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#246056 - 05/21/12 08:39 AM Backup "professional" skills for economic collapse
sheldon Offline
Newbie

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 40
What skills do you think would be useful for bartering in an economic collapse type of situation?

I'm thinking of a situation similar to when Soviet Union collapsed. Some people lost their regular jobs, and many others were paid very little in those jobs. One way to get more money was to get a different job that paid better; another thing some people did was to privately provide some kind of services (such as plumbing or doctor-on-call). I'm wondering what kind of services would be easier to monetize (I use "monetize" figuratively since paper currency may not be the most valuable thing in a situation like that).

One recommendation I've heard was to be a handyman, i.e. perform simple household repairs. This is convenient in that it requires relatively little skill. The flip side is, there may not be much demand (since almost anyone can do simple things by themselves, especially if money is tight) and a lot of competition (since anyone can offer these services). At the other extreme are doctors. This is a service relatively few people can offer (although I've read the discussion in the other thread about how even these few may be too many). But the real problem (for me) is, I cannot be a doctor as a hobby; it requires too much training to just do it on the side.

I'm wondering whether there is a middle ground, i.e. something that is simple enough that I can learn it as a hobby, but difficult enough that not just anyone can do the same. Ferfal's book about crisis in Argentina suggests that for those who spoke English, it was easy to get a job as telemarketers. This is the kind of suggestion I'm looking for: it's easy enough (and maybe even fun) to learn a foreign language in a couple of years, but it's not so easy that anyone can learn it in a week after the economy collapses. But I'm not sure how to adapt it to the US. Most people here already speak English, and it's not quite clear what other language to learn. Of course, I'm interested in suggestions other than learning foreign languages.

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#246059 - 05/21/12 01:02 PM Re: Backup "professional" skills for economic collapse [Re: sheldon]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 855
Loc: Colorado
Great question.

One of the preliminary questions is - where will the money/goods be when things collapse? In order to exercise your skills as barter, the other side of the trade has to have something you need. Who are those people and what do they have?

I suspect that I could easily serve as my neighborhood handyman for fixing stuff like lawnmowers and things that my neighbors can't. (I already do a little of this as neighborly help) But those same neighbors won't have food to trade with me when I fix their stuff. I know them. They aren't prepared.

Perhaps it comes down to working as a farmhand? Farmer has food, you have labor skills?

Rich guy has well-stocked retreat, you perform the night shift security duties in return for food?

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#246071 - 05/21/12 04:10 PM Re: Backup "professional" skills for economic collapse [Re: sheldon]
ViamFec Offline
Stranger

Registered: 04/07/12
Posts: 14
Loc: USA
Well, perhaps the best position is to have the ability to produce or create for yourself the stuff you need to survive.

I might think medical type knowledge would always be in high demand.
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#246072 - 05/21/12 04:28 PM Re: Backup "professional" skills for economic collapse [Re: sheldon]
Snake_Doctor
Unregistered


You can take an EMT course and learn a lot. Read a lot of medical books. There was once a situation where I had wished I had read more than the hundreds I already had. I did my best to save a kid and no matter how hard I tried I lost him. Even though I now realize there was no saving him that still haunts me to this day. Learn advanced home repairs, small engine and appliance repair from books free at your library. There are dozens of skills you can learn now and for free. Buy hair clippers and do simple barbering perhaps. A ten dollar investment has made me over a thousand in return last time I checked. I can weld, do carpenter work, basic electrical, plumbing, break horses, butcher, guide, teach martial arts etc. And my Native American crafts an jewelry ( dream catchers, medicine wheels, medicine bags, bone chokers, bone and woven hatbands etc) make a very nice side income of high profits from low investment. The possibilities are endless. Just find your special skills and hone them. Hope this helps. BTW there will never be too many doctors and medical personal if it hits the fan. Just sell your skills a bit cheaper than everyone else. An old team mate of mine is in prison and he sells medical skills and doe's quite well. Despite the free medical services the state provides.

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#246073 - 05/21/12 04:35 PM Re: Backup "professional" skills for economic collapse [Re: unimogbert]
Snake_Doctor
Unregistered


I have a lawn mower that needs to be repaired. A rich guy's retreat would have passive security systems I would think. And a dog won't turn on you like a greedy human will. My Fluffies are trained not to eat found food or from anyone not designated as "friend". They're entirely one family dogs and very protective of children. One of the ladies who buys hay and feed from us has a little 3 year old girl who, of course, wants to see the animals. The Fluffies flank her and keep her out of danger by herding her.

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#246087 - 05/21/12 09:11 PM Re: Backup "professional" skills for economic collapse [Re: unimogbert]
sheldon Offline
Newbie

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 40
Originally Posted By: unimogbert
One of the preliminary questions is - where will the money/goods be when things collapse? In order to exercise your skills as barter, the other side of the trade has to have something you need. Who are those people and what do they have?

