I’ve written about using bartering more to spend less cash and although most of you don’t think it can 100% replace money (including me) I think it’s a genuine way to get things done without exchanging hard cash. I think bartering can free up more cash to go to pay down debt or pay into savings. If you are low-income it is also a way to get more stuff done without needing more money.
Barter networks as a whole tend to work using some kind of credit or points system. Each trader / supplier works out or is given a rate for their service or product so that you can use points to trade with anyone in the network, not just straight exchanges.
Online Bartering Networks
Slowly but surely bartering seems to be migrating towards online services, bringing the ideas and ideals of a local barter system to a national, and maybe one day worldwide, scale.
Bartering online can bring many problems for the networks such as legitimizing services and goods offered and getting over the face to face aspect offered by a local barter system. This could be the reason why bartering online has not taken a big stronghold yet and although there are likely many local bartering networks websites which just represent local activity it does not seem that many National offerings exist.
My search found two legit looking networks (I have not personally tried these bartering website networks) catering mainly to small business but with decent looking online systems.
The Barter Network (http://www.barternetworkonline.com).
The Barter Network has been around since 1996 and says it is the biggest growing online bartering service. Barter members include large companies like ClearChannel and Invisible Fence and many small businesses with a large variety of services to offer. They even say they will pay your business $1000 to join right now!
With some strong media mentions and a focus on bartering higher ticket items Barterquest seem to have brought some mainstream attention to the idea of exchange.
One last place that may be worth checking out is http://www.transmediatrade.com. A commenter left this website for me to check out but he may have been from the company himself even though he acted like he was a customer of theirs…. Still their site looks very interested and well worth checking out.
Finding a local barter network
The larger national networks mentioned above seem to be mainly set up for small business. You may find it much more appealing to join a local bartering network where you can at least interact with some of your barter partners.
The GigaFree offers a fantastic list of USA Bartering Exchanges, this is the best list I could find for the whole of the country. The same commenter who told me about Trans Media Trade also mentioned the IRTA (International Reciprocal Trade Association) and they look like they have some good info.
You could also try searching Google for “Bartering Exchange in wherever” or “wherever local barter / bartering network”. Craigslist also sometimes has local barters too. Failing these options it’s time to take to the streets, maybe talk to your local business association, local town hall or the consult the classifieds of any local circulars. You could also ask small business if they are involved in barter networks.
Be careful and verify any network you become a part of. You don’t want to get dragged into anything that will waste your time so try to find something that seems structured with monthly meet-ups, printed information and a regulated system.
Tax On Bartering
As you theoretically gain the same net worth from bartering as you do from buying services or goods, bartering exchanges are considered Taxable by the IRS. I recommend you talk to a Tax professional about this but the general gist is that services and goods will be converted to current market value when applying tax to barters. So basically make sure you keep good records and extra cash aside for these!
I think bartering is an absolutely awesome way to stay frugal and also get involved in your community on a wider scale. It’s great to trade services and goods whilst being social and saves on items traveling across the country / world keeping things working on a local scale.
If you are already part of a barter network or have any comments at all I would love to hear from you.
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Thanks a million.