How To Trade Your Way Through Unprecedented Times 🤝
Dear Rich Lifer,
It started when supermarket shelves were bare from panic-buying at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Items like toilet paper, flour, yeast, and eggs were nowhere to be found as supply chains struggled to keep up with the high demand.
But this didn’t stop a number of people from acquiring these sought after goods. They simply resorted to an age-old practice: bartering.
Since the coronavirus pandemic started, bartering has been on the upswing across several online platforms like Craigslist, Facebook, and neighborhood app Nextdoor.
The uptick in people bartering seems to have continued since those few weeks of barren shelves, with even some cash-strapped businesses getting in on the action.
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What Is Bartering, Exactly?
Bartering is the oldest form of commerce. It’s the exchange of goods and services among two parties without the use of money.
On the surface, bartering sounds simple. Like trading baseball cards.
But as you’ll see, it can be quite complex. For example, imagine you need a carton of eggs but there’s a shortage at your local supermarket. You call a friend and ask if you can have some eggs in exchange for a loaf of bread.
Is a carton of eggs worth as much as a loaf of bread? That depends on how much value your friend places on that loaf of bread.
You see where this is going…now layer on trading goods for services and bartering becomes tricky.
How to Barter in the 21st century
It might seem like bartering belongs in a time passed, but we believe it has a place in the 21st century.
In fact, there are dedicated marketplaces and communities where you can safely trade electronics, jewelry, toys, professional services, and even cars.
Websites like BarterOnly, BarterQuest, Bizx (bartering for businesses) are just a few. You might also be able to join in-person bartering clubs. Just be careful and exercise caution before you meet up with anyone.
If you’re interested in joining a bartering community, find out first how much the membership costs and then ask how many active members are currently in the group.
Once you find some people willing to barter with, you then need to master the art of bartering.
7 Tips to Barter Like a Pro
The cardinal rule of bartering is know the value of the items you wish to trade.
If you don’t know how much your goods and services are worth, you won’t know when to walk away from a trade or when you’re getting a good deal.
You’ve probably heard the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” this applies. Research the going-market “rate” for your goods and services before you start trading.
Here are six more tips for bartering like a pro:
Get it in writing
Especially if you’re trading larger items, it’s best to have the terms of your agreement in writing should there be any disputes.
Channel your inner salesman
Don’t shy away from boasting about the benefits and features your goods or services offer. The more persuasive your pitch, the more likely you’ll come to a deal.
Your word is your reputation. Don’t withhold information that might make the person you’re bartering with have regret after the fact. Share all the details up front, including the good and the bad.
Don’t forget about taxes
If you receive money in a trade, you might be required to pay taxes, estimate tax 1040-ES. Always double-check before you make a large deal.
Use body language to get what you want
Bartering is a form of negotiation. And just like when you ask your boss for a raise, make sure your body language supports your message. Be firm when you need to and always try to be polite.
Don’t be afraid to walk away
If you’re not happy with the terms or the trade, walk away. Worst case scenario, you leave without a trade. Best case scenario, whoever you’re trading with chases you down and softens their terms or makes you a better offer. The power of being able to walk away is key.
This last tip is important. If you can’t walk away from a trade then you’ll constantly find yourself having to accept terms you’re not totally satisfied with.
One way to guarantee your walk-away power is to develop high-value skills that you can barter with. Not only do high-value skills give you the ability to walk away from trades more easily but you don’t have to worry as much about keeping your goods safe from theft.
What are Some High-Value Skills?
There are no guarantees that a skill will be useful, it’s all context dependent. However, there are some evergreen skills that are worth honing should you need to barter.
These skills are:
Small Engine repair
First-Aid and Medical
There are several more high-value skills but the general idea is that collecting and trading goods is not your only option when bartering. By developing some high-value skills, you create a replenishable resource that you can barter with again and again.
The Bottom Line
Bartering is on the rise and for good reason. Now is as good a time as ever to start practicing this age-old art. Like any skill, it requires practice to improve, so don’t be disappointed if you make mistakes at first.
To a richer life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team