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It’s Spring Cleaning Season – Swap the Soap!

Time passes so quickly we hardly noticed that spring has arrived! Actually it’s almost summer. And what else could be on top of our To-Do list? Of course it’s spring cleaning. You might wonder why this is so important, and why this has to be done particularly in spring and not in winter or in fall.
Well, here are some facts: spring is the season when nature awakes, everything is fresh and new and we feel inspired too. It’s the perfect time to take advantage of your energetic mood and de-clutter and simplify your life to be prepared for a great summer with plenty of time and opportunity to relax.
Historically, the reasons for spring cleaning are different. It used to be a tradition in cold geographic areas to thoroughly clean the house in the first warm days of the year. However, this tradition has somehow spilt over borders and is now commonly practiced all around the world.

But spring cleaning isn’t all about cleaning though. It’s also about getting rid of the mess and chaos in your household, to de-clutter, to create more space and to organize your house from scratch. Getting rid of old and unused items can be a relief, yet what to do with all the stuff you no longer use? Some things are in perfect condition and too precious to just toss. Bartering is the perfect solution here! Put your old stuff up for barter and get rid of them once and for all. On top of that, get new things you need in exchange. And the best part: this procedure only takes a couple of clicks with BarterQuest!


However, let me get back to the cleaning. We’d like to share some smart yet simple tricks with you so your spring cleaning adventure will be entirely successful. Since we’re all fans of swapping here at BarterQuest, we’d like to suggest the following swaps:
-Use a mixture of vinegar and water to clean your windows instead of glass cleaner. Wipe with old newspapers and the results will surprise you and it’s cheaper and greener than using expensive chemical cleaner and kitchen towels.
-Wash the interior of your fridge: use a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda for every quart of warm water instead of all-purpose cleaner.
-Get rid of all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, bath cleaner etc. All you need to keep your house clean as a whistle is baking soda, lemons and vinegar. It doesn’t just simplify your life, it will save you tons of money and is much better for the environment too. Vinegar is a powerful disinfectant so don’t worry, it’s even better than toxic chemicals.
-Pour lemon juice on white linens and clothes and dry in the sun to bleach away stains.
-Cut a lemon in half, sprinkle with salt and use to clean and shine brass and copper fixtures.
In general, using chemicals and potential toxic substances is never a good choice, whether for your own health nor for the environment. We suggest you perform the above suggested swaps to make your life cleaner and healthier, too.
Vinegar is a very good all-purpose cleaner and can easily replace all of your different cleaners, soaps and detergents. Yes, you can even use it as a detergent to wash your laundry! Just pour a quarter cup in the container for fabric softener of your washing machine and start the cycle as you normally would.
You’d be surprised how powerful it is and yet doesn’t harm your laundry.
A lot of people don’t really like the smell of vinegar though, but once applied it transpires in the air rather quickly and leaves your home with a sweet and fresh scent.
If you still don’t like that, dribble a couple of drops of your favorite ethereal oil in your vinegar solution (such as lavender, cinnamon, vanilla or peppermint).
And when you’re finally done with cleaning and polishing every single spot in your house: don’t forget to reward yourself! Take a bubble bath, pour yourself a glass of champagne and enjoy your clean home. Also be proud of the fact that you’ve saved a lot of money while using eco-friendly products and getting rid of old stuff while creating room for new things. Now it’s time for new adventures.

7 Summer Beauty Essentials

It’s that time of year again! Believe it or not, some people are already on the beach showing off their very trendy new swimwear! Summer is all about sundresses and flip-flops. So, come on, it’s time to get in shape and to look fabulous on the beach.

This season, BarterQuest has picked 7 summer must-haves. If you are looking to refresh your wardrobe and have a sizzling hot look from head to toe, be the first one to barter for all of these summer must-have beauty products.

1. Stewart Weitzman wedges sandals
Wedges are this summer’s must-have. Featuring a subtle plaid pattern, these stylish espadrilles will match any outfit and the adjustable buckles will make sure that you feel comfortable in your new wedges sandals.
 
 
 
 
2. Giorgio Armani sunglasses
You can never go wrong with classic sunglasses, a crucial accessory pick that cannot be overlooked. Whether it is sunny or you just want to look your best, these sunglasses will go well with a maxi dress or with just about any outfit.
 
