Bartering Makes A Comeback

Capitalism isn’t doing well these days leading the entrepreneurial among us to embrace bartering. Traffic to Craigslist’s bartering section has more than doubled since last year as people to try to make use of skills that might not otherwise have much value.

Boise beautician Heather Wood has traded haircuts and pedicures for years of day care, kids’ clothes, a paint job for her car, an oil change, a set of professional portraits for her family and dental cleaning.

“It’s fun, and it builds a whole different kind of a relationship,” said Wood, who has five children. “They’re getting what they want and I’m getting what I want. I would much rather do that than make cash most of the time.”

These days, making cash isn’t always an option, so many have decided it is worth the effort to trade, say, an outgrown kid’s bike for a neighbor’s lawnmower, or a massage for some gardening supplies.

“I’m finding it a little bit difficult to sell anything right now,” said Jeremy Kildow of Nampa, who chose bartering when he decided to get rid of a $1,000 camera, a kayak, a stainless steel kitchen range and other items.

Kildow put his stuff on the Boise-area Craigslist site under “barter” and suggested horses, pack mules, a four-wheel-drive truck, a computer or a flat-screen TV in exchange. So far, he’s had an offer of a truck, some computers and a wedding ring.

The AP brings us a few tips for successful bartering agreements from the University of Illinois, which apparently has some sort of experience in bartering…

  • In General
  • Figure out who’s buying what in advance.
  • Assume nothing. Agree on the specifics of everything in advance, in writing if needed, and make sure that nobody is walking around with unreasonable expectations.
  • When You Provide A Service
  • Please, don’t offer to do things you can’t do or you’ll ruin bartering for the rest of us.
  • Provide regular and clear updates on your end of the deal, especially if something is going wrong.
  • Don’t forget to pay taxes on any income earned. Tax Cat tells us more information is listed in IRS Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income.
  • If You Receive A Service
  • Make sure the other person is qualified to do the work.
  • Go over everything in advance so you understand exactly what you’re getting and if anything is required from you.

Short on cash? Bartering making a comeback [AP]
(Photo: e³°°°)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    Capitalism isn’t failing. Capitalism hasn’t been practiced in this country for at least 100 years. Bartering is capitalism at it’s purest. It’s nice to see capitalism make a comeback, just don’t let the IRS know, not only can’t they take 15% of your hairdo but they can’t determine who is the seller and who is the buyer to tax his profits which really pisses them off.

  2. Warll says:

    “Capitalism isn’t doing well these days leading the entrepreneurial among us to embrace bartering” Um, thats capitalism. Me thinks the word you were looking for is closer to “United State’s monetary system”,

    • cjones27 says:

      @Warll: Exactly. Capitalism is working perfectly. It’s our inept government (both parties) that is forcing us on the losing end of capitalism.

      Screw it, let’s just switch to socialism. That’s never failed, right?

    • t-r0y says:

      @Warll: Well said! And thanks to our ‘monetary system’ the dollar may not be worth much in the near future and we’ll all be bartering (or returning to gold).

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @mcjake: Your folks watch a lot of Fox News, huh?

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Warll: If bartering is Capitalism, then hunter/gathering is agriculture.

      • Warll says:

        @Trai_Dep: Your if and therefore statements are missing logic steps. BTW, do you have something meaningful to say? PS: I am not an advocate of the gold standard.

    • Excited_Utterance says:

      @Warll: I need some clarification here. How is bartering capitalism? Isn’t capitalism a logic of production that valorizes (adds value to) existing capital? And how is that possible outside the money form? I just don’t see how capital is valorized in a barter system without the universal exchange value of money.

      Seems to me that Trai_Dep is right – barter may be a pre- or proto- form of capitalism, but the two are not the same.

      • Michael Christenson II says:

        @Excited_Utterance: You guys have a point as far as Capitalism is explained in modern times. However, Capitalism is really about profit. Profit is entirely independent of the realm of simple currency schemes: even though you can obtain profit through currency it does not mean that profit can only be gained through currency.

        In short Capitalism is a framework.

        Bartering is also independent of capitalism in the same way. Barters between two people can happen at a loss or a gain – need or desire. It is a tool. Capitalism can make use of the tool but the framework cannot constrain the tool to only one particular use.

