Monday, July 27, 2009

How To Barter

By Flea - Be A Survivor

One of the skills you should work on is bartering and make no mistake about it, bartering is a skill. Yeah, yeah…I give you something you need I get something I need, I know how bartering works. Let face it the REAL objective is to get something you need and give AS LITTLE as possible to get it. No one is saying to outright screw someone but the objective SHOULD be to try and get a bit more in return for what you shell out.

This skill is something that is useful now but will be an absolute necessity in any post apocalyptic economy. Money will most like be used for tinder so having lots of that won’t do you any good and it is really hard to get your return back when using precious metals (depending on how bad the situation gets) so goods for goods, goods for services and services for services will be where it is at.

I hope Warren Buffet and Bill Gates know how to shoe horses, reload shell casings, or perform medical miracles using prehistoric methods because their money will be for shit. I can’t see “Windows 2020” being much use to anyone; neither will be the stock picks of the “Oracle of Omaha” once Wall Street is a ghost town.

If you have ever bought a new car you have most likely bartered with someone and most likely lost. You may think you did well (or even won) but you lost trust me. You don’t want to be a loser when it counts and you are bartering for your next meal or for something to protect your family with. I can share some simple bartering techniques with you but you will have to develop them yourself because you can bluff and lose, and lose badly, so as Kenny Rogers once said you need to know when to hold them and know when to fold them.

The first thing you need to do to barter successfully is to have something the other person “wants”. One of the best things to do is to make sure you have extra supplies that will most certainly be in demand in a barter economy like: food, ammunition, medical supplies, clothes, water, tools, batteries, spare parts, fuel, etc. You can never have enough of this stuff. The problem is you cannot stockpile an endless supply of anything, you will eventually run out of those items and that is when you situation just got interesting.

Never fear because there is something that you can have that will never run out and that is skill. Learn a skill that is hard for the average person to grasp and learn it well. That skill will be your meal ticket. If you have a skill that is in demand you can forgo the whole goods for goods concept (keep your stockpiles) and head straight for the goods for services or services for services aisle (three aisles down next to the pampers and baby wipes.)

Skills that will most certainly be in demand in a barter economy will be: mechanics, doctors, vets, tailors, blacksmiths, midwives, gunsmiths, machinists (if they have access to a shop), experienced farmers, etc. These skills will be invaluable in a barter economy because Jiffy Lube will most likely be closed after the big one hits and Dr. Smith won’t be making house calls. You can barter these services over and over again for either goods or services in return and it never runs out, I promise.

Now that we have something to barter we need to make sure we now “how” to barter. The good thing is there really are only two things that you need to know when bartering: how to assign a value to something and how to make something “appear” more valuable to the other person. One way to do this is something you probably struggle with when playing Texas Hold’em with your buddies on Saturday nights. You need a good poker face, you may need what that person has desperately BUT YOU CANNOT let them know that. Once they know you are in a bad way for something you have lost because they will rake you over the coals. So practice your poker face now…

The next thing you need to know is what the value of something is and that will be a skill you just need to acquire because to be honest, something is only as valuable as the demand for it is. You may have a shitload of .303 rounds; sure it is valuable to SOMEBODY. If you have .223, 9mm or .45 ACP then you have a larger demand pool because they are more common calibers and therefore will most likely have more demand for them. Some may argue with this but it is simple fact, the law of supply and demand, if there are 1,000 people that have weapons that use 9mm and there are 50 who have weapons that use .303, having a stockpile of 9mm will benefit you more. Some may argue well the guy who needs the .303 will pay more, not if he is smart…he will ditch the .303 weapon and get himself something that uses a more common caliber.

The point is the value of things will fluctuate and you will need to stay on top of that to ensure that you aren’t getting screwed over.

So the keys are to know what the current value of what you have and what you want are and to play it cool like a cucumber when bargaining. Never let on you really need anything, keep a poker face going and don't lay any cards on the table. Be prepared to make changes to the arrangement fluidly BUT be VERY SPECIFIC when talking about what you want and what you are providing in return. The less confusion and/or assumptions in the transaction, the better.

My advice to you is to make sure that you have something that someone will want in a barter economy. Your best bet is to make that a skill that you can use over and over again, learn it now so that you have ample time to master it before you need to do it for real, when your life may depend on it.

At the very least make sure to have a large stockpile of items that will be desirable that you can barter because eventually you will need something. Start now and get a plan together because when it all comes crashing down you won’t be able to buy your way out of it.

...that is all.

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  1. Great post Flea. Having items to barter is going to be a great resource post-SHTF.

    Kentucky Preppers Network

  2. matthiasj,

    Like I said money will be worthless...bartering will once again rule the economy as it has in our past.

  3. Another way to barter to illustrate how handy an item is to have around, then sort of mention you might have an extra around, just in case. If you can convince someone they REALLY need it, you own them.

  4. Anon,

    Absolutely which is why you need to never let on you need something either otherwise they will own you.

    Maintain that poker face!!!

  5. i just love bartering. i always barter on it's an amazing site.

  6. Bartering is capitalism at its purist and simplest form.

  7. Good column. Maybe a few more:

    Be an opportunist - keep your eye out for things that other people may need/want even if you have no need for the item.

    Be careful of extending any credit - this or that today for this or that tomorrow or the next day is no good.

    Be fair and as honest as possible - you don't want to be raking folks over the coals. That is if you want to stay alive or continue to do business in the same. It's always best to let someone think that they got a good deal.

  8. Sometimes you just have to walk away if it's not a good deal for you. There are going to be times when you have to forget trying to make a deal and move on to the next best opportunity. Never ever trade down, there's always another deal waiting somewhere. You just have to find it!

    Thanks for the lesson in bartering!


  9. Abraham,

    Good additions.


    Yep you always need to know when to walk away!

  10. GARAGE SALES!!! they are the perfect place to work on these skills.

  11. Anon,

    Yep garage sales and flea markets are a great place to practice not only bartering but haggling as well.

    Good point!

  12. Great article. I happen to have a 1944 British .303 rifle in my collection. That is hard ammo to come by. BUT I would have trouble giving (bartering away) ammo to anyone, if they need ammo, I have ammo, I give them ammo, they shoot me and take my stockpile.. I think ammo is one thing I wont be using to barter, I will keep it out of the hands of those who are not ME. just my take on it. Coffee on the other hand.. you need it, I got it.. and I dont drink it.. (grin)

  13. I am blazabes and I Like the barter