Barter items are often discussed as a necessary prep. Generally, I discourage people from stockpiling barter items because you really should be focusing on what you and your family can use and will need to survive… it seems there’s always something that you haven’t bought yet–I know I always have this problem–or that you can buy more of. Only when these needs have been sufficiently met should you really consider barter items because, whether I like it or not, you really can’t expect to have everything one needs to live (and do so comfortably) and so it never hurts to have a few things on hand.
That said, if you’re going to stockpile items for barter then it can’t hurt to get the most “bang for the buck” if-you-will and purchase items that may have a high desirability and relatively low cost. Precious metals would be the antithesis of what I’m talking about. Just to be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t include precious metals in your preps if you can afford to do so as they are the ultimate wealth preserver, but consider about how desirable a gold bar would be to someone who just wants their next meal.
I might also point out that weapons and ammo are not great barter items for the simple fact that you never want to barter anything that could later be used against you! Or, perhaps, don’t barter with people you don’t generally trust.
I’ve also see people recommend bartering skills and/or information rather than finite goods which is a great idea but not what this post is about either. The criteria for this post is that the barter item should be relatively inexpensive to purchase today but potentially have significant use or desirability if that item is no longer available. Granted, this list could get very large and you’re welcome to add your own thoughts in the comments. Here’s a start:
- Salt (especially for those living inland) – there’s a reason why Roman soldiers were paid in salt! It’s necessary for life and makes a great seasoning.
- Inexpensive alcohol (such as cheap vodka) – some will do anything for a good drink during hard times and if it’s high enough proof (such as Everclear) it can be used to sterilize wounds and start things on fire.
- Disposable lighters (and matches too) – the easiest way to start a fire guaranteed.
- Fishing gear (small hooks, line, etc) – these things get lost, break, etc. An alternative would be netting but that’s not very cheap.
- Feminine pads – useful for the obvious reason as well as for trauma dressing or gauze pad and plenty more.
- Disposable razors – personal hygiene will still be appreciated.
- Spices (anything and everything but especially consider pepper) – there’s a reason why Columbus sailed the seas looking for spices as they turn bland meals into culinary delights.
- Vegetable seeds – everyone needs to eat and small packets of vegetable seeds could be worth their weight in your favorite precious metal.
- Sewing needles and thread – clothes may need to be kept in good repair for a lot longer than we’re accustomed to.
- Fasteners and adhesives (nails, screws, glue, epoxies, etc) – settlers used to burn down their houses just so they could retrieve the nails used to build it before they moved on. Adhesive could prove similarly useful.
- Coffee singles – it’s a similar need/desire to alcohol for some people. Vacuum sealed they could last quite a while but it’s probably better to store green coffee beans if your interest is for barter.
- Nail clippers – I thought I would throw one in there you didn’t expect! Again, nail clippers or chew them off… you choose.
- Chocolate – while not a great item for long term storage, I consider it the third “addiction” most people have (me included).
- Cooking oils – these could be worth their weight in gold considering that we need fats to survive. Besides, they could be used as makeshift lighting and even as a lubricant in some cases.
Now, there are plenty of other items that could be included as useful barter items but didn’t quite make my criteria of low cost, such as antibiotics, fuel (per gallon, anyway), alkaline batteries, sterile gauze pads, etc.
What items would you include that I did not?