For many people, owning a home is a dream that may never come true. It takes a good amount of money to buy a house and some people will never make enough for a down payment.
One Tik Tokker recently got creative and managed to make her dream to buy a home a reality starting by trading a one cent body pin. She continued her bartering and was eventually able to afford an $80,000 home.
Demi Skipper of San Francisco started her “Trade Me Project” in May of 2020. She kept followers updated on her Instagram and TikTok accounts which resulted in her gaining millions of followers.
On Dec. 12, 2021, she posted a video of herself proudly standing in front of her two-bedroom detached house near Nashville, TN. “After 28 trades and all the ups and downs, I finally did it,” she said in the video.
Skipper was inspired by a TED Talk by Kyle MacDonald, a Canadian who traded his way to a home starting with a paperclip. “The moment I realized no one else had done this since, I was like ‘OK, I have to do this’.”
She integrated a few rules into the task. No money could be exchanged other than covering shipping costs, and no trading was allowed with people she knew. She also accepted sponsorships from brands.
The campaign attracted enough attention that it brought Skipper’s social media following from zero to millions after just a few video posts. “I think it was just crazy enough of an idea that people were thinking ‘I don’t think she’ll do this, but I want to watch to see if she does’,” she says.
Here are the exchanges Skipper made between May 2020 and November of 2021 that led her to purchasing a home.
- Bobby Pin: $.01
- Earrings: $10
- Margarita Glass: $24
- Bissell Vacuum: $60
- Dakine Snowboard: $95
- Apple TV 4K: $180
- Bose Wireless Headphones: $220
- Xbox One with Accessories: $320
- 2011 MacBook Pro: $400
- Canon TD with Accessories: $550
- Nike Blazers: $750
- Nike Hyperdunks: $850
- Nike Air Jordan 1s: $950
- Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: $1050
- 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan: $1000
- Boosted Plus Electric Skateboard: $1200
- Newer MacBook Pro: $1800
- Ferla Food Cart Bike: $3800
- 2006 MINI Cooper Convertible: $5000
- Diamond and Sapphire Necklace: $1600
- Peloton Bike: $1800
- 2006 Ford Mustang GT Deluxe: $4500
- 2011 Jeep Patriot Sport: $6000
- Wildbound Tiny Cabin: $10,000
- 2011 Honda CRV: $11,500
- Three-Tractor Trailer: $12,600
- Chipotle Celebrity Card: $18,250
- Off Grid Trailer: $40,000
- House: $80,000
How the Trades Were Made
Skipper made most of her trades on Craigslist, Facebook, and other reseller sites. While many think she had several options to choose from due to the publicity her campaign was getting, that wasn’t always the case.
“Sometimes I’d have thousands of options and sometimes I didn’t have many,” she explains. She often had to initiate trades with people who had items with a similar value to what she had to sell.
Skipper would spend up to 40 hours a week working to reach her goal outside of her full-time job as a product manager. She spent most of her time finding buyers and making exchanges and shipping arrangements. She also experienced setbacks when she found out items she had traded for were worth less money than she thought.
She was prepared to go on for five years to reach her goal. As she got closer to her dream, she had a harder time finding people to trade with.
“When I had the bobby pin, I was like, ‘give me anything’. But as you get to $10,000, very few people have things laying around their house they can trade with. To be honest, there were times when things slowed down and people started doubting it and leaving comments, but it’s an example of how you just have to keep going.”
Skipper is still adjusting to her new home. She says she wakes up and thinks “OK, what do I need to do and who do I need to trade with?’ And I’m like, ‘Wait, it’s already happened, I don’t need to do that anymore’.”
That will change this month as Skipper is planning Season Two of her Trade Me Project. She plans to move to Tennessee and renovate her house which she will then give to someone who needs it for the price of, what else, a bobby pin.
When asked why she’s doing it again, Skipper said, “There are so many things I gained from it that weren’t just trades, like the many people I met along the way and how much I learned about myself.”
We wish her the best of luck embarking on her second adventure.