Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Can I Trade You for That?

It's been almost three months since my income was reduced by about 90%. Fortunately we are debt free and fortunately we are traveling now and don't have the giant overhead that we used to have when we owned a house and had all of the related expenses. However, when you don't have a lot of cash on hand, you really become aware of just how much everything costs. A couple of years ago I would think nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on random, and completely unnecessary, items. A new computer? Check. A new Coach purse? Check. A giant shopping spree at a Macy's clearance sale? Yep, that happened too. These days, however, pulling money out of my bank account is like pulling teeth...with no novacaine! So I have resorted to that age-old method for getting the things I want, bartering. Here's what I've done in the last couple of months:

  • The hubby and I are getting free room and board and car from the SIL by trading our services as a babysitter and cook (BTW, hubby is the cook, otherwise we would all starve). Hubby cooks all of the meals for everyone (dinner at night and lots of leftovers for lunches) and we both take care of her two grandchildren on the days that she works (which is actually pretty easy because all we need to do is get them ready and drive them to daycare, pick them up from daycare and take them to karate, then bring them home in the evening). So we still have lots of free time but are providing a valuable service for the SIL who would otherwise have a lot more work to do (now that I have been reminded how much work--and patience--are required to take care of two little girls, I feel like I want to give an award to each harried mother I pass each day!). I've also helped her out by writing a couple of policies for her for her job (something I used to do quite often so it was really simple) and teaching her boyfriend how to sell things on CraigsList.

  • When I took the kids to the karate school, I noticed that the school didn't have a website. I offered to design a site for the school's owner in exchange for two months of karate lessons (we will be here until early June and I could definitely use some more exercise!). He agreed.

  • When I went to a local salon to get my hair cut, the lady that was cutting my hair was talking about how she is looking for a job in another industry (she cuts hair on the side and was recently laid off from her finance job). She said that her resume needed to be updated so I told her I would make a trade with her--my next haircut free in exchange for looking at her resume and making some changes to make it look more up to date.

  • I have also traded some work (mostly website design and grant writing) for software, Starbucks cards, and some cash over the past couple of months.

Of course I always like earning actual money but bartering is fun! You never know what you will end up with and it is a good way to help people out who may not have cash but certainly have something of value to trade.


  1. That's awesome! I love the concept of bartering but haven't ever put it to use like you did! Love it! I'm gonna have to keep this in mind... :)

  2. I really have to force myself to ask about bartering. I'm not much of a sales person but right now, with our limited funds, it's either ask or go get a job to pay and I am supremely happy not working now.