Last night my neighbor called wanting to “borrow” some chocolate chips…

I said “Hang on… I think I have some”


I put down the phone and checked the pantry… And I was right… I did.

So I said “Sure… what do you want to trade for?”

She was like “How about some fruit?”

“Nahhhh… I’m overstocked on fruit this week… got any bread?”

“Well in fact I do… I’ll send the munchkin right over!”

So I started thinking… is this normal?  Do other people barter like this?  Am I the only one?  Have you wanted to barter before but were afraid to try it?  Would you like Mavis to show YOU how to barter so you can be living like a rock star on a small budget too?  Just say the word and I’ll dedicate a post next week to bartering 🙂


  • Casey

    Absolutely, please post. I suspect bartering may again become an essential skill.

  • Sara

    Yes, Please!!!

  • Joanna

    Reminds me of an activity our youth group did in High School. We called it “trade-up scavenger hunt.” We’d split into groups and start with a can of veggies. Go door to door and ask if anyone has anything they want to trade. Then go to the next house and try again. Believe it or not, we’d end up with some really nice stuff – I think a couch once.

    • Becky FabFruGal

      My youth group did this… we started with a penny, ended up with a VW Bug (old, non working… but still!!!)

      • mavis

        2 years ago I had a group of teenagers ring our doorbell and asked if we had a red headed Barbie… it was the last thing on their scavenger hunt list… I thought it was hysterical.

  • Shelley

    What a great idea! I usually share what ever I make with the borrowed item…like sending back some chocolate chip cookies to the neighbor I got them from.,..but this is a super way to get what you need AND help out, too. Way to go, Mavis!

  • Julie

    Yes – I’d love to know how to barter tactfully. =)

  • Becky FabFruGal

    Yes!!! Please do!!

  • River Babe

    I would rather not “barter” but help out a neighbor when in need. I know that I will need something sometime from her.

    • Daisha

      I completely agree!! I’d rather just willingly share.

    • Susan

      Yea, me too. River Babe and Daisha, I’m glad you responded this way, because that’s how I feel too. I’ll gladly help a neighbor, and I have a number of neighbors whom I’d be comfortable asking for help if I needed it. But I wouldn’t dream of responding to a neighbor who asked for some chocolate chips by asking for something in return.

      • Julie

        If my neighbor was a fellow couponer and she knew she was asking for something that is a stockup item for me (like baking goods), then it’s almost like she’s going ‘shopping’ at my house and using another item (the bread) to pay for it, just as couponers use the coupon at the store in place of cash. I think that was the essence of Mavis’ post, that somebody was just exchanging stockpiled items with her. People who coupon keep different things on hand and in different amounts than people who don’t. People who coupon are a lot more likely to use bartering in an everyday fashion than people who don’t. And the original post is regarding examples of bartering.

        • Monkeylady

          My husband has been avidly watching every Extreme Couponing show he can tape! Now he’s got ME excited too! I was just telling him…now that there are so many people out there stockpiling goods…there needs to be a medium for them to trade with each other for what they need! Like an Extreme Bartering thing! Very cool that I saw this!

  • Michelle P.

    I would like to learn to do this..there are several ways to barter like swaping yard work cutting hair or babysitting on a day off from school.

  • elisabeth

    Oh yes, please do! I am about to move to an area with an active Craigslist and can’t wait to try out my new skills!!

  • Kathy Kontes

    My neighbors and I barter all the time. One has chickens (we trade veggies and plants from our greenhouse for eggs) and we have a large garden so we also trade with other neighbors for car repairs and some grow different vegtables than I do so we trade that way too. I think a post on this sort of thing would be great. People used to do this all the time — called helping your neighbor now I don’t think people know their neighbors. This is a great way to meet people too.

    • Monkeylady

      Yes! We had a guy come remove some trees for us..very expensive! My hubby bartered with him and we got $50 knocked off for some eggs, goats milk cheese, and goats milk soap..since we make it ourselves and had chickens and plenty of eggs!

