The Art of the Swap: How to Trade Services and Save Money

trading services save money
Photo by thebittenworld.com

You can have what you want or need without the cash to cover it. The only requirement is ingenuity, the willingness to put yourself out there and a genuine desire to create win-win situations.

There are people everywhere who can’t pay for things they would gladly receive. Things you have the means to offer, either tangible or otherwise. Search within or outside your network for people you can offer something in exchange for something else. Thereby, creating an optimal situation for both parties, while saving everyone the money.

A personal example

I wanted to increase my yoga classes but not the cost, so when I heard my yoga instructor discussing her interest in growth, I knew I could help. With a background in marketing, I dropped my elevator pitch and asked if she’d be interested in some guidance in exchange for extra classes. Not only did I get what I wanted, she got something she needed. We’ve become better friends and I’ve been able to help someone I feel passionate about.

Sound like something you’d like to do? Let’s get started then.

What are you good at?

Don’t say “nothing”. What do you help your friends with? People are looking for all sorts of help. It could be as little as errands or chauffeuring kids around to activities. Maybe you’re an amazing cook and a working family needs weekly meals. Redesigning your favorite eateries ugly logo might get you lunch free for a a few months. It doesn’t have to be career oriented. You surely have something, just think about it.

What do you need?

There’s something you could use. Is your bathroom leaky? New roof? Access to an art studio? I needed more yoga and I got it. Thinking about voids to fill in your own life may help you find good matches to approach. Anything is possible. Perhaps you need a little mentoring and since time is valuable to important people, offer something in exchange for their time. Ask people what they need to get what you need.

Put it out there

Bring it up a few times, to different people or establishments. You have to be vocal or no one will know what you’re doing. The more people you pitch the easier it will get and the likelihood interest will increase. Above all, speak up when opportunities present themselves. What’s the worst that happens? They say no. I mean, really?

Compromising & negotiation

Depending on your relationship, it’s best to discuss logistics before getting started. As with paying jobs, you still need to be mindful of who you do business with. I even recommend getting something in writing and outlining the agreement so both parties are clear on stipulations. The idea isn’t to go tit for tat on how much value you bring versus them. It’s relative anyway, based on what everyone’s needs and desires are. You must negotiate what this means and make sure you hold up your end of the bargain.

With trade, you need to be invested in helping others while benefiting yourself, not selfishness. People that are self centered shouldn’t play this game, they ruin it for the rest and should stay dealing with dollars only. If you are honest, you will find others that are too. Personally, I have never had any partnership backfire.

trading services
Photo by Ben MacLeod

Expanding endeavors

Diving into new careers, businesses or trades can be daunting. Offering services for swap will build experience while limiting risk. The odds are the other party wouldn’t need you if they knew as much as you, making you prime for improving their circumstances. Thus, giving you more chances to expand your horizons. Use this to break into that copy writing or decorating gig you always thought about. You should always do your best work, but informalities and expectations will be lower than when people pay for something, allowing for the breathing room needed to grow.

Possible paying jobs

When you do something well people talk about you. And if you are swapping something that others may be willing to pay for, then it could lead to monetary jobs. Let your swapper know to spread the word about what you’re doing and discuss how you can help each other’s life or business even further.

Sharpen networking skills

Regardless of what you’re selling, you need to know how to sell you well. Without that, you won’t sell much. Since talking people up is pivotal to growth – even though most hate it – service swaps give you a chance to practice. You’ll harness pitching skills while learning how to charm people and highlight your strengths. All things that make for a better net-worker, interviewer and entrepreneur.

Don’t believe you can’t do something due to limited financial means. People are more open to alternative arrangements than expected. By finding your own marketability and strengths you create win-win situations while also sharpening your negotiation and networking skills. Now go out and capitalize on current and future relationships. In this stark environment, everyone’s looking for something, and you might be the very person able to give it to them.

Nicole is the author of Just Make It Better, a blog leading ideas and inspiration for social and personal advancement. She’s found this is a great way to do better than what’s currently being done. You should follow her one-liners @jmibetter.

Leave a Comment

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • cydonia16 December 30, 2009, 5:08 am

    I really liked this blog, in today’s world of money I think a lot of people have forgotten the value of trading services/knowledge or products instead of cash. It’s a perfect easysaver solution but one we seem to have sadly lost the art of but should embrace now more than ever during this recession

  • cydonia16 December 29, 2009, 11:08 pm

    I really liked this blog, in today’s world of money I think a lot of people have forgotten the value of trading services/knowledge or products instead of cash. It’s a perfect easysaver solution but one we seem to have sadly lost the art of but should embrace now more than ever during this recession

  • nicole September 10, 2009, 4:50 pm

    Since value is interpretive, this can be applied to nearly anyone, regardless of background or ability. That's what I like so much about it.

    Glad you liked it too. As my first guest post, I'm excited to see what people think.

  • coldburnfury September 10, 2009, 4:06 pm

    Well, well, well…I never knew that someone in this world actually thinks like me. My philosophy to life is and will always remain, ” Someone, somewhere wants or needs something I have or do in exchange of something of equal or greater value”. Keeping your eyes, ears and mind open is the true key to success. Oppurtunity, seizing from its first glance. Great article, will read more.

  • coldburnfury September 10, 2009, 12:06 pm

    Well, well, well…I never knew that someone in this world actually thinks like me. My philosophy to life is and will always remain, ” Someone, somewhere wants or needs something I have or do in exchange of something of equal or greater value”. Keeping your eyes, ears and mind open is the true key to success. Oppurtunity, seizing from its first glance. Great article, will read more.

    • nicole September 10, 2009, 12:50 pm

      Since value is interpretive, this can be applied to nearly anyone, regardless of background or ability. That's what I like so much about it.

      Glad you liked it too. As my first guest post, I'm excited to see what people think.