Bartering: The Art of Shopping Without Money..

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Bartering: The Art of Shopping Without Money..

 Installing Roof Panels Bartering…what exactly is it? It’s simply the act of exchanging goods or services you own or do yourself, for someone else’s goods or services with no exchange of actual money involved. Frankly, we’ve been doing it for years! I just recently bartered the cost of skiing for two days and hotel and gas from Colorado to Texas for my son and myself with a friend in exchange for a few days of ‘organizational’ help this summer. I’ve done several houses. I don’t have a business…but word gets out. I have to give credit for this idea to a lady whose post discussed this topic. Her website is the Hillbilly Housewife and she wrote this article with great links I might add on this subject.  She had never done it herself, but thought it was an idea worth exploring. As I commented on her blog, I realized that I had done this for years, I just had never thought about before as being a ‘planned’ activity!
rebekah teaches sewing
A Good Exchange: Organizing for Decorating Another friend asked if I would help her organize her paperwork and files and re-arrange her office in exchange for helping me paint the sewing room. She’s great at home decor and design..but not so good at organizing. It was funny, but when I sat down to discuss her dilemma with the paperwork, I soon discovered that the idea of filing A to Z had not yet occurred to her! My jaw literally dropped wide open and she just started laughing…”I just don’t think that way Donna!”  It was pretty interesting trying to come up with a system that made sense to her, yet had some elements of A to Z filing in it. She was thrilled with her new filing cabinet, and after I drew up a better floor plan…with a good focal point, she was really happy with the room and re-painted it. It looks good enough to publish in a magazine.
Frankly, bartering really is just a lifestyle for us, as I think it can be for most people.  So how do you get started?
Lena and rebekah
Take stock of your skills. Can you clean, babysit, pet sit, groom, sew, paint, take good photos (like for graduations or special occasions? )What about hubby? Can he do yard work, accounting, repair work, car repair or maintenance, computer administration?  You’d be surprised how much you can do that would be useful to others. These skills are always needed! Frankly, I do a lot of mending and altering of clothes for my friend Laurie, because she spends a lot of time on the phone with my son and preparing for speech and debate meetings as his coach. She pretty much has an unlimited bank account for my services as far as I’m concerned!
tim at work
Get the Word out--Start doing things for free!! Volunteer  your services. Pretty soon, everyone knows that you are good at computer repair, sewing, cake decorating, organizing, pie baking,  landscaping, haircutting, bread baking or photography. Guess who they will call when they don’t want to have to pay ‘professional fees’ for a job?  Not only that, I can’t tell you how many things we have been given because we helped someone move! Not only do you get the joy of helping others, but very often, you get their leftovers!  I can’t wait to do a makeover of a beautiful garden bench that a friend gave me when we helped her move. This same friend, gave me the bobbin winder that I just gave away in our drawing. And we got a printer, monitor, and scanner too!
photos for blog April 049
Advertise your services among friends or the community Let them know that you  are open to trade…on your home school email loop, church email loop, subdivision newsletter or Craig’s list.  Say we need this item: Here are our services…Can you help us? You never know, until you ask. And now people know you are open to bartering.  At our church, we actually have a list of services that we can provide each other. We often do things for free, but because we are on the list, people are always calling us wanting to make a trade. I love it!  One of my favorite barters was when I sewed and designed a new cover for my friend’s bay window cushion in exchange for her husband repairing the motor of our car door window. I loved that because I not only got the repair done for free–it was a doozy! But I learned a valuable new skill. And the cushion turned out fine though it did require some ingenuity on my part. Not to mention the challenge the Fryes faced trying to weld the motor in the car door in place. All in all, it was a great trade!
  hair cutting 2
Extended Family: A Great Place to Start! My mom and I regularly trade off. Sometimes she pays me to do big jobs like cleaning and organizing her house for an entire week. (I bought my sewing machine and living room rug that weekend!) But she helps me with room makeovers and I sew drapes and other things (like furniture covers) for her. She is the queen of bartering and I learned from the best.  My sister taught me how to make soap one weekend in exchange for me sewing a banner for her Renaissance faire booth.
What's for dinner 
What about Goods for Goods? What can you make or bake? Who do you know who could make something that you need?  I make homemade gift items all the time. Those items would be great to trade with friends who make gift cards, jewelry, soap, etc. That way, we can give gifts that aren’t always in our area of expertise. Or perhaps you can offer your items in exchange for a friend’s service. Offer something of value on Craig’s list and tell them what you need. You never know until you try!
car repair altered

