Swap your skills and save money

By Melina Byrne

How would you like to have your car fixed, receive a massage and learn a language without paying a cent? All this and more could be possible if you start skill swapping. We sent Recessionista Melina Byrne to investigate this Free Currency Movement.

My first foray into skill swapping wasn’t planned. A personal trainer friend needed website copy written so he offered me two hours of personal training in lieu of payment. In the end, we were both happy with the results (although I was sore after way too many push-ups!).

Skill swapping is perfect for those who are time rich but cash poor. How do you get started? After defining your skills and what you want in return, it’s time to look at your options.

1. Top of your list should be joining L.E.T.S.

Located throughout Australia, L.E.T.S (Local Energy Trading Systems) are non-profit, community focused groups where members trade goods and services. As a member, you earn credits that are kept in a central ‘bank’. For instance, you may earn 20 credits by offering a skill (e.g. gardening), and you can spend those credits on something you need (e.g. French lessons being offered by another member).

L.E.T.S also holds regular trading days, which work like markets, where members can trade their skills or goods with other members.

There is usually a nominal fee to join L.E.T.S, which varies from group to group. Sydney L.E.T.S, for instance, is only $5.

2. Mum Swap

For those with families, Australian bartering website Mum Swap is the perfect way to recycle your goods and share your skills. It is free to search and also create a listing.

3. SwopSkills

A newly launched Australian site, SwopSkills allows you to organise skill exchanges via email. It is also free to join and use.

4. Gumtree Classifieds

Using Gumtree, you can trade your skills without joining a specialised organisation. To browse the skill swapping advertisements, go to the ‘Community’ section and click on ‘Skills / Language Swap’.

If you are looking for free goods not services, visit ‘Stuff For Sale’ and look at ‘Swap Shop’. You never know what you’ll find. For instance, I came across a guy who wanted to swap a “6 Foot Shrek” figurine for “something cool”. He says I “was wasted at a Carnival and paid $1000 for it just cause I wanted it so bad.” 

Good luck with your swapping adventures.

For further information:

Read my previous blog on clothing swap parties: How To Score A New Wardrobe Without Spending A Cent.

Consult this ‘Swap Those Skills’ article in That’s Life Magazine.

For more info on L.E.T.S, read this Design Manual

Click here for more facts about Mum Swap.


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