Do You Have a Post Economic Collapse Trade?

From the many emails, comments and articles, that I’ve read over the past several months, many preppers / survivalist apparently, seem to think that government at all levels will simply go away or cease to exist, after an economic collapse. But, if we look at history we see that this isn’t the case.

As I’ve said; before governments do not relinquish power easily and economic collapse does not mean an end to government. I know that this is many a survivalist / prepper wet-dream but in reality it’s not very realistic.

For example let’s look at The Great Depression of the 1930s , the Russian collapse of 1998 , the Argentine economic crisis (1999–2002), Zimbabwe etc., as bad things were, each had one thing in common – government did not go away, and often became more oppressive, controlling and dictatorial.

So what can we expect in the aftermath of an economic collapse?

Besides more oppressive governmental control on both personal and financial freedom, massive unemployment and a decrease of GDP, we will also likely, see a redistribution of resources (they take what you have and redistribute it among themselves or others) we will experience also an increase of violent crime with an epidemic of home invasions, with robbery and murder being the end result, even more drug abuse, prostitution and vice, starvation among the poor and a lower standard of living for all but the most wealthy and politically connected.

Another area where I disagree, with many other survival planners, is that after an economic collapse, we will suddenly revert to early 19th century technology and way of life. This idea was popular with Kurt Saxon, but again it’s not very realistic when we look at recent history as an example.

An economic collapse is not a time machine that will send us back to the past. So don’t expect to get rich pounding on a blacksmith anvil, sewing coats from raw hide, fur trapping, crafting wooden barrels or wagon-wheels etc. These skills are good to learn on a personal level and to increase your self-reliance, just don’t expect the world to beat a path to your door for your labors and products…

So what trades, skills and jobs do I think will be viable after economic collapse?

Anything to do with food production, private security, medicine, alternative power, day labor / odd jobs (there will be a lot of competition for available work), transportation (charge a fee to take people from point A to point B), auto repair, small engine repair, carpentry, roofing etc…

Also vices like prostitution, drug dealing, manufacturing, making moonshine etc. will still be in high demand but are not recommended for obvious reasons.

While I can’t list every conceivable post collapse job / employment opportunity here because, I don’t know your situation or skill set, it is a simple matter to research and brainstorm ideas. You may need to combine two or more trades in order meet your needs. For instance; you could sell / trade honey, work part time as a private security guard or perform day labor as each opportunity becomes available.

Remember the more self-reliant you are now and when the crunch hits, the less dependent you will have be on outside sources for income to resupply your needs. If you can produce your own food, and do your own repairs etc., there will be less need to barter or pay for outside sources for those items. Self-reliance is the key.

My fallback occupation(S) plan isn’t much different from what I do now. Gunsmith services, odd jobs, small engine repair work, selling / bartering extra garden produce, honey and egg production.

Keep in mind that we’ve been talking about economic collapse here, life after let’s say, a plague, cosmic impact, super volcano, extended nuclear exchange or similar event will be very different, and could; in fact, send us back to the stone-age or similar. So plan accordingly.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Hunker-Down says:


    Thanks for the article. It sharpens the view in my murky crystal ball, trying to sort out all the possible combinations of TEOTWAWKI. You have me thinking that the worst that can happen, short of nukes, is the loss of fuel for the trucking industry.
    No matter what the root cause is, the ripple effect will trash the economy, food industry, health industry, utilities and my ability to buy twinkies.
    We are trying to build the skills of safe food storage, seed vegetable gardens and make homemade disinfectants. Hopefully we can build up enough to barter those items.

  2. Your Post-SHTF plan sounds a lot like ours. Nothing real fancy, just do the same kinds of small things we do now, with added importance. The more I can do for myself, the more I can teach others to do for themselves, or charge to do it for them.

  3. I think digging a well now as a backup to city water and main source would be a good idea.. I have seen u tube videos on how to dig a well with pcv pipe and 2 garden hoses.Set up a solar well pump may be a good idea.

    • Axelsteve – we’ve been looking into that too. Here, we can legally install a well for “irrigation” purposes only. I’d still love to have one but they are rather costly.

    • axelsteve & GA Red;
      When you are ready for locating the well site, be sure to let me know. I hate it when someone wastes their money to have a well drilled and find out they got a DRY hole in the ground or a poison well.
      I am a certified dowser, this my special forte. As I explained to JeffintheWest, I can do this from my home. When you are ready let me know, I will give you my email address I use for dowsing which is different that the email I use for this site. I know who stressful it is to be without water. To cover OPSEC, we have an oath that is close to what a medical person would vow. Just to relieve your mind(s).

      • JeffintheWest says:

        I can testify that she has given me some really good info!

      • Poison would be most likely in my area – too many people around but I can say that my yard used to be part of a cow pasture in the not-so-distant past. The DH even remembers when a local shopping center was a grassy field with only a radio tower there.

        • GA Red;
          Until it is checked for contaminants, it is all a maybe. That is one of the areas a dowser checks when working for a client on their property.

  4. Remember that line from an old country song “Somebody told us Wall Street fell. We were so poor that we couldn’t tell!” Well, my goal is to disconnect as much as possible NOW from the system through self reliance….SO it won’t be a huge adjustment when SHTF. Farming–both organic fruits/veggies plus animal husbandry–is my main focus, followed by food preservation methods, soap making, and seed saving. Whether the collapse occurs or not, I’m enjoying this agrarian lifestyle!

