Bartering 101

The trick to bartering with neighbors… is to have an open mind…

Because you never know what they’ll have to trade.

And if you can play it cool… and hide your excitement for whatever it is they may be offering you…

You’ll come out a winner…

And just because they’re not interested in your Free (after mail in rebate) bottle of Physician’s Formula Eyelash extender… Don’t worry… The lady of the house will find something else she likes…

For instance…  On this particular bartering session… she selected a giant box of oatmeal, 4 boxes of whole wheat pasta, dishwasher tabs, shampoo & conditioner, 2 boxes of Sucrets, Rolaids, a pack of disposable razors, dental floss and 2 bags of Easter candy…

Even her husband was wanting to get in on the action… He took the two bottles of Frank’s hot sauce the Misses didn’t think she needed…

Ahhh yes… bartering with the neighbors can be loads of fun… Especially when it comes time for you to make your selections…

Oh my… I could sure use this molasses for my gingerbread cookies this winter…

And trail mix… what a treat… the children will love this!

And bread too… Is this my lucky day or what???

But then she offered me an enormous sized opened jar of pickles…

I wasn’t so sure I wanted them… So I said… “Hmmm…. mind if I try a sample first?”

And then my neighbor walked me out to her garage…and said…  “Go ahead… look in the freezer if you want”… Don’t be shy…

It’s all good…

Because one woman’s free double coupon items…

Is another woman’s “Go ahead and have it… We don’t want it” items…

And…if you happen to barter with a neighbor that doesn’t clip coupons… And she offers you a P & G coupon booklet and a handful of FREE  product coupons…and tells you… “I was going to throw these away… Do you want them?”

Nonchalantly say… “Well…if you aren’t going to use them… Sure… I’ll take them”

And then pinch yourself… just to make sure you didn’t imagine the whole thing…


And that ends my lesson in Bartering 101 for today my FruGALS…


All the cool kids are doing it… Are you?



  • Mj

    Mavis, this is funny 🙂

  • Lena

    You are too precious! BTW We have one of those Pilgrim outfits too. Is that a requirement? ;0)

  • mysssss

    No one in my neighborhood stockpiles and they don’t open their front doors at all, you must live in an extremely friendly neighborhood, not so down here, most are scratching for food and get theirs at food pantries, most walk to buses, most barely pay their mtg, rent..none of that stuff here, those with lots of money, cars and great jobs commute about an hour to hour and a half to get to them and back and never meet neighbors or anything we are considered a bedroom community of Portland and people trying to make a living would not do what you do, they make enough to buy food and shop in Portland, Oregon to boot, depriving this town of tax money for necessary live in an alternate world than in this town, good for you though, you do have a great sense of humor..hmmmmm!!!!!!!!!

    • Heidi

      mysssss, my advice for you is simple and taken from the movie Bambi (that I saw when I was a kid – not on blueray or in surround sound), “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
      It makes me sad that someone (Mavis) who has an awesome sense of humor, and some REALLY good tips, good advice, and a totally delicious sense of style ( :p ) would get such sarcastic and negative backlash (from you) over the things she posts for over 9000 people to read.
      Give us all a break – figure out your cycle, (from ovulation to the last day of your period) and don’t make any comments during that time of the month or something…? Either that, or just figure out how to be nice.
      Personally, I have not bartered with my neighbors, but there are about 6-7 different people that I trade stuff with all the time – “do you have a can of sweetened condensed milk?” which I do – and they borrow it. Instead of just giving that can to them, or making them feel like they have to replace it, I feel really empowered that I could just say, “wanna trade for something?” and if that particular friend is in a hard spot and doesn’t HAVE anything to trade, or is living in a cardboard box like most of your friends you describe, I would just have enough common decency to not ask for a trade. It’s just nice to have an idea so that MY stockpile (VERY SMALL) doesn’t diminish or disappear while others’ continues to grow because they use mine as their alternate.

