Great Savings 9: Swap Goods, Time and Talent


As a kid, did you ever trade something like baseball cards for an old catcher’s glove? Or as an adult have you traded your time or a special talent with a friend?  For example, suppose you know all about tools and your friend is basically clueless about fixing things. Have you offered to help with a project in exchange for something he or she can do for you? Trading like this is one form of barter. Bartering is basically the exchange of goods or services without the direct use of cash. And it turns out barter is a great way to save thousands over the long run.


Another great savings tip from days, more and more people are turning to barter as a way to survive. Yet even if you have a decent income, bartering may still make sense. After all, who besides the very wealthy have so much money they don’t need to worry about saving a few bucks?


Barter services.

A strong back goes a long ways when it comes to barter. Just about everyone needs a hand doing something.

Bartering comes in various forms. You might trade an item you own for something a friend or acquaintance owns. Or you might trade something you do or own for something your friend is particularly good at. These types of transactions are called one-to-one direct trades.


There's really no limit to the services you can trade.

If you like pets you can always find those who need to leave them in loving hands over a holiday.

A problem with direct barter comes up when one of the two parties involved has nothing immediately available to trade. This issue is the whole reason money came about in the first place. We can store value in our currency and use it to trade at a later date. In fact, some groups create special “barter currency” of their own and use it just like cash. The difference is the currency is generally worthless the minute you want to use it outside the group.


Over the last several years bartering has become more sophisticated and more convenient. Even if you don’t have something you can trade today, you can still barter. How? Through a barter exchange.



A barter exchange is essentially a third party that gets involved in a barter transaction to facilitate it. The bigger the exchange—meaning the more members that belong to it—the greater the chance to successfully make trades. For this reason, online barter exchanges have become quite popular. To learn more about barter and barter exchange and to see a list of organizations who specialize in it check the International Reciprocal Trade Association’s website.


Even singers and dancers can trade services.

If you have a talent, you'd be surprised at the number of people who might have something they'd trade.

There are really no limits on what you might barter. And every time you trade without cash, that’s money you have to spend on other items or save for a rainy day. Let’s look at a couple examples to see how this might play out: Suppose you’re a good writer and need a baby sitter.  Maybe your friend without kids has plenty of time, but needs help finding a job.  Why not agree to exchange sitting for a new resume?  Or maybe you cook and are lousy with taxes, but your friend’s an accountant who loves to eat. Can you offer to trade a few meals or deliver ready to cook dinners in exchange for help filing your return? Or say, you’re sitting on a garage full of junk. Lot’s of people may be interested in trading some of their stuff for yours. Why not ask around and give trading a try?


Barter comes in all shapes and sizes.

Lots of people need a break from or help with cooking. Know a senior? Find out what they might trade for a meal.

By figuring out what things you need or those you wish to part with, or what you and your friends do best, you can agree to a worthwhile exchange and save a bundle in the long run.  If you don’t have a friend who can help out with a particular task, or if you don’t want to bother with an online exchange, consider placing a free ad on Craigslist in the For Sale Barter section.


One final note: Bartering won’t help you avoid taxes. The IRS has rules on barter income so you’ll want to check those out. To learn more from the IRS click here.


Action Item: Think up a task you have difficulty with and several others you’re good at. Now poll your friends and find out if anyone wants to make a trade.


For more Great Savings Tips click here.

One Response to Great Savings 9: Swap Goods, Time and Talent

  • Julie says:

    That’s a very inspiring article, thank you. I was hesitant when it came to bartering in the past, but I made up my mind after bartering dog walking for veggies and fresh eggs with a neighbor. Bartering is natural and it’s convenient. Plus it saves you lots of money and makes you recycle things, which might make your lifestyle a little greener. Because you need to start somewhere. I suggest, I’ve been using it for years now and I’m very happy with it.


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