50 Inexpensive Barter Items for SHTF

Items that are great for bartering

Sometimes we forget to remember that we might one day face a world in which money means a lot less than it does now. In a desperate society, inexpensive barter items could be worth more than gold if you happen to have what others need.

While it’s more important to stock up for yourself, once you have your basics covered, it’s a great idea to add some things to your stash for trade purposes.

The Rules of Barter

The most important thing to remember when bartering is SAFETY. You should always be very careful when making trades because others may see you as a target if they believe you have lots of supplies. A few simple rules can help you stay safe when conducting business.

  • Don’t barter from your home. It’s advisable not to invite strangers into your home when the SHTF. An observant person can glean a lot of information, such as how your home is secured, what kind of supplies are visible, how well-fed and clean your family appears, and what defenses you have in place.
  • Don’t barter at someone else’s home. At the same time, going to someone else’s home puts you in a weak position. They can easily set up an ambush to kill you and take your supplies instead of trading. Don’t give them the home-court advantage.
  • Choose a neutral site. The best option is to choose a site in which neither party is giving away too much information or providing an opportunity to steal from one another. It’s a good idea to scout the area ahead of time – your situational awareness could really pay off in keeping you safe.
  • Never appear too eager to acquire an item. Unless you want the price of whatever you are trading for to go up astronomically, never appear too anxious to make the trade. In hard times, people can easily sense desperation and take advantage.
  • Be fair in your trading practices. At the same time, it’s important to be fair yourself, particularly if you hope to trade in the future. While you should certainly get a fair trade for your goods, don’t take advantage of the desperation of others. This can cause people to mistrust you and to be comfortable treating you badly during future trades.
  • Be careful what you trade. Never barter an item that can be promptly turned against you unless you know and trust the person with whom you are trading. That means no guns, no ammo, no knives, and no other weapons unless you are confident this is safe.

Be careful and be safe when you engage in trade after the SHTF, even with inexpensive barter items.

50 Inexpensive Barter Items

Here are a few ideas for inexpensive barter items you can buy now.

  1. Lighters
  2. Water containers (bonus points if they can also be used to boil water in)
  3. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss
  4. Soap
  5. Salt
  6. Shoelaces
  7. Sugar
  8. Instant coffee
  9. Tea bags
  10. Batteries
  11. Hardware (nails, screws, nuts, bolts, etc.)
  12. Playing cards or board games
  13. Duct tape
  14. Lotion/vaseline
  15. Rubbing alcohol/peroxide
  16. Can openers (the small military kind can be bought in bulk)
  17. Gloves (work gloves and warmth gloves)
  18. Solar lights (the cheap dollar store kind for the garden will work)
  19. Socks
  20. Tobacco (cigarettes or loose tobacco)
  21. Candy
  22. Water purification tablets (these can be sold a few at a time)
  23. Condoms
  24. Matches
  25. Reading glasses (the dollar store kind are great)
  26. Fish antibiotics (separated into 1-week supplies)
  27. Bleach/pool shock
  28. Feminine hygiene supplies
  29. Shampoo (save the little bottles from hotels when you travel)
  30. Pain relief like Tylenol or Motrin
  31. Candles
  32. Sewing kits
  33. Bandages
  34. Food (inexpensive items like canned goods, rice, dried beans, and Ramen)
  35. Safety pins
  36. Liquor (the mini bottles are good for barter)
  37. Laundry soap
  38. Vinegar
  39. Sunscreen
  40. Seeds
  41. Paper and pens
  42. Flashlights
  43. Disposable razors
  44. Baking soda
  45. Condiment packets (save the ones from fast food restaurants and takeout)
  46. Trash bags
  47. Cleaning products
  48. Deodorant
  49. Infant supplies (wipes, diapers, formula)
  50. Books (you can often buy huge boxes of them at the end of the day at yard sales)

Store barter items in small packaging

Containers for Inexpensive Barter Items

Some of the inexpensive barter items mentioned above need to be separated out for different transactions, such as tobacco or antibiotics. It’s a great idea to have a way to package these up for your trading partner. Some ideas for repackaging are:

With these you have the benefit of not having to show your entire stash to the person with whom you’re trading, and it also gives them a handy way to transport what they got from you.

Many of the items on this list can be divvied up into multiple pieces of barter inventory, which dramatically increases the number of trades you can make.

Skills are always valuable barter items

Skills Are the Ultimate Inexpensive Barter Item

No article on barter would be complete without a mention of skills. The great thing about using skills for barter is that nobody can kill you and take the rest of your skills – you must be alive to make the trade. As well, this is a constant resource that never requires restocking. If you are able to sew, heal, preserve, or repair, just to name a few skills, then you have a never-ending source of barter currency.

What Are You Storing for Barter?

Do you have some supplies earmarked for future barters? Do you have things not mentioned in this article? Let us know!

Additional Resources:

50 Inexpensive Barter Items for SHTF

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Ash Duncan

Ash Duncan and family live on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where they enjoy hiking with their dogs, spending time outdoors, and watching apocalyptic movies.

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