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?

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Post Shtf Society: Corruption as a Way of Life

corruptionI read often in discussions in survival forums that people say that people from poor countries have easier transition into chaos and collapse scenarios. I agree. One of the reasons is that they already live in some sort of shtf scenario every day.

Today I want to tell you about major aspect of what keeps broken systems going all around the world. Corruption.

When resources are few and many people want something and person who decides who gets it is short on stuff too (or just greedy and there is no one who enforces law) then you enter into world of corruption.

I think it is important part of understanding how things work in corrupted systems. This does not only help you in post shtf scenario but even when you travel or move to what I call „unorganized countries“.

I live in one so this is something like everyday school of survival, after the Balkan war my country never recovered. If both parents work full time and you still sometimes do not have enough money to feed your kids something is wrong. (Money from my course helps, thank you for everyone who signed up).

Anyway, I hope you can benefit from my experience of living in such broken system. First thing:

„I have certain rights!“

Wrong.

This is first and most important rule of surviving in unorganized country. You do not have right to anything. Right of freedom of speech, right for job, right for some protection from the law or any other „right“. Now do not get me wrong, laws are same like in any other European country here, and they say that you HAVE all of the rights, but reality is different.

You need to fight for all rights, and find a way to make them work for you in some cases.

You are only one man with whole bunch of other people who are all equally jobless, tired of crime, political nonsense and many years of hopeless economical situation.

So at the end you find out that only thing that you can do is to blend in, to act like most people. If you want to live you are gonna have to bribe people on every step, you are gonna have to accept bribes.

Sounds bad? Unmoral? Read on.

If you want to work in some company you gonna need to start to look for people who have connections with people from management in that company. The person in the management who decides who gets job knows that having work is worth something but he will not ask directly for bribe. No matter what qualifications, somehow he will just not give you job.

Nobody openly accepts bribe in most cases because its against the law. You need someone the person from management trusts and then send the bribe through this middleman.

You are giving money to the middleman, he is giving money to the management guy. Rich management guy gets richer, middleman takes cut and if middleman did not screw you, you get a phone call when you can start working.

If you are lucky enough there is gonna be just one middleman between you and management guy, because if there are more middleman you need more money. Everybody is taking their cut.

After you get, actually after you buy that crap job, you start to work for crap salary that is clearly not enough for feeding your family. So you are starting with small things in your circle or network of people you know. Small wrong things.

For example if you are policeman you are gonna have something around 600 USD salary per month in country where you need 1300 USD for living for family with 3 members per month. And that is living under poor conditions.

So you start to “close your eyes” on some things. Small things. Taking bribes for traffic tickets, then you gonna cover some drug dealers in your street, then you gonna figure out that you can earn more if you take out some infos and give it to some guys, for example just to call some guys and tell them where next police raid gonna be, some drug action.

If you don’t do this, your colleague does and you have to explain your child why there is no decent food on the table.

This is how it is for great majority of situations in unorganized countries. As soon as you plug into that weird and corrupt system you gonna have better chance to live, to feed your kids.

Another example. If you are having some bigger money and want to start some job, for example lets say you want to open some small business or whatever, bakery shops. OK law says you gonna need some licenses from state, some workers, some building, equipment etc.

So you go to government offices or whatever and start to work on paperwork and licenses, and you figure out that on every step those people making problems for you. And you may ask yourself why? I want to start normal job, to earn honest money, to give job to 10-15 people and they cause all these problems?

And sooner or later you realize that whole system does not give sh!t for your intentions, because every small or bigger clerk want bribe for his stamp on paper. Or in other case your paperwork gonna be strangely lost somewhere, or you gonna be faced with some weird sanitary regulations or whatever.

So you finally bribe people, have all paperwork, rent buildings, employ workers and start to work. After 10 days you gonna have some inspector coming over who says that you do not have suddenly all what it takes for doing that business, because some of your paperwork is not correct. And of course you need to bribe again.

Anyway if you are not part of that weird corrupt system you are going down.

If you have mother who is sick, and she needs to go to hospital, you will find out that no room in hospital is available, and that she can come in for next month, not before.

So you are looking over to your friends who have some connections there, with some physicians. And you offer some money over that friend to some physician, and miracle, there is a room free in hospital for your mother on same day.

Then what you need is only to find some nurse there and offer something to her, so you can be sure that your mother not gonna die in the middle of the night because some equipment malfunctioned or whatever.

OK if you decide to go to police and talk about fact that somebody asked bribe from you because of whatever you will be welcomed. Police guys there gonna listen very carefully to whatever you have to say, after you finish with your story they gonna take all notes, and say to you that you fulfilled your duty as law abiding citizen and that you did right thing because this region is suffering because of corruption, crime etc etc.

And then you are screwed for real. Suddenly some small junkies gonna start to threaten your kid on the way to school, local police officer always stop you and ask for funny things and mistakes in your driving or find problems with your car. You can find your car without wheels or maybe even burned out. And if you still trust in law and order you call police, and circle is going again and again and again.

And then one morning you wake up with the great idea that you are living in a sh!t country, and it is time to start to act like everybody else. Do not hear, do not see, do not talk. You plug yourself into corrupt system and become part of everything.

So you are starting to do small scams with your employers, tax scams, you find connection in taxing department, bribe guy there, steal from your employers, split cut with that dude from taxing department.

Your employers start to steal from you, whatever they can. And again circle is going on.

Point of living in unorganized country is how many people you know, I mean how many people with connections. You can become rich or powerful by just being the man with many connections. Corruption becomes not only part of system, corruption is the system to get things done.

