Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Barter System

Merriam-Webster defines the word as to trade by exchanging one commodity for another. It can also be the act of exchanging services for a desired service. Bartering used to be rather popular in years gone by. My father engaged in it, although he never called it that. As a small farmer, he didn’t have a combine. One neighbor did. In exchange, my father helped him with his harvest, and boarded his horse.

Bartering is coming back in the public view. In the classified ads, I often noticed boats and RVs  as a trade item usually for a car. The owner burdened with an item he or she no longer needs and is unable to sell resorts to bartering.

A recent episode of Picked Off on the history channel featured teams with the same amount of funds trying to get the best bargains. Well, we all know if you have the same amount of money how can one person triumph over the other. One way was the teams offered to pad out their bid with work. Other times they offered another item to trade for what they wanted. It never occurred to me that I have skills and even items other people might want.

Originally bartering was something everyone did, now organizations exist to help you find fellow barterers. Barterquest is one that allows you to barter cars, homes, timeshares, and even swapping homes for vacations. Some companies tend to be regional like The Barter Company, which is in the Florida, Georgia, Carolinas region. This is important because if you are bartering for a vehicle you may want to see it and test it first. Tradeaway is another barter company that allows you to display your barter item, rather like Ebay, except you aren’t being paid in cash. Like the popular auction service, they do take a cut. Some businesses will engage in bartering to augment their regular cash business using such companies as Barter Depot.

You can barter on your own without using companies in you are in a local network. Here are a few tips:

1.     Be detailed. Have photos if you are offering merchandise, even services. If an item is broken, do mention it is for parts only.

2.     Consider the real value and value to you. Often we overpriced items because of sentimental value. If you don’t use it, then its value to you is limited at best.

3.     Don’t get stuck. Bartering for a vacation? Look up reviews for the cozy condo up for barter.

4.     Be aware that battering is different. It isn’t the same as buying something at Target. Your merchandise and follow through can generate future business, and even friendships. Be clear on your terms; even draw out a contract to prevent misunderstandings.

TLC also recommends these organizations for getting the most out of your barter: U-Exchange, Trashbank (which is a free service), Care to Trade, and there is always Craigslist too.

Do you throw wonderful parties, cook delicious meals or desserts, create great resumes, even pet sit, and then you have a service to offer. Maybe you can do yard work, plumbing, dry wall or car repair. One testimonial in the barter system was from a man who bartered to get his daughter the wedding of her dreams.

In case, you are wondering about tax implications about larger items, here is a short instructional article from How Stuff Works. Good luck in your bartering endeavors.

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