Preparedness blog

How to Barter

By Ready Expert
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When you are caught in a disaster, either natural or economical, supplies can be in short demand. Bartering is a great skill to have to be able to trade your unique goods and services in order to help you and your family during an emergency.

Imagine that the economy collapsed. You’d be able to barter for food and other supplies instead of using currency.

Or better yet, money is really tight in a lot of homes right now! Imagine being able to barter with your neighbors to trade goods and services for items that your family needs right now!

How to Barter
If you’ve never bartered, here are some steps to get you started:

How to Barter FoodFigure out what you want. In an emergency situation, assess your needs. What things do you need and what things do you want?

Figure out what you can give. Think about what things you would sell if you had a garage sale tomorrow? Is any of it valuable? What skills or hobbies do you have that you can teach someone? What chores do you enjoy doing?

Identify a trading partner. Try to find someone that you know is in need of one of the skills or goods that you have. If you can’t readily find someone, make a list of those you know that might need a skill or good that you have.

Negotiate and ask. Come with an idea of what you want. For example, “I would like to exchange my first born child for your flock of geese.” Don’t go to the trade without an idea of what you want.

Tips to bartering like a professional
We’ve collected a few tips that you can use while bartering. Let us know your bartering techniques too. What do you find helpful in a bartering situation. Comment below!
Assess a dollar value. Try and research the price of the item that you’d like to barter. That might give you a better idea of other items that you can barter for. Remember though that many times a value depends on the person’s needs, wants and preferences.

Set a time frame. Come into an agreement with your trading partner when the services will be exchanged. If there is a deadline, you need to decide that. If the good or service is on an ongoing basis, consider meeting again to re-evaluate and make sure everyone is still OK with the deal.

Taxes with bartering. Some bartering items require that you report the transaction on your tax return. Obviously, you won’t have to report things like mowing your neighbors lawn in exchange for his homemade beef jerky. However, a barter between two businesses is considered taxable income and should be reported.

Get it in writing. If at all possible, get the deal in writing so that you and your trading partner are in agreeance. This will come in handy too if someone tries to alter the agreement later down the road.

Triangular bartering. Bartering doesn’t always have to be between two individuals. If you have three people who all want each other’s goods or services, you can still strike a deal. You can mow a person’s lawn, in exchange they will give eggs to a neighbor and the neighbor will give you milk from their cow.

Be skeptical if you need to be. If someone is trying to trade an item that you’re not as familiar with, don’t feel bad asking questions. It’s not wrong to ask questions about the item or to ask more details about the person’s skill set.

Your tips and ideas
What tips do you  have to become a professional barterer? Comment below and spread the wealth!

