As a nation, we are faced with a host of different problems from many directions, both domestically and internationally. The statistical improbability of a disaster occurring (such as war or economic collapse) decreases with the passage of time and the addition of other factors that lead into such. For a couple of good "primers" on collapse and warfare (overall effects on societies and civilizations), I recommend two by Jared Diamond: "Guns, Germs, and Steel," and "Collapse."
When any kind of society or civilization becomes unraveled, usually the nation's cash loses its value within days at the most. We're going to cover a few general categories of items to keep for barter (meaning "regular" or frequent trade), citing individual examples within each category. In The Prepper's Blueprint, the idea of bartering was covered extensively and it isn't always acquiring tradable goods, but also tradable services.
If a long-term emergency causes and end to our existing monetary system and an end to the exchange of fiat currency that our world currently operates on, people will resort back to bartering for skills and services in order to make transactions.
Living in a bartering environment means one must possess certain goods or skills that others find value in. As Brandon Smith writes on the subject, 'If you wish to survive after the destruction of the mainstream system that has babied us for so long, you must be able to either make a necessary product, repair a necessary product, or teach a necessary skill.'"
Do Not Barter The Following Items:
Before I "hit the list," I'm going to mention what I will not barter or only in an emergency, and why.
Ammunition, Firearms, or parts for firearms: The first two can be used against you, and the latter can be employed to fix something that can be used against you. [I will not barter with them ever]. That said, in a previous article, I mentioned the importance of knowing how to repair firearms. This is a barterable skill and one that will be of high importance in a post-collapse scenario.
Medicine: I need that for me and mine…and will not barter with it regularly [Only in an emergency…and never any antibiotics].
NBC gear and supplies: This takes the form of masks, suits, survey meters (Geiger counters), dosimeters, anti-rad tablets, and so forth [I will not barter with them ever]. To find these items for your preps, click here.
10 of the Best Items for Bartering
Fire Starting Materials: Books of matches, disposable lighters, wicks and flints for Zippo's. All these guys are worth their weight in gold in the event of a collapse. Check out some of these fire starting materials for ideas. The great thing about this is they are always needed, simple to trade, and they don't take up a lot of space to store.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) First-Aid supplies: Small tins of band-aids, aspirin, Tylenol, antacid tablets, gauze bandages, first-aid tape, alcohol prep pads, cough and cold supplies. These are differentiated from "medicine" as I mentioned not to trade, in that they are small, sundry-type articles that are valuable and in short supply when times are tough. They are also easily affordable and do not take up much storage space. Here are 50 of the most popular medical supplies that preppers put away for emergencies, and some of them can be bought for cheap at the Dollar Store.
Multiple Toiletry Items: Hotel-types of small individual soap bars, shampoo bottles, towelettes, toothpaste, and shave cream. These you can ask a hotel or motel manager to order you an extra case: pay him beforehand and give him some extra. In this way, they'll all be in a big cardboard box and individually packaged up and ready to trade.
Batteries: Will always be in short supply when you need them. It will be that way for others as well. Just be careful to protect them from moisture when you store them and inspect them frequently to make sure there aren't any leakages. There are certain batteries that are best for off-grid retreats. You can read about them here. Having an excess of these will be a good investment. As well, there are ways to make a battery last (practically) forever and this could be great knowledge to possess when TSHTF.
Sewing supplies: Yes, needles, threads, thimbles, and safety pins. Sewing kits cost almost nothing when you buy one in the discount stores. Clothing repair will be very important, as good serviceable clothing will be in short supply.
Small tins and cans of meat: This is always usable as your own supply, of course, and can be bartered. 3 to 6-ounce cans of things such as sardines, herring, chicken, tuna fish, and the likes…they are small enough to be able to trade, and they'll be worth their weight in gold for their portability.
Candles: especially in the form of tea-lights, and small candles (of the types listed as "emergency" candles). They are inexpensive and easy to barter for when there's no electricity. Remember to store them vertically, as if you lay them on their side, the wick will gradually "migrate" toward the bottom…and then the candle will be messed up.