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The Best Bartering Items to Have in a Collapse


Everyone knows that they should be buying gold and silver for when the collapse happens. Everyone knows that they should have a supply of food and in the best of circumstances a self-sustaining off-grid farm. But, what happens after the first few months of collapse? What if things don't return to normal and the new normal is just everyday survival? What if our currency collapses, the grocery store shelves are empty and we are left to fend for ourselves. In that case bartering for everyday items will become necessary. Here is a list of the best bartering items in a mad max scenario.

  1. Alcohol: Normally I wouldn't include alcohol mainly because the bottles are heavy and it is not a necessity except of course if it is needed medicinally, also alcohol is expensive. But, if you can stock up on it you will always have a demand for it, so that is why I have included this item.
  2. T.P.: Have you ever gone without toilet paper for any length of time? It's not pleasant. There are very few palatable substitutions for toilet paper. Sure newspapers can be used but who knows how long newspapers would be around should a total collapse happen. People used to use leaves, corn cobs and other items but I can't see that happening except under severe circumstances. The only problem I can see with using toilet paper as a bartering item is that I would be hard pressed to exchange it unless I was starving!
  3. Matches: Matches are a great item to stock up on and use for bartering purposes. They are small, cheap, enduring and necessary, this would be high on my list of items to stock up on.
  4. Seeds: Seeps are controversial. Yes, seeds have been worth more than silver and gold in history. However, if the masses are starving now and if they don't know how to grow food, they might not be interested in trading for seeds. However, I would have them anyway because they will last a long time and you could always use them yourself.
  5. Batteries: While batteries will be in demand for such items as radios and laptops should a collapse occur, they only problem is that number 1, they are expensive now and number 2 they don't last. So, although I think they are a good idea, I would not put a lot of money into batteries..still I would have some.
  6. Canned food: Canned food is a good item because everyone needs to eat (and by canned I mean any food that can be stored without refrigeration). The negatives about canned food are that it is heavy, while it will last a long time it wont last indefinitely like matches and if people are hungry enough they will just steal it.
  7. Cigarettes: The biggest problem with cigarettes is that they are expensive now. I am sure that you will have a market for cigarettes however, I am not so sure they are your best bet for bartering. Still, historically, they have been used and so I have decided to include them.
  8. Aspirin: Aspirin is a great choice on several fronts. First of all aspirin will last a long time, secondly if someone needs aspirin they will trade whatever they have for it. Have you ever suffered from chronic pain? Thirdly, aspirin is small and it stores well. A great choice to use for bartering purposes in my humble opinion.
  9. Chocolate: Chocolate is like alcohol, it's not a necessity but people want it. Also, dark chocolate has nutritional value, is a good source of calories, stores well and is relatively small. I would give dark chocolate 3 ½ stars out of 5.
  10. Soap: Soap is one of those things that you don't miss until you don't have it. Try doing without soap for even a day and see how uncomfortable life can be. Not only that but soap is not easy to make for yourself, so it is going to be in high demand. Additionally, soap stores well and lasts a long time. If you can buy it in bulk even better.
  11. Plastic baggies: Plastic baggies can be used for all sorts of things. If the grid goes down they can be used to store food items, as gloves or to keep things from getting wet. All sorts of plastic products will be in demand. Moreover, they don't expire so they store well. The only issue with plastic baggies is that they are relatively expensive now and you would need a place to put them, in other words the boxes are a bit bulky.
  12. Salt: Salt has been used in lieu of money in history. It's cheap, stores well and can be used to preserve meat, something that could become very important in a SHTF scenario. Not only that, I love it and so do others and it's not easy to get. It is definitely an item I would use to barter.
  13. Coffee: Coffee is expensive and it is not a necessity so why have I included it? I included coffee because I, along with millions of other Americans, am addicted to coffee. Not only that but how does one get coffee if not in a store? It's not like we have coffee plantations in America. So, yes coffee will be in high demand should a collapse happen and even though it is expensive I would have it if not for my own use to barter for other items. Believe me, instant coffee will bring you a high price should a collapse happen!
  14. Baking Soda/Powder: Just try to do without it and you'll see why it's listed here!

Not only can bartering help you get the things you need should a collapse happen, bartering can also help you now. Bartering cuts out the middleman, provides anonymity, allows you to live on a much smaller income and avoids taxation. The best thing to do is to start participating in a bartering system now. It will be difficult to start a bartering system after the collapse, if you are already familiar with the system when the collapse happens it will be a much easier transition. Good luck and happy trading!


