Items You Should Hoard for Barter in Case of Collapse


It’s easy to know roughly what you would need to survive during a long-term societal collapse. For most, food, water and shelter roll right off Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, through your brain and off your tongue. These are the low-lying fruit of preparation, and should be the focus of most as they strive to be more prepared.

But beyond basic needs, what comes next?

For the purposes of this article, we will assume that society has broken down on a widespread scale. A complete loss of electricity due to a massive solar flare has left you knowing that it will be years before the lights are turned back on, and humans are essentlally left to fend for themselves without their regular deliveries of food and water.

After you have prepared your home for the basics of long-term survival, it is time to recognize that you will not have thought of everything, and that you may be forced to deal with a small or large mob that has also not thought of everything. By having a means to trade for things you need, and also to have plenty of small essentials to give away and placate a scared mob, you will have taken a great step towards preparedness.

  • Nickels/Junk Silver
  • Matches
  • Seeds
  • Toilet Paper and Feminine Care Products
  • Cigarettes and Alcohol
  • Candles

Nickels/Junk Silver - In the post collapse economy, people will fall back on what they know, and United States coinage will be what they know. Nickels, or 5 cent pieces, have a known quantity of nickel, and at today’s prices, are actually worth their face value in metal. In the past, nickels have been worth more than their face value. Yes, it’s true that 1982 and earlier pennies have about 2 cents worth of copper, but they are difficult to store due to the small denomination. Having many rolls of nickels from the bank will give you a means to handle small transactions.

Many others are hoarding “junk silver,” which for our purposes, is 1964 and earlier half-dollars, quarters and dimes, as well as silver dollars like the Morgan Dollar and Peace Dollar. These can be purchased for their spot value of silver, or sometimes less. The thought here is that these coins have a known quantity of pure silver, which could be used to re-establish a new metal based currency. You would be wise to visit your local coin shop or most online coin or bullion dealers to buy bags of junk silver coins.


Matches - Buying tons of waterproof matches should be part of your preparations - you can never have too many. Buying extra boxes of matches should also be a part of your long term survival plan. If you are the only house lit by a warm fireplace during a cold winter night, you could find yourself attracting hungry families, or worse, violent marauders.

By having extra books of matches, you can use them to trade for food such as meat and fish, as well as to give to a lost soul to encourage them to go elsewhere with hopes of a fire of their own.

Seeds - If stored correctly, seeds can last a long time. Even regular seed packets, if placed in airtight and waterproof containers, will last years. Besides having plenty of seeds for your family, you can trade them for other seeds you desire more, or again, use them to help a family in need. Good seeds for long term storage include beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cucumber, kale, tomato and turnips.

Toilet Paper and Feminine Care Products - One of the most important aspects of survival is hygiene, especially when it comes to bodily waste. In addition to having your own waste disposal needs taken care of, you should buy extra toilet paper each month and store it in plastic bags or totes to keep dry.

Believe me, if we happen to find ourselves in a grid-down scenario, toilet paper, tampons, and menstrual pads will be worth their weight in gold.

Cigarettes and Alcohol - It is no coincidence that when times are tough, sales of sin products do not suffer. In a scenario of societal collapse, those who are addicted to cigarettes and alcohol will have a hard time adapting. For that reason, if you are a smoker, it would be wise to quit now before you are forced to.

Cigarettes can be stored in airtight containers, and for an alternative, you can buy bags of rolling tobacco, papers and filters and store them safely. As far as alcohol is concerned, just buy high-proof spirits like whiskey, bourbon, rye, scotch, vodka and rum, and leave them sealed up in their original glass bottles. High-proof spirits will not go bad, and can be used as fuel or as a disinfectant.

Candles - In a post-meltdown world, something as simple as light, a luxury we take for granted, will be a commodity. After you have purchased enough candles for yourself, buy as many more as you can afford. If you have to turn away a hungry or lost soul at your door, at least you can send them away with a source of light and heat.

How to Protect Your Stash - First, do not ever tell anyone about your survival preparations, especially any details about the supplies you have. If the time comes when you have to barter out these items, always keep a small amount separate from the main stash. That way, a conniving beggar won’t know exactly what you are worth as a dead man.

Having items to barter with, or conduct small transactions, is a vital preparation that cannot go overlooked. Items such as these, if you think ahead, can become the source of a lucrative and lifesaving business opportunity in the aftermath of a collapse.

What you do today will determine if you are the beggar, or the businessman.


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Comments 31 comments

John Durrant 5 years ago

Let's hope it doesn't come to that... There are also emerging barter networks such as where people can begin to build their barter reputations. Bartering networks have already sprung up in Greece due to the austerity measures imposed...

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks for the link. Interesting about Greece. I read something recently that said there are more Porsches in Greece than people reporting incomes over 50,000. If true, it seems like a lot happens off the books in Greece

Topnewhottoys profile image

Topnewhottoys 5 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland

good content, but the best tip was to be prepared to barter - not just for material needs but also for safety. Nice hub

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks. You are correct - the best tip of all is be prepared to barter. I mention that you are either the businessman or the beggar, but it may be worse than that. You could be dinner.

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 5 years ago from North Carolina

Wow.. Scary thoughts. This is a good list to have for the end of the world in Dec. of 2012 also.. I am going to stash bottled water too..

LAURENS WRIGHT profile image

LAURENS WRIGHT 5 years ago

Good list. I would most likely put food and water on that list in high priority. Good point on Toilet Paper. You never can have enough of a good thing, especially this. It would be worth its weight in gold! Thanks again for a thought enhancing article.

