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Barter for Your Breakfast

In our cash driven society, you might think bartering for goods or services is impossible, but you’d be wrong. With the ease of supercenters, grocery stores, strip malls, and quick stops on every corner, there is certainly no shortage of places to spend your hard-earned cash, but with a little effort, you can hold onto those greenbacks, meet like-minded people, and and feel a certain achievement that you just don’t get in the check-out lane.

My journey into bartering began with the procurement of backyard chickens. Before you knew it, those little balls of fuzz had grown up and were producing more eggs than even my large family could eat. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my neighbors not only didn’t mind my feathered friends, they were hoping I’d share their little round bounty. After my first trade, which involved a two dozen eggs for some fresh caught (and already prepared) snapper, I looked at those chickens in a whole new light. Since that time I’ve swapped eggs for bags of local oranges, home baked pound cakes, handmade spring rolls, and a haircut. Home canned salsa, and pickles have been traded for cabbages and broccoli from a neighbor’s winter garden. One acquaintance with a sweet tooth swapped fifteen pounds of venison for a variety of jams and jellies my mother and I made from locally grown fruits. He had the means to hunt and process the meat, while I had the produce and knowledge to produce the jam. Bartering worked for us both.

I’ve been surprised just how many people are willing to bypass the store and swap goods instead of cash. If you aren’t the type to keep chickens or make jam, don’t let that discourage you. Services like haircuts and yard work are in high demand, and sewing is practically a lost art. Running errands for an elderly neighbor can turn into baked goods. I even know of a local vet who trades her services for chiropractic care. In today’s economy, everyone is searching for a chance to save money, and If you are willing to look, the opportunity is out there. So where is there, you ask? First, and the most rewarding, is word of mouth. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Some of my most rewarding (and repeating) trades come from people I’ve shared a street with for a decade, but only recently got to know. Ask around at church and in the office. (My boss regularly brings containers of fresh fudge in exchange for my Meyer Lemon Jelly). Browse bulletin boards at local farmer’s markets, and check local newspapers (especially alternative ones). If none of those work for you, there is always the internet; Craigslist and Facebook usually have several groups for any given location, though you should always use caution when setting up meetings from ads placed on these sites.

The bottom line is that while it’s easier to run up to the store and fork over dollars and cents for eggs and orange juice; it will taste a whole lot better if you put a little extra time and effort into bartering for it. The sense of pride and achievement you feel may surprise you. And on top of that, you might just make new friends too.
 

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Been bartering for anything I can for 5 years or so. A few of the things I've acquired with barter:

2N Tractor
WWll German Mauser
Bolt action .22
Compound bow
A tank of diesel fuel
Mountains of fruit and berries
A greenhouse frame
Beef
Venison
 
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