A Free Falling Economy Makes Bartering Go Boom

One thing is for sure, bartering booms during tough economical times.  Many situations could cause a person to barter for goods and services.  It could be as simple as neighbors exchanging skills and services to help each other out, or it could be due to economic turmoil, currency inflation, a bug out situation, or natural disaster.

It is safe to say that America is in a full fledged depressionary period and as the people are starting to feel the effects of the economic dead fall, they will look for alternate ways of obtaining products.  We are in a bartering economy.  In fact, many residents in Massachusettes are turning to bartering goods and services in order to fight off the tight finances of this day and age.

Recently in an article in USA Today, Craigslist postings in the bartering section have gone up 100% according to Craigslist spokesperson, Susan MacTavish Best.

Whatever the case may be, bartering for goods or services, in a SHTF scenario, will be more valuable than the paper dollar.  People will need goods to keep them a float, and maintain their survival supplies, as well as to have simple, yet affordable indulgences.  Initially, in a dire situation those that are unprepared will need survival supplies (food, clothing, shelter, clothing and protection).  In an economic crisis, skills of knowing how to find food, fixing cars, gardening, making items such as animal pens, etc will be useful in a bartering situation.  Having some extra of these items in your long term storage could be used for bartering and trading:

  • Baby Formula/Cloth Diapers – In a bad situation, Mama Bears will do just about anything to take care of their cubs.
  • Seeds – I cannot stress how important having seeds is to survive.  A true prepper is not only prepping for short term situations, but on long term situations and supplies to sustain a family for as long as possible.
  • Micro Livestock –  Livestock that are small, produce and do not take much to room to thrive such as chickens, ducks, pygmy goats and rabbits can provide food and manure for farming.
  • Weapons – In a bad situation having weapons to protect yourself, family and property is priority #1.  Having extra weapons and accouterments that go along with weapons will be one of the top bartering items.  Items such as: Knives, Hunting Knives (heavy bladed knives for hunting),  Ammunition/Guns.  When purchasing extra bullets and guns, stick with the most popular models.
  • Mason Jars – Preserving your garden foods, meat, etc will provide food during the cold, winter months.  Many people, especially in the city no longer preserve their foods on their own.  They will need canning jars.
  • First Aid Kits – In any article regarding bugging out, and preparing for a given emergency, a first aid kit full of supplies is always mentioned.  These days, people are not prudent and do not prepare for the worst.  First aid supplies, such as suturing needles, thread, saline solution, gauze and celox will be in high demand.
  • Vitamins – Keeping your self healthy and illness free is a top priority.  If a person becomes vitamin deficient, ailments such as scurvy will become prevalent.
  • Tools – Simple hand tools are an essential on any supply list.  Pick axes, hand saws, shovels,  hammers, wrenches, and screw drivers.
  • Fire Starting Gear – Everyone wants a nice fire to cozy up to.  Maintaining proper body heat is essential to our health as well as our mental health.  So stock up on lighters, waterproof matches, flints, etc.
  • Honey and Sugar  – This item is not a necessity, but it would be a popular item and would give a break from the mundane, bland meals.  Honey can be used for medicinal uses such as alleviating diarrhea, and can be used as a base for cough medicines.
  • Silver and Gold Coins – Silver coins and 1964 US quarters, and small gold coins if the SHTF will be the best form of currency.  Large silver and gold bars may be harder to barter with.     Plan on silver and gold to be the only monetary currency available – and stock up!
  • Vegetable Oil – Use it for cooking and combine oil and herbs to make flavored oils.  When you are finished with the oil, then the used oil to make diesel fuel.  Further, use  the byproduct, glycerin to make soap.
  • Gasoline – People will need gas and lots of it to power their vehicles and farming equipment.  In a bug out situation, do not have a lot on hand in the instance a mob or dangerous person tries to steal it from you.  Carry multiple 5 gallon containers of it.  The 1 ounce silver coins could be used to purchase 1 gallon of gas, etc.
  • Fishing Supplies – Having alternative ways to catch food is always a good supply to have on hand.  Fishing equipment is very lightweight and the hooks, line and lures do not take up space in a bag.
  • Medicines – Many rely on store bought medicines and do not have the knowledge to make their own.  If they can buy medicines to relieve ailments, they will.
  • Boots – I cannot stress the importance of having a good pair of boots.  Military grade boots that have flexible soles and deep tread are the best type of shoes to have as far as walking/hiking in nature go.
  • Coffee/Teas – This is one of those simple indulgences that many of us can’t live without.
  • Liquor – Some like to kick back and try and forget the hard times.  Liquor can be made from almost anything: fruit, cactus, potatoes, rice, even honey.
  • Cigarettes/Tobacco – Many cannot kick the habit of tobacco.  This is another indulgent item that many will do just about anything to get.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published December 1st, 2009
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12 Responses to A Free Falling Economy Makes Bartering Go Boom