3. Brown Fedora Hat
This essential summer hat for women will give you a trendy and urban look. Wear a white dress with brown gladiator sandals and you are good to go. Let your hair down and put on this brand new finely braided straw fedora hat.
 
 
 

4. Coach handbag
Is it just me or does this purse remind you of a variety of exquisite candies? This authentic Coach handbag with pastel blue leather handles and colorful coach designs will brighten your summer. It is without a doubt that this bright colored purse will make a statement and add intensity to your outfit.
 

5. Red strapless dress
The always-trendy strapless dress will give you a flirty look and let’s not forget that you will not have shoulder strap tan lines. What’s not to like? This dress is versatile and fits all occasions. Not too fancy for a day at the beach, and not too casual for a night out!
 
 
6. Blue stone ring
In terms of jewelry, it is all about the bigger the better. This dazzling fashion ring comes with a glamorous stone. Whether you want to adopt a chic or more bohemian casual look, this one of a kind piece of jewelry will make sure your hands won’t stay unnoticed.
 

7. Luxury villa in Brazil
Have you always wanted to live like a celebrity? Now that you are ready to show off your new look to all of your friends, why don’t you take them to this beautiful resort in Brazil. Surrounded by the Ocean, the Exclusive Villa can accommodate more than 12 people.
Don’t hesitate to barter for this one time opportunity and go party with the vibrant Brazilian people and music.

- Tiffany

Recent College Grads: Barter!

It’s the time of the year again: exams are over, and if you’re done with finals this means you’re finally done with school – for good! (or at least for the nearest future).
However, this event marks the transition into a new phase of your life. You’ll live independently from now on, you won’t just work for good grades but rather in order to receive something in exchange that allows you to maintain yourself (a salary and yes, possibly respect and appreciation).
You’re moving out of the dorm, possibly relocate to another city and you’re about to have your first “real” job. Your first salary will most likely impress you because you never earned money before or your previous jobs never paid that well. You might be tempted to splurge. But you should reconsider: you have so many expenses now. You have to pay a rent, insurance, food, etc. And very important too, you might most likely have to pay your student loans back.

It makes sense to take advantage of the frugal behavior you taught yourself during your college years and continue it. Once you get used to splurging every here and there it gets hard to get back to a more modest spending behavior.
A great way to save money is – bartering! Students are the perfect candidates because they’re usually on tight budgets but in need of expensive things like textbooks, clothes and so on. Barter is the perfect solution to the problem.
Someone is happy to finally get rid of unused stuff while someone else is happy to receive something they need. It’s a perfect win-win.
But it doesn’t end there. You don’t have to stop bartering just because you’ve graduated, actually it’s one of the best reasons to continue. You’re maintaining your frugal lifestyle and will be able to overcome your debts and even make some savings. Happy trading!

“We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails” ~Author Unknown

Mother’s Day is coming up

We celebrate it every year (or I guess most of us do) to honor our mothers and show them our appreciation and love. However, when it comes to presents for our mom, most of us aren’t creative and opt for the classic flower bouquet (I’m not innocent myself…).
I recently read a study that suggested 91% of all moms would prefer an iPad over flowers. To be honest that information didn’t surprise me (I’d be one of them) but seriously, it’s not just a lack of creativity that haunts most of us, it’s also limited financial freedom.
When it comes to presents I’m a firm believer that the value of the gift doesn’t matter. What matters is the gesture and whether it comes from the heart. I have a hard time accepting presents that people give me because they felt obligated. You might argue how would I know but trust me, I can always tell.
A person who is happy to give you a present is more excited about you opening it than you yourself are. And usually these are impersonal presents anyways. I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate gift cards or presents in general, but when my good friend made the effort to bake gluten free cookies for me, I was touched. Such gestures are priceless.

