smart spending

Barter instead of using cash

Moving to a new community can present challenges: new schools, new businesses, new government. You may also be low on cash because you just shelled out money to move. One way to learn more about your community and save on some of the things you may need is to check out bartering groups in your new community. Our Frugal $ense winner for March -- DeeAnn Dubois of Antrim, N.H. -- did just that when she moved into her new home in July 2008. DeeAnn won $100 for submitting the following tip:

March's Frugal $ense winner: DeeAnn Dubois
Saving cash by putting talents to work
"The town that I recently moved to has an organization called People's Service Exchange. The concept, created by Edgar Cahn, is based on "time dollars" and involves using time to pay for services needed. Upon joining the group, I filled out forms indicating what services I could provide and services that I would be interested in receiving. I was also given three hours to start out with. There is absolutely no money exchanged and a variety of services available that would make your head spin."

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Bankrate: How did you hear about the group?

DeeAnn Dubois: I had read an article in the local newspaper about the group and I was really excited to get involved. When you join the group, you either go for an interview or you attend an informational meeting. You let them know what you are interested in and you also let them know the kinds of things you are looking for. And if you have a skill or service that they don't have on their master list, they're very willing to add your skill to it.

Bankrate: What kinds of skills did you have to offer?

DeeAnn Dubois: I am a justice of the peace and offered to do weddings, but that hasn't been taken advantage of yet. I also do singing telegrams as a hobby, so I offered that as well. I also chose "driving people to medical appointments," which was supposed to be my first opportunity to give back to the organization. Unfortunately, I was supposed to drive someone on Dec. 11, which was our infamous ice storm. I was not able to provide that ride for her.

Bankrate: What kinds of services were you looking to barter for?

DeeAnn Dubois: Since joining I have had a pair of curtains shortened because we moved from a 13-room Victorian house in our last town to a house that my husband designed and built, and the windows were much shorter.

The other thing is, I wrote a story and I am looking for someone who can illustrate the book. There are two people who can possibly help me -- one who can do the illustrations and another who might be able to help me get the book published.

Bankrate: How does the service work? Do you pay any fees?

DeeAnn Dubois: There is no cost involved. They work on "time dollars." An hour of your time is put into the bank, into a pool, so to speak. My skills might not be worth the same amount of money in the real world, so the person who started it, Edgar Cahn, created the concept of paying people in hours rather than in money.

Bankrate: Is this service just in your town?

DeeAnn Dubois: Antrim has about 3,000 people, but there are nine towns involved, and we have a regional school system. All are involved in the school system. All the towns are probably within a 20 to 30 minute drive of each other.

Bankrate: Do you think the economy has heightened interest in these types of groups?

DeeAnn Dubois: Yes, There are a lot of things that I would like to do, but I just don't have the money for (them). This lets me get some of the things I want without spending any cash.

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