What do you want or need?
Maybe you need help with your English paper, a hand-made gift for your grandmother’s birthday or a few sessions with a personal trainer to keep the Freshman 15 at bay. There are ways to get it, even if your bank account is a desert wasteland. The trick is figuring out what you’ve got.
What skills, services or goods do you presently possess that you can exchange for what you want or need?
The answer to that question lies in YOU… in your head, in your hands and often in the back of your closet.
You’ve got skills
Identify your strengths, what you’ve excelled at that might be of use to others. Can you tutor someone in biology in exchange for help with English? Do you have a craft or a hobby that you could teach someone in exchange for a service they offer? There are plenty of real world opportunities out there to use what you’re really good at to get what you can’t afford.
Stuff you own
You may be living in the dorm, using public transportation and eating mac ‘n’ cheese, but the chances are good you’ve got something of value you could trade. Look in your closet, dresser, and in your car (if you have one). That extra iPod you got for Christmas, those expensive boots you never wear, the season tickets you don’t have time to use — they’re all worth something. And if you can’t sell ‘em, you’d be amazed at how much in trade you could get.
If you don’t have the goods, but you’ve got the time and energy to spare, you can barter everything from childcare, lawn care, cleaning services (car, dorm, apartment, dog, etc.), baking, cosmetology help, organizational help-the list is endless. Convenience is valuable, so if you can make someone’s life easier and more efficient, the sky is the limit.
Set the value
If you’re swapping a service, do the math: Figure out what you would normally charge for the service, factor in supplies, then make an even exchange. To trade tangible goods, you’ve got to know the reasonable value of those items.