In a SHTF situation, standard money might suddenly become worthless. When that happens, bartering takes over as a means of commerce.
Precious Metals (PM’s), especially in the form of pre-1965 US silver and gold coins, have a standard value that usually can be agreed upon even when there is no official banking system to tell us what they are worth.
Silver and gold coins have a usual standard weight and purity of the metal that sets a base value. I personally avoid the bars and bullion since when SHTF I won’t be sure that bar you have is real but I can easily recognize US silver quarters.
Lots of folks are addicted to vices, namely tobacco and alcohol. People will do lots of stupid things to feed these vices, and depending on how you view it morally you can rake in a huge profit if you can supply them.
You can buy lots of them now and store them away, but I go for a more sustainable approach.
Tobacco can be grown in most of the US if you get the correct variety. The only thing you might want to stock up on are cigarette papers to go with it. If you want to go this route, start growing it now so you will have a variety that grows well in your garden.
You can make alcohol out of anything the yeast that produces it can feed on. Small scale wine making, beer making and distilling equipment can be picked up or made for a relatively small investment.
If you plan on supplying vices during SHTF you will have a ready market but you will need to concentrate on your security.
If you have been paying attention, you have seen how scarce and expensive some popular rounds have become, even while production is going full bore. Imagine what the price will be when production shuts down when SHTF.
Ammo is a convenient barter medium because it valuable, useful and is easy to separate out into single units. It also has the big disadvantage of supplying a possible enemy with the means to kill you and take all your supplies.
Unless you are very secure or completely desperate, bartering ammo may not be for you.
“Farm products” is a pretty broad category, but no two diversified homesteads produce exactly the same products. One may have chickens and produce eggs for barter while another may have chickens better suited to producing broilers, fryers and stewing hens for trade.
Vegetable production can offer two ways for bartering also. First you have all the produce you grow and can trade for whatever you might need. Second if you are growing heirlooms (and you really should be in any case) you have a valuable supply of seeds that you will be able to trade.
If you have the labor available, you can grow good sized fields of different grains, granted not the thousands of acres a single farmer farms these days, but a few acres of grain will give you plenty of barter material.
Livestock is a good investment. Small breeding herds or flocks are what is called for. You can maintain your herd and butcher or barter away the offspring every year.
As you can see, a small homestead could make you a wealthy person in a total SHTF situation, if you can protect and hold on to it. It would be a good idea to plan on trading some of your production for a labor and security force.
An acquaintance of mine who went through super storm Sandy said afterward, “I never realized the world ran on AA batteries”. Besides gasoline for the generator, the AA battery was one of the more important things he had a hard time getting enough of.
If you put away lots of batteries (and they do store longer in a cool place), you will have a good barter item.
Something else to think of along these lines would be rechargeable batteries and several charging stations. You could extract a fee for others to use your solar, wind or wood fired battery charger.
Finding barter items is all a matter of figuring out what others will need and then trying to meet that need. If you plan well ahead and put a little away at a time, you should have a supply for trade once SHTF finally happens.