in a societal breakdown caused by an economic collapse, we could be looking at years of chaos. With no formal way to purchase anything using what would at that time be worthless paper, people would need to revert to bartering.

I have discussed potential risks with bartering in the past that I still feel would be valid, but assuming that barter was the only form of commerce you could use I wanted to write down my thoughts on what I felt would be the best bartering items to have on hand. If you could stock up on prepping items now with an eye toward a future without money, what would be the best items to have on hand for barter with someone else?

Before I get into that, let me quickly explain what bartering is to those who don’t know. Bartering is simply exchanging goods or services for other goods or services. It is trading without using money. An example of this is I have a neighbor who has a large and productive garden and he has tons of beautiful vegetables that he grows like nobody’s business. I on the other hand have chickens that lay a good number of eggs each day. He has vegetables and my garden is lagging this year. I have eggs and he doesn’t have any source of protein. In a barter situation, I could negotiate with him some of my eggs for some of his vegetables. We would both work out an equitable amount of each (vegetables and eggs) and trade. The terms would be up to us and I would be free to set my prices as low or high as I wanted. My neighbor would be able to do the same.

SwapMeet

If the grid goes down, bartering may be how you conduct business.

This concept isn’t new and bartering was actually the way people purchased things for a very long time. Bartering continues to this day, but you can’t go into a Wal-Mart and say, “How about I cut your grass for all these groceries?”. Bartering would work best in small communities with people who know each other I think. Of course outsiders would be able to barter too, but then we get into that risky part of bartering I spoke about in my other post.

Bartering isn’t limited to goods. Services in the form of work or skilled trades can be bartered too. If we had the same grid-down economic collapse scenario I was talking about and my neighbor needed his roof repaired on his house. I could barter my carpentry skills for those vegetables too. One issue I can see coming up quickly in a long term catastrophe would be services of a more personal and physical nature. When you have nothing to trade but your body, I can see very bad things happening and this isn’t a plot from a movie either.

What am I trading for?

Now, we know what bartering is and how it’s done, but before you start stocking up on items you intend to use for barter, you have to ask yourself what you want to barter for? If you have barter items, the implication is that you would trade these for something you don’t have. If you are already planning to trade for something you don’t have, wouldn’t it make more sense to get that item you want instead of purchasing bartering supplies? Maybe that doesn’t work for all things and you would rather be safe than sorry. OK, I understand that, but the supplies listed below aren’t probably going to get you big ticket items. If you plan to barter for guns or ammo, you better have something very valuable to the people you expect to trade with.

  1. Food – This one along with some of the others is a tough one. There will be people without food and I know that decent people will part with something of theirs that you want for food. Maybe if someone is desperate enough, they will barter a weapon for a big chunk of food to feed their family.
  2. Water filters – Clean water is so simple, but immensely important. Disease is one of the quickest killers in any type of natural disaster. People in Haiti quickly succumbed to disease in the quake of 2010 because they had no clean drinking water and sanitation was a major problem. Having some simple water filters like LifeStraw or gravity fed systems like the PointONE could be highly valuable.
  3. Ammo – This probably goes without saying, but ammo will be more valuable than even Gold I think if we really live to see TEOTWAWKI. The supply and pricing is still not back to the levels we enjoyed a couple of years ago. I don’t know if they ever would, but I can always use a little more.
  4. First aid – Antibiotics – Medicine is hard to stock up on unless you have a very understanding doctor. Fortunately, there are sources for antibiotics you can take advantage of now and stock up before the hospitals are overflowing with people.
  5. Toilet Paper – Feminine napkins – One of the first small wins in my quest to convince my wife that stocking up on some things wasn’t crazy. All she had to picture was not having some of life’s necessities on hand and that changed her mind about stocking up.
  6. Candles – Candles are cheap and you can store them just about anywhere and forget about them. I have a box in my supplies and these provide light and potentially warmth to someone who has nothing.
  7. Batteries – Another no-brainer. If you have devices like radios, flashlights, walkies-talkies you will want to have batteries on hand. Bonus if these are rechargeable like Sanyo Eneloop.
  8. black outPropane – Small propane canisters like the kind for camping grills or lanterns are relatively cheap and could make an excellent barter item.
  9. Alcohol – Cigarettes – I don’t know how long cigarettes would store. If you kept them in a freezer they might last longer, but I wouldn’t devote a lot of space to something I can’t use, although I have said that if zombies take over the world I will probably take up smoking again. Alcohol on the other hand has a few uses. Buy small pint bottles and these may enable you to barter for something really needed if all other sources are gone.
  10. Books – Resource books and even fiction books. Without our modern distractions, a good book will be welcome to someone who has the time to chill out or who needs to learn something.

