Action13

Need something? Barter it

Thursday, March 12, 2009

These tough times have many of us looking for creative ways to make ends meet. One new way of saving money is by bartering online.

There are several Web sites that are dedicated to bartering. At u-exchange.com, they have seen more than 170% increase in traffic in the last month.

It's no surprise that abc13.com Super Saver Erin Libranda has discovered the art of bartering. The single working mother of three already knows how to save money with coupons, now she's learning a new trend.

"I have had people contact me offering to do manicures and pedicures for me and the girls in exchange for teaching them couponing," the Super Saver told us.

Erin also barters her stockpile. She's traded diapers she didn't need for cans of Chef Boyardee and chili with Kimberly Wieberg.

"People have these great talents or great finds and we can switch back and forth and save a lot of money in the meantime," Wieberg said.

Erin has plans to barter from her garden with Veronica Strulovich. The two have already traded fresh herbs for ice cream.

"I've got the zuchini, egg plant, peppers, peas and tomatoes," Erin said.

Strulovich says the Internet has made it easy to get what you need.

"On Craig's List I barter a lot with gift cards, or toys my kids don't use, clothes that they have out grown," Strulovich said.

Some popular Web sites for bartering include u-exchange.com. The free website lets you browse trades in different cities. Craig's List has seen a 100% increase in bartering since January.

One ad is offering a week's stay at a Galveston beach house in exchange for home repairs. Favorpals.com is also free. The Web site is geared for trading services like moving furniture and pet sitting.

But before you barter, Erin suggests you must follow a few guidelines. First make it fair.

"You may not be trading exact dollar value for dollar value, it really doesn't matter as long as you are both happy with the end result," she advised.

She also suggests:

- Barter for only the goods and services you need
- Keep a Record
- Communication: Be specific on what you have to offer and what you want in return

"You work everything out ahead of time either by phone or email," Erin said.

The Better Business Bureau of Houston says when it comes to bartering, do your homework. Get references and draw up a contract of the trade that both parties can sign. Also don't forget to keep track of all your trades because they are considered taxable revenue by the IRS.

We have more information about the bartering websites we featured on the consumer blog.

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