Bartering vs Haggling: How To Get Things For Less Money

by JT on May 13, 2010

More practical, money saving tips to try out!

Bartering is an age old skill that we could all make use of a bit more these days. I didn’t really think about this until recently, but I use a lot of bartering in my daily life without even thinking about it. And the strange thing is that once you consciously think about having this skill, you end up using it a lot more. I tend to think of it like a muscle –- the more I use it, the better I get at it.

bartering vs haggling

Bartering vs Haggling: How To Get Things For Less Money

I love the simplicity of bartering because I don’t have to worry about money. This makes it a good tool to have in my armory because I know I can still do certain things without needing cash all the time.

A classic example in my life is something as mundane as a haircut. Now if you have been to a salon recently, you will know how expensive something as simple as a haircut can be. In my neck of the woods, a typical haircut can cost as much as $25 to $40 a visit (unless you visit a place in Chinatown, where lots of things go for cheap). Imagine being able to save an extra $25 here and there in your online savings account or in your SmartyPig fund. Over time, it all adds up!

So knowing just how much you can save over time, let me ask you this –- if you knew someone who was a hairdresser, wouldn’t you try to make a go of bartering?


Of course you would, and that’s just how I’ve brought bartering into the picture. My sister in law just happens to cut hair, and she also just happens to need a babysitter once in a while as well. So my partner and I pay her a visit maybe once every month or so and babysit for a few hours while she goes out to work. Then when she returns from work, we both get our haircuts! It works perfectly both ways and everyone is happy. The great thing is that we’ve made this arrangement on a regular schedule, which means that we all get something we need without having to exchange money for the service elsewhere.

I’ve indulged in a bit of bartering on other occasions as well, but it’s important to recognize the difference between bartering and haggling. Some people think they are one and the same thing but they’re not. Haggling is the art of negotiating for a better price, whereas bartering is a form of trade. Both are ways to get things for less money, but achieved through different methods. Haggling requires a confidence I don’t yet have, but I’m working on it and occasionally, I’ve received discounts by paying in cash instead of using some other method of payment. Bartering means that I have on hand something that the other person wants as well though, otherwise the whole thing doesn’t work.

Another strategy I’ve tried in the past is to swap things I don’t want with another person. And again, I’ve done this with other family members and friends as well. I started growing some salad vegetables in the back garden last year (I’ve been growing carrots in my garden) and ended up with more carrots than I thought I would. So I gave some to my father in law in exchange for some fresh lettuces and shallots –- things that I wouldn’t have room to grow myself.

So if you are wondering whether I have been converted to the idea of bartering, you can see that the answer is a resounding yes. I am now also trying to figure out other ways of using this skill, and I’ve decided that the best way to get ahead is to figure out what I have to barter with. Skills and goods both work, and once I get better at it I will hopefully save even more money each month. And at the same time I can help out some other people in the process. What could be better?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matthew May 13, 2010 at 7:39 am

What a coincidence. I have a sister in law, who cuts my hair about once a month. But instead of baby sitting she gets lawn mowing in exchange.

Btw, I like your article. Nice that someone explains the difference between bartering and haggling, because most of the people mix up the two meanings.

Concerning the bartering I recently found some good web communities. http://www.barterquest.com for instance also allows you to organize in localized trading clubs. The internet gives you the chance to globalize your bartering network or also to trade with people you didn’t know before and who are living in your neighborhood.

2 Sndr May 14, 2010 at 7:33 am

hey, that’s so funny. Read this entry and the comments. I recently started bartering on Barterquest for a haircut!! :-) I’ve been using this site for quite a while now, but for different types of trades. The haircut trade is not completed yet, but if you need a barber service for no money, that seems to be the site you need.

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