      I’m so happy for you that you can afford the internet, and have time to make such sarcastic and unnecessary criticisms to people who are offering THEIR talents and services FREE OF CHARGE, inbetween your trips to your local food pantry, and serving the poor in your area and helping to keep their cardboard box houses from flying away in the wind. This IS a community blog. There are MANY MANY MANY communities, people and lives that have been GREATLY enriched because of what these ladies have to offer.
      Don’t diminish that for the rest of us.

    • Christina

      A thought: maybe donating to some of those really hurting neighbors. A smal surprise basket of goodies sectretly left on a door step could begin a whole new attitude in your neighborhood. We here where I live are hurting to, especially a few families real bad. My neighbor, who is also a great friend, and I talked about it one day and then we got the idea to do something about it. Not to embarrass anyone we invited everyone in the neighborhood to come to a soup supper at my house. Then we told a little white lie and said there would be pantry baskets handed out at the supper. The lie was that they were from the food pantry when they were really from us. We put small bags of things together, not a lot but enough for a couple free good meals for each family, and it didn’t even put much of a dent in our food stores. We had a great supper, got to know our neighbors and handed out our packages. At the supper we let everyone know that if they had things in their cupboards that they knew they would never use, they could come and swap for an item they would use. Needless to say people started talking to each other and swapping things to help each other out. We even got an out of work plumber to help the old guy down the street fix his leaking sink so that his water bill will go down and the plumber got a good feeling and a fresh baked apple pie from the old guys wife.
      Now we are starting a community garden in a way. We are all coordinating our already existing garden spots so that everyone will get lots of good stuff to eat this year. We are also helping those that don’t have a garden spot make one so they can have food to. I’m looking forward to seeing what the canning season will be like. It’s a lot of work to coordinate all this but my friend and I both lost our jobs and have nothing better to do with our time, and it is FUN to know the neighbors and a great feeling to help out.

      • Tali

        what wonderful ideas…..I have only done this for 5-6 weeks but was power shopping sales before hand so I have enough food for 6 month already. It is important to me to make it a point to remember others who aren’t as fortunate as I am….there is a sweet lady at our church that ‘adopted’ my girls as granddaughter….ever since she heard that I use coupons she brings them to me to church faithfully… every week I make a nice size grocery bag full of goodies. I thought that it will be just saying thank you until she made a remark that led me to understand she is hurting financially and this is really helping her…..I also, when I can get more than I want offer my friends to buy them stuff (like yogurt for 0.24), I just use my coupons/doublers etc.

        “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

    • Beth

      Please go somewhere else and be mean. I am going to stop reading this blog if you don’t stop leaving mean comments everyday. It makes me sick that you don’t have anything better to do than to cut Mavis down everyday.

    • KristinaD

      Everyone has some good comments here. I too get really tired of the ‘class warfare’ attacks. I would urge readers NOT to stop reading this blog because of 1 person’s unfortunate mindset. We all have been so blessed by these ladies and their wonderful service.

      Thank you!

      • Christina

        We need to remember there really shouldn’t be any ‘class warfare’ here. We are all a part of the human class. We are all in this together and there is strength in numbers.

    • Renee

      mysssss – Soup kitchen called. They asked that you stop writing mean comments and get back to your charity work.

  • Alexis


  • Karma

    How in the world do you get all your funny pictures?? I can just see it, “Would you mind taking my picture while I shop in your freezer?” Hilarious! I trade my homebound neighbor each week – she gives me her coupons and I give her something I bought that week! This week I’ll take a box of Raisin Honey Bunches of Oats.

  • nikki

    I LOVE IT!!! I have done this many times for hair cuts, newspapers, babysitting. I love it Mavis. Thanks so much. Now if I could have some of your humor!

  • Joanna

    Here’s a question: How do I get that wonderful outfit? I think that my hubby would love to see me in that. It’s right up there with the hospital gown I wore when bearing children on the hotness scale! LOVE it!

