Bartering as a means of exchange in this moneyless life is not as common as you might think. While a very useful tool in some circumstances, I have not used it very often. I tend to find myself helping out people I know – friends and family – in a very informal way.
I’ve found that there is a difference in the exchanges between friends/family and new people/strangers. The former feels much the same as in my previous moneyed life – I help a friend out when they need it and, at some point, if I need a hand, my friends will be there. Maybe it’s not the same friends either – it works in a lovely, organic way. The latter is where more formal bartering seems to come to the fore – but even then, not always……….
As an example, I recently did a day of concreting with someone I didn’t really know (a friend of a friend). His help had fallen through and he needed someone in a hurry. He realised he couldn’t pay me with cash and didn’t have anything obvious to swap, so we decided to just let go of me ‘getting’ anything from him at that point in time. By the end of the day though, I left with a couple of bags full of fresh citrus and avocados from the farm we were working at. He also has a toilet seat and buckets set aside at his house, waiting for me to collect when I get set up in my own digs again. These were just accidental things that came up through the course of the conversation that day and worked out nicely for us both.
Some examples of more formal bartering I have engaged in over the past year and a half:
- Munch Crunch Organics in Byron seemed pretty pleased to have me on board for a few weeks when I was house sitting in Byron over winter. We organised an exchange in which I helped out for about four hours on a Wednesday and then ordered a box of organic veges online once a week (up to an agreed value). I enjoyed this exchange – I got to see how a business like Munch Crunch works, was able to put my hands in the soil and I received a reliable, healthy, locally grown box of organic food! Awesome! They had an extra pair of hands when they couldn’t afford to pay another person.
- I once exchanged some home grown veges for a meal at a local restaurant when a group of friends were going to be gathering there for a celebration.
There must have been other examples, but I can’t think of any. Like I say, it’s rare.
I have learned from moneyless superhero, Mark Boyle. He made a commitment to stay away from bartering as it is too much like the normal system of moneyed exchange. It can be hard to get away from the moneyed mindset which bartering is based on – this much of this is ‘worth’ that much in dollars, therefore, you get that much of a similar dollar value in return. It’s still like money but there’s no actual money used. It is definitely a very different feeling to just freely giving.
Even the agreement about living for a year on Santosha, the farm where I lived for a while (see previous posts), was not formal. Ananda and I just agreed that we would collaborate on the large vegie garden/orchard. And that’s what we did. There was give and take on both sides which seemed to just flow. To me, that was a beautiful thing to experience. Thank you, Ananda.
We all experience give and take, helping others out, as well as many different forms of non-financial exchange. I have really only given these exchanges more weight since being moneyless. I enjoy exploring this way of being and will continue to play around with it. It brings more joy to my life.