Can We Trade?
By James Stout, Former Writer For BarterNews
We all have a rich array
of barterables -- goods, skills, and information, for
Our skills might be in masonry, mechanical work, or
Our goods can include furniture, food, or farm
And to trade our knowledge, perhaps we would find
students in math instruction, or clients for our legal
advice, or apprentices in carpentry.
We can use these
guidelines in finding skills which we can trade.
Be confident and creative. We
many skills which are useful to other people. The list
in the next chapter shows many common and uncommon
abilities which could be worthwhile to someone else.
Even "un-skills" are barterable; there is demand for
leaf-rakers, lawn-cutters, and other odd-jobbers.
Barter your primary skill -- the one which we use use at
our job. For example, a carpenter can moonlight with
some additional carpentry jobs. However, for a change of
pace, we might prefer to do something entirely
different; for example, an electrician who owns a few
horses might enjoy giving some riding lessons on
Do you what you like to do. If we are imaginative, we
might find a way to barter the activity which we enjoy
the most. For example, if we enjoy being with animals,
we can groom dogs or walk dogs or wash dogs -- or care
for other beasts. Do you like to talk? Then offer some
telephone time to a social club (in exchange for your
Consider your off-beat skills. At one barter club, some
people registered themselves in these unusual
categories: teller of tall tales, pool hustler, clown,
Use the skills which you have developed in your
pastimes. For example, a bookworm can read to a blind
person or to someone else who simply values the
companionship and entertainment. If our reading has
given us an expertise, maybe we can tutor in the subject
which we have read about.
Even our mere presence is worth something. "Just being
there" is worth something if we are a babysitter,
house-sitter, plant-sitter, or pet-sitter. Imagine how
much more we are worth when we are actually
We can trade many types
of goods. If we have lists, we'll be quicker to make a deal.
When people approach us for a trade, we can read a few
things from the list -- or we can just give the list to the
people, and then let them compare their "haves" with our
"wants" (or vice versa). Our lists can include these items:
Our used items. This category includes books, magazines,
furniture, gardening equipment, etc. People have swapped
more glamorous items, too; a trade broker received an
offer of a full-length mink coat and mink stole, both in
perfect condition, as a partial payment on some real
estate. (Actually, it's not a new idea for barterers to
"think mink"; the traders of the Hudson Bay fur company
used to barter in the 17th century.)
Our unwanted items. For example, we can swap away
useless gifts (from Christmas and birthdays).
Our outgrown items. We have outgrown some of our
children have outgrown many items -- their
clothing, toys, books, furniture, etc.
Our handmade items. We can trade the products of our
hobbies: our paintings, beadwork, jewelry, fly-fishing
Our surplus items. We will have more things to trade if
we use some strategies. For instance, we can plant extra
vegetables in our garden so that we will have a surplus
to barter. At a store sale or yard sale, we can buy more
things than we need if the deal is attractive and we
know that we can trade away those goods.
Our "junk." Even an old trashy item might be valuable to
a collector who needs that particular piece to complete
Other people's goods. We can keep an up-to-date list of
things that our friends (and other barter partners) are
looking for. With that list, we can set up trades
between other people and get a commission or some other
type of "piece of the action." The list will also help
us to set up "triple trades"; for example, George needs
a second-hand water pump for his car; in exchange, he
can offer his used power drill. We might meet a woman
with a water pump but no desire for George's drill. But
want our cabinet -- so in the resulting triple
trade, she gives the pump to George, we give the cabinet
to her, and he gives us the drill.
We can make a list of
things which we want to get by bartering. We might want
clothing, housing, food, car repairs, entertainment, books,
household items, business needs, health care, babysitting,
education, etc. To develop a list of our "wants," we can
refer to our various records, e.g., our checkbook, monthly
bills, budget, shopping list, Christmas list, "wish list,"
New Year's resolutions, etc.
This list might give us
more ideas for goods and services to trade.
activity consultation, adoption consultation, advertising,
afghans, agriculture advice, air conditioning repair,
airplane rides, alterations, alternative building
techniques, alternative energy sources, animal care and
sitting, animals (rabbits, worms, cats, cattle, greyhound,
etc.), animation, appliances, appliance repair, art work,
astrology, auto body work, auto design, auto painting, auto
parts, auto repair.
babysitting, baking, banking and loan-application
assistance, barbecue equipment, batiking, beading, bees,
bicycle repair, bicycles, biodynamic farming, birth control
consultation, birthing coaching, blacksmithing, block
laying, blueprints, boat engines, boat trips, body and
fender work, body-brace making, bonsai culture, bookkeeping,
books, bread baking, breeding, building demolition, building
design, building maintenance, building materials, burglar
alarm systems, business consultation, butane tanks,
decorating, calculators, calligraphy, camera repair, camper
shells, camping gear, cane weaving, canning, caretaking,
carpentry, carpet cleaning, carpet laying, carpets,
cartoons, catering, CBs, CB repair, ceramic tiles, ceramic
work, chainsaws, chainsaw sculpture, child care, chimney
sweeping, choreography, circus performing, cleaning,
clerical skills, clock repair and making, clothing,
clowning, collective bargaining, commercial art, community
organizing, companionship, computer programming, computers,
concrete work, consultations, consumer protection,
convalescent care, cooking, costume design, counseling,
counters, crafts, crocheting.