  • Joanna

    The tips on bartering are great because I think that a lot of us would gladly give to others out of our stockpile. I mean really, what I am going to do the the Tena pads from rite aid this week? But when you just give stuff to people, it does tend to make them feel uncomfortable. I would feel a little weird taking money for items that I already made money on, so bartering is a great solution. I have an older girl friend who gardens extensively. I gave her the tena pads and in exchange she is making me a wonderful salad for when I host bunko in a few weeks. It’s win-win!

  • leslie

    This is so fun! Love the dress!

  • Katie in DC

    I HEART the Mavis posts. Keep em coming Mavis!

  • yvonne

    I love the post!!! How ingenius. Remember to roll up your hair and add an apron next time your dress up as an Amish. OH, I love it.

  • Gina R.

    Mavis does a great job! She’s a very welcome addition to your site! She makes me laugh which is hard to do.

  • Kalie

    I love it Mavis, never thought of something like this, I do offer items we have stockpiled to those I know could use them, but I really like this idea. To a few of the ladies above, I enjoy reading what you do for your community and neighborhood, awesome! Gandhi said it best “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

  • Neva

    First of all, the Amish outfits were hysterical. You are awesome Mavis.

    Secondly, I have never formally bartered. I have borrowed things from neighbors, and they have borrowed from me, but never have we traded like this. However, I dog sat for a neighbor recently, and she gave me her milk, eggs, tortillas, and some produce – things that would have gone bad while they were gone. I took them as my trade for the dog-sitting, even though I never would have asked for something in return.

    I guess there are times to barter, and there are times to just give because you can. Thanks for all the information.

  • mel

    Hahahahahaha!!! Mavis! You are a crack up!!! Made my day!

  • Oh how I look forward to your posts. I definitely would not stop reading this blog over one idiot making rude and vicious comments. I find it humorous to read through all of the comments. My favorite one yet: “Give us all a break – figure out your cycle, (from ovulation to the last day of your period) and don’t make any comments during that time of the month or something…? Either that, or just figure out how to be nice.” Oh my goodness Heidi, Thank you!! I LOL’ed so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants.
    I truly enjoy reading Mavis’s hilarious posts and seeing how wonderful she is. If we all could just be as generous as her this world would be a better place. The FAB girls ROCK and I would be lost without this blog. Seriously, I would!!

  • Nicole H.

    Great Post and very funny! Back in “the day”….I mean waaayyyyyyy back…..before our “token economy system” of using paper money and coins…this is how it was done. The farmer traded to to the baker who traded to the butcher and so on. There used to be entire marketplaces just for bartering. To my understanding of it bartering still can’t be taxed by the government if it is not in excess and is for personal use, and why should it be, it’s just a simple trade between neighbors or friends and government has no business in those small details of our lives.

    In the not so distant past my parents job hunted in better areas in another state while we were living in a poor area of California so they could move us out of the city. They initially took pay cuts and we were poor for awhile because of it. I mean really poor. We gardened, which is very cheap if you do it right, for all of our vegetables and us kids helped out alot. It was hard work. But it was so the future would be better. Some sacrifice and hard work had to be done in order to change our situation of being near more crime and danger.

    As for bad and good neighborhoods, my husband grew up as the minority in a rough neighborhood in a large segregated city in the midwest. He took me there once during the daytime and only for a quick drive though. I’m sure no one coupons or barters there, people survive more than live and it’s a really hostile environment. But just a few blocks from where that neighborhood begins there are neighborhoods that do coupon and a little further away from that there are neighborhoods where a person could feel comfortable asking a neighbor if they wanted to barter.

    My advice to someone from the type of neighborhood my husband used to lived in is, take a walk. And if you don’t like your neighborhood, keep walking and don’t turn back. But don’t resent people for trying to have a better life for themselves and their families. If you choose to do nothing but stay in your current situation and complain about it to people then the only person responsible for your situation is yourself and your complaints mean nothing.

