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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Make yourself valuable!

I think one of the things a lot of preppers don't think about, is a viable skill which will be in demand when SHTF and afterwards. If the power grid is down, there won't be a lot of work for telephone line repairmen.

I also doubt that tech support, office workers and food service folks, stock brokers, lawyers and such will be in much demand, either.

If you plan on surviving during SHTF and post-SHTF, eventually you'll need to barter for the things you need. Most currency will be worthless (Doesn't even burn long enough for warmth) and we'll be back in a situation where a man/woman survives based on the skills they know and their prosperity will be directly linked to what they can bring to the table.

So as I sat here thinking about that, I wondered what skills I could personally offer up that I might be able to provide a service to someone in exchange for a meal or clothing. I came to the realization that I don't have nearly enough proficiency in any "off the grid" skill to make myself valuable to others. Sure, I can start fires, but anyone with a lighter and some dry fuel can do the same thing.

So, for those of us who have cases of ammo in the closet, food stockpiled and think we're ready, what do we do when just having the basics isn't enough and the time comes that you need something? What do you have to offer that'll set you apart from the other 200 people who are trying to barter for the same things you want?

Here are some skills off the top of my head that I think would be valuable to learn before SHTF:

Soap making.
Soap will be highly valued when SHTF since grooming will be extremely important. With no hospitals, an infection could kill.

The ability to identify a game trail and make a successful hunt is a valuable skill that can provide meat, horn and hide to your inventory for bartering.

Sewing. (by hand)
A lot of people could probably stitch a torn article of clothing closed. But the ability to take someone's measurements and put together clothing that is comfortable and reliable seems to be a dying art in America.

Horse/Livestock grooming.
Horses need their hooves tended to and some livestock need special attention. Identifying potential domesticated animals in your area and perhaps getting some basic How-To books how their care might be a good investment.

Kind of unrealistic for most people, but if you were ever interested in the skill, now would probably be the time to invest by building a forge and getting a bellows and tools so you can practice. I doubt we'll be down to swords and axes but if you can produce nails, tools, horseshoes, hinges, fasteners, files, sharpeners, braces and other metal pieces, you could be the most valuable person in your area.

A gunsmithing kit could enable someone to effect basic repairs on broken firearms.

Ammo reloading.

First aid.
For your own personal saftey and to make yourself an asset, having some first aid skills will be important when SHTF.

Automotive mechanical skills
I don't know crap about vehicles. If SHTF and my car broke down I'd be high and dry. I'd have to trade some of my food or ammo for someone to change a part out.

Rope making
I'm not even sure what basic rope is made out of. This idea may not be realistic unless you live wherever the basic components for rope making are available.

Candle making
The Amish have us beat on this one for sure. I'm not even sure where to get the right kind of wax for candle making, let alone actually do it. But we'll all be using candles. It'll be in massive demand.

So, anyway. This is just a sort of off-the-cuff list. I'm hoping to jump start some brainstorming and get people thinking.


  1. It's like you were reading my mind! my thoughts have been running in the exact same directions lately; what can I do right now to make myself more valuable if/when society disintegrates? My personal thought is that we would eventually be thrown back to the approximate technological level of Colonial America,if not even further back. The skills you list would indeed be valuable, especially in a barter economy. How about tanning, woodworking, tinsmithing, weaving cloth also? Thanks for this article!

  2. I have been thinking around these lines and find myself lacking..I can wrench some and welded for yrs in a machine shop but if theres no electricity I wont be welding I come up with this plan of sorts..I try to buy items that will be good barter items..22 rifles are good as one can pick them up for near pocket change and a 100 bucks will buy a ton of ammo for them..other things such as disposable razors..tampons (could have several uses) with a good quality whiskey..list goes on