Priceless Bartering Chips: Part 2

In a previous article I gave you my list of items that will be priceless as bartering chips after a crisis. This week I had so much information that I had to limit this email to only 4 items. Just a quick rundown of the first 5 items

  1. Cigarettes
  2. Alcohol
  3. Antibiotics and medicines
  4. Sanitation and First aid supplies
  5. Bullets

If you missed the previous newsletter that contains why these items are important or you just want a refresher please Click Here.


(Image via)

(Image via)

MREs are great to have on hand for bartering as well as personal survival. Keep a variety of flavors and different kinds of food, because you could be holding something that could complete a meal for a hungry person. MREs are quite heavy and can be expensive unless you find a good deal on them. But they have an increased value in that they don’t need water to be consumed (the meals are not freeze-dried and are literally ready to eat right out of the package.)

They also contain desserts, moist towelettes, and plenty of condiments that can be used later if you don’t need them with the meal. These meals don’t store anywhere near as long as freeze-dried or dehydrated meals, coming in at an average maximum of 3 years, but it is the instant gratification of having a warm meal (with the flameless heater inside) as opposed to another hungry night.

In survival situations, MREs will come in handy as a single meal, but after a crisis when your caloric intake requirements go back to “normal,” the average caloric content of an MRE comes in at 1250 calories, which is almost an entire day’s calories in one meal.

You can get cases of MREs for between $50 and $100 online. This would put them at the top end of my budget and therefore one of the last items that I would look into storing. With that said, they could still be worthwhile to stock up on. Just be sure to check the dates, and you will want to store them in the coolest part of your house.

Checking the dates can be a little difficult. Sometimes you’ll have a nice, easy-to-read date packed stamp that says something like “03/09/01” which can be read simply as March 9, 2001. However, some cases will use a different form such as “1068”. In this case, the first number “1” stands for the year (2001) and the next three numbers indicate which day of the year (365 days in a year) it was packed. So “068” would be day 68 of the year 2001…or March 9, 2001.

The guidelines on packaging for MRE’s is strict, and they should be able to maintain a minimum shelf life of three and a half years at 27 °C (81 °F), nine months at 38 °C (100 °F), and short durations from −51 °C (−60 °F) to 49 °C (120 °F). Basically the cooler you keep them, the longer they last.



I believe that in a long term crisis, coinage and currency in general will be replaced by skills and bartering. In the short run however, people are used to using our current coinage and have been trained to believe that these small metal trinkets have value.

It is for this reason that it wouldn’t hurt to have a stash of silver coins on hand to use in the initial phase of restructuring after a crisis. Keep in mind this doesn’t necessarily mean only silver dollars with a full ounce of silver, but even older, less expensive coins with a high silver component (the 1964 Kennedy half-dollar, for example.)


Pre-1965 circulating dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars were all struck by the U.S. Mint from a silver composition for many years. Below is a short list of coins that contain enough silver to be of value:

  • 1916-1945 Mercury Dimes
  • 1945-1964 Roosevelt Dimes
  • 1932-1964 Washington Quarters
  • 1916-1947 Walking Liberty Half Dollars
  • 1948-1963 Franklin Half Dollars
  • 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars
  • 1878-1921 Morgan Dollars
  • 1921-1935 Peach Dollars

I want to make sure that my opinion on this is abundantly clear. This coinage will be good to have for the first phase of restructuring after a long term disaster. These coins should not be actively sought after by going to trade shows or pawn shops. If you get a good deal on them and have the expendable cash or just happen to find them, then by all means get them, but only after your other basic needs are met.

Laundry Detergent


You wouldn’t normally think of laundry detergent as a bartering staple, but even after the SHTF people want to have clean clothes, and sanitation is a necessary function of survival. If you wear the same clothes day in and day out, they will become contaminated with bacteria and dirt. If you are in a situation where your clothes start to chafe you, having that raw skin mixed with soiled clothes can lead to a nasty fungus or skin infection.

If you don’t think that people are willing to barter in detergent, you might want to think again. In March of 2012 a news story broke about a rash of theft involving Tide laundry detergent. Detergent theft became so rampant that authorities from New York to Oregon began keeping tabs on the soap spree, even leading some cities to create special task forces to stop it.

Retailers like CVS and Walgreens were forced to take security measures, some going as far as actually keeping the soap under lock and key. Apparently, Tide detergent has a special place on the black market, and at the time was referred to as “liquid gold.” One Tide bandit in West St. Paul, Minn., made off with over $25,000 in the product in just 15 months before being arrested.

The laundry detergent is stolen because of its implied value and easy resale. Officers have even witnessed Tide as a form of currency for drug deals.

The intrinsic value of laundry detergent will only go up when it becomes a necessity and is not readily available on shelves.

Water Bottles


To someone in bad need of water, a water bottle could be worth its weight in gold. Remember the survival rule of threes: you can live three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Odds are unless something destroyed all of the buildings in a disaster area or they are made otherwise uninhabitable, shelter will most likely be taken care of.

This leaves part two: water.

Most people will be intellectually scrambling to get food. Unfortunately for them, food should be the last thing on their minds.

The majority of the time when you feel hungry, it is actually your body telling you it is thirsty and needs more water. While you can get a fair amount of water from some food staples, digestion requires water and you will end up with a negative net water intake.

If you have a stockpile of fresh, ready-to-drink water, you essentially have cash stockpile. If you have the ability to create and store your own water, you have your own version of a money tree.

Clean water is NOT a luxury, it is a necessity. As such, it is an invaluable resource. You do not necessarily need to have your own well or access to a running water source to generate water. Simple skills and equipment such as a solar still and condensation collection have the ability to keep you well hydrated.

Click Part 1 and Part 3 to read the rest of the series.

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