In order to finish whatever job, you gonna need connections and bribes, smaller or bigger. And at the end to survive you become one of those people with connections. Man who can finish some business that helps others.

You are finishing jobs for people, sometimes for money, sometimes for favors, sometimes for friends, and you are expanding network of people you know. Word “human capital” gets new meaning. More people you know (people who can finish something) more power and money you have.

If I order something from Ebay in 80% I have chance that item gonna be held in customs, and some ridiculously high tax for that gonna be sent to me, import tax or whatever, usually 20X more tax then value of order. So I need to find some guy there and offer him maybe 2-3x value of order in cash, and order can be mine.

It is in every aspect of society, you can not live without it.

And I mention only very harmless examples of corruption…

Already living in corrupt system and making things work through people you know is one of the reasons why it is easier for people in unorganized countries to live better through consequences of collapse. People have already adapted to fact that they need connections to make pretty much anything happen.

So how does this information help you? I hope this article gave you basic understanding how corruption works in real life. This can help you when you travel, when you want to make things work in unorganized countries and also should give you ideas for your preparations. Store some “presents”, think about skills you can learn that you can trade as favors. Corruption will be big part of post shtf society… at least in beginning before law is enforced.

If you have questions or stories about how presents helped “someone you know” to make things work, please share in comments.

On Buying Gold & Silver for Survival Preparedness

I am very sorry because i have to destroy some popular opinions on some things, but i just have to do that. When i said and keep saying “no rules” i mean that. You can not have something like ideal preparations, you can only try to have it (and then hungry man down the road still might shoot you with his antique hunting rifle for a bit of flour). survival fear

So again on bartering and gold and silver:

No, gold and silver was not like second money, or second value during SHTF, it was not even worth like in normal times, and in most of the cases it was dangerous to have it a lot (actually it was too dangerous to have anything in great amounts and let other people to know that) If you had for example 1000 gold coins, and let s say that one coin worth 150 USD in normal times, you could think that you are rich in shtf.

But in reality it was hard to find someone who give you some food or battery or whatever useful for one coin. Gold coin was not useful for 90 percent of people, what they could use it for? Eat it? Start fire with that?

Only people which could use that gold were people who had connection to outside world, so they could use it for buying things trough their connections. In most cases they just used situation to acquire great amounts of gold for the future and in exchange for some simple things, like food, or fuel or…

They did that because they had everything else.

But thing is it was hard to make trade with people like that, because bad kind of people had connections or were gathering gold, so they can just gonna take that gold from you and give you nothing, or bullet in your head.

So yes gold was useful and not useful, it dependeds what kind of people or group you belonged to.

If we have worldwide crisis and you can not get food anywhere the first currency of choice will be food or useful things, not gold or silver. If you want gold to keep some kind of value for one day after all is over make sure you are prepped for long, long time crisis before that.

It is better to have some useful stuff in your prepping, then to waste money on gold or silver. And of course if you still want to have a lot of gold as a part of your preparations, i suggest you buy lot odd simple gold rings, or simple cheaper gold necklace, it makes more sense than to have gold coins.

In hurry it is gonna make more sense to offer “your wifes gold ring” someone for cans or something else then to offer someone some “strange” gold coin for food or one of the typical gold coins you can buy from gold sellers these days, it can raise some questions, and you do not need raising questions in situation like that. Stay low key. Be the guy with the last family jewels not the guy with gold coins from typical gold sellers.

I would say that in SHTF it is gonna be easier and cheaper to get gold then in normal times. Bartering was not a thing of some regular prices or regular places, even “expensive”things changed. Meet the guy with terrible toothache and you are only person who can do an ok tooth surgery. He will give you some gold for that if he can or a lot of other valuable things to simply get out of this situation.

As i remember coffee and cigarettes was hard to find and expensive through all of the time, everything else changed, sometimes was expensive and hard to find, sometimes not.

But important to remember is to make it easier to you, so obliviously, it is much easier to carry and trade candles and batteries than 20 liters of fuel. There is no sense of letting everybody know that you are “man for trade” and that you have a lot fuel for example, because then you might end finished robbed and probably dead.

If you can be, be a traveling trader and do not trade too often with same people if you can avoid that. People also got shot after trading with one person a few times before. Other person might just run out of things to trade and call on you to come to trade and all he has is bullet for you in exchange for what he needs (and he knows you come with what he needs).

In some hardest period cigarettes was sold at one piece, i mean you could buy one cigarette for something, it was so expensive. Same was with coffee, even some substitutes for coffee were expensive. Now you need to know that traditionally here people drink coffee a lot, so maybe some other thing is so “important” in your area, like tea, beer or something else.

But do not expect that people will loose their addictions because times are hard.

One of my older relatives smoked cigarettes while he had it, after that he smoked tobacco (pipe), after that he bought from some folks pieces of dry tobacco roots or tree, used knife to cut small pieces of that and smoked that, and after that he used some dry leafs from tree and smoke that. He never quit smoking.

So in short instead of getting gold and silver to preserve your wealth you might consider getting useful stuff and if you like gold there is always option to get it from unprepared people in exchange for useful stuff if you think you need this for times after. If you already have everything you really think you could need then gold and silver might be good, better than just money for sure.

I do not believe in any quick recovery. Even with help from other states (thank you all for that) it took long time before things became more normal again.

If things don’t get better you do not want to be stuck with gold and having to do risky trades. Do not think that other people do not see when someone is desperate and take advantage of it.