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article imageOp-Ed: The benefits of nurturing a growing barter economy

By Jenna Cyprus     Aug 9, 2013 in Business
Bartering is something many relegate to a time before tradition, paper currency; however, the exchange of goods and services for non-monetary options is making a comeback.
When I was a kid, my parents tried to instill in me a respect for the power of a dollar. I did chores and worked for an allowance, and if I wanted something, I had to save my allowance until I had enough money to get what I wanted. And I knew the price of what I wanted because, well, there was a tag on it.
I didn't know until I was a teenager that not all purchasing works like that. In some places, there's not a sticker. There's a barter system.
Do we see this in the US?
There are some places where bartering is still the custom. Farmers markets are a good example of this: farmers come, set up stalls, and sell their harvest. At the end of the day, they might reduce the price or be more willing to negotiate over the price of their goods just so they don't have to cart them home.
There are also some places in Manhattan where bartering is the norm. Most notably, Canal Street has a long history of working on the barter system. I've shopped there, and it was my first experience with bartering. I had fun, but I have to say, I wasn't very good at negotiating.
There is also the online community that encourages a sort-of barter system. Sites like eBay are similar to bartering in the sense that there isn't a set price and people bid on their items. However, there are also Internet companies that are gold- and silver-backed.
These sites allow users to transfer money into an account in order to purchase even small amounts of silver or gold. If the user purchases enough, he or she can get physical gold or silver bars shipped to them upon residency confirmation.
These examples were conducted on an individual level. Bartering for individuals can be useful in times of hard economic crisis, when the value of governmental currency has gone down.
However, several states such as Utah, Virginia, and New Hampshire, as well as select cities, have started a barter system for their local citizens. They use various forms of alternate currency to facilitate trade and stimulate the economy.
Although the economy is bouncing back, it's useful to have other options, just in case things go south again. Gold and silver are solid investments, and knowing how to barter is a skill that can not only save money at farmers markets, but might be a valuable skill in the future, here or abroad.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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