I see two sources of income that are pretty general. One source is, the regular people who need some routine things done (car repairs, healthcare). They aren't rich and cannot afford to pay much for your services; on the other hand, there are a lot of them (demand) and they are less intimidating to deal with. Another source is the rich or people who did well in the collapse. There are fewer of them, but it's probably safe to say that there will be some rich people anywhere and that they will have some common needs (such as protection). I guess my question is about identifying some of these common needs and finding those where advance preparation would give me competitive advantage.

Originally Posted By: unimogbert
But those same neighbors won't have food to trade with me when I fix their stuff. I know them. They aren't prepared.

I'm considering mostly long-term economic crisis scenarios. This would involve, say, 3 years of complete chaos, with a much longer period of gradual recovery and improvement. This is in contrast to, say, a 2 week-long natural disaster. So it's less important whether people are prepared now or not. They will have to get prepared in the process; they will have to rely on some ongoing income to survive. So the question is, what kind of skills would get them to share this income.

Originally Posted By: unimogbert
Perhaps it comes down to working as a farmhand? Farmer has food, you have labor skills?

What kind of labor skills would be useful for a farmer? I'd guess that a farmer already has advanced agriculture skills, so those wouldn't be useful. I could do general labor, of course, but wouldn't there be a lot of competition from basically everyone?

Originally Posted By: unimogbert
Rich guy has well-stocked retreat, you perform the night shift security duties in return for food?

I think that might work. Ferfal also mentioned this in the book.

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#246088 - 05/21/12 09:29 PM Re: Backup "professional" skills for economic collapse [Re: ]
sheldon Offline
Newbie

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 40
Originally Posted By: Snake_Doctor
You can take an EMT course and learn a lot. Read a lot of medical books.

Great idea, I didn't know these EMT courses existed for non-professionals (I assume these are more advanced than simple CPR). One of my problems with reading medical books was how to become credible. I mean, I could claim that I read those books, but without a medical diploma, how would I convince people I know what I'm talking about. How would I be different from anyone who could claim they practice natural medicine or something like that. I think an EMT certificate could be helpful in that respect and hopefully would require less commitment than a medical degree.

Originally Posted By: Snake_Doctor
Learn advanced home repairs, small engine and appliance repair from books free at your library.

Good ideas too. Are there any books specifically you could recommend? I'm particularly interested in learning car repairs. If not, no worries, I will look it up myself.

Incidentally, I heard several times that unlike with older cars, there is relatively little you can do with a modern engine without specialized equipment. I assume it holds for modern appliances and electronics too. Thoughts about this?

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#246109 - 05/22/12 04:32 AM Re: Backup "professional" skills for economic collapse [Re: sheldon]
LED Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
Whatever skill you learn, make sure its something you will use in daily life and have a passion for. If you're really good at something, and you enjoy it, you'll probably always find work.

But if you want absolute job security then master a skill. Mastery of anything is very rare, and you'll know it when you see it.

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#246125 - 05/22/12 12:50 PM Re: Backup "professional" skills for economic collapse [Re: sheldon]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 855
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: sheldon

Incidentally, I heard several times that unlike with older cars, there is relatively little you can do with a modern engine without specialized equipment. I assume it holds for modern appliances and electronics too. Thoughts about this?



While the electrical parts of modern cars are most easily dealt with using computers, there are still things like belts, hoses, water pumps, radiators, brakes, tires, window motors, wiper motors, spark plugs and many things that aren't very much different from older cars. An inexpensive code scanner ($150) can tell you a lot about what the car thinks is wrong with it. (I do lots of this stuff myself. I'm currently working an intermittent heat-related ABS light on one of my cars.) But home tinkerer isn't very salable except to save yourself money and occasionally save a neighbor. (Or work for a rancher who can't get mechanics with real ASE certification)

Appliance- correct. Even the darn dishwashers are now using computers and software instead of good old reliable mechanical timers. But stuff like hoses, gaskets and pumps are still there and will need fixing. The appliance repair people aren't nuclear scientists. They just have a little training and some manuals.

Electronics- outside of reseating connectors or boards and maybe looking for a cracked solder joint, the miniaturization and customization has pinched home repair. Even professional repair anymore consists of throwing the broken one away. But electronics is mostly not about survival. It's consumer stuff. Learn to fix your burglar alarm and you're good to survive.

Learning to do this stuff yourself can be intimidating and can take a long time to build up experience. It helps to have a mentor to start you off so you don't make big mistakes or jump into something dangerous.

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#246153 - 05/22/12 07:52 PM Re: Backup "professional" skills for economic collapse [Re: unimogbert]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2946
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: unimogbert
I'm currently working an intermittent heat-related ABS light on one of my cars.


Every single time I've seen this it's been dirt on one of the ABS sensors.

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