7 Keys to Smart Bartering

As the economy continues to slump, the swap business booms.

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Get creative. "This summer people are doing a lot of house swaps just to be able to afford to go on vacation," says Hardwick of SwapThing, although she'll stick to swapping books this year. Furniture, computer services, hypnosis, cabinetry, hair cutting and color services, and riding lessons have all been bartered online, in addition to the more typical movies and CDs, without the need to put expenses on your credit card. "The barter category is sort of adventuresome. People like to think outside the box more than in other categories," says Buckmaster of Craigslist. "It is a little more creative than cash transactions, and people do let their imagination run wild."