All of us rely on our skills when SHTF. So we all hope that we can cover all of major skills that can lead us trough all basic needs in order to survive. So we choose to learn lot of things, how to fight , how to can, how to grow food, how to heal people. And we are buying equipment and learn things.
We choose different approaches, someone chooses to learn just basics from one skill, or someone chooses to learn one particular skill in depth. Like to be very good in growing food when SHTF.
But most of the people take trading and bartering in long term survival scenarios for granted. Most of the people see trading like scenes from the movies. So there is some kind of accepted picture that man gonna be able to go out with bag of potatoes for example and trade it for something, for batteries or whatever.
Or there is gonna be something like trading place, where you can go and check what is on offer there.
It is actually strange how lot of things are covered good at lot of places on forums and blogs when it comes to some skills and equipment, but when it comes to trading it is accepted more or less that it is common sense that it is gonna be easy to trade things.
When SHTF we all going to trade things, no matter how great we are prepared, because it is gonna be way of living, one of the few ways of obtaining the things we need, especially for long term survival.
It makes sense to think today about trading when SHTF. It can be major source of resources and provide for your living in hard times, and if you prepare carefully and act smart when SHTF, you can live much better than other folks around you.
Because differences between regions in the world some things about trading can not apply everywhere, just like advice about which weapon you should have.
But some things are common everywhere, just like you can say that shot in the head can kill you, no matter what kind of gun we are talking about.
So here are some things to keep in mind.
1.SHTF (real SHTF) = no law anymore
When you are taking your time today and think about being trader when SHTF, you need to stop for a moment and accept the fact that there is no law when SHTF.
After you accept that fact, only then start with thinking how you can improve your role as a trader in collapsed world. You can see what I store for trading in my supply list in course area. What you pick for trading depends on many things I also mention later in this article.
The point here is that you have to really understand how drastically things change when there is no law. It is hard to imagine but you look at life from whole different angle and from that angle you have to approach trading.
2. Look around you, today
Some common sense again. When people struggle to survive they gonna need everything. But use common sense. So there is no too much sense in storing something that can be found easily around you.
3. Small things, always
Whatever you trade, and whenever you trade do only with small things and small portions. For example you are not offering 5 liters of alcohol, you are offering ½ liter of alcohol. And thats it. Do you have right bottles for that? Why are you doing this? Other people might not take your life because it is not worth half liter of alcohol, but for more, or when they think that you have more at your home it is maybe worth.
Also it is much easier to go somewhere and carry with you 50 flints for trade than to go and carry 10 liters of fuel.
4. You wanna be big trader? Dont
If you have some big plan to do very well when SHTF and you store whole bunch of interesting things you need to keep absolutely low profile. So if you want to be big trader that means that nobody outside your house can know that you have whole bunch of things for trade.
Only thing that is standing between lot of nasty people and you and your storage is fact that you are not interesting for them. You can say that you are very good armed and prepared, and that you have friends with you, and that they are armed too.
I will tell you that sooner or later someone will come with more friends and more arms and you are dead and your stuff gone.
So stay low. You can not be anything like „big trader“ for other people around you. Whatever you have to trade you are gonna need to have some kind of smart strategy to trade / distribute that. Watch your ego too. Having resources means power, but showing that power gets you killed.
5. Middle man- golden solution
For best results in trading over longer period of time, you need to be something like „middle man“ in process of trading, not a guy who owns things. And of course this means that people need to think that you are only middle man, not a man who actually has things.
So if you are prepared for trading and you have lot of different things to trade, you can not go and offer things as yours, you need to be the guy who can obtain things.
If you have 1000 lighters for trade, and SHTF tomorrow, and after a month you realize that lighters have good price for trade, and you want to go and offer lighters, best solution is to be something like a man who knows a guy who has lighters for trade. So when you walk with few lighters in your pocket and trade them, they are „not yours“.
You are acting as a guy who has information where something can be found for a trade, you can „go there“ and find things for trade.
6. Basic security rules
Again and again, you need to be not interesting, so common sense again about security of trading:
- Never trade in or in front of your house
- When you trade with unknown people, always watch carefully if someone is following you on your way home
- No matter how great deal you can make never do too much trading with one person in short period of time (for example, do not trade 10 liters of fuel 3 times at week with same person, or in the same street)
- Make compromise. Trading with known people increases risk because known people know where to come if they conclude that you have lot of interesting things at home, on the other side trading with unknown people has risks too, because you do not know them.
