For Trade: Is Bartering the Way to Go?

| July 23, 2012 | 1 Comment

boys with lunch boxesYou have probably heard and tried lots of tips in order to find a bargain, from shopping clearance sales, to buying certain items during specific times of the year, to going to yard sales, rummage sales and thrift shops. What if you wanted to shop for an item without spending any money, though? Kids seem to have the bartering system down pat; we might be able to learn something from them when they trade lunchbox items and shake hands signifying that a deal has been made!

I have recently become a fan of the new A&E series, Barter Kings. On this reality show, Antonio Palazzola and Steve McHugh show how they can trade one relatively low-cost item for high-end toys, such as a pair of jet skis, a horse, a diamond ring or a car. Browsing through the “barter” section of Craigslist, it seems as though the practice of trading for what you want is a somewhat-untapped (at least by me) treasure mine! You can do this with a friend or through ads on the Internet or in the newspaper, or you can try one of these brick-and-mortar or online resources to try it out:


I’d actually forgotten about our experiences with trading, but my husband periodically takes my son to GameStop to trade in the video games that he no longer plays with for new (to him) games that he’d like to have instead. The price or credit that each game or piece of equipment can bring in is set in the GameStop computers; as far as I know, there’s no haggling over prices.


If you go to Target’s website, you can trade in your electronic equipment and DVDs for a gift card that can be used on or in the actual store. This service is handled by a company called NextWorth, not Target itself.


TrashBank is a free site where you can barter (or sell) whatever you have laying around. You register first, then you can browse or place your own ad. When you find something that you want, you can make an offer; you might also receive offers from other people, and you can accept or refuse them.

Consignment Shops

You might already be familiar with these: Bring in your children’s gently used and outgrown clothing, and receive credit toward more clothes in the appropriate sizes. The rules pertaining to quality of the clothing depends on each shop; some will accept most brands, and others will take only name-brand or boutique-style items. All consigned clothing must be in good condition: No tears, excessive wear or stains are acceptable.
Of course, if you want to barter or trade, you can always try to set up a swap on your own. If you see that someone is selling something that you want, you can approach the person and see if there’s anything he is looking for that he might consider as a trade. A full barter would not include any cash, but if the item is worth more than what you have to trade, you could offer a reduced amount of cash along with your item to sweeten the deal. You can also try bartering for services: If you’re a hairdresser, for example, you could ask your dentist to exchange haircutting services for cleanings for your kids; you have nothing to lose by asking, because the worst he can say is no!

Check with your tax professional if you barter goods or services, because in some cases these transactions need to be reported as income.

Have you bartered for services or items that you needed? Tell us about it!

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  1. Alecia says:

    My husband and I frequently barter. He is an electrician skilled in multiple trades and I bake, and do an assortment of things such as painting, babysitting, canning and the like. Our most benefitial barter situation is currently he is trying to remove a fox problem from a local family farm and they give us assortments of their product which is usually taken to farmers markets to sell. The only part we spend is time. Planning to camp at their farm this weekend and they have suggested our little ones bring baskets to pick their berry bushes before they collapse after playing with the pigs and chickens that roam the multiple areas. Bartering is fantastic if you have a skill and someone who need you!

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