21 Inexpensive Barter Items When SHTF

We now live in a post-apocalyptic world after an “SHTF” situation.  You ran out of food and water, but you still have some items in your possession that you can barter.  You ask yourself, What are the best bartering items after SHTF? Remember, cash is KING but only if there’s a Kingdom, otherwise, cash becomes useless.  We always talk about some post-apocalyptic situation, but in the case of bartering, it doesn’t even have to be the end of the world to render cash useless.  At the end of World War Two, you could not buy much of anything in Germany with a wheel barrel full of money.

Here Is Our List Of 21 Inexpensive Barter Items You Can Use When SHTF

Gold and Silver Coins

After money runs out, people might resort back to gold and silver as a currency.  Either by using coins, bars or jewelry. Gemstones would probably not be worth much because it would become difficult to distinguish a real gem from a fake one. For that reason, I would not bother giving gemstones much importance.

As far as gold or silver bars are concerned, one I like, in particular, is the “breakaway system.”  The breakaway system is a way where you can purchase gold or silver bars where you can separate them by grams and break individual pieces. This barter item might not last very long since you can’t eat gold or silver. Think of this as a long-term bartering item and not a short-term one. When people are desperate, not long after the fall of civilization, precious metals will be the last thing people will want to acquire as a trading item. This is more for when a new civilization is forming, and precious metals become valuable again.

For some of you that are not be familiar with the breakaway system, you can check out the link below to learn more.

Tobacco Products

Cigarettes and cigars are going to be very hard to find because people may not realize how much of these items are shipped to stores on a daily basis.  Supermarkets, gas stations, and convenience stores are being replenished continuously, so when the trucks and trains are no longer moving; tobacco products are going to be very hard to find after they’re all gone.


Alcohol products would run out very quickly after looting begins.  You can stockpile alcohol, but its tricky since bottles of liquor is heavy and takes a lot of space. There’s also a fire danger regarding high amounts of alcohol, so be careful if you decide to buy some liquor on the cheap. One great idea if you want to stockpile alcohol is to buy nips of liquor.  These small bottles are far easier to store and would make a great trading item.


This barter item is probably the most important one on the list.  Medication is something that the television series “Z Nation” got right.  I know, its just another zombie show but take out all the zombies, and all you’re left with is a post-apocalyptic landscape.  In this TV show, they trade pills, and it works very well for them, and I think that it could work just as well in reality. After the trucks stop moving and the pharmacies are empty, it will be difficult to find something as simple as aspirin. This is something that you can buy in bulk and that you should store in your emergency shelter for yourself and barter.

Water Purification Tablets

Water purification tablets are an item that I rarely see on a pepper’s bartering item list. Think about it; you can buy a pack of 100 water purification tablets for as low as 10 dollars at some places.  You can either buy them individually sealed or have 100 pills in one single bottle.  I would suggest buying them sealed separately because they would be much easier to trade.  You should always save some for yourself as well so you can purify your water source.

Water purification Tabs are effervescent tablets which kill microorganisms in water to prevent cholera, typhoid, dysentery and other water-borne diseases. Clean drinking water is ready in 30 minutes. 

You can pick some up from Amazon by clicking here!


Bullets have value, and this is proven throughout our history.  The term “Shot Glass” comes from ammo trading as currency.  Shot glass refers to a time back in the old west.  When you wanted a drink and didn’t have any money, you could trade a bullet for a shot of liquor.  Ammunition will always have value, especially in desperate times when people are hungry and would do anything to eat.

Make sure you only sell ammunition to someone you trust. Most peppers say that people shouldn’t use ammo as a bartering item because they will turn around and shoot you soon after buying bullets from you.  I think that anyone that has a gun would have at least a few rounds on hand, so if they want to kill you, they wouldn’t have to wait until you provide them with ammunition.


Fruits and vegetable seeds would be an Inexpensive barter items you could have with you in storage. People are going to need to go back to the days of farming and planting gardens.  If it’s been years since the government fell and there is still no official organization taking care of people, everyone will have to start over. One of the best items to start over with are seeds.  Viable seeds are going to become very hard to find and would be a valuable item for trade.

Coffee & Tea

Coffee especially is a vice item that people are addicted to and drink every single day! When everything stops moving, you will not be able to get your Colombian coffee beans anymore. We would suggest you buy canisters of instant coffee since instant coffee can last for a much longer time than fresh coffee beans. Just make sure not to open the can or bottle until the time is right because when open, it dramatically reduces its shelf life.

Toilet Paper

Toilet paper is undoubtedly one of those items that we take for granted. So much so that we probably never think what would happen if we ultimately ran out of toilet paper and had to find an alternative way to wipe ourselves. We naturally would find another way, but until that time comes, you would have a valuable product on hand.  Click on this LINK for a full history lesson on what people were using as a toilet paper alternative in the past.

First Aid Kits / Medical Supplies

Medical supplies and first aid kits would be a great bartering item to have, even if its just band-aids.  I would recommend Band-Aids that have Neosporin antibiotic directly on the Band-Aid pad itself. Any type of antibiotic will become a precious commodity due to a higher infection rate. Having Band-Aids with antibiotic as a trading item would be a great asset.  You can buy them in bulk from your local Costco, or you can click here to check out the current Amazon price for bulk Neosporin band-aids.


After the grid is down and the gasoline tanks have run dry, people will have no means of recharging their rechargeable batteries.  That is why regular non-rechargeable cells will become a valuable item to barter with after SHTF.  Batteries don’t typically have a long shelf life so just keep rotating them with new ones every so often if you decide to stock up!

