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How To Use Bartering Techniques To Save Money

Updated on August 28, 2012


Learning how to barter as a means to get things you want while giving up talents or things that you have is an incredibly simple method for saving money.

Most of us, when we think of bartering, think of folks at a garage sale saying things like "No......25 cents is too high. I’ll give you a dime and that’s my final offer."

Or you might think of a trip to Mexico where you visit the local vendor stalls and offer them many less pesos for that decorative plate you want to take home to mom for Christmas.

Bartering, however, can be a well honed savings tool if you know how to go about it.

You can really save money and you can make some sweet deals by learning how to barter your way through acquiring goods and services....and also selling your own worth!

Let’s look at some of the many ways that you can barter and get stuff....and give stuff back!



Why barter?

  • Because you need something – goods or services – and you don’t want to pay for it.
  • You’re frugal and you believe in stretching a dollar as far as you can without sacrificing quality.

    Totally cool and you’ll make an excellent barterer!

Who barters? Tons of people barter from all walks of life. Professional people such as doctors, lawyers, hairdressers, computer experts.   

If you have a skill or a profession, why not exchange it for someone else’s expertise?

That is what you’re doing. Not asking for a reduction in price – but an even exchange of your services or goods for their services or goods.

Everyone wins!



  • Figure out what you have to barter. What skills (or goods) do you have to barter with? Maybe you’re a super typist/editor or maybe you’re fantastic at training dogs….or both.

    Maybe you’re a gourmet cook in your spare time and you play the piano.

    Write down every single thing you are good at in terms of what you could offer to teach or help someone else do.

    Include things like landscaping a yard, picking the right flowers and plants for backyards, planting vegetables in containers, grooming dogs, tutoring math.

    TIP: Every single thing that you know how to do at least pretty well to exceedingly well is a bartering task!

    Now make another list of goods that you want to trade or barter with....from a car to a house to tools in your garage that you have two of! These are all marketable bartering goods!
  • Start finding your market. Join a bartering club on line or a time bank. Time banks are where you barter an hour of your time giving a piano lesson let's say for an hour of someone else giving you a tutoring session in playing the guitar! It’s that simple.

    There are many bartering websites – see below.

    You can also post notices in the paper, on bulletin boards, at schools...anywhere you can think of that people with the skills you want or the skills you have to offer might see them and arrange a barter.
  • See if it’s a good fit. Once you set yourself up in a bartering market and you start getting responses for your skills or bartering wish list, begin to evaluate whether the person who you’re bartering with is a good fit.

    Some people are just better at presenting themselves than others and maybe it feels like a good fit or maybe it doesn’t.

    TIP: There are no obligations in the bartering system!

    You either agree to make a trade for services or goods or you say "no thanks" and move on. Always though, be honest and specific about exactly what services or goods you’re looking for.

    If you use a general statement like “I need to learn Quick Books" but you already know how to use Quick Books and you actually mean you want to learn higher level usage of Quick Books, you might have to wade through a bunch of bartering interviews before you find someone who is the right person for what you want.

    Being specific from the beginning is essential – but communication is also key. Just by refining your requirements by communicating, you should be able to find the perfect match.
  • Decide on how you will swap and for how long. Will you meet face to face and swap? Will you swap services on line? Is it an hour by hour kind of barter? Is it a one-time swap out of goods? Do you want to loan things back and forth or permanently swap the goods?

    TIP: Do you want to extend the bartering period for instance in terms of tutoring someone? Whatever you decide on – even a trial 1 hour swap of something – put it in writing.

    It can be through email but get a confirmation email back. “We have decided to swap 1 hour of Quick Book instruction for 1 hour of Excel instruction between Joe Smith and John Black. It will occur on this date and this date and then we’ll reevaluate and see if we want to go further.” Then do what you promised and the other barterer should do what he or she promised.

    You can refine the methodology between yourselves. Do you do it over the phone or do you meet in person and work on the programs at one location? There are many bartering systems that work online, some in person, and some local clubs that you can join to make it easier.
  • Keep records of everything you do. Bartering is something that is taxable in terms of goods and services. Bartering between businesses is taxable income.

    TIP: If a lawyer offers to swap an hour of his time for professional services by a physician or a hairdresser offers to swap X amount of haircuts for 1 hour of computer service time, these are things that will need to be backed up and submitted as income for the IRS.
  • Even if the services aren’t taxable income, it keeps a record of what you’re swapping and with whom.

    You don’t need to keep a legal record of exchanging babysitting services with a friend across town, but it does keep it all in the here and now and all on paper so there are never any misunderstandings.



