So, I’ve become a HUGE fan of:
Freecycle. Seriously, folks. You sign up, get email updates with freebies being given away in your area and you offer up the extras in your closets. I gave away a sewing machine that was in need of TLC and an old wooden play structure. I’ve found clothes for the kids and baby equipment. The only money involved is the cost of driving to pick the items up. Awesome.
Craigslist. While this isn’t a great place to find freebies (though they do have a free section), it is a wonderful resource for new to you furniture, auto needs, tools, and kids items. I’ve sold bags of clothes for $20 a pop and purchased a couch for $150. Yay.
eBay. Watch this one because there are lots of NEW items on there. I’m not a fan of supporting consumerism and I know firsthand that lots of people shop the sales for the sole purpose of reselling on eBay… so you are still getting first round items. My plan is to stick with gently used items.
Used book stores. We have a local paperback exchange. This rocks because I like to read a lot and I like to take them in the tub, car, out to the beach, etc… so an electronic reader isn’t a great idea for me. With a paperback exchange I can read as much as I want then take the books back to exchange for other previously read books. Loving it!
Local resale shops. These abound in nearly every neighborhood. Some will buy your gently used items outright, while others will take them on consignment. This is a wonderful way to obtain nearly new clothing for the kids, toys and baby equipment. We were able to get my son a loft bed for $40.00 at a resale shop because it was closing time and the owner didn’t want to dismantle and haul it back inside!
The Library. Most libraries provide borrower cards for free, others for a small annual fee. Either way the library is a great resource for books, audio books, CD’s, movies and entertainment. Our library hosts toddler and preschool story and craft times in addition to special events for kids of all ages. Now my Netflix queue isn’t hogged up with video titles for the kids and we can always find a way to spend a rainy day.
Your friends closet. It’s been known to astound me what can be found when your friends and family know you are looking for an item. It never hurts to let it be known that you are in need of something, then wait a bit before tracking the item down. If you belong to Parent, Church or Community groups check in there as well! Some groups offer a bulletin section where you can post offered and wanted items. Make the dollar amount you are able to spend known so that if the current owner wants to sell an item they will know to offer it within your budget or not at all. This will help to avoid the awkward dynamics of having someone expect you to pay more than you feel reasonable for an item.
Barter. Do you have a skill, maybe you do childcare or housecleaning or your spouse is great with computers, landscaping or auto mechanics. Consider bartering your skills for what you need. Post a flier with what you offer and what you are looking for, Craigslist also has a Barter section.