  • Christina Mendez

    Yes…please do so! This sounds like a really fun way to help others out.

  • Angela

    Well, I live out in the country and my next door neighbor is my mom, so we generally just “borrow” from each other and it all works out. But bartering is a wonderful skill to have so I’d love to learn more!!

  • LJ

    Last week I called my neighbor for a bag of cat food which I was going to repay but she loves the free range organic eggs from our awsome hens. She suggested the trade and we were all quite happy. Especially the cat 🙂

  • AnnMarie

    When my husband and I were just setting up a household we bartered our time for tons of things that we needed (ie, yardwork for a couch). My favorite was babysitting for a family in exchange for a barely used washer and dryer. We used that set for over 15 years!

    • mavis

      A washer and dryer? Wow… the biggest thing I have bartered for was a set of patio chairs… looks like I could learn a thing or two from you!

  • Ken

    You know what Mavis? You are a fun person and I along with many others would love to hear your “bartering with the neighbors” stories and suggestions. It does appear there are “superiority complex” people on here who don’t ‘Get” you. I get the feeling from reading your blog that your neighborhood is how neighborhoods used to be in the old days and I’m sure you have a lot to do with that. I think most people don’t like accepting charity even when they really need help and offering them a trade of sorts helps them keep their integrity. My opinion only.

    • Monkeylady

      Totally agree! EVERYONE has something to offer! You just have to think outside the box sometimes. I think the economy may be forcing people to do so who never would have otherwise!

  • Char

    We have neighbors that are coming over 2-3 times a month to “borrow” various items and never returning the item or repaying in any way. They still have a shovel of my husbands and claim its theirs. Its hard to say no when they send their kiddos over to my front door instead of calling. But I think “sure what do you want to trade for it (esp with food items) would be a great way” to respond and not end up like I’m being taken advantage of.

  • LeAnn

    I barter piano lesson for raw honey that my student’s parents produce and I barter for babysitting with another student.

  • Angela

    Of course I am more than happy to “loan” a cup of flour or a couple of eggs to a neighbor in need (we’ve all been there!), my friend and I have recently been bartering with our stockpile, and it’s been great! I have a surplus of Frosted Flakes (which HER kiddos love) and she had more boxes of Cinnamon Life than she thought she could use (MY kids love those). A match made in heaven…we swapped and everyone is happy! Same goes for all the Betty Crocker fruit snacks we have….I needed more of the shapes that my kids prefer, and she was looking for more of the roll-ups that her kids prefer. We swap again, and life is good! I think it’s a fabulous thing, and would love to hear more stories Mavis!

  • Maopa@LusciousDeals

    That sounds like something I could do! Looking forward to that post:) Happy Friday everyone:)

  • RM

    Sure I have bartered and love it . One time I offered house cleaning services to someone I knew in exchange for her monogramming a bunch of christmas gifts for me it worked out great.

    Did you know that there is a place on Income tax forms to put bartering? Well it’s true the government even wants a piece of the battering.

    • Monkeylady

      Yes, and did you know there is also a place on the tax forms for people to claim money they made from selling illegal drugs??? Like who would admit to that??

  • Nicole H.

    Yay! Please post. I’ve thought about this often but wasn’t sure how to bring it up. I’ve been worried some people may feel awkward at first but most people would really benefit from a little barter!

  • Norma M.

    We are doing a second “Bring and Barter” this Saturday evening at my church. At the first one, we all brought in things to trade (a pair of tights that were brand new but too small for the wearer by the time of need; jewelry; perfume received as a gift, but not liked; a yardwork stool, unused baskets that gift sets came in; duplicates of household items; etc.) had a ball getting to know each other, and trading (some multiple trades so all the participants got what they wanted).

    There were women who never come out to any women’s activities, who came, and really enjoyed themselves. It helps to break through the “cliques”. These women were the ones who asked me to do it again, please. Norma

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