If you’re trying to think of ways of saving money, why not have a think about what skills you can swap?
Your most valuable asset is you – your knowledge, your skills, your time, perhaps even your aptitude for making meringues? Someone, somewhere will want your skills, and by using the idea of skill swapping you could get something you want in return.
The basic use of favours has been used to bribe small children into helping around the house for decades; “I’ll fix your Spiderman toy as soon as you’ve picked up all the festering odd socks from under your bed.” Also known as bartering, now, the rather more professional term of ‘skill swapping’ has become very popular.
Based on the premise that you trade in skills rather than cash, it is a great way of saving money for unavoidable expenditures like bills, and also a fun way to meet new people.
While you can of course swap skills with your family and friends, there are a number of organisations out there that cater to whole communities of skill-swappers if you want to widen your horizons. The degree of skill or amount of time that you want to contribute is totally up to you, but will change what you can exchange it for, i.e. you can’t do an hour’s ironing and hope it will get you an hour’s helicopter flying lesson.
- LETSlink – or Local Exchange Trading Schemes, were set up with the purpose to create a community for skill swapping. They refer to a number of grassroots initiatives around the country where people advertise ‘Offers’ and ‘Wants’. For each offer you fulfil, you gain LETS credits to spend on your ‘Wants’, ensuring everyone’s time and effort is justly rewarded. The LETSlink website gives a list of schemes in your area, and if there isn’t one nearby, you can always set one up yourself.
- Timebanking – This is the national umbrella charity linking and supporting time banks across the country. The website explains, “Participants ‘deposit’ their time in the bank by giving practical help and support to others and are able to ‘withdraw’ their time when they need something done themselves.” The site has a ‘Find my nearest’ search, and if there’s nothing near you, have a look at their guide for setting up your own time bank.
- Skillbound – For those who have a more specific or unusual skill to offer, Skillbound is the platform to use it. After registering for free, it’s a case of posting the skills you have and the skills you want to learn. You’ll be alerted if a member is interested in one of your skills, and you can browse to see who could teach you. If you’re an accomplished pianist but long to learn how to tap dance, for instance, then this could be the site for you.
- Skillsbox – Using elements present in other sites, Skillsbox brings together professional skills, which you can display on your profile, and the idea of accumulating credits, like LETS, so there is no need to search for a straight swap.
- Business Exchange Solutions – This site offers a more corporate approach to skills swapping, with an aim to introduce like-minded businesses to exchange goods or services without the need for cash.
- Swapaskill – With a particular focus on community and inviting your friends to join, this site has gone international and allows you to swap both skills and items. The website was featured on a BBC News bulletin, as seen below, where you can learn a bit more about it.
It’s not just skills that are swappable – your unwanted stuff is too. There are hundreds of sites around devoted to swapping clothes, DVDs, books… pretty much anything you can think of; one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure, an’ all that. While an auction site can get you cash, your stuff might not make people part with more than 50p. They will probably be more willing to part with their unwanted items, though, giving you something much more tangible in return.
Moneymagpie has had a look around and come up with a list of some sites for you.
- Freecycle – This main site runs a host of Freecycle groups around the country, matching up people wanting to get rid of stuff with people who might be able to use it, in order to keep working goods out of landfills. After finding a group near you, you can browse and post any ‘wanted’ or ‘offered’ items.
- Snaffle up – Takes a whole host of goods that you might have been about to take to the local tip, including things like fencing panels, cycle helmets and car parts.
- Swishing – For swapping clothes. You fill out their upload form, along with a picture of the item if you have one, and they write a product description for you. Once someone chooses your product, send it to the Swishing team and they give you credit to spend on another item featured on the site, so there’s no haggling and no need to wait to do a direct swap.
- ReadItSwapIt – If your books are gathering dust on the shelf, this site can help you swap them. Register, and make a list of your unwanted books, and add the books you want to your ‘wishlist’. When another member has a book on your wishlist up for grabs, ReadItSwapIt will send you a notification.
- Let’s Swap It – If you’re of an artistic persuasion, Let’s Swap It is a platform for artists to swap their art. You upload images of you work and choose what work of others you want to swap it for.
- Swapshop – A huge swapping site for unwanted DVDs, CDs, electronics, home and garden items etc.
Alternatively, if you don’t fancy swapping online, you could always organise your own swap shop with your friends and family.
No swipe-able card keys that never work, no towels folded into swans, no chocolates on the pillow…okay, well that isn’t a good thing, but you can always put those on yourself. Swapping homes instead of paying for a pricey hotel can make you a massive saving on your holiday, and give you a much better sense of what it might be like to be a local.
There are a number of sites that help organise this service, includingHomeExchange, HomeforExchange and Intervac. With Intervac, you pay a one-off membership fee to become part of a community of home-swappers. This ensures that all members are serious about the concept and will look after your home the way they expect you to look after theirs.