10 Rules for Trading in Long Term Survival Scenarios

All of us rely on our skills when SHTF. So we all hope that we can cover all of major skills that can lead us trough all basic needs in order to survive. So we choose to learn lot of things, how to fight , how to can, how to grow food, how to heal people. And we are buying equipment and learn things.

We choose different approaches, someone chooses to learn just basics from one skill, or someone chooses to learn one particular skill in depth. Like to be very good in growing food when SHTF.

But most of the people take trading and bartering in long term survival scenarios for granted. Most of the people see trading like scenes from the movies. So there is some kind of accepted picture that man gonna be able to go out with bag of potatoes for example and trade it for something, for batteries or whatever.

Or there is gonna be something like trading place, where you can go and check what is on offer there.

It is actually strange how lot of things are covered good at lot of places on forums and blogs when it comes to some skills and equipment, but when it comes to trading it is accepted more or less that it is common sense that it is gonna be easy to trade things.

When SHTF we all going to trade things, no matter how great we are prepared, because it is gonna be way of living, one of the few ways of obtaining the things we need, especially for long term survival.

It makes sense to think today about trading when SHTF. It can be major source of resources and provide for your living in hard times, and if you prepare carefully and act smart when SHTF, you can live much better than other folks around you.

Because differences between regions in the world some things about trading can not apply everywhere, just like advice about which weapon you should have.

But some things are common everywhere, just like you can say that shot in the head can kill you, no matter what kind of gun we are talking about.

So here are some things to keep in mind.

1.SHTF (real SHTF) = no law anymore

When you are taking your time today and think about being trader when SHTF, you need to stop for a moment and accept the fact that there is no law when SHTF.

After you accept that fact, only then start with thinking how you can improve your role as a trader in collapsed world. You can see what I store for trading in my supply list in course area. What you pick for trading depends on many things I also mention later in this article.

The point here is that you have to really understand how drastically things change when there is no law. It is hard to imagine but you look at life from whole different angle and from that angle you have to approach trading.

2. Look around you, today

Some common sense again. When people struggle to survive they gonna need everything. But use common sense. So there is no too much sense in storing something that can be found easily around you.

3. Small things, always

Whatever you trade, and whenever you trade do only with small things and small portions. For example you are not offering 5 liters of alcohol, you are offering ½ liter of alcohol. And thats it. Do you have right bottles for that? Why are you doing this? Other people might not take your life because it is not worth half liter of alcohol, but for more, or when they think that you have more at your home it is maybe worth.

Also it is much easier to go somewhere and carry with you 50 flints for trade than to go and carry 10 liters of fuel.

4. You wanna be big trader? Dont

If you have some big plan to do very well when SHTF and you store whole bunch of interesting things you need to keep absolutely low profile. So if you want to be big trader that means that nobody outside your house can know that you have whole bunch of things for trade.

Only thing that is standing between lot of nasty people and you and your storage is fact that you are not interesting for them. You can say that you are very good armed and prepared, and that you have friends with you, and that they are armed too.

I will tell you that sooner or later someone will come with more friends and more arms and you are dead and your stuff gone.

So stay low. You can not be anything like „big trader“ for other people around you. Whatever you have to trade you are gonna need to have some kind of smart strategy to trade / distribute that. Watch your ego too. Having resources means power, but showing that power gets you killed.

5. Middle man- golden solution

For best results in trading over longer period of time, you need to be something like „middle man“ in process of trading, not a guy who owns things. And of course this means that people need to think that you are only middle man, not a man who actually has things.

So if you are prepared for trading and you have lot of different things to trade, you can not go and offer things as yours, you need to be the guy who can obtain things.

If you have 1000 lighters for trade, and SHTF tomorrow, and after a month you realize that lighters have good price for trade, and you want to go and offer lighters, best solution is to be something like a man who knows a guy who has lighters for trade. So when you walk with few lighters in your pocket and trade them, they are „not yours“.

You are acting as a guy who has information where something can be found for a trade, you can „go there“ and find things for trade.

