How To Save Money By Bartering Services

How To Save Money By Bartering ServicesIn March, I published the article Wedding Update – Up To $20,000. In it, I mentioned that we were able to save over $6,000 in wedding expenses by bartering, exchanging services, and discounts.

Weddings are expensive, and since the very beginning I knew that I didn’t want to spend anywhere near the national average of $26,000 on our wedding.

That is just a crazy amount of money, especially since we are paying for it all (and I am rather cheap).

Even though we are at around $14,000 in costs that we have paid, it is nice to know that we are going to have a great wedding on a great budget.

I forgot to also mention that we are saving around $3,000 to $4,000 in venue fees since we don’t need to pay for our venue as well (similar venues that we looked at were that price). So, in total we are saving over $10,000 on our wedding!

The main way that I was able to save so much on our wedding is because I tried to barter for services and products as much as I could. There are negatives to bartering (such as paying taxes on the amount received – read this to learn more), but for the most part it is a great thing.


There are many benefits of bartering:

  • If someone needs your service but doesn’t have the cash to do so, they may be more likely to say yes.
  • Someone may not have even thought about the service that you offer until you initially spoke to them. They may be more likely to try it out as well since they can get it at a discount.
  • Both parties usually feel like they got a good deal.


Here are my tips to save money by bartering:

Find people who you are interested in bartering with.

What I did first was find companies that I was interested in working with.

I then sent them an e-mail to their marketing/media department, or their direct e-mail if they did not have a marketing department.

You need to have courage and be outgoing in order to barter effectively. Remember that the only “bad” thing that can happen is that a person will say no. However, they might say yes!

When bartering, you are opening yourself to new opportunities that people may not know about.


Tell them why they should work with you.

You need to know what you can barter with. Do you have some sort of service or product that people want?

If so, you need to craft the perfect wording (whether you send an e-mail or speak with the company directly) for why this person will want your service or product.

You need to know how to sell your product because that is what you are doing!

I offer a wide range of online services, and because of this I knew that I had many different services that I could offer to potential wedding companies. For some of the companies that I worked with, I offered services such as:

  • Social media management. Some asked if I could just start their social media accounts and they would then take it from there.
  • Question and answer session. There were 3 companies who just wanted to sit me down and shoot questions at me. These questions were mainly about how they can start a blog, social media tips, and so on.
  • Product review. Some companies wanted an honest review of their product. This includes either on my website and/or on their company’s website.


Know what you are worth.

You should always be reasonable when bartering, and keep in mind that time is money.

If the value of your product/service is $100, then you probably shouldn’t expect to get something from your bartering partner that is worth $1,000. Always be fair, because you want your partner to feel that they got a good value out of the exchange as well.

You should always be fair with yourself as well.

Just because actual money is not being exchanged does not mean that you should short yourself. If you are doing 10 hours of work, you probably don’t want something that is $20 in exchange for your time. Be realistic and try to think of things in dollar terms if you are unsure.


Have a contract.

Whatever you do, make sure it is clear what is being bartered.

Always try to have a contract if you can, but at least have it in an email where both parties agree to what is being done and exchanged.

If you do decide to use e-mail as your contract, try to create an e-mail that summarizes exactly what is being exchanged and have both parties reply to the e-mail in agreement. It’s always a good idea to make sure that everyone is on the same page.


When was the last time you negotiated or bartered services to save money?

What other tips do you have?


March Update and April Goals

March Update and April Goals

Our first green smoothie ever… YUM!

Hello everyone! I know it’s still March, but it’s the last day so I figured it was fine for me to post an update on my March goals. I don’t see much changing on the very last day of the month.

March was another great month. It wasn’t my greatest month for business income, but I do think that I was a little bit more relaxed with work than I usually am.

The weather finally got nicer, which meant I started to spend a lot more time outside. More time outside equals less time for work.

I will say one thing – it was NOT a good month for clothing spending.

We went a little crazy and we both bought a lot of warmer clothing and a lot of workout clothing, as well as shoes and so on. I’m hoping that our clothing spending is for the most part done with for awhile.

Oh yeah and we still have one more squirrel. One was caught, but the other hasn’t been caught yet. I’ve been hearing him munch on something in the attic now so we are really hoping he isn’t touching any of the electrical wires…

Make sure to come back on Wednesday for my monthly business/online income update. If you have any online income questions that you would like me to answer in that post, please leave a comment below and I will try to include it. Thanks!

I published my 2014 goals article earlier this year too. Read about them here if you are interested.


