The secret to getting whatever you want isn’t really a secret: It’s called bartering.
“People are always surprised by how many good bartering sites there are out there,” says Andrew Schrage, a personal finance expert at Money Crashers.
A wide range of sites offer countless goods—Money Crashers lists 36 bartering sites—but there are many more ways to find deals.
To get the best offer, finding a niche site is key.
Although there will be competitive bartering going on at specialty sites–a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective–using them can give you the best idea of the market. Schrage recommends using the most popular niche sites like LiquidSpace and GoSwap to find out what people are offering.
On the same token, Schrage says to avoid general bartering venues that eBay offers, for example.
Also, try thinking outside the box. Besides items, you can also barter services.
You’ll have to do more legwork, but if you’re tight on cash–and you’re possibly unemployed–this is a great way to help you get by.
Also, you can sometimes offer a half-and-half trade that exchanges technical skill for a product. For example, a house cleaning trade could score you two pairs of pants. (Try this on Craigslist and let us know how it goes.)
There’s no need to feel weird about bartering. Since the economy tanked a couple years ago, old-fashioned swapping has taken off with a vengeance.
Craigslist reports it has seen growth in its bartering section since 2008, and the new bartering venue Swap.com says it has handled 4 million exchanges in the past year.
Another site, Barterquest.com, reported a 150 per cent spike in users so far in 2011. Some are trading big ticket items like real estate, boats and cars, while one person offered to swap a 3,000 year-old Bible.
The International Reciprocal Trade Association estimates the bartering industry in North America alone to come in at $12 billion. So seriously, barter away.
Considering alternative ways to score cash? Check out the 9 weirdest things Reddit users did for money >