Try Swapping Instead of Shopping

You may have agreed to a voluntary spending moratorium this month, but there are still plenty of creative ways to acquire clothes, books, kids’ items, tools and more. You just have to know where to look.

Craigs List and Freecycle are great sites to browse for freebies; people often give away unwanted furniture, landscaping and building materials, baby items, appliances and more. You usually have to act fast, though, so if you see something you want get in touch with the giver right away.

Some consignment and used clothing stores will offer you store credit in return for your gently worn clothes in good condition, and there are also a number of new clothes swapping sites showing up online. Check out Rehash and SwapStyle, two of the larger sites.

Swap it Green is sort of like an online garage sale; you’ll find everything from books and hair dryers to clothing and Christmas ornaments. You list your available items and earn points whenever someone ‘buys’ your item; you can then use your points for anything you want on the site.

Good old eBay — with its zillions and zillions of offerings — is a great resource if there is something very specific you want to upgrade. For instance, I wanted to swap out the teardrop-shaped crystals on our dining room chandelier for some in a different shape. I found the crystals I wanted at a good price on eBay, and then I turned around and sold the ones I didn’t want for the exact same price.

Swapping opportunities may be as close to home as your own neighborhood; I started a Wikispaces (a free, simple-to-create website) page for our neighborhood where folks can list tools and equipment they’re willing to share; plants, seeds and produce that we have in abundance; kids’ items to pass along; Halloween costumes; and more. The site has been enthusiastically embraced by everyone who uses it, and has collectively helped our neighborhood be a little greener.

Finally, our friend Shannon from Homestead on Earth (who is guest blogging for us later in the month – I can’t wait!) turned us on to Paperback Swap. “I’ve been using it for about a year or so now and it’s been a great way to get rid of books I don’t want and replace them with books that I do,” she writes. “The way it works is you post the ISBN numbers of the books you want to get rid of. Then if someone wants a book, you mail it to them via media mail. It usually costs somewhere around $2.50. Then when you want a  book, you just request it, and the person that has it mails it to you at no cost to you.”

Today is Day 6 of the January Money Diet – how’s it going for you? If you’re going through shopping withdrawal, give one of these swapping options a try — and be sure to let us know how if you end up with any treasures!


Win a Deluxe Urban Homesteader Gift Basket

In honor of the first annual January Money Diet, the Urban Homesteader is giving away a gift basket chock-full of home and garden goodies, including a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s All-Purpose Cleaner, soup mix from the Women’s Bean Project and a personally inscribed copy of my book, “Family Home of the New West.”. On January 31, 2010, I’ll draw one random name from everyone who commented during the month and that lucky person will win the gift basket. I hope you’ll stop by often this month and share your own ideas, thoughts and experiences.


About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of 15 books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

1 thought on “Try Swapping Instead of Shopping”

  1. Swapping is a great idea. I also love the trend of people sharing more items, on sites like or in community organizations like tool libraries.


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