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If you’re trying to think of ways of saving money, why not have a think about skill swapping?
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. By using the idea of skill swapping, you could get something you want in return.
Based on the premise that you trade in skills rather than cash, it’s a great way of saving money for unavoidable expenditures. It can be a fun way to meet new people, too.
While you can of course swap skills with your family and friends, lots of organisations cater to whole communities of skill-swappers. This is great 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. Of course, what you offer will need to match with what you want to exchange it for. You can’t do an hour’s ironing and hope it will get you an hour’s helicopter flying lesson.
Here are some places to look if skill swapping online.
Local Exchange Trading Schemes were set up to create a community for skill swapping. They represent 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’. This ensures everyone’s time and effort is rewarded.
The website gives a list of schemes in your area. If there isn’t one nearby, you can always set one up yourself.
This is the national umbrella charity linking and supporting time banks across the country. Participants ‘deposit’ their time by giving practical help and support to others. They are then able to ‘withdraw’ their time when they need something done themselves.
For those who have a specific or unusual skill to offer, Skillbound is the platform of choice. After registering, it’s a case of posting the skills you have and those you want to learn. You’ll be alerted if a member is interested, 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. You can also pay to learn if you don’t have a skill to offer.
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. One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure, after all.
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.
This main site runs a host of Freecycle groups around the country, matching people wanting to get rid of stuff with those who might be able to use it. After finding a group near you, you can browse and post any ‘wanted’ or ‘offered’ items.
For swapping clothes. The site gives all the advice you need to set up your own clothes-swapping (or “swishing”) event, in five handy stages.
If your books are gathering dust on the shelf, this site can help you swap them. Register, 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.
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 the latter isn’t a good thing, but you can always put those on yourself. Swapping homes instead of paying for a pricey hotel or apartment can make you a massive saving on your holiday. It can give you a much better sense of what it might be like to be a local, too.
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.