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5 Luxury Items to Trade During an Economic Collapse

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The early hours of a nuclear fallout, terrorist attack, or societal collapse may not seem all that different from any other day at first glance. While businesses may continue to operate, cash is available at the ATM, and electricity continues to generate, you can be confident that with each passing hour, the likelihood of a complete economic productivity stoppage will rise exponentially.

When SHTF, you want to have certain luxury items in stock to barter with to get what you need from others. The 5 luxury items to trade during a economic collapse don’t include currencies such as gold and silver or necessities such as basic food and water, but more scarce items such as honey and chocolate that will have a diminishing supply.

In this article, we will explore the goods that will get you top dollar during the darkest days.

Value and necessities are not the same

We all know that every living creature requires three necessities for life: food, water, and shelter. The methods, tools, and other resources that are required to obtain those necessities during a societal collapse are not included in this list because they are not subject to change or can be debated.

When we speak of “value” we are talking specifically about non-essential/discretionary goods that create a higher standard of living. For example, if you can put honey in your tea every day while your neighbor has neither honey nor tea, from a socio-economic standpoint, you maintain a higher standard of living.

However, in a pure survival scenario, or a situation in which our typical supply chains have been severely impaired, the goods that become most valuable to the common person will likely appeal to the orbitofrontal cortex or the “happiness” center of the brain. Other high-value goods will help address biological needs, or simply restore a sense of normalcy.

1) Bee Honey

honey jars for trade
Photo of stored bee honey in plastic jars for possible trade

Honey has been used for thousands of years to treat a myriad of different health conditions ranging from asthma, sore throats, and stomach ulcers. However, its usefulness in bartering or trades purely for consumption cannot be understated. While bee honey or other types may seem like an odd choice to kick off a survivalist checklist, it’s important to consider the macro-economic value of a particular commodity before a disaster event occurs.

Honeybee colonies since the early 2000s have come under immense pressure due to an increase in climate-related impacts, bee diseases, and also the introduction of chemical herbicides. In fact, according to the US Department of Agriculture, for the last 20 years while the total number of honeybee colonies has risen, the yield of honey on a per-colony basis has steadily declined.

Due to these factors, honey prices and availability have wildly fluctuated over the decades, so it’s not difficult to understand why having a stock of honey during a collapse would be a hot-ticket luxury item, particularly when honey supply is non-existent. It wouldn’t take a significant weather-related or supply chain event to completely knock out honey distribution around the USA, particularly because most honey is produced by small local beekeeping operations that would likely be among the first to close up shop.

2) Chocolate

Between April 2023 and April 2024, Cocoa futures prices went from approximately $3,000 to $10,000, constituting a nearly 250% year-over-year increase. These sharp price increases were driven by climate change in Africa, resulting in multi-year poor harvests in cocoa-producing countries such as West Africa, Ivory Coast, and Ghana. So it’s not a surprise why the costs of your favorite chocolate candies continue to surge seemingly without an end in sight.

Chocolate stimulates the creation of dopamine or the “pleasure” centers of the brain. A fitting location at a time when most experiences in life may not be particularly pleasurable. If prices of Cocoa experienced parabolic levels of price inflation before a catastrophe, it wouldn’t take a stretch of the imagination to imagine the price of the commodity getting 5, 10, or even 100 times more expensive when SHTF.

Having a large supply of chocolate in your stockpile can prove to be an incredibly valuable resource to barter with at a time of desperation. So, what would you do for a Klondike Bar? Have too little chocolate on hand and you will soon find out.

3) Coffee

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In the Old American West coffee was a top commodity for barter and trade

Since the time James Athearn Folger arrived in San Fransisco in the year 1850, and ultimately started the Folgers coffee brand we know of today, the decades-long commercialization of the commodity took it from a luxury treat to a mainstay in homes all around the world. While coffee’s energy-enhancing benefits are well-known, it is indeed one of the most widely consumed “comfort” beverages in existence.

In a world that lacks a sense of normalcy, there is no better commodity for trade for the average person than instant coffee or coffee beans. In fact, before the 20th century, coffee was traditionally seen as an item only the affluent class would indulge in. Even in the days of the Old American West, coffee was a heavily bartered good at trading posts and amongst caravans of travelers crossing the Oregon Trail.

In a time of socio-economic decay, sadly, coffee will once again return to its traditional status of only being a commodity that only the rich or super-prepared class will be able to enjoy. If you aren’t a big coffee drinker, then having this commodity on hand could potentially be a gold mine for exchanging with others when the time comes.

4) Cooking oils and seasonings

It is a well-known, but perhaps not particularly well understood, psychological condition of humans to not want to give up certain comforts, even when the result could cause great self-harm. For the average person, maintaining a lifestyle of having flavorful food would cause them to willingly sacrifice in other areas of their survival.

If you consider the taste difference between deer meat being cooked bland vs being cooked in oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic, then the logic here makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, those folks with a refined taste pallet who haven’t stocked up on these items prior will be sh*t out-of-luck.

However, because you are well-prepared you have already stock-pilled these items for not just your family, but also to trade should others find themselves without a pinch of salt.

5) Feminine hygiene/cosmetic products

In a world that has turned ugly, what could be more valuable than items that can make a person feel clean or beautiful? While these goods could arguably be the least necessary of all the recommendations on this list, however, feminine products might be the most valuable. Here’s why:

Most cosmetic products are manufactured outside of the United States, namely the majority being produced in China. In a world of escalating geopolitical tensions between the US and China, certain non-essential discretionary goods such as cosmetics could see a substantial price hike due to import/export tariffs, or could simply become unavailable for a variety of reasons.

Goods such as tampons, hygiene creams, nail polish, and makeup could experience skyrocketing demand as their availability decreases over time. It is well documented that certain luxury items continue to see high demand even during economic downturns. Just imagine the price you would pay to see your wife or daughter smile once again, to feel beautiful once again, by doing her nails or makeup. Chances are other folks would feel the same way and would pay a premium to get their hands on it.

What items do you value the most?

Preparedness starts with an examination of your own life and doing an inventory of the items that are important to you, but often taken for granted. We all make assumptions that our standard of living may never change, but in reality, most societies around the world are living economically on a knife-edge.

A simple nudge here or there could start a mighty domino effect, turning the haves into the have-nots. You can effectively reduce the impact of these events by not only stocking up on what you value but also what other people may need as well.

The name Rugged Man was born out of a bet gone horribly wrong, however, the name stuck. Technology nerd by day, and survival enthusiast by night, he is committed to helping thousands of everyday people become more educated about topics such as Prepping, Survival, and Bug Out Strategies.

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