barteringWhen was the last time you used the old fashioned barter system?    Has it been a while?    Bartering is the oldest form of commerce.    It happens when I exchange something I have with you for something you have.    For example, if I need a new television, I may be able to trade with you my iPod for your television.    If you believe that to be a fair trade, then we agree to swap.    Viola!    I just got a television.    It could also work for services.    If I need my house painted, then I may be able to trade you two weeks worth of babysitting if you come and paint my home.    We each take something we have in our possession and exchange it for something else we need.

Today, we find that most people don’t think about these types of exchanges first.    They think dollar first.    Meaning, if I have money to buy it, then I will get it.    If I don’t have money, then I use credit, which is supposed to represent money.    But what if we begin to think about what we already have in our possession that may be able to get us what we need?    Instead of always allowing your bank account to drive your decisions, begin to look around you at what else can be used to get the things you need.

We all have something to contribute to this world.    Money is not something we always have in our possession, but that does not mean that we are poor.    It just means that we don’t have money.    But what do you possess?    Can what you possess be a means of exchange for something you need?    I recall this happening to me when I needed to get my house painted.    I didn’t have enough money to pay someone to do it, but needed to get it done.    I had a paint partyâ.    Since I despise painting but love cooking, I decided to make a dinner for all of my friends who came over to help me paint.    I did lend a hand in painting every once in a while, of course.    But it made the task more enjoyable to spend time with my friends while accomplishing a goal that I could not afford to accomplish with the amount of money I had in my account.    I exchanged my cooking skill for my friends’ willingness to paint.    And all were happy.

In allowing money to always lead our decision making, we not only limit ourselves, we also limit the opportunity for others to offer what they have to us.    There is a blessing in both giving and receiving.    Allowing others to contribute to your life by using what they possess is a way of also letting people know that even without having money, they have value.    We all have value, even when we do not have money.    Bartering is a way to remember not to place the worth of a person simply on the size of their wallet.    Perhaps we all need a reminder from time to time that not only are we not ultimately judged by our fiscal net worth, but in how we used what we were given in a way that blessed the world.

(Shayna Lear is a financial planner and educator from Philadelphia, PA. She is studying Divinity and Economic Development at Palmer Seminary and Eastern University respectively.    Shayna is also the author of Money On Purpose:  Finding a Faith-Filled Balance, published by Judson Press ( and the blog, God, Love and Moneyâ;

photo by kylemacdonald