The Art of the Barter

Today's guest post comes from Joshua Hatcher of JoshHatcher.com, and guides us through the finer points of the time-honored barter system.  What's that got to do with our 14 Days of Homemade Love series?  "Do unto others" pretty much covers it!
From ancient times till now, one force has driven economies and spared gazillions of people from ridiculous expense. One force has united communities, strengthened families, and put food on the table. It is THE ART OF THE BARTER.
My hometown is a very interesting place. Population of about 700. That might include a few bovines. And over the years, I've noticed something interesting. Rarely does anyone pay for anything.
When they need electric work done, they call a guy that knows how. When he needs to split fire wood, someone lends him their hydraulic splitter. They just help each other out when they need it! When someone doesn't reciprocate, they just don't get offered free help. Friendship and a deep sense of community drive this system, and it's kept in check by a wise and shrewd people who are willing to help, but can spot and rag a freeloader easily.

Not every neighborhood has this kind of friendship driving its economy, but that same art of the barter can be applied universally.
I've traded eggs for veggies, website for a minivan, advertising for credit at a restaurant, and even video production for upgraded computer equipment.
I think the reason I have had so much success with bartering is because I’m willing to do the hardest part...
1. The ask.
You don't need to be a sales person to barter, but youve got to be willing to stick yourself out there a bit.  Don't be afraid to ask about your purchase... Is there a way to barter for some or all of the cost?

2. Inventory
Take some time to regularly inventory what items or services you are willing to give away. Try to get a dollar value in your mind for them... So you know what they are worth.
I'm planning on making one day a week my "bread baking" day. Bake a bunch of bread and see who wants to trade what for it.
Is there something you do that others want?
Do you have any items lying around collecting dust?

3. Make friends.
I think this system works best in the context of relationships. If you don't cultivate relationships with like-minded AND diverse people, not only will you be lonely, but you'll be missing out on potential traders!

4. Be generous.
You will pick what you plant. Sometimes bartering just happens on accident. I have a friend that has fixed my lawnmower and cars more times than I can count. He is one of the most generous people I know! So because of that... If he ever needed anything... I'd be there in a heartbeat!

While it's not technically bartering, it often goes hand in hand, as we will have people giving and helping us in the same measure that we give and help others!

Bartering has the potential to be an amazing economy, but it works best in the context of friendship and community. It also helps if you know the value of the services and products you offer, and if you know the value of the items for which you are shopping. Most importantly though, the key to the good barter is just that willingness to ask someone if they would consider a barter!

Josh Hatcher is a blogger, graphic designer, musician, and creative marketing consultant from Pennsylvania. He enjoys his backyard mini-farm, cooking from scratch, and spending time with his family. Check out his websites. JoshHatcher.com | Manlihood.com | HatcherMedia.net

1 comment:

  1. I find this so interesting. Living so far from family in a huge town this makes me homesick. But I reckon I could do it on a smaller scale!