Sunday, July 12, 2009
To barter, trade, and swap your way to FI;-)
There was a time when most exchanges were direct. My son and I are reading one of the Little House books and Pa just traded his wagon and horses for a plot of ground, a sod house, and two oxen with another family who was moving on farther west. Rather than going out to earn money, then exchange the money with each other, the two families each got what they want directly.
I've done this on a small scale and reading the story started firing up some creative ideas to continue along this line. Let me give you three examples from my life in the past few years and see if you can make it a goal to do one straight exchange this coming month. You'll be delighted to see how cost effective this is.
One of my neighbors, an ardent gardener, was having a baby. I knew she loved plants, but was on a tight budget. So rather than go out and buy a $20 baby outfit, I gave her a card with a coupon inside to come to my yard and I would dig her divisions of any plants she wanted. She was thrilled with the plants and received far more pleasure than a quickly outgrown baby outfit would have given. And I had saved $20, $30 pre-tax, to put toward FI.
Another time my two boys wanted a sand/gravel play area. I called the local gravel pit and found the gravel would be only $20, but the delivery would be $50, even though we were only two miles away (it was a flat fee). At that time, I was clearing out one of my perennial beds so the kids could use it for a play area. I had also been selling quite a few perennials to a guy in town. I called him up and told him if he would pick up that sand on his trailer, I would give him everything in the perennial bed I was digging up. He was glad to do it as he had to drive by the gravel pit on the way to my house and he was already planning to bring a trailer for all the other plants he was buying. It was a win-win situation. The only downside is my kids have yet to play in that area, which turned out to be a bit too shady and buggy - and it has since become overgrown with weeds - but the idea was still good;-)
One final example was yet another neighbor/friend who had asked me to water her plants while she was on vacation. I was glad to do so and when she got back she asked if she could return the favor. As it happened, we were going to my in-laws for a night and I needed care for our Pug Brandi. I had planned to kennel her, at the cost of about $30. Kathy said her daughter would be glad to let Brandi out, feed her and play with her after school. So this saved $30 on kennel expenses ($45 pre-tax) and Brandi got a "lot of lovin".
In addition to saving money, bartering of this sorts builds community with your neighbors and friends and is just plain fun!
Knowledge + Action = Financial Independence.
Make a list of any successful trades you've already made. This will give you confidence going forward. Almost everyone has traded some sort of labor, items, time, or something. Now make a list of five potential trades just to get the creative juices flowing. It's fine if you don't do each. Just get thinking. Maybe you could find a friend to help you strip that 70's wallpaper off the bathroom in exchange for a few hours helping her weed her garden. You could look at Craigslist and other trading sites to see if you might be able to trade the old mower in your shed for a fishing pole for your son. Or just go to one of the barter sites, like www.barterquest.com online just to get some ideas. Happy bartering!