The barter system is back. Well, really it never left. But it does tend to get put on the back burner until times are tight...like right now. So where does a person begin to trade what they have for what they want? Here are a few places to start.
First off, there is the almighty Craigslist. Craigslist.org has a section for bartering where you can offer your own resources for things you need. You can also offer or request services. So say you need a new washing machine but all you have to offer is your techy know-how with computers. You could trade computer repair services for that washer. Or vice versa.
There is also a section on there for free stuff. If you have things you need to give away, list them here. And this can be the first place you look when you need a particular item.
U-Exchange is a popular resource as well. Calling itself the largest free swap site, it offers a whole lot of possibilities for trades. You sign up as a member, but there are no fees or trade commissions paid to the website. Just sign up and start searching for trades. It's easy to sort through services, items, even vehicles for swapping. It's available in 82 countries.
Trashbank allows users to sell or barter. It is also a free service, with easy-to-search categories.
CareToTrade has sections for swapping items, bartering services, and exchanging real estate. You can buy items directly or trade them for items or services. There is a posted value so you are aware of what is expected in exchange value, and also an escrow system for trades that aren't done in person.
The Internet Barter Exchange is not free to use, but requires a membership fee. You can still search for items before signing up, but to access the service, it's a bit pricey. On the other hand, it sorts searches for easy selection, and has member and exchange ratings for a little confidence boost in your transactions.
If you're looking to trade services, try PeopleTradingServices.com. You have to sign up as a member, but you can then sort through what services other people are seeking and what they have to offer to find a great trade.
Freecycle isn't a bartering network, but you can offer up things you don't want and hunt for free things you do want. It's a great place to hunt for items you need and sava a lot of money.
A few tips on bartering online:
-Review How Bartering Works: Get to know what bartering entails, and all the pros and cons so you're aware of what to expect. Also review the tax implications of trading.
- Be detailed: Get specific about what it is you're looking for and what it is you have to offer so that you're not pinging interested people for days only to find out it's not a good trade.
- Consider the value of the trade: What's the market value of what you have to offer or what you're seeking if it were being sold for money. You'll want the trade to even out. And on the flip side, what is the value to you? If it feels like you're making a great trade—even if the monetary values don't align—then it's probably still a fair trade.
- Don't get stuck on things: Experiences can also be traded. If you're looking to go on vacation, see if the cute little hotel or B&B would like your creative writing skills to spruce up their advertising literature. Think about bartering as the primary solution to your needs, not as an alternative, and it'll let loose the possibilities.
-Be Aware: While bartering brings back the feelings of connection and trust with other people that can get lost when only cash talks, there's definitely the possibility you could get a raw deal. Be aware about the terms of the trade, and for larger trades or service trades, you might even want to consider drawing up a contract.