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Bartering – When Fiat Money Is Not Enough

In 1913, the United States dollar started down a long, steady road of decline. This was the year when America adopted the Federal Reserve Banking system.

This system effectively abolished the gold standard and replaced it with a banking system that allow for unlimited paper money to be created.

What this means is that our monetary system is based completely on faith. The money you have in the bank, the money in your pocket, and your investments are only valuable as long as someone else is willing to accept the US dollar as payment.

The problem is that our money no longer has the spending power it once did. When each dollar was backed by its weight in gold, there was no inflation. At any time, citizens could exchange their dollars for gold.

The US government continues to create new money; further devaluing the money in our pockets. Other countries have taken notice and have started to diversify away from US currency for global trades.

In 1971, foreign countries liquidating US currency became such a problem that President Nixon had to close the window that allowed currency to be exchanged for gold

The worst part is that financial experts claim that far more dramatic drops are anticipated in the future.

What does this mean for our economy? How will we be able to afford essential goods and services?

Businesses are in no better shape. That means they can’t raise employee wages in response to inflation. Basically, the cost of goods continues to go up while the average Americans paycheck stays the same (or even goes down).

As we have seen, millions of people have even lost their jobs as a result of our current economic crisis.

If we continue along this path, we will not be able to afford the things we need. It will become impossible for most people to purchase groceries, clothing, and services such as electrical power.

Seems like a pretty bleak future, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it could be the demise of society. Unable to afford basic needs, widespread panic and outright chaos will ensue.

If we talk about “doom and gloom” for a second, this may be the reason why we are thrust into a new lifestyle where we will be solely dependent on our own sustainable assets.

Many preppers and post-apocalyptic survival experts have theories about zombies, massive EMP attacks, and nuclear war being the demise of modern society. At the rate our economy is going, it could just as well be the failure of the US dollar that sends society into a downward spiral.

But you know what? I’m not an expert nor am psychic. The truth is that no one knows when, how, or if we will experience full scale societal collapse in our lifetimes.

So instead of that, let’s just look at the facts. The facts are that our money doesn’t go as far as it used to. We may not be able to afford things that once were easy to obtain.

Many of us have lost our jobs and have had difficulty finding new employment.

How can we fix this? How can we move forward when we have no control over the dollar’s value locally or globally?

Fortunately, there is a solution. Bartering allows us to trade items with others and obtain things that we need or want. Bartering systems do not rely on government mistakes or careless spending practices to be effective.

When bartering, we look at the real value of a product or service; not how much gold it is or isn’t backed by.

Some people spend their time and money trying to save precious metals. After all, gold has been a globally accepted monetary standard for thousands of years. But what are the chances that someone can make change for your golden coins? Most likely, people will not be interested in your gold.

Remember that a financial system that works depends on perceived value. The person you are trying to purchase something from may not see the value in gold because they may question whether or not they will be able to trade the gold to someone else for something they need or want.

This brings up an important point about value. Value changes with need. A pack of AA batteries might cost you a couple of dollars today. That pack of batteries could be worth $10, $20, or even $50 if batteries are difficult to find.

If money has no value, that pack of batteries might be worth 20lbs of meat. At today’s prices, that meat would be worth $60 or more.

A localized economy that focuses on bartering products or services for other products or services is the only sustainable solution. It is the only way we can guarantee that we will have the things we need to survive because it is completely separate from a failed economic system.

In this article, we will look closely at what bartering is and what types of items you should barter that can help you now and in the future.

What is Bartering?

Bartering means trading goods or services without exchanging money.

Instead of trading paper money for a gallon of milk, maybe you trade a dozen eggs for that gallon of milk.

Instead of buying a cord of wood, you could offer to help build a new structure in exchange for the cord of wood.

The possibilities are endless. As long as you have something of perceived value, you should be able to trade that for something else of similar value.

A barter economy is nothing new. For thousands of years, trading goods and services was a very mainstream activity. Even during the Great Depression, there were hundreds of barter economies across the United States.

In more recent years, bartering has taken a backseat to our ever declining US dollar. Granted, the dollar does make commerce easy. There is no haggling over the value of one item over the other. The problem is that items we need seem to get more expensive every week.

In the wake of the global economic collapse, barter economies are making a comeback.

As usual, America seems to be one of the last major countries to adopt this mindset as many European countries have already begun to realize the importance of reestablishing barter economies.

One thing that seems to stump people about bartering in general is how much an item is worth.

For instance, how many pounds of meat are equal to a tube of toothpaste? How many pounds of fertilizer are equal to a gallon of gasoline?

The answer is – as much as someone is willing to pay.

Bartering is a skill. It is a skill you would be well served to begin practicing now.

There are countless stories of people bartering their way up from small items to much larger and more expensive items on popular sites like craigslist.

One person was able to start with only a cell phone and slowly barter their way to a Porsche without ever exchanging any cash. The trick is finding out what people need and providing that in exchange for things that you need or want.

Learning how to barter now is a valuable skill because you can use it to obtain everyday things.

If you want a new TV, it’s easy to go to the store and purchase one. But if you have some old power tools in your garage taking up space, you might be surprised to find out that somebody would be willing to trade you their almost new TV for some of those tools.

