If you take a moment from your busy schedule to think about the history of money, you may remember how we humans used to barter whereas nowadays we deal with payday loans, hefty mortgages, credit cards and ultra-stressful lives. Do you think our predecessors wandered the countryside, while out hunting, worrying about how they would get to the end of the month without a payday loan?
So what is bartering? Bartering is when we exchange services or resources with others, to suit both parties. So let's say that I am good with wood, and I make excellent hunting spears from wood that your family needs to have. But I need clothes, which is what you do best, so it is a perfect barter and both of us are happy. So what went wrong to bring us from a seemingly perfect solution to a highly challenging mortgage, debt and payday loans driven society?
We could say that we have evolved; this however opens a whole can of worms in terms of opinions and discussions. A guy or girl who needs to avail of payday loans every now and again but is either skilled or willing to give time to another person or organisation, may be very happy to avoid taking out a loan but instead barter his/her time and skill.
The reality is that for an average working 21st century person bartering doesn't often appear as a viable option; at least not when there is an urgent financial need. Bartering is out there but you need to have an awareness of the relevant associations, companies or communities. What's more is that barter is potentially big business, with the modern day father of barter; Tom Mc Dowell quoting it as a 6 billion dollar business in America alone.
Not only is it looking good in America but in the UK and internationally, and funnily enough it is being described as "an innovative method of transacting business." The concept as we well know is certainly far from innovative in so far as it is almost as ancient as the hills themselves, but it is innovative in the model of today's society to see barter being re-introduced alongside financial concepts such as payday loans, mortgages, car loans and so on.
Crucial elements which were missing in our ancestors' days were communications structures, which are available to us today such as the internet and transport systems. Barter was also given a bad name in conventional economic writing; one considered by some to have been exaggerated more than necessary.
But if barter is coming back in, does that mean that money is going out? For example there are communities in New Zealand who are bartering with time via a system called the Time Bank. With the onset of this and goods and services bartering, will we no longer need mortgages, car loans or even payday loans?
Actually experts in the history of money say that barter and money could be compatible. I agree that there could be a place for both, as recently I enjoyed receiving a new, top of the range air conditioning unit in exchange for the services of my company. Intelligently there is a place for both, but currently when time is of the essence, say you want to eat an Italian meal and you are hungry now, well it is unlikely you will strike a barter deal quickly enough. The same applies for certain financial systems, especially payday loans as those people who have used them totally appreciate how a payday loan comes just in the nick of time.