My monthly budget is $350. This includes food, medicine, clothing, cleaning supplies, etc. Everything for the care and keeping of my family comes out of that one pot of money. I use many frugal living strategies to stay under budget each month. Most people assume that being an "extreme couponer" is how I do it, but that's so far from the truth that it's laughable. I wish it were that easy!
This series of posts will help you learn how One Fabulous Mama rocks one fabulous budget
for her family of five. In part one of this series
, I describe how I use coupons and sales ad match ups to help keep my family under budget and living a fabulous life. In part two
, I explore how I use gardening to supplement my family's meals all year long. In part three
, I explain how frugal living and "deal" blogs inspire me (like I hope this one inspires you!), how to find them, how to tell the difference between crap and good advice, and I top it all off with a list of my favorites. In part four
, I describe how thrifting saves me a ton of money and makes me feel like a smart, fabulous chick, too. In part five
, I explain how we use cash envelopes to stay on track and under budget every month.
In part six, I explore how bartering for goods and services is a key strategy for maintaining a frugal and fabulous lifestyle. Peace, B.
Bartering is the exchange of goods and services for other goods and services without using money. Think about stories your grandparents may have shared with you when you were younger about back in their day when so and so gave someone a dozen farm fresh eggs every week for piano lessons or such and such paid for a car repair by doing some roofing work. It's all about using your talents, expertise, or what you already have to get what you need or want.
I love to barter because I'm using what I have to get what I need/want. Bartering helps limit my consuming, my spending, and my gimmes. (If the gimmes are a strange concept to you, take a look below. This is not about bartering, really, but it's a good lesson for everyone.)
But I digress.
Bartering works when you have limited funds, of course. You are relying on what you can do or give and not money. Bartering is a really important frugal living strategy for my family. It's not just how I add the extras that make life fun, but can also be a means for furnishing our home, employing skilled laborers, supplementing our groceries, and fueling our hobbies.
How does one barter in the modern world?
There are websites and associations for bartering. They're as serious or as casual as the people who use them. I'm a member of three local Facebook groups- one trades locally grown produce; the second is a kids' clothing exchange; and the third is for giving and trading anything. The second and third groups are strictly no money allowed. If you're having trouble finding groups, just use Google, do a search on Facebook using keywords, or ask your friends. Even though I belong to these groups, I still do most of my bartering via networking with friends and neighbors.
The key to bartering is simple. Both parties have to have something the other party wants/needs and both parties have to agree to the trade. The trade can be a formal agreement or a simple understanding. I suggest getting anything complicated (or with the potential for being complicated) in writing. For example, if I am trading music lessons for a car repair, I would make a note of what is expected of everyone and get signatures. It's not necessarily a legally binding document, but rather a way to make sure everyone is on the same page. For more simple exchanges, I don't feel anything beyond talking it out is necessary.
While clear communication is the most important part of bartering, make sure that what you're trading is worth what you're getting. When you're bartering, the monetary value of an item can helpful to know and is oftentimes a jumping off point for me, BUT it isn't what really counts. Most trades simply aren't equal based on a traditional monetary value system. Most trades are equal by way of what they're worth to the parties involved in the trade.
Examples of bartering
I once bartered a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies to get my grass cut.
A friend just bartered this full size loft bed with a built in computer desk for my middle-Little in exchange for ACT/SAT tutoring for her teenager. Super happy with this deal.
I traded a king size bed for a couch and desk.
I work every week (sometimes more often than others, depending on what needs doing) in my neighbor-friend's garden. In exchange for my work, I receive fruit and veggies.
How to start
Just ask. That's all you have to do. Let your friends and family know what you're looking for and what you're willing to trade in return. It really is that simple. You most likely are already bartering with folks. It's really simple to do. Will you always find what you're looking for right away? Nope, but you won't find it at all if you don't ask.
Is bartering for you?
Some folks who take my frugal living classes get really excited about the idea of bartering and some folks are mortified. For me, bartering is as exciting as thrifting. I like the mechanics of bartering almost as much as I like the end result. For others, bartering just seems like too much work or a tad too unseemly. That's okay. My way of doing things isn't for everyone, but don't knock it 'til you try it, friends.