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Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on September 25, 2014:

Hmmm, I'll have to look into that Sheryl, thanks for the tip.

Sheryl on September 25, 2014:

I believe colloidal oats should be on this list. I make all of my shop products with it. Very important to have on hand.

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on May 10, 2013:

Weapons are easy..ammunition not so much.

Zugadog on May 10, 2013:

The only thing you need is weapons and ammunition!!

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on January 27, 2013:

That explains it! Yeah..a lot of things that we don't give a second thought to will be gone so that's why I included it.

Diana Grant from London on January 27, 2013:

Scroll to Continue

Good thinking, Batman!

Funnily enough I cook a lot (as you'll see from my hubs), but we have self-raising flour in the UK so maybe that's why my baking powder container remains full.

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on January 26, 2013:

You need baking powder to make pancakes, biscuits and bread (in a pinch). I guess you don't cook much? :)

Bottled water is good but I would choose a less heavy item to barter..besides that if you are dealing with radiation I doubt you're going to want to barter your water!

Diana Grant from London on January 26, 2013:

Very good list - got me thinking! But what on earth would you need baking powder for? I have kept baking powder in my store cupboard for about ten years, and have never used I missing something?

How about bottled water, in case of irradiation?

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on January 08, 2013:

I would leave those out as well but others will want them which is why I included them. Thanks for commenting "idigwebsites".

idigwebsites from United States on January 08, 2013:

Hmmmm... I would leave out aspirin, alcohol and cigarettes. Chocolates?!? Man I would love to stock many of them!

Sugar is also a good thing to barter.

Very interesting hub indeed. Voted up, useful/interesting, and a following :)

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on January 07, 2013:

LOL, I'm forewarned :), thanks "Ryan0123".

Elvis Jackson from All around the world! on January 06, 2013:

You got it Brie! I'm following you now! Lookout! Haa!:)

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on January 06, 2013:

Feel free Ryan123 and don't forget to vote it up and repost it on your facebook! Thanks for commenting.

Elvis Jackson from All around the world! on January 06, 2013:

This Hub rocks! I literally feel like printing up this list and going shopping tomorrow!

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on January 06, 2013:

I agree "steve" and I have addressed that in other articles. Thanks for commenting.

steve on January 06, 2013:

One of the MOST critical items to stockpile is ammunition (and guns of course). In a scenario where there are shortages of critical items, if you have something other needs, they will simply take it from you. If I have a gun and you don't that's all the bargaining chip that I need. Also, ammo is a good bartering item as well.

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on October 28, 2012:

Good advice and good luck to you.

Diane Derrick on October 28, 2012:

I would leave the aspirin out, I haven't touched them in 30 years so won't need them today! The ability to make clothes is a must, spinning, knitting or crocheting & weaving. The most important areas covered shelter, clothing & food. I am looking to of grid by the end of this year, know your local herbs would be useful for medicines and tea. Scout out your local area and whatever you are short of go savaging in the hedgerows for seeds and scatter them locally.

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on October 19, 2012:

Thanks "alifeofdesign" and "Southernmapart", I'm glad you like it; feel free to repost.

Southernmapart on October 19, 2012:

Nice Hub. Good ideas. I had not thought about aspirin. If one is to save matches, best to have a fool-proof way to keep them dry. The slightest dampness and they will not strike, ever.

Graham Gifford from New Hamphire on October 19, 2012:

Loved this hub! I wish more people worked the barter system. You've listed a lot of great tips, things that most of us have on hand normally. I especially liked the inclusion of chocolate.He who has the most chocolate WINS!

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on July 16, 2012:

Glad you found it useful "Monicamelendez".

monicamelendez from Salt Lake City on July 16, 2012:

I'm loving the concept of this hub Brie. I'm kind of into disaster planning and have food to last for six months right now! These are good ideas and I don't have everything on the list. I guess I better go to the store. :)

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on July 13, 2012:

I love that YOU love it :) Thanks for the comments..btw, did you read the one on property's huge!