Dance instruction, darkroom
instruction, day care, delivery, dentistry, diet
consultations, dining room help, directing (music and
theatre), dishwashing, dishwashing machines, dog care, dog
grooming, dog-obedience training, dogs, domestic work, doll
clothes, doll repair, domes, drapes (hemming and
installing), driers, driving, drug counseling, drumming,
ducks, dump trucks, dyeing.
Editing, elderly care,
electrical work, electronics, embroidery, enameling,
engines, engine rebuilding, entertainment, errands,
escorting, exercise instruction.
consultations, farming guidance, farm work, fashion design,
fencing, fence installation and repair, fertilizer,
fiberglass repair, fill dirt, film-making, firewood, fish,
fish farming, fishing poles, fixtures, flower arrangements,
flowers, flying lessons, fly tying, food, food preservation
(canning, drying, freezing), food processors, foraging,
foreign language instruction, forges, framing, freezers,
fruit tree advice, fund raising, furniture, furniture making
and restoring, furniture moving, furs.
Game tables, garden
space, garden work, glass, glass cutting, goats' milk,
gourmet cooking, grant writing, graphic art, greenhouse
management, guns, gunsmithing, gun stocks.
ham radio services, handwriting analysis, handyman work, hat
trimming and making, hats, hauling, hay baling, health
counseling, hearing aids and repairs, herbs, horse care,
horses, horse training, hot water systems, house cleaning,
household items, housekeeping, house-plant consultations,
Ice cream makers,
instrument repair, interior decorating, investment advice,
Jamming, jams and
jellies, janitorial work, jewelry repair, juggling, jugs.
Labor, land clearing,
landscaping, lapidary work, laundry, lawn maintenance,
leather work, legal consultations, library work, literature,
Machine work, macrame,
magic, management, manure, manuscript critiques, marital
counseling, marketing, martial arts (kung fu, judo, etc.),
masonry, massages, mattresses, meat, meat cutting,
mechanical drawing, mediation (tenant-landlord), medical
skills, meditation instruction, mending, midwife services,
milking of cows, money-management counseling, mortuary work,
motorcycles, motorcycle repair, motors, moving, mowing,
musical instruments, music lessons, music performances.
Nature walks, needle
work, notary services, nutritional counseling.
Odd jobs, office help,
office space, oil burners, oil changes, oil painting,
optometry, orchard consultations, organic gardening,
ornaments, outdoor games, oxygen tanks.
painting (house), parenting education, party help, peacocks,
pet care, photography, physical therapy, piano moving, piano
sharing, piano tuning, pigs, piloting, plant care, plant
identification, plants, plumbing, plumbing materials, plums,
plywood, poetry, ponies, pool tables, popcorn poppers,
portraits, post-hole digging, pottery, printing, private
detective services, produce managing, projectors,
proofreading, psychologist services, puppet shows.
Rabbit cages, rabbits,
radio repair, radios, ranch work, real estate, records
management, recreation partners (offering our companionship
in backpacking, badminton, bicycling, bird-watching,
boating, card games, dancing, fishing, frisbees, horseback
riding, ice skating, rafting, rock-hounding, running, scuba
diving, skiing, sky diving, softball, surfing, swimming,
tennis, and other activities), recreational therapy,
recycling, reloading equipment, remodeling, renovation,
research, riding instruction, river raft trips, road
building, roofing, roofing materials, room and board, rotary
mowing, rug making, rug shampooing.
Saddle repair, sailing,
sandblasting, sanding, saunas, saws, sawdust, scrap metal,
screening, sculpture, secretarial services, selling, sewing,
sharecropping, sharpening (saws and mowers), sheep, sheep
shearing, shelving, shoe repair, shoes, shopping, shorthand,
sign language, sign painting, silk screening, small engine
repair, social work, soil analysis, solar-energy
consultations, solar power, speech therapy, spinning, sports
equipment, stained glass, steam cleaning, stone work,
stoves, stove cleaning, surveying, swimming-pool use.
Tables, tai chi
instruction, tape recorders, tax consultations, taxidermy,
telephone work, television sets, tennis lessons, tents,
tools, toys, tree pruning, tree removal, trees, trucks,
truck driving, tutoring, typing.
vents, veterinarian services, vineyard work, vinyl repair,
vitamins, vocational counseling.
wardrobe consultations, washing machines, waterbeds, water
power consultations, weaving, wedding-reception planning,
weddings, welding, wilderness-survival instruction,
windmills, window cleaning, windows, wood, wood finishing,
wood stoves, wool, writing.