Thursday, March 22, 2012


I know this may seem like an alien concept to some. It did to me at first as well. I mean really, what year is this, right? That being said, the point is - what year is this?! It's 2012 for pete's sake, why does one even have to consider what must seem like an ancient, archaic form of earning your way in life? Well, let me give you all some reasons why bartering in this modern day and age is actually beneficial and not so middle ages!

1.) Gas - if I haven't mentioned it enough on FB, the price of gas is already at a severely steep price for the working family or one income family.
2.) With the rise in gas, comes the rise in the prices at your local grocery store. Just look at the price of flour, of rice even. The basics, the things that the modern family came to think of as cheap has now almost tripled or quadrupled in price in the just the last year or so alone! Look at flour, bread or even peanut butter!
3.) Utilities, if you aren't lucky enough to live fully off grid, then you had to have noticed the rise in your utility prices as well. Sure you can turn that heat up a down a few degrees, or set the air up a notch before it goes off. You can live by candle light for a few nights a week but, ultimately it's not always going to give you that extra cash at the end of the month.
4.) Extras - what if your car breaks down? If you're like most blue collar families nowadays, you're living paycheck to paycheck. This leaves no room for a radiator to die on you, or your intake manifold to bust!

Bartering can offer you a little leeway where you may need something. It can give you a little more cash at the end of the month. Case in point, like mentioned above, lets say your intake manifold goes on you. You have $42.75 in your account. The labor alone for a job like that is more than you've got sitting in the bank. If you barter with your cousin's neighbor, who's a mechanic for his services, he may allow you to pay half of the fee he'd normally charge for, or he may simply charge you for parts! All because you could provide him with hand made blankets to give his family, or a lot of baked goods that will last him through a week, or he may require you're services as a master gardener and he needs help with his garden.

I got into bartering by complete accident myself! My boys' father used to bring the breakfast burritos I'd make him to work, along with the cinnamon apple chips and apple pie chips I would make for him. Next thing I knew, one of the guys who worked with him was also an apprentice electrician. He came to me one time and asked me if I could give him a weeks worth of breakfast burritos, would I be willing to exchange his electrical services. Heck, why not have an electrician at your beckon call, right?! Then another guy wanted the apple cinnamon chips I made, another one wanted banana chips, and so on. Despite what you may think, mechanics don't make a whole lot sometimes. So bartering services was born!

So here's the basics I think you should know in case you consider doing this, things I had to stumble into the hard way.

1) Determine what services or items that you can provide. Think you can't provide anything? What about laundry for your sister, the computer engineer? Or house cleaning for your neighbor the school teacher/coach? You can darn, sew or patch clothes for the chef down the street. Do some gardening, babysit, cook, etc. There are a hundred things you can do to barter items or services!

2) Determine precisely what it is that you want in return for your services. You can't just tell the mechanic, I want my car fixed. That could lead to all sorts of things that bartering for a few breakfast burritos will not cover! :P  You could ask for a tune up, your fuel pump fixed, etc.

3) Find people to barter with. In particular, there are groups I've seen even on Craig's list devoted to bartering. Friends, neighbors and even family members are more apt to barter too!

4) Be specific about what you're services entail. If the electrician guy says, "a weeks worth of breakfast burritos", to me, that means maybe 5 burritos. One for each business day. To him that means 2 a day and since he works 6 days a week, that's 12 burritos. Handing him 5 would've felt like a rip off to him. Or for example, a photographer friend of mine barter services with a company. She ended up having to use an entire "roll of film" and the touch ups and re-takes took over a week. That was not what she'd signed up for. So, be specific when talking bartering with people.

5) It's always good business practice to get things in writing. I don't always use this when I barter to be perfectly honest but, if what I'm doing is going to last a while or with someone I don't know well. You are correct if you think I am definitely putting it on paper!

Bartering can be a live saver when you've got little to no money and it can also open whole new avenues of friends, products and a way of life. For example, I never would've thought of raising chickens before, until I began to barter. This couple houses my chickens and provides me with eggs from my egg layer when I'm in town. The times I won't make it there, she sells the eggs in part for the chickens' room and board. She's a true, experienced canner so she provides me with the good canning things when I don't have the time or enough product to can and in turn, I give them dehydrated product. If I hadn't bartered with them, I never would've gotten to raising chickens! Now, I don't pay for eggs, nor will I pay for chicken meat for a long time, all because I fell into bartering.

It's something to think about this the next time your low on cash and in need of services from someone.


  1. I look at it this way. I ask how much they would charge to do what ever it is I need, then I let them know what I would do in return that I would charge the same ammount for. If it is going to cost me 50 bucks to fix my computer I will do $50 worth in sewing and I explain to them what that will get them. A few hems on some pants, x amount of holes sew, or buttons reattached, so they know they are getting the same work back dollar for dollar. As for canned goods I've just started doing that so I just do an even trade, your pineapple mango for my stephieberry jam.

  2. That's exactly right! Communication I think is essential to bartering. What means one thing to one person, can mean something to someone else. If your communication is strong, then you can earn yourself a bartering partner for life and even a good friend or two along the way. Thanks for giving those great examples! It's good to hear from other people who do this too!

  3. Looks like you have the right idea and are having a great experience bartering. That is great! Most bartering deals go nice and smooth as long as everyone knows what is expected ahead of time, this benefits everyone.
    So many times people think that others are trying to mess over the other guy and get "the most" out of the deal, I am sure sometimes that is the case but we can all see that coming and just don't do the barter transaction with that person. Thank them for their time and move on.
    There are many great barter sites out there to choose from to expand your bartering needs, choose the best one for your needs and have fun saving money. We like
    Barter Is Best!