Be Prepared – Barter

Posted at 8:24 PM (CST) by & filed under General Editorial.

Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

JSMineset is an educational site which presents information throughout the year for your consideration. The information provided can be about precious metals, the markets, geopolitical events and other topics and articles of general interest information.  The “Be Prepared”  information is provided to you as a free service available to everyone. This information represents my understanding and is opinion oriented.  This series of articles is not intended as recommendations but merely suggestions for matters you may wish to consider.

The topic of “Be Prepared – Barter” would have been addressed sooner, but my other duties and responsibilities delayed my writing and publication of this information and opinion on.

I am happy to present this information for you now.

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Be Prepared – Barter!

Dear Extended Family and Friends,

I have received requests for information regarding the practice of barter which are too numerous to address in email.  This is a topic of interest for many people in many countries who read the free and paid subscription areas of of site.

Barter is practiced around the world in many forms.  It is practiced everywhere from rural America to the Middle East and everywhere in between.  Some cultures and regions are more experienced and familiar with Barter than others, and in some cultural traditions, it is a way of life.  There is no way to address this topic comprehensively in one article or even in one book.

I hope in this article to share with you some of my ideas about what I consider to be the basics.

Barter is a means to provide or acquire goods and services by trade for other goods and services.  It can be very simple to very complex depending on your culture, location and traditions.  Barter in Western culture isn’t as prevalent as it is in other areas of the world.  In some regions barter is a business.  If you are undertaking barter as a business, this article is not directed to you.  If you are undertaking barter as a business be aware of tax considerations and consequences.  This article is directed at those interested in barter for daily life.  This is simple barter where goods and services are traded for daily life and is not intended as a profit making enterprise.

If this article is your first introduction to barter as a means of trade, then consider what you have in the way of goods and skill sets to trade and what you need for daily life.  Also, don’t wait to learn the system of barter and start practicing now.  You can find places to practice at garage sales, flea markets, pawn shops and swap and trade forums on the Internet.  Learn how to barter and remember, repetition is the mother of skill.  With a little practice you can become skilled.

I will divide barter into two basic categories which address different circumstances and reasons someone may wish to or need to engage in Barter.  I will designate these as “Survival Barter” and “Civil Barter.”  If you find yourself in a situation or circumstance where there is not Rule of Law and you need goods and/or services, you are in a Survival Barter situation.  If there is a social order and societal stability, your are most likely in a Civil Barter situation.

In either Civil Barter or Survival Barter situations, you need to have certain basic skills which need to be mentioned first.  These are basically what we know and understand as “people skills.”  Most of barter is common sense and safety, but this can vary widely from one person to the next.  You must learn to read people.  Basically, if you don’t trust someone, don’t barter with them.  Also, unless you know someone well and trust them a lot, don’t barter anything which could be used to hurt you.  Weaponry and ammunition are at the top of that list.  If you barter ammunition it could be returned to you – at high velocity.  Safety is very important, particularly if you find yourself in a Survival Barter scenario.  Trust your instincts.  Your mind can rationalize anything but your gut probably won’t be deceived or lie to you.  If you are uncomfortable with someone or something,  don’t barter with them – leave.

Where safety is concerned, it is best to barter in a public place, not from your well stocked home. Even in a public place, you don’t want to appear well supplied, or you may invite someone to follow you home.   Don’t appear to be a trader with lots of goods to trade.  This may invite safety  problems.  Trade as little as possible to attain your necessities and essential services.  If you can attain your needs with a can of beans, don’t take ten to a market.  Others who want the items you have will be watching you, observing what you have and how often you have it.  You don’t want to draw attention to yourself.  You want to trade for what you need and leave.  Others should not know what supplies you have, and most information is obtained by observation.  This isn’t what you say, it is what someone else sees.  If you are trading with your neighbors and others you know, this is not as much of a concern, but for trading with unknown people, keeping your supplies private is a good safety precaution.

It is good to know the wants and needs of your barter partners.  If you know what someone wants or needs, it makes dealing with them easier.  It is important to know the priority of your own wants and needs.  If you aim at what you need, it is easier.  You will be able to define what you need even if your wants may differ.  It is good to remember for yourself and others, that if there is a shortage of resources, that your vices become your weaknesses.  Know your weaknesses, and the weaknesses of others to the degree possible.  Vices are usually easily identified and include items like alcohol, tobacco products, cosmetics, etc.

