Thursday, January 28, 2010
Bartering or how to exchange goods and services without cash
In our Buying your meat locally post I discussed how the Hubster barters his time and labor in exchange for free turkeys and low cost chickens.
Other ways we've bartered include:
- bartering our labor for free fruit. Our neighbor regularly brings us gleaned fruit and we dehydrate or can it and give a portion back to him. We barter our labor and the use of our equipment for fruit.
- bartering my labor and craft supplies for other handcrafted goods. I love to sew and regularly participate in craft swaps where I'll sew up toys or other items and barter them for the work of other women. I've received hot pads, tutus, felt toy food, doll clothes, doll blankets, embroidered bookmarks, crayon holders, tote bags, tie-dyed clothing, and all sorts of neat handcrafted items by bartering my handcrafted work.
- bartering food for food. We've bartered venison pasties (a meat pie) for locally produced maple syrup in the past.
- bartering labor for food. The Hubster regularly barters his labor for free range chicken eggs.
Bartering used to be a common method of exchange but over the years Americans have moved away from it and now most of us use a cash system exclusively.
So how do you get started in bartering?
For us the first step was to find other people who are interested in bartering. We just suggested the idea to some local folks who we thought would be receptive to the idea and we negotiated what both parties agreed was a good exchange.
When bartering with people you don't know it's helpful to know the fair market value of what you are offering and what you hope to receive. In the handcrafted goods swaps, for instance, we'll use online shopping sites like Etsy to determine what the value of our handcrafted goods are and then we put together offers that are in $20 packages. But beyond the fair market value of your goods you also have to factor in desirability. Just because your goods or services are valued at $20 doesn't mean that others need or want your goods or services.
You might also want to do an assessment of what you have to offer. What skills or abilities do you have that others might want or need?
Some commonly bartered skills include:
- tax preparation
- teaching a skill
- roofing and siding
- lawn care/ yard work
- hair cutting
- web design
- animal care
- general labor
- snow removal
And the list of goods to be bartered is nearly endless.
Some people like to put together a list of their skills and goods they wish to barter and assign a suggested value to them. This is something tangible they can give to someone else to start the negotiation process.
And how about you, dear readers? Do you regularly barter your goods and/or services? What are some of your most interesting barters?
- A 40 something mama meandering through life with an eclectic 21 year old boy-man (the boy), an 8 year old girl (big girl) who is a ball of lightening, and a 4 year old girl (baby girl) who brightens our lives with her smiles. I'm grounded by my 40 something husband and partner (the hubster) whose quirky mannerisms brighten my days.
I've been a single mama, married mama, divorced mama, career mama, SAHM, and WAHM. There was a short time of my life when I wasn't a mama, but that was a LONG time ago!
I hold an AA, BS, and MA and most say I'm wasting them by devoting my intellectual capabilities and energy in the nurture of the wee ones that I've been entrusted to raise, but there is nothing else I'd rather be doing these days. :)
I love hearing from readers, so please share your thoughts and leave comments, too!