Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about bartering because I’ve been doing a lot of it. I am really enjoying it. I remember learning about bartering in elementary school and always thought it sounded like a nifty idea. As I got older I found out that my step grandparents used to barter for all sorts of things when they had a farm.
Here is how bartering is occurring in my life at the moment. Recently I’ve been writing the newsletter for the Kilpatricks that comes out each Friday. I can’t work for them at the market this winter (which is how I was going to pay for my veg) so since I do this, Michael trades me a share each week. I’m good at writing, he’s good at growing, it all works out.
I am working with my neighbors though, and since the winter market is traditionally slower than the summer market, I’ve worked out a barter agreement with them. This Saturday I got all the left over potatoes (oh man are they good) and 18 homemade tortillas (which are addictive). Now I could make both of these but having them on hand saves me time. Plus I got a smoothie, burrito for me, burrito for Chris and some pesto mayo.
So, to recap, for doing work for just two vendors at the market I get all of our produce for the week, plus fed at work and some other great food staples for the week. The past few days I’ve used this food and that means I’ve saved a trip to the store or a few hours in the afternoon cooking.
I’ve traded other things, like bread for laundry soap, babysitting for sushi, and vegan birthday cake for the admiration of my derby team. Well, maybe that last one is pushing it… 🙂 A friend even held a clothing swap a few months back where I came home with tons of clothes and housewares without paying a penny.
I really like bartering because money is very impersonal and sort of abstract, thus easily abused and distorted. With paper money you never feel like you are getting paid enough for a job, you never feel like you have enough, and you always feel like you have to spend more than you’d like. But when you trade something for something other than paper it changes how you view your time, skills, and relationships.
Recognizing what you are good at and what you can give to someone else is a whole lot more fulfilling than just handing someone some bills. It’s basically saying, “Hey I have a whole lot extra of this, or I have this ability to do something that you cannot….can you do this for me then?”
Plus what would you do if you didn’t have money or money was worthless? Would you be scrappy enough to come by food? How would you get clothes for you and your kids? How would you get that thing in your house fixed that you have no clue how to fix yourself? Life and its needs keep on coming no matter what, and I’d rather have creative ways to deal with that.
At the moment, if something terrible happened, I know all of our basic needs would be met just by the company I keep. I know I could shovel Chuck’s barn for milk/eggs/cheese, clean Mary Jane’s house for soap, and the list goes on.
What’s one thing in your life you could barter for something you need?