• Bartering involves trading goods or services with someone else
  • People have been bartering for thousands of years, and it’s very popular today
  • Knowing the rules of the trade and the tax issues involved are the keys to successful bartering


People have been bartering for years. In fact, you’ve probably done it without even knowing it.

What It Is

Bartering is when you trade something else in exchange for something else. It’s that simple. You can trade practically anything, whether its goods or services, or a combination of both. For example, you and another person may trade:

  • A lawnmower for car tires
  • Work on designing a web page for dental work
  • A boat for legal services

No money changes hands in many bartering deals. After all, the whole idea is for you and the other person to get what you want or need without spending money. That doesn’t mean money is never involved in a deal. That’s up to you and the other person. For example, if the trade involves things that aren’t equal or nearly equal in value, one side may offer to add a few dollars to his end of the deal.

Bartering Today

People have been bartering for thousands of years. Cavemen traded food, fire, and tools. In the frontier days in the US, explorers and settlers traded animal skins, horses, and food. You’ve probably bartered, too. Remember trading a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a bologna sandwich at school? Have you ever helped a friend move in exchange his two tickets to a baseball game?

Bartering has become more popular in the wake of the 2009-2010 economic crunch. It allows individuals and businesses to get what they need without busting their budgets. In fact, it helps lower costs low and save money.

You can find a place to barter easily, too. People advertise in the newspapers and there are “swap meets,” which are a lot like flea markets or rummage sales. There even are dozens if not hundreds of bartering websites to help traders meet. Some let you trade for free, others charge a fee.

Legal Matters

Society and people have changed from thousands or even hundreds of years ago, so bartering has become a bit more complicated.

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