Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Share it Forward

Being the Frugalista that I am, I always try to think of innovative ways to save money. Sure there are coupons, consignment stores and plain old "going without". But have you thought of forming an alliance with your friends, family, and/or neighbors to maximize the virtual goldmine of supplies/tools they all have sitting around, begging to be used? I have! ( One statistic states we don't use 70% of what we have in our homes. )

It started out very innocently when I wanted to borrow a friend's mandolin so I could make homemade potato chips (Yes, I am crazy!). My friend said that they never use it and we could "timeshare" it. I was going to buy one but it was a bit pricey and not really a "necessity". Then the same friends went on vacation and we asked to borrow their rug cleaner. (You're thinking, "these people sure take advantage of their friends!" Don't worry, we feed and water them regularly). We usually leave carpet cleaning to the professionals but this time I didn't feel like wasting the money. So we used our friends' cleaning machine and the rugs came out GREAT!

Savings= $150

So I started thinking about taking sharing to a whole new level. What if we all shared our toys in a more organized and streamlined fashion without spending a penny!?

Here are some great ideas to get you started:

Girls Night IN!

Pick a house, any house and gather all your gal pals. Have some snacks and beverages. This too can be pot lucked.

Your mission, if you chose to accept it is to bring to the table items you:
a. Are not that fond of but someone else might like
b. No longer use
c. Don't care if you ever see again

The idea is to swap, trade, or borrow each other's items. You can work these details out with your friends, whether the goal is for all to borrow, timeshare, or keep; you decide!
Chose a theme for the night. Pick one or a combo of any listed below and run with it:
  • Unopened/unexpired makeup
  • clothing
  • DVDs
  • books
  • costume jewelry
  • shoes/accessories/pocketbooks
  • small housewares/kitchen gadgets (I know I have a few too many!).

This is a great way to connect with your friends, have a lot of laughs, and get some good stuff FREE. It's like a yard sale only way more fun and no annoying hagglers. ("Can I have that coffee table for a quarter?")

What NOT to Share:

  • opened or used makeup
  • cars
  • expensive jewelry
  • husbands/children (have you seen what happens on Wife Swap?)
  • anything you can't bear to say goodbye to

Baby's Day Out!

Gather your mom friends and their kids. Let the kids run amok while you swap the following:

  • baby/kids clothing
  • Halloween costumes/seasonal items
  • snow boots/snow suits/winter coats/hats/mittens
  • toys/games/books/music/DVDs/videos

Bring your own bags and prepare to shop til you or the kids drop, whichever comes first!

Guys Night OUT

OK, I don't mean at the local strip club. I mean, the backyard where they can show off their tools. Many jobs in our house are done by us (read, my husband), as long as he has the correct equipment and know-how, he makes a valiant effort to save us money and tackles many jobs on his own. However, he doesn't always have the right stuff for the job. He takes numerous trips to Lowe's and Home Depot and has invested in some good tools, including a power washer (a great investment!). However, even being a "Do it Yourselfer" can also come with a price tag. So now is the time to beg and borrow from your friends. Devise a plan, formal or not, to swap tools as needed.

If you have a group of 4-5 friends, you are guaranteed to meet every one's home improvement needs by swapping any of the following:

Lawnmowers, weed whackers, drills, saws, power washers, ladders, leftover paint/stain, shovels, snow blowers. The list is endless. And the plus side to all of the sharing is it keeps you connected to your neighbors instead of that awkward wave from the driveway in your jammies. We're talking some serious bonding now!

Word to the wise. Set clear expectations and boundaries from the beginning. Make sure everyone knows how to use the equipment and provide manuals whenever necessary.

I hope you use these ideas and if you think of some new ones, please post a comment below. Time to make the potato chips!

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