12 years ago
Alex Kinnison
12 years ago at 12:59 AM
Good general tips. One thing I'd like to add, that many of my friends seem to miss, is have things that people want during a CRISIS, not things people want now. I have friends who've hoarded, for example, silver, have it buried on their property. Can you eat silver? Will silver fix a headache? Nope. Barter goods are immediate. Stock simple medicines (aspirin really is a miracle drug), luxuries (I have a lot of wine). Your barter goods need to be valuable in a total breakdown, not in the context of todays' world. Wine. Spices. Ammunition. Long shelf life medicine. Paper books. Tools. These are the things that you will be able to trade for what you need. Double or triple your own requirements for these items to be the person that people go to for a trade. A single bottle of wine will fetch you a deer haunch that you can live off of for a week. --alx
Alex Klein
12 years ago at 1:45 AM
Good Stuff. Consider building your barter goals into your food and resource stockpiling. We all know that dollars will be worthless after a "bad storm". Think about things you can't do without. Odds are that other families will feel similarly and then you'll have whet they need, when they need it. Beyond that, you'll begin the crisis with "more of what you need" in the first place. Every barter exposes you to risk. Personal Peril, impersonal profit at the hands of others, etc. Think about things that you KNOW will be valuable, and then insure they have a special place in your larder. By doing this now, week to week, when the hard times come, you'll already be prepared. Semper Fi.
John Ciulla
12 years ago at 11:36 AM
In this uncertain world it's wise to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Accumulating every day food items and other necessities is prudent. Bartering for supplies may be in the cards but with the current easy money policies going on all over the world, it's only a matter of time until that 'money' in our pockets won't be worth the paper it's printed on. Then it would be wise to have some silver and gold on hand which historically have been able to preserve the wealth of those fortunate enough to have some.
7 years ago at 5:53 AM
Yes we have some silver as well. But I am not one who thinks this will be that big of a deal. 22 ammo, 223 ammo, 9mm ammo, 45 ammo, magazines for firearms, firearms themselves. Food for sure! But more valuable than Gold or silver wil be.....toilet paper! That and cigarettes. As a never have smoked it would be easy to not touch them for those with the addiction I bet I could get a cow for a carton! Be creative, tools, hardware, building materials etc. lots of things are easy to barter with.
Roger Morrison
12 years ago at 2:30 PM
I am a carpenter by trade just starting to build up a gun collection. The guy down the street Jimmy is a licensed gun dealer.In conversation with Jimmy I find that he needs his front door replaced with a reinforced one. Jimmy has the door but doesn't have the knowledge to put it in, but I do. I have the know how and tools to do the job and tell Jimmy that I normally get $450 to do such a job. What I suggest to Jimmy is that I install the door in exchange for 1,000 round of ammo I know goes for about $400. What about the $50 on my part? I bartering with Jimmy, this is a give and take deal were Jimmy is getting what he wants and I have what I want... AMMO. A DEAL HAS BEEN MADE!
12 years ago at 6:29 PM
Alex memtioned ammo for barter. If you are the one with the ammo know with whom you are bartering and make sure you trust that person. Do you really want that stranger coming back to take more stuff using the ammo you gave him?
7 years ago at 5:55 AM
For those of us with ammo to barter, being outgunned will not be the issue.
12 years ago at 4:18 AM
Great tips! Bartering is also better for the environment... less sent to the landfill!
12 years ago at 10:57 AM
When money isn't worth what it is written on and you have food items, ammo, toiletries, meds you need to think about money replacement. Yes, gold and silver are good if you can afford to purchase them. What I stocked up on are semi-precious and precious gems. Emeralds, citrine, amethyst. Every little bit helps.
Carissa Sharpe
12 years ago at 5:58 PM
I am glad so many Americans are now starting to understand the NEED for preparedness of any type of emergency situation. However, the majority wouldn't be able to survive for more than a few days because they maintain the "denial mindset". This amazes me considering how many natural disasters our country is now experiencing on a regular basis. Whether a disaster is created by Mother Nature or is Man-made, I believe it is imperative to be as conscientious as you can be and take this very seriously. The weather will continue to get worse, causing more damage and power outages, forest fires and floods, hurricanes & tornados, draught and blight. Our World reflects the negligence and damage we humans have sown and sadly, it seems there is no political will to do anything about it. Additionally, with the worldwide economic crisis we have been experiencing, this too will continue to worsen and make our everyday lives that much more susceptible to conflict and trauma. I am NOT a pessimist, so please don't think that! I am simply well studied in what is happening and can only base my assumptions on our past history. Human beings have yet to learn the important lessons that history has tried to teach us. It is our greatest flaw as a species and because of this, some kind of socio-economic breakdown is inevitable unless major changes take place soon. Unfortunately, there are very powerful people and entities that seem driven to create this outcome, regardless the conseques. As someone commented before: "Hope for the best, but PLAN for the worst". Whether we experience Natural Disasters or Manmade ones, it is in everyone's best interest to be prepared.
11 years ago at 3:41 AM
