Saturday, October 17, 2009

Basic Bartering Tips

I met Sara when I moved into our old apartment in the mountain region of Maine. She was our first floor neighbor and I took her parking spot. We didn't have assigned parking or anything, but she wasn't too happy with me.

When I was pregnant with my first, her daughter was pregnant with her first. Sara often sat on the front steps smoking and would ask me about my pregnancy when I went to run errands. She would also update me on her daughter's pregnancy.

One day, after her car had broken down, she needed a ride to the hospital. It wasn't an emergency or anything. She had a doctor's appointment. We lived down the street from the hospital. It was an uphill climb, and Sara is overweight. She also has breathing problems due to her weight and smoking. So, I took her up on my way somewhere else.

Knowing that she didn't have a vehicle, I would ask her when I went to the store if she wanted to come with me. She often did. She told me everything about what was going on in her life and her daughters' lives. She adored my husband Dan, and desperately wanted him to be her son-in-law. She got a little cheated in the son-in-law department, or at least that's what she'll tell you. Her grand babies' dad is in jail.


When I had my first baby, Daniel, she would take care of him while I brought up groceries. I was on the third floor; she was on the first. This turned into her babysitting when we did teen ministries at church, including some overnight events, or when Dan and I went on dates, and even when I just wanted to run a few errands alone.

At some point she started to take the car alone to doctor's appointments and to run errands.

It was a system of deep trust and reliance, trading a car for babysitting. Some people were in awe that we would trust someone with our car. I was more in awe that I found someone that I could trust with my kid.

Sara is the same age as my mother, but she wasn't exactly a mother figure to me. Sometimes it almost seemed the other way around. We have lived very different lives, yet she is one of my best friends.
This is the only real example of bartering we have done. We both felt like we were getting the better end of the deal. She loves my son, and my son pretends to talk to her on the phone all the time. She also loved my car, and took care of it like her own. Sara and I are still dear friends. She wants to come and help with the new baby soon, and is glad to be featured on my blog. She had a list of suggestions about what stories I should tell about her, most involving odd ways she has gotten money.

The relationship we have is far more valuable to both of us than the bartering and the bartering would not have worked had that not been true.

Have you done any kind of bartering?

14 comments:

autumn said...

Yes, for the first time I barted four tubes of toothpaste for free range organic eggs...

Kimber said...

Once I offered home cooked meals for some work on my car! Being a single mom of 3 did not leave me much money to fix my car. He is an older man whos wife passed away years ago and loved the idea of a home cooked meal. I got my car fixed & he got fresh home cooked meals. He still gets them for free from me from time to time...

Rachel said...

Babysitting is the only thing I can think of. I like the bartering idea. I have babysat for free haircuts. I take care of my neice from time to time, and my sister often takes me to lunch for that, but I really don't expect anything in return.

Tara said...

What a sweet story! I love bartering and hearing about the way others are bartering too.

Our chickens are too young to lay so we have a friend who trades eggs for misc. stuff that we have. Some weeks it's clothes I bought at a yard sale for her children or veggies from the garden or fruit I brought home from working at the produce stand or watching her children for a few hours. It works out wonderfully!

Anonymous said...

This summer I traded a boat-load of our organic tomatoes for homemade strawberry jam. My friend made pints and pints of salsa w/ the tomatoes and I am enjoying the jam every day! My husband is a web programmer and we are currently trading a website for new marble/granite countertops. Wow!
~Ryann

Pam said...

We have bartered computer repair work for haircuts, and since I have a baking business, I have bartered baked goods for produce, herbs, and even Juice Plus+!

alison said...

I have taught piano lessons in exchange for haircuts. I've exchanged homemade Tuesday night dinners for homemade Thursday night dinners, which was more marvelous than I have words. And, right now, we have amazing friends to trade kids with, and mostly we figure that it evens out in the end. It's nice to not feel like we have to keep track, to ask or give as is needed instead of 1-for-1, or instead of needing to be asked to babysit for them before we can ask again. We love when it can work out so nicely.

Audra said...

I recently discovered your blog. You have challenged me in so many ways and I am very thankful. I have chosen you for a blog award: http://pennypinchingpenguin.blogspot.com/2009/10/blog-award.html

organizedeveryday said...

Emily! I can not believe I forgot about your fabulous blog. If you hadn't come to mine and made a comment, I would have missed catching up with you. Fun to see your relationship with Sara. I still can not believe how you get by! What am I complaining about?? I had to laugh at the girl who spends nothing is buying the car pans. Now I REALLY have no guilt. LOL

Anonymous said...

I think that's awesome you can find a person to absolutely trust with your children, that is worth a million in and of itself.

As far as bartering, unless you count my mom babysitting my kids so I can work my very part-time job, while my hubby is at work- she does this for a Tim Horton's cup of coffee :).....
I also "barter" with her to dye my hair with a cup of coffee;- see a theme here. All Canucks love Tim Horton's coffee yum! :) (Well at least where I live anyways).....

My dad's mom comes from a farming community so I am sure she bartered alot many years ago.

Terry Lynn,
Ontario, Canada

Mary Ann said...

Last week, I traded a bread machine that I was no longer using for 3 bags of apples from my sister. I have done babysitting for a friend who is a Mary Kay consultant. She often either gives me a gift card to redeem later or I'll ask for a specific product that I use.

mommyboots said...

I exchange housecleaning several hours a week for piano lessons for my two DD's. It is not the regular weekly cleaning but the spring/fall cleaning type of jobs. Good for her because they are not her favourite jobs and it helps me make sure the girls practice because they are not my favourite type of jobs either! lol :D
Terry Lynn...yes, Timmie's has the best coffee!

Kauri said...

what a wonderful story, I love bartering, I am actually bartering peer-tutoring for babysitting, while I peer tutor the girls, they look after my son when I need to run some errands. There is this great site for people like us who like to barter its called http://barterquest.com and it's great.

Diana Par-Due said...

I love to barter! My parents are raising cows and pigs and though I don't eat meat my husband does and we barter for meat with my family with things like home brewed beer or other things we can provide them.

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