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Learn to Barter

We’re all looking for ways to save money and some of us have even given up activities that we used to enjoy just to save a few dollars.  In tough financial times like these people are discovering a strategy that allows them to get goods and services for absolutely no cash outlay—the age-old art of bartering.

Bartering is simply trading goods and services without exchanging money.  People have been bartering for thousands of years; there have even been ancient cave paintings found depicting people swapping goods.  For instance, the hunters of one region would often trade meat for the produce of the gatherer-growers of another region whose main source of protein was the fish that they caught.  This benefited everyone and promoted civil relationships between tribes. 

You can use bartering to get nearly anything as long as you have something the other party wants or needs.  For instance, if you are an accountant that needs work done on your car you could negotiate with an individual or a dealership for repairs in exchange for your work on their bookkeeping system. 

You don’t have to have professional skills to barter.  In the past, a man might plow a neighbor’s field in exchange for a portion of the harvest.  As a result, both men could feed their families.  Their wives might trade the skill of canning meat and produce for eggs, butter and milk or mending otherwise serviceable clothing. 

Today, that example may not seem relevant but the principle remains the same.  Many men and women have taken up the art of quilting because it produces a beautiful and useful product as well as being relaxing.  Quilters can exchange their work or create custom quilts for work around their homes such as painting, plumbing or electrical jobs.  You can turn any hobby or skill into “currency” for bartering!

What if you don’t have a skill or a hobby?  Well, everyone has something worth trading for.  You could trade a day or evening of baby-sitting for an afternoon of house cleaning.  A busy couple gets some relaxing time to themselves and your house is sparkling!  Everyone benefits when they barter. 

Another example is business to business bartering.  A graphic designer could barter with a newspaper and exchange a custom designed logo for advertising.  A printing business could trade business cards or stationery for maintenance or repairs of equipment.  A small family owned grocery or deli can barter food or catering services to the painter who spruces up their storefront. 

Successful bartering can happen on any level whether you’re a professional artist, a business owner or a stay-at-home parent.  You can barter no matter how old or young you are and the best part about it is that everyone gets something they want without the hassle of exchanging money which the government can tax.

You don’t even have to have goods to exchange when someone has an item you want.  Let’s say you’ve been admiring the custom bird feeders at that little shop across town but can’t afford the price.  You don’t think you have anything the artist wants but you design websites and do a little writing on the side.  Why not offer to build a website or, if they have a website, do a series of articles about their product?  You get a beautiful feeder to enjoy while the artist gets extra tools to promote his or her business with.

Bartering is an ideal, no-hassle way to get anything you want or need in exchange for your goods or services.  Since no money changes hands it cannot be taxed; you can use the funds you’d normally spend on an item or service for something else that you or your family needs.  It’s no wonder that bartering is catching on in a big way!

Author James Vignione, administrator of Orion Systems specializes in free personal finance software, calculators, and financial information to help people manage and organize their finances more efficiently.
 

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