The Rewards From Bartering
James Harvey Stout (deceased). This material is now in the public
domain. The complete collection of Mr. Stout's writing is now at
Jump to the following topics:
- We gain many
- We gain many
We gain many personal
- It is a personalized way to do business. Although barter is
basically a commercial transaction -- particularly when we are
simply using units instead of dollars -- one-to-one bartering can
bring out the humanness of people. Some barterers say that barter
is "a game," an emotional exchange, a genuine transaction --
personal, humanistic, creative, wholistic. Barterers tend to have
a spirit of adventure, openness, flexibility, and hope. These
people are willing to invest themselves in the emotional contact
of the non-aggressive haggling.
- Bartering encourages us to examine our values. Abstract
dollars don't directly express the effort which was expended to
earn them. But when we are trying to trade our home-grown
grapefruits for a woman's knitted scarf, we might feel our values
more clearly, as we see both sides of the trade. The values are
personal, flexible, and spontaneous; we explore them as we go
along, out of a sensitivity to our feelings and our interaction
with this other person.
- We learn about trust. When two people are bartering
commodities, the exchange can occur in that moment. But if there
is an exchange of services, there usually will be a
time-difference; for example, "I will mow your lawn on Saturday if
you will babysit my kids on Sunday." If we are not using a
contract, we must trust. Although some people are cheated
in a deal, most of us respond well when people trust us. Trust is
a challenge, and an adventure in human responsibility. In an age
of burglar alarms and guard dogs, barter is
neighbor-helping-neighbor; this neighborliness can awaken and
strengthen our feelings of sharing and caring and respect and
fellowship and safety. We are returning to an old-fashioned way of
doing things, when dependable, responsible people in the community
worked together more than they do now.
- Bartering helps us to gain self-respect. Some people walk into
a barter club with the idea that they have nothing to offer -- no
skills, no talents, no particular value to anyone else. But
through the magic of resource identification, they can see many
kinds of value -- as a typist, or cook, or house-sitter, or
baby-watcher, or expert in a particular skill. Now they feel
better about themselves, with more optimism, self-assurance,
pride, dignity, and sense of self-reliance -- particularly if
those qualities have been dormant during a long period of
unemployment or poverty.
- Bartering gives us an opportunity to share our resources. The
personal nature of bartering might evoke the feeling that we are
truly meeting one another's needs rather than just passing around
some anonymous dollars. We can see clearly that we are relying on
one another for the actual materials of life. There is a time for
sheer charity, but sometimes we need to receive goods and services
for our own life, too; bartering allows us to give our assets to
people who do not have much money, because we know that they can
repay us with their own goods and services which we need.
- Bartering enhances our relationships. In friendship, there is
a form of bartering; we trade through our conversations and
through smiles, laughter, hugs, friendly glances, and cooperation.
And when two friends are apart, they swap letters, phone calls,
and visits. Bartering can assist our friendships in other ways:
- Paying for gifts. If we barter, we have new ways by which
to acquire gifts for friends' birthdays and for Christmas and
for other events. For example, we might spend our barter club's
units on a one-day pass to a local ski resort, and then give
the pass as a gift. We can barter for a gift certificate at a
store. We might barter for the rental of a rototiller, then
lend it (for an afternoon) to a friend who has been struggling
in a garden. After we trade our carpentry skills for a
lawnmower, we can let our friends use the mower in exchange for
their gifts and considerations.
- We can pay for dates. Bartering can give us the means to
take that special lady (or man) to that special restaurant, if
we pay for the date with barter-club units (or a direct trade
with the restaurant).
- We can pay for parties. Consider these possibilities:
- We can pay for a party by bartering for the
entertainment, catering, party supplies, refreshments, and
housecleaning (before and after the event).