6. Basic security rules

Again and again, you need to be not interesting, so common sense again about security of trading:

  • Never trade in or in front of your house
  • When you trade with unknown people, always watch carefully if someone is following you on your way home
  • No matter how great deal you can make never do too much trading with one person in short period of time (for example, do not trade 10 liters of fuel 3 times at week with same person, or in the same street)
  • Make compromise. Trading with known people increases risk because known people know where to come if they conclude that you have lot of interesting things at home, on the other side trading with unknown people has risks too, because you do not know them.
  • I never trade bigger amounts of things, or some really interesting things with folks from my really close neighborhood unless I trust them 100%, which I usually dont. If I need to trade something bigger and interesting I take risk and go in other parts of city and do trade with people who do not know where I live.

7. Pricing, value of things

It can be very specific depending on the regions what things will have more value, and what lower. You may think that food will have biggest value, but there is a difference from what will be always wanted and what will have BIGGEST value. So yes, probably you will be able to trade food always for something usable, but better idea is maybe to have some interesting valuable things that YOU can trade for food.

  • Sources of light and energy: lamps, batteries, candles, burning cubes (paraffin cubes for starting fire), lightsticks, flints, solar chargers, fuel…
  • Always have things stored that people in your region use in everyday socializing rituals.

You may think that when SHTF people habits gonna be erased and everything connected to that will be stripped to bare simple survival living, basic food and water intake. Yes, for great number of the people it was like that, but reason was that because they did not have these social / comfort things stored, or they did not have enough items to trade for them. If they could they would have got these comfort things.

What that meant in my case, people here drink coffee… a lot, 3-4 times per day, and most of the folks smoke cigarettes or tobacco. Drinking the coffee is more like ritual where good friends, or family sit down and have some special time.

When SHTF people were in hard situation of course, and some habits or rituals from normal life gain even much more importance. I mean when everything falls apart around you, to have some special moment with your family with coffee becomes even much more important.

As a result, coffee was very valuable. I mean very very valuable. Even some poor substitutes for coffee were very important and valuable. Same was with cigarettes. So depending where you live, check for those things, and have it in your storage. It can be coffee, cigarettes, tea, beer…

Have some kind of system in your storage to know what things you use for yourself, or for trading. For example you store food for yourself and your family only, but you store great number of batteries for yourself and for trading too.

8. Charity

There is no golden rule about trading process, other than those security measures that I already mentioned. But few more things to have in mind.

Charity in good times is good, charity when SHTF is wrong and dangerous. I know I disagree here with one big survival blogger but my advice is never do real charity when SHTF. I mean it is crazy if you give things away for free if others struggle to survive. What do they think?

This guy has a lot so we get what we can and then more even if that means taking with force. You can give things to people but it can not look like charity.

You need to get something if you give something. If you do real charity and word go around, you are done. I saw this happening several times. Even people everyone thinks who are always good went out to “convince” charitable guys to give them something and this ended up very bad sometimes.

If you see your kids starve to death but this one guy has food but is not giving it to you what do you do? Exactly…

9. Scams

Of course always expect scams, people will do lot of wrong things in order to get things, plaster in baby food is only one example from my time (they take out half baby food, stuff plaster in there and cover it to make it look like full).

I know how to make 1 kg coffee with just 20 % of coffee and 80 % of other stuff, and it looks and smells like real coffee, 90 percent of people will not notice difference, bad is that that mixture screws up people’s blood pressure really bad. That’s one example.

So common sense is to trade with „unchecked“ persons only for „canned“ or sealed things. If man gives you half bag of powdered milk for something, you only have his word that he did not mixed that with something in order to make it more heavy.

Different dried plants mixed with tobacco and sold as a tobacco, different seeds grinded with small amounts of coffee and sold as areal coffee, alcohol… I have more examples of this in my course.

10. Pick the right moment for trading

Value of things changed during my year in war, depending of lot of things like entering of goods in area, rumors and word on the street, state of black market or simply security situation, so in first month pack of batteries were worth maybe 5 kilos of flour, but in third month it was worth 15 kilos of flour.

Or another good example would be that candles were worth more in first few months of SHTF then after that. Example would be that people find some substitute for light in house like oil lamps, and also realize to have light in every room is just unnecessary luxury.

Watch carefully for rumors and word on the street. I mean do not go and trade some of your precious stuff for few gas masks just because someone told you on the street that you gonna need them really hard. Luckily he is knowing someone who has few of them of course.