But back to Mother’s Day. And I just figured you could use this as a suggestion: in case your mother enjoys cookies, bake for her! Most cookie recipes are simple and don’t require you to be a chef. If you’re not sure about baking, how about cooking dinner for your mother, or invite her for brunch? I’m sure she’d appreciate the gesture and the quality time she’d get to spend with her child/children.
And in case you really lack creativity, go and buy flowers but make sure you do it because it makes you happy to see your mother happy.
And remember to rather show her your gratitude whenever you can instead of buying her flowers once a year.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom” ~Marcel Proust

Bartering Children’s Gear

You might wonder why we decided to write about this specific category. Well, it’s very simple: children’s clothes, toys and other equipment are simply made to be swapped!
Have you ever wondered how fast your child is growing out of those shoes you just recently bought? This can really sum up. And at some point it might be argued that it’s wasted money if you’re buying new things just so your child can wear/use them for a couple of weeks or months.
But when it comes to children’s stuff it’s not only a matter of size. A newborn appreciates other toys than a 4-year old. And different 4-year olds may have different preferences (actually we’re absolutely sure they do!).

So what to do with all the useless toys your child once used to play with? What to do with all the toys and clothes you received as presents but never really used? Get rid of it, and get something you can actually use in exchange. And in order to do so you don’t even have to leave the house. In fact, you don’t have to move at all. Stay right where you are, comfortably seated and click yourself to the perfect trade. We know that being a mother is a full time job so you might appreciate the fact that you don’t have to leave the house to shop for children’s gear. It takes a couple of seconds to connect you to thousands of other mothers who are just as keen to swap and trade as you are. At BarterQuest we even dedicated a club to all mothers. It’s meant to connect you with like-minded women in order to increase your chances of a successful trade, connect you with other mothers, enable you to exchange advice, discuss problems and so on. It’s a platform created for you and meant to be customized by you.

Once your kids are in college, it’s definitely time to get rid of all the children’s stuff you kept “just in case”. Baby cribs, strollers, baby seats and so on. Why let this stuff taking up space in your home? And trust me: your children won’t want to use the same stuff for their children. Passing on baby cribs from generation to generation might seem like a somewhat nice tradition, but in the end it’s far from convenient. Times change and products improve.
So start bartering for children’s gear now and be amazed with how much money you will end up saving. Happy trading!

Celebrate Earth Day with an eco-friendly Lunch!

On Sunday April 22nd, millions of people worldwide will celebrate Earth Day, an event that aims to increase environmental awareness and inspire future generations to encourage the growth of a global green economy.
At BarterQuest we care about the environment and we encourage people to live a more sustainable lifestyle. In order to make a long-term impact on the environment, we have incorporated eco-friendly categories in our website. Our site allows users to redistribute unused items instead of disposing them.

Because we strive to make the planet greener, we decided to actively participate in this event. Therefore we chose to not only switch off the lights and the A/C today, but also to eat organic. But it doesn’t end there; on top of that we were having a vegan lunch! You might ask yourself why eating vegan is so much better for the environment. Well, here are some facts: the amount of land used to grow crops to feed livestock is 10 times we need to grow crops for human consumption. Also, if you consider the feeding, housing, transporting, and slaughtering of animals, and then the packing and transporting of the flesh and products themselves, you’re looking at a tremendous expense and degradation of natural resources.
So we prepared three lovely tasty meals that are not only good for us but also for our planet. Our choices included thai curry, tofu salad with sun dried tomatoes, and protein quesadilla with garden vegetables.

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Are you tempted by this yummy food? Don’t worry here’s the Thai Curry recipe. This healthy and organic meal will fully satisfy your taste buds.

Heat some oil (i.e. olive or canola oil) in a large skillet over high heat.
Add some tofu cubes (you should marinate the tofu with some curry paste, garlic and lemon grass overnight) and fry until golden.
Remove to paper towels and set aside.
Now add some more oil (if necessary) in the same skillet over medium heat.
Add some chopped onion and minced garlic. Then throw in some veggies you like (i.e. eggplant, carrots, zucchini, broccoli) and fry while occasionally stirring.
Now add curry paste and fry for another minute while stirring.
Then pour in some coconut milk. Add lemon grass and let simmer for about half an hour on very low heat. Remove lemon grass, add salt and pepper and cilantro, throw in the tofu cubes and mix everything. Serve over rice. Enjoy!

Make sure to participate in Earth Day Events Sunday April 22nd 2012. But remember, Earth Day is every day. You can make a difference.

