Living a frugal lifestyle means we never pay retail for anything. But what’s better than buying at a discount? How about getting household items for FREE?! I save several hundred dollars each year using these three resources:
Craigslist: Head over to Craigslist and look for the FREE section listed under the ‘For Sale’ category. Look up your neighborhood and see what is offered. You’ll find everything from construction leftovers to furniture to yard sale discards. If you need something specific, you may need to look for many weeks before finding it, however. I’ve picked up small furniture like nightstands and bookshelves, large outdoor toys for kids and craft supplies.
FreeCycle: If you’re not familiar with it, Freecycle.org is a local community group that saves items from going to landfills by sharing them through a Yahoo Group! You can post what you are giving away, and someone who needs or wants the item will contact you. You arranges pickup between you (usually, I just leave things in a bag on my front porch), and the person picks it up. You can also post a ‘wanted’ email to see who has your specific item hiding in their closet or basement. I’ve saved so much money doing this; when my twins were young, I wanted to try a white noise machine and could have spent $25 on a new one. I sent out the “wanted” email and got 7 responses back within a day. Through Freecycle, I’ve picked up kids’ winter coats, a king sized duvet cover with matching shams, and full-sized plants for my garden. Almost always, items are clean and in great condition.
Local Networks: Whatever social activities you engage in can be a great source of free items. Send an email out to your church group, preschool parents, or moms club asking for whatever you need. It’s likely that someone has one they’ll give away or let you borrow. Back when my twins were infants, I needed a second swing but didn’t want to buy one since it would only be used for a month or two. Another mom was happy to lend me hers and free up her garage while I used it. Recently, I’ve received coupons, museum tickets, and school uniforms from moms giving away these items through the groups.
When I participate in these community-wide services, I do my best to give back. When we’re done with kids’ clothing, toys and household items, I send them back into the community using Craigslist, Freecycle, and my social groups. It not only saves money, it helps the environment.