In case you hadn't noticed, spring has arrived! It is all glorious sunshine today, and I don't know about you but I'm feeling cluttered. Time to clear out all that stuff, and make some fresh, new, space.
Here's an idea. How about swapping your stuff? And not just the unwanted clutter, er precious and loved but sadly no longer wanted, items you have about the house.
There's lots of ways you can get, well not money for nothing but certainly something without having to part with your hard-earned, cash. Swapping is perhaps about the oldest form of commerce. You have something I want, and I have something you want, so we swap. As the Meerkats would say - simples!
Outside of the playground though, it can be hard to form a good network of people to do a bit of swapping with. Until the internet arrived. With the World Wide Web it is possible to find lots of people, all around the globe, who have something to swap.
One way you can barter is with an exchange of skills. Cleaning, ironing, gardening, accounting, bookkeeping, beekeeping. One website that helps you do this is Time Banking UK. It includes a number of videos showing time banks in action and various time bank events.
StreetBank also puts you in contact with your neighbours. You sign up with your postcode, and can then see everyone within a mile radius of you, and what they’re offering. It’s more than just sharing skills, it’s also for exchanging, lending and giving away things. A little like Freecycle in some ways, on an even more local level.
This is a clearly a big favourite. Book swaps have sprung up everyone. My local train station has one set up in the Waiting Room, and I use it. All you have to do is replace a book for a book – either put back the one you’ve borrowed or put a new one in there. Many people I know have one in their workplaces too.
They’re all based on an honour system, but it seems to work well.
There’s online versions too. I love the artwork on Book Mooch. You put up books you don’t want. And mail them when requested, for which you get points. You can then use these points to get books from others. Read It, Swap It has a running total of the books available on the site. However the total of books doesn't seem to change much of the couple of years that I've been perusing the site. Not sure if that means it is really active, so maintaining an equilibrium, or no-one uses it!
What I like about all these swapping schemes, whether it is a shelf in your office or via a website, is that you don’t have to find someone who likes your book AND has a book you like. Plus there’s no need to return the book afterwards, so that does away with the guilt. Or maybe it is just me with a tendency to borrow books from friends and then forget who I borrowed them from?
This is increasingly becoming a popular past time around where I live. A few of the mums have had ‘swap shops’. PTAs are increasingly running 'swap shop' evenings too. You take along your clothes, and swap with someone else. It’s been a great way for me to boost my wardrobe. The thing is, I have stored all my clothes from my teens and early 20s. All the best items anyway, as I figured that all that 80s stuff would come back into fashion one day. Plus I went through a stage of buying vintage designer gear.
However, while I am losing weight and getting myself fitter, the truth is. I am never going to be a size 8 or 10 again. I don’t even think I want to be, not when I remember how hungry I was for most of my late teens. Because I just don’t have that sort of natural shape. My natural shape is maybe a 12. But probably a 14 as I’m too lazy to exercise as much as I should (and life is too short to do stuff that bores the pants off me!).
If you don’t have any local events happening among your friends, you can host one yourself. Or pop online. Swop2Shop and BigWardrobe allow you to sell your clothes rather as you would on an online site like eBay (you can upload pictures too), for points that you can spend on other items on the site.
If you’ve any space at all, even a windowsill, save some cash by growing your own vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Plus, they look nice. I wrote about saving money with your garden recently, you can read the post HERE.
The Garden Swap Shop helps people to swap seeds, and also plants and gardening equipment. If you live in the South East or fancy a bit of a trip to the seaside, then you might want to take a look at Seedy Sunday. This is, according to the website, the UK’s biggest community seed swap. It is held in February of every year, in the Brighton and Hove area.
Swap cars and houses
Carsharing is always a good way to save money. Take a look at National CarShare, andRideShare. And finally, the ultimate money saver. Swapping your home for a holiday. Check out Home Link and InterVac.
Swap your kids
OK so I'm joking about that one. But you could do a nanny share as an alternative to other types of childcare. It can be more cost effective too for families with more than one child, or no need for a nanny every day of the week. Two sites that I know of are NannyShare and The Nanny Sharers.