Karin and Tiffany

Benefits of Online Bartering

Let’s talk about barter. We all know the concept because we do it all the time. It’s in our genetic program (I believe) to trade and reciprocate. When we were little we swapped sandwiches for lunch, exchanged clothes or accessories, toys and so on. It’s a human instinct to negotiate, compare and trade. Done correctly, it’s a classic win-win situation: both parties gain a benefit.
Bartering is an old concept from the times when there was no currency. You might think now that we have money, things are much less complicated. But in fact they are not. Using money in situations you wouldn’t have to can be a waste. And why not gaining double benefits by finally getting rid of an unwanted item and receiving a needed one instead? By doing so you also contribute to a greener world by conserving resources (basically you recycle).
I’ve talked about bartering in general. Now, what are the concrete benefits of bartering online? Are there benefits at all? And how does that work anyway?
Let me tell you, there are numerous benefits. First of all, thanks to the internet as a driving force of globalization, we can reach people all over the globe – within seconds! This is a very interesting aspect when it comes to trading. The potential group of people you could trade with becomes almost infinitely large. You can basically reach millions of people in split seconds. This brings me to my next point: it’s efficient! There is no longer the need to reach out to people who might have what you want and who might possibly engage in a trade with you and meet them personally. Also, there is no reason to be embarrassed. Being part of a barter network means you’re among like-minded people. We understand people who don’t feel like asking the dentist whether they can pay with apples instead of cash.
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Another aspect that should be considered is the fact that people who join online trading communities come from different backgrounds and join the network for different reasons. This increases the chances for you to find a matching trading partner.
You can basically go online, register (which only takes a few seconds at http://www.barterquest.com) and your successful trade is only a couple of clicks away. You don’t need cash or a credit card, simply ship your item to your trading partner or perform the negotiated service (or provide your Real Estate). Speaking of goods, services and Real Estate: you can barter with all three categories, meaning BQ will let you trade the temporary use of your house with a car or the service of a nanny and so on (you get the idea).
So why don’t you become a member of the BarterQuest network today, make your lifestyle greener, save money and have fun? We’re looking forward to welcome you in our community! http://www.barterquest.com.

Karin

7 Tips for Bartering Products and Services

Originally at http://www.negotiatingtechniques.org/14/7-tips-for-bartering-products-and-services/

Make It Fair Be sure you are both trading a fair value including shipping. It may be neccessary to trade more than one product/service or issue a gift certificate for the remaining amount. Communicate Keep in good contact with the person you are bartering with, both durring and after the trade. Visiting message boards/groups making announcements in appropriate catagories is one way. Many sites also have a special section just for bartering. They need to be managed to determine a common goal, establish objectives and set a course to obtain the desired results. Negotiators and parents can adopt mediation techniques to improve their skills at handling conflict. A mediator delegates responsibilities not only to get the job done but also to give everyone a vested interest in the outcome. By directing and delegating, the mediator effectively makes both parties more equal and more likely to be able to come to an agreement. In the right situation, using inclusion to integrate everyone’s needs into the solution can yield very positive results. Mediators are masters of group manipulation.

They must get warring parties to set aside their differences and reach an accord. Most people are used to being told what is right to do. A mediator is unable to make the decision for the group. He does not function as a judge or jury. He must enable each of the parties to make their own settlement decisions.

team with joined hands

Getting people to do things they would not ordinarily want to do can involve, among other things, manipulation. But this is typically a subset of the use of effective leadership and management skills. While manipulation has a bad connotation of trickery or deceit, it can be simply good negotiating. When managing the negotiating process you are seeking to maneuver the other person into agreeing to your terms. If a little manipulation will get them to consider your arguments is required, then it is well suited to the purpose. Being able to lead others, convincing them to hear what is being said, and to consider options is a mark of a good leader. Tricking others into doing your will is not.

Use of trickery will likely lead to agreements that fall apart after the test of time. In any dispute those involved make up a small group and are subject to traditional group dynamics. Filling this role is what makes mediators effective at resolving disputes.

