Bartering Is Alive and Well!


Design work.

Piano lessons.


All things a friend of mine gets free through bartering!

Remember that old fashioned way to transact?! Something our ancestors did for thousands of years before cash money became a thing? :)

I’ll be honest and say I haven’t given it any thought in at least a decade (I once wanted to trade a website for a house – thinking it would be cool to exchange a digital property for a physical one, lol…), but now my brain is on fire with all the possibilities!

I ran into her the other day, and after noticing she had way more tattoos on her than I remembered, I struck up a conversation and here’s how it went down:


ME: “Woah!! Look at all those new tats!! You’ve been busy!”

HER: “Thanks! I bartered for them!”

ME: “Excuse me, what?”

HER: “I bartered for them! We have this thing going on, where my tattoo artist hooks me up with free tattoos whenever I want them, and I hook him and his wife up with haircuts whenever they need them. It’s been a great partnership.”

ME: *** hurriedly makes mental notes for a blog post later… ***

ALSO ME: “Gosh that is cool…. Do you barter for anything else or just tats?! I feel like you could do a lot with this!”

HER: “Oh yeah, I give haircuts for design work for my albums, free photography, and lately even piano lessons… Which I definitely lose money on, but I also don’t spend any money so it comes out worth it in the end.”

*I should mention my friend is a professional hair stylist – thus why everyone wants her scissor hands… She’s also an up and coming local musician, so all the design/photog work has been a blessing in getting her album artwork done without having to scrounge up the money for it.

HER: “I also make sure to check in with everyone every few months just to double check they’re all still happy with the set up – especially the tattoo artist. And then we adjust if needed… It’s been working out great.”


And I would say so given that I saw at least 5 new tattoos on her since the last time we met! Here are a few of the more colorful ones for your eyeballs’ pleasure:

picasso face tattoo

rocket ship tattoo

lets jog tattoo

[That last one actually MAKES me want to get out and jog!! Haha… That could be a cool hack to get you to do stuff more – just tattoo it on your body! ;)]

What I love best though outside the savings, is the mutual *respect* each of the parties has to have for one another in order for this to work.

If either person doesn’t think the other is talented enough, then there’s no way you’d exchange anything for it, no less actually *want* what the other person is offering. So with each new barter here you’re basically saying, “Hey – your stuff is awesome! I’d love to have it!” and vice versa. Particularly with the tattoos since, you know, they are PERMANENTLY MARKED ON YOUR SKIN FOREVER, lol…

In a way this also reminds me of another kinda sorta but not really bartering-related mindset I call “gigs for goals” – where you assign each income stream to an expense so they even out and you can appreciate it more.

Kinda like this:

gigs for goals

There’s no bartering being transacted here, but by assigning each gig to a goal you’re effectively doing the same thing in terms of mindset – “doing this one gig gets me this one item.” It gives you a more concrete reason to hustle, but also honestly just FEELS better and more motivating than just working harder for “more money.” At least for those of us who are emotionally intertwined with money like I am.

In fact, I’ve been kinda doing a combo of this bartering/gigs for goals concept myself with my own consulting services…

I’ve noticed that whenever I tell someone I’d love to have X, Y or Z but am too frugal to pony up the money for it, they’re more inclined to hire me and we both get a nice win out of it! Like a few months ago when I tweeted that I wanted a rare book for $75 and asked if anyone needed some work done so I could buy it. I had over 5 people reach out to hire me and I was able to pick up the book by the end of the week! (Thanks guys!!)

I even made a Wish List of this type of stuff last month to see if I can continue my luck :) Here’s a sample of some of the items I put on it, again mainly things I’d love to have but just can’t get myself to spend the $$$ on:

wish list - consulting

So far only one person has taken me up on this Wish List route, lol, but hey – one is better than none! And again – it’s just a more fun and exciting way to think of this stuff than a more colder “pay me $100 and I’ll help you” type of transaction. And most times you’re going to convert your earnings into *something* anyways, so why not visualize it from the start to make it more real?

At any rate, all this to say that bartering is very much alive and well, and if you haven’t considered it before (especially if you’re cash flow is low or you’re just starting out in your journey!) do give it some thought and see if you can make something work!

You don’t have to be a professional hairstylist or tattoo artist or anything really to make it happen, but do figure out what you’re *best* at and then start sharing it around and see if you get some hits… You’ll be amazed at what people would pay or trade for, and we usually don’t give ourselves nearly as much credit as we should as we always assume “everyone knows this stuff” which is rarely the case!

So make a list of your skills (or passions), have your best friends and family members do the same, and then exchange notes and see if there’s any good match ups there. Or better yet – approach the places/people who you know offer what you want and then pitch them on a trade! Worst case they say no and you’ve wasted what, approximately 2 minutes of your life?