  5. I am going to concentrate on an abundance of vegetables from a nice size garden, growing all herbs that my mountainside location can adapt to and can & dehydrate like crazy! That is first!

    I can sew, knit, crochet and have been buying up yardage and yarns for ever. Would like to learn how to spin tho so I could potentially take advantage of making my own yarn.

    I am continuing to learn the fine are of cheese making and actually getting better at it. Also investing in some leather craft tools. Not the kind that “tool for design” so much as things that facilitate in making things like moccasins, gloves, vests, totes, tool belts etc.

    I imagine that if it really comes down to it, and I have a crowd at the bol, I will be spending most of my time in the kitchen cooking. If alone, or nearly alone then I will be able to enjoy a little variety as mentioned above.

    • Worrisome, spinning is not too hard to learn and entry level costs are low. Start with a spindle and some roving and an instructional DVD. I would recommend “Getting Started on a Drop Spindle” by Maggie Casey. She has a book, too. See if you like spinning before you consider a wheel and try before you buy. Amazon should have the DVD and book, but The Woolery would have everything.

      I’m with you with the gardening, sewing, crocheting, knitting and all. Getting supplies now just makes sense.

    • worrisome- some good thoughts there. Have you ever gone to one of the parks that does the historical re-inactments? or TMEN fairs? Those usually have a blacksmith (for you guys) and a woman or two drop spinning yarn and spinning it on the wheel.

      That would be a good place to see if you might like it. Our library had a display about old crafts etc and had a spinning wheel display…very see,

      Good luck yawl – time is short.

    • I love this blog, and I love the people on this blog……good sense, common sense, BEST sense kind of folks that come up with great suggestions! Thanks!

  6. Funny you should post this, today I learned a little tidbit of info and so it just became urgent for me. People retire, employment dries up slowly, companies buy out other companies, and things change, even before the SHTF.

    Since I’ve been sewing body-conscious tactical gear that fits myself as a woman, I might try doing that for others, though I don’t know how much of a market there is for that. I noticed that is no more. Perhaps that fad is over, except for me. I could also have a little booth at the flea market, sell stuff at festivals, or hang out a shingle and do bookkeeping on a client basis. I was also thinking about renting out my apartment (I own a 2 family) and relocating if I find good paying work elsewhere. I’d been prepping to bug in, though, so I have a lot of crap.

    • Hi Penny Pincher, I’m not familiar with, but just because they went out of business does not necessarily mean there isn’t a market.

      They may have had great products but been bad at marketing them. Or they could have been inefficient at producing them, or poor at designing them, or some combination.

      Back in the 1950s Jacques Cousteau hired a salesman in California to sell scuba gear. The salesman eventually wrote him and said that, having sold three sets, the entire West Coast market for scuba gear was saturated. (no pun intended.)

      Is there any way to contact Tactical Corsets to find out why they are out of business? With the growth of personal carry among women, it is hard to believe there isn’t a decent market.

    • PP – another marketing idea for your gear is through what I think is called CosPlay – I may not have the spelling right. There is an entire community of folks that “dress up” in gear like Wild Wild West and Dr Who. There was a large group of them at DragonCon over the weekend. Just a thought.

    • Could you set yourself up on Etsy with such a thing?

    • Penny Pincher, check out the cosplay community, steampunk groups, and rein-actors. Not everyone is unemployed, and some of these people will pay someone else to make their costume.

      • Oh, yes, they will pay – especially if you are good and deliver in a timely fashion. See further post down below.

    • Apparently all Tactical Corsets did was take some pre-orders, never delivered and then shut down. Even Peake’s Kickstarter project Code Hero is getting a smell to it.

      Market might still be there but I’d shy far away from the term tactical corset.

  7. JeffintheWest says:

    Good article. Fact of the matter is, that anything that allows you to trade a service for a good or service or a good for a service or different good will help. During the Depression, there was a lot of barter going on (anyone remember that the lawyer got paid in chickens and chopped firewood in “To Kill a Mockingbird?” And my folks both said that people would trade labor for food, or one kind of labor for a different kind. Sure there will still be money floating around, but either it might not be worth much, or it might be pretty scarce (depending on whether the collapse is inflationary or deflationary, respectively). And a whole lot of gardening will get under way as people try to grow what they can no longer buy. This next time around, there will be a lot more theft and criminal activity in general too — the whole welfare abuser underclass will naturally revert to their basic skill set, and they are already criminally minded, so having a gun (at least a Joe Biden-approved shotgun that I can blindly shoot through doors or off of a balcony) is a high priority for me — even here in the People’s Republic of Kalifornia.

    • You have a wonderful sense of humor in the face of a lot of “unfunny” stuff! Bless you. I am with you about the 12 ga. Biden in insane. Speaking of insanity, I am sitting here working and watching the Syria committee hearings………I am insane for doing it………they are insane for indulging it and the Pres of Syria and the US are just insane despots! There are 2M displaced Syrian citizens a the moment and 100,000 dead! INSANE!

      • worrisome;
        As my dh stated…guess where those displaced citizens will come if TDL gets his way….just saying is this his way to get more problems into this nation!?

        • Oh Gawd!~ Becky! You could be so right! Your hubby is obviously thinking things through! I am worried that I won’t be able to project like that and will miss something important about where threats coming from.

