Maybe you’re a master at Monopoly, but do you have the skills to bargain for real products online? If you’re anything like 17-year-old Steven Ortiz, then maybe you’re capable of getting the car of your dreams — without paying a dollar.
That’s right, Ortiz bartered for two years and made 14 trades, beginning with his cell phone. He swapped items on the classifieds website Craigslist.org, trading his unwanted items with others until he got a Porsche.
“I have this cell phone I don’t use, you have the iPod that I want, why don’t we do a little trade there,” said Ortiz about the process. Soon he was trading the iPod for a bike, then a small motorcycle, then a larger one.
The swapping later led to a Mac Book Pro, Toyota Forerunner and a Ford Bronco. As Ortiz traded products, the value of his items gradually increased, until he got the car he wanted.
“I feel power and luxury, you know? Not many 17-year-olds can sit behind the wheel of a Porsche, and say it’s theirs. That’s the best part.”
How can you make a smart trade online? Check out the tips below.
- Seek Details
What’s the make, model, and year of the car (or other item)? How long has person owned it and are there any problems with the product?
- Get Pictures
Never buy anything without seeing it first. It’s completely fair to ask for photos. Or, if you have a parent or guardian to go with you, see it in person (if the car or product is local).
- Create a Contract
Trading sites create a market place where people can connect, but websites like Craigslist, and the people who use them, don’t guarantee anything. You have to establish the terms and create a contract that is fair to you and the person with whom you are trading.
- Agree on a Price
You must come to an agreement on price because even though no cash is being exchanged, you need to know the value of the item.
- Report on Your Taxes
Even though no cash is changing hands, you must report the “purchases” on your taxes — this is why both swappers must agree on the value or price of an item.
- Be Safe
Do not trade online without your parents’ permission and NEVER meet a swapper without a parent or guardian present.