There may someday come a time when our current form of currency won’t be worth the paper it is printed on. If this were to come to pass, you may find yourself in need of either goods or services and need to render some form of payment. Thus, it may be prudent to stock up on a few things that are somewhat inexpensive now but may be worth their weight in gold down the road.

The first thing that comes to mind are those items we might consider vices now. Tobacco and booze top that list. There is little need to go out and get top shelf product either. Those people who would be willing to trade you some extra meat for booze won’t be concerned too much if it isn’t Glenfiddich single malt. For tobacco, I’d suggest storing it in your freezer (while it is still working), as well as some rolling papers. Just buy the larger canisters of loose tobacco as that’s much cheaper than a carton or two of even the cheapest cigarettes.

Coffee is another great idea, though I’d suggest storing it as “raw” beans, roast and grind them as needed. Candy, gum, and other sweets, if stored properly, will last a good, long time.

Moving away from consumables, some hard goods to keep on hand for barter would include needles, thread, matches, candles, blankets, soap, and fishing supplies (hooks, line, etc.).

I have seen some people advocate using ammunition, especially .22 shells, as currency. Personally, I don’t like the idea of giving bullets to anyone who might conceivably use them against me at some point.

How many fish hooks would equal a can of food? I have no idea, that’d be up to the people conducting the trade. Remember though, the best trade is one where each person thinks they got the better deal.

Aside from stocking up on goods, you might also consider what skills you have that might be “marketable” down the road. If you know how to sew by hand, you could probably trade some mending for extra candles or something. Be sure to stock up on anything and everything you might need for your hobby/career.

Remember, the items you stock up on for barter purposes are secondary to the stuff you put aside for you and your family. Meaning, only worry about the barter items after you’ve stocked up on what you and yours need to survive.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

4 thoughts on “Barter”

  1. I have to agree with you completely, we are so accustomed to our modern day conveniences that we tend to forget how difficult it can be to sustain life for our selves and our family when disaster strikes. Emergency preparedness is something we all need to practice. Having emergency supplies in the form of pre-assembled kits is one of the most convenient ways to accomplish this.

    We never know when a natural or man made disaster will strike, just look around, what with the floods, massive snow storms, tornadoes, hurricanes & etc, just mother nature can cause us undue grief.

    Now with the potential for terrorism in our country, we have that added element of another potential disaster.

    If we all stock up on supplies to aid us in taking care of our families and keep on hand the sort of supplies suggested in your blog for bartering and trading, we stand that much of a better chance to survive anything that comes along.


  2. Bicycles and extra bicycle parts might prove to be a valuable form of commerce. If fuel supplies are severed or the road system is demolished, bikes may be one of the only forms of transportation; the downside being that it may be impractical to stockpile extra bikes. I like the idea of candy. You could rotate your supply every year at Halloween allowing you to keep a relatively large and fresh supply on hand. Top of the list, however, is definitely alcohol, tobacco and coffee (and tea as well). I think another great item that would be inexpensive and easy to stock up on and keep would be seeds for growing food (more suited for long-term disasters of course). Basic hygiene products such as deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes would also most likely be among the highly coveted items post disaster and you can purchase everything in trial size and keep a lot of each item on hand without taking up a lot of space. You could even rotate your stock throughout the year as you go camping and traveling.

  3. I do like the idea of storing seeds to be used for barter. The problem is, they might not be of interest to some people. If a guy is hungry, he wants to eat NOW, and might be willing to trade labor for food. He’s probably not going to want to trade labor for seeds until and unless his more immediate needs are met.

    Hygiene items are a great suggestion as well. Both for health purposes and just morale boosts.

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