As a mom of two girls, I know those words “share with your sister” all too well. One of the things I’ve learned from my kids is kids don’t really mind sharing. In fact, it comes pretty naturally. It’s much more fun to share doll clothes, dress ups, shoes or toys with friends. Sharing means everyone can participate in the fun.
As adults our “sharing” mentality gets lost sometimes. We’re so used to having our own car, own house, and own “stuff,” we even can become bogged down by it. Owning too much, let’s face it—gets expensive. If you own a car or TWO cars, you have to pay for maintenance, you have to pay to have somewhere to store your cars, you pay for insurance, and you pay license and registration fees. It adds up.
There are areas where many of us have gotten used to borrowing and sharing what we need—books from the library, DVDs from Redbox, and tips and tricks online. There are other areas where we maybe don’t want to share so much or haven’t thought of the possibility of borrowing to save us from buying an item.
Fortunately, with the myriad of online forums, there are tons of ways you can find the things you need—you can borrow, swap and share your way into having almost anything you might want or need: think yard tools, media, craft items, clothing, baby items and even services! The Internet is a great resource and with social media, it’s simple to get the items you need or want.
Hit Up Social Media
Besides simply asking a friend or neighbor if you can borrow an item, for most basic items, social media is the place to go. Post on Facebook (or Twitter, if you prefer) and you’ll be amazed at how many friends rise to the occasion. It’s a great way to find things other people’s kids have outgrown and it’s always a wonderful resource for borrowing things for a one-time use (a special accessory, a tool, a craft item…the list is endless). You can even send out an APB if you need to “borrow” a helping hand now and again.
You can also try joining neighborhood groups on Facebook or swap/trade groups. Many areas have groups full to the brim with people eager to share and trade items for their little ones. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a group, try your child’s school’s page or your church, or look for a listserve catered to your neighborhood or area.
Search on Exchange Websites
Sites such as Freecycle, and of course Craigslist offer a great selection of free or nearly free treasures. Whether you need a card table and chairs for a dinner party, a gently used tent for camping, or kids beach toys, you can find almost anything you’re looking for by checking the listings.
If it’s not urgent, don’t be afraid to bargain, make trade offers, and hold out until the right item comes along. I have friends who landscaped their entire yard with beautiful fieldstone for FREE, simply by watching Craigslist and waiting for extra stones to pop up. If you’re creative and not too impatient, you can hold out for exactly what you need or make a free item work in just the way you’re hoping!
Using sites like Craigslist and Freecycle, you can upcycle some pretty amazing items for cheap or free. You’d be amazed at what a little paint, some sanding and some elbow grease can do. Even items you see discarded on the curb can often be refurbished and repurposed. (Not to advocate you start picking up everyone’s trash—only go for the items you truly need or have a purpose for.) You can even sell your upcycled creations for cash.
Easy Media Sharing
So, as I’ve said before, I LOVE my Kindle. It reduces bulk and clutter, and it makes it easy to share and trade books. Many libraries will allow you to check out eBooks, just like you would check out regular books. It’s very easy and you don’t have to run around looking for library books every few weeks.
Speaking of libraries, they can also be a great place to find DVDs, music, magazines, and children’s books—things you would ordinarily shell out for and then use just a few times. There’s really no reason to pay to “own” movies, you then have to store or digitally store.
As far as borrowing music goes, Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music are all streaming services that allow you to listen to or “borrow” music without having to buy it. For a small monthly fee, you can stream as many songs as you like—and let me tell you: there’s almost everything under the sun. You can create playlists to fit your moods, your jobs, your workouts—whatever you need. The great thing is you don’t have to stress about how to organize your MP3 files or worry about paying for cloud storage. You can also toss all those CDs you might still be holding on to.
Free Borrowing Resources
Once you have the borrowing and swapping bug, go nuts! See if you can “trade up” for things—you can even make it a challenge! There are tons of different, online borrowing/swapping resources you can try. Here are just a few to get you started:
This app lets you post photos of items you’d like to trade or get rid of (any item under ten pounds). You print the prepaid shipping label, send your item to a recipient, and you receive points you can use towards any item on the Yerdle site.
Similar to Yerdle, but for books, you simply list your books, receive requests, mail your books for points and then use your points to trade for books from others. It’s like an organized swap meet and it’s free to try.
If you have clothes to trade or if you’ve just cleaned your closet (or your kid’s closet), try Swap. You can swap your clothes for other sizes and other items on the site, and trade with other members. There are easy returns and combined shipping.
If you have items to trade for things you’d rather have, BarterQuest is a great resource. It’s free to post and search, and you can literally find everything from a boat to a wedding venue to local honey. Put up what you have to trade and see what you can get on exchange.
The Listia app allows users to trade in items they no longer want or use for points and use them for other items they need. You get 1000 free credits just for joining.
Yep—borrow a car! City-dwellers and those who simply don’t need a car every day, might want to consider Zipcar. Once you’re approved to join, you get a card that provides you with access to Zipcars, which can reserved and picked up for a few hours use or even a day. You don’t ever have to worry about getting the oil changed or paying for long-term parking, and you simply return the car when you’re done with your errand.
Borrowing a house might seem strange, but Airbnb offers travelers the ability to use a low-cost space for a short period of time, while the owner is away. This can be a great way to save. While you don’t have the amenities of a hotel, you can rent a space to stay for much less. You can also sign up to host, so you can earn cash while you’re out of town.
If you want to learn something new or if you have something you think you could teach online, check out Skillshare. For a very small membership fee, you gain access to hundreds of tutorials, from baking a cake to learning conversational French. You can share your skills as well, and for each membership purchased, a membership is also give to a student in need.
This cool site connects potential farmers and gardeners with the land and space (and tools) to start growing! You can post your space if you have spare land you don’t have time to garden OR you can find somewhere to host your family’s garden this year, if you don’t have room. This site builds community collaboration and green space, allowing everyone to start growing and harvesting.
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What it really comes down to is we’re all very blessed to have such bountiful, plentiful lives. Many of us have things beyond what we need and use, and rather than rushing out and buying yet more “stuff’ every time a need or want comes up, why not borrow, share, barter or trade? The life of our possessions can be far longer than we think. (Just look at our landfills, if you have any question.) Rather than contributing to more waste and cycling through items, why not give items a longer life?
I challenge each of you to try to borrow or share an item rather than going out to purchase it this week. See what you can trade for something you would rather have and see how you can give new life to old things! You might just be surprised at the results!