One of the most challenging aspects in a barter system may be to find a trading partner- someone who has what you need and also wants what you have.  What you have to offer for what you need may not be a match, and rarely is unless and until trading relationships are established.  Good places to find trading partners are churches, community bulletin boards, barter clubs, internet forums, local front porch forums, local farmers markets and places like  Some radio stations have call-in buy, sell, swap and trade programs.  Check with your local radio station.  If they don’t have such programming, suggest it.  If you need a particular service, like a roofing repair, a good place to look for a reliable roofer is the local roofing and lumber supply company.  The lumber company will know who buys the most materials and how busy a contractor is.  In this case someone whose services are in demand is likely to have a good reputation in their line of work.  The places where craftsmen buy their supplies will tell you where to find them.  Asking for references can be very helpful. 

Items for survival barter are any items or services needed to sustain life.  Water, food, shelter, medications and medical care, safety and defense of self and others, etc.  Consider attaining skill sets and/or acquaint yourself with others with skill sets for production of goods, personal care and services for repairs, etc.  Other items to consider for barter are listed below in no particular order.  These items are for your consideration:

Equipment – Bicycles, camping gear, back packs, sleeping bags, radios, tarps, plastic sheeting, duct tape, wood glue and building materials of any kind

Tools – any kind (automotive, gardening, building, hardware), sandpaper, scissors, tape measure

Drinks – Bottled water, Coffee, Tea, beverages, alcoholic beverages (beer, spirits)

Medical – over the counter and prescription, first aid kit and supplies, glasses, antiseptics, peroxide, rubbing alcohol, cold remedies, antibiotic creams, fungal ointments, eyeglass repair kits, anti-itch  cream, pain killers, antibiotics, fever thermometers/scanners, contraceptive devices, anti-nausea liquid, anti-diarrhea liquid, analgesics, pediatric electrolyte drink and other pediatric OTC medicines, dental repair kit

Sanitary – bathroom tissue, feminine and adult hygiene products, baby diapers and products, soaps, sanitizers, shampoo, razors,  bleach, cleaning products, tooth brushes, tooth paste, dental floss

Furniture – any kind

Clothing and shoes – adult and children

Children – toys, games, books, supplies, clothing/shoes, educational materials

Vices – alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes/cigars, lighters, matches (other fire starters) cosmetics

Power – fuel of any kind, gasoline, heating oil, kerosene, propane, solar panels, solar powered items, batteries, battery chargers, candles, lamp oil, flash lights, hand warmers, space heaters and other heating devices

Safety, Hunting, Self and Home Defense – weaponry (fire arms, knives, sling shots, pepper/mace sprays), window alarms, door chimes, automatic power outage interior lights, exterior security lights a large dog bowl outside for outside your door if you don’t have a dog.

Food – any kind, including vitamins and supplements, canned and shelf stable items, salt, sugar, honey, spices, cooking oil and cooking ingredients, food for special needs, food for household pets and livestock, heirloom garden and herb seeds and comfort items like chocolate

Household – pots, pans, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, paper bags, dish and laundry products, light bulbs, manual can opener, sewing, mending knitting/crochet supplies, kitchen utensils and tools, knives, scissors, kitchen tools and equipment, blankets, pet supplies, fire extinguisher, smoke and CO2 detectors, plastic sheeting, chlorine bleach

General/Miscellaneous – reference and “How To”, DIY books and materials, entertainment books, writing paper and writing instruments. musical instruments, board games, deck of playing cards.

The foregoing list of barter items are mostly for a “Civil Barter” situation.  In a “Survival Barter” situation, don’t expect someone to trade their can of soup for your dental floss.  It won’t happen.  You need to be prepared for your needs and the needs of your loved ones. In a survival scenario, the more materialistic and less-skilled of people will be the hardest hit. To me, charity is a moral imperative to be considered when and if bartering is for survival needs.  This is a personal matter mentioned for your consideration. 

This article has been requested numerous times.  This information is by no means exhaustive of the skill set we call “Barter.”  I trust this article will give you some ideas to consider in assessing your own needs, situation and skill sets.  You will find a lot of information about barter on the Internet and this is just an introduction to the subject matter if you are looking for some basic information to help you navigate your needs in an uncertain world.

Regardless what the future brings, it won’t be the end of the world, but things may be much more challenging.  Knowing how to meet our personal and family needs are good skill sets if life becomes more difficult.  I am writing according to your requests and areas of interest, so your feedback is important.

It is important to remember – We will all be all right.

Respectfully yours,

Jim Sinclair

P.S. I authorize the “Be Prepared” articles to be translated into other languages provided the link to this article is referenced as the source.  For those of you who have written to me in the past to request my permission, Thank you, and Thank you for your assistance in translating for those whose language is not English.  Your contribution is acknowledged and appreciated.