In the months after Atlanta fell, Scarlett O’Hara beat the odds when she got Tara up and running again. But all that cotton planted meant nothing when the tax man came around demanding greenbacks to pay the taxes. As someone who lived on virtually nothing for an extended period of time, I can tell you that barter certainly does work well in an off-grid system and that you must be practical in your choice of skills and services. That all being said, when people don’t have the right currency, but money must be used to pay certain bills, every off grid money making scenario falls short of what it will take to survive after both major and minor social collapses. This article provides information on skills and merchandise that will enable you to make money in the post-crisis world as well as what to accept so that you can get your hands on any currency of interest.
As taxes get higher and the economy continues to collapse, there are already a number of items you can manufacture off the grid that will enable you to make a decent living and prepare for a major crisis. While many of these goods require a homestead or extensive land resources, others can be made in the home or even in an apartment.
Most people think that they can make money on food production. Depending on where you live, this may or may not be the best answer. Typically, if you already live in an area with self-sustaining homesteads, the people in your area will already have this necessity covered. As a business person, you, and they will be competing for customers in cities or towns where the ability to grow food is severely curtailed. In fact, you may already be making money selling to these people if you have an established organic farm or one that people prefer over going to the supermarket.
If you or others around you are able to produce food, bear in mind that major disasters and social unrest bring riots and government attempts to control people. Your goods may be seized or stolen at the source, or as you go into towns and cities in an effort to sell your wares. Nevertheless, right now you can make off grid money on the following goods and think about how you will continue to do so in a major collapse scenario. Use the links in each section for more details on how to get started:
You might also find interesting our article about living without a refrigerator.
- Grow Chickens for Meat and Eggs – (can also be done in towns and cities)
- Raise Cows or Goats for Meat and Milk – (small acreage tips for cattle)
- Raise Sheep for Meat, Milk, and Wool
- Grow Medicinal Herbs
- Grow Fruits and Vegetables
- Build, Make, or Obtain Goods for Growing Food – this includes everything from soil enhancers, earthworms, beneficial insects, farming/gardening tools, fertilizers, and anything else that might be used by others that want to produce their own food.
- Even if you live in a homestead area, make it a point to diversify your growing methods. Create an underground hydroponics system in a well-fortified bunker for the ultimate ability to grow enough food for yourself and to sell to others. Some of your crops should also be geared toward producing a high volume of seeds that will grow edible sprouts. In a time of need, you can produce several pounds of food in just a few days.
Access to water and water purification is another area where you may find local people that will buy from you, or, you may have to look elsewhere for customers. If you happen to have access to a pond, stream, or other sources of potable water, I still recommend building water purifiers and water production equipment. Try to focus on production equipment that it is easy to set up and carry. If you have to sell to people in a city or other complex area, then you can do so with less trouble than it would take to sell food. For this and the following sections, there are many designs and ideas, so links are not provided. Go with what appeals to you and see how you can best adapt it to meet the needs of people in your local area or other places where you can market without using the internet.
- Build Water Purifiers
- Build Water Production Equipment
- Build Energy Gathering Equipment – Energy production is probably one of the most controversial areas of prepping because many people think they can just go back to the “old ways” and get along like their ancestors did. The truth is we haven’t just become “too soft” or too uneducated about the natural world to survive. Medical devices, home heating, and refrigeration are all vital to survival. If you truly think you can survive without petroleum products and electricity – by all means start doing so now. I found out through personal experience that cutting dependence on commercial fuels is a slow, and sometimes complicated process. It can be done, however, it can take years to adjust your lifestyle and outlook on the world.
It is to your advantage to focus on developing devices that harness solar, wind, water, and magnetic fields to produce and store power. Methane generators and biodiesel fuel production will also be two areas where you can expect to make money. Remember that even if people think they can survive without electricity or petroleum products right now, a major social collapse will reveal the truth. At that time, your products may be in high demand. Just make sure you can fully protect your production supplies, equipment, and other assets from theft and seizure. As with food production, I recommend underground bunkers and above ground defense systems.
- Build Communications Equipment – as with power generation, this is another area where people may be far less prepared because of pre-conceived ideas about what the post-crisis world will look like. Know how to build basic radios, small transmitters, and two-way communication devices may be a place where even local homesteaders will need to buy from you.
- Build Personal and Perimeter Defense Weapons – the bottom line here is fairly simple – bullets for guns are likely to become unavailable within 2 – 5 years of a major collapse. Other weapons will also be limited in terms of durability and usefulness. This is one place where knowing how to build and maintain older weapons systems may be a lucrative area that will provide immense benefit. From siege engines to booby traps and Asian personal defense weapons – the possibilities are endless.
- Build Transportation Devices – Aside from motorized vehicles, don’t forget about wheelbarrows, rickshaws, and basic wheel-and-axle systems. Transportation devices do not need to be motorized to be useful in the pre and post crisis world.
- Build Personal Care Medical Equipment – wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and several other devices will always be in need regardless of what is going on in society.
- Build Air Cleaners – contrary to popular belief, most gas masks on the market are not going to be of much use in a major crisis. Air purifying systems that can provide safe air for an entire room or several rooms is very important.