What about toiletry items for hygiene and cleaning up? I have heard others talk about that and I am sure someone would want those if the situation were ever so dire that people valued getting clean more than eating or protection but I think that is of limited value.

What other ideas do you have? What if anything are you stocking up on to use as barter?

This article first appeared on ThePrepperJournal 


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P. Henry
By P. Henry December 10, 2014 14:09
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33 Comments

  1. dusty December 10, 14:53

    This Is under you food but I don’t think people think about I myself have added veggie seeds to my bug out bag they are light and take up almost no space and will produce you the food you need I added tomoatoes ,carrots , peppers and cucumber and also your basic herbs rosemary , dill , and Basil with those you can make almost any meal fit for a king and honestly you can barter good meals another seed I am adding is going to be the tobacco plant

    Reply to this comment
  2. karpac January 3, 13:58

    i got 2 different water filters, i plan to barter clean water. they bring water from a nearby lake, i clean it, and keep a percent of it.

    Reply to this comment
    • Eddiew April 28, 19:00

      Wow! Great idea, I have a second too, and thought to help someone by giving it to them! This is a much better deal, and it helps many more people!! Thank you!!

      Reply to this comment
  3. Keneke November 17, 01:58

    I believe that salt should be considered a high priority item to stock.people have to have a certain amount of it, it has many uses such as preserving food, and until the SHTF it is dirt cheap, so you can stock extra to use as barter. In addition to Hains iodized sea salt ( to get the Iodine I need) I like Real Salt for all the extra trace minerals.

    Reply to this comment
    • EddieW April 28, 18:46

      I don’t use much salty, so have to take Kelp tablets, to be sure to get enough Iodine. A friend told to quit eating salt, I asked him what the doc told him to take to get the iodine? ZERO!! Nothing!! I told him about Kelp!!

      Reply to this comment
  4. efzapp April 20, 13:10

    I think you should NEVER barter ammo. The person may come back with his gun and barter for your life and take everything. Nope, my ammo is mine.

    Reply to this comment
    • lion tamer February 7, 04:02

      And why can’t they come back and barter for your life and take everything even if you aren’t bartering ammo? The product you are bartering makes no difference if someone gets the drop on you and wants to take your things.

      Reply to this comment
      • EddieW April 28, 18:49

        You are 100% on about that!! That goes even for the danger of helping others with your food…Hard, but about necessary to do that!!!

        Reply to this comment
  5. Labienus October 21, 18:46

    I prefer my 10

    Alcohol
    Basic medical supplies
    Herb books
    Potatoes
    Cigarettes/cigars
    Tools
    Experience
    Water
    Bread
    Spices (including salt and pepper)

    Reply to this comment
  6. Annie November 27, 17:50

    Just saying, off the top of my head, if “It” hits the fan and people are stressed and want to get away from the real World for a bit, then I was thinking about cannibus.

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  7. Cj November 28, 02:37

    I have a bit of a different list.
    1 Salt- for preservation
    2 Toilet Paper-
    3. Medical supplies (especially bandaid and neosporine, and aspirin)
    4. Drinking alcohol – for medical as well as pleasure
    5.Candles
    6.clothing- also sewing notions
    7.Books-good knowledge and entertainment
    8.Soap-for hygiene, laundry, and dishes
    9.Honey- never spoils and great health and cooking benefits
    10. Experience -having knowledge of gardening, tool repair, beekeeping, animal care, etc might be invaluable.

