Day 15: Learn to Share and Barter

giving hands

Sharing goods and bartering for food, services, or clothing is nothing new. Since the beginning of time, people have used methods of sharing and bartering to build communities. Thanks in large part to the Internet and social media, these age-old practices are beginning to see a boost in popularity.

As parents, we are constantly teaching our children that sharing is a good and important thing. We do this because as adults we realize the importance of helping one another and developing an attitude of compassion and a spirit of giving. These are the things that sustainable families, friendships, and communities are built on; and yet, it seems as if competition and success are what really drives us. We compete for the biggest house, the nicest car, the better career, the higher income, the smartest children, the trendiest clothes…

However, during these days of high unemployment, lowered incomes, and a renewed sense of fiscal responsibility it is vital that we have an open hand approach toward each other.

Where do I start?

Begin today, sharing with your friends and neighbors, by discovering ways to combine resources in order to save money and reduce wastefulness. For starters…we can stop holding on to our possessions with a clinched fist. Instead of thinking about ways in which to build fences, we should be working together to tear them down.

Here are a few things that will help:

  1. Exchange time, not dollars.
  2. Share yard tools between neighbors (i.e. lawn mower, leaf blowers, shop vac). 
  3. Volunteer your services with a homeless shelter, crisis center, or any other not-for-profit organization.
  4. Car share or carpool (for work, errands, or any other time the use of a car is required).
  5. Make a meal for the family in your neighborhood that just had a baby.
  6. Put your creative ideas on a blog and share them with the world.
  7. Offer your assistance to the widow who just lost her husband.
  8. Share your knowledge of almost-forgotten skills with the younger generation before they are lost forever.
  9. Give those items that are cluttering your house to friends or charities that you know could really use them.
  10. Look into starting a community garden in your neighborhood this coming spring (now is the time to start planning).
  11. Become a member of a local CSA (community supported agriculture) or food co-op.
  12. Start participating on Freecycle.
  13. Perform random acts of kindness.
  14. Eat together with friends and/or family weekly.
  15. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
  16. Host a swap party — get your friends and neighbors together one evening, tell everyone to bring things they’d like to swap, and walk away with something new!
  17. When someone wants to repay you for something, ask them to pay it forward instead.
  18. Look into borrowing and lending things through Share Some Sugar.
  19. Barter on Craigslist. Or you could try u-exchange, trashbank, or care to trade.
  20. If you must buy…always look to buy used first.
  21. Share your tips with others online or through a free ebook.
  22. Get a library card.
  23. Support and invest in a friend who needs your help.
  24. Give homemade gifts.
  25. Share your skills freely with others.

Now It’s Your Turn

Daily Goal:
List ways in which you can use the principles of sharing and bartering to help save money and build your community.

Download: The 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge Daily Goal Sheet

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Shared on: Frugal Friday


  1. I wish people would do more bartering….I think it’s a great skill to learn! Sadly, sometimes when I offer to barter, I feel like I’m offending someone. 🙂
    Bartering babysitting services is a great way to get a cheap date night!
    Oh, and I love your quote about entertaining angels.

  2. I love this post. Sharing is one of the best ways I avoid buying new plastic. Out here in Oakland we have a toil lending library that is part of the public library system. I’ve borrowed a lawn mower and wheelbarrow because those are two things I definitely don’t need to have sitting around at my house. Also we belong to a car sharing company instead of owning a car and use Craigslist and Freecycle like crazy. And one more thing: people need to get over their sense of independence and not be afraid to ask friends and neighbors to borrow things. Just be sure and do it in a respectful and responsible way.

  3. Oops. Tool lending library. Stupid mobile texting.

  4. Nick Simon says:

    These are all great ideas for things that humans should be doing!

  5. Similar to your #14, but something a neighbor and I have talked about is swapping dinners. It takes just as much time to make a small batch of soup as it does a big one. Why not exchange meals once a week, which will result in only ONE oven/stove in use and time on our hands.

  6. We have a new bartering community for services here on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii.

    One thing I offer is for people who have too many vegetables ripening at the same time or lots of fruit and/or breadfruit ripening at the same time. When they give me boxes of produce, I make things to preserve them and give them a percentage back or a share of other products I have made. I may dry fruit to make trail mix. I make all kinds of pickles, spiced fruits, jams and jellies and butters, canning, wines, syrups, soups and lots more. The produce doesn’t go to waste and there is a win-win for everyone. A local goat farm gives me milk and I make yogurt and give them back half of what I made.

    • I was excited to see your post! I recently began working for a wonderful couple on the East side of the Big Island. With the building of 2 greenhouses and half an acre to grow on, we will be growing as many vegetables and tropical plants. Additionally in the future, Chickens, Goats, Pigs and Cattle. I also want to be able to grow for the needs of the Big Island. Our goal is to not get rich but to Barter for food, services or meat. I also was happy to see expanded opportunity with your comments that reads “I make all kinds of pickles, spiced fruits, jams and jellies and butters, canning, wines, syrups, soups and lots more.” I look forward to talking with you more in the future.

  7. I’ve only bartered once with someone and it worked out great!!! I am not good at figuring out what is a “fair” trade. Any ideas?

    • In my experience bartering has a lot to do with the value you place on things and/or how much you need what someone else is offering. For example, if you really need seeds and your neighbor really needs eggs, and both of you agree it’s a fair trade then it’s a fair trade:)

  8. A friend of mine organized a Stuff Swap a few months before Christmas last year. It was a great success! She got all of her Christmas “shopping” done, I found lots of great stuff (my husband was dismayed when I came home with more than I took), everyone who participated got new stuff and got rid of old stuff.

    My friend set a time and date, created a Facebook Event, and reserved one of our church buildings and that’s about all she did. There were at least forty of us who participated so there was A LOT of stuff to choose from, and even people who didn’t come to browse donated stuff (i.e. got rid of things they didn’t need). We ended up with a van load and a truck load of stuff to donate to Deseret Industries (which is like Goodwill) afterwards. It was a good deal all around!

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