It’s a great way to save money and free up cash to use for more sustainable activities. If you are able to successfully barter for that new TV, the cash you would’ve spent on that can be spent on improving your vegetable production at home or investing in a water filtration system. The possibilities are endless.

The key to bartering successfully is having items that are needed by others. We will discuss some common items that should always have trade value in a later section.

Ideally, the products and services you have available for trade will be completely sustainable.

In other words, things like growing your own produce or raising your own livestock are sustainable assets that you will be able to depend on in a barter economy for years to come.

Remember that the value of an item fluctuates based on demand. If fresh meat isn’t available at the store, it becomes much more valuable as a trade item.

What Items Are Best for Bartering?

The best thing about bartering is that practically anything can be used in trade. Even things that you may consider junk may have value to someone else.

For our purposes, however, we want to look at sustainable products and services that we can create.

You can find websites that will give you listings of hundreds of different items that you should stock to use for bartering in the future.

That’s fine for short-term needs.

Long-term survivability (a.k.a. resiliency) comes from tangible assets that we can create indefinitely.

Let’s look at a few of the best things for bartering in an uncertain future:

Fruits and Vegetables – In general, food is invaluable to humans so it poses an excellent opportunity for bartering in the future. As we strive to lead resilient lifestyles, we spend a lot of time focusing on sustainable gardening techniques that ensure high yields every year. Consider expanding your garden so it can accommodate the food needs of your family as well as potential bartering opportunities.

Protein Products – This includes protein rich meat that you produce at home such as cattle, chickens, and rabbits. It also includes byproducts such as chicken eggs. With a little bit of effort, it’s relatively easy to raise these animals and breed them to maintain a healthy population. Not only does this provide your family with protein rich foods, but it will also become a highly desirable trade item in a barter economy.

Fertilizer – Whether you rely on compost or biochar, these sustainable fertilizers will become extremely valuable to others who may not have prepared for a failed economy in advance. When your neighbor’s crops are not growing and they are unable to go to the store and pick up a bag of fertilizer, your compost becomes extremely valuable to that individual.

Fish – This is another excellent source of protein but I have listed it separately because raising fish sustainably can only be done through an aquaponics system. If you are not familiar with aquaponics, it is a gardening method that relies on fish waste to fertilize your plants and filter fish waste from the water simultaneously. It is an extremely powerful, sustainable technique for producing organic fruits, vegetables and fish.

Herbal Medicine – Just as it will be impossible to source food and other essentials from stores, medicine will be in short supply. If you have taken the time to study even basic herbal medicine, you have a huge advantage in a barter economy. You can grow herbs alongside your other produce and create useful medication from many plant extracts. These remedies will have significant trade value.

Skills – If you have a special skill, it can also be leveraged to your advantage during a trade. Even if you don’t have extra produce or meat to trade but you know how to build a house or fix a solar panel, you can use these skills to trade for tangible goods We often take for granted the network of professionals that fix things when they are broken. These skills will be extremely valuable in a barter economy.

Created Products – You can also use your skills to build products and trade these prebuilt items in exchange for things you need or want. If you are skilled woodworker, you can build any number of useful items that could be traded for extra food, clothing or whatever else you may need.

Items to Stock Up On

Some common items that cannot be produced at home (which makes them excellent bartering products) include:

Household Items

  • Aluminum foil
  • Batteries, the rechargeable ones
  • Solar battery chargers
  • Candles
  • Bleach
  • Rope
  • Duct tape
  • Glue of all kinds
  • Rubber bands
  • Safety Pins
  • Scissors
  • Silicon spray
  • Soap
  • Storage buckets with lids
  • Tarps/plastic sheeting
  • Utility knives
  • Windup radio
  • Windup or cranking flashlights
  • Small metal stainless pots or bowls
  • Matches
  • Flint & steel
  • Zip lock baggies


  • Combs
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Feminine products
  • Nail clippers
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Razors
  • Soap
  • Lotion
  • Lip balm
  • Alcohol such as isopropyl or rubbing
  • Adhesive bandages (Band-Aids)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Super glue
  • OTC medicines
  • Hydrogen peroxide


  • Baby clothes
  • Cloth diapers
  • Flip-flops
  • Needles and thread
  • Yarn and knitting needles or crochet hooks
  • Shoes and laces
  • Socks and underwear
  • Winter coats and raingear
  • Boots
  • Gloves such as work, garden and winter


  • Candy
  • Canned and Dried Food
  • Canning jars, lids, wax
  • Coffee filters
  • Coffee or tea
  • Cooking Oil
  • Drink flavors
  • Eating & Cooking utensils
  • Salt, spices
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable seeds


  • Guns
  • Ammunition (.22LR and 12g are popular)
  • Bows and arrows
  • Bug repellent
  • Animal traps
  • Fishing line, hooks
  • Knives
  • Snare wire

Other Items

  • Knives, hatchets, axes
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Mirrors
  • Nails and screws
  • Non-electric hand-tools
  • Pencils and sharpeners
  • Paper
  • Playing cards or dice for games
  • Pocket knives
  • Liquor
  • Water filter elements
  • Toilet paper
  • Eye glass repair kits
  • Gold and silver
  • Canteens

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