          • worrisome
            That is why we have each other on this site. We all have a gift or two, my dh’s is his past in the military. Although he has been out many years he still see’s what is going on. His past specialty training lets him look beyond what the news is reporting, analyzes what is going, and reports his hypothesis to me.
            How else does one take over a country, more and more, but exclaim those poor children are in camps, starving. As a young American who saw it all during Vietnam with the large influx of refugees from South East Asia. They came with TB, no screening for communicable diseases.
            What in the world does the American public think will come with these people, besides the obvious.

        • Becky,
          Not more problems, just more democrat voters.

    • JeffintheWest,
      Unless we are in a complete WROL setting like mad max, blindly shooting through the door is always a bad thing. What if that wild pounding on your door at 3:00 AM isn’t a home invader, but a neighbor or fire fighter trying to awaken you and get you out of your burning house.

      • JeffintheWest says:

        Dude, it was a joke. I was raised by a righteous, God-fearing man, who also happened to believe very strongly in gun safety, and the best way to teach that is to teach kids to use them properly and safely at a very young age. He did so, to both myself and my brother. I would no more shoot blindly through a door or off a balcony than you would, Biden’s idiocy not withstanding.

  8. Oh yeah, I forgot I make soap. I suppose I could get serious about it finally.

  9. Well as my name entails I am a furnace mechanic by trade, So assuming the lights stay on I can barter my abilities to keep you warm or conversly cool! Along with having some handy man skills with electrical plumbing and carpentry. Plus ” I am pretty good at drinking beer”, as the song states 😉 Also I have alot of primitive living skills I have been trying to hone, Fire making, built an atlatl and darts, I also worked as butcher in a grocery store in the past so I have those skills as well. I know how to smoke foods for flavor or preservation, and also canning both water bath and pressure. Them my wife is fastly approaching nurse status, she can sew, make clothes,has some experiance with herbal medicine’s and a very good gardening backround. All this being said we are miles away from where I think we need to be. But better off than most I think.

    • HVAC Zach,
      Duh? I totally missed the HVAC reference and just assumed it was some Polish or Slavic word I didn’t know. Good to see that I’m paying attention, LOL.

    • Hey Zach,
      “Good at drinking beer”! HaHa Thought of you the other day when I picked all those choke cherries. I remember you told me about the killer Amish wine. Brought back my sacks and made jam. (didn’t know those cherries had there own pectin, quite thick!) Anyway, next day went to pick more for the freezer so I could try the wine and the birds took the rest of them. We both knew when those things were ripe. Jeez!

      Yesterday my neighbor showed me his new juicer and he was working on those elderberries. We talked wine/beer making. You are my inspiration! I plan on getting the juicer (looks like a still) and a beer making kit for husband. Yes, good barter items, lots of drinkers out here in the boonies!

      Tons of elderberries and my neighbor and I are the only ones picking like mad! Thanks!

      • Encourager says:

        Elderberry wine…my favorite! We went out to pick elderberries this morning and were sorely disappointed. I got enough to get 1 cup of juice, that’s it. There must be some very happy birds around! We drove around for 3 hours looking but all we found were empty stems. I think the 90 degree temps last week did them in and they became so ripe they all dropped off.

        I will use that one cup of juice to make up some Elderberry Syrup for this coming winter’s colds and bugs.

  10. One more thing, I’ve been gardening for years and have been saving and buying seeds forever but really like crazy for the last two. I spent over $200 on manure last year and turned my entire yard front and back into garden. Been preserving all I can too, even edible weeds. Fortunately the city is OK with gardens, but they don’t like the idea of my making soap at home to sell. If I wasn’t getting enough income though, I’d soon lose my house, and then that garden would not matter anymore. It’s not enough to produce my own food. I have to be selling something.

    • Hey, renting out half of your duplex would help you or even having friends there to help with expenses. Foreclosures don’t happen overnight. I’m no expert, but if you can keep up with the taxes and interest, you may be okay. Ask someone while you can.

      • I already rent out half my duplex. In addition I have a roommate renting a guest room in my half. He is moving out this winter, and the loss of other income I was alluding to might happen around the same time Just in time for the heat bill to kick in. At least I know in advance on both of these things, so it gives me time to make it rain.

        Anyway, I guess I better just get decluttered in the meantime and sell off some junk; and develop a product line in time to market it for Xmas shoppers.

        I would imagine that cosplay is mostly DIY, but I don’t know. I could make steampunk junk jewelry, leather cuffs, etc. that would fit most anyone.

        • Penny Pincher, >>Just in time for the heat bill to kick in.<<

          Can you get on a year round payment plan? It really evens out the hit.

        • You may want to spread the word, by word of mouth, that u’ll have a guest room available, & thus get a renter thru a friend or acquaintance.

        • Cosplay is not just DIY. A lot of people buy components. Steampunk is hot, too. An etsy store may be good for you. Another thing people buy is costumes for their Asian ball jointed dolls. If you are good, you can command a lot of money. Judging by my friends and acquaintances in manga/anime/cosplay, almost anything can sell. Don’t forget the Furries and the Bronies. They buy stuff, too.

          • When catering to furries, decide if you want to cater to the 10% who want SPH. (The term “Bad Dragon” will give you a clue what I’m talking about. The majority of furries do it clean.)

    • PP,
      $200 on manure? Wow, I hadn’t thought of selling it, and we manufacture it by the proverbial ton. Currently we maintain a pile of it that the local neighbor (a farmer) picks up an spreads on the fields. Never thought of it as a potential sellable commodity.

      • And to think I have been told I was full of crap for years never though I could sell it!

