The power of the almighty dollar may be diminishing and the economy both nationally and internationally teetering, according to some financial experts .
While cash may still be king, bartering has emerged as an equally dominant queen. To take full advantage of the increasingly popular bartering economy, you have to know both what to buy and where to look for the best deal.
Bartering deals often involve both tangible items and trades for services and skills training. Opportunities to swap unwanted items or share your skills exist both on-site and online.
When meeting a stranger to broker a bartering deal, always choose a public venue during daylight hours and take at least one friend or relative with you for safety reasons. As the old saying goes, if the deal seems too good to be true, it likely is – so know how to inspect the items you are seeking for imperfections and authenticity.
Here are my top 5 places to barter:
1. Yard Sales. They’re the tried and true spots to score great deals on a wide variety of items. The front yard or garage-housed sales used to occur just during the warm weather months, but thanks to the popularity of Facebook, virtual yard sales now occur year-round. Do a search for the name of your town or county followed by the phrases “trading post” and “yard sale” to find pages devoted to folks selling a plethora of goodies in your zip code. During the traditional yard sale season, these same Facebook pages will also include postings pertaining to individual, multi-family, organization, and large community yard sales in your area. (Craigslist is also a great place to find where and when yard sales are occurring in the multi-county area near your home.) Simply type on the term “yard sales” in the text box on the right side of the page and leave the standard “search all for sale” category selected and a list of happenings will soon appear on your screen. Entire websites are now devoted to listing yard sales in every state in the nation. The aptly titled, Yard Sale Search  website is perhaps one of the largest such databases currently on the web.
2. Craigslist – Not only is this website one of the top places to browse for yard sales, but the online venue also has an entire category devoted to bartering. The farm and garden category on Craigslist contains a “barter” section that is typically filled to the brim with all sorts of home, farm, off-the-grid, prepping, self-defense and gardening items. Skilled labor in exchange for other services or items is also commonly posted in the Craigslist barter section of the farm and garden category.
3. Flea markets. The thrill of bartering is always a sensation experienced when walking amid the tables at indoor and outdoor flea markets. Except in the warmer Southern states, flea markets typically close or reduce their hours during winter months. Usually some of the best deals can be found by browsing indoor flea markets during colder times of year. Some top online flea market directories include: Flea Market Zone , American Fleas , Flea Markets Across America , and the Flea Portal .
Smaller local flea markets and swap meets featuring topic-specific items can also routinely be found by searching Craigslist, particularly the farm and garden section. When searching for future bartering items, make sure to include medical products, hand tools and other items which can be used during a power grid down scenario. Batteries and flashlights will likely be sought after items during both short-term  and long-term disasters.
4. U-Exchange is a website devoted entirely to the bartering  process and includes members from multiple countries. Membership and individual listings to buy or sell are free. The search function for bartering items on the website is fairly sophisticated and allows for a combined location and keyword search. Even in my remote rural area I was able to find multiple listings for items and services I found useful within a one hour drive or less. U-Exchange members can upload and view photos of an item and contact other members directly to attempt to work out a deal and share more information. Listings can be edited at any time. A member does not necessarily have to currently possess an item to barter to sign up and interact with others. It is common to find experienced craftsmen willing to exchange their roofing, painting, farming, and general construction skills for other skills or items. Members may also post two links to their own websites.
5. Amish auctions. Auctions in general can be a fun experience and worth a look for cheap bartering items. But Amish  auctions in particular offer a plethora of farming, livestock raising, and off-the-grid living tools, products and household items. As previously noted by Off The Grid News,  one of the largest Amish auctions in the United States occurs twice a year in Ohio Amish Country. The Mount Hope Auction  in Holmes County happens each March and October. Visitors to the auction hailed from towns several states away and they surely left with a truck or two full of great deals. Items commonly found at Amish auctions include fencing, solar generators, livestock feed, tack, seeds, livestock, muscle-powered tools and equipment for the homestead, wood stoves, wood burners, and hundreds of items related to living simply and off the land. I personally purchased five saddles for just $290. During a long-term or power-grid-down disaster, horses could very well become a primary mode of transportation – turning saddles and tack into high demand items once again. The recent Off The Grid News report about self-reliance lessons we can learn from the Amish includes a list of communities and settlements around the country that also may have monthly or annual auctions.
While at a yard sale, flea market or auction, it is easy to become either overwhelmed or fall into the over-buying trap. Make a list of items you consider quality bartering options and search for them first. Refrain from buying other items until you have viewed all there is to offer and have marked the primary needs off your list.