The Thrill of Bartering in a Frugal Lifestyle
Clarification Before We Begin
Frugality is a concept based on being thrifty with regards to the consumption of goods and services. It is based on the principle of spending money according to “needs” rather than “wants.”
I am not cheap. I am, however, frugal.
I live this lifestyle because of both choice and necessity. I was not born into wealth. I have worked hard my entire life, contributed to the economy as much as most people, and I pay my taxes on time. I have been homeless, and I have earned six-figure incomes. I have found, over that time, that happiness has nothing to do with the size of my bank account or the number of toys I own.
I am not against wealth, but I am against needless spending for the sake of needless spending.
So I am committed to frugal living, and I can see nothing in the future that will alter that commitment.
I have no problem whatsoever with spending money on the necessities of life, but imagine the sheer joy I experience when I am able to barter for those necessities rather than spend cash for them.
Today I’m going to tell you about one such transaction that recently happened.
I Am the Proud Owner of a 1997 Ford Ranger
For ten years I owned a Ford Ranger pickup, and I love those trucks. They are good on gas mileage, and they are very handy when times arise where I need to haul things to and fro. So when my last Ranger gave up and finally died two years ago, I was a bit saddened. For the next two years I went without transportation, and although it was doable, I vowed to one day own another Ranger.
One month ago that day arrived, and I shelled out $2,000 for a dandy 1997 model that would meet my needs.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that it now needs new brake shoes, and a quick check online informed me that if I have a mechanic do the job, it will cost between $150 and $300.
I don’t have that kind of money to spend on the repair job, but I do have an imagination and a willingness to get creative.
Enter my next door neighbor.
Josh is an auto mechanic. Josh is also the husband to Lacey and the father of two adorable children.
Like all couples, Josh and Lacey are constantly struggling to make ends meet, so Josh is always happy to do odd jobs to make some extra cash.
Josh was over at our place the other day helping me start a stubborn lawnmower, when I happened to mention that my truck drove like the brakes were always engaged. He knew immediately what the problem was, and he offered to fix it for considerably less than what an auto shop would charge.
He offered to do it for free.
Yes, for those of you who are math challenged, that is considerably less than I would pay at an auto repair shop.
Why was Josh being so nice?
Of Course He’s a Good Neighbor, But…..
For the last few months, my wife and I have been giving Josh and Lacy free coffee.
Let me explain.
My wife, Bev, is a grocery store merchandiser for Pete’s Coffee, a company out of California. When Bev takes out-of-date coffee out of stores, she is free to do whatever she pleases with that coffee. The company does not want it, but we have quite a few friends who are quite eager to take it off our hands.
Have you priced coffee lately in the stores?
So Josh and Lacey have received, conservatively, over one-hundred dollars in free coffee from us over the past few months.
Josh, of course, understands what a great deal he has gotten, so when the chance to repay us came up, he was on board immediately.
Still, I didn’t feel quite right about the whole deal….so I sweetened the pot, so to speak.
When I bought this Ford Ranger, it had a toolbox in the bed. The box is locked, and there is no key, but it is a good tool box that fits perfectly in the bed of a compact pickup truck.
Josh has tools. He needs a tool box. So I gave him the one I had.
Now we had a sweet bartering deal that we both could be happy with.
This Sort of Thing Happens All the Time in Our Area
Seriously, it does!
Across the street lives our newest neighbor, Ana. She is from jolly old England, a single lady in her seventies, and she is a wonderful addition to our neighborhood.
Ana loves fresh eggs. She knows how much more delicious they are than those you purchase at the store, and she is willing to pay the extra cost for organic, because to her, the extra cost is worth it.
We have six chickens, and they are back to laying daily now that the weather has warmed up. We cannot eat six eggs per day no matter how much we love them, so the excess has to go somewhere.
Ana grows delicious berries. We love berries.
Do you see where this is going?
Ana gets her fresh eggs from us, and saves spending five bucks per dozen at the store.
We get fresh berries for smoothies, and we save on our grocery bill.
A win-win situation if you ask me.
Two blocks over is a young couple named Zina and Emily. They are beekeepers, and often, when Bev and I are out walking, we will stop and talk to Zina and Emily about their hobby.
We love organic honey.
Zina and Emily love organic eggs.
Do you see where this is going?
Would you be willing to barter?
You May Find This Surprising, But….
This sort of transaction was quite common one-hundred years ago. Some of you, like me, have parents who grew up during the Great Depression. Ask them about bartering, and trading goods for services, or services for services. It was done daily because most people during the Depression did not have enough money to meet their needs. In order to survive, they had to trade what they had for what they needed. There was no other way.
I am thrilled to see these old-fashioned transactions making a comeback. It signals a shift in thinking among the common folk in this country, a shift that was long overdue. Times are tough, and people must realize that problems are not solved by borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. There are other ways to solve a problem other than going into debt.
Think about it! What do you have to offer in a bartering transaction? Just off the top of my head, I can think of two things I can offer based on my background: tutoring and writing.
Do you want to strike up a deal? What can you trade me for my tutoring and/or writing skills? Let’s see if we both can wheel and deal our way to frugal happiness.
Are you with me?
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)