        • +1! One year I borrowed a truck and got a bunch of free manure at a horse farm, but this was Wally World “Humus and Manure” in bags – essentially it’s also got sand in it, good mix of dirt for gardens, and it’s like $1.47 for 40 lbs. It was a way to buy a little at a time and get good dirt into my garden. I also mixed in sphagnum and bone meal. What I need is a nice municipal compost heap or mulch pile to dig into and then cart it home in a muck bucket, near someplace where I normally go anyway so I’m not wasting extra gas money getting dirt. In the fall, I nab people’s bagged leaves and take them home to spread on the garden for the winter, too.

          • Encourager says:

            Check with your city and see if they won’t dump a dump truck load of leaves on your property. You may have to pull some trash out of it but it should be free. Or go pick up some of the degradable bags of leaves people leave out in front of their houses. Many communities are stopping leaf pickups to save money.

            Spread it out and run your lawn mower over it a few times and then roto-till it into your garden. We turned hard grey clay into black loam doing that for a few years at our old place. Now we have sand, and no matter how much we till in good stuff, in the spring it is sand again.

  11. This is probably a more accurate look into the future than most.

  12. If there was a major breakdown in the petroleum distribution, alternate means of transportation would be a good bet. Drayage (horse-drawn wagons/carriages) would be a safe bet, and while that fancy motorboat would likely remain frozen to the trailer, the wind is free, and sailboats of all sizes would be able to transport at least a little cargo or passengers. Where I live (NYS) there’s still at least a sizable remnant of the Erie Canal, and it’s not too hard to see that being renovated and reused.

    Taking another track, I’m looking into learning how to make and repair shoes. I know a couple who own an old-fashioned shoe store and I’ve asked her if she could show me a few things regarding that trade.

    • I learned a few things while canal boating. I imagine that a team of people could tow a boat without a horse; basically rotate from tiller to hauler to security on an hourly basis. Boats on the water have just about the same inertia as an obese person on land.

      I also caught something about how the first railway cars were pulled by horses. Many of the rail-lines are gone now, but some have been paved over and should make for easy travel.

    • Rick,
      Good luck on the shoe repair. I need some work done on a belt that will require someone with the right equipment, and I can’t find any shoe repair places within 60 miles. The local one closed a few years ago, and my brother in Western PA says the one there that was more than 90 years old, just closed. To many expensive shoes that are made of throw away materials. I don’t know if you can make a living in that business, but I wish you luck, since it’s a skillset that I would hope we can keep alive.

      • In my small town, there are three cobblers and one more seven miles away. I suppose we are lucky.

      • Leonard M. Urban says:

        I remember seeing flipflops made from tires coming in from Mexico back in the 60’s. Often thought that a new sole for a boot or shoe could be shoe gooed from one of these tire sections to the existing, worn out shoe or boot sole. Just an idea…

    • I had this exact conversation with the guy who manages our states emergency preparedness program, that if fuel was suddenly too high priced or scarce wouldn’t the guy with a few horses have a new business. He stated (and scared me into prepping) that the state will requisition whatever supplies or resources it needs to continue running, and that would include going out to the ranches and farms and taking their horses, in that scenario. I think and still do that security services will be sorely needed and well paid for, along with medical care and home repair that can be done without trips to the hardware store. Myself, I’m a paramedic and getting education about herbs, oils and other folk medicines to treat people who can’t afford their prescriptions anymore.

  13. I never really thought about having a trade. good idea. Right now, I can garden and sew and repair clothing and stuff. I can teach others to do those things, as well. Today, however, I am just trying to decide what steps I should take in light of what is happening in Washington.

  14. AlaskaLuke says:

    In the scenario laid out in the article, I doubt we’ll be left with our personal property. I’m certain the powers that be know that I have stockpiles of…well, everything… and with a single executive order it will all be confiscated and I’ll be shipped off to an encampment “for my protection,” of course. There we’ll be indoctrinated and brainwashed while our personal and private property is re-distributed and we’ll only be allowed to leave if we pledge allegiance to the government and agree to be re-distributed ourselves. That is IF we’re allowed to leave. I suspect that we’ll be forced to perform laborious tasks while enslaved and can kiss our freedoms goodbye forever.

    I agree that we’re not going to go back into a dark age because prophecy (like Elijah and…probably Enoch or, maybe Moses…preaching to the world and being under supernatural protection for a time and then losing that protection and being murdered and dragged through the streets “for all the world to see” and then being resurrected an ascending to heaven) can only be fulfilled if we still have the current technologies, or better, in place.

    We’re close to the end times, folks, and there is no going back, unfortunately, only forward.

    • AlaskaLuke,
      In the situation you describe here, I suspect I will be dead, holding a hot, empty, dirty firearm. There are some red lines that should not be crossed.

    • Leonard M. Urban says:

      First of all, if you’re in Alaska, you’re probably going to be left alone simply because you people are going to be too much trouble to pursue during the few “warm” months you have each year. While I’m not yet convinced that raids and imprisonment for re-education is a likely scenario (there are HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of us), if it does happen, the only way anyone will end up in a camp is if they stop shooting…

  15. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    I’m not sure if there will be a definite need, but I was thinking a compressed block machine for making building block materials might be useful. Not so much for building structures but water catchement – defense guard emplacements, that sort of thing. A block machine can be transported on site and build the materials to build them, GIVEN THAT LIME OR CONCRETE IS AVAILABLE for their construction.

    Also – surveying equipment. A lot of present day is laser – high tech, but if electricity disappears, knowing property metes and bounds will become important for property purchases. Knowing how and having a transit might be another business.

