Woman bartering with man

No cash? No problem!

When you exchange goods or services without using money, this is called bartering. This form of "sales" has really grown in popularity in the last few years. With the economy tight, people might have less actual cash to use for purchases but the skills or goods they have available can easily be put to work in a barter scenario to create a win/win situation for everyone involved.

Sometimes people who work in freelance businesses can barter for things such as art pieces, writing, web design work or graphic design services. If you are in a goods business, bartering can be a great way to control inventory and overhead. A lot of people out there are willing to barter, and you must make sure you are getting as much as you are giving, if you know what I mean. If possible, research the person you are bartering with and confirm their record for completing barter exchanges in a way that is speedy and honest.

When it comes to finding people and places to barter, you have several options. There are bartering clubs or networks you can join. Some may require an initial fee, but they may focus on your area of expertise or have lots of options for the goods or services that you are seeking. They also stand to bring you customers you might not have found otherwise. Most work with you, charging your normal fees, but you are paid in "barter money" that goes into your account where you can use it with other members of the barter club or network to purchase their goods or services.

All manner of services, including dental, plumbing and massage therapy and goods, including furniture and food items, theater and sports tickets and even travel opportunities, are available through barter. It's a good idea to ask to speak with a few members of any barter club you might like to join to get a true idea of their experience. Before you sign any contract, have an attorney look it over. Websites such as Craigslist can offer barter opportunities so tread lightly and always remember: buyer beware. Your local neighborhood newsletter or church might offer some barter options as well.

Be sure you know what you have to offer — and have a value for it in mind — and what you want to get, before beginning any barter dealings. It is also important to ensure all your dealings are legal. A contract is a good idea, especially if you are a sole barter agent and a single person or business is involved. Have a good tax attorney or accountant available to consult about the legal requirements of bartering.

Bartering can be very beneficial as long as you know the value of the goods and services you seek to buy and sell and are sure you are dealing with reputable people, clubs or businesses. Not doing proper research before joining clubs and doing personal barter business with unknown people could backfire, so do your due diligence before going through with any barter transactions.

Next time you are low on cash but are looking to move goods or services or have specific goods or services you need in mind, bartering might be the answer you're looking for. Under the right circumstances, bartering can be a great way to do business without exchanging money in this modern age.

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