The Holton Homestead
You may be asking, what is barter? Dictionary definitions is the following:
gerund or present participle: bartering
Alight so essentially it's people trading stuff for things. Easy enough right? But if it is in fact, so easy, why aren't we using it daily? For everything? There are a few reasons that come to my mind on why bartering isn't as popular as it once was, but first let's talk about the history of barter.
Bartering has been around longer than money. Actually it dates all the way back to 6000 BC. Tribes would barter for herbs, salt, tea, and weapons. In the Middle Ages, Europeans traveled around the globe to barter crafts and furs in exchange for silks and perfumes. Colonial Americans exchanged musket balls, deer skins, and wheat. When money was invented, bartering did not end, it just become more organized. Bartering became popular again in the 1930's during the great depression when money was short. It was used to get food and other necessary services. It was so organized that it was sometimes done through groups or people who acted similar to banks. If items were sold, the owner would get credit and the buyer's account would be deducted.
The number one reason in my mind is that the government has no way of regulating it and therefor taxing it. Usually bartering goes on with no receipt or record that it even happened. Exchanges happen "under the table" so to speak. That is just not acceptable from the governments viewpoint. They need to get their cut.
Trust could be another downfall to the barter system. You would want to barter with someone you know will hold up their end of the deal. If they offer you a service for your goods, you better make sure that service gets completed. This could also go for goods, you want to make sure you are given an accurate description of the goods you will receive.
Another reason that makes bartering difficult for some could be lack of skills or possessions as use of payment for desired items. Or the "conversion rate" perhaps. Possibly even finding the right person who desires what you have to offer.
But forget all the negative because bartering is an art. You can make it however it fits your needs. You have to come up with the perfect exchange rate for each specific exchange. Something you used to pay Stew, may not be an acceptable payment for Sally. Not to mention there are so many variables of service and goods. You could trade a service for a service, a good for a good, and good for a service, and service for a good. The value of each good or service could be different person to person too. Someone who has their own chickens and eggs probably wont see the value in bartering with you for eggs. However, someone who doesn't raise their own chickens may be craving farm fresh eggs and will give you just about anything to get some. Don'f forget to factor in supply and demand.
So where do you begin? There is no blanket answer for this. You may not be able to start bartering today.
But some advice I can give:
1. Be open minded. When doing private party purchases (garage sales, farmers markets, craigslist, Facebook, your neighbor, or family members) suggest an exchange of goods or services as your payment.
2. Look at what you have to offer other a head of time. Know what you would be willing to do or part with if a barter opportunity comes about in the future. What services can your offer? Handy man, lawn care, babysitting, cleaning, tax prep, financial advising, landscaping, remodel, art. Do you raise your own food? Could you barter garden goods, eggs, raised meat? Do you have a desirable item? Anything from electronics, clothes, toys, supplies, concert tickets, decorations, items big or small.
3. Don't be afraid to ask. You are not the only one who prefers to barter- for many reasons. Don't be afraid to ask someone about bartering. The worst they can say is no, but what if they say yes! Then you can add them to your barter network.
Keep the art of barter going!