How to Trade Your Paperclip for a House

Kyle MacDonald's new house in Kipling, Saskatchewan.
Kyle MacDonald's new house in Kipling, Saskatchewan.
AP Photo/Brad Kearns

July 10, 2006 | Post Archive

If you've ever bought a house or are thinking of doing so in the near future, here's a little tip: try alternative financing. By alternative I mean trading and bartering, and by financing I mean a paperclip. Go ahead and scoff, but that's exactly what 26-year-old Kyle MacDonald of Canada did.

MacDonald began his journey one year ago this week with one red paper clip and a Web site. He was jobless at the time and initially began trading as a hobby. He soon found that his Web site had a growing audience. Two women from Vancouver were the first to answer MacDonald's call to trade, and he handed over his paper clip for a fish pen. He traded the fish pen for a doorknob and the doorknob for a camping stove.

The trades that followed included a generator, a snowmobile, a trip to British Columbia, a cube van, a recording contract, one year of rent in Phoenix, AZ and an afternoon with legendary rock musician Alice Cooper. After hanging with Cooper, MacDonald found himself with a KISS snow globe, which he traded for a part in a movie. Finally, after 14 total moves, the town of Kipling in Saskatchewan offered him a house in exchange for the movie role.

MacDonald may have started trading as a hobby, but it quickly became a much more serious endeavor as MacDonald built a following of thousands of readers. Soon there were expectations, and MacDonald worried about whether or not he'd be able to achieve his goal.

MacDonald told ABC News in an interview, "It’s a real relief, because I've been frantically worried that I won't pull this off. I’d be a bit of a schmuck if I didn’t trade a red paper clip for a house." I don't know about you, but I still would've given him an "A" for effort. MacDonald will start occupying his new home during Labor Day weekend and plans to throw a big housewarming party.

If you want to get in on the action and trade up your belongings, check out MacDonald's site, or click here to go straight to his forums. (link)

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