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Whether you live in the country or the city, you may be able to save money by bartering creatively. If you have a budget and are working hard to live BELOW your means, then bartering for goods could help you get there. Simply put, you can use your cash for items already in your budget and then receive/get other items or services you want or need by trading your own goods or services with others.
In order to demonstrate how this might work, I am going to share an example from my own local community. There is a local volunteer exchange network here called “Sharing Hands” that people can informally give to and then take from as they need it. One of the administrators of the program stated that the most common requests that come to this program are rides for people without cars and meal preparation for people who are ill or unable to do this for themselves.
In order to provide some security for all involved, all members of the network need to provide a recent police security check. This is provided by local police stations. There may or may not be a charge associated with this service. Because I was technically considered a volunteer, mine was free.
How contributing to this network saved me money
I own a car, and many people were making requests for rides. When I was already planning to drive to the nearest town (banking, lower-cost groceries, etc.), I could be paired with a local person who needed a drive. The network then offered me a modest amount of cash or a gas station gift card as a thank you. While people in larger cities can do an exchange like this through Lyft or Uber, these services are not commonly used in my rural area. So, in this way, I was able to help local people in need and benefit from owning my car by being able to reduce my gas expenses for my regular car trips.
Other times, I did not receive any cash or gift cards for driving people to medical appointments or court dates. However, when I was sick a while ago and was too ill to go out and buy groceries, I was able to call the network and have chicken soup and other food items dropped by my tiny home at no charge. I considered this a withdrawal from the service against my other contributions.
Want to try bartering but don’t belong to a group?
One quick way to get started is to access an existing group. On social media platforms, there are many local Buy- and-Sell groups. Many are identified by a town or city area and something like “24/7 Yard Sale” and the like. Some are even specialized to vehicles and parts, such as “Cars, Trucks, and Bikes” in our local area. I have found some identify themselves by the local phone area code, such as “416 Cars Trucks and Bikes.” Apparently, there are many regional bartering groups starting up on Telegram. You may also want to check those out.
This is a great opportunity to test the waters. I have seen many posts in groups like this where someone is looking for a trade. Hurray: bartering!
Now, let’s look at some examples of ways to save money using such informal groups.
You have a service
Say you want to save money on gas. (Don’t we all?) You could post that you’re willing to take passengers to destinations you’re already heading.
You could say you’re open to trades and see what people have to offer. Another common trade with regard to driving? Carpooling! We have many carpooling parking lots locally where people meet up and save gas by driving together.
Don’t be afraid to be creative here! I recently saw a job ad for an on-call overnight pet sitter locally. If I had a pet and needed to be out of town every once in a while, I might have called them up and applied, saying that I would trade on-call pet sitting for them in exchange for pet sitting for my dog when I needed it. Pet sitting is expensive!
You have a skill
Don’t be shy! Everyone has a skill they can barter for. You can cook? Someone quite busy might like a homemade casserole every week. You can clean? Organizing and cleaning services are always getting hits and comments on the Buy-and-Sell groups I read. You’re a writer? Some people might like a custom poem to celebrate a special event, or they might like their grandmother’s journals transcribed and edited. You could post your skill and say you’re open to trades, or you could post with a specific goal in mind, such as saving money on a plumbing job.
You have something that you want to get rid of
I see a lot of posts on the “Car, Truck, and Bike” groups where someone has a toy they want to trade. Do you have a motorcycle you’re no longer driving, but you’d love to try snowmobiling? You could post for a trade. That old car on blocks in the yard? Someone might like it for parts. What do YOU need? You could post a list of items and parts you have available and let people know what you’re looking for. You never know!
You make stuff
These days, it’s great to be a producer rather than a consumer. It gives you options. If you already make jams in the summer and fall, what if you made an extra batch? You could post this on a local Buy-and-Sell and see what people are willing to trade for.
For several years, I have traded my extra Roma tomatoes to my friend Beth in exchange for her homemade chili sauce. I can only can so much! I give quite a lot to the local food bank as well.
My bartering experience with Beth’s homemade chili sauce took a bit of coaxing. After I had first tasted her sauce, it was so delicious that I approached her right away. Would she be interested in trading my organic homegrown Romas for chili sauce? At first, she was reluctant to trade and wanted to pay me, as she did not have any experience with bartering. I assured her she could just provide me with however many jars she felt were fair. She was more than generous! Each year, I look forward to enjoying Beth’s tasty chili sauce with my scrambled eggs. I save a lot of money by trading something that I can’t use myself.
Willing to trade comments……for responses!
Bartering can be a great way to keep your cash in your pocket and still get what you need. Could you see yourself trying any of the creative bartering tips offered here? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!