There are a number of dedicated bartering sites on the web, such as u-exchange.com and cracker.com.au, but you don’t need to go online to try bartering. Setting up a bartering group with friends, family and neighbours can be fun and will quickly demonstrate the great variety of services available in your local area.
How to Set Up a Barter Group
A simple way of setting up a barter group with friends is to create a shareable database which lists members and the skills or services they have to offer. One way to do this is by getting each member of the group to download a program (or mobile app) like Dropbox, which is free to use. Within your shared online space, create a database file called “Bartering” and invite each new member to share this folder with you. By doing this, everyone who joins your group will have access to the file, and be able to update or add information.
Identifying Skills to Barter With
If the idea of bartering appeals to you, you’ll need to identify your own skills and abilities. An easy way to do this is to make a list of any professional skills you have, along with any hobbies or interests that you are particularly good at. Mine would start out looking something like this :
Professional Skills : Writing, Cookery
Hobbies : Tarot Card Reading, Flower Arranging, Pet Care
Once you have a list, cross out anything that you don’t want to be doing in your free time, because bartering is something you should enjoy! The next step is to look at those skills you want to offer, and figure out how they could be useful to others. For example, I could offer C.V. and letter writing services, or perhaps dog-walking. Remember, skills can include arts and crafts – I know of one woman who successfully barters with her beautiful hand-made soaps.
Getting Started with Bartering
The main issue with bartering is finding someone who has the appropriate skills to help you, and wants to exchange that skill for something you have to offer. This is why a database, or some other form of shared master list, is a good idea to keep things organised and help people get linked up.
When you connect with someone who you would potentially like to barter with, your negotiation skills will come into play. One scenario that you are likely to come across is when one barter participant needs a service which has a greater “value” than any service they can offer. In most cases, this can be resolved by the lower value service being offered over an extended time – for example a whole month’s laundry service, in exchange for that normally costly mechanic job on your car.
If you decide to go ahead with an exchange, you may find it helpful to make a basic written contract between participants. This should state the services being swapped and a date by which the exchange must be completed. Making a written agreement ensures that both parties are clear about what the exchange involves and their obligations, preventing later disagreements.
More than Swapping Skills
One of the best things about bartering within your neighbourhood is that it helps to build a greater sense of community. Modern lifestyles often mean that there are people who do not have much opportunity to make contact with their neighbours, and asking them to participate in your barter scheme can make them feel included and involved.
Bartering puts people on an equal level – whether you are a stay at home mum, a bank manager or a student, you will have some skill which others will value. The connections formed with people when you barter can be life-enriching, so give it a try; you may be surprised to discover skills that you never knew your friends had.
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Category: Saving Money
About the Author (Author Profile)
Beck Middleton is a freelance writer who enjoys finding new ways to save money, while still getting the most out of life. Having bought a 110 year old property in 2010, Beck and her husband are stepping up to the challenges of renovating and updating their home whilst keeping to a budget. In her free time, Beck also spends time reading, gardening and picnics in the countryside.