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Chefs Unite…and Swap for a Better Business! February 13, 2013

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We’ve been working hard on a new Barter Strategies offering and this one is sweet. We are finalizing a guide for restaurant owners on using barter effectively.

Many of our restaurateur friends naturally use barter as a part of their operations. But we have discovered that they aren’t using it thoughtfully or strategically to boost their business. To help them out, we have created 101 ways to use barter to grow your restaurant. It’s packed with how-to’s and ideas for bartering (101 of them to be exact.).

Stay tuned here to see more about using barter for business in ways that will not only make your company more profitable but your life a little bit easier and more enjoyable.

In the meantime, what’s the cleverest (or just the most recent) way you’ve used barter in the last month?

Happy bartering!



Tis the Season to Travel…and Barter May 18, 2011

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We love this item from Daily Worth’s email newsletter. It’s chock full of good info on how to barter for a vacation stay anywhere in the world. Just think of how much money you can save on hotel costs or condo rentals.

Here’s what Daily Worth had to say.

How to Find a Happy (Safe) Home Swap

Thousands of travelers the world over use home swaps as a way to afford a terrific vacation that might otherwise be out of reach.

But how do you know you’re not walking into a scam, 3,500 miles from home?

Choose the right site. To pick a reliable home exchange site, go to KnowYourTrade.com, a global directory, advises Nancy Wartik, a home swapping veteran and journalist.

Not only do you get an overview of the countless home-swapping networks out there, you can find those that attract homeowners from, say, Norway versus France.

Try HomeExchange for its international networks, Geenee for swap options in the world’s coolest cities, Homeforexchange for its ease of use, and Homelink because it’s one of the largest.

Pay the fee. Many networks charge a modest membership fee to use their services, and it’s worth it. By using a paid service, you’re likely to get more qualified, serious swappers.

That said, the swaps themselves should be free. If you stumble onto a site that seems to offer amazing homes, but charges a fee for each swap, that’s a red flag that it could be a scam. (Airbnb is an excellent site where people list their homes for rent, but they aren’t swaps.)

Trust, but verify. “Swapping can be a leap of faith,” says Wartik, but there are plenty of ways to vet potential swap buddies: If the site offers user reviews, read those; and have several email, phone and/or Skype calls.

You can ask for references, but be prepared to provide your own reference in return.

In the end, home-swapping success comes down to mutual respect—and being practical, adds Kayt Sukel of TravelSavvyMom. If you’re worried about certain precious or private belongings, store them in the basement, in a locked closet, or at a friend’s house.


And we would add that you should prepare a guest notebook of  important info about your home, area attractions, great restaurants (maybe even a warning against bad ones) and an emergency contact for your guests.

So what sort of home swap experiences have you had?

Make the Most of Your Trades January 24, 2011

Posted by Shera Dalin in Uncategorized.
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Maybe you’re curious about bartering but haven’t started yet or you have done a few trades. Either way, there are some strategies you need to know to help maximize your trades to get the most from them and keep both parties happy.

A-No. 1 is communication. Be very clear on what you’re offering and what you expect to receive in return. Many a trade goes south when both traders aren’t upfront or clear about what they are providing or expecting in return. If you’re bartering for a big ticket item like a car or refrigerator, make sure you have a sales contract just as you would in a cash purchase.

Set a value to your service. If you are trading a service such as house cleaning, be clear on how much that service is worth such as $75 per cleaning the entire home once. If you have a value, then you have a better idea of what you are getting in return. Twice a month house cleaning might equal four days of child care from your trading partner or it might equal right. If you know what she charges for child care, you’ve got an equal footing to stand on.

Referrals please. If you are trading with a business owner, make sure you refer cash customers to the business. Then let the owner know you gave him or her a referral. That’s especially helpful to keep up a good, ongoing relationship with the owner in case you want to trade again.

Do ask but maybe don’t tell. Sometimes your trading partner has a limited number of goods or services to trade and isn’t open to additional ones beyond yours. That’s OK. Everyone should know their limits. It’s best to ask your partners if you can tell others about the trade. If they say no, respect their wishes…and be grateful that you got to make a deal that benefits you. With time, that may change and you can send other barter deals to your partners.