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  8. papawpaul January 29, 17:22

    The climate will turn immediately colder. No new co2 will translate to longer, harsher winters. 10 most important trading items.
    1. coats
    2. sweaters
    3. blankets
    4. fuel
    5. lanterns
    6. preserving salt
    7. canning supplies
    8. chickens
    9. rabbits
    10.seeds, seeds, and more seeds.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Barbie January 29, 17:47

    All these are good ideas but my job requires cross country travel. I’m not able to stock very much I my home as every 3 months I’m on the road again.My van is packed with clothing, uniforms,pots pans.,(more pots than pans as I can cook on the bottom of them and inside them) sewing machine dehydrator and other necessary stuff. Ive got some #10 cans of food. But need easy and small to pack. Any ideas? I’ve made several different pull bottle survival kits, hoping to learn decent fishing skills this year… Thanks

    Reply to this comment
    • Tina August 22, 18:32

      You have a dehydrator so dry some of your food and store with a seal-O- meal and then you’ll have plenty of dried food to eat. You can dry potatoes, veg’s anything and you can do it on the road just buy what ever is on sale. Remember not to over dry.

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  10. epplebear February 7, 06:45

    Seeds should be heirloom seeds.You can save seeds from heirloom seeds where you cant from other seeds.Condoms are a good thing to stock up to. Will hold about 1 gallon of water if put in a sock of other cloth. Keep guns an other items dry. Tampons to put in gun shot wounds to stop bleeding,help start fires .

    Reply to this comment
    • Doc March 25, 14:29

      Forget the idea of tampons to put in gun shot wounds. that old idea has been proven false and dangerous since tampons swell and are excellent sources of infection and can come apart when trying to remove them or work their way inside teh body and becoming the foci for life threatening infections. You won’t find any up to date medical source advocating that today.

      Reply to this comment
  11. John Knoll February 8, 03:40

    A “nuke” as us baby boomers know is old history. I’m trying to get up to date on a “Feriday” cage. Heard about EMP’s?. Get some “Heritage Seeds” and a shovel.

    Reply to this comment
  12. T-Bone February 12, 15:42

    What people forget is when your medications run out then so dose your life if you are dependent on such things. So the strong survive. Food and water count but so dose those meds.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Fishunter March 26, 01:44

    I believe you should add Bic Lighters, fire proof matches, fire starter products, etc.

    Reply to this comment
    • EddieW April 28, 18:56

      I live in a high rise, and there is thrown out tons of lint from our 10 dryers!! I filled a couple of ziplock bags of it! I’ve heard of adding Vaseline, but haven’t done it…I tried a fire starter tool, and ignition first try!

      Reply to this comment
  14. SherBear April 5, 00:05

    You don’t want people to know how much you really have. Presenting them with pre-measured, small quantities is wiser than rolling out your bucket of dried milk or taking them into your storage or even letting see you enter & exit your storage. 1) Baggies. Freezer quality are sturdiest. If you’re bartering for a small quantity of anything (rice, sugar, etc) also good to help you measure. Pre-load several baggies of various items. Keep these handy. Not in primary storage.
    2) small “to go” sized packets of salt, pepper, sugar, sweet/lo… Usually find them in bags of 100 or more for just a few dollars.

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  15. SherBear April 5, 00:23

    More Americans have a sugar addiction than tobacco addiction. Leading up to hurricane Irma water and candy aisles at Target pretty much emptied simultaneously. Many Americans will experience sugar withdrawal. And it will be especially hard on children. Bartering a bag of M&M’s or chocolate chips might be something to think about.

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  16. Tommy April 11, 01:29

    Those #10 cans of food have a shelf life. Get a water purifier and dehydrated meals. Those will last 10-12 years, they are not as bulky and don’t weigh near as much for your van to carry around. “Mountain House” meals are the ones I prefer. I have carried those on many hiking trips and they are pretty palatable.

    Reply to this comment
  17. E. May 16, 06:50

    Pantyhose have numerous uses besides keeping legs warm [like the NFL do]. Straining liquids, stretchy rope, etc. Clear plastic wrap too, for covering large wounds from infection, like burns or sucking chest wounds. Lots and lots of baggies, all sizes. Lightweight carry and storage. Aspirin. Lipstick and condoms. For emotions, depression and stress in us humans.

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