I am putting up a stock of Cheap Whiskey, Rum and Vodka . And am looking into putting up some Tobacco seeds. If I can find a way to store it I may even put back some prepared tobacco. Tobacco and whiskey were trade staples on the frontier . And I believe will become very valuable again in hard times. Also coffee in small vacuum packed cans . OTC meds such as Aspirin , Tylenol and other pain relievers will be in short supply and valuable.
11 years ago at 4:57 AM
Major magazine I believe the economist now admits the idea of global warming is not panning out. yes droughts hurricanes etc but this is not new or caused by manmade just normal this today and not the only group just saying this. that said, still need to prepare for natural disasters and economic crisis.I have small amts of all above hoping to get more I also have stockpiled food oils and fats thinking this may be valuable.
11 years ago at 5:51 AM
Whether it's a natural disaster, or loss of employment...being prepared will be your salvation. Just a quick thought: if you are stock piling alcohol & tobacco, do not to forget to stock up on the goods you will actually need. Others will not always have anything you want.
Debbra W
11 years ago at 2:36 PM
I live in a small mountain resort town which will be forgotten come a large disaster. Our neighbors around here in the forest already have a farmer's type market where things are bartered and even sold for currency. That's what you do. Establish a table and "sell" what you have. Don't forget that relief organizations may seek and seize for the greater good all your stored foodstuffs. Just remember that your Mum taught you to share, and help others. After you have prepared yourself and family then act as the Savior said we must and all will be well with you.
11 years ago at 2:06 PM
From the LA Times- "40% of all workers in Los Angeles County (Los Angeles County has 10.2 million people) are working for cash and not paying taxes. This is because they are predominantly illegal aliens working without a green card." - and these folks are CODDLED and CATERED to. Ergo, I think it's a safe bet that when it comes to barter, we'd be better off omitting the "taxes" part.
10 years ago at 7:36 AM
All I can say is don't show your whole supply to anyone. Even if you are with a group of prepper or tight family friends. Until disaster hits and becomes a need for someone. I showed my supplies to an ex close friend. I had extra medicine and they came back and took all of the medicine for the wrong reasons. Plus some TP and cans of soup. I would never barter from home unless the person already knows where you live. If this is an aftermath scenario you really shouldn't barter till 3 months after SHTF. Pool resources with community. Setup different areas you would barter from so you can rotate so less likely to be ambushed.
Northwoods Cheryl
10 years ago at 7:54 AM
I am not comfortable at ALL with bartering. You are setting yourself up to be targeted as someone who "has stuff". People will do ANYTHING, including kill you, to get what they need or want. You need to cover all your bases adequately so you have no need to get more of anything!! This requires a LOT of PLANNING. I am co-owner of one of the largest survival groups on yahoo. It doesn't mean I think I know everything, but I DO have a huge base of members who discuss these things at length. Some of which run the big survival seminars and others are published authors. Please, oh PLEASE prepare yourself so you won't need to barter!! That's a disaster in itself.
10 years ago at 11:31 AM
I agree to Northwoods Cheryl comment above as people change during crisis times and normally stoic, well behaved people can turn in an instant if they feel threatened or are in desperate need of something especially something they know you have. I have been proud to show off my pantry in the past because I think I have planned and stored well but the first thing people say is " I'm coming here if something happens" which was not what I was going for. I merely was trying to get people to think in the future and store stuff for themselves. I would share my pantry items if need be but educating people is the best way to share.
10 years ago at 3:50 PM
We don't tell anyone about our preps. If the time comes for bartering, we won't be doing any until a couple of months after the event. We hope that things will have settled down somewhat during that time. As for charity to others, these others didn't sacrifice anything to help us put the food, water, and supplies aside for later. They didn't put up our buckets of sugar and salt. They didn't purchase extra batteries for our flashlights. Why should we take food from our table to give to people too lazy or stupid to take care of themselves?
Northwoods Cheryl
10 years ago at 4:00 PM
Thank you to all who have shown the common sense to realize others WILL take your things from you or worse.. if you let ANYONE know what you have. There are those who say they will set up a big pot of soup on a table out on the sidewalk and "share with all who have need". Well that's a pretty rose-colored-glasses outlook. Also VERY naive! A few weeks later, after your place was plundered for all you have, you will wish the heck you had kept QUIET. Also, don't plan to cook outside on a grill! Cooking smells are the BIGGEST advertisment of all! If the grid goes down, how do you plan to safely cook your meals indoors without carbon monoxiding yourself to death. PLAN NOW. STORE NOW!!!
Northwoods Cheryl
10 years ago at 8:54 AM
Me, again, if you can all stand one more comment. This one is about the "Laws against profiteering". If we get to the point where people are needing to barter for things, ALL LAWS will be out the window!! No one will be thinking or caring about things such as price gouging. ALL will be totally concerned with survival. Period.
Northwoods Cheryl
10 years ago at 10:32 AM
They have to find me. They better have good boots and gear and be prepared to hike the entire northwoods of the Michigan UP. For one small group of people? Not so sure. And, I don't give up that easy either.
10 years ago at 7:10 PM
