Fair Trade

Rising costs and an unstable economy have led many people to embrace what the Wall Street Journal terms "the ancient art of bartering" - basically, exchanging services in lieu of cash. "The rise of bartering for goods and services means that consumers now trade for everything from wedding services and tombstones to breast augmentation and Botox treatments. The cash-free transactions are being facilitated mainly through the Internet and barter exchanges, which are third-party record keepers that coordinate trades between business owners." Lest this whole concept have a suspiciously oldest-profession ring to it, rest assured the article only mentions G-rated exchanges like free accounting in return for a new deck. Of course, if you've got no marketable skills, you're still outta luck. When we attempted to barter pithy witticisms for expensive clothes at a few boutiques, the reception was less than enthusiastic. [Wall Street Journal]