Today’s economic conditions are unprecedented. Granted, it’s not the Great Depression, but the Great Recession creates its own hardships and challenges that can only be dealt with by reaching outside of the traditional tool box. No, manufacturing will never return to the Midwest or the rest of the country for that matter, not when cheap labor in China is so widely available. Rather than hopelessly waiting for an extinct economic system to return, many people are turning to the barter system as a valuable way to trade goods and services without the use of cash. Indeed, many businesses are funded through barter which turns surplus goods and services into needed commodities. Barter alone in the US is a $6 billion industry that puts not only resources to better use, but food on the table as well.
A barter exchange is a marketplace of surplus goods and services that are traded for credits that can in turn be used to “purchase” other goods offered from other businesses on the barter exchange. It works much like a bank, but uses its own form of currency, often referred to as, “trade dollars” instead of literal cash. This currency allows organized barter to not be limited to direct swaps between two parties. Any number of goods can be traded on the barter exchange system, from copies to restaurant gift cards to a massage at your local day spa.
The real beauty of it, however, is that the goods traded are profitable. One trades products at your own cost of goods, reaping better economic value than you’d get on a traditional cash dollar market. Many entrepreneurs use this value difference to launch their own businesses, operating out of their homes and creating real economic value as a result. Barter has become a powerful, money making tool in today’s Great Recession, as businesses become more resourceful in turning over a profit.