Honestly law enforcement is not going to care if you barter unless it's contraband. Proving an exchange between two individuals is very hard and to say you overcharged would be very hard to prove. It more then likely will only be resolved in civil court. If it can. Profiteering is more for stores. Like when Sandy came and places got in trouble for raising prices on water and batteries. Right now wood pellets and salt are in high demand but they can't drastically raise the prices. No one cares if I trade homemade jam for cucumbers. Side not I find it funny people called us nuts for stockpiling because they said their are a million stores around not everyone will be sold out. Now they are going nuts looking for wood pellets. Funny that all this crazy weather over the past years are making people preppers now and most don't even realize it. FAILURE to PREPARE IS PREPARING FOR FAILURE.
10 years ago at 9:30 PM
I believe that what Cheryl and many others are saying they will barter when it is the normal way to trade goods. Like if we are living in a world like TV show revolution. Like doomsday happened and things are not going to back to the way it was.
Northwoods Cheryl
10 years ago at 7:26 AM
Jason, well said. That's pretty much where I stand on bartering. I won't until some sense of "normalcy" is returned. I doubt money will be in use, but things of value such as salt or bandages may be.. I do think there will be a big decrease in the population by that time. By whatever means.. fighting, lack of needed medicines, lack of food or ability and knowledge of how to get any, etc. Those who survive the "big whatever" will form some kind of local system. That's what I believe anyway.
10 years ago at 7:36 AM
can opener and matches
10 years ago at 6:42 PM
Lots of opinions and deep thinking, but as far as appearing to be trading unfairly, it isn't exactly price gouging, but since it might be seen that way by "law enforcement" or complaining, disgruntled citizens, I have a solution. Stock up on notebooks and record transactions so that if you trade a chicken for a Rolex watch, you can write down that you are offering to provide other products or services as credit and have the other person agree in writing that they honored/agreed to the trade. Of course fancy crap isn't as valuable so I would request labor in exchange for food or whatever. Work out as fair a deal as possible, but I agree, tell nobody what you have and appear to have little. If you grow into the local trader and have friends to protect you then you may spark an active bartering community. Better to be humble and even appear needy, but also decent and kind as possible to others. And forget about this hip anti-clutter movement. I say get as much useful stuff as you can now. When the poop hits the fan you'll feel better prepared and not like a hoarder or extreme collector.
10 years ago at 12:52 AM
I concur with Frank "...tell nobody what you have and appear to have little". But to take it even further-- if/when various agencies show up to dole out supplies we should also show up and for our allotment. We need to appear to be in the same boat as others. Don't get me wrong-- it is not out of greed--but rather to keep up appearances. Perhaps some of these items can quietly given to someone you know is in dire need or be traded for some help you need with something--clean up efforts etc.
10 years ago at 11:37 PM
I have already had a taste of the future after the shtf. I met another so called prepper a couple of years ago. At that time I mentioned I had a rifle I wanted to sell. He was going down my street and saw me a couple of months ago and stoped to inquire if the rifle was still for sale. I told him yes and again mentioned the price. He came back later to look at the gun and asked me if I would take 1/2 and he would do work for the rest. He asked what needed to be done and I told him the work I wanted done. He used that information to get information on what my security was, how it worked and the items I had in my home. He came right out and asked me where I had my other guns hidden. I just looked at him and realized he only wanted information on how to take everything I had. Before he left he came right out and said he was coming back with his friend and blast out my sliding glass doors to gain access. I felt like a complete idiot, but have made changes since then. Do not trust anyone. It does not matter who they are. This guy said he was an Army veteran (an MP) and gained my confidance since I am also a veteran.
Northwoods Cheryl
9 years ago at 6:05 AM
As things have become even MORE tense and "iffy" out there, I stand on all my previous comments. I am not bartering with anyone unless absolutely necessary. NEVER bring a person to your place if you must barter, but rather meet them in a public area. Problem is, if all communications are down, as they very well may be, it would be pretty hard to find this or that person who may have what you need. I am fortunate that I live way out in the boonies, so to speak. I feel pretty bad for those of you who would be stuck in metro areas. The best way to keep your things safe from marauders is to not have them all in one place. Easier in the country than city, for sure. I have found it easy to bury food grade 5 gallon buckets with a Gamma Seal lid, in predetermined places. In town, a neighbor or someone would certainly see you do that. If you CAN bury some items, have a variety of things in each container. Coast Guard emergency high-cal food blocks come to mind, along with things like rope, wire, matches, a small cooking vessel, a few space blankets, aspirin, water purifier tabs, a small knife, and if you can swing it a small pistol and some ammo in at least 1 bucket. Then bury them but not so deep that you can't get the lid freed from soil in event that the ground is frozen when you need the stuff. Another thing would be to have a few small multi-purpose tools. One of the best ever is a Farmer's Fencing Pliers. It has a hammer head on it, and the staple puller end could be a great emergency weapon if needed. Just a few additional thoughts there.
Northwoods Cheryl
9 years ago at 10:38 AM
My entire point was that I am prepped so that I WON'T have to barter, if there comes an emergency. I can stay right at home, and not have to cross paths with anyone else.