7 Survival Skills You Can Barter With


Garden hen – Wikimedia Commons image

By Dan Sullivan

Whether you believe or not in the fall of the dollar, one thing is clear: we’re all going to have to learn how to barter if we’re gonna survive in a post-apocalyptic world in the (temporary) absence of money.

I can think of many reasons for this but the main one is that, even if the currency survives, we’re still going have to face sky-high inflation. In 1990, after the Romanian revolution, I witnessed the national currency go down the drain and, believe me, it was not pretty. In circumstances like these, it makes sense to consider bartering as an alternative and a much better way of exchanging goods and services.

Now, I’m not saying bartering is good in every case. In fact, money evolved precisely because bartering became cumbersome as people had more things to trade. See, the problem was fractioning. If I had a cow and you had grapes, it was hard for me to give you half a cow because I’d have to kill it and then do something with the other half.

This is exactly why I’m a firm advocate of bartering with your skills. You can fraction (read help) others with what you can do a lot easier as you’re about to see. Plus, the really neat thing about it is that you don’t see your stockpile diminished as a result. You have it, you barter with it and then you still have it!

So let’s see what some of the most important skills will be post-collapse…[/tps_header]

Skill #1: Woodworking

It’s pretty clear that the world as we know it is going to look awful after the initial disaster. Once the dust settles, people will want to fix their homes or even build new ones from scratch, not to mention sheds, chicken coops and so on.

You could prove yourself to be an invaluable asset if you’re willing to learn woodworking right now or take it to the next level if you’re already good at it. I bet there are plenty of projects you can start today (to practice) as I’m sure a lot of people would like tree houses for their kids, desks, beds, tables and on and on.

Skill #2: Homesteading

With no supermarkets to feed them, people will be forced to start their own gardens, worm farms, hydroponics and aquaponics systems, to grow fruit trees and so on to feed their families. The ones who make it after the first wave of post-collapse deaths, that is.

If you not only learn but become passionate about agriculture now, a lot of people will be knocking on your door for help.

Skill #3: Teaching

What kind of teaching? Any kind. Survival skills are going to be very sought after even though most people couldn’t care less about them now. If you haven’t read enough on the subject, don’t let that stop you.

And if you’re a real teacher, your knowledge might be worth a lot post-SHTF. A lot of parents will want their kids to continue their education, so teachers are going to be sought out … and you could be one of them!

Hint: instead of throwing or just giving old books away, why not put them in a safe place like your attic so you can use them later?

Skill #4: Medical

This goes without saying but medical skills are going to be critical when and after it hits … and you have every reason to learn them beforehand. You will want to know survival medicine really well and you’ll also want to buy or save some old medical books for reference for a time when there might not be any Internet.

Skill #5: Counseling

Boy, do I need to tell you how many people are going to break down mentally? It won’t be easy to see half your family die in front of you. It’s going to be war out there and war leaves marks that are both physical and mental. And don’t even get me started about children; many of them will be completely traumatized by what’s about to happen.

Skill #6: Gunsmithing

If you’re already a firearms enthusiast, you already know the basics of firearms and how to take care of them. To make sure your knowledge is, indeed, useful post-collapse, you can do the following:

  • Play with and even purchase a wider variety of firearms to expand your knowledge.
  • Stockpile as many gun cleaning kits and supplies as possible, you will have a lot of guns to clean!

Skill #7: Midwife

This is one of those skills no one seems to learn or care about anymore. However, when children are going to be born at home (like it used to be in the past) someone’s going to have to be there helping them through child birth. Why can’t that someone be you?


The great thing about these skills is this: you have them, you trade them and then you still have them! In fact, the more you barter with them, the better you become, which will allow you to “charge” more for them.

Of course, there are a lot more survival skills out there that you can learn. You never know which ones might come in handy … you never know who’s going to ask you for help and offer you the world in exchange.

What’s next?

Well, I’d be extremely happy if you went ahead and wrote a list of all the skills you could learn or improve upon starting today. I suggest you focus on one skill at a time and properly learn it before you move on to the next. Also, you probably don’t want to learn things that are too advanced and you may not need. You’ll be much better being average at 5 skills than being excellent at only one.

Keep in mind that, post collapse, you will have to know a little bit of everything unless YOU want to be the person who will seek other people’s skills for bartering purposes….

