What to Barter

When people discuss what they’ll do immediately after the apocalypse, I guess they somehow know they’re going to survive, they are normally debating whether to add to their ammo or food stores, both good ideas. However, I’ve yet to hear anyone talk about what they’re going to do in a year, or two or ten, after the SHTF episode. Those stores are not going to last forever … then what? What to barter?

Many people have wisely stashed away some junk silver, some gold, some jewelry in links and whole to prepare for this event. Historically mankind has treasured these precious metals and there’s no reason that will change, so a well stocked safe of silver and gold should buy you anything you need for quite awhile, perhaps years. But since nobody knows how many years it’ll take for civilization to rebuild, if ever, what if nothing gets any better?

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We’ve been hurled back essentially into the stone age with few to no modern conveniences, are we sure new products will ever be available, or will we be forced to continually repair our remaining machinery? Don’t laugh, Cuba has been doing it for their automobiles for 50 years. The point I’m trying to make is eventually it could get to the point that a drink of clean water would be more valuable than a fist full of gold.

My dear late Father once told me “a man with skills will never starve.” As with most things he told me I wasn’t really interested, I already knew everything, so it wasn’t until years later that I actually understood what he meant. Everything has a life span, even an iron stove will eventually rust and become iron ashes, some things just can’t be salvaged forever. However, as long as a person is on this side of the ground, they will always have their skills. Even if they grow too old and feeble to perform the skill, their knowledge for instructing others will remain.

Bartering will definitely be an essential way of living and acquiring goods and services after the SHTF event, and material goods will definitely be a major commodity for commerce, but not everything valuable is material. Is a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment worthless, as it’s only information? Let’s look at some examples of skills you can learn, or may already have, that can be your answer to the question … what to barter.

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Vehicle maintenance and mechanical work is one such skill that will be in demand. Next time you’re driving around notice any car repair shops you pass and see if they’re empty. I can tell you one thing, if its a shop with a good reputation, it’ll be standing room only waiting for service. With society in disarray, and no manufacturing of new vehicles, someone will be needed to keep engines running and brakes stopping.

Electricians will be in high demand. I’m not talking about learning the skills to be a journeyman electrician capable of dealing in high voltage. In fact the power grid will most likely not be operational, which means people will turn to alternative energy sources to supply their electricity. If you know how to adapt a houses’ established electrical system to operate off the alternative energy source, people will be willing to barter for your services.

Plumbers will be in great demand. We all know how unpleasant things become very quickly when the plumbing goes a foul. Again, with the switch to alternative energy sources, which will require plumbing modifications, the skills to adapt these systems will be valuable. Again, you don’t need to be a journeyman plumber/pipe-fitter, just remember s**t rolls downhill.

People with some knowledge of Electronics. Once people establish a source of electricity they will want to use their gadgets. Having the skill to know if a devise can be repaired, and the ability to do it, versus throwing it away, will be valuable.

Another example of what to barter is Medical skills. Modern life is dangerous, imagine dealing with the rubble of destruction, or salvaging items to reuse. Injuries and illness will become more common and with modern medicine hampered and probably overwhelmed, any medical skills will be critically required. Taking an elementary first aid class could offer you the skills to treat minor injuries. Correctly treating minor injuries prevents them from becoming major injuries. 

This is a highly regarded survival asset

Amateur radio skills are needed. Most if not all communication, with the possible exception of military, will be inoperable. We have become so complex with our communication systems without skilled people to maintain the infrastructure, it will quickly fail. The skills, and better yet owning a ham radio, will make you indispensable as a source of news and information.

Seamstress skills. We have become such a lazy society, that if we rip a shirt or break a zipper, we simply throw the item away and buy new. Those days will be over because new clothes will not be readily available. If you can mend and perform alterations you’ll have a skill to barter.

Foraging may become necessary. There’s a lot of natural food out there in forms of wild berries, fruits, fungi and other plants. The problem is you are playing Russian roulette if you’re not sure of what you’re eating. Mistake a death cap for a mushroom and all your worries are for naught, because you’re dead. Being able to teach others how to forage has value, as does bartering part of what you foraged.

Skilled hunters may not realize they have a barter-able skill because they do it for sport, but in actuality very few people have the skills or the equipment to hunt wild game. The same goes for fishing. Being able to supply fresh meat and fish will be a valuable commodity.

Food growing, until not too long ago, was an everyday event for nearly everyone, as people supplemented their food supply with home grown items. Society has abandoned that skill leaving growing food to the conglomerate farming associations and back yard gardeners. The ability to grow, tend and/or teach people how to grow food will be another asset to barter.

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Animal husbandry, the skill to tend to animals’ needs, like cattle, sheep or chickens, will make you valuable. Very few people would have the first idea of how to feed, milk, herd or otherwise tend to a herd of cattle.

Butchery is another part of husbanding livestock, one part which most people would choose to avoid if possible. It might be easy to barter for Fred the pig knowing you’ll have meat to eat when he grows up, but it’s another story to actually hit Fred in the head with a hammer and cut him into small pieces. If you can do that, people will want your services.

Carpentry skills will be required to rebuild, repair peoples homes, build storage sheds and a 100 other things. You may be surprised how many people don’t know how to use a hammer much alone a nail gun.

The need for Canning skills will be reborn as preserving every bit of food possible becomes important. You will no longer have the luxury of throwing food out and running to the grocery store to buy more.

Blacksmiths who are few and far between now, will see their importance increase. People may very well may have to resort to transportation by horse in some cases and those horses all need shoeing. A skilled blacksmith can forge much more than horseshoes, but its not a skill you acquire overnight.

Gunsmiths like blacksmiths are always in short supply. Add the importance of owning a weapon after SHTF, the extra use and abuse these weapons with be subjected to, things are going to break. If you can repair their weapons people will be willing to barter.

Reloading Skills. Speaking of guns, what about ammo? People are eventually going to run out of ammo, especially if they are poor shooters. If you have the skills to reload their brass you’ll be busy.

Let’s get real primitive. Can you Fletch? Many won’t even know what that is. It’s the skill of making arrows. If things go to hell for years and years people may have to resort to using bows and arrows to hunt and for self protection. If it gets that bad … you’ll be able to name your price.

Soap and candle making. That may really sound like a trivial skill, but I’ll ask .. do you know how to make home made soap and candles. There will be a whole lot of people that wouldn’t know where to start. Like me.

Teachers will be needed. Society may have crumbled, but the survivors will know the only hope for the future is to educate their children. You will be held in high esteem within the community.

Can you play a Musical instrument? After enduring an apocalypse, entertainment for a bit of relaxation will be in high demand. What’s that they say about “music soothing the savage beast.”

Spiritual comfort will be needed. Desperation, pain of loss, both material and friends and family, will require a comforting hand, one who can quote from the Scriptures, if only a few lines. People will want a few words said over their loved ones graves.

What to barter is all around and inside you. My intent is to get your creative juices flowing. This list is far from complete. There are probably hundreds of skills which can used to barter with and you may not even realize you possess some of them. If you have done everything you can to stockpile supplies, built a bug-out spot, etc. Take a look at taking a class of some sort. A skill can not ever be taken away.

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