Wanted: Services for Trade

by Maureen Bennie

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Bartering Your Way to Savings

How to Barter

Smarter Barter

You may not realize it, but each of us has skills that another person values and needs but may not have. Put your skills, talents, hobbies and interests to work by offering your services for trade for another service you need. This is the barter system, which has been around for centuries. It is a great way to save money, build a network, and even meet new people. Here's how to get the exchange of services going.

Getting Started

Make a list of skills that you have. Think about what courses you took in high school, college, trade school, or through the community. Also include job training you have received. Some examples of skills might be languages, typing, carpentry, mechanics, sewing, cooking, financial planning, furniture refinishing, or home decorating, List any kind of certificate or degree you have which will show someone you have certain qualifications. Maybe you have a license to drive a large vehicle. Perhaps you went to esthetician school and can give a great manicure.

Even if you haven't had any special training in a specific skill, you may have an interest in something you have spent time doing and have developed a proficiency at. Some ideas might be organization, computer skills, painting, house cleaning, lawn care, landscaping, organic gardening, investing, crafts, writing, or fishing.

Brainstorm ideas and jot them down on paper. Think of activities you've done over the past year if you are finding it difficult to come up with ideas. Only cross off ideas once you've made a complete list.

Decide What You Need

Make a list of what services you need. Take a walk through each room of the house with a pad of paper and write down what things you want done. Is there an item in need of repair that has been sitting around forever? When you open a closet door does everything come tumbling down? Are you walls plain white but would look great with an injection of color? Does you sofa need reupholstering? Is the carpet dirty? Are your taxes done? Does the front yard look barren? Would a freezer full of meals be helpful when you are too busy too cook?

Review your weekly schedule and see if there are things you could delegate to someone else. Do you really need to do all the housework yourself? Would it be nice to have a free afternoon? Do you want to sign your child up for piano lessons but can't afford it? Could some time be created in your day if you carpooled with another family or two?

Think of your own ambitions. Is there something you've been eager to learn about but haven't had the time or money to do so? Be honest with yourself about the things you have put on hold for financial reasons. There is no reason not to make them happen.

Get the Word Out

Once you have compiled your two lists of what skills you have and what services you need, let people know what services you would like to trade. Good ways to get the word out are advertise in your local paper under the "Wanted" section. Place an ad in your local community paper, newsletter, or church bulletin. Place a flyer ad on bulletin boards at the library, church, community center or grocery store. Most community organizations will let you tack an ad on their bulletin board for free. Talk to your neighbors. Suggest some ideas to your friends. You would be surprised how willing people are to trade services to avoid the high cost of hiring someone.

Some of my services I have traded over the years are my ability to organize a room, music lessons, child care, letter writing, baking, tutoring in music theory, and my ability to shop for deals. Some services I have enlisted from other people are sewing, computer repair, errand running, Spanish lessons, cello lessons, gardening, pedicures, and electrical repairs.

I have saved money, made friends, and found people I have trusted and whose work I respect through trading services. Bartering creates a spirit of community by mutually sharing personal abilities with others. It's a great, cost effective way to live.

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