Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Magic of Bartering

I just got back from my first Chinese lesson and I can now read, write, and say "hi", "how are you", and "thank you". Not bad for my first lesson. The best part? My Chinese lessons won't be costing me anything except a bit of time because I found a lady from China who wants to improve her English so I offered to tutor her in English if she would give me two Chinese lessons a week. Bartering rocks!
I think many people are afraid to try bartering because you have to first, figure out what you have to offer in the trade, then go out and find someone who has the item/skill you need, then sell them on the idea of bartering. It can be kind of intimidating when you first start out, especially if you have been raised up in the US economy where everything has a price tag and everyone just assumes that if you want or need something that you don't have, you will have to exchange US currency for it.
Over the years we have bartered quite a few things--bowling lessons, bowling equipment, and bowling ball drilling when the hubby owned a pro shop; construction work for furniture and appliances; and internet work/website design for dental work. Back when I worked in a fast food restaurant as a teen, we would even arrange weekly food swaps with other fast food restaurants because we got tired of eating our own food (and couldn't afford to buy anything else). I also once arranged a barter when a friend's mom needed false teeth--he was able to trade his flooring installation services to a dentist to have his mom's remaining teeth removed, then trade his flooring installation services to a denture maker who wanted to get all of the flooring done in his son's house. It was a "win" all the way around and everyone ended up happy with the services/items they received and it didn't cost anyone a cent.
I highly recommend that you try bartering, if only just to see that you can do it. Something as simple as swapping a night of child care with a friend can make you realize that in many situations, you don't need to part with your hard-earned cash if you don't mind giving a bit of your time or skills in order to get what you want.

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