- I never trade bigger amounts of things, or some really interesting things with folks from my really close neighborhood unless I trust them 100%, which I usually dont. If I need to trade something bigger and interesting I take risk and go in other parts of city and do trade with people who do not know where I live.
7. Pricing, value of things
It can be very specific depending on the regions what things will have more value, and what lower. You may think that food will have biggest value, but there is a difference from what will be always wanted and what will have BIGGEST value. So yes, probably you will be able to trade food always for something usable, but better idea is maybe to have some interesting valuable things that YOU can trade for food.
- Sources of light and energy: lamps, batteries, candles, burning cubes (paraffin cubes for starting fire), lightsticks, flints, solar chargers, fuel…
- Always have things stored that people in your region use in everyday socializing rituals.
You may think that when SHTF people habits gonna be erased and everything connected to that will be stripped to bare simple survival living, basic food and water intake. Yes, for great number of the people it was like that, but reason was that because they did not have these social / comfort things stored, or they did not have enough items to trade for them. If they could they would have got these comfort things.
What that meant in my case, people here drink coffee… a lot, 3-4 times per day, and most of the folks smoke cigarettes or tobacco. Drinking the coffee is more like ritual where good friends, or family sit down and have some special time.
When SHTF people were in hard situation of course, and some habits or rituals from normal life gain even much more importance. I mean when everything falls apart around you, to have some special moment with your family with coffee becomes even much more important.
As a result, coffee was very valuable. I mean very very valuable. Even some poor substitutes for coffee were very important and valuable. Same was with cigarettes. So depending where you live, check for those things, and have it in your storage. It can be coffee, cigarettes, tea, beer…
Have some kind of system in your storage to know what things you use for yourself, or for trading. For example you store food for yourself and your family only, but you store great number of batteries for yourself and for trading too.
There is no golden rule about trading process, other than those security measures that I already mentioned. But few more things to have in mind.
Charity in good times is good, charity when SHTF is wrong and dangerous. I know I disagree here with one big survival blogger but my advice is never do real charity when SHTF. I mean it is crazy if you give things away for free if others struggle to survive. What do they think?
This guy has a lot so we get what we can and then more even if that means taking with force. You can give things to people but it can not look like charity.
You need to get something if you give something. If you do real charity and word go around, you are done. I saw this happening several times. Even people everyone thinks who are always good went out to “convince” charitable guys to give them something and this ended up very bad sometimes.
If you see your kids starve to death but this one guy has food but is not giving it to you what do you do? Exactly…
Of course always expect scams, people will do lot of wrong things in order to get things, plaster in baby food is only one example from my time (they take out half baby food, stuff plaster in there and cover it to make it look like full).
I know how to make 1 kg coffee with just 20 % of coffee and 80 % of other stuff, and it looks and smells like real coffee, 90 percent of people will not notice difference, bad is that that mixture screws up people’s blood pressure really bad. That’s one example.
So common sense is to trade with „unchecked“ persons only for „canned“ or sealed things. If man gives you half bag of powdered milk for something, you only have his word that he did not mixed that with something in order to make it more heavy.
Different dried plants mixed with tobacco and sold as a tobacco, different seeds grinded with small amounts of coffee and sold as areal coffee, alcohol… I have more examples of this in my course.
10. Pick the right moment for trading
Value of things changed during my year in war, depending of lot of things like entering of goods in area, rumors and word on the street, state of black market or simply security situation, so in first month pack of batteries were worth maybe 5 kilos of flour, but in third month it was worth 15 kilos of flour.
Or another good example would be that candles were worth more in first few months of SHTF then after that. Example would be that people find some substitute for light in house like oil lamps, and also realize to have light in every room is just unnecessary luxury.
Watch carefully for rumors and word on the street. I mean do not go and trade some of your precious stuff for few gas masks just because someone told you on the street that you gonna need them really hard. Luckily he is knowing someone who has few of them of course.
Word on the street or rumors will work for you, but also against you and there will be moments when people or groups of people produce specific news in order to gain something or sell something.
This is basic advice for trading during long term survival scenarios.
How do you prepare for trading part of SHTF?