The art of Bartering

Bartering is as old as the hills, but can save so much money when done properly. Everyone has things they don't need along with talents and skills they don't use. Everyone also has things they need. When the two meet, bartering is achieved.

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  • You've probably bartered and didn't even realize it. In grade school, did you ever trade sandwiches or snacks? It's really as easy as that.

  • We all have things we need and don't have the money for. We also have things we no longer need and talents and skills we don't use. The marriage of the two results in the sweet harmony of the barter system.

  • I just recently made a blessing gown for a friend's granddaughter using my sewing skills. In return, I got a cell phone card. I've babysat in exchange for fresh produce. I gave someone some fabric they needed to do some reupholstering in exchange for help with my housekeeping. It's an age-old system of finance that works beautifully if done right.

  • There are different formulas for barter: Services for services, services for goods, goods for goods. You can include any or all of these in your system.

  • How to make bartering work for you:

  • Join a barter club

  • Look to see if there is a barter club in your area. If not, consider starting one. This site provides tips on how to get started and provides some great guidelines.

  • Set up a general swap

  • Decide on a place (community center, church, or lodge) and give it lots of advance publicity. Then have everyone bring things or tickets for services. On the scheduled date, everyone can exchange.

  • Set up a specific swap

  • Set up a swap of some particular items. Some items that work very well are baby equipment, toys, prom gowns, tools, used home supplies like old sinks, toilets, countertops, and professional clothing. Everyone leaves with something new to them. A once-a-year prom gown exchange is such a blessing. Girls get dresses that are new to them. Involve several school districts for a bigger variety.

  • Do your own bartering by free ads

  • Use free ad space to offer your services or merchandise for barter by simply listing and adding what you need. "Will provide 20 hours of free childcare for used laptop." "Will mow lawns all summer for used working Xbox."

  • Start an online barter system on social media

  • In my area, there is a yard sale online using Facebook. Why not start a barter site using it? Open it up to members and have them list what they offer and what they need.


  • Set up a barter system in your own neighborhood

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  • Have a neighborhood meeting to announce the system, and then have everyone who wants to participate give you a list of services and print up a directory. Then, do a weekly or monthly newsletter, via email, with items that others are looking for or getting rid of.

  • There are certain precautions that you should be aware of before starting:

    1. Safety first. Don't go alone to anyone's home you don't know and certainly don't go inside. Take a buddy and go during daylight hours.

    2. Sometimes bartering can get more complicated but worth it. It can involve 3 or more deals before everyone gets what they want.

    3. Have a filter in place. Have someone that will moderate and run the group to screen offers and to keep the "crazies" and "nasties" away.

    4. Have folks deal directly with each other. You can facilitate the exchange by making the parties aware of their match, but then step out and allow them do the negotiating.

    5. There are lots of barter sites on the Internet, but many of them have been infiltrated by people selling things for cash. Bartering is not a flea market. No money should exchange hands. That defeats the purpose.

    6. This is a great opportunity for children to learn the art of bartering for things they want, as in the lawn mowing for Xbox deal. But keep them safe above all else. Always supervise!

  • With the economy as tight as it is and people living paycheck to paycheck, bartering can be a terrific solution to acquiring things you want and using talents and skills you haven't been using. We all have gifts to share.

  • This article was originally published on Check out these other related articles: How to save money on any income, 9 tips for selling your valuable 'junk' online and Money saving ideas for large families.

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Becky Lyn is an author and a 35+ year (most of the time) single mom.


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