    Those are two of my ‘think outside the box’ thoughts.

  16. If/when the city water dept fails to produce water, I think many people would be willing to pay or barter for filtered water.
    People will also be looking for means of escape -via drug & alcohol abuse, reading fiction, etc.
    If govt becomes more oppressive, then govt workers & officials will become even more hated than now.
    People would also be willing to pay for home defense knowledge & home defense items, as well as for personal defense. Ammo & other defense items would be in demand.

  17. I’m inclined to think we may see something like the Argentine crisis, with overwhelming government debt being inflated away, calls for wage and price controls like Nixon imposed, windfall profits taxes like we hit the oil companies with during the oil embargo, and the economic disruptions all those bring on. A string of successful terrorist attacks could have terrible consequences, especially for certain industries and areas. Still, worst case scenarios are inherently low probability events. Things could get bad but eventually get better without a total collapse.

    The highest taxes in the world on capital gains and business income…over the years these things take a toll because money can be invested anywhere in the world, and people who are responsible for investing other people’s money will seek investment opportunities which provide what they see as the best combination of return and safety.

    I’m thinking supply line disruptions, like not being able to get natural gas for your home furnace/stove tank whenever you want it, gasoline shortages in some areas at some times. Just In Time supply lines are great for efficient use of resources, but they are fragile when things get stressed.

    Things may not collapse though- they might get severely disrupted but if we are wise enough to elect people who repeal the laws which created the mess in the first place, things might get a lot better. Of course, repealing the laws will create a recession, as happened when Carter, and to a much greater extent Reagan, deregulated the economy. People who benefit from the regulations get hurt when they are repealed, and a lot of the beneficiaries, the factory workers and so one, are good people.

    My inclination is to prepare for intermittent disruptions. If your house has a furnace and stove run off natural gas from a tank in the backyard, consider installing a second or even a third tank, and a generator which runs off that to run the furnace ignitor and fans.

    Have enough stored food to get thru intermittent disruptions. Have enough cash and/or travelers checks to pay expenses, including mortgage for several months in case you lose your job or some clients. Be able to defend your home and family. All the standard stuff.

    TEOTWAWKI could happen, but it is a worst case scenario. Possible, but low probability.

  18. Does being a fat, old, P.I.A. count? (Pain in the a$$)

    The DW and I both have medical training, know how to cook and can food, garden, and chop wood. I’m also a pretty good “shade tree” gunsmith and been known to preach a sermon upon occasion as well.
    I must admit, each year that I read this site, this old dog learns new tricks. We both have advanced degrees so I suppose that we could teach school too. Theology (me) Business (she)

    Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” NKJ

  19. Excellent article. Much more realistic. Since retirement, I have returned to gardening big time. I can teach various types of food preservation and nutrition without a supply of meat. I can teach intensive raised bed gardening. I have laying hens that can supply eggs and a new batch of pullets and fryers. As a former teacher, I can teach homeschooling as those of us in the rural area might not have access to a school; particularly, if fuel costs are out of sight or rationed.

  20. MorePooperThanPrepper says:

    Thats why I’m taking belly-dancing classes – surely the close cousin to the worlds oldest professions won’t go out of style. The fine art of seduction and all…

    Do you think it will be a problem that I am a 40-something overweight particularly hairy guy – oh, and not particularly coordinated or a good dancer?

  21. Prepper Mom says:

    I think a CNA degree (certified nursing assistant) would be a good degree to get. Most programs are only 5-6 weeks. It’s not an RN degree, but you could barter for basic medical care. You’d be in more demand than Joe Schmo off the street!

  22. Hi guys – first off thanks for all the information everyone shares. I’ve been reading the blog, but never posted, but I’ve decided to get more involved.

    I agree with MD I think resources will be available, they’ll just be more costly. I think its important to diversify now & not have all your proverbial eggs in 1 basket (or bank).

    I have barter-able skills, I make soap, I sew & knit, make beer & wine. I also do computer repair. I think people will still want to use computers for diversion but may not be able to afford new, so will I think repair skills would be in demand.

    One thing I’d like to learn is textile weaving so I can actually make the fabric for clothing.

    • Andi, perhaps it would be more valuable to figure out how to duplicate a motorized machine and adapt it to work on mindless cranking power, rather than use a primitive design that forces you to sit and weave it. I imagine that you could crank a knitting and weaving machine at the same time. (I’m not sure what is involved with industrial spinning.)

    • After the fall, beer and winemaking will be an in-demand profession for a couple of reasons. First, it provides a (reasonably) safe means of hydration, second; beer is also considered a foodstuff, and third, people will need the release a cheering mug can provide. With winemaking, you can take a perishable crop and alter it into a shelf-stable product that provides the same benefits as well as providing a means of exchange.
      Perhaps you should look into being able to create your own containers for the product as well? After it all crashes down, there won’t be a ready source of glassware other than second-hand bottles that survived. Anyone who can throw clay pots and other containers would be in high demand as well.

      • Maybe learning how to make wineskins would be interesting – they would always have to be made (The Bible talks about talks about not putting new wine in an old wineskin.).

    • Basic weaving for textiles can be done on a rigid heddle loom, and they are not expensive. A rigid heddle loom is a manual, two shaft loom. That is how I learned. You should get one that weaves a width of no less than 23″, since the standard for most fabrics is 45″. I think it was called the French L. Anyhow, there are good books out there on rigid heddle weaving. Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving is wonderful. Besides clothing, think towels, rugs, blankets. Get a copy of Handwoven and look for stores in your area. Some (like the Mannings and the Woolery) let you try it out if you get to their store. Good luck. Just like spinning, weaving is a blast.