Figure out what skills you have to offer and don’t be shy – list them ALL from pulling weeds to painting houses to tutoring math to playing the piano for someone as an accompanist.

  • What are your hobbies?
  • What are your building skills?
  • What are your computer program skills?
  • What are you home decorating skills?
  • What are your cooking skills and tricks that can save folks lots of money?
  • How short a time period can you teach folks to do something in?
  • Can you teach someone to paint a corner perfectly?
  • Can you teach someone to play this certain song on the guitar?
  • Can you teach someone to make a perfect pie crust?
  • Can you teach a malamute to come back?
  • Can you teach a foreign language or English as a second language?

Think about it – the list is endless. There are things we ALL want to learn – or services we need performed like learning what we need to know about computer programs but we haven’t been able to get that one thing – and we don’t want to go to an entire class to learn it!

TIP:  Every single thing about you and me is marketable in some fashion or another.

But wouldn’t it be nice to spread your talents around and then get something back that you didn’t know how to do without spending a dime?

Just by exchanging talent for talent, you could help someone do something they want to do and you can learn something you want to learn....probably in a matter of hours!

This is a fabulous return on your "investment" which is YOU!



  • The trade has to be equal – both parties need to get something out of it.
  • It needs to be in writing just because that’s the best way to do things.
  • Advertise your skills and don’t be shy in touting your strengths.
  • Ask for what you want in return no matter how many things you want to barter!
  • Go through your worldly goods and swap them, exchange them for things you want. If they are just sitting there useless, trade them/barter them for something you could really use!
  • Make sure you’re reporting to the tax man on all things monetarily speaking. It doesn’t do much good to swap/barter with folks and then get in trouble with the tax man. Let’s be honest here – actually honesty actually is always the best policy.




  • – babysitting swap in your area
  • – legal services to power tools
  • – business to business trading network
  • – nanny or senior-care services
  • – bartering boards by state
  • – clothing, etc.
  • – home furnishings, jewelry
  • – music, books, video games, etc.
  • – cleaning and other services
  • – kids stuff



In short, bartering has actually been around for hundreds of years. Think back to the pioneers or generations before us.

They traded off what they were good at for services that could be provided by others who were better at certain other things.

They traded goods the same way - I have 4 hens and I need 1 rooster .

It makes sense and in my way of thinking, it’s an extremely green concept.

We use less of the planet’s natural resources by swapping items of equal value and NOT buying more – hence less waste – and we also maximize our utilization of each others’ talents.

We save money and expenses by not having to invest in materials, instruction and more resources to learn things that someone else already knows how to do.

It’s efficient, it’s cost effective, and most of all, it’s a cool way to meet other people whether virtually or in person.

We're probably also swapping more than goods and services – we’re swapping ideas and that’s always a great thing!

Black dining room hutch
2 Old cabinets
Teach to make a pie
How to make a wedding cake
Single story house
2-story house
Teach to play the piano
How to play the guitar
Digital picture scanner
Wireless printer
Teach dogs to mush
How to get dogs to come back
Leather ottoman
Antique rocking chair
Teach Word and Excel
How to use PhotoShop
2 dog backpacks
2 igloo dog houses
Teach to make curtains
How to crochet
Outdoor firepit
Patio table and chairs
Teach to knit
How to line dance
Massage table
Ping pong table
Teach to groom dog
How to horseshoe
Hard back books
Paperback books
Teach to play cribbage
How to sing
Audrey's Bartering Lists


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    • Jyoti Patil profile image

      Jyoti Patil 6 years ago from Mumbai

      Supa liked it!! love ur hubs

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      I agree totally Micky - God Bless you too~!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Great info akirchner. We need to get away from the filthy lucre when we can. God bless!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      I know - who knew? It's a great idea and I'm going to be doing some serious bartering!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      I had absolutely no idea that there were so many bartering sites out there - or that bartering sites existed at all! This is so cool- I can't wait to check these out! Great Hub!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Hanna - Thanks SO much! Thanks for always stopping by to read!!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      I am not surprised that you won. These were really well worked through and all with perfect tips. Congratulation.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Pamela - you are so sweet!! Thanks so much for the vote and yes, finances are almost behind us.

      I do have to say that I've learned quite a bit more than I thought I already knew so this is a good thing.

      We will have to take a poll on whether my husband (who happens to be an accountant...yikes) thinks that all my tips are really great! Another hub most likely!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Audry, Good article on bartering. Congratulations on your win. i voted and just knew you would win with that excellent article. Finances are almost behind us!


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