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Hey Laurens - I would actually consider the items in here the things that you would use to barter FOR food and water, or at least items to give desperate visitors without having to give up your precious food or water. Thanks for stopping by.

Daniella Lopez profile image

Daniella Lopez 5 years ago from Arkansas

Great hub! I've never thought about stockpilling coins and nickel, but it makes sense to do so... Voted up!

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks Daniella. There's a millionaire in Texas, I think, who is buying millions of dollars of nickels. Definitely something to think about.

Fortadam profile image

Fortadam 5 years ago from Portland Oregon

You forgot guns and ammo, lol. I know it is horrible to think about, but in a post cataclysmic world, history has shown us that those with superior force will take what they need from those not as strong. Hide your stash all you want .... When someone with a gun hears about it (or simply sees your fire burning) they'll take whatever they want and leave a corpse behind. Human nature is savage when survival is on the line.

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Great comment. We are talking about bartering, though, and there's no way I'm bartering my ammo! Same with food. It's mine!

I would definitely hold the guns and ammo for holding, not bartering. These items are key. Thanks for reading.

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 5 years ago from Western NC

Interesting read, for sure! This always is a good topic for discussion. I "can" a lot of my own food, so I usually have stuff for about a year, but then I think, well, if society collapsed, we're all screwed and we'll all either come together and help each other out, or the people with the "stashes" could get mobbed. I fluctuate between wanting to store up and thinking that maybe humanity will finally learn how to use its peaceful side and help a fellow human. Sheesh. Who knows, right? Voted up.

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

I guess that's a variation of "trust, but verify." Something like "Hope, but don't gamble." Thanks so much for reading and your comment.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA

Great hub, though I think it is rather hard, next to impossible to get fully prepared for a disaster, though it never hurts to try... From my knowledge, during the Great Patriotic War 1941-45 (Part of WW2 that was in Soviet Union) when everything was scarce, the most trade-able things were antibiotics. Matches and soap were priceless. Golden or silver jewelry.

You would be surprised to learn that people didn't know that there was a thing like toilet paper. Newspaper torn into pieces and crumpled served the purpose, as well as (you won't believe) tree leaves or grass. For their feminine hygiene women were using cloths, washing them every time. And not only during the war.... :-(

Hound Cat profile image

Hound Cat 5 years ago from Los Angeles area of Southern California USA

Found your article very fascinating. My original intent was to hoard gold, but now after reading your work I now in favor of hoarding junk silver and nickels. I have a recommendation of my own to add plenty of canned food to your stocks.

BWD316 profile image

BWD316 5 years ago from Connecticut

very interesting article, it's always the small things that people forget about or don't prepare for when disaster strikes. vote up, useful and interesting!

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

That sounds depressing, much like Sarajevo in the 90s. I guess when you are hungry you will trade really important stuff like antibioitics. Thanks for reading.

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

I have at least two weeks of emergency food and water. Good move on the silver. Gold is too expensive to be of much value if needed. One gold coin that cost you $1500 can't be easily divided up - making change will be hard to do! Thanks for reading.

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks - I agree 100%

realist 5 years ago

I am reminded of a comment some one said to me once... "Better not get caught with a knife at a gun fight."

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Very true, realist. Thanks for reading!

Kristine Manley profile image

Kristine Manley 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Great Hub. This will get Tweeted. Voted up!

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks Kristine!

kevin 4 years ago

so why no firearms...

marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Hey Kevin, I don't know about you but I won't be bartering any of my firearms. I prefer to keep them to myself :)

If it gets truly awful, one can still hunt, or God forbid, use them to take food from others. I would hate for things to get that way, but if they do, I'm filling my kids' bellies with whatever I can get.

zed 4 years ago

i bought 50 ak74s for 375 ea some years ago. i will use them to arm 49 teenagers and then we will take everything else we need.

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

I bought a couple of these little stove eyes that you put a candle under to cook. They really work, I made up my own version a few years back during a blizzard that left us with no power and this cooked wieners and beans and got water hot enough to scald. Sure couldn't go outside to cook, and I stayed in bed while this did!

John-Rose profile image

John-Rose 4 years ago from USA

Hay there, another great post. I'm actually collecting all of thee above. Think about salt as well. It can be used in cooking, preserving, and taning hides. I think it was a form of curency long ago as well and if society ever goes adrift it may become a valuable asset in your pantry.

Roberto Carreno 3 years ago

ok people, let me stick my tongue in here. All the comments are ok except for the dumb idea of collecting nickels, come on folks, unless recycle metal factories are paying a premium for them, which they wont, since there wont be electricity to run them, who's gonna trade nickels. Nobody needs that crap in that situation. Take mine, I don't need them. Dollar bills wont have any value either if it comes to that, unless the money system stays working. People will tray for other items, but they wont ask nickels for them. Gold?... well, that has been the trading currency since the beginning of time, "May God saves us all"

Nadia 2 years ago

Amy,If you found someone that neeedd it to complete a bed you might get as much as fifty dollars. No dealer that I am aware of would bother putting it in stock owing to the extremely limited market. You should go to Google Images and search “Simmons bed spring”. One or more might turn up and might have some dollar information connected. The spring is probably 60-80 years old and made so well that it is still useful. You can put a zippered cover over it for cleanliness and use it as a box spring.Good Luck,Marshall

Amberly 2 years ago

Play inoafmrtive for me, Mr. internet writer.

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