Earth Angel on July 13, 2012:

Brie is correct again ~ There are lots of us ~

Needles, thread, hooks, fishing line are all good suggestions as well ~ Not for mending clothing, for mending bodies ~

Brie, I love how your Hub is stimulating dialog and preparedness ~ Thank you ~

Earth Angel ~

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on July 09, 2012:

Thanks for the tip "kaiyan717". Oh and btw, you are not alone there are lots of people like us out there.

kaiyan717 from West Virginia on July 09, 2012:

Thank goodness I am not the only one who thinks about if SHTF scenario. I am now looking for a foreclosed house to start off-grid living. Good to see a like-minded individual. I must say, after Hurricane Katrina and declared martial law, you couldn't get your hands on alcohol, cigs and many other things. Great, well thought out list. Maybe charcoal would be a good add to your list, saved me a time or two the months without power.

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on July 09, 2012:

All those things are very important but I focused on items that could be traded easily. The items you mentioned would be essential to have but not easily bartered because they are heavy and expensive. Yes, you should have them but I wouldn't use them to trade except maybe the paracetmol and/or soap. But I already mentioned soap and aspirin in the article.

John Harper from Malaga, Spain on July 09, 2012:

Colloidal silver I agree is a must, Panadol is basically paracetamol, I think you call it Tylenol! - ghastly stuff, but quite effective for pain relief.

Rather than matches, I would buy gas refill cans and a stock of lighters (wand (oven/stove) and cigarette) which will last longer, liquid detergents to allow for cold washes of clothes and a selection of knives and machetes, axes and log splitters... actually the list is liable to be quite long of the things you require when the grid goes down!

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on July 09, 2012:

Thanks for the tips "aguasilver, LPogue and Mayamaa. By the way, Mayamaa..what is panadol?

Mayamaa on July 08, 2012:

You people have had some comforts too long to imagine life without !

Toilet paper (hahhaha) .... half the world's population wash their bums! ... the soap will come in handy ! Yes, DEFINITELY colloidal silver, asprins, panadol, matches, Washing detergent for the clothes is a must. Magnifying glass to start fires, don't know how long till the matches factory opens again ! Definitely salt. And gallons of cooking oil. And sugar for the Tea ! ...powdered milk for a nice coffee ! Cheers. Have a nice day.

LPogue from Missouri on July 08, 2012:

Good list. I think I would add sugar.

John Harper from Malaga, Spain on July 08, 2012:

Also, regards toilet paper, living in SE Asia I see that every toilet has a hosepipe next to it (Malaysians do not use paper) and the user washes the crud away, simple and actually more hygienic than using paper!

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on July 08, 2012:

ABSOLUTELY! Thanks for commenting aguasilver.

John Harper from Malaga, Spain on July 08, 2012:

Best commodity I heard for barter and protection was to stock bullets, and it rang true, because basically if you have a gun and enough ammo, you can buy, sell or trade without fear, protect what you have and deal with any unfriendly types who think you are fair game for robbery.


Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on July 08, 2012:

Thank you "supermom in ny".

supermom_in_ny from NY on July 08, 2012:

This is a great hub! Most of these things I always buy in bulk because I live far from town. I hate running out of them. It's good to know that they can be used to barter in an extreme emergency! Shared, voted up and useful! ;)

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on July 08, 2012:

Thanks Rochelle, very good items. Small, non-perishable and useful..that is the key!

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on July 08, 2012:

Very good list. I would add needles and other sewing supplies plus fishing lines and hooks. All of them are small, non-perishable and useful.

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on July 08, 2012:

You are welcome, I learn just as much if not more when I do the research for the article. And, I have to tell you we are woefully unprepared..I am woefully unprepared. I hope this article will help people to start thinking about these things, it may even save your life.

Thanks for commenting, please rate it up and share it on your facebook.

Earth Angel on July 08, 2012:

GREAT Hub Brie ~ Thank you for spreading the word ~ It always amazes me how unprepared we are for a disaster and/or collapse ~ When thinking of barter items, the list shifts slightly with the needs of people right after the collapse vs. several months after as you mentioned ~ A few months after and water will be high on the list ~ Again, thank you for speading the word about being prepared and self-sustaining ~ Earth Angel ~

Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on July 07, 2012:

Hi Victoria: Yes, I should add that to the coffee, the thing with tea is that you can grow it easier than you can grow coffee beans in the U.S. It's an interesting thing to think about though..don't you think?

Victoria Stephens from London on July 07, 2012:

Very good tips! Having read this I just had a quick think about what I would long for in times of hardship. Providing I already had food, next on my list would be a cup of tea. I think I will stock up a few boxes now, just incase!

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