One of the most frugal resources out there is a wonderful network called Freecycle. This
organization is about as frugal as you can get, because everything is free!
Basically, Freecycle is a network of locally based online groups in which people can post "offers" to give away their unwanted stuff for other people to take. As the website (http://www.freecycle.org/) reads, "It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills."
With a few restrictions (dangerous and illegal products, for instance!), you can offer pretty much anything on Freecycle. It’s a wonderful way to pass on items that you cannot sell or would not know where to donate. I have given away everything from unused wedding gifts to an old microwave to extra cosmetics and beauty supplies for a teenager's "spa" themed birthday party.
Of course, Freecycle is also a wonderful place to get things for free! I personally have received a computer printer, a punching bag for my husband, a baby bouncy chair, a CD player, a VCR, toys, clothes, books, and more! I know of people who get a large portion of their children's wardrobes from freecycle, as well as people who have received unique or hard-to-find items just by asking their local group.
Getting started with Freecycle is simple: just go to http://www.freeycle.org/ and find your local group. Each local group has a Yahoo group run by volunteer moderators, in which members can post items for pickup in their geographic area.
Here are a few tips for a having a successful experience with Freecycle and making the most of this frugal, community-building resource:
- Get started by offering some items before you ask to take anything. Believe me, you have something you can freecycle! Once you experience the rush of cleaning out your home and giving something to someone who appreciates it, you may just be freecycling everything in sight!
- If you find an offered item that you would like, email the person immediately. Many items tend to go very quickly, especially if they are expensive or in high demand. When requesting an item, state briefly why you want it or what you would use it for. This will increase your chances of receiving the item. Also, always state when you could pick it up and thank the person for considering you.
- Follow through. Pick up items when you say you will or email the giver if something comes up. If you are giving something away, it’s often easiest to leave it in a grocery bag on your porch, marked with the recipient’s name. This makes it easy to pick up, and you don’t have to risk allowing strangers into your home.
- To get the best items, check your freecycle messages multiple times a day. Further, many groups allow you to post "wanted" messages if you’re looking for something in particular. That is how I got my bread machine and waffle iron. I figured that these were common items that many people tend to buy or receive as gifts and not use, so I would have a good chance of finding someone who wanted to give one away.
- Always be courteous! If you are chosen to receive an item, pick it up when you say you will and always say thank you! Although I thank the giver when I am offered an item, I also usually email the person after I pick up the item, just to confirm that I picked it up and to thank them once more.
Find more frugal ideas at Frugal Fridays!