As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
I’ve been thinking a lot about bartering lately. It seems to be a bit of a lost art. You don’t hear much about bartering anymore, though it is certainly alive and well in some cultures and in various capacities. Have you ever considered bartering or how it might fit into your lifestyle?
What is bartering?
According to Wikipedia:
Barter is a system of exchange where goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money.
That’s simple enough. But, in our culture, I think we forget that bartering is even a possibility. We’re so used to spending money for goods and services.
Ian is studying Old World History this year, and he’s been learning about people groups such as the Phoenicians and the Babylonians. Way back in 6000 BC these people were bartering things like food, spices, and weapons. Salt was another popular item for bartering (as were human skulls! why?!) In fact, Roman soldiers were actually paid for their services in salt!
Bartering continued into the Middle Ages. Europeans traveled all over the globe to trade their furs and crafts for things like silk and perfume. Colonial Americans continued the tradition of bartering, exchanging things like wheat, musket balls, and deer skins.
Bartering had a resurgence of popularity during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, though it took on a bit different form and worked similar to a bank with a debit/credit system.
4 Great Reasons Why YOU Should Barter
It allows you to use your talents
We all have things that we can do that others cannot. Sometimes, because we are so wrapped up in our day-to-day lives, we forget about these talents or we aren’t using them to our full potential. Bartering, though, gives you an opportunity to think about these things that you are good at and how you might use them to benefit yourself and your family.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (NIV, Romans 12:5-8)
It gives you an opportunity to help someone else by filling a need
I’m going to give a personal example for this one, as it is playing out in my life …
Last year, the owner of the beauty salon down the street had posted on Facebook that her daughter was in need of a babysitter one afternoon a week. I got to thinking how nice it would be to have a little one in the house again (my youngest was 9 at the time and Ashley’s days of babysitting at home had come to an end as she had started a full-time job away from home). So, I reached out and offered to help.
As I was trying to think about a reasonable price to charge her, it struck me! The girls and I had been traveling 2 hours away to get our hair cut at my cousin’s salon. Because of some changes in our schedule and lifestyle, this was no longer convenient and became a full-day affair once every couple of months. I loved seeing my cousin and I loved the way she cut my hair, but it was costing us much more than just haircuts – it was costing us gas money, lunch money, etc.
Could we possibly barter? I could babysit for her in exchange for haircuts, manicures, etc. When I presented the idea, it was well-received and we’ve been bartering ever since! Brian keeps a spreadsheet to keep track of how many hours I keep the kids and then deletes out any services that we have done at the salon. It’s been working out great! And no money has been exchanged in almost a year! We are each filling a need in the other’s life.
It saves money
This point is pretty obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. While we aren’t back in the Great Depression, we are definitely in an economic recession and lots of people are struggling financially. If you can’t afford to pay your bills, then you definitely can’t afford the extras. So, why not find some opportunities for bartering? Maybe you can actually save some money!
It’s a good example to your children
Children live what they learn. They do what they see us do. If they see us using our time and talents to help others, with no money exchanged, then they will grow up and look for opportunities to do the same. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids to think that it’s all about money. Life is so much more and can be much more fulfilling when money isn’t involved at all!
While I am babysitting in exchange for services at the hair salon, it’s actually providing so much more for my family. My son, who is the baby in our household, suddenly becomes the big kid. He is learning how to share his things, pick up after himself (unless he wants his things in the hands of a toddler), be kind to younger children, and be an example by his words and actions. My daughter, who is a teenager now and not the least bit interested in little ones, can use the opportunity when they are here to learn more about child development, etc. which can, in turn, look great on a high school transcript.
Examples of goods and services for bartering
There are so many, many things that you can use for bartering! I cannot even share the tip of the iceberg, but here are a few thing that immediately pop into my head. I’d love to hear YOUR ideas!
- Clothing – kids’ hand-me-downs or clothes you no longer wear/need
- Household items
- Educational items
- Food – goodies from your garden, freezer, canning shelves, fruit trees, etc.
- Sewing – sewing, mending, quilting, etc.
- Woodworking – furniture, carving, cut-outs for a crafter, etc.
- Cleaning services – clean someone’s house, a church, and office, etc.
(personal example: my best friend used to clean my house in exchange for a delicious lunch that I would prepare while she cleaned. We got to sit down and enjoy lunch together, I got to cook, and she got to clean – things we both enjoyed doing anyway!)
- Financial – help someone set up a monthly budget, do their taxes, etc.
- Childcare – on a regular basis (as mentioned above) or on an as-needed basis (to allow a young couple a night out, etc.)
- Teaching/tutoring – use your talent in a homeschool co-op or to tutor a child who is struggling in a certain area
- Music lessons
- Cooking/Baking – make meals or freezer meals to share, cake decorating, etc.
- Yard work
- Technical – helping fix computers, electronics, etc.
- Beauty – hair, nails, make-up. etc.
- Planning – help someone plan an upcoming event or trip
(here is where I tell you that I’d be happy to help you plan your trip to Walt Disney World!)
What else can YOU think of?
How will you incorporate bartering into your life? Or, maybe you already have. If so, I’d love to hear examples of your bartering.