    • Thanks for the suggestions

  23. Maybe my idea of training to become a plow-mule isn’t as far-fetched as I thought.

    I can sew and knit basic things. I can cook with primitive ingredients and I almost have a handle on canning. I have some things to learn about woodwork. I forgot to have MiL teach me to spin. I have some lines about learning how to bow-hunt. I have a decent idea about how to brew beer. This fall I’m going to try to make my first solo batch of beer, try to make apple cider, and figure out how to make ginger ale from just ginger and sugar.

    • Winomega, sounds like u have some good skills to offer. Do u have enough materials on hand, to teach or train someone else in those skills? Something to consider.

      • RedC, I could probably do with a few more spools of thread and another pack of needles, perhaps another package or two of tissue paper… But I have all the fabric that I’m willing to store right now. That includes a bunch of old clothing that needs to be turned into stuff.

        I’ve discovered that my best source for fabric is sheets. Even new, they beat out most sales on pure cotton that isn’t musln. Broadcloth takes a good sale to compete with even the most pretentious thrift store.

  24. riverrider says:

    might open up a trading post, with a battery charging station.

    • Solar chargers for batteries don’t cost much. I’ve also seen these small gadgets that can attach to a stationary bike, to make a small amount of electricity to recharge things. A battery charging station would be in demand if power goes out. If u had the ability to recharge things w/ UBS ports, that could be handy also.

  25. Artificial Environments ( hiding things in plain sight ) , Forgery .

  26. I’m thinking the husband and I could take in boarders, since there’s just the two of us in a 4 bedroom/four bath house with attached casita (studio apt). And I’ve been cooking from scratch, mostly without recipes, using mainly non-refrigerated pantry food for 30+ years so I figure I can feed the boarders too, provided they pay their rent in food staples.

    Since here in the part of Nevada where we live there is a sizeable LDS community (an LDS church is just one street over) I’m guessing there might be a few folks out there with food storage who have lost their rental house/apt, post collapse, who are looking for a new place to stay. I could even offer the companionship of a resident “comfort cat” or two for the truly lonely. Boarders with military or police experience and their own personal arsenal to help provide security would be especially welcome as would be those willing to do hand-laundry for everyone.

    • Linda, if I was looking for boarders, I’d try to seperate the good guys from the bad guys. A couple or a couple w/ a child may be more safe than 2 guys. Someone local u could check on by talking to a friend of a friend, may be the best option.

      • I’m thinking just go to the local LSD bishop and ask to post a room rental notice inside the nearest church. And only make interview appointments with potential boarders who come with written recommendations from credible, verifiable sources.

    • Leonard M. Urban says:

      You could end up buried in your own backyard by your tenants. Might want to come up with another idea…

  27. I never thought about having a trade to offer in a post apocalyptic world, I am a computer analyst and it was actually playing this survival/ prepper card game that I realized I would be screwed when it came down to it. After thinking about it, aquaponics is the way to go.

    Here is that link for the survival card game by the way, definitely recommend it for preppers

  28. I’d like to become a barterer, or trader, but from what I’ve read, that would take some good security, to prevent robberies. If I could find 1-2 good security guards, I’m not sure if I could afford to pay them. Any suggestions?

  29. Great article and something I haven’t thought about – but should.

    Bartering skill sets in our home could include emergency first aid and PT rehab assistance, homegrown herbal medicine (and seeds), drinking teas, and soap-making. My husband is fantastic at carpentry, auto and small engine repair. Maybe Ham radio to relay messages via voice or CW.

    Going to talk to friends about this – good ideas.

    • Medical and dental skills would be high on the list, right up there with how to get/grow food and get/purify water.

  30. For those of us considering spinning and weaving: basket weaving. I’ve done it. Learning the skill isn’t too bad. It’s getting materials. If you are in the country, you should be set.

    Also, since you guys have gotten my mind going, don’t neglect the humble potholder looms. They make wonderful rugs and mats besides hotpads and potholders. Please remember this: all cotton or all wool. Most man made loops will melt. Cotton Clouds is a good source for cotton loops.

    Okay, I am signing off. I am just passionate about fiber and fiber arts. (Note quilting and embroidery have not been addressed.)

    • Forgive me for going along these lines, but it seems like making an ugly crazy quilt for warmth is pretty brainless. Then again, there may be someone who is doing well enough that they will pay a lot more for a pretty quilt. (I can’t remember where I heard it, but details like weaving in ends and not using knots will affect the price of baby blankets.)

      • Good quilting is not as easy as it seems and I have only ever gotten as far as starting to piece one together. After piecing the top, you have to have the proper materials for the backing and the batting for warmth. If it is hand done, it is time consuming, which is why they used to have “quilting bees” where many women worked together to complete a quilt. Even though they are small, I cherish the quilts I was given when my girls were babies as they were hand quilted rather than machine quilted.

        • One can tie a quilt, either as a quickie substitute for quilting, or to keep it from shifting around while you quilt it. You can also quilt it while you sit under it, if you have a hoop.

    • I’m one who’d never ever snicker at those potholder looms. Been keeping an eye out for one of the older metal ones with the rounded prongs.