Make good. It may seem obvious, but we know of lots of people who tried trading one time and didn’t get the full value of what they agreed to because their trading partner didn’t fulfill his or her end of the deal. Traders who short change others not only ruin that  relationship but they spoil that partner for others who would like to barter. If you doubt that you can complete the deal, don’t do it. It hurts you and others in the long and short run.

Practice the Golden Rule. In the end, we advise everyone to treat people the way they want to be treated. That’s a great rule that will serve anyone well in trading and in life.

Gimme One Good Reason to Trade December 21, 2010

Posted by Shera Dalin in Uncategorized.
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5 great reasons to barter

I’ll actually give you five. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you should consider adding barter to your bag of life tricks. Here’s why:


  1. Bartering saves you cash. Imagine not having to put a new bike or a hotel stay on your credit card because you just traded away an old bike or  a vacation stay at your home for those two items? Think of what you can do with the money because…
  2. You’ll live a richer life with barter. If you have more cash in hand, you can cope with emergencies better and you can have some luxuries like a longer vacation or more activities you couldn’t have afforded before.
  3. Solve problems. Trading can sometimes alleviate or even eliminate tough problems. Here’s a perfect example: Shera recently wanted to attend a social event with her dear sweet husband, but she couldn’t line up a babysitter in time. (Imagine teenagers wanting to have a social life on a Saturday night.) But she posted a message on the website of her daughter’s school, asking for sitters or a parent who might want to trade. And voila! a parent from her daughter’s class volunteered for that very night to trade sitting. Problem solved; night out done! Which means that…
  4. Community ties are enhanced. When you barter, you automatically get to know people better than in a cash transaction. Barter builds stronger relationships, friendships and community connections–a rarity in this age of technology and isolation.
  5. Barter is just plain fun and it teaches you to think more creatively about how to solve your problems. Think of it as painless brain pushups. When you don’t automatically think “cash,” you begin to consider other possibilities for getting what you want and need. You’ll even have fun making those possibilities become reality because who doesn’t like saving money and getting their needs met.

If you’ve bartered, what do you love about it?



Holiday Trades that Can Lighten Your Load November 10, 2010

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It’s that time of year when Americans gear up to prepare major feasts for Thanksgiving followed by Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s and other holidays. But if you’re like us, it’s easy to get frazzled by all the cooking, baking, packaging, cleaning, serving, more cleaning, etc. So here are a couple of ideas that can help you out.

Trade side dishes with another great cook who is putting on a feast and reduce the workload for both of you. Just make a double batch of your phenomenal sweet potato pie or famous rolls and get green bean casserole and pumpkin pie (or whatever you choose to exchange) in return. Since you are doubling your recipe, you’re probably not doing nearly as much work, and you will also save money on having to buy extra ingredients for the dish you’ll get in return. If you can set up a three-way trade you’ll shave your workload even more. Use disposable dishes or provide your trading partners with the dishes you want to put their treats in so you don’t need to worry about cleaning dishes and returning. (Also the green option.)

The same thing applies to house cleaning. Think how much faster your pre-party cleaning will go if you buddy up with a friend and tackle house-cleaning as a duo. You will both accomplish the job twice as fast and feel so much more in control of the holidays as they approach. A couple of tips: Spell out each person’s job or make a task list ahead of time, have all the cleaning supplies and tools (vacuum, dust/cleaning cloths, cleansers) on hand, and set a time or room limit so that no one feels taken advantage of.

Along the lines of food trades, why not have a little fun and have a cookie exchange. This is great fun and will load up your house with a wide assortment of cookies that your family will love. It’s also a lovely social occasion, which is one of the reasons we love barter so much–the community building aspect. Tips on how to hold a cookie exchange are at Cookie-Exchange.com.

You really aren’t limited by your trading possibilities for the holidays. Here are few other ideas: babysitting exchange to get kid-free shopping done; ornament trade; clothing exchange (new party duds!); china exchange (and won’t the relatives be surprised to see the swanky new table you’ve set); in-law exchange (OK maybe not).

Let us know what you’ve traded for the holidays and your tips for making it all work.

Insider Tip on Joining a Barter Exchange November 5, 2010

Posted by Shera Dalin in Uncategorized.
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Whatever you have to trade, if you can trade enough volume, you should consider joining a commercial barter exchange. So here’s a little inside scoop on getting the best signing deal.

