BARTER-win-win alternative economy

I have always thought that barter is a great thing. Recently it has been highlighted in my experience in such a way that I now see it as one of the big keys to a sustainable personal economy. Developing sustainable mini economies that don’t rely on cash, credit, banks or loans is a huge, healthy, and proactive step towards reinvigorating or replacing our current economic system. (which is a pretty attractive prospect these days, is it not?)

It is ironic that barter is referred to as an alternative economy, since it has been the norm for most of human history. So we are returning to our roots by nourishing the natural impulse to exchange value for value.

When money is tight, we feel a disempowering sense of our options being constricted. Bartering is a great way to take the cash factor out of the equation and maintain or expand your options instead of minimizing them.


Some Personal Examples:
I used to work as a massage therapist in spas for many years, and I still have a trade running with my hair stylist. I get great coloring and cuts in exchange for her getting a much needed massage.

Problem: As much as I love/need massage, it isn’t in my budget right now to get regular bodywork. Solution: I find massage therapists who need help with their career strategy and do a coaching/consulting trade. WIN WIN

With so many people out of work right now, many are asking themselves “How can I make money?” That is a practical question, but I propose that we also ask ourselves “What can I offer that is of service and value to others?” Then use these skills as barter currency and also to bring in money.


  • It builds connection based on real world value and service
  • It expands our options for products & services we can enjoy without maxing our budget or undermining long-term goals
  • It is a sustainable exchange model with a very long history and is not subject to the ups and downs and whims of the money based economy
  • It feels good

The Way of the Future?
I just read a really great time travel book called ‘The Accidental Time Machine’ by Joe Haldeman.
At one point he goes as far as 2,100 years into the future, and I was so curious to see how the author would portray the people alive at that time. One of the main things about their society was that its economy was based on barter! Here is a conversation excerpt about it:
“But if you just wanted to buy some women’s clothing?
“Buy?” the woman frowned. Matt gestured at the vault. “Money is one thing we have.” She looked at her husband. “Money?” He smiled at her. “You didn’t pay attention in school, Em. That’s what they had before bee shits.” “Oh, I remember. Like dollars.”   ….”So what’s a bee shit?” Matt said, thinking the answer should be “honey.”
Arl pulled a roll of bills out of his pocket and fanned them. Several different denominations, different colors. They all had the word BARTER ornately printed all over both sides. “A barter chit,” Arl said.

They go on to explain how everything is done via barter and the money is smart and imprints to the DNA of the one who holds it.
It’s a fascinating book that I really recommend. And supports the point of this post- to encourage you to bring more bartering into your life.


1.) List services that you really want or need but Shouldn’t justify spending money on right now. (web designer, personal assistant, life coach, massage, etc…) Then Prioritize them by attributing numbers to them.
2.) Write a List of all the Skills, Resources or Services you could potentially offer in a barter exchange. Put a star next to the most viable and attractive.
3.) There are many ways to go about manifesting an ideal exchange. Here are some of them: Actively research service providers and call or email them with the proposal, put a post on a listserve or social network you are on, post something up on Craigslist or a local bulletin board, ask your angels or the universe and wait for it to magically happen without work, or ask your super networked friend or colleague if they know of anyone who does ______.

Would love to hear comments, feedback, personal experiences and any resources you have along these lines…

Inspiring Role Models

This is the 1st post in a new Series-
Key Principles for Creative Life & Career Design.


Knowing what is possible for you in your careers scope and impact is greatly supported by finding exemplary role models who’s works and achievements truly inspire you. They don’t even need to be accessible or alive to act as a muse and guiding force.

“Almost all artists derive succor from the dead. The dead continue to give willingly when the living won’t return phone calls and refuse to remember your name. Holding fast to your creative heritage is a way of building an impassioned support system without dealing with anybody! …Having a deep love and understanding for the men and women whose work has inspired and influenced your own can create a spiritual family that has just as much power as a living friend.” -Carol Lloyd from the book ‘Creating a Life Worth Living’

Of course, it is more ideal is if you can find a role model who is not only alive, but also willing to do some active mentoring with you. These relationships can be hard to come by, and the people worth having them with are often very busy. In all centuries previous to ours, apprenticeships and mentorships were the primary ways that trades were learned. Even though we have come so far from that now, many of us feel a sense of nostalgia, or a yearning for that sort of relationship. And anyone with a good heart who has had a fruitful career wants to find ways to help those who are coming up with similar callings. So if you do find a living role model from who’s guidance you would greatly benefit, create a win-win proposal of how you can also benefit them and then pitch it to them!

My own college experience was more based on mentors and advisors than teachers. I did a self-designed degree program through Prescott College (Integrative Arts major & applied Ecopsychology minor). Each course that I designed had to have a clear objective, a set of activities to meet that objective, method of evaluation, and a local mentor who would oversee the course. I was responsible for finding that local mentor and requesting their help. Even though the monetary exchange was very small, I almost always got a yes, and so for 4 years, at any given time I was engaged with 3 or 4 mentors loosely helping me to achieve the objectives of my courses. It was very enriching to work with so many people already established while I was just a student, including authors and key contributors to my field. One of those mentors in particular became a key advisor to me and is now on my board of advisors for Catalyst Arts.

Now most of my role models are virtual and I tap their wisdom through their books and their examples.

Integration Exercises:

1.) Write a list of 3-5 people who’s career path inspires you and what it is about their work that turns you on.

2.) What would your ideal apprenticeship be? Who is the teacher (if they don’t exist imagine them up) and what are you learning from them?

3.) Make a word document of web sites and bios of anyone you come across who does something either similar to you or something you aspire to do. You can also put businesses and organizations on this list. I call mine ‘Role Models’ and open it up when I need a good reminder of what is possible 5-25 years down the road.