Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Bartering, trading, dickering, swapping, haggling, the beloved child has many names.

This is a skill, and you really should start doing it. It might not be possible to haggle when you are buying things from a dollar store or a chain with fixed prices, but try it anyway. I had a friend who got things always cheaper, or who got something extra, when she was buying things, because she was haggling. Yes, in our modern Western first world world. Remember that every merchant is a used car salesman at heart. He wants to SELL. He want to make a deal with you. He wants you to buy his things. So - shop around, ask, inquire. Ask for extras and benefits.

Also, learn to use the "green money" as it's called - trading and swapping. "Buy" things and services with your own things, services and know-how. Ask your friends and neighborhood first. Often you can get things for free or for the price of taking it away. Some times they ask for a nominal price of "you can bake me a cake" or something else small like that. Well, it is small to me :-D I can fix your jeans or patch your jacket or knit you socks as payment for something I need.

If the economy fails, everyone is going to turn into bartering to meet their needs.

Now, there are lists of bartering items you can buy and have ready for the SHTF situation, but most of those are pretty short-sighted. Use your intelligence to imagine the situations and what YOU would need to manage. Like toilet paper and fabric softener. These items are modern luxury we have learned to believe we need, when in fact we don't.
During the first weeks people will be paying ANYTHING for things like this, but after months NO-ONE will be having any, and the price will be too high, so people will be cutting out those needs.

So, as with everything else, plan for future, not for the near future. 
Collect skills, materials, equipment, tools and resources to 

Another thing to consider is that people will be quickly getting rid of everything they can barter and when they have nothing left, it doesn't matter what you have to sell, they can't buy it any way.
But if you "widen your repertoire", and start accepting things that don't have any survival value, you will be in business longer... How do you do this?  

Learn to recycle and upcycle and repair and repurpose things. 

I mean, cardboard and scrap paper are basically worthless...
except that you can make new paper of it.
You can make furniture and things of cardboard and papiermache.
Paper is pretty good isolation.
It also used to be wood, so it can be made into fire briquettes.

Old clothes have a lot of use in them, too
They can be made into rag weave or patchwork
They can be made into rope and string
They can be made into filling of duvets and cushions and quilted clothes
They can be used as isolation or land filling.
Natural fibers can be used to make paper of.

Anything made of metal can be melted down and used to make other things. Even if it's "just" tin or aluminium.

Anything made of glass can also be melted down and used to make other things.

There's a lot of plastic crap lying around in people's homes, from things made of "resin" to softer plastics, kitchen gadgets to toys, knick-knacks and "decoration".
Some of that can be turned back to oil, if you have the know-how or the Blest machine invented by Akinori Ito, which will probably be commercially available in the 20s.
Hard plastic is probably harder to deal with... unless it is usable as it is, you can probably use it as landfill... perhaps as filling in cement.

What ever the situation, don't start chopping antique furniture into firewood, burning books, destroying artwork or any such things. Don't start looting museums, libraries and galleries. How ever bad the situation might look, there is always hundreds of alternatives to such things and you will survive without needing to destroy our history or the beauty in the world.

So - to the items: what to buy NOW and store for future bartering purposes?

- salt - can be stored forever if kept dry. Pack it in a clean, dry, watertight container, like a large canister or bucket. But, just in case, learn to extract salt.

- spices - no, because they get bad. But find out way to replace the exotic spices with local plants, and see what you can grow in a flower pot on your windowsill... surprising many exotic plants do well on a windowsill.

- condiments - learn to make them, so that you can sell them!

- baking soda - difficult to make oneself, can be stored indefinitely, has thousands of uses, going to be VERY desirable in the future

- yeast - learn to make sourdough

- tobacco, coffee, sugar, candies, and other such "pleasure substances" - don't store well, except for sugar and instant coffee, but better if you learn to make surrogates or the actual product at home. One can grow tobacco quite high up and coffee in flower pots (Yes, you can grow your own coffee.)

- honey and beeswax - learn bee-keeping. That is extremely important now-a-days, as bees are getting more and more rare, and most of our food depends on bees... So keep bees if for nothing then to have very precious trading item.

