A couple of weeks ago, Oprah Winfrey did a show on Money Saving. In case you missed it you can catch the straight goods at Oprah’s website. In fact, her website is loaded with money saving tips!
Unfortunately, most of the tips seem to be old news to those of us already enshrined in the money saving culture. However, one great tip that stood out to me was the usefulness of bartering with friends.
On the show, Cassandra and Stacy shared with Oprah how they swapped couches, and swapped services with other friends. For example, Stacy provides free dance lessons to her neighbors’ children, and in return, her family can eat at her neighbors’ restaurant for free.
Recently I watched a children’s film – the most popular children’s film in Japan, actually – called Kiki’s delivery service. In the movie, a young witch named Kiki leaves home at age 13 and is able to find a place to stay and enough food to eat, and she starts her own delivery service. She accomplishes all of this in part because she finds adults who are willing to barter with her – they provide food and rent while she takes care of their bakery part time.
It got me thinking why we don’t use this system more. Why are we so focused on accumulating new stuff all the time? There is enormous potential – we all have extra ‘stuff’ that we don’t need or don’t use, and we all have skills that we could share. Meanwhile, we spend our time shopping and the stuff we no longer need ends up in landfills.
So here’s an exercise: think about what you currently want and need, and see if you can trade something with your friends to get what you need. Have a book you’d like to read, a movie you’d like to rent? About to go shopping for fall clothes? Need a babysitter? A plumber? Someone to help you fix your computer? Simply ask around and you might find exactly what you need – for free!