How to Get New Things Without Spending a Dime: Barter and Trade

These days since I’m more of a stay at home/work from home mama, money is a lot tighter than last year when I was working full time. I’ve been enjoying the challenge of finding ways to save money, live more frugally and be creative about how I get new things for our family.
One of my favorite ways to acquire things is to barter and trade. Back in my college days I used to barter with friends, mending pants in exchange for things like a fly tying vice or help fixing up my bike. I currently don’t have a lot of extra cash but I do have time to craft and create so my creations have become my goods to barter and trade to get new things for our family without spending a dime.

Bartering and trading goods is an ideal way to get new, useful things for our families and with no exchange of money. I even added a note about bartering/trading to my Etsy shop banner and also on our blog “shop” page to share with folks that we are open to this method of commerce.

Here are my top five recent trades and barters:

    how to get new things without spending a dime: barter and trade
  • 1.  Two sets of wool backed nursing pads for a nature themed wool ball. Last month when I found the Etsy Shop, The Indigo Forest, I was thrilled to see that their Etsy banner said they were open to trades. For some reason I had never thought of trading on Etsy! I contacted Kellie at The Indigo Forest and we were able to work out a wonderful trade. Our little nugget celebrated her 1st birthday last month so Kellie made us a nature themed wool ball for her and I made Kellie some nursing pads since she and her family are expecting another baby later this year (remember this post?) It was a great way to get a lovely handmade birthday gift for our little nugget!
        • 2. Cloth diaper, upcycled baby hat and nursing pads for fresh produce. This summer at our local market, another family with young children had a produce stand. We traded by them picking out creations they wanted from my stand and I picked out the equivalent price amount in veggies from their stand. I was able to feed our family quite a few meals with fresh, locally grown food without having to spend a dime or go to the grocery store! 

        •  3.Upcycled Baby hat for two pieces of art on reclaimed wood. This was definitely my favorite barter at our local market this summer. The artist, B. Martinez, sells at the local Upcycled shop where we also sell creations. Her art caught my eye the first time I saw it earlier in the summer but since money is so tight I knew I couldn’t splurge on art. When she showed up as a vender at our local market I was thrilled. I was a little shy about asking her if she would be interested in bartering, but I’m so glad I did. We now have two new beautiful pieces of art that I absolutely love to decorate our living room and my new sewing/office space!
        • 4. Blog ad space for blog ad space. Our latest trade has been with blog advertising. Several of us work from home mama bloggers who offer ad space on our sidebars swapped blog ads for the month. None of us had to pay for ads and we all benefit by getting advertising for our blogs or Etsy shop. I am so thrilled to have connected with Young Nesters and Crunchy Farm Baby to swap ads!

        • 5. Cloth diaper for some handmade bars of soap. Hannah from the Etsy shop Picky Kitten contacted me about doing a trade for a cloth diaper. She sells really fun jewelry in her Etsy shop but since I already have quite a collection since my mom and I both make jewelery we decided to swap for some of her handmade soap. I’ve been wanting to make soap and haven’t had time so this was perfect! 
            What have you bartered/traded for?
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            1. says

              Love this post, girl! :) It can be intimidating asking to barter since cash has been king for so long. I think I just assume that I do not have anything that someone would want or at least not something that is better than cash. I need to actually ask more often! I mean, the worse that can happen is they say no, right? 😉
              I have recently been involved in a little barter for free advertising and promotion on my site for a blog redesign. 😉 It is presently in the works, and I am so excited that my great little blog is going to get a much needed facelift and I don’t have to spend a dime. 😉

              • says

                Exactly, the worst is they could say no but you could also end up with some really great stuff. Like the art I got at market, I hemmed and hawed about asking her if she wanted to trade but finally just got up the courage to ask she was totally into it! Your barter for the blog redesign sounds awesome, I can’t wait to see the outcome :)

            2. says

              I wish there were more people who did this in my area…just seems it’s a closed society or not well published if people do it around here. julieann r

              • says

                From my experience it seems that small business owners/venders seem to be more open to the idea. In Missoula near where we live there used to be a barter system with a network of stores that had some sort of barter currency they used. I haven’t heard about it in a while so I need to do a little digging and see if it still exists!

            3. says

              Annie! My mama soulmate! I love this post. I did a barter with another blogger this summer. Shipping was a little expensive and made it so that we DID have to spend a little money, but it was still fun! I wish more folks in my area would barter, but most just think that is crazy hippie talk when I bring it up! :) Great post!

              • says

                Hahaha,yes I totally agree you’re my mama soulmate too :) We’re lucky in the sense that we live near the most green “hippie” town in all of Montana so you don’t get weird looks for much around here! The shipping cost is definitely one thing I forgot about that we do have to spend some $ on. It still is more cost effective than having to pay for the whole item though!

              • says

                I think bartering/trading can become a huge part of the economy if more people thought about it and were open to it. We actually listed some larger cost items on Craigslist and put in the listing that we’re open to trades to see what happens, like trading an old dirt bike for a couple loads of firewood!

              • says

                Thanks Carrie, that is really awesome! I will add it to my “Featured Posts” page on the top of my blog. I always love reading your Sunday Potluck, I didn’t have a chance to earlier since we were out in the woods all day so I’m hopping over now :)

            4. says

              I haven’t never really tried this. I’ve had people lend me tools, and I’ve made food for them as a thank you. I would think to be successful at barter and trade, one would need a sense of one’s skills and what one could offer.

              Thank you for linking up at Motivation Monday!

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