Ideally, discuss joining the exchange with the owner of the exchange, or brokerage. This is the decision maker who can bend or flat out break the rules for new members. Maybe the exchange typically only gives $500 credit to begin trading. But if you can have a frank conversation about what your goals are for joining the exchange (launching an ad campaign, outfitting your new office, purchasing a large piece of equipment, etc.), the brokerage owner can get on board with your vision and be more willing to help you achieve it. After all, if you succeed, the brokerage is going to have a happy trader who will bring in more volume, which means more profit for them.

Be sure you give a full explanation of all the goods or services you have to offer the exchange’s members. If you’re a baker and you love doing wedding cakes, you may just say, “I make beautiful, delicious wedding cakes to trade.” Wonderful. You’ll get some business. But you’ll be even more likely to attract trades, and therefore be more attractive to the exchange owner, if you also mention that you make cakes for office parties, cookies with company logos, doughnuts, and pastries for office meetings. This is not the moment to be shy; sell it!

Ask for a discount on the initiation fee, the monthly service fee and even the transaction fee. The worst thing you’ll here is “no.” And there may be flexibility in the exchange if memberships are down a bit or you have a good or service that will be in strong demand.

Ask for more credit starting out, particularly if there is a specific project or goal you are trying to accomplish with barter. For instance, if you are trying to launch a media advertising campaign and don’t have the cash, explain that to the owner or broker. Having clear goals can help the exchange get you what you need especially when there is excess inventory or no “hard costs” involved for the other trading partner.

We hope some of these tips will help you get more out of your exchange membership and start off on a great footing. And please, let us know if you strike a great deal with an exchange. We love your stories!

Tired of Making Dinner? Barter It! October 13, 2010

Posted by Shera Dalin in Uncategorized.
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Barley Beef Soup


How many times have you come home tired from work to an empty fridge, a lonely stewpot, and a grumbling hungry spouse, asking “What’s for dinner?” (You are! we’re tempted to respond.) Instead of grabbing a handful of some fat-laden, processed naughtiness, here’s a way –using barter of course–to have a sumptuous dinner every night effortlessly. And you’ll save money to boot.

Find a friend, coworker or family member in the same dinner doldrums as you are and propose a meal swap. Each person will cook three to four meals in double-size quantity. The meals should be easily frozen such as casseroles, lasagna, soups or one-dish meals that will keep for a bit. Pick a day to swap those meals such as Saturday or Sunday and voila! You have meals for a full week.

If you want to really make it fun, go shop for all the ingredients and spend a morning or afternoon cooking together. You can save money on buying some ingredients in bulk and if you switch kitchens every other week, one person isn’t always left with the mess. You’ll also cut down on food waste since items you kept meaning to get around to cooking that week won’t spoil in the crisper (or the rotter as we call it).

Here‘s a recipe to get your started. Now, let’s get to cooking!

Avoid the SwapTree Fee–Trade Today September 30, 2010

Posted by Shera Dalin in Uncategorized.
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Swap.com, perhaps better known as SwapTree.com, is going to start charging a small fee for each trading beginning Oct. 1. If you already have a Swap/SwapTree account (or can start one ASAP) you can trade your books, movies, video games and CD’s for the rest of today without the 50-cent fee per trade. But starting tomorrow, the fee goes into effect on each swap. If you’ve been a member of SwapTree for a while the fee will be just a quarter per trade.

As much as traders dislike doling out cash for bartering, this isn’t a bad deal. The site is user friendly and is getting friendlier all the time thanks to new management. Obviously, Swap is looking for ways to monetize bartering on the web–a tough proposition in an Internet environment in which people expect free all the time. It’s an even riskier proposition considering that sites such as BarterQuest, CraigsList and U-Exchange are free. Of course they aren’t as focused and don’t have the functionality that Swap has. That includes showing you a list of all the items you can get for the things you’ve listed to trade. Since the site is dedicated solely to books, CD’s, DVD’s and games, it saves users from having to sift through lots of other items they don’t want.

Swap is also instituting a rating system that will help cut down on deadbeats who don’t fulfill their end of a trade and stiff their partners. (Grrrrr to those who do that.)

Have you traded through Swap or SwapTree? Drop us a comment and let us know how your experience was? And whether you’ve traded there or not, would you pay the fee to trade?