Word on the street or rumors will work for you, but also against you and there will be moments when people or groups of people produce specific news in order to gain something or sell something.

This is basic advice for trading during long term survival scenarios.

How do you prepare for trading part of SHTF?

The end of the world

end of the world

„Fields were covered with dead bodies, no man, woman or child were seen in the open, smell of burning rubbles covered the land, crops were laying „unpicked“, still people were hungry, people had abandoned their homes and ran to the forest or hills.

Society crumbled and everything that stood for a strong state stopped to exist. New alliances were forged, old cities ruined. Hoards of mercenaries who lost their employer shrouded the land in terror…“

This is not section from some some science fiction post apocalyptic novel, or movie. It is taken from a book of medieval history where the author speaks about years after the fall of Roman empire.

One very strong empire crumbled, and suddenly chaos was in motion. The dark ages followed. Reason why empire falls is not important. How it looks when it falls is interesting.

Even more interesting is that there are not too many descriptions how it looked. Lots of years from that period are just „lost“ in historians books. Lost years. Chaos.

Do we think that if today society falls that we gonna be better than people hundreds years before. I have seen something similar in my time and I am not so optimistic.

Asteroid hitting the earth, “death planet” Nibiru, magnetic pole shifting, aliens… what is gonna happen tommorow?

Before I write more about what I believe will cause collapse of society, Jay has assembled what scientists believe will cause end of the world and humankind.

How the end of the world will happen according to science by Jay

The bad news is this planet won’t stay inhabitable for us humans forever. This is something all scientists pretty much agree on. But how will the end come?

In the last couple of years we saw increased major natural disasters, hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have killed thousands of people every year.

It’s quite obvious that hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes won’t cause the end of humankind because they are local phenomena. They might kill thousands or even millions of people but not all humans on this planet.

But what about volcanic eruptions? In the past many massive volcanic eruptions like the eruption of the supervolcano Toba on Sumatra about 73.000 years ago lead to bottlenecks in the evolution by killing off many species and some theories claim this event reduced the world’s human population to just 10.000.

Why are volcanic eruptions so problematic? The huge amount of ash that darkens the atmosphere leads to volcanic winters and temperatures continue to drop as this goes on.

Theories claim the eruption of Toba led to a 6 – 10 year volcanic winter and a decline of the average temperature in some areas by 15 °C / 59 F that changed life on earth dramatically and killed off many species.

This sounds bad, and there is another supervolcano bubbling under the surface in the Yellowstone area (that is unlikely to erupt during our lifetime) but even if this supervolcano would erupt it would not cause the end of humankind.

Add to that, the fact that the volcanic activity in the world is declining as the world cools out. Scientists do not believe an volcanic eruption will end the life of all humans.

Will the end of the world come from outer space?

There were rumors around that a planet called Nibiru / Planet X / Eris is heading towards the earth to smash it into pieces by the end of 2012. The problem is, it does not exist. If it did, it would be visible in the night sky right now, and astronomers (even hobby astronomers) would have seen it even decades before.

The US astronomer, Philip Plait, talks in his book about a variety of cosmic events that could mean the end of all life on earth. Most of them are so unlikely we do not even have to worry about them but… overall scientists agree the end of this world will come from outer space.

Astronomers compare the impact of asteroids with the same of other localized natural disasters.

If asteroids are big enough to cause trouble, we can spot them decades before they hit and alter their path to avoid a collision. Planets that might collide with us can be spotted centuries before they might hit with todays technology, so there is plenty of time to take action.

There are more nasty things lurking out in space though. When gigantic old stars implode, supernovas or even more massive hypernovas can shoot gamma rays millions of light years into space.

If we were hit by this, the atmosphere would suffer severe damage which would increase the mutations caused by UV light on earth and could mean the end of humankind.

The good news is that all stars in our “proximity” aren’t big or old enough for that. So this is extremely unlikely to happen anytime soon (we’re talking about millions of years here).

Time for bad news now… in one to two billion years the earth will be most likely a barren place without humans on it. The reason for that is nearby, just 8 lightminutes away… the sun.