Here are some of my more popular posts in March:


March Goals Update

  1. Keep track of how many times we eat out. FAIL. I did not keep track, but I believe we went out to eat around 4 times each week. It sounds like a lot, but they were all at fairly cheap places.
  2. Make $12,000 in business income this month. PASS. I just barely made this one. Not a bad month, but I was hoping for a little bit more, mainly just because we have so many wedding expenses coming up soon.
  3. Finalize the wedding invitations. FAIL. These aren’t done yet, but they will be done within the next few days. Then I need to work on putting all the addresses on the envelopes which will not be fun at all.
  4. Finalize other wedding stuff. PASS sort of. We really need to find a bartender and finalize where everything will go (such as the tent, ceremony, etc.).
  5. Run 3 miles (5 days a week), coupled with T25.  PASS. I’ve been doing really well with this!


April Goals

  1. Make $12,000 in business income. I’m hoping for a strong April. I am still adding more clients and more services, which should help.
  2. Finalize the wedding invitations. I really need to work on this since these need to go out by April 15th.
  3. Finalize other wedding stuff. We still need to find a bartender, make a wedding website, decide on the location for where everything will go on the property and more.
  4. Decide on our honeymoon. We are thinking about Europe. Where did you go for yours?
  5. Run 3 miles (4 days a week), with T25. I need to keep this up!


How did you do in March? What is your main goal for April?


Wedding Update – Up To $20,000

Engagement PhotoHello! Our wedding is on June 7, 2014, which means that we have just over two months to go.

When I first created my wedding budget (back in January of 2013), I wanted to stay under $20,000, and preferably around $10,000 to $15,000. I knew that more than $20,000 was just not in the budget for us, especially since we are paying for everything ourselves.

The only problem is that we are having an outdoor wedding with around 200 people, and rentals (table, chairs, tent, etc.) all add up very quickly.


Is having an outdoor wedding cheaper?

“You are so lucky, you are going to save so much money!”

Numerous people have told me that I must be so happy to have an outdoor wedding on family property because it would be cheaper, but that is definitely not the case. It’s actually very similar to having a wedding at an actual wedding venue, and in some cases we probably could have saved money.

The good thing about having a wedding on family property is that I can choose everything. I am not forced to use a caterer that the venue forces, and I am also free to make many other choices.

Everything is up to me and I can decide everything, which is nice!


How am I feeling about wedding planning?

I won’t lie, at times wedding planning can be a little stressful.

Also, planning everything all by myself can be stressful too and sometimes even sad (when I think about it).

However, I know that I’m not the only person without parents in the world (I need to stop my pity parade) so I know it is possible. I have wonderful friends, my sister and W’s family who are making everything much more pleasant. I don’t know what I would do without them!

Having an outdoor wedding where I have to plan every little detail (such as where things will be placed – tables, chairs, lighting, tent, food, bathrooms, etc., what to do with all of the trash, back up plans for weather or if the electricity can’t handle everything, and so on) can be scary to think about.

However, for the most part I am excited. Almost all of my wedding vendors have said I’m the most laid back bride ever, which I take pride in :)

Here are past wedding related articles I’ve published:


How is our wedding budget going? 

I think our wedding budget is going very well. I have bartered, exchanged services, and received discounts on many of our wedding expenses so far, which has really, REALLY helped our wedding budget.

Below in each category, I will be giving the total cost (before any discounts or bartering), but the amount that we have saved from bartering, exchanging services, and discounts equates to a crazy total of:


Crazy, right? :) I would tell you exactly which ones that were discounted or bartered for, but I also want to protect the company as well.

I plan on creating an article about how we bartered, exchanged services and asked for discounts as well. If you are interested in this, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have any questions, leave them below for me.

Wedding Update - Up To $20,000 In Expenses

This is where our wedding will be!

Wedding rentals – $2,800 so far.

Wedding rentals is probably what killed our budget, but I am not surprised. For the tables, chairs, linens and dance floor, the price was $2,000. We are also thinking about renting a few couches, which would be around a few hundred for each. I’m not sure if I feel like spending that amount of money though.

We still plan on renting a tent as well, but that depends on the weather. Wedding tent rental is around $1,500 where I live. I really want the wedding to be open and under the stars, so I’m really hoping for good weather. However, the rental place said I can just request the tent a few days beforehand if the weather looks bad. I’m going to assume that we will be doing that regardless because I don’t want to risk it.

