(SurvivalDaily.com) – Preppers know that bartering and trading are a staple of any SHTF scenario. This is especially true after a long-term collapse, such as a societal downfall or nuclear fallout. Trading may be your only way to acquire an item you need to survive another day.
The only problem? Bartering with the wrong people can be risky or even downright dangerous. Not everyone has your best interests at heart. Follow these rules to succeed at becoming an expert trader.
Rule #1: Don’t Trade at Your Location
Whether it be your home or a bug out location, you should never bring business to where you rest. This gives raiders an ample opportunity to gather intel on your stronghold. In addition, you don’t know if they have come alone or not, which can increase the risk of a raid. Set up a neutral location to meet and trade instead.
Rule #2: Never Show Everything
Take only what you think you’ll need — nothing less, nothing more. There’s always a chance you’ll be ambushed and robbed; are you willing to lose what you bring? Base that judgment on how desperate you are and whether or not you can survive without the items you bring. It may be wise to bring something expensive if you need to trade for medication… but not so wise if all you need is a few snacks.
Variety is also key. Not everyone will want to buy a specific item, such as an axe or canned foods. Bring along a number of different items to increase the chance of making a deal. Keep them in different locations on your body for safety purposes: pockets, backpacks, or your jacket.
Rule #3: Don’t Fly Solo
You don’t know what the other person’s intentions are — plus, they may bring others with them. For your safety, it’s best to assume they will. It’s best to trade in groups of three people: one watches from a distance with a scoped rifle, while the other two complete the deal. Having others keep your six gives you instant access to an inhibitor and negotiator. When you’re alone you can only focus on one thing at a time, leaving you open to be attacked.
Rule #4: The Early Bird Gets the Worm
Go to the rendezvous a few hours early and reconnaissance. Get to know the area and check well for possible traps or ambushes. Use this to come up with a plan of escape if things take a turn for the worst.
Most importantly, remember to never show up late. This brings about doubt, anxiety, and frustration, and it might just sour the deal. Plus, showing up late means you’re already playing from behind and creating trust issues between traders.
Rule #5: Don’t Trade Out of Desperation
This is easier said than done. In fact, it really depends on the situation you’re in. You may be in desperate need of medicine for a sick family member — it’s reasonable to do everything you can to get it. But you do need to maintain your poker face at all times, even if you know it’s life or death. Desperation leads to higher prices, and if the other trader can read you, they might just try to con you.
Rule #6: Establish Trade Lines and Routes
Be sure to trade with different people from outside your area. This helps you avoid the look of someone who has everything, and therefore would be a target. It also helps you find rare items you might not be able to access locally. But it’s also a great way to gather intel on distant encampments, which might end up saving your life. If nothing else, people will become comfortable and familiar with you, which opens more opportunities.
Remember: networking is also valuable. Just because that person doesn’t have an item doesn’t mean they don’t know someone who does. Or, they could potentially put the word out there that you’re looking for a specific item.
Rule #7: Have Tradable Goods
Stockpile goods for trading separately from your daily necessities. Alcohol, tobacco, and even drugs fetch a good price. Hygiene products, food and water are also valuable in a SHTF scenario, as are tools and sewing kits.
If you find yourself with a large bottle of alcohol or other valuable liquid, pour it into smaller containers. This lets you stretch the supply and get more bang for your buck.
Be sure to have a variety of items in your supply; having one or two items only won’t attract any business unless you specialize in something extremely valuable. The more you have the more likely someone is going to need something. Base your inventory on hygiene products, food, water, and excise items, like alcohol and tobacco.
Rule #8: Never Head Straight Home
Heading straight home could potentially bring unknown and unwanted visitors. In a SHTF world, unknowns are best to be avoided. Take an alternate route to leave a deal than the one you used to come in. Develop hand signals to signal your watchman you’re done and leaving. This gives them the opportunity to set up along your route to ensure you’re not being followed.
Rule #9: Never Push Your Luck
The greedier you get, the more at risk you become. Pushing people too, far or bullying them, may cause your trade to go south. Be smart and savvy, but know when to fold ‘em, too, lest it come back to bite you.
Most importantly, don’t take advantage of people. Alienating people could bring about bad fortune or even an attack (also, you may want to trade with them again in the future). You should avoid this at all costs.
Rule #10: Don’t Trade With Strangers
This may seem a little difficult, but it really isn’t. A stranger is someone who is new to the scene — someone you’ve never seen before. These people are likely gathering intel on your area and the people within it. This is not the same thing as simply knowing about someone in your community, but not necessarily knowing them. With the latter, there is at least some connection.
When the SHTF, you need to be on the ball from the first minute. That includes becoming a smart trader who can barter their way to survive and thrive. Always assume the people you meet want to rob, harm, or kill you, and be pleasantly surprised when they don’t actually do it.
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