Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Before you shop, consider a swap

Trade your stuff for free -- but watch out for flaky friends.

By Karen Datko Mar 26, 2010 11:33AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.

 

Admiring other people’s possessions isn't necessarily a bad thing -- especially if you can trade them for it.

 

I’ll admit to a slight shoe obsession, although it takes a deal to get me to indulge. (For example, stacking sales, coupon codes and a reward certificate at DSW recently netted me a $55 pair for just $18, a 67% discount.) Instead, I’ve decided to throw a swap party with five friends of the same size. Voila -- new-to-me shoes for free while clearing my closet of pairs I don't wear.

 

That kind of one-on-one and group swapping has thrived in the struggling economy as consumers look for ways to cut their budgets and still get the things they want. “It’s like Christmas,” says Darcy Cruwys, the founder of community swap site SwapMamas.com.

 

Watch out for the flake-out factor: people who don’t follow through with their end of the swap. Cruwys says SwapMamas.com asks the less-experienced swapper to send their item first, improving your odds of a complete deal. Other swap sites, including Bookins.com (for books) and SwapaDVD.com (movies), let you earn credits when someone wants one of your items, to be redeemed for goods from that person or another site member.

We’re featuring valuable coupons and sales each Friday to help you spend less on the items you buy. Found a deal we missed -- or looking for a better price on a specific item? E-mail me at kgrant@smartmoney.com or send me a tweet at @kellibgrant.

 

Restaurant.com. Restaurant.com works out deals with local restaurants to offer gift certificates for less than face value. Regularly, most $25 certificates cost $10. But through March 31, use code COOK at checkout to save 80%. That drops the price down to just $2, a 92% discount off the face value. Read the fine print before you buy. Each restaurant includes restrictions such as night of the week or number of diners. They may also exclude alcohol and special menu items.

 

Payless.com. Save during the Easter sale through April 4. Save 15% in stores with a printout coupon. Online, use code EASTER to save $10 on a purchase of $50 or more. There’s a shipping fee, but you can avoid that by choosing free delivery to your nearest Payless store for pickup.

 

Sears. All furniture at Sears.com is currently on sale, with discounts of up to 40%. Maximize the sale by using coupon code 50FURNITURE at checkout to save $50 off a furniture purchase of $250 or more through March 27.

 

Shipping can be exorbitant -- for example, it runs $57 and up on a three-piece bar set. Sign up for a trial of ShipVantage, which provides free standard shipping. (You’ll be charged a $79 annual fee after the 30-day trial, so cancel fast if you’re not a frequent enough Sears shopper to make the membership cost-effective.)

 

Reebok. Use coupon code FRIENDS25 at checkout to save 25% on your order and get free shipping through March 28. Or use code TAKE30 to save an extra 30% on sale and clearance items already discounted as much as 50%.

 

Not every item is eligible for either deal, including the popular EasyTone sneaker line and any clearance items whose prices already end in 98 cents.

 

Related reading at SmartMoney:

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