        So Bartering is a Tool, Capitalism is a framework. The use of the tool for gain of profit is a capitalistic use of the tool.

        But that is not the point. The point is that as long as a tool can and is being used for profit then capitalism has not died; it as simply moved on to more profitable waters.

  3. mcjake says:

    My parents think the economy and government is going to collapse. They have been stock piling food, ammo and booze for the last month to prepair for the end of civalization.

    Last weekend they trying to find a place they could buy cases of Jack Daniels pints so that they can trade them for other goods and services after the final melt down.

  4. rpm773 says:

    Performing haircuts and manicures for goods instead of cash is great until about 3pm when the slaughtered chickens your 9am dropped off as “payment” start to smell.

  5. Trencher93 says:

    My goodness … an underground economy like Soviet Russia? This recession is getting bad. When people start bypassing the money/tax/government system, that’s not a good sign.

    • pollyannacowgirl says:

      @Trencher93: I see nothing wrong with bypassing the money/tax/government system by bartering. We do it all the time, without even considering it.

  6. RodAox says:

    Look at the bright side, you dont have to work with a bank or pay taxes for that matter. Just make sure you got a lot of 7 legged spider drawings just for emergencies.

  7. Hoss says:

    The swop section in Yankee magazine is a fun read. This month it says: “Will trade Sturbridge Yankee Workshop catalogs (1972-74) for original Sesame Street Mr Snuffleupagus with music intact.” I think the editors make these up.

    But mostly this time of year the ads say something like “Will trade 1969 Chevy Bel Aire transmission for one week at your condo in Cancun”

  8. jdubyas says:

    The lady that comes in and works on my small business’ network, took a bucket of pecans, for her time – a few days before thanksgiving. Our shop/office has an ancient pecan tree, and I gather them up throughout the fall to hand out to customers and clients that would like to make pecan pies.

    What she would’ve normally charged me $50 for, she got her pecans for her pecan pie for Thanksgiving… Bartering works well!

  9. kwsventures says:

    Bartering is great for those that want to avoid the Obama tax and spend like a madman theory.

  10. wcnghj says:

    I just purchased a macbook via laptopsinc, they wanted $2310. I offered $1229 and they said sure.

    Sounds good to me :).

  11. Chongo says:

    I bartered my apartment renewel lease! I managed to bring it down by $25 a month. Granted thats not a lot but it is extra food on the table.

    Just say that that your a good tenet, and you want to stay but will move if you can’t work something out.

  12. Marshfield says:

    Back around 1981, there was a big barter network going on the west coast. My boss in Eugene OR was a painting contractor and did some work for barter credits. Then we went to LA to do some work for a week, and we were going to use up those credits. We were in a motel in Pasadena, the place we at breakfast was in Anaheim and the job was up north in Sun Valley. We spent the entire week work, drive, eat, drive, sleep, drive, eat, drive, work, drive…

    Bartering is OK but it does have it’s downsides.

  13. Canino says:

    I know a guy who is always trying to barter everything. He’s part of this barter network and they all believe that crap about the income tax never having been passed as an amendment blah blah blah. He’s always showing up trying to pawn off some junk on me that he picked up – old fax machines from the 80s that weigh 50 lbs., broken down motorcycles with no titles, certificates for cosmetic surgery by some Venezuelan doctor…

    Here’s the one thing he did that was smart – he started a “company” and issued himself 100,000 shares of “stock”. It’s a legit company on the books of the state, but it doesn’t do anything. Whenever he finds something he wants, he prints out stock certificates and convinces people they’re worth trading for. Sometimes he comes away with good stuff, but most of it is junk so he has garage sales and sells it all for cash.

  14. TechnoDestructo says:

    Re: Taxes on bartering: What happens when everyone’s bartering for everything and no one has any cash income? Will the IRS accept haircuts?

  15. Featherstonehaugh says:

    Capitalism is working as intended. Government is what is failing.

  16. GiveUMy2Cents says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the article. I am a web developer and since my Fiance and I got engaged, I have been trading services with other vendors for our wedding. Good stuff.

  17. Mano Hernandez says:

    This is the way the world should work.

  18. cheesebubble says:

    I’ll give you Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a case of maple syrup, the Corner Gas series on DVD, and Celine Dion for Barack Obama and T. Boone Pickens!