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Barter: To exchange or trade

If we thought that the recession was beginning to end because retail sales in the US increased in July we can think again. In fact, it seems that more and more firms are taking a hard look at the contracting revenues and increasing expenses are trying to find ways to balance the two, hopefully coming out in the black.

Consumers and householders are no different. My husband took a look at our last electricity bill, embarked on an electricity use audit and just handed down his edict to my daughter that lights off (including computer, Internet and wireless router) must be earlier and to me that the clothes line is still in the drying yard even though the dryer is nearer and a lot more convenient. Admittedly you can get fairly lazy when you have a dryer right next to the washing machine.

Another strategy to deal with the reduced income and mounting expenses that many people are facing is bartering. Now this is nothing new since bartering has been around for many years but when times are good, no-one really thinks much about bartering. That’s probably because bartering is used largely where there is scarcity of money or where currencies are unstable due to hyperinflation. In today’s economy I would say there is definitely a scarcity of money.

So when a friend of mine invited me to join a bartering club called Barbados Trading Club (check it out on Face Book) I thought I would have a look and see what it was about. The purpose of the club is to see “what you have in your house” literally and figuratively and attach a value to it so that you can trade or barter it for something you need. You can also just sell stuff for cash.

So for example, as an accountant (or I was in a former life) I can value my time and barter accounting services to someone who may be offering something that I want, but don’t have the ability to do, like create an interactive CD.

Anyone out there like that? (No harm in using the resources you have at your fingertips).

Actually someone called me only today, and a friend asked me a few weeks ago, to help them with their finances. Needless to say, they are having financial problems. Money may be an issue so perhaps I will offer to barter my services for something that they may have that I need or don’t have the time to do myself.

The Barbados Trading Club also allows you to sell or barter physical assets that you may have in your house. How many of you have a ton of books that you’ve read already and would like to trade with someone else, especially if you’re looking for a particular book? The same goes for furniture and electronics, DVDs, video games etc.

The important thing, according to the rules of bartering on the website, is to agree what you are bartering in writing, so that there are no misunderstandings, to be specific in what you are bartering and if it’s a service, the time frame that you will be offering the service. What’s more, it doesn’t even have to be anything as major as professional services.

For example, when I was talking to me friend she mentioned that she would like some golden apples and I told her that I had a tree. Granted it’s full of green apples, but I can probably barter some for something she may have in her garden. More likely than not I’ll probably just give them to her since the object is to share what we have so that we will all have what we need.

Before we all go overboard with trading our services though, I should mention that the Value Added Tax Act considers bartering to be a taxable activity, if I’m not mistaken. Of course that only applies to registrants I would think. I’m not sure how that is policed and I can’t imagine how it is considered taxable, but I suppose they must make sure that they get their revenue in as many ways as possible.

So what do you have in your house and how can you barter it to get the things that you may not have at the moment but need? Now there is a facility to bring together people who are interested in trading or bartering and it’s called The Barbados Trading Club.

Donna Every is a motivational speaker, business coach and the author of the books What do you have in your house?, The Promise Keeper and Arise and Shine. She has a degree in Mathematics, is a Chartered Accountant and has an MBA. She is the Project Manager for the Education and Talent Development Pillar of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation.

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