If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world where the whole economy consisted of bartering, you’ve probably considered what you’d need to survive. Obviously, some form of currency would naturally arise out of a barter economy, but you’ll need both skills and physical items to participate.
Skills are fairly obvious. Any kind of survival or building skills will make you useful in an economic collapse. However, you’ll also need some very specific things, including the following 5 items:
- Firearms for protection and hunting
If the economy completely collapses and our only option is to barter, you’ll need firearms for protection and hunting. Bartering isn’t as easy as it sounds, considering the things people trade in an economic collapse can be large and heavy, like animal carcasses and water.
Living in a world with a barter economy is kind of like The Oregon Trail – a computer game designed to teach history students about the American West. The only objective you have is to get to Oregon, but it’s not easy.
In the beginning of the game, your character buys supplies like food, clothing, and ammunition. Everything gets more expensive as you progress along your journey to Oregon. If you run out of food, you can stop and hunt, but your wagon might tip over while crossing a river and you’ll lose your supplies, including food.
The computer game was a simplistic representation of the real Oregon Trail, but it’s a good representation of the material struggles that existed before our current monetary system was created.
A real-world barter economy can be dangerous
In a real-world barter economy, you’ll need to protect yourself and your supplies from people who would otherwise take advantage of you. In addition to a gun, you’ll need situational awareness when bartering.
For example, don’t do any of your trading at your home where people can see what else you have. You also need to identify an escape route and have another person present with you who is also armed.
- Gold and silver
If the economy collapses, which some experts say is inevitable, you’ll need gold and silver to use as currency. However, you need to be strategic with how you acquire your precious metals.
Gold is worth far more than silver, which is why it’s important to have small amounts of gold on hand. For example, make sure you get several 1/10th ounce gold coins and use those for somewhat large trades (compared to 1oz silver coins).
Copper isn’t worth much, but having copper coins on hand will help you make even smaller trades. To get fair deals without overpaying, you’ll need all three metals in various forms.
To give you an idea of what the metals are worth, as of January 2022, the spot prices are:
- Gold: $1,832.97 per ounce (approximately $183 per 1/10th ounce)
- Silver: $23.23 per ounce
- Copper: $0.28 per ounce
When bartering with precious metals, never tell the other person how much you have on your person or at home, and always barter in a public area.
- Medical supplies
Medical supplies make excellent bartering goods. Most people have a box of band-aids at home, but they probably don’t have an epi-pen, a tourniquet, or elastic bandages.
When you have a stash of common, yet forgotten medical supplies, you’ll become the go-to source in a collapsed economy. The more in-demand items you have, the easier it will be to get whatever you need.
Food is always a great bartering supply. Everyone needs to eat, and the more food you have to trade, the better.
Pick up easy foods like protein bars, nut bars, and ramen noodles. If the economy collapses, people may not have access to easy cooking. It might be all they can do to boil some water and make soup.
- Comfort items
Perhaps the best barter items are comfort items like snacks, coffee, creamer, chocolate, potato chips, books, board games, and card games. When people are deprived of things that make them feel good, they’re going to be willing to trade something to get those items.
Practice bartering before the economy collapses
While the economy hasn’t quite reached a point where bartering is necessary, you don’t have to wait to start bartering. If you want to practice your trading skills, don’t wait for the economy to collapse. Start developing your negotiating skills now because you may need those skills to one day survive.