We also had to rent bathrooms for the property, because you never want to rely on a septic system to handle so many flushes and people. We rented “wedding” bathrooms that flush and have sinks. These were $800.

I plan on sprucing them up a little bit and putting air fresheners, mats, and battery-operated candles in them. I’m hoping no one will be upset with these. There will still be indoor bathrooms for those who refuse to use them, and I will be using the indoor bathrooms as well (since I have a huge wedding dress).


We taste tested our wedding food. Best. BBQ. Ever.

We taste tested our wedding food. Best. BBQ. Ever.

Food and drinks – $4,300

Luckily with a wedding on family property, we can choose our own caterer and we can supply our own alcohol, which means a lot of money saved! We are using a family member’s BBQ catering company, and the total for that is around $2,000.

We will be having pulled pork, beef brisket and smoked tofu (for the vegetarians) as the main dish. The sides will be tequila lime green beans, baked beans, corn bread, cole slaw and smoked fruit. There will be no salad. Does all of that sound good? I want to make sure!

For drinks and a bartender, I believe the total will be around $1,500. Since we get to supply our own alcohol, we get to save a few thousand dollars.

We also have a dessert table filled with tons of pies, wedding cakes, cannolis, brownies, cookies, and so on, which was $400. We will also have a candy table and everything for that will cost around $400.


Wedding attire – $3,200

I bought my wedding dress in June of 2013, after just trying on a few dresses. What can I say? I am a quick decision maker, or at least that’s what every single wedding company has told me so far. Ha!

My wedding dress was around $1,615.

Alterations were $160 for a bustle, bra inserted, and having it taken in just half an inch.

My shoes were $50, and are a little on the casual side but I also plan on wearing a pair of heels that I already have too.

My jewelry was $75 for a necklace and earrings. They are super cute!

My veil was $40. Bought it off of Etsy and it was a STEAL!

Hair and makeup are a little expensive at $1,000. I am paying for my bridesmaids to get their hair and makeup done as a part of their gifts.

For Wes, we went to Men’s Wearhouse and we had enough groomsmen so that he could get his for free. We also put money towards each of their tuxes as a gift from us so that the rental fee wasn’t so high for them. We put $300 down for them altogether.


Photography – $2,400

I found an awesome photographer and her fee is around $2,000. We only have her for 6 hours, but I am thinking about adding a few more hours so that she can get more photos of us getting ready.

We also paid for engagement photos which were around $400.


Paper – $1,300

We sent out our save the dates, which were around $500 (don’t worry, I got a BIG discount on these thanks to my blog).

I still haven’t finalized our invitations and RSVPs, but I am hoping to do that this week. The cost for these will be around $400.

Stamps for the save the dates, invitations and RSVPs are altogether around $150. That is one thing that I didn’t think would be so expensive. AHH!

Programs will cost around $150. I don’t plan on giving each and every single person one, so that I can save money. I’m assuming that most people just throw them away anyways. I think I will have enough for around half of the guests, which is probably fine because around 50 guests will be children anyways and they definitely do not need one. What do you think? Should each and every guest get one?

I haven’t looked into thank you cards too much yet. I know that I want to use pictures from our actual wedding for the cards. I’m going to assume that these will cost around $100.


Miscellaneous – $6,000

We have a lot of other expenses, of course. These include:

  • We are having a DJ – $800
  • I bought robes for myself and my bridesmaids for when we are getting ready – $150
  • We will have some signs made for directional purposes – $100
  • Bug spray since everything will be outdoors – $50
  • Lighting for the whole property so that people don’t trip – $200
  • Decor for centerpieces – $300
  • We are wholesaling flowers and DIYing them – $700
  • We are having a fish eye photo booth – $1,400
  • Day of Wedding Coordinator – $850
  • Rehearsal Dinner – $400
  • Champagne flutes – $50
  • Garter – $25
  • We are using a family member for our officiant, but normally these are $200
  • Sparklers and lanterns for guests – $200
  • Guest book – $50
  • Canvas pictures of us for guest book table – $200
  • Hanger for my wedding dress that says “Mrs. Gardner” – $25
  • Custom wedding cake topper – $300


Altogether, everything equals $20,000, before discounts, bartering, etc. 

So, after the $6,000 in discounts, our total wedding cost is $14,000. This is for my dream wedding, so I think I did pretty well! I could have probably cut expenses even more in many areas (such as my wedding dress), but didn’t.


How did you save with your wedding? How much was your wedding altogether?

Would you go back and have a courthouse wedding, or do the whole shebang?


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