Shoot Like a Pro! How To Take Better Pictures Of Your Items

We all know that a good picture will most likely increase your chances of successful trading. People want to see a clear and detailed shot of the product. By doing this, you will attract other users and will become a pro at bartering!
Here are some easy steps on how to make your Haves and Wants stand out!
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1. Use natural light
Natural light makes good photos, it’s as simple as that. Take pictures during daytime and avoid using a flash, as it will create unwanted shadows. Natural light will display your item with a good color balance and will attract more BarterQuest users.

2. Shoot from different angles
Get down on one knee, tilt your camera slightly to the right, and shoot. Those are simple angle adjustments that will truly make your items stand out. Using different angles will add depth to your photos, will show all sides of your item, and will enhance your item’s features.
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3. Get in close
Taking close ups of your Goods on BarterQuest is important. To take a nice close up shot, you need to use the Macro button (the flower icon) on your camera. This setting will create a small depth of field, bringing your items in the foreground into sharp focus, and minimizing any distracting elements in the background.

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4. Choose a plain background
Using a white seamless neutral background is the best way to highlight your item’s features. The item must be the first thing that people see when looking at your pictures, there should not be any background clutters. Remember that you are trying to barter for your items. If you do not have a white background, you can always use a poster board, a bed sheet, a light colored wall or even pattern wallpapers.

5. Take multiple shots
You are a beginner at taking attractive pictures, not a problem; just take as many shots of the item as you can. Some of them will turn out to be just great! Members of the BarterQuest community love looking at different pictures before choosing which item they want to barter for. Take a variety of shots using different angles. Posting multiple pictures of your item shows that you are trustworthy and that you have nothing to hide!

You are now a professional at taking beautiful pictures of your listings! Remember that fantastic pictures will increase your chances of finding a trading partner! The more pictures, the better. Now go use your camera and take a picture worth a thousand swaps!

-Tiffany

How to Approach a House Swap

Originally at http://www.allinclusivespringbreak.org/tag/house-swap/

People who do house swapping, and some call it home exchanges, very often discover that it can take them to unexpected places and surprises. You have a new way to meet people and see new places as a local rather than a tourist. You can just throw out all the hotels, too, unless you love paying for them and living in them. We’re going to share some excellent house swapping tips to ensure success with this unique venture.

The most effortless technique for becoming a part of home exchanges is to join a club for house swapping. There are many different organizations that you can seek online, which allow you access to a worldwide membership of individuals who are excited about this type of travel. An annual fee is necessary, however this is generally quite affordable, especially when you think of all the money you’ll be saving by vacationing in this method. You might want to join multiple home exchange organizations to get to know more people and have a better shot of meeting someone to make an agreement with. When you join these agencies, be sure to post a complete profile, including a picture, so people will know who you are. Check the website often for new listings and it won’t take long for you to have complete access to the world of home exchange.

Do you have any ideas at this stage? You may already have guessed that home exchange services is a large field with much to discover. We have found other folks think these points are valuable in their search. Continue reading and you will see what we mean about important nuances you need to know about. So what we suggest is to really try to discover what you need, and that will usually be determined by your circumstances. You have a solid base of a few important points, and we will make that much stronger for you as follows.

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Worries about the other party are usually seen in people new to this process, but yes sometimes you may wonder about the integrity of the people living in your home. As far as we can tell, and know, those who are in agencies are honest people and understand that they need to be respectful with other people’s homes. Still, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for references before letting someone stay in your home. If you own the home, you may want to contact your insurance company to ask if such an arrangement will put you at any risk. Of course if you rent, then it’s really a good idea to let the landlord know what is going on with the house swap. Likewise, don’t be offended if they ask for references or ask you to sign a contract.

You will have more success when your home exchange listing, with the agency, creates the desire to find out more and be open to staying in your home and area. There are two points involved, obviously your house but also the location where you live. Include photos, not only of yourself but of your home and neighborhood. Create a compelling ad by the use of videos of your house, your local area, and include yourself as well. Don’t be afraid to act like a travel agent or chamber of commerce representative for your area. You know what is appealing where you live, and there is someone out there who will agree with you. Talk about the benefits of visiting your area, and then show them why they’ll love it.

There really are a lot of benefits to experiencing the home exchange for travel and fun. You’d be surprised at the numbers of people who do this and enjoy doing it. There are so many positive reasons to try this, and they key is working with a good agency. We urge you to be open about this because it’s such a cool way to travel, so at least look into it.