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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Candy Bartering: get the candy you love, get rid of the junk

This post is the final one in a series of five posts that I've published this month teaching you how to maximize the amount of candy you (or your kids) collect this Halloween. In case you've missed any of them the four prior posts are linked to here for your convenience.

  1. Trick-or-Treating: From A to Z
  2. How to Pick the Best Neighborhoods: Go Where the Candy Is
  3. Going Out Properly Equipped: What You Need to Be Successful
  4. Logistics: How to Coordinate the Efforts of Your Trick-or-Treaters
Assuming that you followed the advice I've given this month tomorrow night there should be TONS of candy at your home, probably more than you've ever seen on any one Halloween before. That's wonderful! The mistake that many make at this point is assuming that trick-or-treating is over. The final and best part is still ahead.


It's time to make sure you get as much of your favorite candy as possible. Let the bartering begin!

Bartering is an ancient method of exchanging value. In days gone by (thousands of years ago) bartering was the only way to get something that you didn't have but needed or wanted. If your neighbor had a chicken that you needed a chicken then you would ask him what he wanted for it. He would tell you a gallon of milk. If you didn't have a cow you would need to find someone with a cow and give them what they wanted in order to get the milk. Then you could exchange the milk for the chicken. Get it? That's bartering.

Today, bartering isn't very common as most economies in the world use a form of currency that connotes value (e.g. the dollar, pound, yen) and we trade the currency for the things that we need and want. Currency simplifies trading because we don't have to barter.

When you are trick-or-treating you take whatever candy the kind trick-or-treatee provides. However, it may not be what you actually want. I can't remember the number of times I received Milky Ways or Three Musketeers (they're okay) when I really wanted a Snickers (my favorite candy bar). At the end of the trick-or-treating I have two options: 1) settle for what I got and be thankful, or, 2) barter with it. That is what we're talking about today. Bartering best-practices.

First, you need a strategy. Here are some questions to consider as you develop your strategy:
  • What candy do you REALLY want to end up with? 
  • What is it worth to you (what will you trade for it)? 
  • What is the candy you have worth to those you're bartering with? 
I would have gladly traded two packages of Smarties for one Snickers but would NOT have traded two Three Musketeers for one Snickers because a Three Musketeers is worth more than that. I would trade all of my suckers for a couple of KitKats though. I recommend selecting your top five favorite candies and building your strategy around them. If you can ascertain what other peoples favorites are it gives you more insight during your negotiations.

Second, get rid of what you don't want. If you don't like the candy don't keep it. Be willing to trade it for something that you like more even if it isn't one of your favorites (but only if you can't get one of your favorites). Too often we get held up on the quantity of candy we have. At this point it's more about the quality of the candy you have.

Third, decide for yourself what a fair exchange is BEFORE you begin bartering. Are two gumballs worth a Reese's? What about a Snickers? How many suckers would you need to get to make losing that Snickers worth it? Set an "exchange rate" in your mind before you begin negotiations.


Some tips on negotiating. Remember, it is not a zero sum game (that means that only one party can win). You negotiate so that both parties win. Offer something to the other person that is of value to them so that you can receive something of value to you. When you're done all parties should walk away satisfied with the outcome of the negotiation. If they don't, then you weren't negotiating, you were bullying. Don't bully.

That's it. I've shared with you all of my trick-or-treating secrets. If you have any questions leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer them (I will be traveling tomorrow so I won't be in front of the computer all day but I'll get back to you as soon as I can). Also, I would love to hear how it goes (the trick-or-treating). Please tell me. :)

Happy Halloween!

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