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20 Comments on "7 Survival Skills You Can Barter With"

  1. “….in the fall of the dollar….. learn how to barter if we’re gonna survive in a post-apocalyptic world in the (temporary) absence of money….”

    There should be immedetely a local currency established.
    The predicted collapse is a great chance to replace the money monopoly with real money >> LOCAL CASH.
    Like others did successfuly in the past :

  2. Should people listen to this article, they would place themselves in the same predicament that began all of this. I really hope humanity gets the bigger picture this time around. Most probably won’t, and will go the way of the animal.. Extinct

    • Average Joe American | July 4, 2015 at 1:32 am |

      Orator: “Extinct” means none left. “Most probably won’t” means some will be left. These are mutually exclusive. Some very smart, or perhaps lucky, preppers MAY be left. Provided a solar EMP doesn’t cause every nuclear power plant on the planet to melt down and destroy us all in a matter of weeks or months. Or a monster meteor or volcanic event doesn’t fill the atmosphere with dust for a couple years or so, smothering us as a previous event did the dinosaurs. (And also release planet-killing radiation from 700 or so abruptly stopped nuclear plants lacking the required three months of shut-down time.)

      “Should people listen to this article…?” Um.

      Yeah. I think we should. I’ve known computer programmers who were skilled at woodworking and teaching and all manner of useful things (rabbit and turkey egg production, for another example). If the planet has any chance, these would be handy folk to have around. Some of them, indeed, “get the bigger picture.”

      If the pending devastation is partial, who would you want as a next door neighbor in a survival situation? Someone who raised egg-laying chickens and milk-giving cows for barter, someone who grew herbs and vegetables? Or rather (wait for it) a once highly “successful” banker, lawyer, or professional politician? As your neighbor during a world collapse.

      Okay, not a meteor or solar EMP. Just your garden variety collapse caused by bankers, lawyers, corporate fat-cats, and politicians.

      Let’s have fun with this: An herbalist who could tell you which plants in your back yard were medicinal herbs, or a former Big Pharma executive? As your next door neighbor, mind you.

      A survivalist who could tell you which animals, mushrooms and bugs were safe to feed your family and how to prepare them, or a former FDA or USDA flunky? As your next door neighbor, feeding himself and his family out of his or her backyard.

      Someone with solar distilling and water purification equipment? Or, perhaps a city water inspector who once approved fluoride, chlorine, and fecal matter in tap water in parts per million. Again, as your next door neighbor.

      When the SHTF, people, you’ll abandon your “official” gods like house flies, ticks, cockroaches, and fleas. Barter is precisely what folks will turn (return) to. Truly, we will have no choice. Our “officials” placed us in this situation, they’re the reason we’re where we’re at, they will never be the solution.

      We’ll have to turn to one another. To our next door neighbors, people.

      • Apologies for the cryptic manner I sometimes have to speak. It’s for the people’s benefit, I float it out there just so as to raise suspicion even further. Sure, I could be direct, and tell the exact meaning of my words… But even then it would fail to take root.

        I have to admit I am more adept in the spoken word, than the written word. Seeing as you have written so much in attempt to enlighten me, for which I am grateful, I feel the need to do something similar. Though it may be a bit more brief an explanation.

        This planet is one of many existences.. A puzzle if you will, it is your responsibility to figure this puzzle out. There are two endings to this puzzle, that of the animal. Which is born, lives, and then dies. And then there is that of Man. Who lives, harmoniously, and purposefully.

        Seeing that you are here, you know the time is short. You know that humankind is being poisoned and manipulated. Yet, you do not know the extent of the lie. There is only one way to be free on this earth, it is not by gathering possessions, or storing food and ammo in hopes of protecting it against your brother. After all, humanity has already gone this route. Anyways you’ll figure it out should you choose and be chosen.

  3. Soapmaking. Herbalists.

    • Average Joe American | July 2, 2015 at 4:15 pm |

      Soap making presupposes turning animals into their constituent consumable parts (slaughtering and butchering), which adds another valuable skill set to the list. Add also milling, canning and drying, cheese making, smoking meat and fish, any other form of food preservation. And anyone with an axe and saw, a mule and a wagon, and a nearby forest could make a year-round living cutting and delivering firewood. Same goes for water: access to a water source, and a water purifying setup, could make for a viable barter-based career.

      • You’ll get no argument from me, except to note that fine soaps can be made just as easily from vegetable fats as they can from animal fats.

