Rewards From Bartering
James Stout, Writer for BarterNews
We gain many personal rewards.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Bartering helps
us to exchange goods and services with friends and
- 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.
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.)
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.