    Thank you Mavis and all the Fab Gals for all you do. I have learned alot from this site and it helps me take better care of my family. God bless you.

  • Erin

    You are too funny! I’m the only one in my circle that coupon shops. So I spread the word, give ppl the websites to some of you awesome bloggers, etc. My husband is unemployed & I only work PT so most of the deals I get are to benefit our house, but I do try to help out others.

    My Dad id trying to get on SSI for his physical disabilities. He can not work and was making $350ish/mo from welfare and they cut it ti $200 something at the turn of the year and this month they cut it yet again to $197/mo is what he is expected to live on!!! F*n rediculous!!! So I have started to broaden out my savings spectrum & consider his needs. I figure if I can lessen his out of pocket expenses for things like hygene, dog food, etc then he will have less to worry about… I’ve got tons of shampoo, deoderant, tp, and over 50lbs of dog food! He gets food stamps so that angle is covered, but that is one way we are *bartering* Dad feels embarrassed that I’m doing this for him so he is going to take me grocery shopping… <3

    My husbands friend is over all the time so when I come home w/4 (how many pprs i get & IPs I usually have) of whatever we always give some to him too 😉 Apparently the $0.25 crest toothpaste I scored the other day was in perfect timing as he just ran out that morning 🙂 He will help us out watching the boys for us etc. 🙂

    We also donate all of our kids clothes & things we dont wear anymore to the food bank instead of trying to put them on consignment.

    Another friend of my husband's comes over w/his son for the kids to play and he always rummages through our cupboards, we let him…whatever, food is there for the eating. He came over a week ago and brought a tricycle for my youngest that he got from a thrift store for $1. It was a real generous offer! We've given him rides to the food bank and helped him out plenty before, its nice when it comes back, we don't do these things expecting something in return, but it is nice when things come back around 😀 My son <3s the trike, although his legs a still a bit too short 😉

    Its nice to read about all the wondeful things others do in their community!

  • KD

    Love this! Just yesterday I realized I was down to my last bottle of peanut butter, and I remembered my neighbor showing off the 12 bottles she scored for free. I was wondering if it would be weird to knock on her door bearing the instant oatmeal I overstocked on and asking if she wanted to trade. Now I realize it is the cool thing to do!

  • Laura H

    Bahhhahahah! That outfit is the bomb. You are hilarious!

  • valerie Bish

    You are doing a great service. Keep up the good work. Attitude is everything.

  • Katie

    Mavis u are a rockstar, I agree! U certainly are well liked on here! I appreciate all ur wonderful ideas and tips and just all the time u r contributing to helping us all 🙂
    keep up the good work! Ur an inspiration 🙂

  • ananda

    You are definately a rockstar! I really wish I could have kept going for months to have good enough of a.stockpile to barter, especially right now since we are single income military and.won’t be getting paid!

  • Tammy

    Thanks for your sense of humor Mavis! I’ve always liked this blog, but now it is my favorite since you’ve joined the team!

  • TDR

    I’m new to the coupon deal and dont have a stock pile just yet, but I love reading about new ideas and Mavis is great! I think we need to just remember that when we say “neighbor” it doesnt have to mean the person next door. I live in the country and only have one older couple living next door to me and we do swap. Thay bring be things from their garden and I add it to the things in my garden. I can it all up and I always send a few canned food items back to them. But I do have friends, family, and people at church that I can start swapping with! I had not thought of this till reading this post. So, mysssss maybe untill your neighbor hood can recover from this hard econ. you could swap with family,friends, and other people you know. You all are great ladies and we all are just trying to do the best we all can. If we can help each other out then we can help others out too!

  • Helen in Meridian

    Mavis, I love love love your attitude and fiestiness. That pilgrim outfit is the bomb, as is the apricot cocktail, bridesmaid dress your neighbor just happened to be wearing. What a hoot, and what great friendship. Here’s to all of us bartering.

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