50 Brilliant Tips to Live the Bartering Life

Written By Accounting-Degree.org Staff

For many people these days, money is tight, and they're looking for alternative ways to maintain their lifestyle and household. One great way to stretch your spending dollars is through bartering. By using goods, skills, or services you already have, you can trade with others to get what you need. Read on to learn about 50 great tips for living a bartering lifestyle.


Get an introduction to bartering here.

  1. Know what you need: Don't be wishy washy about what you expect to receive-directly ask for it, and be just as direct about what you have to offer.

  2. Do it in person: Establish better trust by bartering in person whenever possible.

  3. Pay attention to the season: Remember that Halloween costumes will move better in October than November, and vintage dresses around homecoming or prom.

  4. Offer time during lulls: Schedule barter work only during times when you have lulls in your regular hours.

  5. Set a time frame: Bartering isn't worth much if you never actually receive the product or service you're exchanging for-be sure to specify when your transaction will incur.

  6. Just ask: Don't hesitate to pop the question if you think it's a good deal.

Barter Partners

Get set up with bartering partners by following these tips.

  1. Get started with people you know well: When you're trying to learn the ropes of bartering, start out with people you know and trust.

  2. Check out websites: Take a look at websites that specialize in bartering or swapping.

  3. Post bartering requests regularly: Stay on the radar and keep posting about the barter deals you'd like to make.

  4. Research: Look for word of mouth recommendations and references when finding someone to barter with.

  5. Put the word out: Let anyone and everyone know that you're looking for bartering partners.

  6. Display a We Barter sign: Advertise that you're open to bartering in your business with a We Barter sign.

  7. Be selective: Choose your trades carefully, selecting businesses and people that can represent your brand and reputation.

  8. Get recommendations: Be sure you can trust the person you're bartering with by asking for recommendations.

  9. Find local people: Use sites like craigslist and Meetup to find local swappers.

  10. Communicate: Stay in good contact with your bartering partner.

  11. If you wouldn't pay them, don't barter with them: Don't enter into a bartering relationship with someone you wouldn't otherwise do business with.

  12. Join a Time Bank: With a Time Bank, you perform services and earn a time dollar that can be redeemed for other services on the site.

  13. Check the fine print on barter networks: If you're joining a bartering network, look out for entry feeds, percentages of transactions, or minimum trades per year.


Without actual money exchanging hands, it's easy to lose sight of the real value-follow these tips to stay on the right track.

  1. Be attractive: Ask for a product or service that your bartering partner would be happy to exchange.

  2. Have a specialty: Make your bartering more valuable by specializing in something others may have a hard time getting.

  3. Know your costs: Be sure that you understand the true cost of what you're trading.

  4. Know your value: Be sure that the service you're offering is as valuable as what you're trying to receive.

  5. Be realistic: Be careful not to over-promise what you can deliver.

  6. Be confident: Don't be wishy washy with potential barter partners, or undersell yourself.

  7. Be fair: It's tempting to get the most out of a deal as you can, but it's better for your bartering relationship if you simply strive for an equal exchange.

  8. Don't cross the line: Be careful not to insult your bartering partner with a ridiculously unequal trade.

  9. Talk about it afterward: After the bartering is complete, check in to make sure that both parties are happy.

Offers & Needs

What exactly will you be bartering for? Use these tips to make your consideration.

  1. Take a look at your overheads: Stumped on what you can barter for? Take a look at what you pay for regularly, like creative design, couriers, accounting, and SEO.

  2. Think beyond things: Remember that experiences like vacations can be traded.

  3. Barter for gifts: Even if you can't personally use an item, keep in mind that bartered items can make great gifts for valued clients.

  4. Ask yourself what you have to offer: Look beyond your business and think about items you have, hobbies you can teach, crafts, or chores you can swap.

  5. Stick to needs only: Only barter if you actually need the service being offered.

  6. Provide a list of things to choose from: Even if your offer doesn't pique the interest of a provider, offer a list of other things they can get.

  7. List your needs: Just as you should list what you're offering, have a list of what you'd like to acquire in exchange.

Conflict Prevention

Avoid unnecessary stress and conflict by following these tips.

  1. Be very appreciative: Keep a positive bartering relationship by showing your appreciation for your partner's hard work.

  2. Establish boundaries: Make sure you have clear goals and outcomes in any bartering relationship.

  3. No is an acceptable word: If you're approached with a trade that isn't beneficial to you, don't be afraid to politely decline.

  4. Create an "out": Don't leave a bartering relationship open ended, and be sure to have an option to end the contract if either party isn't happy.

  5. Agree on conflict resolution: Decide ahead of time what will happen if one person is satisfied, but the other isn't.


These tips will keep your paperwork on the straight and narrow.

  1. Don't forget the IRS: Make sure that you keep proper bartering records for tax time.

  2. Write a contract: Stipulate exactly what you're exchanging in writing, preferably with a contract.

  3. Talk to a CPA: For larger barters, be sure to bring in a CPA to ensure that you're getting the documentation correct.

  4. Zero out at the end of the year: If transactions aren't complete at the end of the year, you may have to pay or receive a tax credit-avoid this situation by zeroing out all exchanges by the end of the year.

Swaps & Communities

With these tips, you can create swaps and communities in your own neighborhood or circle of friends.

  1. Share petsitting with your neighbors: Save money on boarding by getting neighbors to pet sit for you while you're out of town, and return the favor.

  2. Create a babysitting co-op: Save hundreds of dollars on babysitting with a co-op, and build a community and friendships.

  3. Swap homes for vacation: Instead of paying for a hotel or rental home, arrange to swap homes with someone for your next vacation.

  4. Set up a service bank: Get together with friends and create a service bank to do work for each other.

  5. Plan a clothing swap party: Plan a party to swap clothing items and jazz up your wardrobe.

  6. Exchange books: Start or join a book club that allows you to meet and exchange books, or swap online through the mail.