The sun, like other stars, goes through different stadiums and will become what is known as a red giant. The mass of the sun expands and will increase the temperature on earth to over 100 C / 212 F and finally about 3-4 billion years later consume it.

That’s still plenty of time for us to find other places to live, of course. Some theories  claim that the loss of the sun’s gravity also alters the distance of the earth to the sun, but when it comes to external forces that mean the end of humankind, then the expansion of the sun is the most likely.

We’re still talking about huge periods of time here, and to be honest, looking at the mind-boggling stupidity humankind showed in the past and present we humans will find a shortcut to erase ourselves from this planet.

Either we start blowing up things with our 26.000 nuclear warheads, we create some virus we cannot fight or we deplete the earth of all its resources and a sustainable life becomes impossible.

Pollution and the chain reactions it triggers in our environment might also cause the end of the current edition of humans we have right now, the homo sapiens sapiens.

Looking back at the past, genetic bottleneck situations like the Toba supervolcanco eruption create another scenario more likely.

That is that we humans evolve and become a better, smarter and more adaptable species.

Those who survive genetic bottleneck situations are first and foremost lucky being at the right spot and the right time.

Then of course the ones that survive are the ones that are prepared and know how to live life outside of our civilized bubble we live in right now.

When we didn’t record new course material last month Selco and I had a few beers and spoke about this.

Preserving and furthering the knowledge people have about survival (which is the root knowledge that came before everything else) not only helps people who might suffer from irrational fears but actually shapes the future of humankind.

Collapse of our society by Selco

collapse of society

After Jay showed big picture, and that nothing gonna kill the earth tomorrow, back to what will cause us problems. Humans.

It is something in human nature, something that we like to think and imagine that we need some huge and big event to happen and then we gonna be in deep problems.

Truth is that we are already in deep problems. We need some small event that gonna set in motion huge trouble.

We already live in society where most sheeple trust more to TV then to their own eyes. But most of us are guilty in one way or other. How many of us are addicted to „modern“ life where is everything accessible with one click.

Food, water, heating, entertainment… We get everything ready, packaged, nicely wrapped, delivered to our hands. It is so comfortable, I love it too.

If credible looking politician on TV say to us that he can fix all problems people are happy. This nice looking guy takes responsibility for everyone so nobody has to take care of themselves…

Slowly but very effectively politicians and modern society is taking everything away from us: ability to defend (act by the rules and society will defend you) our skills (you gonna have food, heating, house, car… all you need is to act by the rules) … and most of us are grateful because we think we are doing fine, we have our needs covered.

But at what cost?

We become lazy, ignorant idiots. Most of us. We are already zombies, dependent on a system full of promises. Not everyone but most of us.

There is a small number of people who like to ask questions, who like to think with their own head. For that small number of folks there are names reserved by society: weirdos, conspiracy theorists, lunatics… you… readers of shtfschool.com

I mean in what kind of society we are living if it is strange when man wants to know how to survive in urban environment when disaster hits, hunt for food, make fire for heat, have means to defend himself, know how to live in wilderness. How crazy (or sane) is that?

Now we can just wait for some event to set the chaos in motion. It can be widespread unrest or long term power grid failure because of EMP, or some bigger pandemic. Or simply one nasty economic crisis and we are gonna be in full scale SHTF situation.

But real killer is that simple and ordinary guy who is sitting in his chair, watching soap opera, eating popcorn. Ordinary man who trust mainstream media and cares only about his own little world.

He is our Nibiru.

He is gonna stay by TV watching the announcement that something terrible is happening in town 200 miles from him, some epidemic maybe, and he is gonna believe in smart looking guy, „pandemic expert“ that everything gonna be fine, that government can contain that.

Days after he is gonna believe in good news even when he can not get his relatives on phone in other part of country because some „glitch“ in phone company.

Then he is gonna reassure his family and friends that everything gonna be OK, there is a folks who are gonna take care for that. They like to hear that because everyone likes good news.

Even when power goes out he is gonna keep good faith in future, „they gonna fix that!“ Maybe he is gonna be slightly disturbed without his favorite news station on TV.

After he realized that there is no food anymore in house, maybe then he gonna go out and check things, and be probably shot by someone in front of the empty and looted supermarket.

