Money Saving Tips

How to Barter Like a Pro: The Ultimate Guide to Exchanging Goods

Successful Bartering

We all love a great bargain, and most of us actively look for ways to get the most out of our money. What if you didn’t have to spend any money to get what you want, and just had to exchange some services for it — by learning how to barter?

It’s entirely possible through bartering and even the big tech companies are getting in on it. Lean times have led to the rise in exchanging services or goods, and even if money isn’t exchanging hands you still want to feel like you walked away with a sweet deal.

Well, anyone can learn how to barter like a pro with these nifty tips we compiled.

The Thumb Rule in Learning How to Barter: Know What You Can Give for What You Want


It’s easy figuring out what products or services you want out of a trade at any given time. It becomes tricky figuring out what you are willing to give in return.

It does mean tapping into your expertise based on your professional skills. However, creating a checklist of items you have at home that you are willing to dispose of is the first crucial step.

Have a list of items and services that you could offer instead of just focussing on one thing you want to trade. Figure out what skills or hobbies you have that you could teach someone else.

It also doesn’t hurt if you can craft things and swap them with other items. The bottom line is that it pays to start from a point where you know precisely what you can offer and why someone else might find it valuable.

Create a Barter Network to Swap Services

Clothing Swap

The online space has made bartering much more accessible, but when it comes to exchanging goods or services it’s always best to work within a network.

That means starting with friends, family, or colleagues who may have items that you want. It’s significantly easier to strike mutually beneficial trades with people you already know than strangers.

However, if you don’t necessarily have a group of people in mind and you wonder how to barter with people you don’t know, there are several ways to get in contact with like-minded people in search of trading partners.

Join a Local Neighborhood Bartering Club

You could still join a local bartering club, several neighborhoods have them. They allow people to come together and swap services and goods. Some of these groups are also online-based while others have an arrangement where members meet in public to negotiate swaps.

Consider Joining a Time Bank

The way Time Banks work is that you register through their website and list the services that you are offering. Every service that you provide to other members earns you “time dollars” that you can redeem for services offered by someone else. You can easily find a local Time Bank in your area and sign up to start trading your services.

Use Specialized Bartering Websites

On the other hand, several bartering websites exist that allow you to exchange pretty much anything. That includes professional services, clothes, cars, kids gear, you name it. Making use of these pre-existing bartering avenues.

How to Barter Your Services, Goods, or Skills


Once you have identified a bartering network, the next step is to literally sell what you have to offer.  You have to be observant because opportunities to barter are always there and it’s just a matter of proposing the deal.

For instance, if you have tickets to the opera and need your hair done, you can suggest the trade with your local hair stylist or barber.

Regardless of whether you choose to barter through a group, online, or one-on-one, it’s crucial to set the terms of the deal up front. Here’s how to barter without the risk of running into a broken deal:

  • Assess the monetary value of the services/ goods in relation to what is on offer. You always want to make an even exchange, or better still get a service or item at a steal. However, in fairness, you do want to keep the trade even.
    For example, if you want to trade a $100 item for a $20 service, it means that you’ll want to receive 5 sessions of the service to even things out. That way everyone walks away happy and no one ends up feeling like they got the short end of the stick.

  • Negotiate exhaustively with the person you choose to trade with to make sure that you set the parameters of the deal. Ask as many questions as possible to avoid misunderstandings or oversights. This is probably the single most challenging part of learning how to barter but with practice, you can negotiate like a boss.
  • You also need to set time frames to fulfill each end of the barter. In the case of ongoing services, say receiving endless free meals from a restaurant in exchange of doing their taxes, you should schedule a future review date for the deal.
  • It’s sensible to have everything written down to safeguard both your interests. If its trading 5 haircuts for theatre tickets, you don’t want to end up short changed and only get 4 haircuts or less. Have e-mail exchanges outlining everything particularly for deals that will end up taking longer than one exchange.
  • Be cautious when trading professional services, particularly if it’s legal or medical-related. If you have reservations about what the other party is offering or wouldn’t seek their services under normal circumstances, then it’s perfectly fine to walk away from the deal.
  • Factor taxes into the equation because there are cases where you have to file bartering transactions as part of your tax returns. It’s particularly the case for businesses that exchange these services — by law, it’s still considered taxable income. For people who barter regularly, it’s wise to consult an accountant.

Learning how to barter puts you steps ahead when it comes to saving significant amounts of money on goods and services. Safety becomes crucial particularly when trading online with someone you have never met.

However, the process is rewarding and if you do it right you might just end up with items you would otherwise not have managed to buy upfront. It takes a bit of thought and effort to learn how to barter and join the bartering community but it will make significant savings on the items that you want.

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