Swapping Your Way to Savings

Have you ever considered swapping things you have for things you need? Here are a few tips to get you started.

We humans have been swapping things from time immemorial, ever since Ugg the Caveman traded a shiny rock to his pal Bob for a chunk of meat.

And really, when you get right down to it, the swap is the basis of most economic systems, no matter how we may dress it up. Think about it: when you work at your job, don’t you swap your time and energy for a paycheck?

The Logical Progression

Of course, what most of us mean when we say “swapping” is an exchange of goods and/or or services without money changing hands. And call it what you will — trade, bartering, etc. — there’s no reason you can’t extend the concept of the swap to just about any area of your life.

All you need to do is find like-minded individuals to trade with, and offer something of value as a medium of exchange. So: where so you find these people?

You can often connect through ads in the local newspaper or via Craigslist online, which has a bartering section. Freecycling networks, as well as bartering exchange websites like MeetUp.com and U-Exchange.com, are also excellent options.

Furkids and Real Kids

In addition, there are many specialty websites that you can tap. Let’s say you need someone to watch your dogs for a week while you cruise to Jamaica. If you can’t get a friend or neighbor to do it, check out something like BabysitterExchange.com.

There’s no guarantee that a pet sitter will be available for your area, but it’s worth a try. Most areas do have multiple communities for human babysitting, though, and some also barter for pet-sitting, car-pooling, errand-sharing, tutoring, and even household help through sites like BabysitterExchange.com.

Book ‘Em, Danno!

Tired of paying big bucks for new books? You can save money if you swap them instead, and get a much better deal than you would at the local used bookstore. We’re fond of PaperBackSwap.com and Swaptrees.com; at the latter you can also swap DVDs, music, and video games. Check ’em out.

Have a Party

Swap parties are starting to catch on, too. If you’ve got goodies you’d like to trade, organize a party with friends or with other locals you’ve met through a bartering site like MeetUp.com. Clothing parties are especially popular, and can let you spice up your wardrobe for nothing, while trading out your old togs.

But Wait, There’s More!

These options barely scratch the surface. Check into the sites I’ve listed here, and stretch your imagination muscles for ways that you can trade what you don’t want for what you do. Get serious, and you’ll soon be swapping like a pro — with nary a dollar changing hands.