TIPS: The Art of Bartering

By Frances Chaves
When money is tight, an alternate way to acquire goods and services is bartering, a transaction in which goods and/or services are exchanged without cash. Here are some tips to help you trade successfully!

  1. Before you enter into any kind of negotiation, determine the value of the goods and/or services you can offer and those you want to receive in exchange.
  • Research comparable values for what you are offering and/or receiving: Craigslist and EBay are good sources for this information.
  • Assign a dollar value to what you offering and what you are receiving, both the ideal amount you would like to receive or spend for said service or object, and the lowest that you are willing to go. This is your bargaining range.
  • Stay within your bargaining range to avoid getting burned.

2.  Identify a trading partner:

  • This can be someone you already know.
  • Use an online bartering service (see below).
  • Join a local trading or barter club. BarterPays at claims to be New Jersey’s largest such organization.
  • Register with a time bank: list the services you have to offer with a local time bank (  For each hour of work you provide to another member, you earn a “time dollar,” redeemable for any service someone else has listed on the site.

3.  Successfully transact your barter:

  • With individuals, don’t be afraid to ask; the worst that can happen is that they will say no.
  • Be sure that both parties agree on the value of the goods/services being exchanged.
  • Agree on the timeframe for the exchange; avoid open-ended arrangements.
  • Record your arrangement in writing and make sure both parties are in agreement.

4.  Don’t forget the taxman; the IRS considers barter between businesses as taxable income.

Online Bartering Resources: Extensive bartering boards organized by state; New Jersey’s can be accessed at Goods and services. B2B trading network. Services. Swap baby-sitting hours with members of your community. Nanny and senior-care services. Kids’ stuff. Clothing, accessories. Home furnishings, jewelry. Music, movies, books, and video games.

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