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The Art of Bartering Successfully

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The art of bartering is as ancient as human civilization and is rapidly gaining in popularity once again; ordinary people are now learning how to barter items to save lots of money.

By creating their own barter systems based on goods and services, these people are able to get around money entirely: securing what their families need most without spending a cent. The amount of money you can save by learning the art of bartering is limited only by your imagination and your ambition.

Here we explain how to barter successfully with the following bartering tips and tricks:

1. Be Specific About What You Have and What You Want

Don’t say you are looking for a dog walker in exchange for legal services. That’s too vague. Say you will prepare a simple will in exchange for 10 hours of dog walking instead. The more specific you are about exactly what you want to get and exactly what you are willing to give in exchange for it, the less likely you are to encounter problems or be dissatisfied with the result.

2. Work Out the Details in Advance

Leave as little room for negotiation as possible in order to seal a quick deal. If you are exchanging goods, decide on who pays for postage and packaging and include that in your ad. If you exchanging services, nail down the dates, the time (if applicable), and precisely what you are going to do and for how long. Don’t say, “I’ll help you plant your garden if you help me fix my sink.” Say, “I’ll weed your garden from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM this Saturday if you’ll help me install a sink from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM this Sunday, and we’ll each bring our own tools and gloves.”

3. Assign Fair Value

Many people who have ‘barter parties’ at their homes create a system of points for assigning value. So, for instance, if it’s a barter party for kid’s clothes, a designer jacket worn by a single child once gets assigned more points than a pair of discount jeans on its sixth round of swaps. This comes down to creating your own money system. Instead of trading the items directly, each person gets an amount of ‘points’ to spend on items that are priced according to points assigned.

4. Learn Your Tax Liability

Right or wrong, the plain fact is that most barter systems stay well under the government radar, but if you are bartering professional services for products (or for other professional services) and your barter items turn a profit (even if it it’s only a profit on paper) you can end up with a tax liability. Talk with your accountant in advance to avoid any problems. The more you barter and the less actual income you have, the greater the likelihood that you’ll face a tax audit, so know what to document.

5. Look for Ways to Use Barter to Save Money

Instead of buying new video games, DVD movies, CDs or software, hold monthly swap parties for these items or barter online.

A number of websites now deal in all-bartered goods, making it possible to trade what you don’t need for what you do need without ever leaving the house. So many items have a short shelf life and are better traded than purchased.

6. Be Creative

The Art of Bartering can be whatever you make it. With money scarce, many people are swapping homes as a way of visiting other cities without paying for hotels. Some people who are having trouble selling their home in this difficult real estate market have found ways to trade them instead. Professional services is another area where bartering is rapidly gaining ground. Use your imagination. If you need a service and can’t afford it, make an offer. The worst that can happen is you’ll get a ‘no’ answer.

7. Set Up a Service Bank With Like-Minded Friends and Neighbors

Why hire expensive contractors for projects that are mostly simple labor? Painting, putting up pole barns, gardening, quilting, canning, sewing, accounting, bookkeeping, web design, tutoring, essay writing, babysitting: all of these services can be more easily traded or bartered than bought, and you can save enormous amounts of money this way. Check with your insurance company before bartering construction services to make certain whoever is helping you will be covered in the event of an accident in your home. Everyone has a skill that other people don’t have to the same degree. By bartering your special skill, you can get things done you might not otherwise have been able to afford.

Conclusion and further Resources

The Art of Bartering is a great way to get what you need in hard times and make friends while doing it. In addition to the new bartering sites that are springing up online every day, you can also find great resources and tips for arranging regular barter events in your own home.

You can organize a home party barter system for everything from kid’s clothing, to office wear, to electronic equipment, to small appliances; saving yourself and your friends thousands of dollars of unnecessary expenses in the process.

Home barter parties can also be good fun. Many people enjoy swapping books and DVDs informally. You can even simply hold an open ‘swap meet’ that rotates among the homes of a group of friends and neighbors. Everyone brings a box or items and browses; kind of like ‘white elephant day’ at the office. It’s amazing what you can find this way, and if you also include snacks and drinks it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and network in other helpful ways.

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