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Bartering After SHTF

by Grayman

Following a LAE (Life Altering Event) such as an economic/societal collapse, trading goods and services will be a reliable form of exchange when cash is no longer king. Consider bartering for long term sustainability. Download the Grayman Bartering for SHTF guide for more info.



Assess your possessions and their value. Understand the new found value of ordinary items such as toilet paper, honey, gasoline, etc. Then determine what items are not necessary for survival or sustainment. That’s what you’ll want to trade.

Determine your supply gaps. What do you need? How easy is it to scavenge or manufacture? If the difficulty in resourcing the gaps outweighs the ease in trading for it, then it’s time to barter.

Communicate with other groups, passersby, via radio, or any other method of learning about trade opportunities. This could be the locally printed classified section or a community message board. Check businesses that are still open and see what they are accepting in exchange for purchasing their products/services. Learn who may have the supplies you need.

Do research, scout out the potential party you may want to barter with. Learn their susceptibilities, weaknesses. Make contact with potential persons/groups that have the items you need. Schedule a meetup in a public and safe area. Don’t meet at your bugout location or theirs.

Set rules of engagement and expectations for the meetup. Such as meeting one-on-one with other members holding back 500 ft, or having a 3rd party present, or agreeing to trade guidelines in advance.

The goal should be to trade items you don’t need for items you do need. For example, if you know how to make hand soap but lack ammo; then it would be wise to offer bars of soap for ammunition. The idea is to look for long term solutions, not immediate relief. Use other’s weaknesses and lack of preparedness to your advantage. Trade cigarettes, chocolate, or batteries for duct tape, sugar, and candles.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal that doesn’t benefit you. Be diplomatic in each trade encounter. Discussions should be strategic. Don’t burn bridges as you may have to deal with them again. Don’t insult. Be respectful. Don’t reveal all your cards. Use deadlines or scarcity to pressure the deal. Bluff or lie with caution as they may have gained knowledge on you prior to the meet. If you are caught in a lie; repercussions will come.

Make the deal, allow for review of the items traded to assure quantity and quality so there are no false claims after the fact. Build rapport, set up a means of communications for future trade opportunities.

Remember, just because you don’t have any tangible items to deal with doesn’t mean you can’t trade. Your tradecraft or skills are by far the most important asset you have to bargain with. Skills such as knowing how to preserve food, craft tools, make soap, repair a vehicle, sew up a torn jacket, or program a Ham radio are vital abilities that can be offered up in exchange for other goods or services.



Toilet paper, sewing kits, old clothes, footwear, duct tape, heirloom seeds, matches, alcohol, water, coffee, solar lights, tampons/pads/liners, livestock (for breeding purposes), motor oil, manual gardening tools, natural pesticides, firewood, knives, honey, vitamins, soap, gas cans, diapers, batteries, cigarettes, zip lock bags, canning supplies, cast iron cookware, canteens, razor blades, pots, first aid supplies, antibiotics, painkillers, toothpaste, canned food, salt, & flour.

Remember, you want to trade non-essential item for essential (or items than can offer long-term survivability or capability). If you can trade a 24 pack of beer and 5 cartons of cigarettes for antibiotics and a solar panel battery bank; do it! Get our full guide on bartering for more information.


This article was originally written by the Grayman Briefing. Stay in the know, sign up for Intel and Situational Awareness alerts pushed to your phone on emerging threats and preparedness warnings. Click HERE to subscribe to the Grayman Briefing.

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