Sometimes you just need to ask!! Tim and I were facing a car repair that cost $1500.00. Since we were trying to get out of debt, this would have been a huge set back! I heard, through the grapevine, that our church was considering buying 12 huge worship banners for our ‘church in a school’ to make the school room look more worshipful on Sundays. I had never done a project that big  before, but I did some quick research and knew that I could do it for much less!I called them and made them an offer: I would  design and sew the  twelve  3′ x 5′ worship banners for our church for half the going rate. (I knew the materials would only be about $50.00 each.)  They were going to pay $300.00 each! I was paid exactly enough to pay off the repair and it was such a rewarding project too! I just called them up and begged for the job. And it worked…it kept us out of debt too!
Weddings, graduations, Moving and other big events are a great time to barter! Not only in my own wedding but also in my daughter-in-laws’ weddings, most of the work was done by friends at low cost except for the supplies! Sewing, flowers, music, decor, and photos…even the cake and rehearsal dinner--it can all be done cheaper by asking your friends for help and making sure you are there to help them too.
So the next time you are tempted to go shopping or are considering how to pay for a major service, stop for just a minute and think, “Is there someone I know who could do this cheaper? Is there someone who might want my services, that could do this or get this for me?  Bartering is really just one form of community life and one that, in these financially stressful times, is well worth reviving!
What do you think? Have you ever bartered yourself? We’d all love to hear your experiences with this kind of thing!


Laura said...

Mornin' Donna,
I LOVE this post...we have been doing this for years as well! We live on a private dirt road on the coast...and most of our neighbors are "summer" fact, our closest neighbor (quite a distance through the woods) is a multi-millionaire and owns a plantation down south! My boys often get calls to help with exchange for something special. Lawn mowing and house sitting put my oldest boys through college (sometimes they were paid...but often times they were given items that they could then resell or barter for something else!) We love your craiglist (or in our area...its "Uncle Henrys") suggestion. My youngest son has a dog-sitting service...and he has bartered for all sorts of goods and services...trips, hunting equipment, parts for the antique truck he is building from scratch. It is the one of the most wonderful ways to teach your children the value of something.
You have such a wonderful blog...keep going, girl!

Dana Leeds said...

Wow! Again, I'm amazed at what you do and how you do it. I don't think I've ever bartered for anything... well, when my daughter was younger I sometimes swapped "babysitting" duties with a few other moms. Anyway, these are great ideas!

Hills N Valleys said...

That is awesome!

This fall I did some hemming for a homeschool mom/friend that is a photographer. She gave me a super duper deal on a photo session!

Maria Killam said...

I loved this post and the pictures you showed. You are so talented and resourceful Donna, my favourite story was the A-Z one! We all have our areas of expertise that's for sure!

Geetha Srinivasan said...

Very thoughtful blog Donna.
And thanks for stopping by.

BTW please keep this little girl in your prayers.

Diana Ferguson said...

Great ideas!!!

Caroline said...

Great post.

Several friends have asked me to make skirts for them this summer after seeing my photos that I posted on facebook. I'm using them for practice - who knows what it will turn into?

Your wedding story brought back great memories of ours ... The church ladies did our reception (We bought the ingredients as instructed); we grilled out for our rehearsal dinner (a couple of friends manned the grills - we supplied the meat and people brought side dishes), a friend who was just getting into making cakes made our cake (she has since started a business doing this); another friend who had been the photographer for the campus paper did our photos for the cost of film ... we only had to buy flowers, a tent in case it rained (which it didn't) my dress and my girls dresses and a couple of things for the groomsmen, my mom's plane ticket ... it was a wonderful wedding and so much fun to have so many people who loved us that much and wanted to help with our wedding.

Thanks for bringing back those memories!!

grace said...

I really really love the idea of more bartering and less money. It's very difficult to get started with when you don't already have a tight-knit community.

My best barters have actually been online--especially things that I have thrifted for others' homemade goods (I don't knit or sew, but I love homemade stuff). It feels so much better to trade than to buy and sell!

Donna said...

Frankly Grace, whatever it takes that lets us encourage skipping the money step or sidestepping the malls is frugal in my book! Great job!

Laura, that is so neat! Thanks for the encouragement!

You all are so sweet to leave such nice comments! Thanks!

“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Sangster

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