Save Money By Bartering

As we’ve noted, the tough economic times are forcing many people to look for creative ways to save money. The Wall Street Journal reports on one age-old method that’s gaining popularity:

Cash-strapped consumers and businesses are coming up with creative ways to fight higher costs. One practice gaining popularity: the ancient custom of bartering.

That’s right, before there was money, there was bartering. And it’s back, baby.

The rise of bartering for goods and services means consumers are now trading for such things as wedding services, tombstones, breast augmentation and Botox treatments. The cash-free transactions are often facilitated through the Internet and barter exchanges, which are third-party record keepers that coordinate trades between business owners.

In the past two years, membership in trade-exchange businesses has climbed 10% to 15% annually compared with 5% to 8% annual growth prior to that, says Mr. McDowell. He estimates his members do $3.8 billion to $4.3 billion in trades a year.

Obviously there are potential pitfalls to the process, but you are generally giving up something that costs you very little, such as expertise, for something that would cost a great deal more if you were to buy it outright. So with prudence, this seems like a good and viable option for saving money.

But how widespread and practical is it really? Has anyone reading this used bartering to save money and/or afford something they might not be able to purchase?

Web Barterers’ Tricks of the Trade [Wall Street Journal]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.