Imagine person A has a broken computer but can bake donuts to die for and person B likes donuts and can fix computers. Separate one stays hungry and the other cannot tend to their imaginary farm on Facebook. Together however, they could discuss a trade off, or as it is known in the trade, a barter.
What bartering doesn’t generally do. It doesn’t put money in your pocket, nor does it put food on the table. It does however give someone an opportunity to gain something with no monetary output (no money spent). It helps people out. Rather than spending $150 for a brand name store to “set up” a computer, for the price of homemade pizzas someone could spend ten minutes clicking the options that someone would be paying $150 for. Just because someone can charge $150 dollars doesn’t mean that person who wants to do the work in exchange for pizza sees it as a $150 job. The same way that if you are used to making pizza, it is a lot easier for you to do it and would cost you less time and effort.
Bartering isn’t perfect for every situation. If your furnace dies, you can’t barter with the repair man for a pedicure for the rest of his life so that he replaces the furnace for free. Obviously if there is something required to be replaced or bought, then that has to be paid for but perhaps for the time and effort of the person, something could be negotiated. You can’t go to a fast food place and get free food with the offer to clean the windows because chances are, someone already cleans the windows. For the barter to work, both parties must be able to offer the other something that is either needed or wanted. A fence repaired for guitar lessons, a computer fixed for donuts, a shirt tailored for an oil change for a car.
Think of it this way. On Facebook alone there are groups for buying, selling or swapping items. Look at that last word. Swapping, or in other words, bartering. Think of it as two people who both have the skills and talents that the other one requires and rather than both people spending a lot of money, an exchange could be the easiest, cheapest way of getting things done. It also introduces people to each other and that can’t be a bad thing.
Of course, the barter needs to be fairly well balanced. You can’t expect a small muffin in exchange for your house being painted. You need to be realistic but also understand how much your, and their, time and effort is worth. You can negotiate and haggle but at the end of the day, common sense has to be used. In a previous article I commented on the need for fairness in swapping or trading. The same applies to bartering. Do it in good faith.