        • Average Joe American | July 3, 2015 at 11:24 am |

          Good point. I live next to a woman who makes and sells cosmetics (including scented soaps); she’s started getting free bovine fat from a local guy who slaughters and butchers animals for local ranchers. I was getting free bones for bone broth from him, he was just throwing the tallow away. But you’ve come up with another barter-worthy tool-based skill: creation of vegetable oils with a seed/nut press. Not as easy as collecting fat from a livestock source, but in the absence of cows…

          • William Burke | July 3, 2015 at 8:16 pm |

            Yep. And while not exactly “survival skills”, stocking up on loads of toilet paper and can openers seems prudent… for barter items.
            I imagine a 4-pack of TP would fetch a mighty good trade item.

            If I had the space to store it, I’d buy a truckload of TP and a couple cases of can openers.

          • Average Joe American | July 3, 2015 at 11:51 pm |

            Well, okay William, it’s true we’re slipping off topic (barter-worthy skill sets) but, I think you can say that planning ahead is a “survival skill.” Which includes stocking up for your neighbors’ needs.

            Along with your truckload of TP and cases of can openers (seriously, you can open a can with any sturdy knife, as in days of old)?

            Disposable waterproof lighters “good for thousands of lights” (why survivalists keep promoting waxed kitchen matches I’ve never fathomed, since I’ve accidentally laundered several Bics over the years and the little suckers kept working, I think they can withstand getting wet in a backpack or one’s pants pocket, probably far better than kitchen matches, waxed or no).

            And 25 lb. bags of table salt.

            I prefer organic mined sea salt, but people will trade a LOT for Morton’s when they run out. (Properly prepared rodents, snails and insects–great protein sources–go down way better salted.) Rent a personal storage unit, throw in a few bags of salt. Become the Salt Czar of your neighborhood.

            As for TP, when your barter supplies run out, you can always give classes (now we’re back to tradable skill sets) on butt hygiene in the absence of fibrous paper: safely wiping with a knife blade (Jeremiah Johnson style), appropriate foliage (numerous definitely incorrect choices to choose from), rocks and streams, etc. Most “First Worlders” have literally no clue how to properly poop and wipe their bums in the woods. Or in an alley, for that matter.

            People laugh…it’s no joking matter when disease begins to spread from people who literally don’t know how to wipe their asses in emergency situations.

            Tooth brushes and baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, dried beans and rice. All good, but: Potable water, water, water. No safe water = death. If you can turn dangerous water into safe cooking and drinking water, you may have an assured place in your post-apocalyptic community. (Well, you might need an AK-47 and a guard dog, but you just might have the beginnings of a new career.)

            This is not science fiction, people. It’s history.

    • Pot growers, gurus

  4. Why wasn’t this article posted on one page??

    • StarFirePrincessWarrior | July 2, 2015 at 7:21 pm |

      This article was not posted all in one place so it would be more difficult to access, thereby possibly losing readers. The less the readers know, the better tptb/r like it.

  5. You forgot the most important skill, someone to protect all of the above mentioned people.

    • Average Joe American | July 2, 2015 at 3:53 pm |

      You definitely got that right, although the inherent danger is people setting themselves up as local despots and tin gods. For which reason I would strongly urge everyone who is physically able to handle a firearm to acquire what firepower they can, and to become proficient in its use. Otherwise we’ll end up right back where we started: taking orders from well-armed assholes.

      • Good point. I worry about what will happen to sheriff’s departments across the country when their former sources of funding go south. Will they become warlords? The behavior of a lot of departments isn’t much better than warlords when times are good.

  6. Too confusing with all the advertisements, links and buttons. Didn’t bother reading it.

  7. We need Blacksmiths, medical-nurse/ doctor, farmer (livestock and Agri), Plumber, electrician.
    With the blacksmith making nails, anyone can pound a few logs together.

    Teachers are overpaid and overrated. All of the above can teach, we don’t need social engineering.
    When did nature ever need a midwife?

  8. I noticed Dan Sullivan using the terms “money” and “currency” interchangeably and also the first comment on this article by Croco Dile doing the same. I’ve been trying to discipline myself to use the correct term since learning the important difference between the two. It helps clear your thinking about them to know which one you really mean when speaking or writing about them. With that in mind, a good place to learn is Mike Maloney’s excellent “Hidden Secrets of Money” four-part series. Part one here:


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