How Can I Get Something For Nothing?

The above question depends on what you consider, “for nothing.” If you consider your time, “for nothing,” then you can get a lot if you’re willing to work hard. However, most people put a value on their time. That’s why we get paid to work.

I’ve been running across a lot of people lately who have been wanting to barter. I told you about me bartering my writing skills for two custom made ukuleles last month. Well, this week I had two barters with the same guy in one day. Let me explain…

It’s been raining a lot here in the St. Louis area over the last week. Well, my girlfriend’s roof started leaking in a second spot on Sunday.

A second spot, you ask?

Yeah a second spot. The first spot was over the bathtub, so it didn’t seem to be a big emergency to me. But when it started leaking over the toilet, well that’s hard to ignore. It was kind of like an agonizing Chinese water torture while I was sitting there trying to do my business, so I called my buddy who owns a roofing company.

He said, “Well do you think it has hail damage, because we don’t just fix leaky roofs.”

I didn’t know if it had hail damage, but I did see evidence that we had had hail from the little pea-sized marks that were on the wood railing outside. So I told my friend, “It could be. I know we had some hail.”

Long-story short, my friend came over and accessed that we had no hail damage. He then proceeded to fix the leaky-roof that his company normally doesn’t fix.

I had talked to him in the past about setting up a soft-power washing business for roofs. He began bugging me about when we are actually going to do that.

Being that I’m a scanner-or someone who’s always looking to see what is out there, I had moved on to something else by the time he got back to me.

Then my friend told me that he needs the copy for his website written. Actually what he said was, “Hey. I need you to write the words for my website.”

“Ok,” I said, “what do you want the copy to say?”

“What the hell is ‘copy?’ Don’t start using technical terms on me,” he said. “I just want it to say how great we are and I want it to describe what we do.”

After we talked for a while, I got it narrowed down to what he really wanted and that was a landing page that doubled as a sales letter, even though he didn’t know that. (He most likely doesn’t even know what a landing page is.)

But what he really really wanted deep down inside and didn’t even know how to articulate it was, he wanted the consumer to call him.

Easy enough right? Not really.

Bringing you back to the main point, this week I found myself in a two, “something for nothing,” deals. And when I say, “nothing,” I mean, “no money out of pocket.”

Broke is temporary, poor is a mindset.

Even if you have no money, you can start looking for opportunities and things will come your way. And when I say, “come your way,” I mean you’ll start seeing them. They are all around you.

Don’t believe me?

Start looking around at how many dirty roofs you see. If you live in the Mid-West, you’ll start seeing all those black, nasty roofs. Now look again, that isn’t dirt. That’s algae. And algae eats the limestone in roof shingles.

And that my friends is why my friend wants me to help him with his soft-wash roof cleaning business.

Start looking around and all you will see are opportunities around you. But almost everyone else will just see dirty roofs, just depends on your perspective.



Most people have forgotten about the age old tradition of bartering. Back in the day, everyone bartered. Maybe they gave a quilt for some food, or they traded for each other’s services.

Today you can go to Craigslist and they have a “Barter,” section. Most of the time people list specific things they are looking for. For instance, I saw a guy looking to trade a 4-wheeler for a boat or working truck. I would think you would need a working truck to get the boat to the water, but what do I know?

Right now I’m in the middle of an old fashion barter myself. I have played the ukulele for over 20 years. I recently contacted an overseas ukulele company to see if they would consider me to be a distributor for their ukuleles. I also mentioned politely that their site could use some help with the English translation. (“Wood make very good tone.”) I said, “I’m sure you speak better English than I speak Cantonese, but I would be willing to fix your ad copy for a custom ukulele.”

The owner of the company got back to me to say that they are not interested in distributing to the United States right now. But he also said, “I happy to trade you a custom ukulele to fix site words.”

So now I’m about 2 weeks away from having a custom ukulele. The guy even laser-etched my Polynesian tattoo design into the fret-board and the body of my ukulele. If I were to have a luthier make an ukulele here in The States with as much detail as this guy has given me, it would run $2000 to $3000.

Most people forget about bartering these days. But the next time you’re low on funds or you see where you can trade services, give bartering a shot. You may be surprised what you end up with.