Reverting to the barter system may be one way to beat high prices in these tough times, and the Internet provides abundant ways to find trading partners in the neighborhood, or across the globe.

BarterNews. Well, here's an "official journal of the reciprocal trade industry." It aims to help businesses use bartering to increase the bottom line. Trading products and services isn't just for neighbors who want to swap eggs and sugar. According to the site, even major corporations and governments are involved in trading that reaches a global scale and is worth tens of billions of dollars.

Barter tax. The National Association of Trade Exchanges, an organization that facilitates non-cash trading among about 50,000 businesses, has information on the tax rules that cover bartering.

Trade stuff. An antique Jim Beam bottle, vintage Dictaphone equipment, and the ubiquitous old National Geographic magazines were among the items for trade when we looked at This doesn't look like the busiest site in the world, but it is fun to browse through.

Clothes and stuff. "I need clothes and stuff," was one pathetic plea under the barter category on the popular craigslist site. Here, where the logo is a hippie peace sign, you pick your city or state and see what's being offered. Items for barter are listed separately under the "for sale" link. Here's an offer: "Trade Trumpet Lessons for Babysitting, Hoola Hoop Lessons, Cleaning."

Swaptree. The nifty idea at this site is that it does the hard work of matching what you have with all the things other people would give up for it. Users fill out "have it" and "want it" lists, and some complicated algorithm does the rest. The people running the relatively new site said it had 50,000 users as of last month. Use of the advertising-supported site is free. You can listen to audio clips of the music CDs being offered for trade.

Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley

at 215-854-5114 or