Why barter?

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Few of us are immune to the pressures of living in these challenging socioeconomic times. However, we often perpetuate our struggles to save money by solving our day to day problems through spending. Often it is for the sake of convenience; time is another resource in short supply, so we pull out our wallets and spend. Bartering relies on a completely different type of currency – one of creativity, energy and time. In an ideal situation, everyone’s needs are met by exchanging goods and services of equal value. Not a dime need be spent. Since everyone has something to offer that someone else wants or needs, bartering is something anyone can do. I often exchange favors with my brother, which works well as we each have different skills to offer. Recently, I traded several haircuts for his willingness to deliver and install a dishwasher. We also occasionally need an hour or two of childcare, and enjoy spending time with each others’ kids. Win-win.


How to Start Bartering

Make a list of skills you have to offer. Think about what you do at work (after all, if someone is paying you to do your job, your skills are worth something). Are you a quick typist and an expert at formatting documents? There is someone out there who could use help with updating a resume. Are you an accountant? Come tax season, everyone will want an hour of your time. Do you troubleshoot computer glitches? Your time is valuable to most of us year round. Now think of services you can offer that don’t require professional expertise. Could you house sit, pet sit, dog walk, de-clutter a closet or entire home, clean carpets or prepare meals? Could you offer storage in your garage or home, or a room or bed to a traveler? Are there things you love to do that you could teach someone else? Did you play basketball in high school and have time to coach your neighbor daughter once a week? Could you teach someone to play bridge or the cello? I bet your energy and time are more valuable to others than you realized. The next step is finding others to barter with. Spread the word among family, friends and neighbors. Use social media to seek out and organize a network of like minded people who want to share skills and time rather than spend money. Create an ad on Craigslist, and search the site for the people interested in exchanging services. Individuals and Business owners should check out bartering networks that have been created to help people and entrepreneurs trade services with each other and other businesses locally, nationally and internationally.

Other Benefits of Bartering

Bartering depends on good will between parties. While you can spend your money anywhere and walk away, bartering requires voluntary cooperation. As you begin to trade your time for someone else’s, you will find yourself living a life of connections rather than a life you may think of as self-sufficient – using money to hire strangers to solve problems. You will find yourself thinking about how you can take care of others as much as you think about getting your needs met. Most people believe in returning kindness for kindness; it’s something we do, like returning a borrowed cookie sheet with a fresh batch of baking. Feeling helpful and appreciated are essential to our sense of well being and self-worth. By finding ways to help each other save money, we can create a healthier and caring society.

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