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How To Barter

By James Stout,  Former Writer for BarterNews magazine

The techniques of bartering.

  1. If the idea of "do-it-yourself barter" is scary, practice in front of a mirror. What will we say to the television technician when we want to exchange our carpentry work for his or her repair? We can rehearse our explanation of bartering, and also an description of our skills and goods.
  2. Start small. Until we are comfortable and skilled, we might swap only our less-expensive items -- not our car or expensive jewelry.
  3. Watch other people while they conduct a trade. Perhaps we can observe a friend who likes to barter, or we can eavesdrop at a flea market.
  4. Barter for some tutoring in the art of barter. An experienced trader can offer personal instruction, and an opportunity to practice.
  5. Register for classes in the subject. The topic might be listed in the curriculum of an adult-education program or a community college.
  6. Read more information about bartering. There are many books, magazine articles, and website on this topic. On the web, do a search on the word "barter."
  7. Refer to the list of books on the subject in Books In Print, at a library.
  8. Read the printed material from your barter club. The manual and newsletters might present some techniques.

We can negotiate the deal. Learn to be a good negotiator so that you can be strong and creative while you are creating a deal.

  1. Make a list of other people who might want to trade. Then, if we can't come to terms with the first person, we can quickly go to someone else. If we reach the end of our list with no success, we can go back to the first prospect with a different proposition. That person might be willing to accept a lower offer -- or perhaps we might accept a lower offer.
  2. Plan your visit so that you will be there when your barter partner is most likely to accept the trade. For instance, we would offer our motorcycle during the spring season, or our tutoring just before exams, or our income-tax counseling in early winter.
  3. Get estimates. Do some comparison-shopping by calling a variety of people. They will each have different values regarding their work, and different values regarding your barterable; for example, two carpenters might offer to do a job for $125 and $150. But in a non-cash exchange, the values might be more subjective; for example, one carpenter might be willing to do the work in exchange for our stained-glass artwork, but the other might not want the item at all.
  4. Offer a "boot," which is an additional, irresistible item which we add to a deal. For example, we would say, "I will give you the stove, and I'll add the pots and pans."
  5. Try a multiple-sided trade. For example, in a three-sided trade, we would give a modem to the trombone teacher who instructs the mechanic who fixes our car.