Three Rules for Choosing Barter Items

Posted on: May 29, 2014

Surfing the web, you can find hundreds of lists of items people suggest setting aside for possible use in barter transactions after a collapse.  Obviously, this isn’t a topic that falls into the localized disaster discussions but is reserved for those who are preparing for potentially long-term scenarios, situations where current forms of currency will likely be worthless.

The idea is to have a stash of goodies you can use to trade for things you may need.  This isn’t a bad idea, provided you use common sense.  Rather than recite just one more list of possible barter items, instead here are my three rules for choosing which items may work best for you.

First, the items must have inherent value to you.  What I mean is, don’t stockpile stuff you will probably never use yourself.  There is a strong possibility you may never have the opportunity or need to use your chosen wampum for trade.  Focus on items that you would have a use for anyway.

Next, the items must be relatively shelf-stable.  Disregard any items that are even somewhat perishable and concentrate on the ones that will last a long time.  Unless you have a very reliable offgrid means of ensuring stable temperatures, avoid anything that will go bad in high heat or humidity.

Finally, items must be relatively inexpensive today.  It makes very little sense to spend thousands of dollars on barter goods.  Further, many of the things that are likely to have the most value after a collapse are pretty darn cheap today.  For example, you can buy a 25lb bag of table salt at Costco for under five bucks.  After a collapse, salt will probably be well sought after, for a variety of reasons.

Note, though, that this doesn’t mean the items you choose should necessarily be cheap, just that you shouldn’t pay a ton of money for them.  If you see a set of decent quality hand tools at a rummage sale and you can get them for just a few bucks, snap them up!  They’ll probably fetch a good price later.  If you never have to use them as barter, you’ll at least have extras in case one of your tools breaks or gets lost.

The idea behind stocking up on barter items is to provide you with a way to make “purchases” when currency is worthless.  By following the above three very simple rules, you can avoid spending money needlessly.

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