I was like that guy when the war started and I trusted the experts. I’m wiser now.

There are 95% of people who will figure out too late that they do not know what they gonna do when SHTF.

When people are left alone without system and forgotten all ways how to take care of their own lifes then we have real SHTF.

So in one sentence what will bring end to humankind? That human individuals gave up their independence and lost their ways.

Most of the world is living in over-inflated bubble which runs on resources, and resources are running out faster and faster.

Problem is that most of the people do not think too much about how food water energy etc. comes to them. Most of the people think it is going to be like that forever. Most people are stupid (unfortunately).

Once when bubble is gone, everything changes. And we do not need asteroid for that. Simple thing like greater military conflict in middle east can be trigger to lead to chain of events that can result in chaos.

Or how things would look if power grid goes out? Can you remember chaos when electricity goes off for few days in bigger cities, sometimes even few hours without electricity in city brings everything to halt.

How it would look if electricity disappear for few months. It would bring world to chaos, and it would be very hard to go back.

Whatever triggers this results will be same, civilization will be pushed back in dark ages. Forget about emergency services, hospitals, community… People will be divided to those who are gonna survive, and ones who are gonna vanish.

We do not even need a killer planet crushing us to bring us chaos, we will do it alone. Take care of ourselves.

I am gonna describe how things could unfold, from real life, from my experience, very shortened and simplified:

  1. People trust their government. Trust the system.
  2. Common people are unaware (great majority) of real agenda of politicians, they follow them, they liked promises about more wealth, more jobs, more security , democracy…
  3. Some rumors go around of how government just helps few business to get richer, about selfish motives of people in power.
  4. Leaders want to make sure they stay in power and start with installing fear in people, fear from others, different (in the same time they insist on differences even where there was not differences).
  5. Leaders insist on thesis that they gonna defend people from whatever and whoever, as long as they follow the leaders. People do not think about personal security, personal wealth etc. Leaders (society) gonna provide all that. Protect the system and system protects you.
  6. Suddenly people wake up in world without job, security, safety etc. People realize nobody takes care of them when things go really bad. By that time leaders and their networks have gained tremendous power and resources from that chaos in all kinds of ways.

Any of this sounds familiar? Welcome to today.

Governments job today is to balance suffering and promises. To balance beatings and compliments and when some event changes that balance and pain for people get too much, welcome to the end of the world as we know it.

What event do you think could trigger this? Please share in comments.

How to help kids through hard times

traumatized kids

The terrible shooting in US that put 27 people to death, mostly six and seven year old children made me write this post. There is much controversial stuff.

Media outrage about gun laws instead more talk about media making people like the Aurora shooter to some kind of celebrity, that inspires other people to go out and “be someone” by doing extreme atrocities too.

I know many of you have families or are close friends with people who have. So today I want to talk about what happens to kids who get through some terrible times.

Kids had it too, just like grown up people. Maybe in different way, but they definitely absorbed all hard stuff that happened around all of us. You may expect that you can throw whole bunch of cardboard table games in one secure room inside house with your toddlers while you are fighting for survival and that everything gonna be OK with them.

And to be honest people did like that, nobody paid too much attention to kids, if you follow the site or are member of course you know how dramatically priorities change.

Most important thing was to keep kids physically safe. Everything else was kept for some other time, for time when peace comes, for time when „normal time“ comes. Even though often we did not expect to live to that day.

Later when normal time came, some of the folks realized that their kids are not actually „normal“ kids anymore.

Most of the people having tendency to forget time when they were kids, and think like kids actually do not understand too much, so there is no too much need for explaining things that are happening around them. Kids are small people, they are not idiots, they understand much more than we think.

In that time as I already said we did not pay too much time about explaining things to kids, explaining some bad things that they seen or heard happening around them.

I still think that we did not have time for that because we were occupied with much more important things, with food finding, and basic security things. But sometimes I think that we did not know how things gonna have influence on them, if we knew that maybe we would have found some time for that.

Anyway, today after any traumatic event in normal societies there is a whole system that is used to help kids to cope with that event, but do not forget that first and best friend for your kid is someone they trust, a close friend of family or you if you are parents, and you are the person who need to see problem with your kid.

