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Can’t Afford It? Swap It!

Shopping at thrift stores doesn’t always yield the results you’re looking for. Some areas simply don’t have very good thrift shops around, and those that are good often get picked over quickly. So what do you do when you need something but buying it brand new is out of your price range? Swap it instead!

The Benefits of Swapping

Swapping is one of the best ways to not only get new-to-you stuff for free, but also to engage with your local community. You can plan events where neighbors gather to exchange useful items. You could even start a group where you and your friends and family gather together to swap things in person. It’s a win-win situation since you’re getting rid of unnecessary belongings and getting some new things you might need or want at the same time. Plus, you get the benefits of coming together with people and creating a close-knit community of frugal-minded folks.

It’s important to note that swapping is different from buy-and-sell groups. In a true swap, no one pays any money. Instead, you simply trade products either by finding something you want and offering a trade or passing products through the group in an orderly fashion. If you decide you’d like to tray swapping, you may want to consider some of the options below.

Book Swap

Do you love to read? If so, then consider joining or creating a book swap group. Note that this isn’t the same as a book club since all the members need to read the same book at the same time for that to work. Instead, you and some friends, family or neighbors will pass around books that you enjoy. It’s an especially good idea if you know of a few people who have similar reading interests as you. You’ll get a consistent supply of good books to read without having to endure waiting lists at the library or plunk down lots of cash at the bookstore.

It helps to do a little tracking with a book swap to make sure that books aren’t lost along the way. So if you have six members in your book swap club, you should make a list of the book that each person plans to swap. Then, you can give everyone a month to read it before the books are passed along. After six months, everyone will have their original book back and you can start over.

Clothing Swap

Do you feel guilty every time you go shopping for clothes? There’s no reason to feel bad about your love of fashion if you channel it into a clothing swap instead. This works best as a big event since people have such different clothing size needs. Consider planning a local event where people bring their gently used clothing for a swap. Then, set up areas according to size where people can go to exchange anything from jeans to tops to shoes.

This works best if everyone agrees to a one-for-one swap. So if you bring along three items you’d like to swap, you should be able to leave with three items. A ticketing system can be a great way to keep track of this. If your event is a success, consider hosting one at the beginning of each season when people are excited to freshen up their closet with a few new items.

Baby & Kids’ Swap

Little ones require so much stuff starting from the moment they’re born. New parents quickly learn that some essential items quickly become obsolete as their child grows and needs new things. This can apply to everything from clothing to toys to gear like cribs and high chairs. A baby and kids’ swap group makes it easy to trade these items so you don’t have to spend a fortune as your child grows. With the cost of raising kids being higher than ever, this is one of the most popular types of swap groups.

To get a great selection of items for a range of ages, organize a swap meetup for these items. You may want to set age limits to ensure that parents are able to find what they need; for example, you could limit products to items intended for infants and toddlers or focus on kids ages 4-8. As one parent finds they no longer need some toddler essentials, another parent might be ready to get rid of some baby things and start transitioning to toddler products. There will always be parents who are just ahead of you or just behind you in their kids’ ages, so it’s a great system for getting the stuff you need without having to constantly buy new things.

Look for swap opportunities in your area. There’s a chance that someone has already started a group or hosting events that appeal to your interests. The next time you need something new, consider swapping before you spend any money.

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