Our Mission is to make it easier to live well and do good.

Sign up to receive Emails with advice about how to live more deliberately in your daily life.





Name *

101 Broadway, Suite 301
Oakland, CA 94607

deliberateLIFE engages today's globally-conscious citizen in building a better tomorrow. We believe choices matter – so we vet ideas, products and organizations to make it easier for today's busy professionals to live well and do good.







Filtering by Category: Sharing Economy

Swap Your Way to a Dream Vacation

Fay Johnson

By Paula Derrow

As I mentioned in my last post, there are many benefits to exchange. I’m writing this from Rome, where I’m staying for free in a friend’s lovely, two-bedroom apartment in the impossibly atmospheric neighborhood of Trastevere. Out my window, colorful clothing dries from lines over narrow streets and the 14th and 15th century buildings glow yellow in the incomparable Italian light. How did I get here? Well, I invited this Roman friend to camp out at my place in New York City, for an equal length of time, when I went off on my honeymoon. (To underscore the beauty of this agreement, the average cost of a mid-level hotel room near Rome’s historic center hovers around $200 and hotels in New York City go for much more.

But you don’t need a friend with well-located digs to stay for free in an exotic locale. I love the site Homeforexchange.com. Over the past decade, I have used the site to swap for an apartment in Rio during Carnival and a beach house near Sao Paolo (yes, all for my relatively modest 650 square foot apartment in NYC) and a condo in the trendy Neve Tzedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv, complete with a roof deck and view of the ocean. And this year, my husband and I are looking forward to spending a few weeks in a restored 17th century farmhouse in the Loire Valley in May, and in a Greek villa on the island of Syros. (With an infinity pool!)

People often ask me if I’m nervous about doing these swaps; if I worry about someone damaging my things. I tend to be a trusting sort, but even if I wasn’t, the fact that both parties are sharing each other’s homes lends a certain guaranteed respectfulness to the deal. That, and I do my homework. I email extensively with my potential swappers, I Google them, and usually, we Skype and talk by phone, too. By the end of the process, we’ve often become friends.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a few things in the process. First and foremost, I stick with older swappers, and by that, I mean people who are well out of their 20s and likely not inclined to be big partiers. I also lock away anything I’m worried about (important papers; jewelry; etc.). Other than that, I’ve typed up a list of instructions (“Don’t run the air conditioner and a blow dryer at the same time, or the fuse will blow!”); jotted down lists of my favorite neighborhood markets, restaurants and attractions; and collected some current guidebooks for my guests. In return, I get the benefit of their insider tips—and get a distinctly un-touristy view of wherever I happen to be.

There are home-swapping sites galore these days (you can read about a few of them here; I also list my place on sabbaticalhomes.com, a swap site for writers, artists and academics looking for free, longer-term stays. Our editor, Fay, often rents her home in Oakland via the site Airbnb.com – she's had great success too, and earned money to support the growth of this magazine.

Of course, there are many more opportunities to share or swap your way to an experience you couldn’t otherwise afford. From sites like openshed.com, which offers opportunities to rent or borrow everything from hedge clippers to kayaks, to sites like dogvacay.com, which lets pet lovers lodge Fido in a loving private home, the sharing economy is taking the country by storm.

Clearly, it’s time to start thinking beyond dollars and cents and getting what you want through traditional businesses. What have you got to offer?

Bartering: Treat Yourself with an Exchange

Fay Johnson

By Paula Derrow

Think you can’t afford a professional organizer? Or a nutritionist? Or a haircut from a high-end salon? I thought the same thing, especially when I was laid off from my job and had to transition to a freelance. Out went the little luxuries – In went the worrying. But a year-and-a-half into my new budget-conscious life, I’ve found that I can avail myself of some of those extras without blowing a hole in my bank account. One way I’ve managed to do that is to jump into the new (or rather, not-so-new) bartering economy, the practice of trading goods and services without exchanging money, and one that has existed for as long as two people each have something the other wants. According to the International Reciprocal Trade Association, there was $8.5 million of this kind of trading done in 2013 alone.

Lest you’re imagining housewives trading sugar for flour, or farmers trading fertilizer for help with the harvest, you might be surprised to know that there are online organizations, like bartercard.com  that encourage bartering among businesses. One of the benefits is that for small organizations, it's a great way to get rid of excess stock in exchange for a product or service they need.

I’ve found that bartering allows me to treat myself without guilt. It's also a great way to help other fledgling entrepreneurs build their client list, gain experience, and get something they need for their business. Here is one example – I live in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, where closet space is at a premium. When my professional organizer friend, Lisa Zaslow, founder of Gotham Organizers, mentioned that she needed an editor’s eye to look over a proposal she was working on, I suggested that we barter: “You help me find some extra space in my walk-in closet; I’ll edit your proposal.” According to Home Advisors, the average organizing project costs upward of $500. Lisa came to my apartment and spent a few hours helping me figure out what to throw out, where to put the stuff I wanted to keep, and even brought her nifty label maker to mark my shelves (“batteries”; “light bulbs”; “home goods”) so I could remember what went where. In return, I spent a few hours going over her proposal with my red pen. We both got what we wanted, and felt a little more bonded to boot.

I’ve also done a barter with my sister-in-law, a yoga instructor, who came to my apartment and designed a custom yoga workout for me; in return, I helped her write up some marketing copy to publicize a new class she was teaching in a local gym. Given that she was a relatively new instructor, she was also glad to have another name on her client list.

I was able to find individuals to exchange services with without reaching beyond my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances. If you're unsure what types of services your friends may be positioned to offer, you can always utilize social media or sites like swapright.com. Just keep in mind that when you’re doing a friendly barter, it’s smart to be clear about expectations. This post by Forbes magazine writer Demetra Kouremetes offers some good tips on how to make sure a barter doesn’t go sour. 

I personally haven’t completely given up on the cash economy, after all, I need to pay my mortgage and buy groceries, but there is a wealth of experiences and opportunities that can be gained from a littler personal life bartering.


photo by Sarah Gerber