Save Money by Bartering

barter for goods and services instead of buying them. Yep, bartering, the age-old method of economic exchange, is making a big comeback — though now it’s a high-tech operation that doesn’t limit you to your own set of acquaintances. We wrote about this back in July, but an economic practice that has survived from the beginning of our society deserves more than one post. Smart Money has 5 new tips it says will help you save by trading goods and skills you already have:

* Sign up with a middleman.
* Reach out to your network.
* Research prices.
* Trade like for like.
* Keep tax records.

Some ideas? If you’re an accountant, trade doing someone’s books for free legal advice. If you’re handy, fix a person’s sink in exchange for free tickets to a show. If you design websites, create one for someone who can develop a marketing plan for your business. In short, think of what you can and would be willing to do in exchange for another good or service, post your offer online, and start saving!

In Economic Downturn, More Turn to Barter [Smart Money]



Edit Your Comment

  1. snoop-blog says:

    However never barter with weed. []

    too many good stoners get busted this way. lol.

  2. snoop-blog says:

    whoops here’s the vid to my previous post. Sorry.

  3. lpranal says:

    @the guy with the fish above: DON’T DO IT! you’re getting ripped off!

    The hidden advantage to this? No taxes! A surprising number of businesses will work on trade, which means tax free “income”

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @lpranal: Yeah, but technically you are supposed to pay tax on the fair market value of the good / services exchanged. It’d probably be pretty hard to enforce, but you could definitely get the IRS or maybe local governments pissed at you.

      • lpranal says:

        @nataku83: there’s really no documentation on either end, so unless you are bartering with someone who works for the IRS it’s not likely. I’m not saying GO BREAK THE LAW! DO IT NOW!, but giving someone coffee because they helped you move some tables isn’t going to affect the economy if someone doesn’t get their 3/4 of a cent.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @lpranal: It’s like babysitting. For some reason, parents trusted 16 year olds to take care of their kids, and the money wasn’t taxed because there was no documentation.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @lpranal: If you do this on any kind of large scale, which is where the savings comes in, you’d better be reporting. Also, there’s a big difference between giving someone coffee for moving tables and writing someone a marketing plan in exchange for a piece of artwork.

      I did a little barter when I started my business but I found the record keeping kind-of a PITA. It was actually easier to charge someone $150 for a will, then buy a $150 piece of art from them. Much easier tax records for both of us. (Also, sales tax on the art, not on the will.)

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Craig’s List is a great way of reaching out to people with skills and talents. You just have to sift out those who actually have legitimate skills and those who say they have “extensive research skills” and wrote one 5 page paper in their first year of college.

    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      @IHaveAFreezeRay: Some people on Craig’s List just don’t understand the whole “bartering” concept. Last week someone in our local section was advertising, “will trade used fence for cash”.

  5. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    Everytime this post gets recycled, I think it says bartending.

  6. zigziggityzoo says:

    Is this the new Mechanical poster? “By freemoneyfinance”

  7. P_Smith says:

    So when do we make a “Standard and Poorhouse” table of bartering? One pound of rice is worth this, one gallon of milk is worth that, one hour of labor gets this, etc.

    It would be interesting to see how people material good (edible and inedible) or value their own and other people’s work, even if just as a technical exercise.

    • FLEB says:

      @P_Smith: Well, you pretty much have monetary market value there as a good guide. If one hour of a certain job is worth the same cash value as one pound of a certain good, it’s a fair trade.

  8. Canino says:

    I guy I used to do some work for was in this barter network. All it was was a bunch of tax dodgers trying to rip each other off with junk. It was like an MLM of junk. They were all those people who think the IRS is illegal and whatnot. He would drive all over the place picking up junk and trading it to people for other junk. Once a month he would try to pay me with old printers or broken down motorcycles or whatever else he had laying around.

  9. Robobot says:

    My friend and her mom run a small dental clinic in the country and barter with a lot of their clients. They do pretty well with the local farmers and the artisan crowd. It’s a great little subculture and they make a lot of useful friends through it.

    On the other hand I have heard some bartering nightmares from other parties. If someone is too pushy or tries to rip someone else off things get nasty within that little subculture.

  10. Ben_Q2 says:

    I have a number of high end backgrounds. One being “Computers”. All the time I get people asking me to fix their computer. For the most part I just do it without asking for anything in return. This has worked out very well for me. If I need something fix, or done most of those people will just do it for me. In most case without me even asking. It did not start off that way. I know when they had someone else fix it, it would cost them money and for the most part they would call me after the person made it worst. So I just fixed it, to save time.

    A little over a year ago. My now ex well. Seem that every lawyer around here I have worked on or fix their computer. Only one lawyer too her case, she did not even know I was marred to a woman.

    What I am saying is Bartering is a great way of doing things. As long as you keep it fair. I only trade for what I can do and they can do. If there is something that you can hold. I pay them for it, and them to me.

  11. psogle says:

    First time I read this I thought it said “Save Money By Bar tending” which also made sense, free drinks!

  12. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    There’s a local radio show here on Saturday mornings called “Swap Shop”. Some of the stuff is hilarious. If you ever want to swap your old back issues of “Mother Earth News” for a grocery bag full of quilt pieces, than this is the show for you!

  13. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    the real problem is you have to have something someone wants…
    not too effective when most of your furniture is left from your poorer days and was picked up off the side of the road! *sigh*
    but i DID manage to trade an entertainment center for a pair of earrings not long ago

  14. Woraug says:

    I do bartering around my town. There’s a lady who owns a pawn shop here. Any time I need a few bucks, I’ll do some computer work for her, and she’ll hold a post dated check for me until I get paid. I’ll also occasionally stop by some locally owned stores around here, and trade things like, cleaning the parking lock, picking weeds, clearing out store rooms, and stuff like that, for things like groceries, gas, and things of the sort.

  15. RandomHookup says:

    I tried to barter for my rent, but my landlady didn’t want to sleep with me.

  16. SallyDahli says:

    It works! Seriously. I have bartered with restaurants, clothing stores and even with luxuries such as maid service, massages and even a personal chef! It works best with an independent, local business. Of course, you have to have something to barter. Good luck!

  17. samoq says:

    As I read this, I’m sitting in my living room, which has a sofa, three chairs, a lamp and several pieces of really awesome art- all of which were bartered for and were brand new. Not to mention our bedrooms set, auto repairs, dental work and other assorted miscellany!

    This totally works.

  18. HogwartsAlum says:

    I did bartering once. When I bought my house, it came with one of those stacker washer and dryers that is one unit and will only wash one sweater at a time.

    A friend gave me her old washer and dryer and her handyman brought them out and installed them in exchange for the stacker unit. It was a great trade because I got my appliances installed and didn’t have to call someone to haul the other one away. :)

  19. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, this strategy only works if you have friends who know how to do anything useful. Although if I ever needed an extra helping of “sit your lazy stoner ass on the couch,” I’ve got about 25 people I can call.

    On the bright (or at least funny) side, here are 45 more *really helpful* money-saving tips, with commentary:

  20. Anonymous says:

    well, it’s completely true that bartering is having a great comeback, especially during these tough times. there is this cool site,, where people can barter through this safe and secure site w/o having to worry about the issue of money. i have used it and it is so easy.