Here’s a list of stuff I enjoy helping with and am good at – if anything here is needed in your life/business, feel free to practice pitching me and we’ll see if there’s a fit :)

  • Blogging / branding / building / marketing / monetizing
  • Money / saving / debt / mindset / lifestyle design
  • Community building / branding / engaging / growing
  • FinTech / connecting / marketing / branding / engaging
  • Coin collecting / evaluating / inventorying / liquidating
  • Micro-philanthropy / engaging / fundraising / strategizing
  • Blog brokering / buying / selling / valuing

(More about my services/testimonials here: J$ Consulting)

Or of course you can always just buy me something off my Wish List and make this blogger happy!! Haha… Like a used surfboard that is not there yet but I really need to add as I JUST LEARNED HOW TO SURF last week and I’m now (unsurprisingly) addicted!!! OMG it’s so much fun – it’s just like skating, only hurts 10x less when you fall!! 😂

But more on that for another day… If you have a surfboard though sitting in your garage doing nothing, I WANT IT and will trade any of my services for it!

Alright, now 1-2-3 go barter!!!!

Make your ancestors (and your wallet) proud!

j. money signature

UPDATE: Okay wow…. As soon as I finished this post my good friend Nate called me and you’re not going to guess what he and a friend just came up with??! They decided to give each other 10 hours of their time each week to help them build out their projects!! One will be doing SEO/Email Marketing/Content-related stuff for the other, and the other will be doing Networking and Business/Product Development.


Talk about a coincidence on timing!! I told Nate I hated him so much for telling me this cuz now I have to go back and edit this post again!!, lol, but man gotta love it… So many ways you can get what you want in the world, with or without money! Just gotta get creative!

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  1. Adam July 11, 2022 at 9:11 AM

    I’ve got a buddy who’s been in HVAC for a couple dozen years and is AMAZING at this sort of thing. His wife doesn’t always appreciate it, though. Back in the mid-’00s he spent extensive time helping out a friend only for her to come back with “we can’t pay the mortgage in BOAT!” Make sure all parties — including spouses, if necessary — are on the same page! ;)

    1. J. Money July 11, 2022 at 2:26 PM


      You could always sell the boat!!! :)

  2. lisa July 11, 2022 at 12:06 PM

    Bartering is fun. I have a couple of trades in my pocket and so far, I’ve traded walnuts for pears ( I had the walnut tree and a lady in the area had pear trees). Since Craigslist has a “barter” tab on its site, I was able to trade a piece of furniture for a limo ride through the city to see Christmas lights with family and friends..
    Awww, now you’ve got me wanting to do more of these free transactions…Let me see what I can come up with….

    1. J. Money July 11, 2022 at 2:28 PM


      Food trades are the best too because if you don’t use it up they’ll go to waste!

  3. Paul July 11, 2022 at 12:40 PM

    This makes me think of Link’s Awakening, Great game… maybe it was the Ninetndo-esque squid at the beginning of the article.

    Also, that person that bartered their way up from a paper clip to a house.

    Also, Also, I’ll trade you this sweet Air Guitar for a 6-pack of Beer. Anything over $10, No college beer tho…

    1. J. Money July 11, 2022 at 2:31 PM

      AHHH I Never finished that book!! I read the first half of it where he got from the paper clip to a keg of beer and neon sign i want to say, and then I helped a family member back up their stuff for a move and it somehow got bundled up and lost forever!! Have to make a note to pick it up from the library finally and continue it… It was super fascinating and he eventually did get to the house! (And then a million people tried copying him and failed, lol…)

  4. Financial Fives July 11, 2022 at 12:58 PM

    It’s refreshing to hear this is alive and well! We were ahead of our age in college, when I would take notes for classmates who were working, and when I brought them notes they covered my dinner. Favors or Bartering?

    I also have a friend who is very good with fixing bikes. He fixes them up for a few of us, and in turn I let him borrow my paddleboard and detail his car. Friends help friends and if that’s friendly bartering then I hope it continues!

    1. J. Money July 11, 2022 at 2:34 PM

      Love it!

      My kids actually just tried paddle boarding yesterday on a lake and thoroughly enjoyed themselves :) Well, they enjoyed “falling” off it I should say as their cousin was actually doing the paddling while they sat on the edge of it and when they found out how much more fun it was to fall into the water than stay up top dry, they kept “accidentally” doing it over and over and over again ;) More than one way to enjoy a sport I suppose! Haha…

  5. Lisa H July 11, 2022 at 8:17 PM

    My husband does construction “side jobs” and over the years has bartered for a trailer, wood stove, car vacation and so much more. I have to agree with the first comment though, you can’t pay the mortgage with a trailer! He never lost money though. I will give him that. And we still barter stuff : )

    1. J. Money July 12, 2022 at 9:41 AM

      He sounds like a keeper, if you ask me ;)

  6. Charlotte July 21, 2022 at 4:27 PM

    I barter from time to time without even thinking about it.
    Some examples:
    – I made a cake that a friend liked and wanted to order one for her family. I told her I didn’t take orders but she offered to give me one of her handmade hats she was selling on ETSY in exchange for a cake. Somehow this made me happier than if she just paid me in cash.
    – I borrowed a leaf blower in exchange for coffee from a local cafe. Bonus – we got to go out and spend quality time together.
    – A friend offered to let me borrow her kids toys and I brought her food when I picked them up.

    1. J. Money July 22, 2022 at 6:36 AM

      You’re a natural!

      That hat would make me happy too – I love hats :) I basically have to wear one anytime I don’t put my ‘hawk up because it looks so ridiculous when it’s down, lol…


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