Shut Your Pocketbook!
Well, maybe. Bartering dates back to 8,000 B.C. so, why can’t you barter dog services? The short answer is you probably can if you do it right. In fact, during the Great Depression, bartering got a whole new footing with “bartering banks” being established. So, how is this applicable to the individual dog parent? Well, if you’re low on cash or need to adjust your dog budget you need to get creative with your funds. This is when you think about bartering for your dog’s services. Today, let’s dig into how bartering for dog services can benefit you and how to do it properly.
Budget tip: If you need to tighten your dog budget or reaccess your dog expenses, then it's time to get creative. The best part of bartering is when you do it right as an individual pet parent with a dog service provider, you have nothing out of pocket. You get to save your budget while helping out your dog service provider. It's a win-win and worth looking into, even if you don't need to tighten your budget.
What does it mean to barter dog services?
Basically, it means you ask your dog service provider if they will accept something of value from you (other than money) in exchange for the dog service. Sometimes you’ll get an excited yes. Other times you’ll get a flat-out no. And still, other times you’ll get a “let’s see what we can do” which isn’t a no. But might mean the service part can be bartered, but anything tangible can’t be included. This will be something for you to explore with your dog service provider.
Examples of bartering
Perhaps you think that bartering isn’t an activity practiced in today’s world. Actually, bartering is done by individuals and businesses every day, both large scale and small.
For example, many years ago, my hairdresser approached me about helping with her dog in exchange for haircuts and stylings. At the time it caught me off guard. She gave me time to think about it while I was under the dryer. I really had nothing to lose so it was an easy yes. It was just a new concept for me. Since then, a friend has told me she has bartered her haircuts for decades.
Recently, Real Simple cited examples of people bartering writing skills for dog training and hockey camps. Thus, anything can be bartered as long as everyone is open to it.
What are the rules to barter dog services?
While this article is focused on dog services, bartering can easily be transferred to any industry. Thus, these rules are applicable across all industries.
1. Know your skills
You will want to assess your skills and know what you can offer that is fair. Ask yourself what you do well. What do people ask you for help doing? Or what do you enjoy doing that you get compliments on regularly? For example, do you design websites, clean homes, teach yoga, take photos, paint, cook, bake, write, garden, or teach English? Maybe you are great at pet sitting, making dog treats, or providing general maintenance for homeowners. Everyone has numerous skills. You may not recognize yours. If you can’t think of anything, then ask a friend or family member and grab a pen and paper. You’ll be shocked at the skills you have and take for granted.
However, you arrive at your list, write all your skills down. It may even be helpful to get specific on what you can do, such as plant a 10’x20′ spring garden. Or a one-hour family photo session. Perhaps even write two 1,000-word blog posts in a week.
Although, having a general list of your skills will allow you to be more flexible and open to negotiations with bartering. Perhaps you’ll want to look at the detailed list as an exercise for yourself to know what you can do and offer.
2. Be respectful
Of course, this should go without saying to always be respectful when asking to barter dog services. This shouldn’t be viewed as a yard sale and the best deal wins. You’re asking someone to do something out of the ordinary with their business. This is their way of making an income. Keep this foremost in your mind. Treat the dog service provider as you would want to be treated. Yep, The Golden Rule.
3. Fairness rules above all
Again, this is about being respectful. Don’t ask a dog groomer to barter a $140 grooming for you weeding a small flower pot. That’s not fair or respectful. Be kind and respectful. Think what you’d be willing to barter for if you were this dog service. Also, keep in mind that if the service has money out of pocket for something tangible, you should expect to pay for that part. Or come up with something of equal value to offer for that part of the service.
For instance, I didn’t expect my hairdresser to pay for coloring and be out of pocket for that expense. I paid that cost, but rest of the appointment I bartered.
4. Reciprocate in a timely manner
Once again, this is about being respectful. Don’t ask your dog walker to barter a week’s worth of walks, while you wait for two months before you paint your dog walker’s laundry room.
5. Taxes may still apply
You might be surprised to learn, but yes taxes might apply to your bartering services. The IRS has said that bartering dollars are viewed as regular dollars. You’ll need to consult your CPA to verify if you need to pay taxes on your bartering services.
What kind of dog services can I barter?
Really the sky is the limit. As long as the dog service provider is open to bartering, then you can do it. You simply must ask. A few dog services which you might be able to barter include:
- Dog walker
- Pet sitter
- Dog groomer
- Animal communicator
- Dog trainer
- Animal behaviorist
- Pet chiropractor
- Dog massage therapist
- Animal dietician
- Dog boarding
NOTE: Keep in mind that you can also privately barter services with your dog community or friends for such things as boarding or dog walking.
How do I start bartering dog services?
The main idea is to let people know you’re open to bartering. That would include your dog community, friends, family, and yes dog service providers. You can even post your willingness to barter on social media. However, you may want to be a bit cautious if you agree to barter with someone you don’t know. Always be cautious and take someone with you if it’s not a business. Additionally, you can try sites like:
- Time Bank – although, at least for my area it’s not updated
- Barter Quest – this organization only appears to have a Facebook page at the moment with a support email. However, their Facebook page isn’t very updated. So, they could be more private than in the past.
NOTE: Keep in mind that as inflation grows, bartering sites should as well. So, these sites should be updated, or others will pop up. Or you may find it most useful to stay local with your own dog pack.
What about bartering on a bigger scale?
If you own a business, you may want to look into bartering. There are many business bartering exchange sites. They operate like a “bartering bank”. However, they will charge a fee. Some will charge more than others. Definitely explore what is involved with the fee and read the fine print before joining any fee-based bartering exchange. Although, it could provide you with a way to expand your business in a way you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I encourage you to make sure you read the fine print before you signup. Here are a few business barter exchanges:
NOTE: Don’t forget that taxes will most likely still apply with all the items you for on these sites. However, I strongly encourage you to talk with your CPA before diving head-on into bartering as a business.
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Summary of yes, you can barter dog services
I know bartering seems like an ancient process. While it is, it is still alive and viable today. You can barter dog services if you do it right. That means knowing your skills, being respectful, fair, and timely with your barter dog service. Also, realizing that you may still need to pay taxes on your barter is key. Here’s one more tip, when you barter it gives you a sense of empowerment. You can do something without having to rely on the all-mighty dollar.
Basically, it’s you and your skills getting you what you want or need. But the other part that is truly amazing is you get a sense of gratitude because you take pride in giving your barterer a great service with the trade. I always felt like I had the best hair when I barter for my stylings. My hairdresser said she thought she got the best dog help when I aided her on our barters. She’s since retired and moved out of the area. But I still enjoy a good dog service barter. You just never know when one will present itself.