One of the reasons that some people don’t bother thinking about or preparing for a disaster is because they believe they have enough money to get through it, no matter how bad it becomes. They’re used to drawing upon their wealth to take care of problems, so they assume that their finances will come to the rescue again if necessary.
But if we ever experience a total financial collapse — and some people believe the signs are pointing in that direction — no amount of money in the world will help. Any number of events could thrust North America into that horrific situation, including an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could keep funds locked inside banks for weeks, months or, possibly, years.
Regardless of your financial status, it’s important to remember that we may find ourselves in a scenario wherein money is meaningless. In a post-collapse society, it’s entirely possible that the only things of value will be the goods we have stockpiled and the skills we possess, both of which we’ll probably use for bartering.
Backtracking for a moment, the most essential items that you can store now are food and water for yourself and your family. Start with a 72-hour supply and then, as you’re able, graduate to supplies representing one month, three months, six months, a year and longer. In addition, stockpile as many non-food items as you can, including flashlights, batteries, blankets, clothing, etc. (See my 22 Non-Food Items To Hoard For A Crisis article for a starter list.)
Once you have those emergency items stockpiled in at least two locations, it’s time to start thinking about which items you can hoard and which skills you can acquire that will be useful in a society that has reverted to the bartering system for everyday personal commerce.
There are a countless number of items you could decide to hoard for bartering, but you’ll never be able to stockpile everything. The key is to choose items that will give you the biggest return on your investment. In other words, the items for which there is the largest difference between what they cost you now and what they will bring in trade later. Another important consideration is shelf life.
Food and water will probably be the two most sought after items in a post-collapse society. But trading your “extra” vital sustenance could be a little risky, as we probably won’t know how long it will be before things return to normal and we’ll be able to obtain those items in stores again.
For your bartering supply, you may be better off choosing items that many others don’t think to stockpile, but which will be in high demand, including alcohol, cigarettes, coffee and candy. Other items include (in no particular order):
- Water filters and water purification tablets.
- Fire-starting devices.
- Non-genetically modified (non-GMO) seeds.
- Gasoline and oil.
- Precious metals.
- Bug repellent.
- Toilet paper and other paper products.
- Tools, nails, screws, work gloves, etc.
- Manual can opener.
- Reading glasses.
- Baby products.
- Hygiene products.
Now, think about the types of skills you may wish to learn or hone that will have at least as much value and maybe more in a post-collapse society than they do today. Among them could be:
- Small-engine repair.
- Gun repair/cleaning.
- Appliance repair.
- Medical services.
Two final things to consider. Don’t let those with whom you barter know the extent of your supplies. If they learn that you possess many more supplies in which they’re interested, they may just use that ammo they acquired from you to come back and try to relieve you of them. And because there will probably be a significant amount of lawlessness in a post-collapse society, don’t forget to store the weapons you’ll need to protect what you’ve stockpiled.