It’ll be an interesting experiment to see if the model works.

Trade Like You Mean It September 16, 2010

Posted by Shera Dalin in Uncategorized.

We love all the different online bartering websites. They level the playing field for everyone to barter RIGHT NOW. Pre-Internet traders had to seek out one another either in person such as through swap meets or through newspaper classifieds. It was barter steeped in molasses. Those days are long gone with the many general websites as well as specific ones for books, craft supplies, clothes, etc. (Here’s a short list.)

But if you really want to trade in the fast lane, check into commercial barter exchanges. Commercial exchanges, or brokerages, are great for meeting other people who truly understand the power of barter. They also offer a wide range of products and services among their members. So how does it work?

First you must join the exchange (more on fees in a bit) to begin earning and spending barter credits with other members. The vast majority of members are businesses, although individuals with a highly desirable product or service are members as well. Individual members best suited to a barter exchange are those who have substantial supplies of a product or service rather than random items or onesies and twosies. In essence, individuals should be operating as a micro-business to make it worth joining. Exceptions are when the individual has a limited but desired item such as a farmer who has seasonal produce to offer or a musician who is playing a concert.

When you sign up as a new member, your exchange should advertise to the other members that you’ve joined and what you have to trade. Typically that’s done through an email blast or newsletter. That sort of “free advertising” is one of the many benefits of membership. Companies that want what you have to offer will contact you with an offer or their exchange representative, or broker, to set up the trade.

Each trade you make will earn you barter credits based on the total dollar value of what you “sold.”  When you “buy” from another member, you’ll be spending the credits your earned.

Each trade will be subject to a cash transaction fee of between 5 percent and 12 percent, depending on the policy of the exchange. Some exchanges charge on either the “sell side” or the “buy side” of the trade. If they only levy the fee on one side or the other, it will be on the higher end of the range. If the exchange charges the buyer and the seller, then each will pay on the lower end of range.

You’re wise to consider those costs of barter when you are budgeting how much trade you will accept each month. If you trade for a higher dollar value than you have monthly cash flow, you will need to adjust the volume of your deals. If you go into the red, the exchange will likely float you for a month, but it will expect you to sell enough goods/services to make up the deficit fairly soon or you might have to pay for the deficit in cash. You also need to make sure that the exchange has enough products and services that you can use to make the fees worth the cost of joining.

OK, about those fees. You will also be required to pay a one-time initiation, or joining, fee and then a monthly membership fee. Initiation fees are typically around $500. Monthly fees vary from one exchange to another but are often between $5 and $15. Again, keep in mind how much cash flow your company generates so that you don’t go into the red with barter.

Finally, the inevitable concern: taxes. Your must pay taxes on everything you sell through a barter exchange. The exchange will give you and the IRS a form 1099-B at the end of each year, reflecting the total amount of goods or services you sold through the exchange. You’ll need to file your 1099-B with your business taxes to stay on Uncle Sam’s good side.

So where can you find a trade exchange in your area? Go to the International Reciprocal Trade Association or National Association of Trade Exchanges for a list. Or there’s always your favorite search engine.

Happy trading!

Barter Clubs Are Africa Hot August 26, 2010

Posted by Shera Dalin in Uncategorized.
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Welcome to the Clubhouse

Most people know about bartering over Craig’s List, and some folks know about the many great bartering websites out there like BarterQuest and U-Exchange. But we’re cheering on the creation of barter clubs. This is a hot trend occurring in pockets all over the country.

Boulder County in Colorado; Saginaw, Michigan;  Dallas; St. Louis (before it folded) and probably other places we haven’t heard about yet (send yours in folks, so we can tell reporters who ask). What we love about these clubs is that they are accessible to regular people who just don’t have the cash (maybe $500) to join a commercial barter exchange. Yet members still get the speed of online trading AND the fun of trading in person. Craig’s List can’t do that.

Barter Clubs are also different because they are organized, run professionally and offer an affordable venue for individuals, but also small or micro-businesses to barter.  Between having barter faires or barter parties and being locally based, these clubs are the wave of the future for bartering. We suspect that people who do well with a barter club, especially micro-businesses, will graduate to commercial barter exchanges over time.

If you hear about a barter club in your area, let us know! We’ll list it on our website so that more people can discover the joys of trading.