Barter Exchange Tips and Techniques

With the gradual economic downturn within the last decade, the barter exchange has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity. Many websites offer tips and techniques on how to conduct bartering. A number of internet sites have sprung up to connect those who have something to exchange with others who are hoping to acquire a particular good or obtain a service. Neighbors are turning to each other for opportunities to trade services and products without having to spend money that they don’t have.

Unless you know the basics of bartering and how to search for the goods and/ or skills that you are looking for, you could be missing out on some invaluable tips on how stretch your dollar as well as be fiscally responsible. If you haven’t considered the barter exchange as a viable option for getting the biggest bang for your buck, here are some techniques that will help you get connected with people who may be looking for exactly what you have to trade.

A successful barter exchange occurs when two people trade items of similar market value, each getting either a product or service. No money changes hands and yet both parties receive something that they need. You can barter with or for almost anything that has an attributed value. The key is finding someone that wants what you have to exchange.

1. List your items

Begin by making an itemized list of items that you don’t need that others could be looking for. What you have to exchange can be tangible or be a service that you are able to perform. If you are a car mechanic, you might be willing to barter your services for new batteries for your home generator. Or perhaps you have left over building supplies that you’d like to exchange for carpentry work.

2. Ascribe a value to each item

Unless you already have a pretty good idea about the value of your services or products, do some research or obtain an appraisal, particularly if what you have is of substantial valuable. It’s never a good idea to trade away something that might be worth more than you realize. The value that you ascribe will determine what you consider a fair trade. If you normally make $40.00 an hour for painting houses, you should barter your services by naming a price for a predetermined amount of time. If a neighbor would normally sell peaches in his orchard for twenty dollars a bushel, then two hours of painting should net you about four bushels of fresh fruit.

3. Get connected

A barter exchange can only occur when two individuals each have something to offer and can successfully find each other.  There are numerous online barter exchange websites that offer third-party services to help barterers connect. Some, likes Craigslist, have a special section dedicated to those who wish to trade rather than purchase. Planet Green offers a number of websites for the barterer who wants to explore options.  Some exchange sites will allow you to look around before registering to engage in a barter transaction. You can find bartering exchanges that cost you nothing more than the time it takes to register and post your items, as well as more sophisticated ones that charge either membership fees or take a commission based off of the item’s value. The latter sometimes offer free appraisals as a part of buy-in price. A few barter exchanges trade directly with you, offering you “banked credits” with which to purchase other bartered items.

4. Familiarize yourself with bartering tax laws

According to the Internal Revenue Service, any compensation that is received through services that are bartered must be declared as income. If a carpenter installs a new set of kitchen cupboards in your home to pay for your services as a lawyer, you are required to include the fair market value of his work as income. May sure that you understand tax laws that govern bartering to avoid an unfortunate audit due to failure to report bartered income. 

5. Spell out the terms of sale

Although bartering originated at a time in history when a man’s word was his honor, bartering with today’s strangers can leave you open to messy legal entanglements. If you are exchanging items or services of significant value, consider drawing up a binding contract that clearly states when and under what condition, an item may be returned or a service rejected as inferior. It is extremely important that both parties know how such an eventuality is to be handled.  Also be certain that individuals involved in the exchange understand the conditions of the barter if used merchandise is involved. If you are participating in a potentially complicated barter you may want to seek legal advice before proceeding.

Bartering is a great way to be a responsible consumer. Barter exchanges offer the opportunity to locate wanted items and offer goods or services of equal value in return. But bartering is not quite as simple as it was when a cup of sugar could be traded for sack of dried corn. Today’s tax laws stipulate that even bartered income must be reported. Traders beware! Not everyone you do business with is as fair-minded as you might be. Still-bartering has its charm. It returns people to a time when they depended upon each other for survival. Bartering even fosters a greater sense of community.

So what else do you need to get started bartering? With the knowledge you’ve gained already, if you have more “stuff” than money or have a trade that can be shared with others, you have all you need to find a barter exchange that will meet your needs. By the way-if you are looking for a good writer, perhaps you won’t need to look very far to find someone who just might be interested in bartering-especially if you happen to have any pre-1965 silver dimes. No? Well, what else have you got?