Our monthly challenges to the GRS community are meant to push you to flex those frugality muscles and think creatively about money. For those who are just starting their financial journeys, learning and practicing new ways to increase your income and hacks to save some cash each month are vital. However, for those of you who find that old hat, we want you to take creative action to break out of the burnout that can occur when you’ve cut all you can cut. Use these challenges to expand and explore additional options and grow those skills even further.

Here’s our challenge for May: What will you trade this month?

Let’s go with the classic definition here: exchange goods or services for someone else’s goods or services.

Often on GRS, we discuss the necessity of being paid what your time is worth, but for trade, it works a little differently. You need to have an idea of how much the other person’s offer is worth to you, and hopefully some idea of what your offer is worth to them. Trading can put your all your networking, negotiating and customer satisfaction skills to use. Trading can be unique in the sense that you should be considerate of all parties and avoid only thinking about how much of a deal you can get from the transaction. It can be a delicate situation if you’re dealing with an acquaintance, family member or colleague. The offers should feel equally valuable to all parties, so no one is left feeling indebted or taken advantage of.

Discussing this at the office, we found that one of our co-workers, Tom, had traded his photography skills for landscaping work. He paid for a sizable amount of work to be done, and when it was completed, he showed the before and after photos to the landscaper. He told them that he’d be happy to trade before and after photos of their work at his and other yards for credit toward additional landscaping projects.

“I wasn’t trying to pull one over on anyone,” Tom says. “I truly thought I can help them with something they need, and they can help me with something I need. To be honest, the photos on their website were terrible. They didn’t showcase how good their work really was. They worst they could say is ‘No thanks,’ right?”

The small-business owner agreed to Tom’s offer. Now, Tom can afford to keep up the momentum on his backyard projects, and the landscaper can improve his website quality, hopefully leading to additional clients.

If the trade involves a business, bartering carries tax implications; be sure to review the rules and ensure compliance.

Think about what you can provide, who can benefit from your skill and what you would need or benefit from in return.

  • Have a friend who raves about your cooking? Invite them over for some home-cooked meals in exchange for some help with some nagging organization projects.
  • J.D. wrote about SwapLucks, community-oriented events where those with skills and abilities and products to share can swap it out!
  • Try de-cluttering your home and trading in your old electronics? I love Amazon’s program because it’s easy to use and provides a shipping label. You might not get the best credit for your iPod, but you sure weren’t getting any use from it sitting in the closet.
  • You can check out your local Craigslist for a list of wanted services, or you can list your specialty and let people contact you with trade offers.

Share your stories about successful trades and swaps. Have you found trading beneficial? Do you find that trading can save you money, time and/or effort? Or did you find that it cost you more effort than it was worth? Send us your story of your challenge.

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