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16 Skills Useful For Bartering In A Crisis Situation

bartering skills

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One of the biggest threats we face today is a total financial collapse. It seems that people everywhere are just waiting for the one card to fall that’s holding up the whole house of cards. When that happens, it won’t be pretty.

In that instance, the dollar is going to become essentially worthless. Hyperinflation will kick in and the book value of the dollar will plummet. People and businesses won’t be willing to accept dollars as payment, simply because the dollar will be devaluing so rapidly. We will end up returning to a barter system for a lot of everyday personal commerce.

Likewise, a lot of other types of disasters can render money essentially useless. If an EMP attack comes, most people’s money will be trapped in the bank’s computer. They might not be able to access it for months. In that case, they’ll be seeking what they can trade, so that they can feed their families.

A lot of people are talking about stockpiling goods to use for bartering when that time comes. That’s a good idea — one that could prove quite profitable. The best barter goods are usually those that feed people’s vices; specifically alcohol and cigarettes. After that, anything that is needed for survival will probably be popular as barter goods. When Argentina went through their financial collapse, food became one of the top items for bartering.

That’s not all you can barter, though. Since a financial collapse is always accompanied by at least a partial collapse of society, there are many skills which can be bartered, as well. With the difficulty in getting these services from normal channels, people will be grateful to find others that can do them.

When you go to visit a doctor, you expect to pay him for his time. Why is that? It’s because that doctor knows things that you don’t. They’ve invested time and money in learning their profession. So, you aren’t just paying them for their time, you’re paying them for their knowledge, as well. If you were only paying them for their time, you’d be paying them the same rate that you pay someone to cut your lawn.

What makes the difference in that case is the knowledge that the doctor has. His time is more valuable because of that knowledge. Likewise, in any crisis situation, your knowledge is valuable. Don’t let people treat you as if it isn’t. If they don’t want to make a trade that is beneficial to you, you can always walk away. They need you more than you need them.

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Skills to Trade

With that said, the next question is: What marketable survival skills do you have? Let’s start with those, and then we’ll look at some others.

1. Water purification – Most people don’t have the slightest idea of how to purify water, other than you can purify it by boiling it. They don’t even know how long to boil it.

2. Alternative cooking methods – Take away electricity and most people don’t have much of an idea of how to cook. Even obvious things, like using their barbecue grill might not occur to them. More exotic methods, such as solar ovens, are way beyond their understanding.

3. Fire starting – Yes, people will have problems starting fires. Unless someone is a smoker or has a fireplace, there’s a good chance they won’t have matches or a lighter.

4. Making bio-fuel – If you have the capability, you might just be able to sell any excess you have.

5. Gardening – Many people have vegetable gardens, so that they can supply their family with food when things fall apart. Your neighbors might look enviously at that garden, especially when they get hungry. Teach them how to start their own garden, supplying the seeds that they’ll need to get going.

6. Animal husbandry – Are you raising chickens or goats? Just like your vegetable garden, those might become the focus of neighborhood attention. You can help your neighbors start their own chicken coop, perhaps seeding a few chicks to them.

7. Home defense – If things get bad, you might need to organize your neighborhood for mutual self-defense. As the leader and planner of that effort, your neighbors should offer you something in return.There are probably many other survival skills you have, but they might be more specific to surviving in the wilderness, rather than surviving in an urban situation. You probably won’t be able to barter those as well, unless you offer classes to your neighbors.

There are a whole host of other skills which could be bartered, as well. Pretty much anything that is necessary for survival, which people are accustomed to getting from society, will be in demand. In addition, any of the trades will always be in demand, just as they are now. You might know some of these skills, but not use them as your profession. But then, if your profession dries up from the crisis, these skills might be what you need to provide for your family.

8. Medical services – Medical services will always be in demand; in a crisis they are often overloaded. You have to be careful with this one, as there are some legal liability issues associated with it. However, anyone who knows basic wound treatment and first aid can do that, even if they aren’t certified. If people have a problem getting to medical help, the ability to take care of a wound may save someone’s life. That’s worth a lot.

9. Midwife – If medical services are overloaded or hard to get to, then the age old profession of the midwife will be needed. Once again, just like any other medical service, you have to be careful about liability; as you could be held liable for anything that goes wrong.

10. Psychology or counseling – Many people will have trouble dealing with the problems that they are facing and need help adjusting to them. Being able to council those people and help them come to grips with post-crisis life will be valuable.

11. Home repair (of all sorts) – Many disasters cause damage to homes. As those homes are necessary to help people survive, being able to make repairs can be very profitable.

12.Mechanics – We will always need mechanics to keep our cars running, as long as there is gas to run them. This is truer today than in the past, because less people know how to do it themselves.

13. Small engine repair – Strange as it sounds, just because someone can repair a car, doesn’t mean that they can repair a lawn mower or generator. In a crisis situation we will probably be depending upon these devices even more than normal; increasing the need for this skill.

14. Appliance repair – With people having less money, they won’t be able to just run out and buy a new washing machine if theirs breaks. Having it repaired would be much cheaper. This may even apply to small appliances if merchandise starts becoming scarce.

15. Gunsmithing – When people get hungry and desperate, there’s no telling what they will do. People who have guns may not have the ability to fix them themselves.

16. Clergy – More than half of the counseling done in this country is done by clergy. That won’t become any less in the aftermath of a crisis. Their services will also be needed for helping with weddings and funerals.

There are probably some other skills, such as blacksmithing, which should be added to this list. Take time to inventory your own skills and see how they might be useful in the aftermath of a financial crash or other crisis. Don’t limit yourself to only these things; think of anything you know how to do, which might be useful in a survival situation. Many things that we don’t commonly use today will be needed, as people are forced to return to the ways of our ancestors.

