Bartering: Get the Services You Need With Cashless Exchanges

When you’re a Frugalite, bartering is an excellent way to get the services you need without parting with your hard-earned cash. Today, I am going to share some examples of cashless exchanges from my own life. As you will see, bartering can cut down on the amount of cash you need to spend. I will also share useful ideas for bartering whether you live in the big city or the country. 

Why bartering?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines bartering as “to exchange goods for other things for other things rather than for money.” I like this definition because it is simple and to the point.  

For me, there are many reasons I prefer to participate in cashless exchanges. First, I don’t have a lot of cash! So, that means I need to get creative sometimes about how to make things happen on the homestead. Second, cashless exchange is more in keeping with my values: I believe in community, buying local where I live, and nurturing relationships. When I emphasize cashless exchange in my local dealings, I can live by my values, which is more satisfying to me. 

One bartering week in my life

I think I can give a much better picture of what bartering means to me by sharing three examples of bartering from one week of my life below: 

#1 Lumber pick up and delivery for a gate kit

What did I need? More wood for my house build. However, I own a frugally purchased compact car and the wood strapping I needed was twelve feet long. Very difficult to do! Last week, I made an attempt to call my lumber supplier to see if they would be willing to deliver my lumber for free, as I was ordering a large amount (attempted bartering!). When I didn’t hear back from them, I contacted a friend with a truck. He helped me go and pick the lumber up. While he didn’t want to be paid cash, he was very happy to receive a hardware kit to make a gate out of 2 by 4 lumber. Why was this a good trade for me? I didn’t want to run out of wood this weekend. I no longer needed this gate kit. It was $50 regular price, but I had gotten it on sale. I knew my friend is planning to build a fence for some pigs soon. My friend was happy and I was happy. (I also made him a nice cup of coffee and served up some pumpkin pie!)

#2 Bartering organic Roma tomatoes for chili sauce

Every year, I drop off a huge number of my organic roma tomatoes to a friend of my aunt’s, Ellen. Why would I give away my treasured produce, which took so much work to grow? Ellen makes the best chili sauce I have ever tasted! The past few years, harvest time has been complicated by my commitment to my house build. I simply can’t do everything. I would love to spend entire days just canning my tomatoes four different ways. Nope! This year, I am very busy preparing the exterior of the house to install the steel siding. 

By giving Ellen something that she needs (roma tomatoes), I am able to get something that I don’t have time to make myself, and that is quite expensive to buy. She is quite generous with the number of jars she gives me. This year, I dropped of three grocery bags full of roma tomatoes. In the winter, when I eat Ellen’s chili sauce on my scrambled eggs on toast, I smile and think about how I was able to put my roma tomatoes to work. It is worth noting that the first year I did this exchange with Ellen, she was insisting that she pay me cash for the tomatoes. Now, we both enjoy the cashless exchange as an annual tradition.

 #3 Offering snow tires for free online

After the untimely passing of my beater car, Rosie, I had some snow tires that still had a bit of life left in them. Hoping to help someone in need, I posted these for free on our local FB 24-7 garage sale groups. I had one interested person who was willing to trade me an aloe vera plant or a Christmas cactus for the tires. In the end, this cashless exchange didn’t work out, as they lived a bit far away. However, I thought that was neat that they wanted to offer a trade for something posted for free.

Bartering tips

  • Even when making cash transactions, consider what you might be able to barter for. Placing a large order: Will they deliver for free? Able to pay cash: Are they willing to reduce the price?
  • Always try to make a trade where both parties are very happy. Your reputation depends on this! Trading with friends can be easier, because I know what they like. I always try to give a bit more than I receive. 
  • Even if someone has something posted for sale they are asking cash for, it never hurts to message them and see if they might take a trade. 
  • Many sales-related websites like Craigslist or Kijiji have FREE sections. In times of need, I have checked these many times a day and have gotten some great stuff this way.
  • Looking for something? Don’t be shy! Write a post about what you are looking for and take advantage of the built-in audience these websites have. I once posted I was looking for summer tires on an auto-related FB group. One reader took the time to let me know about someone he knew who might have some. It never hurts to put it out there! 

Let’s trade ideas!

[Editor: Please note that the government wishes to be informed of these transactions.]

As you can tell, I love bartering and trading. Now that you have read my ideas, could you see yourself trying any of the bartering tips offered here? Do you have some of your own ideas for bartering you can share with us? Perhaps you could offer to sew up all those holey jeans in exchange for a service you need. Let’s talk about bartering in the comments section.  

Bartering: Get the Services You Need With Cashless Exchanges


Colette is a seventh-generation farmer and homesteader. She grew up in the suburbs of a large Canadian city, but spent summers in her childhood visiting her family farm. She has worked professionally as a researcher and writer for decades, all the while travelling the world. She always knew she would return to the area near her family farm in Eastern Ontario, Canada and is now happily living not far from there on her Half-Acre Homestead. Soon, she will be launching a website full of tips for Frugalites and homesteaders alike. If you subscribe to the Frugalite email list, keep an eye on your inbox to be one of the first to see it!

4 thoughts on “Bartering: Get the Services You Need With Cashless Exchanges”

  1. When I ran a search on “barter exchanges”, the floodgates opened. Here are just a few examples:

    36 Bartering & Swapping Websites – Best Places to Trade Stuff Online

    Four Things You Should Know if You Barter (if you are subject to the US IRS)

    Barter News: the official journal of the reciprocal trade industry

    Examples of Barter Transactions

    What is the CES? The Community Exchange System

    BisX and barter exchanges

    ABE: America’s Barter Exchange

    The software to create your own online barter exchange

    How to start a neighborhood barter club

    And much much more.


    1. Hi Lewis, you are a wealth of information, as always! Thank you so much for taking the time to share these links with interested readers. I have a feeling that these will be very useful in times to come. I ran out of space in this article, but actually am hoping to write a piece on our own neigbourhood barter club, as getting something like that in place now could also be quite useful. Much appreciated! I have a feeling you would be an interesting person to chat with over a cup of coffee. Your contributions to this community are much appreciated.

  2. Depending on your country of residence, the first rule of barter might be the same as the first rule of Fight Club. One can always ask for a cash discount (when not dealing with a big box etc) – worst answer is no. Gifting is nice also .

    1. Hi Selena, YES!!!! I could not agree more. Why not ask? You might be pleasantly surprised. Gifting is always nice and I always aim to give more than I receive. Thanks for your thoughts!

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