Spices and Seasonings

Once upon a time,  spices and seasoning were one of the most valuable items on earth.  Salt, pepper, paprika just to name a few.  Unless someone has a garden and can plant and process these items, they will be gone for good! There was a time when salt was worth a fortune.  They would use salt to preserve meat because a few hundred years ago, freezers were not invented yet.

I like this idea in particular because we live in a time where spices and seasoning are so cheap to buy, and you can store it for a very long time.

Tooth Paste/Shavers and Blades/Toothbrush/Floss/Underarm Deodorants/Soap/Shampoo

These items are another thing we take for granted and never really think about a situation where we would never be able to use them again. That’s why they would become so important when people realize they are no longer accessible. Some might think these are luxury items, but if you don’t take care of your hygiene, you could end up being very sick.

One great tip to stock up on these items for free is from hotels.  Most hotels these days have a supply of travel size toiletry items. If you bring them home after every hotel stay and place them in a box, you could have a nice stock after a few years. Best of all, its free and a great “individual” bargaining items. Some hotels even give out disposable razors. Disposable razors would be valuable, so stock up!  You can also buy them in bulk from Amazon for less money than you would expect.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer would be very important to have with you. If there’s a lack of water, and no way to wash your hands, small bottles of hand sanitizer would be essential.  You can buy a big bottle for your home or your bug out bag and have small travel size bottles to either barter or have on you at all times. The last thing you want in a post-apocalyptic world is to get sick. Medications will be scarce, and it will be nearly impossible to find a doctor.

Sanitary Pads For Women

Sanitary pads for women is another item that most people would not even think about; because its something people take for granted and never think twice when buying them.  One great thing about sanitary pads is that you can use them in a first aid situation to stop a bleeding wound. The absorption capacity in sanitary pads is specially made to absorb blood. You can use this item for many more ways than just being a woman’s product.  That’s why sanitary pads for women is a great bartering item.  They are inexpensive in bulk and can keep them in your emergency stock indefinitely.


A candle is a barter item I rarely see on other peppers bartering lists. However, when the lights go out for good, candles will become something precious. The beautiful thing about candles is that they are inexpensive when buying in bulk.  Regular white, unscented candles would be best (In my humble opinion).  They are also a great item to save since you are not required to keep them in a cool, dry place, you can store them anywhere you want. Click here for a pack of 72 candles for less than $20 from Amazon! 


Gasoline, butane, Karoseen, oil, propane are all things that would disappear fast and would not come back.  I used to work at a gas station back in the late 90s. We would sometimes run out of gas because the fuel truck was delayed by just one day to replenish our underground tanks.  Gasoline is something that is replenished globally on a daily basis, and when everything stops, fuel will disappear almost immediately!

Just as an example, Craigslist had to be shut down only a few years ago after there was a massive snowstorm on the east coast.  The reason they had to shut craigslist down was that people were trading sex for gasoline because all the gas stations were running out of fuel. Moreover, people needed fuel to run their generators. Do you understand now how desperate society will become in a brief period?

Honey and Sugar

Honey would be one of the best cheap barter items to have in your emergency storage since it will never spoil if you keep it in a cool, dry place. Sugar is another item that keeps for a long time and that people might want.  These things are not what you would consider an essential food product, but to have some comfort food after the end of the world could prove priceless to some people.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Having a garden to feed yourself is very important since your emergency food stocks will not last forever if the grid is down indefinitely. Also, having fruits and vegetables to barter with can prove extremely valuable, especially if there aren’t any left for people to eat.

Building a raised garden can be inexpensive and easy to do.  If you don’t want to make it yourself with lumber, you can buy some hard plastic crates.  You then fill the containers up with topsoil and whatever vegetable seeds you want to grow.  Click on the video below; They explain how to build them correctly.


Books are more of a luxury item, but as time goes on, people will get incredibly board without their IPad’s and video games.  Of course, any books would do, BUT the best books to have on hand in a situation like this would be “useful books.” Books about how to grow things, how to make things. Also, books that teach you the different types of wild plants that are safe to eat, and even the ones you should avoid if you’re out in the wilderness. Books of that kind will be one of the most valuable things you would have If you’re willing to part ways with them. If you’re able to remember everything you read, then you would have a significant trading item. Click here to check this book out on Amazon.

Personal Skills

The skills you have to offer might not be something you think is valuable, but the skills you know would be incredibly invaluable in a post-apocalyptic world.  Just remember, if you’re a medical doctor, you will become a priceless member of any society. You could trade your skills for food and water by teaching people the basics of medical aid.

If you’re a hunter, you can hunt and barter your kills for items.  You can even teach people how to hunt as a method of trade.

There are too many skills that would become valuable. Martial arts is another excellent skill to teach people the basics of self-defense. In a world filled with marauders, knowing how to disarm someone would undoubtedly be a life saver! And if you want to be the most popular person in town, learn how to brew beer! Enough said.

Bartering Tips

Don’t barter one-on-one; do it in a public barter location with other people around. Don’t barter anywhere near your own supplies, and only take a few items so you do not expose yourself as well-supplied; stick to bartering only the items you brought and do not volunteer that you have other items you did not bring. If asked, just say no. It’s perfectly feasible that you might have those items to trade at the next “meet” so don’t worry about being caught in a lie. A SHTF situation is not the time to worry about whether people think you’re “nice.”

Also, please be very aware of loiterers, people who are just a little too friendly, and being followed back to your location. Take a roundabout way back, make a couple stops, and always survey your surroundings. Be safe and survive!

Click here for information on this great book “The Survivalist Food Bible”

Most great ideas come from the survival community, so please leave us a comment below and let us know what barter item you would add that’s not on this list. Share this article to anyone that you think might benefit!

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