The Last Guide You'll Ever Need

Money in a Post-Apocalyptic World

In Post-Apocalypse on May 24, 2009 at 11:27 am

Guest Post By: The Future King of Upper Michigan 

Check your pockets right now.  Chances are, you might have some funny colored paper with dead peoples faces on it, and maybe some jingly pieces of semi-precious metal. Do you know what those will be worth after the collapse of society? Nothing. So in this new world, with a barter economy, you’re going to need some things worth trading; and no, your grandmother’s jewelry won’t do the trick.  After the collapse, gold and silver become just shiny, soft metals, so pawn that now and buy something that could be useful.  What will become the new currency?  We have compiled a helpful list of some possibilities. (continued)  

  • AMMUNITION:  Humorist Mark Twain once said, “The human race only has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”  Well, a close second is a gun.  A firearm is only useful when loaded. Ammunition will become incredibly rare, highly desired and expensive.  Those who have weapons will need ammunition to stay in control; those with ammunition can control them. Just imagine you meet up with a commune of people, by trading a box of shotgun shells, you’ve not only gained respect and admiration, you’ve ensured survival of the group and now can probably join up (remember there’s something to be said for safety in numbers).  Just be careful who you give bullets to… probably not wise to give them to someone who will turn around and use them on you.
  • GASOLINE:  Remember the Smokers, controlled by a one-eyed Dennis Hopper, in Waterworld?  Well the only reason that the Smokers had control was because of their rich supply of oil inside a wrecked Exxon Valdez.  Gasoline means combustion engines, machinery, heat and light from lanterns.  Those who are left out there will covet anything that provide heat or make their motors run .
  • CIGARETTES: Once Salem-Winston and Phillip Morris go down, there are going to be a lot of post-apocalyptians with a major case of the nic-fits.  A pack of smokes may just save your life.
  • SPICES:  Not too far back in our history, spices were worth their weight and more in gold.  Egyptians were buried with their spices.  Roman soldiers used to be paid in salt.  Trust me, once you’ve eaten nothing but moldy apples and bone marrow for a month, something along the lines of pepper, paprika, or even tarragon is going to blow your mind.  My money is on this one becoming a dominant currency; so when the excrement hits the air conditioning, I’m raiding the Penzey’s with my bolt-cutters.
  • ANTIBIOTICS:  Infection and disease are going to be the big killers after society collapses.  As bacteria grow increasingly resistant and proper hygiene becomes harder to maintain, a handful of penicillin or sulfamethoxazole is going to be a great advantage over the person munching Flinstone Vitamins.
  • SEEDS:  being able to grow something might be a luxury in the new world order, but I’m sure there will be those who hide away, wanting to create some pastoral sense of peace.  Give them your pumpkin seeds in exchange for rock-climbing equipment… and you win.
  • KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS:  The most valuable items you have to trade are your abilities.  Being able to fix small motors, start fires, navigate using the stars, or even knowing how to create and use simple machines will give you an edge.  So what if you were an English or history major?  As esoteric as these fields may be, you still have something useful to contribute… hopefully.  If your skils include setting up meetings in Outlook or cutting coupons, it’s time to get a new hobby.
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  1. Dude, this is completely brilliant. I had already considered gasoline, cigarettes (also booze and coffee, to cover as many addictive vices as possible), and antibiotics, but I hadn’t even thought about spices! Right. On.

  2. I think the assumption that gold and silver will be worthless pieces of shiny metal in the paw is wrong. I have lots of the items on your list, and If I am bartering with someone and they have nothing I need our group would be more than happy to take gold or silver. Not jewelery but american eagles, maples, or silver rounds, or pre 64 silver will do. I know tons of people that are of this same mindset if the dollar breaks down, pm’s will fill the spot of currency. People have used gold and silver for thousands of years and they will continue in the PAW atleast this guy will take your shiny worthless metal if you do not want it.

  3. Crazy stuff, dude. All so right. Think about adding any working electronics, and basic camping things like duraflame fire starters or toilet paper; something that’ll be nice, but not essential. Candy, too. Same thing as the cigarettes, a Reeses’ would be a hella nice treat for someone.

  4. this is a good article, but i disagree with the ammunition option. If you give someone ammo, even if it is only .22 caliber rounds, they could use them to shoot you and take your supplies.

  5. When Y2K loomed my parents taught themselves to roast coffee beans with a popcorn maker. (We had one hooked up to a generator and were working on the “camefire roaster” version.) We stockpiled freeze dried raw beans, I think there were 3 pickle barrels full in our supply cache. They figured freshly roasted coffee would be, figuritively speaking, worth it’s weight in gold. (They’re still handing them out as holiday gifts ten years later, lol.)

  6. “I think the assumption that gold and silver will be worthless pieces of shiny metal in the paw is wrong. I have lots of the items on your list, and If I am bartering with someone and they have nothing I need our group would be more than happy to take gold or silver. Not jewelery but american eagles, maples, or silver rounds, or pre 64 silver will do. I know tons of people that are of this same mindset if the dollar breaks down, pm’s will fill the spot of currency. People have used gold and silver for thousands of years and they will continue in the PAW atleast this guy will take your shiny worthless metal if you do not want it.”

    I disagree for the main fact that silvers and golds will mean noting in a post appocalyptic world. in a less civilized world, tribes, gold and silver might have some value unless the bartering system is in place. But if the appocalyps was to happen, your gold might mean a bit because of personal value/pride in what you own, but trying to barter it for some horse jerkey isn’t going to get you anywhere fast.

  7. You need to reeducate yourself. Silver is and has been used as an antibiotic for centuries. Gasoline has a very very short shelf life.

    Learn everything you can about the stuff you put on your list, or you will be no better off than those who didn’t prepare.

  8. Butane refils! if people dont get hold of flint and steel before the apocalypse flint and steel is going to become almost invaluable in the PAW. so those poor folks who have only got lighters are going to be willing to give an arm and a leg for a refil.

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