Money & Career

How you can save big money by bartering

How you can save big money by bartering

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

How you can save big money by bartering

We’ve been doing it since elementary school: trading half a PB and J for half a bologna. Indeed, before the creation of the modern concept of money or hard currency, bartering was the currency, how business was conducted: three chickens buys you a goat, and so on. 

Why barter?
Today cash is king, but the trading or bartering business never really went away, and as a type of economy, bartering is attractive for two main reasons.

First, transactions can be conducted under the table and therefore out of sight of the taxman -- though note that Revenue Canada does consider barter earning to be taxable.

Second, if cash flow is a problem, you can still offer your time or a skill in exchange for a product or service you need. For example, perhaps your accountant needs her walls painted and you need your taxes done, or your hairdresser hates baking but needs cupcakes for her kid's birthday party and will trade for a trim. It can and does work.

How to get started bartering
Consider printing up some barter dollars to be used as currency or like a gift certificate. Need a massage? Perhaps your therapist will accept payment in your barter dollars. Indicate on the slip of paper what you are offering -- skill, job, number of hours, etc. -- and print the amount of real money it’s worth.

Can’t imagine who you might barter with? Here are a few suggestions to get you started. You might be able to trade your time, labour or skill with:

• A local gym, yoga studio or other fitness business.
• Independently owned cafés, restaurants, delis, shops or bakeries.
• A local publication might run an ad for your business in exchange for some of whatever you offer.
• Therapists you have to pay out of pocket for -- psychotherapists who do not receive compensation from your province, massage therapists, chiropractors.
• Independent professional service providers -- veterinarians, accountants, dog walkers, photographers and artists, landscapers, house cleaners, mechanics, you name it. The only way to find out is by asking.

And here’s one economy that’s literally underground. Folks in many urban centres are offering their yards -- front or back -- to frustrated, yardless gardeners. The barter? The gardener does the work and the homeowner enjoys a share of the fruits of his or her labours.

How to find people to barter with
Bartering can be totally ad hoc, one on one, between neighbours and friends or as well organised as any big business. You can find other folks interested in bartering on classified ads websites such as Craigslist, Kijiji or Meetup. Also check the classifieds of your local daily or neighbourhood newspaper.

To ensure a happy bartering experience, don’t get caught up in your want for something and agree to performing a task you don’t like. In the end, it just won’t feel worth it and you’ll walk away resentful. And never undervalue yourself, your know-how or your time.

Call it swapping, trading or bartering -- by any name, it’s part of the belt-tightening, living-with-less movement, and it makes sense and cents.

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Money & Career

How you can save big money by bartering