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Step 4: Hammer Out the Details.
Whether you’re bartering one-on-one, through a group, or online, set the terms of the deal up front.
- Assess the dollar value of your goods or service. Trading something tangible, like a sofa or a bike? Research the price of similar items on Craigslist.org or in local newspaper classifieds. If you’re swapping a service, figure what you would usually charge, factoring in supplies. Then make an even exchange—for example, a $60 birthday cake for three $20 manicures; eight hours of piano lessons for eight hours of math tutoring.
- Don’t forget the tax man. In some cases, the law requires you to report bartering transactions on your tax return. “That doesn’t mean you have to declare swapping babysitting with a neighbor,” says Anthony Burke, an Internal Revenue Service spokesman. “But a barter between businesses is considered taxable income.” If you barter regularly, consult an accountant.
- Set the time frame. Decide how long you and your bartering partner will need to fulfill your part of the deal, and set a deadline. If it’s ongoing, set a review date to make sure you’re both still happy.
- Put it in writing. Take it from Nina Wurtzel, a New York City photographer who shot and designed a brochure for a local salon in exchange for services: “I wound up revising the brochure several times, but I received only one cut and color.” If the deal will last longer than one exchange, send an e-mail saying, “This is what I will do and what you will do in this time period,” says Amy Belanger, deputy director of Green America, a nonprofit that supports bartering as part of environmental sustainability. But if it is worth a lot of money or is ongoing, she suggests a signed agreement. The hallmark of a successful barter? If both parties are willing to do it again. “Once you start,” says Belanger, “it becomes part of your lifestyle.”
Author: by Hannah Wallace