If the skills which you are planning on bartering require special materials to do, you should put in a stock of those materials as well. Granted, you probably can’t stock everything, but you can stock the most common things you’d use. That way, you’ll have something to start with.

One of the questions that many preppers have about bartering is that of what to accept in trade for their trade goods or skills. There are several ways of looking at this. Typically, preppers talk about trading their trade goods or skills for things that they don’t have. No matter how thoroughly any of us prepare, we’re going to forget something. If you need that something, then it becomes the most important thing for you to trade for.

Another thing you can trade for is people’s time. Just surviving is going to be a full-time job. You may have trouble coming up with enough time to survive, as well as barter your skills. Well then, barter your skills for other people’s time. In other words, if you have a neighbor that needs drinking water, tell them you’ll purify their water, if they haul water from the river for both of you. Or, you’ll help them start their vegetable garden, if they’ll pull weeds in yours. That way, you can make better use of the time that you have.

Remember, your time will be more valuable than theirs, simply because you have the needed skills to survive. Be fair with people, but don’t let them take advantage of you either. Your prime concern is taking care of your own family, not theirs.

One last category of things you can barter for is valuables. Eventually, things will return to normal, or a new normal. While a silver tea set may lose its relative value during the crisis, because it isn’t necessary for survival; after the crisis its value will return. When that happens, you can sell the tea service for a profit.

During World War II, there was a lot of this going on. There were constant shortages in occupied Europe. The priority was given to the German military forces, leaving insufficient food for the population in these countries. Many people dealt with this by going out to the country and trading silver tea sets and other valuables to farmers for hams cheeses, and other foodstuffs.

When the war was over and Europe returned to normal, many of those farmers, who had been poor before the war, ended up quite comfortable. Their black-market bartering of food during the war years made them a tidy profit when it came time to sell those valuables.

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  1. Some of the items on the list can be done as a hobby in the garage to make a little extra scratch, such as being a small engine mechanic.

    • I’ve set up a bicycle repair business in my garage and the city is fine with it as long as I call it a hobby-their words.
      I pick up the bikes recovered by the Police and repair and give them away to the needy. Everyone wins and I also make a little money with standard repair work like a regular shop except no large overhead…provides all of the money for my preps…

  2. All good ideas, but the question I have been pondering is HOW do you advertize your goods and needs to others? You can’t just hang out a shingle. One idea would be through the local church. It has to be accomplished through trust, and that has me worried. The fewer that know of this “stash”, the better!

    • Just don’t tell anyone your prepping. I tell folks I trade goods for services and it works great. Just don’t say your a prepper or survivalist or have any leaning in that direction. OPSEC is the word…

      • Thanks for the reply and your service. I guess that I’m getting ahead of myself because I am thinking of AFTER the collapse. Right now, however, I have had to share my secret with a few kids because of my age and inability to lift. I let them know that they are in “the inner circle” and silence may save their lives. So far it has been working. However, plans are in place to hide some provisions in a non-disclosed location. It is best to not have all your eggs in one basket!

        • That’s the way, But keep your prepping low key. I have a few of the inner circle fellas as well so I guess that’s OK. The kids may talk though, watch out, not because of fear but operational security and ending up with masses of hungry people at your door.

    • I found a web-site that does the work for you and at no cost. It’s called “” and free to set-up.
      Just don’t call yourself a business or use those words in your webpage. You’ll have to share with other advertising but it works great. I get lots of business through them…Good luck

  3. 17. computer repair: I make a nice sideline with this already. Most ppl, even though they use their computer everyday, have absolutely no idea how to fix them. Plus, people give me old computers, that they think “are useless, and I’ve even found a few on trash day(after x-mas is the best time to look) “. The oldest ones, I salvage for parts, power supplies, fans, switches, etc. The more useful ones, though outdated, I convert to linux, or do other things with them.

    18: 3-D printing:This tech, though still new, should be a priority to any prepper. the ability to make parts on the fly, to make a water pump, gear, basically any plastic part needed, from scratch. All without a foundry, or sandcasting, or a machine shop,could be more valuable than most other skillsets.After all, plastic is a large part of the age we live in. Print a new stock for a rifle, instead of carving one from wood, or print a new clip for said rifle, when no new ones are available. Hell, now you can print an ENTIRE GUN.

  4. As I survived economic crash of exUSSR I remember that 8,9,11,12,13,14 are valuable skill set.
    1. water can be boiled and drinked, and water systems do not fall apart and are taken care by government with a very high priority.
    2 and 3 – dunno, I do not count these even a skills, but anyway could be learned in one day, you can’t make a living with it.
    4 – you can live without fuel and heating (i live in country where lowest temp. are about at -35). We converted homes to firewood stoves ( stove making – was a booming industry during crisis. but only in the beginning). Our family did not used car – at all just 2L (two legs)
    6 – may be a liitle, it is difficult to earn for a living with it
    Psychology and counseling,clergy and gunsmithing – was not demanded professions at all. It does not mean that people did not needed it – it was extra we did not had money for. Also it was cheaper to buy a gun than repair it, because broke army officers sold whatever they could have their hands on – from AK-47s to BTRs and heavy machinery.
    Also lesson learned – single family or individual cannot fight with organized crime – guns did not matter at all. You can guard your family for a month, but crisis lasts YEARS. Would you be able to lock your family indoors for 5-6 years ? I usually carried a pepper spray and not gun – less problems with a police, and criminals usually will not shoot you. Otherwise they could shoot me as potential killer or competitor ( Just to be sure ).
    Militia must be organized as soon as possible, only it could help.

    • Practical advice from zeds (a person who has walked-the-walk). I live in small community in back country where daily living is a survival experience. We need to hear more from experienced people such as zeds.

  5. Right now it appears like Drupal is the top blogging platform available right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

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