Back in university I had a friend named Steve. Steve’s dad was an electrician, and had a very interesting way of keeping his home costs in check.
I’m not sure how it all started, but he had several friends that were skilled in a variety of trades. One of his friends was a plumber, another a carpenter, one was a mechanic, yet another did landscaping. There were a few others, too, and I think there was some doubling up of professions as well.
They essentially created a barter group for home and car maintenance. Whenever one of them had a problem with one of the above mentioned trades, they would contact that tradesman and the work would be done for free or at cost. If Steve’s dad had a problem with his toilet, he would call up his plumber friend and have it fixed. His mechanic friend would take care of any automotive needs without charging labour. Of course, sometimes a call would come in to install a new lighting fixture at one of his friend’s houses, and the bill would only be the cost of the materials.
It would be very interesting to see how much one could save by being in a circle of friends like this. The closest thing to a barter group I have seen was growing up on a wheat farm. Our neighbour had a pig farm, so every summer we would give him a wagon load of straw, and in return he would slaughter us a couple of pigs. I don’t think my parents ever paid for bacon or pork chops while that system was in place.
Have any readers been involved in a barter group (products or services)? What kind, and what was/is your experience with such a system?
I imagine being in a group like the one my friend’s dad was in not only keeps expenses low, but keeps your home in tip-top shape as well.