Dictionary.com defines “barter” as “to trade by exchange of commodities rather than by the use of money”.
When I was growing up, my parents had a very typical 1950’s marriage: Daddy’s job was to make the money, and Mom’s job was to make it stretch. She did this with grace and skill, and although we sometimes knew a particular splurge was not in the budget, we never went without. Even though she had access to Daddy’s entire paycheck and could really do whatever she wanted with it, Mom never felt comfortable using it for her own hobbies or to buy Daddy presents. She saved S&H Green Stamps and Blue Chip Stamps and used them for presents for Daddy, and she bartered for other things. She learned to repair antique dolls, and often traded repairs on several dolls to purchase a particular doll she wanted. She was also very skilled in re-styling old or broken costume jewelry, and worked with several antique shops who would give her their broken necklaces, etc., she would take them home and combine them with others in her stash, and return them to the dealer for credit on other items in the shops.
One of my favorite bartering memories was of Daddy and one of his buddies, who did a bunch of cement work for someone they knew; when it came time to be paid, the man had no money and paid them in bottles of wine. Lots of wine! My parents were not wine drinkers, but for months afterwards anyone who came over for a visit left carrying a bottle or two of wine for later.
When I moved to Visalia and got married, my cousin who lived here was part of a very successful babysitting co-op. The mothers involved would earn credits by caring for each other’s children, and then “spend” them on babysitting time when they wanted to go out (or to simply have a day of peace and quiet). I remember at the time thinking it was an awful lot of work for little in return, but the women all seemed to be happy with their system, so who was I to rain on their parade?
Do you barter on a regular basis? Especially if you are a small business owner or a crafter, do you barter for things you need? Feel free to share in the comments.