6 Prepper Barter Lessons from History - My Patriot Supply

6 Prepper Barter Lessons from History

In the span of human history, money as a concept didn’t exist until about 5,000 B.C. 

Before that, the practice of bartering had been around for centuries as a means to exchange goods and services. 

Though you won’t see many people in the Western world exchanging farm animals or precious metals as they did back then, bartering is still very much alive and well

You’ll still find bartering at swap meets and farmers markets--and now with the internet, bartering beyond physical location has grown. From clothes to houses, people can arrange swaps from halfway across the world. 

The power of barter should never be underestimated, especially during periods of crisis. 

If banks fail or certain resources become depleted, our traditional systems for selling and purchasing goods and services won’t be as reliable. 

That’s why we see sophisticated barter systems organically self-organize in crises throughout history. 

For example, after the dollar collapsed during the Great Depression, basic items were used as currency. People would bring items such as tobacco or home-grown produce to the local market to be used in trade or barter negotiations. 

Even today, there are many economies around the world that have been forced to rely on barter systems. 

Take Venezuela, for example, and it’s current economic collapse. Due to crippling inflation, it has seen a surge in the value of everyday items, and many citizens now rely on bartering to meet their basic needs. 

With our own financial systems in flux, cyber attacks on our banking systems, and the threat that storms and other natural disasters pose to our access to resources, it’s wise to take a deeper look into bartering. 

Read on. I’m going to walk you through essential barter lessons during and after a crisis. 

These strategies and tips have been used throughout history, and are proven to be effective in acquiring the necessary items to survive tough times. 


#1: Stock Up on Valuable Items That Will Be in High Demand During Crises.

First things first--you won’t be successful in bartering if you don’t have anything valuable to barter. 

In the case of disasters and emergencies, the best bartering items… 

  • Won’t cost much before disaster strikes.
  • Are easy to store.
  • Will increase in value once disaster strikes. 

These items may include water filtration, heirloom seeds, weapons, fuel, backup generators, medicine, and first aid items. Did I mention food? We eat several times a day now and will want to every day during a crisis where we may be forced to barter again too. You might want to stock up on a couple of libations like coffee and alcohol. 

Make sure you stock up on these items before things become dire--because at that point, supplies are sure to sell out. Fast.


#2: Know the Value of Your Items and the Items You Want. 

When you enter into a negotiation, it won’t help if you don’t understand the true value of your items, as well as the value of the items you need. 


How many rolls of toilet paper are equivalent to a liter of fuel? 

How much ammunition would you want in exchange for a solar power source? 

In a bartering system where prices in dollar amounts aren’t utilized or mentioned, it’s important to take the time to consider what each item you have and desire is worth. 

Bear in mind that the value of the item before disaster hits won’t be the same as after it has hit, and certain supplies become more scarce and higher in demand.


#3: Understand How to Talk Up the Value of Your Items. 

It’s time to think like a salesperson. You’re going to need to smoothly and swiftly discuss the benefits and uses of the item, as well as the difficulty in obtaining it elsewhere. 

For example… 

  • Discuss how long your heirloom fruit and vegetable seeds can be stored.
  • Share how many contaminants your filtration unit can remove from water.
  • Discuss how your dual flashlight and radio runs on hand-cranked energy. 

Whatever happens, don’t let them talk the value of your items down in an attempt to rip you off. Do your research ahead of time, and come to the table prepared to make your case.

#4: Have a Contingency Plan If They Don’t Accept Your Initial Offer. 

Sometimes, despite how hard you try, you’ll find people who are ready to walk away from the negotiation. 

In these cases, you’ll need something to “sweeten the pot.” Reflect on what kind of items won’t be too valuable to add to the deal, but are modest and intriguing. Those items will differ from person to person. 

You can also consider offering an entirely different product if the person really seems uninterested or unimpressed.


#5: Aim to Barter with People You Know First. 

In times of desperation, people can become greedy, and unfortunately, violent. 

That’s why it’s always best to barter between friends, neighbors, and others that you can trust. 

You can trust them to be fair in negotiations, and you can trust them not to see you as a target for supplies that they could potentially rob you of down the line when times get even more desperate. 

In the case that you do reach out to strangers in barter proposals or negotiations, it’s key to bring another person along. 

There’s no saying when things could turn south and the person you’re negotiating with could become violent. 

On the other hand, if you’ve already made the deal and are simply meeting up to exchange items, you’ll also want to have someone come with you for safety reasons.


#6: Be Willing to Walk Away. 

Keep in mind that walking away is not losing. You don’t want to be that inexperienced person who ends up giving too much value in exchange for an item of lesser value. 

The more time you spend negotiating, the harder it will be to walk away. So try to come to an agreement sooner rather than later. 

Additionally, have a trade in mind that you’re willing to make, with some wiggle room. And, at the end of the day, you can always come back to the table after you’ve walked away. 

Bartering takes some time to adjust to if you’re accustomed to selling and buying items with money. However, with enough study and practice of these barter lessons, you’ll be an ace in no time--as long as you have the right items in advance to barter with! 

Understanding how to use this age-old system to your advantage will set you and your family up to endure difficult times. 

In Liberty, 

Elizabeth Anderson

Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.