  31. A good article definately, but they left out the possibility of deeper collapses, like going back to the dutch tulip bubble style collapse. Either way the end result is the same. I have gold and silver and cash and a BOL that is basically free to live at and fully off grid. If I need to work I will but am hoping I can retire on the assets I have stockpiled. I wont be farming, too hard and unpredictable, but chicken rabbits and a few cattle may be the go.

    It can’t be far off now, good luck to all of you.

  32. Donna in MN says:

    What talents needed for a major world catastrophie..

    I think everything depends on what catastrophic event it is. I don’t think we can be long term ready for all that could happen. It may be “a learn as you survive” condition and you need cooperation from others as a community. Even if it is a “trade” community, their resources are valuable.

    My skills are my successful experiences. I learned as much as I could under primitive survival as fishing, firestarting, shelter building, drafting, making preserves, mocassin and boot making, possible bags,clothes, coat sewing, weaving, making containers and woodworking, even dog sleds and harnesses.I used to scarf, tan, and smoke hides for clothing. I also play several musical instruments to lighten the spirit during tough times as my great great grandfather did in Ireland during the potato famine. I had played my dulcimer at an 18th century formal historical event for a meal. The more skills you learn, the better your survival will be.

  33. I feel the govt. stripping us of all possessions could be the most catastrophic thing they could do to us. Leaving us with nothing would create a lot of real despair & create massive riots that would result in thousands of dead. That is the scenario I see as a result of current policy in the govt. Then it would seem people would be forced to learn new ways to do age old trades long forgotten. Good luck to you all!

  34. This is so depressing! I can’t think of anything that I do well enough to make a living. Everything I’ve ever done involved driving to a job. Going to someone’s home, etc. Thanks, MD. I’m going to find something to do that I can barter or sell. I really needed this post and didn’t know it!! I have a lot of nursing books I’ve picked up at yard sales, I might take a course in CNA or EMT. Man! I hate the thought of going back to school!!!

    • There will always be people who need something you can do, even if you don’t realize it now. Getting your EMT is a great start and not very expensive. Learning to cook from scratch, can and preserve what is available, be content and calm in the face of overwhelming change is going to set you apart. Learn to shoot, take a hobby that could work into a barter skill. If I only have 2 chairs and can’t afford a new one, what will I pay someone who can fix the old one? Bike repairs for the lucky ones who have bikes is one I’ve thought about too. You don’t need a formal education to be educated in some of these things. Someone out there will have space and food but be sick or old or infirmed and need an able bodied companion. Don’t be depressed, get fired up to find your niche.

      • Oh, I’ve been a caregiver for years, and I’m a crack shot if I do say so myself. However, when you consider the needs of my very local community. I believe most of my neighbors are quite capable and can survive quite well without my help. As a matter of fact, I’m sure they would be “taking care” of Aunt B. I will have to find something to contribute. I’ll plant more herbs and learn all I can of their uses, since most of my folks already ask my advice if they have some ailment, but at my age I don’t think any of my folks think I aught to really contribute anything.

    • Don’t underestimate the value of domestic skills. During the Great Depression a lot of women made a living and kept their homes (once their unemployed husbands took off for parts unknown) by being a live-in housekeeper, in-home help to the prosperous elderly, taking in laundry or boarders or using their children as extra labor to grow garden vegies and raise eggs in their backyard for sale or trade. Often, being able to grow your own vegies and keep a small flock of chickens made the difference between eating and not eating or paying property taxes and mortgage/rent vs. losing one’s home.

      One of my favorite cook books, Clara’s Kitchen, written by a 94 year old woman contains memories of growing up during the Great Depression and raising food in the backyard as well as hard times recipes for cheap eating.

  35. private idaho says:

    I can build houses, build furniture, weld, do plumbing, do electrical wiring, garden, can or preserve food, I work in public works and can operate almost every piece of heavy construction equipment there is, drive a semi with tanker or low boy, can pour and finish concrete, lay asphalt, work on sewer mains and water mains, can put roofing on, I can reload ammo different calibers, need to get the stuff for shotgun shells though. can raise or know how to take care of livestock, do my own butchering, cut and wrap said items. oh damn I just did my resume!!! lol.

    • private idaho,
      You sound like most of the fathers I knew while growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. A basic blue coller, semi skilled (read as jack of all trades) person who wasn’t afraid to get their hands dirty doing hard work. In short, the people who built and ran the mines, mills, and factories that made this country the best in the world. Maybe TDL thinks American exceptionalism is amyth, but I for one still think we have what it takes, once we remove the yoke of the politician and the government bureaucrat.

      • private idaho says:

        Ohio prepper , I grew up in a single parent household all the thing I learned growing up wasn’t a matter of wanting to know but a necessity of life. I learned how to frame house at 15 and worked for a friend of my mothers to buy my first car. you know I just shake my head when I see kids today who haven’t had to work for anything they have, and then make fun of the few who have jobs after school. I too think American exceptionalism is a reality but the numbers of those exceptional persons are dwindling if not from laziness or the gimme attitude I don’t know what.

    • Will you marry me? LOL. Just kidding.

  36. I’m also blessed to have a humble little house, four acres, a water well, car and truck all paid for. I’m surrounded by loving friends and relatives. They are all protective and always make sure I’m OK. Even more so after the loss of my husband. I’m dependent on social security, but could survive without it but it would be primitive. Actually making a living post WTSHTF is scary!

