What to stockpile for barter after SHTF
One of the biggest questions preppers ask is if they should stockpile gold for trade / barter in case SHTF. Gold has been a traded commodity ever since it was discovered, and it’s what society runs to when their economy collapses. One of the problems is that it’s heavy. Should you stockpile gold for trading in case the economy collapses?
The quick answer is yes but there are some considerations. Gold is heavy and gold is expensive.
Due to the weight and cost, a large amount of gold to carry in a bugout bag isn’t really feasible. A block of it just one foot square would weigh 1,200 pounds! It should still be considered as something as a SHTF barter item. In larger quantities, you’ll have to either have it secured in your bug-in location or pre-staged at your bug-out location. In smaller quantities, you could carry it with you in your pack or have it stashed in a cache along your route to your bugout shelter.
The other problem with heavy gold as a barter item is that due to it’s worth, a tiny amount can be traded for a lot of stuff but you don’t always need a lot of stuff. There won’t be a lot of availabilty or desire to make change for you after SHTF, so how do you carry gold in small amounts that’s easily traded?
Gold bars for barter
Gold bars are usually identified with a purity stamp on them but they’re really heavy. A 400 troy-ounce bar weighs a little over 27 pounds. That would be a lot of weight to put into a bob bag but that’s not all. One bar costs a LOT of money. You can put in the weight of your scrap or bar gold into this gold value calculator to see just how much it would cost. Let’s just say that you could buy a really nice bugout shelter for that cost.
What happens if you just happen to have a bar of gold and some jewelry after SHTF? Think it would be worth the opportunity cost of what you’d have to give up to get it? Let’s say you have one bar, one necklace valued at $500 of today’s money and a ring worth $200. If you didn’t have anything else to barter and needed to buy a loaf of bread, that loaf of bread’s gonna cost you $200. The next one would cost $1,000. As you can see, jewelry and bars of gold alone aren’t great for barter items after SHTF.
So how can you use gold as a good barter or trade item? The key is the granularity of your amount. You don’t walk around with a pocketful of $100 bills so why would you think chunks of $100+ metal would be a good idea after SHTF where you may not even be able to get change?
Gold jewelry for barter
Jewelry is one of the ways people have traded gold for years but sometimes it’s not a good investment because the quality of gold is sometimes in question and not easily verified, and it can cost more per ounce than pure gold itself. Because of this, I don’t typically recommend jewelry in and of itself as a trade / barter item, with the exception of gold chain.
One way you could keep gold in manageable chunks is to take apart a necklace. Each individual chain would then be more manageable to be carried and traded. Once you figured out the weight and purity of each link, you’d be able to easily trade for smaller items and a pile of gold links is easy to stash away in a pouch. Try to find small-linked chains though so each item isn’t a huge chunk. I would suggest keeping the necklace together until you needed to barter with it and then break off however many links you’d need for that trade.
Gold powder for barter
Another idea is to use gold powder. Gold powder has been used for barter for a long time because of how exact you can get the value. It’s a great idea if you can find it, and what I recommend when choosing what to pack for barter in your SHTF bugout bag.
Breakable gold bars for barter
A new idea that just came out comes from Valcambi. They make small bars of gold that break apart into manageable chunks like a chocolate bar does. Each one ounce CombiBar breaks into 50 individual pieces. That may not be as good as powder to target a small price but each piece is marked with the weight and purity to make it easier to trade. They also sell other metals too but this article is about gold so we won’t get into trading other precious metals. Something like this is WAYHAYYHAYYY out of the budget for this author but the fundamental concept is sound.
So there are probably better items to pack in your bugout bag for barter in case SHTF but don’t discount gold, as long as you do it intelligently.