According to Selco, money and precious metals are useless during SHTF conditions. Items with immediate uses are much better.
Cigarettes were the preferred currency for small and quick trades. In other situations, it was ammunition for weapons.
There was no fixed price for goods. Their value changed according to the supply situation. However, common goods like alcohol enjoyed fairly stable prices.
If you needed something immediately (like an antibiotic for a sick child), the price for that good will skyrocket.
According to Selco, the rules of SHTF barter economy were similar to those found in flea markets.
Protecting yourself is a must. Trade during SHTF is a big risk because there are no laws and everyone is looking out for themselves. Find out who has something you need, vet that information, tell him you want a trade and set the terms.
Selco prioritized skills over products as trade goods in the long run. Skills never run out. Potential attackers will hesitate to kill you if they know you have valuable skills.
Medical, repair and technical skills were greatly esteemed during SHTF in Bosnia. Skills related to food, wilderness survival and repairing clothing and items were also sought out. (Related: Treating burns when SHTF: Natural ingredients for any survival scenario.)
For people who aspire to be SHTF traders, Selco recommended the following:
According to Selco, bartering was mostly done through private arrangements. The only market was unpredictable because a local warlord controlled it.
He warned scams and attacks were commonplace. Trading with people you know before SHTF helped reduce that.
Also, do not wait until you are short on something. Trade well in advance.
Do not go alone to a trade. Take three people to protect you from attackers. And remember to check all the goods in case of scamming.
Having come out of the Balkans War alive, Selco took time to debunk some myths about SHTF barter and trade.
People will not get all together and help each other during SHTF. They will look out for themselves and their families first.
Storing up trade goods for SHTF in order to become the biggest trader only works for warlords. Staying small and being careful is the best way for most people to survive SHTF.
Finally, trade is not about force and weapons. It's about the right frame of mind. Selco likened it to violence-prone bargaining at a flea market.
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