Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Art of Bartering

The ancient art of bartering is getting a new life.  Couldn't we all use something in exchange for something we no longer need?  For those of us in the frugalista chronicles, this is a no brainer.  But it is still a new-ish concept for some folks.  So here's a crash course in bartering 101 for those of you out there not so comfortable with the ins and outs of it.
Bartering is basically trading.  You have something I want and I have something you want - let's trade.  It's a bit like baseball cards, but on an adult scale.  I figure the following rules are pretty much common sense for those interested in bartering:

1. Make sure you have something to barter with before asking for the exchange.  Make a list.
2. Make sure your barter is worthy of what you want (and vice versa).
3.  Not all barters need to be taken care of immediately.  Remember to think about 'over time' barters - such as a loaf of home baked bread each week for a month in exchange for a couple of hours of accounting help, for example.
4. Make good on your barter:  If you say you have something, produce it.  If you are going to do something, do it.  If you are going to provide a service, provide it.  It is bad form not to come through with your side of the bargain.

The following barters may not be such great exchanges (but rank high on the learning-how-to-do-it scale):
1. A box of heirloom seeds for your best friend's uncle's old socks.
2. A new book on saving money that you received as a gift, but already had for a really bad, bad haircut.
3. A pair of used soccer cleats for a meal of sauerbraten and cabbage... no offense, but we were vegetarians at the time.  Ugh.
4. 3 lovely batches of home made cookies for a painted room, which seemed to be totally in our favor, except the room was not painted well and not the color we had chosen, nor one we liked.

What interesting barters have you participated in?  We were able to secure day care for our youngest son by exchanging a weekly music class for the whole program.  We exchanged car care one year after giving weekly music lessons to the mechanic's child.  I have made delicious meals for people who watched my children for a few hours.  I also made very sweet knitted hats for young children and traded them for a dinner out.
I am currently enjoying beading, and would love to trade handmade jewelry for something in the near future - just not sure what yet.

What I love about bartering is the feeling I get afterward - the win-win I feel and (I hope) the other person feels as well.  Everyone gets something they need (or want) and you learn a bit about the other person in the process as well, if you are lucky.  And if it doesn't work out, at least you have a funny story to tell later.


Angela said...

I'm wondering why you agreed to the used socks in the first place! Funny!

I haven't done much bartering but love the concept. I used to actually belong to a "barter club" where you got points and then could use them. I got a free gym membership for years and then we stayed in a lovely B&B on the northern California coast.

These days I'm trying to think of what I could offer- maybe fresh baked bread or cookies- that's what I give often as a thank you. And we just planted a lemon tree, so soon we'll have lemons!

Angela said...

by the way, I always have to try twice to post a comment on your blog. This used to happen to me, I think I fixed this problem by switching to "pop up window" instead of "comments embedded under post" in the comment options section.
Some people won't know to try again and will be discouraged.

Jill said...

Thanks, Angela - I don't leave myself comments very often, so it's good to know it's been a challenge. I did what you suggested, so let me know if it works next time you stop by. Thanks for all your great comments! And I like your blog, by the way!