Later when that kid is fully grown up person it is hard and sometimes impossible to correct some things. The bad patterns and trauma might have left too deep scar.

Examples around me are numerous, and whole society here is built on false and wrong values. I can say that one of the reason for that is that great number of young people are raised in wrong way.

Any traumatic event will leave great influence on kid or young person. Other thing is what that person gonna learn from that event. I am not some kind of expert in human behavior or psychologist, but I am man who survived great number of traumatic events, and I know great number of people who suffered many traumatic events, so I can say that people who survived it gonna have consequences. Always.

One of my relatives for last 10 years did not go out from her apartment alone. Always with some other family member. She was six years old when she watched how people getting killed around her, nobody thought in that time to talk too much about what she saw, priority was to keep her safe. It struck her years later.

Opposite to her my younger colleague who was also young during time in war can not stand elevators, and any other small spaces. Panic attacks. He told me parents put him in small safe room when shelling was very heavy.

I was once with him in apartment, and when we wanted to go out key in door jammed (here you lock door when you inside apartment), I guess he felt stranded in that moment or whatever, he got panic attack pushed me from the door and start to kick door with chair. Almost 20 years before he was almost suffocated when his house went on fire by shelling and he was stranded for some time in safe room. He was 14 then.

And these two cases are mild examples. In worst cases kids are grown up in traumatic events and without working with them they can grow up in man who think that he can do anything with force only.

If kids are seeing that people do wrong things in order to get something, they can conclude that way is easiest way. They get wrong ideals. This is why when media makes celebrity out of people who go on shooting sprees you create long term problem.

You suddenly have fully grown up man who is maybe simply bad or just knows he will be known and finally someone if he does one big act of violence that is worth the news.

So what to do?

Just work with your kids, pay attention what they seeing and how they understand all that. Help them to understand what is bad and what is wrong.

Do not talk about shooter with them, talk with them about victims. Shooter is nobody and should remain that.

Those “flashers” that run on field during sport events are not covered by media as well because this would just make more people go run for fame. Some part of media does not get it and for sake of money, attention and more viewers they make a hero out of someone who should remain nobody forever.

What I try to say is, do not underestimate young people. They are new to life and suck in all things around them. Good or bad and you have to help him make sense of this or be a bit of filter.

Without your help kid who is going through some bad situation may go to some extreme later.

Keeping kids away from real world is not right either but they have to learn about things and you have to help them understand context of this.

Saddam Hussein thought it is good idea to “toughen” his kids up when they were young, by letting them see atrocities. His sons Udai and Qusay became murdering psychopaths.

Sad reality is there is a whole generation of young people here who just do not have correct understanding of meaning of right and wrong. For them correct concept is easy and hard. And if you stop for a moment and think about that you can see how that concept is dangerous, and why when SHTF we gonna have some really hard time.

For them it is easier to get high and rob some small store, beating to death lady who work there than to work for living. They do not know for other way, any other way is harder for them.

And never make mistake and think that kids are just kids, and that they do not see and understand what is going around them.

They see everything and they will understand what is happening and why, but without your help maybe they might misunderstand that.

What are your thoughts on this?

Survivalist Gift Guide

Christmas is around corner and Jay and me got together to look for some good gift ideas for you. This Survivalist Gift Guide has some gifts for new preppers or non survivalists as well. Giving non survivalists box of lighters for Christmas might be a bit awkward so book is obviously better choice. We tried to balance what is useful and what is fun and also added some crazy gifts.

Many more expensive products in this guide are “survival luxury items”. Nice to have and will make heart of every survivalist jump, but not really necessary because cheaper item can get the job done as well. It all depends on who you give gift to.

A new prepper who has very limited budget will be more happy about $30 machete, $30 first aid kit, $50 ham radio than one high quality $110 solar charger. This is much different for seasoned prepper with bigger budget of course. Simply because of other priorities.

In the end survival is much more about skills than equipment but we all love having good tools to get things done and some toys to play around.

Under $20

Under $30

Under $100

Over $100

Funny and over the top gifts

Ammo is of course always option and weapons too. But this gets very specific, depending on area where you live, common calibers in area and laws.

What were the best survival related gifts you ever got or gave someone? What is your plan this Christmas when it comes to gifts?