Bartering is a cheap and magnificent way to satisfy certain needs. Many people are bartering, exchanging things or services for other things or services but also companies are doing it more and more. Bartering is recommended if you want to live without money or if you want to save money. Bartering is also a fantastic way to get new stuff and it can be a good alternative to the money economy.
Bartering in the Netherlands
"Can you fix my computer? Then I'll fix your curtains." In the Netherlands there are many examples of functional networks for bartering and local exchange, such as Noppes in Amsterdam, where many people participate. Often these barter networks work with a certain credit or point system. You get an amount of credit if you have offered a service successfully. This credit you can use to request other services. This is also called a LETS system. These exchange system consist of a group of people that barter with each other based on points.
Online bartering sites
There are also barter sites in the Netherlands to exchange stuff. For example games. But also audio equipment, TVs or furniture. Without introducing credits or money it can be quite hard to find a match if people need something specific. There are also barter websites for companies and independent professionals. There are platforms that work with credits and some that work on a 1 on 1 base. An example of the latter in the Netherlands is Bartstart.nl. An example of a bartering platform for business that works with points or credits is barteryourbusiness.nl.
Start bartering in your own neighborhood
You can participate in these networks but you can also start one in your own neighborhood, for example on a small scale. Create a list of services you want to offer and which services you think are needed. Afterwards advertise your needs and offerings to the right people, that can make things get started. This is a good way to start a bartering system yourself.
Free stuff thanks to bartering
Bartering can also be a fantastic way to get free stuff. This is easiest if you have stuff yourself that you want to give away. Inform people in your area which stuff you want to exchange and what you would like to get in return. A practical example:
How did grandma approach it? Very simple. She informed the entire neighborhood that she was going to live in a room in an elderly home and offered her entire belongings in exchange. And successfully. The neighborhood quickly communicated and within less than a week she gathered a complete new set of furniture and interior stuff. Suited for her new room in the elderly home.
Bartering to live without money
Many people who live without money decide to use bartering. The Dutch Carolien Hoogland shared her knowledge in exchange for free gas and electricity during her experiment of living 1 year without money. The German Heidemarie Schwermer even created a an entire network: Gib und Nimm (give and take).
Bartering to borrow money
Bartering can also be a great way to borrow money cheaply, if you need money. For example, you can set up a deal with friends to deliver a service in exchange for borrowing money. For example, a friend of a company gives you a loan and in exchange for that loan you deliver services for a certain period. This could work well if your credit rating is not so good and you need money fast. It does require some creativity however.
Society based on bartering
A society based on bartering might be hard to imagine. But it could work in combination with the gift economy and the sharing economy. You can think of a way where people share their means of existence such as food, cars and housing. Everyone who has access to this sharing circle, for example by adding something themselves, gets the right to use all of it. You could extend it with services and shared insurance. This is already happening in a small scale, for example in the Twin Oaks intentional community, where 100 people are sharing.
Advanced forms of Bartering
A system of 1 on 1 bartering (without a point system) needs innovation. It's hard to find a perfect match. A solution could be to develop a system of exchange between 3 or more persons. You can also find a match if through a 3rd or even a 4th person. If that match is made, the barter happens. This could also be without a point system. Makerfox (Moneyless article here) is exactly doing this, in an automated way.