Bartering is truly a lost art. It’s origins date back to 6000 BC with the Mesopotamia tribes. Since then civilizations throughout history have bartered everything from clam shells to rice to blankets. Agreements were sealed with a handshake and promises were (usually) kept.
Today’s modern man can also learn how to barter. Yes, it’s still a real thing! In a world where people are looking to stretch their dollar and live on less, bartering is one of the hippest new ways to save a buck while still providing for your own needs and wants. It’s not only effective but can be fun and challenging as you look for more ways to exchange goods or services without using money.
I too have embraced the art of bartering in recent years. Want a free babysitter you can trust with your kids? Try bartering babysitting services with a friend. This is one of the best ways I have learned to save money while still getting some much needed work done during the day. A dear friend and I trade babysitting. She is a photographer – I often watch her kids when she has client shoots. I am a professional organizer and blogger and freelance writer (and self-proclaimed mom boss). I relish the time away from the kids so I can get some serious work done. And we also manage to fit in our own dentist and doctor appointments in with bartering too.
And the best part is anyone can learn to barter! You too can take some notes from the early Mesopotamian tribes and learn how to become an expert barterer. Below are some of my best tips on how to save money by learning how to barter.
Before you begin bartering, you first have to discover the goods and services you can trade for. Begin by brainstorming some ideas. What are you good at? (I have a friend that is an amazing marketer and traded social media management services for interior design advice) What’s your schedule like? (I am home during the days so babysitting was an easy fit) What do you have to offer? (Think of what’s lying around your house – old vehicles or boats, beautiful hostas you could split, antique collector’s pieces) What do you enjoy doing? (Some people make to-die-for jam, others love to clean and some people are excellent painters)
Make a list of what you can bring to the bartering table.
Be on the Look Out for Bartering Opportunities
The best opportunities often come in unexpected ways. It may be a friend complaining about a certain problem they need to solve. It could be a person on a buy, sell, trade site that is selling something you want. It could even be with your kids (maybe they want a new gaming system and you want a clean garage). There are many circumstances that could lead to a conducive bartering deal you just need to be open to the possibilities.
Always Be Clear on the Deal
When it comes to bartering, there is no room for gray areas. You need to make sure both you and the other person are a 100% clear on the details of the deal. Set time frames, be honest about a condition of an item, show examples of your past work. The best deals are ones in which both parties are satisfied with the results and that can only happen when there is clear and open communication. This is no time to be a wilting flower. Be upfront always… it will save you a lot of grief down the road.
Don’t Settle for Deals You aren’t Comfortable With
Never settle for a deal you think isn’t fair. If you feel like you are getting the raw end of the deal, you won’t fully embrace and enjoy the process. I never jump to a decision right away. If someone asks me about a possible trade, I think about it. I may even talk it over with my spouse or ask a friend for their opinion. Be comfortable with each and every barter you enter into… always.
Sometimes it’s a Handshake & other times it’s a Contract
Depending on how well you know the person, you want to consider the most appropriate way to “seal the deal”. My friend and I were fine with “our word” that we would each hold up our end of the bargain. If you don’t know the person well, you may want to consider a written agreement. This could be done in email or putting actual pen to paper. Just make sure to include all the details so there is little room for questioning.
Keep It Simple & Fun
Bartering should be simple and fun. Don’t go beyond your comfort zone and let’s say barter your kitchen remodel (unless you really want to). Start small. It could be someone selling baby clothes that you could exchange for a Keurig you never use. Or maybe it’s a friend that makes amazing crochet scarfs you want to use as Christmas gifts. Offer to pet sit when she goes on vacation. Once you get more comfortable with the bartering process itself you can start looking for bigger and better opportunities.
So what you could you do with a couple extra bucks? Once you begin bartering, you’ll start to notice a more padded checking account while also enjoying a greater sense of purpose. Put those funds to good use by adding to your rainy day fun, paying off those pesky debts or saving for a dream vacation.
Best of luck on your bartering adventures and feel free to contact me with your questions!