December 18, 2017

Basics of Bartering

Bartering is a skill that many of us aren’t used to, or very good at. We see a price and accept that as the amount we must pay.

In much of the world, bartering is a part of daily life. The same could be said in a prolonged survival situation. The economy of Argentina was much like that in America prior to 2000. Their economy has since collapsed and barter has become a common means of purchasing. In fact I read somewhere that people would cut links off a gold necklace and trade the links.

When I was in the Navy, I spent time in Hong Kong and in Dubai. Neither place was what it is today. That being said, if you didn’t barter, you got ripped off in many cases. I have a hard time with the concept, so I followed the lead of some friends who had been there before. Here is what I have learned about bartering from those experiences and since then.


What is Currency?

Jack Spirko has helped me define what currency is and what it is not. Currency is not the dollar bill in your pocket or even the precious metals you have stored away. Currency is the value you place on something.

Let me paint this picture: Inflation has skyrocketed and the price of gas is $6.00 a gallon. The price of many foods is 50%-75% higher than a year ago. I have been growing a garden and have expanded it. I’m willing to sell or trade with my neighbors. Pete has some cash and some rice that he would like to trade for some of my tomatoes.

Since the cash isn’t worth as much but is still useful I could charge him accordingly. It’s value may still decrease. I have been prepping and don’t need any more rice, so Pete doesn’t have any currency that I value.

Dan lives a bit further out of town and has a small chicken coop. Dan and his wife both love tomatoes. Since we both have something the other has placed value on, the tomatoes and chickens will be our currency. We just need to sort out the details. I could take eggs, chicken meat, or maybe have him raise a couple for me, so I could start my own coop.

In short, currency is whatever you, or someone else, might place value on. The most common currencies are, of course, dollars or the national currency in your nation, as well as precious metals.

If you’re a pro, please add any additional suggestions to the comment section

Let me share that I’m not very good at bartering. That being said, below are some things I’ve learned.


As Kenny Rogers says, “Know when to hold them, when to fold them, know when to walk away and when to run.”

When bartering, both sides are trying to get the best deal they can. If both parties are honorable, they can both walk away happy. However, you should have a price or trade in mind that you’re willing to pay, with some wiggle room on either side.


When to hold them

If you know the value of what you have and are offering it at a reasonable price, don’t stray too far from it. The same can be said if you make a fair offer on an item that you know the true value of. This is bartering, so remember the wiggle room I mentioned. Don’t stray too far from your original offer.


When to Fold them, and when to run

These two are the same but I like the song and thought using it was clever. Sometimes people will make an offer that is ridiculous. Just say “no thank you” and walk away. If they were testing you, they’ll come back with a legitimate offer. If they’re a fool, they’ll probably go off about how the item your offering is subpar or, if they’re the one selling, they’ll go on about how their item is the best blah, blah, blah. Unless you really need the item, let them keep it.


When to walk away

There are times when buying or selling, when walking away can show the other party that their offer wasn’t serious and that you’re not willing to consider it. The catch is that you may end up keep walking away and losing out on your chance at the item, unless you want to go back and meet their offer. If you do go back, the party now knows how much you want it. You’ll probably have to pay their full asking price. Sometimes the other party will modify their original offer and you can barter for a fair exchange.

Here is a list of skills and items you could use for bartering.


If you’re a pro, please add any additional suggestions to the comment section.