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Bartering to Save Money
"The propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another is
common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals."
- Adam Smith,
Scottish philosopher and economist (1723-1790)
Google "bartering today's economy" to turn up three million web pages with
those keywords. Here are a few articles that caught my eye:
economic slowdown has meant that many businesses are having to get creative to
stay afloat. And an increasing number are turning to a mode of trade that's
ancient: bartering." Read
"Bartering Makes a Comeback Amid Tight Times" on the NPR website.
has been declared dead in the U.S. more than once since its heyday in the 17th
and 18th centuries, when colonists routinely paid off debts with goods such as
deerskin, beaver pelts and tobacco. We contend, however, that the practice is
alive and well and serving an important function in today's economy." Read
"Let's Make a Deal" on The Wall Street Journal online.
Economy may be regarded as the mother of all economic concepts prevalent today.
It is the most primitive and very basic economic theory, which does not consider
currency as a medium of exchange." Read
"Barter Economy" on EconomyWatch
Copyright © 2000-2014 by Barbara Brabec,. All rights reserved.
Cashing in on Your Creativity:
Two Ways to Look at It
by Barbara Brabec
"Cashing in on your creativity" is a phrase that fits our current economy
and most everyone’s need today to both make and SAVE money.
Lately as I’ve been
considering our deplorable economy and the financial difficulties of so many
small business owners and families in general, I've been thinking about what it
really means to be creative. As the author of several books for individuals in
the arts & crafts industries, "cashing in on your creativity" is a phrase I've often
used in connection with the idea of building a business around
the creation and manufacture of handmade items and related services.
But "cashing in on your creativity" is also a phrase that fits our current economy
and most everyone’s need today to both make and SAVE money. You may profit by
offering a creative service or making something to sell, but you can also profit by doing something that saves
you money. In essence, the more you can save, the less money you may need to
squeak by each month until things get better financially.
You both profit and save whenever you make something for yourself that you don’t
have to buy, or you make something as a gift that costs you nothing but time
because you already have materials on hand. And “cashing in on
your creativity” again conveys both the idea of making money from your creative
talents and know-how and SAVING money because you possess that kind of know-how.
If you need something you must buy, you can "cash in" by being a savvy shopper
and looking for ways to obtain what you want at lower cost. For example, last
year when I
could no longer tolerate the color of my old couch but couldn't find a new one with
a design I liked as much, I decided to have it refurbished
and upholstered. If I
had gone with the first quote I got from a local upholsterer, this job would
have cost me $2150. If I had gone with the second upholsterer, the job would
have cost me $1820. But not being able to justify that much money, I kept
looking and finally located an experienced upholsterer who had a full-time job
as an upholsterer but also did upholstery as a part-time business after regular
work hours. He was happy to get $800 for the upholstery work, was willing to let me supply the fabric,
and guaranteed satisfaction. (He didn't even ask for a deposit.) I watched for a sale
at Jo-Ann Fabrics and found exactly the upholstery material I wanted at a 50
percent discount, with the result being that my creativity in “shopping around”
got me a new couch for just $1,050 that looks like it cost three times as much.
The Secret to “Cashing In”
You’re cashing in on your creativity and also saving
money every time you give a handmade greeting card or gift; every time you
can think of a new way
to use your existing inventory of raw materials; every time you can fix
something that’s broken.
You’re cashing in when you wait for something to go on sale before you buy it.
And you’re also cashing in whenever you can find things you need at a garage
sale, resale shop, or in someone’s public trash. (You might be surprised by the
number of eBay sellers who regularly shop garage sales and pick up discards
people put out on the street for garbage pickup every week. Once it’s on the
street, in the public parkway, anyone can take it.)
Do It Yourself and Save Big Time
Many years ago, I read a book that described the hundreds of ways people save
money, and how much more money we would need if we had to hire out all the
things we were unable to do ourselves.
In these hard times, being creative puts
you way ahead of most of the population who can’t do dozens of simple things
that all creative people take for granted.
After I read the above-mentioned book and added up the value of all the creative
and handyman things my husband and I were then doing ourselves, I realized that
we were able to live comfortably on half the income many other couples needed
because they couldn’t do those things themselves. So if you really want to feel
good about your current financial situation and perhaps your shortage of cash
now, add up the value of all the things you are doing that you don’t have to
hire out, and then consider how you might live on even less income if you could
learn to do a few things more.
You wouldn’t believe how many people can’t even sew on a button, take in a seam,
or lower or raise a hemline. Anyone who knows how to cut hair is saving a
fortune these days. If you can do any kind of repair work around the house,
whether it’s replacing an electric outlet, fixing a leaky faucet, installing a
new garbage disposal or sump pump, or making other minor household repairs, you
are probably saving from $45-$75/hour by doing it yourself.
How-to books on every topic abound, and the purchase of one or two now might
well save you hundreds or thousands of dollars over time. For example, I’ve cut
my own hair for thirty years, and I also cut my husband’s hair for twenty years.
(You only need to estimate the cash saved here to understand how just ONE
creative skill can save you thousands of dollars over time.)
Bartering: Another Creative Money-Saving Option
Establishing friendships with other creative people or those with handyman
skills can also be advantageous these days because then you can barter some
services or products. In fact, bartering is making a big comeback in these tight
economic times (see links at left), and many small businesses are joining barter
There are tax considerations to think about when you regularly barter
business products and services, but many of us can do simple barter exchanges
without worrying about tax consequences. For example, I recently bartered
with friends who did the following jobs for me in return for some books, CDs, or tools I was planning to sell, or just a treat from my kitchen:
Repaired a section of dry wall after a foundation leak was fixed
Installed a new cartridge and needle in my LP player
Installed a new garbage disposal
Installed a new sump pump
Cut down an evergreen bush that had grown into an ugly tree, and hauled all the
branches out to the street for the annual shrub pickup by the city.
Add up what it would have cost to pay service providers for all of the above and
you’re talking more than a thousand dollars. (I almost fell over when the guy
who sold me the sump pump—the same guy who fixed the foundation leak—said he
would have to charge me $350 to install it. "Thanks," I said, "but I have a friend who
will do it for a cake his wife won’t make for him.")
Now if that’s not thinking creatively, and cashing in accordingly, I don’t know
If you want to feel better, just tally up all the money you’ve
saved by being creative . . . or COULD save if you just changed the way you
thought about "cashing in on your creativity."
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