Will You Need to Barter?

I have to be perfectly honest here by saying I’ve never really taken the idea of bartering in a SHTF situation seriously, but I’m beginning to. I’ve always thought that if I prepare, if I store, if I train, I won’t need anything from anyone. My mother-in-law lives on a small farm just a few miles from us and has gone totally prepper over the last few years and we often share garden goods and such. I have lots of stored food and water, solar power system, generator, stored fuel, cash and silver on hand, so why would I need to barter? But with a financial collapse looking more and more likely I’m beginning to consider the possibility.

I remember my grandfather, a farmer in the deep south, telling us that during the great depression almost everything was barter, people wanted cash, but it was nearly non-existent. They would trade grain for chickens or eggs for thread, etc., but the only time you saw actual cash was if you were running illegal liquor. Note: he was busted for bootlegging and fined $90 dollars in 1932 or about $1600 in todays money, but he went right back to it as it meant survival for his family. If you think about it, is there really a limit to what you would do to feed your family?

So, if you may have to barter, what should you stockpile for barter? Opinions on this, like everything else, run far and wide and unless you have unlimited cash and storage space you have to narrow it down a bit. So I’m basing my list to things that are often scarce following an emergency, or panic buying or simply desirable.

Alcohol. This is where I have started; I have started buying a 5th or 2 of cheap whisky or vodka every week. Last week I picked up a 1.5 liter of Vodka for $13 and 750ml of Canadian Whisky for $9.84, so you know it’s the good stuff! I plan on adding some pure grain alcohol and cheap tequila as well. Cigarettes would also be a great barter item for many, but as a former smoker it’s probably not a good idea for me.

Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide were wiped out last year as were many pain relievers and cold remedies. Aspirin is a daily need for many. Toilet paper might also make the list from what we saw last year, but I’m not trading mine. Cleaning supplies such as bleach and ammonia might also be worth considering.

No, not ammo! I’m seeing this one listed everywhere, but I absolutely disagree! Will it be desirable and in demand? Of course it will, but never trade or barter something that could be used against you.

No, not fuel either. If I have stored fuel, then I have a need for that fuel.

Coffee, tea, drink mixes, hard candies, sugar, spices: anything that can break up the monotony of a diet limited to beans and rice and other long storage food.

Cash, coins, silver: remember that during the great depression people still wanted cash and it had purchasing power, they just couldn’t get it.

So what do you think, will barter become a thing again, if so what would you think would be fitting?

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.


  1. I agree on all, especially your position on ammo for barter..NFW…
    The big question is, how does one assign a value to barter items? A jug of vodka for a pumpkin? 10 pumpkins?
    The same with silver…I have it too, but what will a silver quarter get you? I have no idea, and likely would depend on the exact situation..
    Good post, 365!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cloth, needles, thread. (Clothes wear out, People like to wear clothes) Extra blankets (Remember the Indian traders?) And don’t forget learning a dozen different skills to rent. As for alcohol, I look at it the same as ammo. Great stuff for making extracts, or for anesthesia, but I don’t want a bunch of drunks–that have run out of things to trade–craving more, and planning a stupor inspired raid aimed at me. Or me being “buzzed” from my own supply and trying to deal with an unexpected visit. Yep. The list is long, but barter is definitly a thing. (Think flea market and yard sales, or swaps between friends, as a current example)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your list! Its all great and im prepping on that too. But yea the question is, if you have something someone wants to barter for, what would they have that yould want? Most likely they have nothing and will strong arm or kill you to get what you have! DEFINETELY KEEP AMMO! Water is also a good one to list!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We haven’t really started on stocking up barter items yet. We have too many items we will need to spend resources on barter items. I have a buddy who is stocking up on cheap toothbrushes and toothpaste as barter items. They are cheap now, don’t take up much space and last forever (OK, not forever but a really, really long time). Wonderful Wife loved that idea.
    I do have a couple of thoughts on bartering in a collapse and would like to see what you think:
    1) It is VERY unlikely that you will be bartering with people who have not prepared. For the most part, once barter becomes a normal means of commerce you will be exchanging good with others who have prepped but prepped differently. Someone may be raising chickens and would be willing to trade me some eggs for some greens from my garden. Someone may need a spare part for a filter and I need a spare part for a vehicle. That will become the norm in a total collapse. It was during The Great Depression.
    2) In general, I would avoid bartering with people I don’t know unless it is in a safe and secure location. It is likely in a full on collapse that “flea markets” or secure trade zones my arise. Economic activity will help raise everyone’s standard of living and some enterprising folks may take the initiative and provide those types of places. A local militia may provide such a service to the community to improve the standard of living in the community or the local warlord/gang may provide protected areas of trade in exchange for profit. It has (mostly) worked for centuries more “primitive” societies.
    3) Booze and Ammo – Again, know who your are trading with. If you trust them and there is benefit go for it. If not, “no tengo nada” (I don’t have any). If you have ammo to spare and another prepper is running a little low after driving off a mutant zombie biker gang, go for it (if they have something you need or want). Same with booze. If you know them/trust them, they need it for medicinal purposes, you have some to spare and they have something you want go for it. Just a thought, I am more likely to trade something like .22 LR or, better yet, bird shot than defensive ammo. might even work out a deal with a prepper or his kid to trade ammo for some of the meat they harvest with it. Again, you have to know and trust those you do business with…just like we do these days.
    Anyway, just my thoughts…
    Take care and God bless.

    Liked by 2 people

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