Smart SpendingSmart Spending

How to go 'shopping' for free

Your friends' junk could become your new treasures.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:08AM

Want to get a head start on your yearly spring cleaning by de-cluttering? Try a tactic recommended by a Smart Spending message board reader posting as "AwakenedSpiritHawk1." Twice a year, this reader and her friends have a "shopping party" with food, fun and freebies. 


Got a stack of books you've read? Home decor items given as gifts that simply aren't your style? A shirt you rarely wear? Here's your chance to clear closets, bookshelves and tabletops. Think of it as your own private Freecycle. After all, one person's discard is another person's great find. 


This isn't regifting because no one's forced to take anything. Everyone brings food and drink to share, and everyone has fun, the reader wrote on a message board thread. "We hang out, enjoy each other's company, eat and shop for free."

The key, of course, is to bring only items that are in decent condition. It's not cool to trade a threadbare T-shirt for someone else's nearly new belt.


Another reader, "Cronewitch," calls this "playing Goodwill" -- a family member gives relatives first pick before she takes usable items off to that charity. Cronewitch has another suggestion: Have the shopping party first, stage a yard sale with what's left and donate any remainders to charity.


The idea of a shopping party could be tailored to specific interests, such as gardening, parenting, outdoor activities, knitting, etc. Before you start, have a tactic for dealing with two people who want the same item. I'm not talking about toddlers fighting over a firetruck, but rather two weekend mountaineers tussling for a particularly nice camp stove or set of crampons. Have them cut the cards, or something.

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Published March 11, 2009
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