T is for Trade Swap

Day 20 of the A-Z Blog Challenge

Sometimes, a really good way to save money can be a trade swap. That is, instead of paying for somebody else’s skills in money, you repay them in time instead. So, you need something doing in your house or life that requires a skill that you do not have such as help in the garden or fixing a leaky tap. You find a person that does have those skills and is prepared to do a skill swap with you or through a third party. They do the work and bank their hours. In return, you put forward what skills you have that others may require, for instance, mine would so obviously be sewing, cooking, computing, word processing, writing…. it is surprising when you start thinking about the skills that you possess that could come in useful for others and for which you could get paid in time for.

I am going to say though, that in my experience, this does need to be thought about carefully and does come with risks involved that you should be aware of.

I say this because i have tried it in the past.

A number of years ago i heard of and became involved in my local TimeBank. It was (and still is for some) a brilliant idea and i had high hopes of it working for me as i did sometimes struggle with a few things, mainly to do with heavy lifting. There were also tasks being offered on their list of skills being offered that i didn’t particularly enjoy doing and thought that a skill swap might be beneficial in this way, things like ironing, car washing and cutting the grass. I don’t mind general gardening, but i do hate cutting the grass, at the time i also had a rather large lawned area to do as well.

The rules were that the TimeBank Bods in charge would act as a third party and would organise who swapped with whom depending upon the skill required. They would hold a list of all people involved as well as a central point of reference for each person and an overall tally of each person’s ‘banked’ hours. There was a maximum amount of nine hours that any one person could bank before they had to get them redeemed. You didn’t have to have the points redeemed by the person that you did work for, it could be anybody on the list as it was the skill you were hiring rather than the actual person themselves. They would redeem their own hours from someone else. All materials used had to be purchased by the hirer, not the person doing the work.

I appeared to be quite popular. I was mainly offering sewing/alteration services and had built up to my maximum allowance of nine hours owed to me within a month. I shortened the arms of a couple of dress shorts including taking off and replacing the formal cuffs. I made a dolls dress from scratch, even had to create the pattern for it. The lady with the short arms also had short legs and requested me back to shorten a few pairs of trousers for her.

I also remember that this was around the time my mum passed away and she compared my loss to that of losing her cat a couple of years before. It had taken me about 20 mins to realise that she was talking about her cat.

Now don’t get me wrong, i am a pet owner, i have two dogs and a cat myself and i know how much they weave their way into our lives. They are our family. They are greatly missed when they pass. But i will also admit that i wasn’t quite in the right place at that time to agree with her. Just as well i’m polite…

Meet (from left to right) Maisie, Danny and Jazz.

…and know when to keep my mouth shut.

However, when she started asking me to make some custom cat clothes for her pets i discreetly refused. I also refused to give her my direct landline number so she could call me direct about any sewing she might need doing…

Anyway. I was up to my nine hours and needed to redeem some before i could bank anymore.

‘Goody Goody.’ i said, rubbing my hands in glee, ‘now what can i have? Oh, my car needs washing, i’ll do that.’ 

So i phoned the coordinator and requested it.

‘Oh, i’m sorry,’ she said, ‘we haven’t got anyone that can do that.’

‘Ok, i said, my son’s18th birthday is coming up, is there anyone can bake and ice a birthday cake?’

‘We’ve got someone that can make the cake, but they can’t ice it,’ She told me. 

‘Oh, i said, don’t worry, i’ll do it myself. What about a tip run, i’ve got quite a bit of rubbish that needs to be disposed of?’

‘Yes, we’ve got a guy that can do that for you, you’ll have to pay his fuel and he needs a desperate-screaming-woman-clip-art__k16052356permit to drive his van into the site so you’ll have to pay that as well.’

Ever think you’ve been had?

I had expected the fuel, but not his dumping permit for the year as well. I hadn’t thought to charge anyone for the cotton and notions i had used when doing the stuff i had done.

My bad, but what a pillock i was.

After a few other unsuccessful attempts to redeem my time, i told them it wasn’t worth it for me and i would be resigning from the Bank.

She said she was sorry to see me go.

I’ll bet she was. I reckon i was the only one doing any work!

That said, i still think it is a really good idea in principle. If you can check-mark-1292787_960_720find someone or a company that is reliable and trustworthy to complete the swap with then go for it. All i say is:

Make sure you do your homework first.

Have a happy day.

Anita. x

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