  37. On the subject of paramilitary troops, it is even going on in the wilds of Alaska…

  38. Thinking more about skills:
    Have renovated something like 17 houses. Know how to do drywall, painting, sweat pipe, lay tile, and fish wire thru walls. I have a small DIY library and can follow instructions, if I don’t know something. I’m a lead-safe EPA certified renovator firm, too. Had to because landlord.
    Landlording. Mostly that is a pre-SHTF skill except fixing things.
    Gardening, canning and preserving
    Cooking from scratch
    Playing/teaching music
    Could make primitive musical instruments or birdhouses from wood, nothing fancy though
    Shooting (marksmanship instructor)
    Sewing, including making patterns from scratch that fit, quilting, leather, and DIY tactical gear
    Jewelry making (silver solder construction/cabochon, macrame, leather)
    A few foreign languages (if foreign troops overrun us I have a chance of understanding/talking to/spying on them; also can sing their folk songs, which might save my butt under certain circumstances or create a diversion)
    Could barter or sell solar power to those who want their battery powered things charged up.
    Other gypsy-entertainment kinds of things (dancing, fortune telling and other hokum)
    I used to sell tie dyes and crazy hats in the parking lots of Grateful Dead shows. I can run a vending booth.
    Title examiner (I can look anything up in the public record no problem – and this skill can be used for other things besides real estate)
    Dunno, I think that’s about it. I’ve worked in a few restaurants when I was younger.

  39. Encourager says:

    Great comments on this post! Having just gotten back from vacation, where we had no TV and no internet (yes, it was wonderful – think my blood pressure dropped 20 points!) I had a stack of books, many that were recommended on this site.

    I just finished “World Made By Hand” and the sequel “The Witch of Hebron” by James Howard Kunstler. In these books, this community was living without electricity (which came on for a few minutes to an hour maybe once a week or less). They were also going without many items that could not be replaced. Clothing and cloth items were hard to come by.

    Here is a list of things they had/had not:
    1. Transportation was mainly by foot. Horses could not be bred fast enough to meet the demand. Mules either.
    2. Everyone had chickens. Eggs were a mainstay meal, eaten every day.
    3. Many had cows, and used the milk for drinking but mainly for butter and cheese. Butter was used pretty much extensively for cooking oil, although flax oil was also used.
    4. Herbs used to flavor food and used medicinally were very important. Salt was very hard to come by.
    5. Everyone had a garden. Wheat was hard to grow in the area due to a disease that attacked the wheat. Rye, barley, oats, buckwheat and a limited amount of spelt was used. Cornbread was eaten daily. A lot of pickled and fermented food was eaten. People raised pigs, smoking the meat. Fish was also caught and smoked to last. Deer had become scarce.
    6. There were a few huge farms which employed many people. The workers lived on the farms rather like serfs.
    7. Flax was grown for oil from the seeds, and for making linen.
    8. Everyone had an outdoor kitchen for use in the summer. The wood cook stove was moved from inside to outside and back again. Screened cabinets were used to store food in, to keep insects and critters out. Carpenters were in high demand.
    9. Candles were made from beeswax.
    10. Honey or sorghum were the only sweeteners.
    11. Opium poppies were grown for medicinal purposes and used by the local dentist and doctor for pain relief and procedures. Marijuana was grown and used by everyone.
    12. Bartering or buying with silver coins was the norm. Buying something with paper money was not done often, as it was pretty worthless. Using $1000 to buy some meat for a meal or two showed how worthless it was. Gold was hardly seen but people had it.
    13. First there was a war in “The Holy Lands” and then the economy collapsed along with no oil being brought into the country; terrorists used nuclear bombs in Washington DC and LA – and many men and some women were sterile because of the radiation; there was then a deadly flu epidemic and then an outbreak of encephalitis. Many people also died who had chronic diseases such as diabetes, COPD, etc. and many starved to death that first winter.
    14. Because of the deterioration of the roads and bridges, rubber tires on traps, buggies and wagons could not be used; they went back to iron shod wheels.
    15. Most unoccupied houses and stores were dismantled and the wood, pipes, nails, metal and shingles reused.
    16. Wood heat was pretty much the only heat. So logging and cutting firewood was a good occupation. All had to be cut down, split by hand. Horses and mules were used to transport felled trees to town.

    So many of the things that have been mentioned in this particular post were what they had to do in these books (written in 2008 and 2010).

    I think if one was to sit down and analyze each thing they did and how that thing would be affected with no electricity nor replacement, it would give one a good idea of what to store up or an employment opportunity in the collapse.

    • Encourager says:

      Forgot to mention:
      17. Just about every household made wine, beer and other liqueurs.
      18. Hunting was done with trapping, bow and arrow. Ammo was scarce. Knife making was an important occupation.
      19. There was a cobbler who made moccasins for summer use and sturdier boots for winter use. Hand-me-downs for shoes and clothing was normal and a local church had clothing exchanges on a regular basis.

  40. good points, a bunch of my friends and co-workers discuss post collapse ideas (always a cool topic because its in the movies and tv shows) and they have lots of big ideas. but it boils down to their ideas require almost impossible sets of conditions for them to be viable. I work logging for a living and homestead on the side for self sufficency. i looked at my skills and likely scenarios and plan to trade firewood. even with my ax and buck saw i can cut 2 or 3 cords of wood a day and if there is no work i can cut fuel all day and trade it (we get 40 below temperatures in winter, firewood is a marketable product no matter the economy). preparing for any contingency i store extra buck saw parts and axes (and could make servicable replacements on my anvil). I’m sure people will always need fuel for winter.

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