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9 Tips For Successful �Community Barter�

Kathy Peel, author of The Busy Mom�s Guide to a Happy, Organized Home and founder of Family Manager Inc., offers these tips if a little short on time and money.

         Team up with a co-worker. Monday and Wednesday dinners, you both cook in double portions and pack the extra in coolers. The next day you take that portion to the office. Now on Tuesday and Thursday nights you�re both off kitchen duty without grabbing fast food on the way home.

         Trade housework for decorating tasks. Suggest to a friend that you will help her paint her child�s bedroom if she helps you wallpaper a bathroom.

         Host a swap party. Decide on a theme like toys, baby equipment or costume jewelry. Invite friends to bring a few items along to swap. Without spending a cent, everyone goes home with something �new.�

         Trade out chores with a friend. You have a green thumb but your closets look like they were hit by a hurricane. Your neighbor has a black thumb but makes quick work of cluttered closets. You plant her winter flowers and veggies. She streamlines your pantry and garage: You both spread the beauty.

         Launch a dinner club with other couples. Take turns playing celebrity chef, entertain at home, and skip the pricey restaurants.

         Use your gifts. You�re a below-average cook but you wrap presents like Picasso paints. Tell a friend you�ll wrap her gifts if she�ll bake your family�s holiday treats. Done and done.

         Co-op on the kids. Ask three moms with like-aged children to join a holiday baby-sitting co-op. Each mom entertains the kids for a few hours on one of four days. Everybody saves on sitter costs and gains personal time to shop and run errands.

         Clean up on cleaning up. When you spiff up your home for a party or guests, ask a neighbor doing the same to split the rental cost of a carpet-cleaning machine.

         Traveling over the holidays? Ask a friend to come to your home to feed, water and exercise your pet. Return the favor and you both save on boarding fees.

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