  1. Tina says:

    Great ideas!

  2. Ken Shields says:

    Really good stuff you have here!  I would like to suggest adding one item to your barter list and that is new skills.  I finally got tired of just telling new people I meet the same things over and over and started my blog to say things once an for all.  I’m really glad to find your blog and intend to set a link on mine to you.
    Ken Shields

  3. John Fernandez says:

    I would include services as a barter source. Repairing homes, fixing electrical and plumbing problems, etc. are excellent ways to stay relevant in a barter exchange society.  

  4. Mary says:

    The first iten is nteresting, as I raised three children without neither disposable diapers, nor formula.

    • @ Mary,

      I like to advocate a well rounded preparedness plan as well as suggest items that have multiple purposes. Infant formula and disposable diapers can be used other than what it is intended for. In an extended disaster scenario, where many will be malnourished, infant formula could provide added nutrients and vitamins to an already depleted diet. Also, diapers could be used to absorb blood when a medical emergency arises just to name a few examples.

      Thanks for your comment,


  5. Douglas says:

    As one whose religious views would preclude bartering in alcoholic beverages and/or tobacco products:  Keep a few cases of Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Coke “Classic”, and Mountain Dew on hand. In a SHTF scenario, they’ll be worth as much as beer, especially if an act of radiological terrorism (aka “dirty bomb”) wreaks havoc on local water supply and food distribution.  Also, I never make a trip to “Walley-World” w/o getting a 24-pack of house brand toilet paper or whatever is on sale.  Being well-stocked on the butt floss gives a good item to barter with and gives peace of mind.  After all, Sears hasn’t printed catalogs in thirty years!

  6. Carter says:

    Has anyone seen a discussion on the tax implications of barter?

  7. countryboyseein says:

    I haven’t seen any recent articles about barter and taxes, but I know from experience that the IRS believes they have the power to tax any exchange between “citizens” for every commodity, including time, service etc. They require you to estimate the approximate value.
    Or you can ignore them, that’s what everyone does today. There’s already a huge barter system that goes on behind the scenes. If you think about it every transaction that takes place with cash, can simply disappear from IRS radar, by not being reported.

  8. Debra Bish says:

    I recommend a DVD called Project Red Pill put out by http://www.freedom-force.org which can also be obtained cheaply or maybe free (??) from Realityzone.com which explains why you do NOT have to worry about IRS.  VERY informative & absolutely worth a look.

  9. Roy Cobden says:

    Regarding barter & the government – it’s not just the IRS that can cause problems for barter-ers. 

    In Alaska recently a hunter ran afoul of the fish & wildlife people when he advertised he was willing to trade some game meat.

    They viewed it the same as attempting to sell the meat, which is illegal. 

  10. Robert says:

    If you’re ever in a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation be very very cautious about bartering/selling/ giving away ammo. People will be desperate and you never know who might decide to use the ammo the get from you against you when you turn around. Keep the ammo to yourself unless you have a group of allies with you to guard.

  11. Ian Carson says:

    I always keep plenty of spare clothing and footwear for myself and my family as clothing will only last so long. As things currently stand I have numerous pairs of boots, jackets, trousers, etc. Enough that if I didn’t buy and just used what I have I could probably last 20 years or more

    One type of repair kit usually overlooked is a boot repair kit with spare D-rings, hooks and rivets. You can also usually salvage these from old boots although you’ll still need new rivets.
    Also a repair kit with pop-studs, zip pulls, etc is a good kit to have

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