There are a lot of articles out there in the preparedness community about bartering. Most of them usually focus on the same handful of “barter items” that you should keep on hand to trade with whenever the (apparently imminent) apocalypse wipes out conventional economics and people are reduced to trading bullets and booze for toilet paper and Twinkies. Today we’re going to look at bartering a little differently. Instead of giving you some arbitrary list of barter items, we’re going to talk about bartering as a skill, different kinds of bartering arrangements and how bringing back a barter-based economy could literally be our salvation out of the biggest economic and social disaster in history.
I’ve got plenty of booze, bullets and silver to trade with the roaming post-apocalyptic traders, why should I care about bartering now?
Ok, first and foremost let’s get something out of the way. The idea that a disaster could permanently wipe out any shred of modern economy that America has left is about as remote as the Vulcans landing on top of the White House and declaring Earth’s acceptance into the Federation of Planets. This doesn’t mean that bartering is any less important, but it does mean that no matter what, currency will exist in this world as long as two people want to do business together. It’s an inevitable law of economics. No disaster, no matter how big, will ever change that. Before delving father into bartering I think it’s very important to accept that bartering is a skill, not a prep item.
With all that being said, not only do I firmly believe that bartering is extremely important from a preparedness perspective, I feel that going back to an economy that focuses heavily on bartering could very well be the only viable and stable economy we have after the full effects of the economic collapse have been realized. Honestly, had this country focused more on bartering and less on the government having complete control of every aspect of our financial lives, we might not be in this position in the first place.
Bartering is an extension of your freedom. Yes, I know, that’s a little dramatic, but it’s true. With 99% of our money supply being nothing more than tick marks an electronic ledger and the government becoming more and more entangled in every part of the “Free” Market, bartering is the last bit of economic freedom you realistically have. The government can’t control you trading with your neighbor and they (at least for now) aren’t sending 1099c forms to everyone posting in the barter section of craigslist. It truly is the last Free Market and anonymous market left in this country.
From a more practical perspective, bartering is a great way to acquire big-ticket prepping items without going into debt or spending a big chunk of reserve cash. If you’re like most people, you have at least a handful of valuable items in your home that you are either not using or would be willing to trade in for something else that you would use. You also may have items that you’d like to upgrade but don’t want to lose out on all the money you spent to begin with. This is where bartering can be very useful.
How is bartering today different than in the past?
In years past, bartering was the preferred form of commerce. Usually once a week, a town would gather in a central location with their items and simply make deals with each other, sealed with a simple handshake. Today, most bartering is initiated online. There are thousands of sites out there where you can barter with other people. Here are just a few:
If you’re interested in bartering items in a particular niche, your best bet is to find an online community that has some sort of bartering area. Online forums are a great start, especially for preparedness items. You can also use Facebook to initiate bartering deals. Simply search for “barter” and your city name. Chances are there are dozens of groups out there already bartering in your area.
Can I barter my time?
Although a lot of people talk about bartering for items and what items you should stockpile as barter items, most people forget that you can also barter for services. A great example of this would be 2 business owners that want to do business with each other. Instead of going through all the paperwork, money changing hands and taxes paid on these services, the owners can simply agree to trade services. Granted you may want to have a contract of some kind to ensure both sides are fairly compensated, but that’s a lot less of a hassle than cutting checks, writing invoices and paying taxes. You could also barter services for items. A long time ago, this is what most service professionals did. Even doctors would often barter his/her services for food or other items. There’s nothing preventing us from doing the same thing now with modern services. As long as both sides are getting what they want, why do we need to involve the government? The fact is we don’t. If everyone in this country bartered for one item this year instead of buying it, the results would be revolutionary, and maybe….just maybe, it would show a few people in Washington that in reality, we don’t need them as much as they think we do.
Tips To Make You a Better (and Safer) Barterer
- Always conduct your trades with a partner. Never go to a trade alone.
- Don’t bring cash to your trades. Not only will it force you to improve your negotiation skills, but if you do have to use some cash to finish a trade, you’ll have some extra time to mull it over and not make an impulsive decision.
- Do your homework on the value of your item and the value of the item you are looking for. A little discrepancy is fine, but you’ll be a more successful trader if you trade value for (mostly) equal value.
- If you’re the one advertising a trade, include as much information and pictures as possible. You don’t want to waste your time and someone else’s time.
- When “selling” an item, don’t be too hung up on 1 particular trade. Be open to entertaining any legitimate offer and don’t shoot yourself in the foot by having tunnel vision for that one item you want.
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