- Make Garments and Shoes – don’t lose sight of non-electric sewing machines and the value of patterns, fabric, and yarn in the post-crisis world. Aside from basic garments, do not forget about custom or special garments such as wedding dresses and other clothes that people will want and be willing to pay for.
- Make Children’s Toys – do you remember when Cabbage Patch Dolls, Tickle Me Elmo, and other toys became the crazes that earned millions? You never know what children will be attracted to, or how much money you can make on toys.
- Make Cleaning and Personal Care Products – today, a very healthy cottage industry exists around organic, herbal, and even vegan soaps, makeup, and personal care products. While people may not be as concerned about these matters in the post-crisis world, they may also not have the resources or capacity to make cleaners and personal care products. These are things you can sell easily enough locally or to people at a distance from your homestead. Don’t forget that if internet access becomes unavailable, you will need to have direct sales and marketing skills to fall back on.
- Anything else you can think of that people will buy because it is cheaper or easier to buy from you and extends survival ability in some way. This includes entertainment and luxury products such as tobacco, alcohol, and custom crafting that personalizes tangible goods.
We also recommend reading our article about pioneer skills to learn as a prepper.
In the arena of skills, you are basically trading information and the ability to repair or fix something. Just about every product listed above may need repairs or some kind of special preparation that people will pay you to take care of. Here are some other skills that may be of use now and in the future. As you look through this basic list, remember that many of these skills require advanced education and government licensing if you plan to make money. In the post-crisis world, licensing may not matter, however, you will still need advanced education, practice, and skills to get the job done and earn a good reputation.
- anything to do with bookkeeping and money management
- medical skills and dentistry
- settle legal disputes
- conduct marriages and other ceremonies
- minister to spiritual needs and promote cultural traditions
- organize people and get them to work together
- politics and community building
As you can see, there are thousands of ways to make money off the grid without ever going near a computer or selling to people beyond your local area. That all may sound very good, and even simple, except for one little problem that is never discussed in this context. Remember what I wrote about Scarlett O’Hara? I don’t know about you, but I remember my grandparents talking about the Great Depression and the way money became worthless. Even though I did not see WWI and WWII, I do know that currency collapses have been going on all over the world. Right now, the US Dollar is not backed by a precious metal such as gold. It is being artificially propped up by the following factors that could be taken away by foreign interests at any moment. When these events occur, the dollars in your wallet will be virtually useless. Nevertheless, for a time you will still have to convert to them in order to pay for government demands such as taxes, fines, fees, and anything else where people and businesses demand “legal tender”.
- US dollars are still the international trade currency. Basically, this means that just about any transaction in different countries can be carried out in USD as the agreed upon value. This is changing rapidly as China develops its yen by backing it with gold and Iran and Russia choose to use other currencies instead of USD.
- China, Russia, and many other foreign countries lend money to the US government. As long as they continue “buying US debt”, the dollar remains more or less “solvent”. Russia and China have been steadily selling off US debt, while other countries are less inclined to buy it. People that don’t think paying down the debt isn’t important, have no clue about how much interest our nation is paying on these debts, or just how dangerous the situation really is.
- The US dollar is also traded in a stock market-like system known as FOREX trading. If the value of USD in this market continues to decline, people will stop “betting” on it and go to other currencies instead. The weaker the dollar is on the FOREX exchange, the more expensive it is for the United States to buy from other countries. Considering the number of obligations we have to an endless number of trade agreements, it should be easy to see how just a few cents worth of change in conjunction with other factors can trigger a major collapse of the currency your customers may or may not be able to give you in a time of need.
According to Dave Hodges, many people are making mistakes as they prepare for a social collapse:
“To continue to invest in American real estate, the Stock Market and retirement accounts is like buying hair restoring tonic from a bald barber.”
If you are going to conduct an off-grid business, I recommend the following:
- Only take in enough USD to meet pressing financial obligations such as taxes. Legally reduce your income (and your taxes) as much as possible.
- Keep some USD aside cover a major currency collapse. Plan for a devaluation to around .05 cents on the dollar. If you have your tax burden down to $500.00 per year, you will need $10,000 USD in your bank account if you have to get it from the bank. On the other hand, if you have $500.00 on hand in cash, it may still have that value. If possible, try to store that money in metal coins instead of paper. Older coins have more valuable metal in them than newer ones.
- Barter for gold, titanium, platinum, precious and certified gems, and (as a last resort) silver. If you are going to buy these commodities, make sure you have direct physical control over them. Do not trust certificates or paper in place of tangible goods. Never put your money or commodities in a bank or under the control of others for “safe keeping”.
- Get out of the banks insofar as debt and as a safe place to store your money. The faster you pay off your debts, the better chance you have of using the dollar to its best advantage while you still can. In a monetary collapse, the bills will still have to be paid, and much more currency will be involved.
- Invest some money in Canadian, Mexican and other neighbor nation currency. Even though the currency from neighboring countries may be worth far less than ours, you may wind up ahead of the game if you move to them. Bitcoins and the Euro will also be of use as long as there are computers and the means to exchange higher value currency for USD.
Do you have ideas about making money off grid or how to keep your assets liquid in a major crisis? Please feel free to comment in the section below this article. This is a topic very near and dear to me, and I’d love to hear from readers with experience in this area.
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