- We can host a pot-luck dinner itself, which is a form of
bartering. We trade our food for a taste of everyone else's
- We can coordinate a "progressive dinner," in which the
pre-dinner beverages are served in one home, and then
everyone goes to another home for the hors d'euvres or
appetizer. This progression continues through the main
course, dessert, after-dinner drinks, and entertainment. At
the end of the dinner, people might be encouraged to swap
recipes for the food they brought. They might even trade
- We can have a party at our home on the night before our
yard sale. The guests can bring their own items, and trade
them for the goods which we have designated for our yard
sale. (Our leftover items will be sold at the yard sale.)
- We can create a party which is based on the theme of
bartering. (Refer to that chapter in The Kids' Guide To
We gain many
- We can use more of our resources. In a money-based economy, we
usually think in terms of "money" (to get goods and services) and
"job" (to get money for buying the goods and services).
- At the job, we use only our "job skills." Bartering allows
us to use our other skills; for example, we can barter our
music skills (as a music teacher) or the products of a hobby
(e.g., our pottery). Surely those other skills could be sold
for money -- but bartering allows us to work for people who
want our skills but don't have enough money to pay for them.
- When we want to purchase something, we are not limited by
the amount of money which is in our bank account. Now our goods
and services are "money"; they are resources by which we can
purchase other people's goods and services.
- We avoid superfluous expenses. In one-to-one deals with
individuals, we are trading directly for a product which we might
otherwise have purchased in a store. In a store, we are paying for
more than just the product; we are also paying for a portion of
the store's business expenses -- its lease, utilities,
salespeople, advertising, etc. And we are paying interest on the
credit card which we used.
- Bartering helps us to exchange goods and services with friends
- We can exchange "priceless" goods. For example, I might not
be willing to sell my beloved heirloom (or one of the
sculptures which I created), but I would trade it for
- We can avoid "cold cash" between warm friends. Sometimes an
exchange of cash is inappropriate, but a trade will allow us to
get what we want.
- Bartering allows us to "do business" without having a
business. For example, we want to share our garden produce or our
craft products, but we don't want to create an actual business;
bartering gives us an easier way to do this. (However, in some
cases, we might have to deal with matters such as a business
license -- and we might have to pay taxes, as explained in the
chapter regarding the taxation of bartering.)
- Bartering can help us survive during personal financial
crises. At those times, we might be bartering for essential needs:
some food from a bartering baker, or tutoring to learn a skill for
a new job. A book written in the early 1930s explained the
importance of bartering: "The barter movement has been a matter of
life and death to a great many individuals. The story of its
growth is as much human as it is economic, for the destitution and
want that have been responsible for most of the [barter] groups
have been real. The barter movement has come up from the bottom.
It has grown spontaneously from the most fundamental needs of
human beings: food, clothing, and shelter.'' (Men Without
Money: The Challenge of Barter and Script by Wayne Weishaar
and Wayne W. Parrish. Copyright 1933 by Wayne Weishaar and Wayne
- We can get a new line of credit. If we barter, we might not
need as much credit, because we can pay for some of our expenses
by bartering. However, when we do need credit, bartering can help
- Many barter clubs give their members a line of credit.
Depending upon the club, this amount might be $500 to $1,000
worth of units. One club gives credit up to $50,000. A club
might offer even more credit, if we meet the criteria. (Other
clubs do not allow any of this "deficit spending.")
- We pay off the loan with barter-club units (instead of
money), so we will probably be able to pay even if our cash
resources are limited.
- We pay interest on the loan, but the rate might be lower
than a bank's rate.
- We can use bartering in our investment plans.
- In a barter club, the members can supply us with investment
opportunities in jewelry, gems, gold, silver, valuable
paintings, real estate, and other items.
- The club's membership might include accountants, attorneys,
financial consultants, and other experts in investments. A
member who owns a bookstore can supply us with the books that
will help us to understand the world of investing.
- We can lend our units. If the club allows us to lend units
to other members, we can do so (with interest).
- We can purchase expensive equipment which can leased or
rented to other members. For example, we might invest in heavy
machinery, or computer equipment.
- We will be able to invest more cash, because we are paying
some of our expenses by bartering.