Here’s a worthwhile scenario to consider: If a survival situation develops, banks aren’t up and running, and traditional money loses its power, getting things you need will not be dependent on your high credit card limit or the $50,000 in your savings account. Getting things you need will be all about what you can trade for them. If this becomes the case, it’s worth thinking about what things you can do now to put yourself in the realm of the wealthy and powerful during a survival situation—or at the very least put yourself in a position to be able to participate in the bartering marketplace. During a survival situation, your ability to barter well might just mean the difference between life and death, or at least between a thriving livelihood and a poverty-stricken one.
How to Be a Player in the Bartering World of the Apocalypse
When a survival situation comes, you must possess something valuable that other people desire, particularly what they desire when trying to survive. Desirable survival trades might include valuable goods, valuable services, or valuable knowledge. Let’s look a little closer at each and discuss how you can prepare now to be a good barterer later.
1. Valuable Goods. Bartering is all about relative value—the value of a particular item in a particular situation and for a particular person. This means that not only should you stock up now on survival necessities like food, water, and emergency supplies, but you should also consider novelty items too. Consider, for example, the value during a survival situation of precious comfort foods, things like coffee or chocolate bars or popular candies. If you are a possessor of these items, you will likely have plenty of bargaining power and will probably be able to obtain a lot of necessities you might not otherwise be able to. Having novelty comfort items just might be like having a golden ticket during the apocalypse.
2. Valuable Skill Set. In addition to necessary supplies, you will also be more powerful in bartering if you have a skill set that will make a difference in a survival situation. Think about the skills you possess and use to make money right now and how the value of these skills will change or remain the same during tough times. For example, the skill that offers the most monetary value for me in my current situation—knowing how to explain the rules of English grammar—is a pretty useless skill if people are consumed with surviving to see another day. If you do not possess valuable survival skills right now, think about what you can pick up. Can you learn how to prepare food with no power? Can you hunt? Can you gut fish? Can you easily build a fire in a variety of situations?
3. Valuable Knowledge. In addition to possessing valuable goods and services, you also may want to have valuable knowledge you can share with others. If you know how to identify edible plants or care for wounds properly, for example, these are things you could teach other people in exchange for valuable items you need. Learning about survival and self-reliance now can set you up to be a very important resource to others in a survival situation.
If you are reading this post and thinking the apocalypse is the stuff of movies and you’re never going to need to barter for what you need, read on. Bartering can play an important role in everyday life too.
How to Use Bartering in Everyday Life
Even in today’s money-based society, you can use bartering to obtain the things you want or need and get rid of the things you don’t. Best of all, bartering is a great way to save money and live frugally. Even today, there are people who rely solely on bartering to obtain the things they need. You may have heard of Kyle MacDonald, who is famous for a bartering endeavor he made in which, through a series of 14 trades, he traded a red paperclip for a house.
There are a variety of online resources that allow you to barter both goods and services. If you are interested in finding out how you might try your hand at bartering, you may want to check out the bartering section on Craigslist or one of the many bartering websites available today. Some good ones are U-Exchange, Care to Trade, TrashBank, and TradeAway. On these sites, for no cost, you can post a good or service you want or have to offer. You can usually specify what you’d like to trade it for or simply put it out there and see what offers you get. There is no limit to what you can obtain through bartering: everything from cameras to camping trailers to massage therapy to graphic design services to real estate.
One of my favorite bartering sites to browse is Workaway. If you’re interested in seeing the world and meeting new people, all you have to do is choose a place in the world you want to be for a while, specify what skills you have to offer, then search through the opportunities to trade work for a travel opportunity. Most listings offer free room and board, and many offer meals as well. Work you do ranges from helping on a farm to helping with English language practice to caring for children.
Next time you need or want something, consider what you might barter for it. You may find that the more you rely on bartering to meet the needs you have, the more creative you’ll become and the more you’ll be able to use bartering to get the things you want out of life. And you’ll be keeping your bartering skills sharpened in case you find yourself in a survival situation in which money means nothing.