- corn starch - can also be stored indefinitely if stored correctly. Dry, cool, dark place, so store in plastic canister or bucket. Can replace baby powder, so it's very desirable.

- preserves and charkuterie - don't store indefinitely, so learn to make these. Now, the chemicals, tools, equipment etc. is going to be desirable.

- Tools (saw blades, hatchets, axe heads, hammer heads, etc.), and equipment to care for them, like sharpening tools and lubricants. Learn to make them, and source second hand - can be found at very reasonable prize at garage sales, estate sales etc. Learn to restore old tools. Vinegar takes care of rust like magic, and you can make your own "penetration oil" (like DW-40).

- A simple still (or the components to assemble one) - things needed to purify water and make alcohol.

- Weapons - not firearms, because that's not sustainable, but bows, arrows, arrowheads and bowstrings; knives and other bladed weapons, sharpening stones etc.

- Barrels

- containers, especially water canteens

- Seeds

- information, books

- firemaking tools (ferroceramic rods and striking steels), non-safety matches, safety matches, lighters, lighter fuel

- blankets - thick good, wool blankets.

- "feminine products", bras

- baby items, like diapers, baby powder, milk bottles, pacifiers etc.

- optical aids, like eye glasses, reading glasses and magnifying glasses

- ice (Yes. the guy who builds a huge barn and fills it with sawdust so that he can fill it with ice during the winter, will have customers in the summer.)

- antibiotics, OC medicine, painkillers, allergy medication, insulin...  things like this are heart-wrenching.

- first aid supplies

- good quality clothing, socks, shoes

- parachute cord, duct tape, fishing line, sheet plastic, wire, fencing material, tarps, garbage bags, ziploc bags, plastic bags, pails and buckets

- sewing supplies, especially tools, like needles and scissors

- candle wax, wicking, candles, beeswax

- entertainment, like games, playing cards, books

- soap and other cleaning detergents etc. - materials and equipment needed to make these

- cosmetics, chap-sticks, moisturiser etc. - materials and equipment needed to make these

- bleach

- flash-lights, torches, lanterns and fuel/batteries

- shoes, shoe repair supplies, shoe laces

- hunting and fishing gear

- good quality clothing

- solar lights and panels

- hardware, like nuts, bolts and nails

- contraceptives

- writing supplies

- one thing that I would be ready to pay quite a lot is rubber gloves...  rubber and latex will be quite valuable, I think. Of course, it's a renewable resource, so there will be rubber producers and manufacturers, but will we be getting these items? The problem with this is that rubber deteriorates quickly. Perhaps one could make waxed gloves? Nevertheless, for a housewife, rubber gloves are invaluable.

Less interesting items:

- toilet paper... people will VERY QUICKLY learn to do without. What did they use to clean their asses before TP was invented?

- batteries - even rechargeable batteries have end-date. Also, the things batteries are used to power up has a "best before" date. Now, if you can make analogue devices or gadgets that are solar or man powered (like hand-cranked) to replace the things batteries are used to power up, wonderful!

- alcohol - it's really not difficult to make, so people will be focusing on things you need to make alcohol.

- the fuel and lubrication for things like chain saws and camping kitchen and lanterns - again, very desirable at the first stage, then people will learn to use hand saws, wood fire and plant oil powered lanterns.

- firearms, ammunition, cleaners and lubricants and holsters etc. Because when the ammunition is used, there is no use to the guns either. Now, if you become a weapon smith and learn how to make gunpowder and ammunition, then you would be in high demand and basically be able to tell your own prices...

Luxury items

Every now and then there are things that are totally useless, but make wonders when it comes to mental health. So have a little things like this in store...

- canned fruits
- hard candy, jellybeans
- jello powder, gelatine powder (store in dry, cool, airtight, dark area, like everything else.)
- drink powders
- nylon tights and stockings
- razors
- perfume (this stuff won't store forever, though.)
- toys
- make-up


- people who have not, and who get desperate and will murder to get their hands to your goods
- people who have, but think it's better to take than barter
- people who think you have, want to have it, and are not afraid to do anything to get it
- people who cheat - either they barter things that are not what they seem to be, or promise things they don't have or go through the exchange but try to take back what they gave you
Just be careful
- people who see you exchanging things and try take what you just received

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