I was talking to my sister earlier in the week about our Nanna wrapping the beans in damp newspaper with a rubber band in order to give them to people. I said to her that we really needed to be able to tap into those childhood memories because there is so much wisdom wrapped up the way that out two Nanna's ran their homes.
Both of them grew their own produce and baked from scratch. Nanna .F. had chooks and used to barter the eggs around town. She traded cooking, mending and eggs for people to do jobs at her house. She got egg cartons from another neighbour, swapped another neighbour for the newspaper and even the home brew was bartered. She never owned a car and different people would take her to town.
My sister pointed out that our other Nanna always had magazines and newspapers on hand but never paid for them, she exchanged pumpkins and zucchinis for them.
Of course, no-one ever used the term 'bartering' it was just the way things were done.
They were quite enterprising really. A dollar saved here and there would have really added up.
We came to the conclusion that for these ladies cash was really used as a last resort. If you couldn't swap or do a deal for something that you really needed then you would have to use your cash.
In contrast, today we don't share our things around. My sister says we are 'hoarders'. We buy magazines and keep them. Just look in our houses at all the clutter! We would be better off having something flow into our homes, use it for a period and then have it flow out again for others to benefit from as well.
Rather than using our cash as a last resort, we tend to jump straight to it. If we want something, we buy it. No questions asked. We think of something, we conclude we 'need it' and we jump in the car and go and buy it. Even if we haven't got the money, we just stick it on the plastic and will worry about it later!
I am therefore going to look at the principle of using my cash as a last resort. I will stop and think of creative ways that I can obtain things without using my cash. My beans will be ready soon I can wrap them in newspaper and trade them for eggs and macadamia nuts.
In order to start the bartering circle happening I will have to think of things that I can GIVE to people, for it is truly IN GIVING THAT WE RECEIVE. I am sure that once I start the ball rolling other people will come on board with the concept. I am sure if I asked a friend if they would teach we basic quilting skills they would love to be paid with home made cakes.
This thinking doesn't come naturally to my generation. I will probably subconsciously cruise past many an opportunity to swap instead of spend. I will turn my mind to this more over the coming weeks and keep you updated.
Does anyone have any ideas for reviving the 'swap instead of spend' tradition ? Perhaps you are already doing a lot of it. Please share your ideas so that we all can benefit.