To Barter or Not To Barter? That is the question.

Emma’s Take:

Bartering is a wonderful concept. People who have goods or services they are willing to trade for the goods or services they need. No money changes hands but, done correctly, everyone ends up with what they need at a fair “price.” Brilliant! it used to be how a lot, if not most, or commerce took place. And some communities (I’m thinking folks like the Amish) still do a lot of it.

I’m a strong proponent of bartering. We’d all be a lot better off if we were willing to trade instead of buy. We’d be able to build strong communities and we’d also be able to save a lot of money to purchase the things we cannot obtain through bartering. I tutor your high school student and your student babysits. I take care of your dogs while you vacation and you fix my broken screens. You save money on boarding your dogs and I only have to buy materials and get new screens. The possibilities are nearly endless.

It’s fairly easy to start bartering. I’m really good at baking so I trade things I bake for things I’m not good at doing. Sewing springs to mind. I can’t sew to save my life. It makes sense for me to have someone who excels at it do it for me. And bartering isn’t just for products. As I mentioned, intellectual abilities can be bartered. Offering to teach someone who wants to learn what you know can be traded for them teaching you what you need to learn.

Three way bartering is also a good way to barter. I can teach you to bake bread, you mow my neighbor’s lawn, and he gives me fruit from his apple trees. Everyone ends up with something and everyone gets something. You just have to find people who have goods, services or skills that benefit someone else in the barter. My only warning is not to try to expand this too far. One breakdown in the chain and no one will be happy.

This works quite well in our normal lives. But what if there’s a disaster? What if the SHTF? In those scenarios I have a different opinion. In certain disasters I feel that it’s important to help others if you are able. If there’s a tornado in my area I’m willing to help those affected by volunteering with disaster relief groups or even providing food and water on my own. In a true SHTF situation, I am not going to barter.

In situations where people will very likely become desperate bartering is potentially quite dangerous. Once desperate people discover you have things they need they are likely to do desperate things. They’ll risk their lives and possibly take mine and my family’s to obtain those things. Even people who would never act violently in normal circumstances may become quite violent in severe emergencies.

You may feel you can trust someone and barter with him. And you may be right to a point. But what happens when that person runs out of whatever he has and he knows you have more? Or what is he willing to do or to enlist if his wife or child is sick? While not every person will become violent in these situations you cannot be sure that person hasn’t enlisted the aid of someone who has no problem doing whatever it takes to take whatever you have.

In my opinion, the best way to protect your family is to ensure that your preparations are kept as a family secret. If you find yourself in need of something you do not have you can try bartering but extreme caution must be taken at those times. Be sure not to take too much to barter. Be sure you are not followed when you leave. And know the barter value of the things you are willing to trade.

 

Kate’s Side:

To barter or not to barter in the NOW….I say right now, bartering, when you can, can be a good thing. If you feel as if you’re getting a better deal than to  spend the cash. If you’re not so good at talking with someone to come to an agreement on terms of the barter then forego it because there’s no point in getting ripped off.  If it goes well, then you get the items you need and feel like you got a deal. The best barter is when both people walk away feeling like they did well.

To barter or not to barter after SHTF….It can be a double edged sword.  You give up information about what you have when bartering. So you’d have to be prepared to protect yourself in the event that things go horribly wrong. Again, if you’re not good at bartering, then you may end up giving away more than you had planned to get items you need.  On the upside, if things go right, you get the item you need and feel good in the end about the deal you’ve struck. You may have to give away more than you’re comfortable with if you’re not prepared to walk away from a bad deal especially if you’re desperate for a necessary item.

I’m not sure that I’m definitely for or definitely against bartering in a SHTF scenario.  It would depend on the situation I suppose. I would rather be prepared to barter but not need to do so to survive. If we prepare properly we will only have to barter by choice not by necessity.

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