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Rewards From Bartering

                                                          By James Stout, Writer for BarterNews 

We gain many personal rewards.  

  1. It is a personalized way to do business. Although barter is basically a commercial transaction -- particularly when we are simply using units instead of dollars -- one-to-one bartering can bring out the humanness of people. Some barterers say that barter is "a game," an emotional exchange, a genuine transaction -- personal, humanistic, creative, holistic. Barterers tend to have a spirit of adventure, openness, flexibility, and hope. These people are willing to invest themselves in the emotional contact of the non-aggressive haggling.
  2. Bartering encourages us to examine our values. Abstract dollars don't directly express the effort which was expended to earn them. But when we are trying to trade our home-grown grapefruits for a woman's knitted scarf, we might feel our values more clearly, as we see both sides of the trade. The values are personal, flexible, and spontaneous; we explore them as we go along, out of a sensitivity to our feelings and our interaction with this other person.
  3. We learn about trust. When two people are bartering commodities, the exchange can occur in that moment. But if there is an exchange of services, there usually will be a time-difference; for example, "I will mow your lawn on Saturday if you will baby sit my kids on Sunday." If we are not using a contract, we must trust. Although some people are cheated in a deal, most of us respond well when people trust us. Trust is a challenge, and an adventure in human responsibility. In an age of burglar alarms and guard dogs, barter is neighbor-helping-neighbor; this neighborliness can awaken and strengthen our feelings of sharing and caring and respect and fellowship and safety. We are returning to an old-fashioned way of doing things, when dependable, responsible people in the community worked together more than they do now.
  4. Bartering helps us to gain self-respect. Some people walk into a barter club with the idea that they have nothing to offer -- no skills, no talents, no particular value to anyone else. But through the magic of resource identification, they can see many kinds of value -- as a typist, or cook, or house-sitter, or baby-watcher, or expert in a particular skill. Now they feel better about themselves, with more optimism, self-assurance, pride, dignity, and sense of self-reliance -- particularly if those qualities have been dormant during a long period of unemployment or poverty.
  5. Bartering gives us an opportunity to share our resources. The personal nature of bartering might evoke the feeling that we are truly meeting one another's needs rather than just passing around some anonymous dollars. We can see clearly that we are relying on one another for the actual materials of life. There is a time for sheer charity, but sometimes we need to receive goods and services for our own life, too; bartering allows us to give our assets to people who do not have much money, because we know that they can repay us with their own goods and services which we need.
  6. Bartering enhances our relationships. In friendship, there is a form of bartering; we trade through our conversations and through smiles, laughter, hugs, friendly glances, and cooperation. And when two friends are apart, they swap letters, phone calls, and visits. Bartering can assist our friendships in other ways:
    • Paying for gifts. If we barter, we have new ways by which to acquire gifts for friends' birthdays and for Christmas and for other events. For example, we might spend our barter club's units on a one-day pass to a local ski resort, and then give the pass as a gift. We can barter for a gift certificate at a store. We might barter for the rental of a roto-tiller, then lend it (for an afternoon) to a friend who has been struggling in a garden. After we trade our carpentry skills for a lawnmower, we can let our friends use the mower in exchange for their gifts and considerations.
    • We can pay for dates. Bartering can give us the means to take that special lady (or man) to that special restaurant, if we pay for the date with barter-club units (or a direct trade with the restaurant).
    • We can pay for parties. Consider these possibilities:
      • We can pay for a party by bartering for the entertainment, catering, party supplies, refreshments, and housecleaning (before and after the event).
      • We can host a pot-luck dinner itself, which is a form of bartering. We trade our food for a taste of everyone else's food.
      • We can coordinate a "progressive dinner," in which the pre-dinner beverages are served in one home, and then everyone goes to another home for the hors d'oeuvres or appetizer. This progression continues through the main course, dessert, after-dinner drinks, and entertainment. At the end of the dinner, people might be encouraged to swap recipes for the food they brought. They might even trade leftovers.
      • We can have a party at our home on the night before our yard sale. The guests can bring their own items, and trade them for the goods which we have designated for our yard sale. (Our leftover items will be sold at the yard sale.)
      • We can create a party which is based on the theme of bartering. (Refer to that chapter in The Kids' Guide To Bartering.)

We gain many financial rewards.

  1. We can use more of our resources. In a money-based economy, we usually think in terms of "money" (to get goods and services) and "job" (to get money for buying the goods and services).
    • At the job, we use only our "job skills." Bartering allows us to use our other skills; for example, we can barter our music skills (as a music teacher) or the products of a hobby (e.g., our pottery). Surely those other skills could be sold for money -- but bartering allows us to work for people who want our skills but don't have enough money to pay for them.
    • When we want to purchase something, we are not limited by the amount of money which is in our bank account. Now our goods and services are "money"; they are resources by which we can purchase other people's goods and services.
  2. We avoid superfluous expenses. In one-to-one deals with individuals, we are trading directly for a product which we might otherwise have purchased in a store. In a store, we are paying for more than just the product; we are also paying for a portion of the store's business expenses -- its lease, utilities, salespeople, advertising, etc. And we are paying interest on the credit card which we used.
  3. Bartering helps us to exchange goods and services with friends and acquaintances.
    • We can exchange "priceless" goods. For example, I might not be willing to sell my beloved heirloom (or one of the sculptures which I created), but I would trade it for something.
    • We can avoid "cold cash" between warm friends. Sometimes an exchange of cash is inappropriate, but a trade will allow us to get what we want.  
  4. Bartering allows us to "do business" without having a business. For example, we want to share our garden produce or our craft products, but we don't want to create an actual business; bartering gives us an easier way to do this. (However, in some cases, we might have to deal with matters such as a business license -- and we might have to pay taxes, as explained in the chapter regarding the taxation of bartering.)
  5. Bartering can help us survive during personal financial crises. At those times, we might be bartering for essential needs: some food from a bartering baker, or tutoring to learn a skill for a new job. A book written in the early 1930s explained the importance of bartering: "The barter movement has been a matter of life and death to a great many individuals. The story of its growth is as much human as it is economic, for the destitution and want that have been responsible for most of the [barter] groups have been real. The barter movement has come up from the bottom. It has grown spontaneously from the most fundamental needs of human beings: food, clothing, and shelter.'' (Men Without Money: The Challenge of Barter and Script by Wayne Weishaar and Wayne W. Parrish. Copyright 1933 by Wayne Weishaar and Wayne W. Parrish.)
  6. We can get a new line of credit. If we barter, we might not need as much credit, because we can pay for some of our expenses by bartering. However, when we do need credit, bartering can help us.
    • Many barter clubs give their members a line of credit. Depending upon the club, this amount might be $500 to $1,000 worth of units. One club gives credit up to $50,000. A club might offer even more credit, if we meet the criteria. (Other clubs do not allow any of this "deficit spending.")
    • We pay off the loan with barter-club units (instead of money), so we will probably be able to pay even if our cash resources are limited.
    • We pay interest on the loan, but the rate might be lower than a bank's rate.
  7. We can use bartering in our investment plans.
    • In a barter club, the members can supply us with investment opportunities in jewelry, gems, gold, silver, valuable paintings, real estate, and other items.
    • The club's membership might include accountants, attorneys, financial consultants, and other experts in investments. A member who owns a bookstore can supply us with the books that will help us to understand the world of investing.
    • We can lend our units. If the club allows us to lend units to other members, we can do so (with interest).
    • We can purchase expensive equipment which can leased or rented to other members. For example, we might invest in heavy machinery, or computer equipment.
    • We will be able to invest more cash, because we are paying some of our expenses by bartering.