Why We Should Bring Back the Bartering System

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I’ll trade you a pig for a summer’s worth of pulling weeds. Sound like a deal? And if you’ll babysit our kids once a month I’ll make sure you never run out of homemade jam.

Shouldn’t life be that simple?

What if we could do more of the things we want to do without always worrying about money? This is a constant struggle with the homesteading lifestyle, especially if you are seeking to be fully self-reliant and to homestead full-time without an outside job. I mean, is that even possible?

There are many articles and books and online courses out there on how to make money from your homesteading skills. Start a blog and advertise on it. Sell essential oils. Sell your home-grown produce or canned goods at the farmer’s market.

It would seem that some have found their financial independence through writing articles and books and hosting online courses on how to be financially independent.

We sell our produce, eggs and jams to CSA customers and sometimes at the market. We plan on selling pork next year from our herd of heritage pigs. But we are certainly far from being in a place that allows me to quit my outside job.

Many of you are probably in the same place.

Something we don’t often talk about is bartering for goods and services.

Bartering has been around since the early Mesopotamian tribes began trading goods with the Phoenicians around 6000BC. Salt was such a high commodity that Roman soldiers were paid with it. During the Great Depression of the 30s, money was so scarce that families bartered for food and services in order to survive. But in our modern world of excess, we often don’t think of bartering as a lucrative way to meet our family needs.

Adapting a healthy bartering system could be just what we homesteaders need. Here’s why…

We All Have Something To Share

We raise pork, eggs and healthy fruit and vegetables. I also have skills with woodworking and my wife is a gifted cook and seamstress. You might know how to rebuild an engine or dig a well.

It’s unfortunate that we equate the value of these things solely in terms of money. What if we traded the value of skill for skill?

Think about the possibilities here. Maybe you’re a photographer and know someone with property in Hawaii. Why wouldn’t you trade a family photo shoot for a week in the beach house? If you’re an electrician, would you ever think of getting paid with a freezer full of fresh pork?

Money is a means to gain what we need to survive, as well as to acquire certain things we want. It is also an idol that we all serve. Bartering with goods and services can achieve the same thing, and may actually make some of those things more realistic for us.

Bartering Fosters Community

We were designed and created for community living. It’s something we absolutely lose sight of in our modern, fast paced culture. Our grandparent’s generation knew the importance of community living.

When we trade our goods or time with others, we are creating a value system that is based on trust and integrity, both strong tenets of meaningful relationships. It’s okay to rely on others. It really is.

We all have skills, abilities and goods that can benefit each other and make our community stronger. Why not put those things to work and invest in our community at the same time?

Putting Value Where it Belongs

We put too much value on money. We chase it. We kill ourselves to have it. Some people steal and cheat for it. Others do nothing to earn what they have.

It’s still true that the love of money is the root to all evil.

Bartering puts value where value belongs. Rather than being solely focused on acquiring unnecessary things for ourselves,  we are thoughtful of serving others while at the same time fulfilling our own needs. This is a healthy balance.

When we value people instead of money, we are truly free. Free from the love of money. Free to share what we have. Free to build others up. And to me, that’s a life worth living.

Bartering Makes For Simple Living

Life is so complicated. We make it even more complicated by the things we chase.

We can simplify our lives by adopting the technique of bartering. When we unwind ourselves from the consumer lifestyle, we are making room for peace in our own lives.

Think about it. Most of our frustrations, jealousy, unhappiness and anger revolve around money, or perhaps the lack of it. Bartering removes us from much of this because we are using what we have available to us rather than focusing on what we don’t have.

I know that I for one am in favor of simplifying my life.

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It’s probably not possible to completely remove ourselves from the need of money. I get that. But we can choose to use it on our own terms. Bartering with each other can open the door to so many things that we might be missing out on. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that bartering was a way of life. And to me, it’s pursuing the old fashioned way of living that brings such appeal to this homesteading life.

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