Better bartering on Salt Spring

March 27, 2016

Even after decades of doing it, when someone suggests a barter or to do a trade (as it often described) with me, I get a smile on my face that I feel deep down inside me.

Don’t get me wrong. I like receiving cold, hard cash for the psychic readings that I do because I still have a few bills to pay, food and clothing to buy and travelling (both business and recreational to do).

My cell phone company owners have the opposite idea to bartering. I think their motto is to suck every last red cent out of their customers.

I still have an amalgamated debt in which I have to pay back Sears and MasterCard. A few months ago, I knocked Island Savings off that list and I am very close to parting ways financially with the other two.

My life insurance policy makes me happy inside when I realize my son will get a nice chunk of loot whenever my spirit disconnects with my body. But insurance companies certainly do not barter.

President’s Choice banking  charges no banking fees. So that’s good.

Peoples Choice credit card deducts a fee only if I get cashback on my card.

Bank of Montreal is unfortunately old school (read: takes every opportunity to charge those who bank with them to the point of having seemingly totally forgotten that it the people who put their money in a financial institution who are lending it to the bank, not the other way around). However, having just turned 60 years old, these banking fees have now been reduced for me.

The Government of Canada is not totally opposed to bartering, though. On a whim, when I was filling out my income tax return four years ago when I started house sitting full time, I guess my intuition was working well when I called to find out if I could declare rent in exchange for house sitting.

The nice man on the other end of the line did not hesitate to tell me that yes, I could declare house sitting as rent. For example, he said, say you estimate that if you were paying cash to staying at the place where you are house sitting, you would be paying $500 a month then put down $500 x 12 months.

Then, because I work out of the house doing psychic readings and I am working as a house sitting, I can deduct a significant portion of that rent off of my income each year.  Don’t ever tell me that I have never told you something that is good for your well being.

On a regular basis, though, people who barter get the extras in life or things that they cannot afford to pay cash for. I have received a wide range of bodywork, psychic readings (yes, I sometimes like getting them from someone else), tasty dessert treats as well as more nutritional fruits and vegetables, counselling sessions, art classes for myself and my son, paintings, web design and many, many housesits in exchange of  wonderful and interesting places to live in a total of six countries and so on and so forth.

A delightful part of bartering that you don’t necessarily get (especially not for an extended time) when going through the Save-on-Foods line is connecting with another human being who is often part of your community.

Just one example of this is when Robin Faye and I did trades. (I guess I gave her tea leaf readings, I cannot remember). She gave me massages that I could not afford otherwise and we had great chats in her studio in Winnipeg and came to like each other as friends.

I went on to live on Salt Spring Island and she moved to Thunder. Just over Christmas, her name came up on Facebook and we have connected as Facebook friends.

Without further ado, here is an article I wrote on bartering. (There is at least one more in this blog):

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Friday, August 31, 2007

Better bartering on Salt Spring

by Tanya Lester

Elizabeth Buchanan has a tree house in her south-end yard because of it. Laura Hughes McGrath once owned two peacocks, a blue eared Manchurian pheasant and two golden pheasants due to it. Terra Dimock has a new website thanks to it. I have beautiful fine art all over my walls because I do it.

Whenever any of us talk about it, our faces become animated and our voices filled with excitement.

Bartering and living on Salt Spring Island make a great fit.

Let’s face it, the cost of living here is high. Some, like the guy who pays $550 a month to sleep in someone else’s van, might say extremely high.

Not that any of us who enjoy bartering (exchanging goods and services in lieu of money) are opposed to making money.

“Money is not the root of all evil,” said McGrath, an artist currently working on a painting she will trade for a leather couch. “I think using the barter system is the same as dealing in money.”

Dimock echoes McGrath’s belief. As a shiatsu and spa therapist, she is paying for her website by providing her designer with bodywork treatments. Dimock knows have a website through which people can order his skin care products as well as book her services will definitely increase her monetary annual income.

Each year, Dimock barters with for all the other artisans at the Christmas craft fairs for all the gifts she gives. She has had her windows cleaned her yard maintained and her car repaired through trades.

“Its allowed me to have the goods and services and the luxuries that I would not have been able to afford otherwise,” Dimock said. “And it’s a grand idea with that old-fashioned connectedness to the community.”

This is an aspect of bartering that I really enjoy, too. You get to know the people you trade with in a way that you seldom do when you merely hand someone money for a product or a service.

“It’s the energy exchange,” McGrath said. “Before I know it, it’s out of my mouth — ‘Let’s trade.’ People who have lived a good life have so many skills. It’s money in the bank. I think I benefit more from a trade because sometimes I’m a little careless with money.”

Besides her art, McGrath trades colour consultations and website design other people’s art, meals, baked goods, work on her car, hair cuts and tea leaf readings for herself and her friends (the latter trade being with me).

Buchanan, who owns South Ridge Farm and Salt Spring Savouries, has exchanged foodstuffs, editing, storytelling, healing touch, gardening and painting for carpentry, graphic design, delivery service and hair cuts.

“I like the simplicity of it,” Buchanan said. “I am able to get things I wouldn’t normally get. I found a lot of other people are in the same situation — so many talents but not enough money.”

Doing trades works best when the two people involved know exactly what they will give and what they will receive.

“You have to be very clear about the value you place on what you’re bartering and be specific about what you’re bartering, but at the same time be open to trying something new,” Buchanan said.

Dimock believes it is also good to do the trade as soon as possible, to show up at the scheduled meeting time and to always honour your side of the trade like you would if someone paid you cash.

If you have not bartered in the past, McGrath thinks it might be because “we’re so used to the commodity being money.”

“Let’s do more of it,” Buchanan said, speaking for all four of us.


Tanya  Lester is a intuitive reader — tea leaf, tarot, psychic channel, medium, Russian gypsy card — a reiki master, writer and a house sitter. Most of her house sits are barter exchanges for a place for her stay and she will occasionally barter other  her many skills. For more information, contact her at, 250-538-0086, or go to, or her pages at  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google.






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