If you’re a die-hard spendthrift, you might think coupons, Craigslist and canned tuna are the answer to your discount needs. But some major discounting opportunities that you might be missing out on exist right outside your front door. Step out and look. Don’t see it? That’s because you’re standing all around it. And it surrounds you, too. That’s right, you’re very neighborhood can be a major weapon in the battle against … broke-ness. Here’s how to utilize this weapon.
“Buy nothing” groups FTW
Hit up social media. Log on to Facebook. And from there, type in your neighborhood and input “buy nothing” into the search bar (I.e “buy nothing, Manhattan”). In many neighborhoods nationwide these are beginning to take off like wildfire. They are spartanly titled “buy nothing” groups because you buy nothing … and that’s due to the fact that everything is free in these places. But the idea is that if enough people are participating, then those who are giving away things will be rewarded for their generosity, and vice versa. Far from junk, these “buy nothing” groups often will have just the thing you were looking for!
“Almost anything legal you could think of has probably been gifted,” says Amber Toland Perry, one of the admins in the North Park Buy Nothing group in San Diego. “I’ve seen toilet paper, all toiletries. Lingerie. Concert tickets … Once someone gifted a sword.” Not everything will be of interest to you (in fact, most probably won’t), but you’d be surprised what you can get for free from your neighbors. By the way, you can also acquire services in these places, such as massage sessions, photography sessions and even dance lessons.
Ideally, we are supposed to recycle our old electronics. Don’t worry, not calling you out, but it is the thing to do. I’m not one of them, but apparently plenty of people do comply, because e-waste centers, local recycling centers that take your old electronics off your hands, are filled to the brim with every device you could think of — well, at least in piecemeal form — some assembly may be required (read: some assembly will be required). But here is where it gets pretty cool: These recycling centers will sell any of the working electronics that are donated to them — at bargain bin prices! You can find monitors, keyboards, networking gear, cables of all types and even old laptops or gaming systems for next to nothing. These spots are harder to find than “buy nothing” spots, but not impossible.
If you can’t seem to locate an e-commerce spot, there is an organization called Free Geek (it is located in more cities than you might expect) and what they do is something similar to our run-of-the-mill e-commerce centers. They also teach computer literacy courses for bargain prices.
To complete the tech-trifecta, consider leveraging your local university. Head on over and ask if they have a “surplus store” (It’s a real thing. I promise. I didn’t just make it up), and see if they are selling things like used computers, keyboards and the like. If they are, it is most likely going for very low prices.
Baby resale stores
I know what you were thinking: No, they are not reselling children here (maybe I was just thinking that). If you have kids, you know how expensive things like baby clothing can get. Especially as they seem to grow out of whatever you buy them from one day to the next. My mother, for instance, learned her lesson with her first child and didn’t buy her second a single nice piece of clothing until he was about 10 years old (I talk about it in therapy. Just kidding). Anyway, these resale stores buy gently used clothes, toys and other items and resell them back to parents on a budget.
“Local parents bring in clothing, shoes, toys and baby gear (strollers, bassinets, etc.) and we check them out and decide what to buy,” says Paige Rigg, owner of Baby Go Round Resale in San Diego. “Items must be in clean condition; toys and gear must have batteries, all of their pieces, and be off the recall list.” Just a disclaimer. Rigg is careful to note how cleanliness is important to her business. But where a child is concerned, you wouldn’t want to assume this is the case with every owner of resale stores. If you do decide to shop at a local resaler, make sure that the owner is as serious about item cleanliness as Rigg.
Saving money is not just about what you get, it is also about keeping your body happy and healthy. While that is often pretty expensive, if you don’t stay healthy, sooner or later, your body is going to start costing you way more dinero. So, better get to working out, and there are usually many community workout opportunities that aren’t as expensive as things like SoulCycle or FlyWheel tend to be. Why spend money on a gym membership when you can work out with a highly motivated group of people in the park? You could join up with November Project, just as a “for example.” It is completely free, coordinated entirely through volunteers, and it exists in 45 cities around the world. November Project usually is a bi-weekly thing, and during their sessions, motivated people come together, usually in the mornings, to work out. Their workouts include running, body weight exercises and circuit training. It’s intense and energetic, but the workouts are formulated so that people of varying skill levels can join. If a November Project doesn’t exist near you, look through Facebook for neighborhood workout groups that are similar. They almost definitely exist.
Thrift stores and consignment shops
You already know about them, but, again, don’t overlook them as being too obvious. These organizations have been around for a very, very long time. And they have never stopped being a great way to save money. Generally, these spots are more useful for browsers than for those who know exactly what they are trying to find. Also remember that Goodwill isn’t the only thrift store around — you should go exploring for the indie, locally owned spots, too.
How to find these organizations in your neighborhood
All cities and towns are different. Therefore, finding your local version of the above cost-saver can be tough. But knowing where to search for them is half the battle:
- Facebook: Facebook isn’t just for following friends and news outlets. The revamped group sections are a great way to locate many of the above savings in your area.
- NextDoor: Billed as a social network for your neighborhood, NextDoor’s main feed is mostly full of people selling stuff (which itself can be useful). But you can also use the sidebar to look up events (often hosted by local organizations that you can look into),
- Your city’s subreddit: If you’ve ever browsed Reddit, the internet’s community for literally anything you could ever think of. Definitely check out the subreddit for your city. On Reddit, you’ll find people asking about (or sharing) local business information, and cool events, etc. You’ll even be able to begin a brand new thread asking for good places to find what you’re looking for!
- Yelp: Don’t forget about the obvious, as it is often overlooked as, well … too obvious: Yelp is one of the best ways to find well-regarded local businesses. It might be hard if you’re not positive what it is that you’re even looking for, but with the more common ilk like thrift stores and consignment shops, Yelp is pretty choice.
Sort of broke right now? Have no fear! There are options. Let the community help you out. The earlier you start getting creative with the resources near you, the sooner you will see just how much savings-innovation, creativity (and maybe a little flexibility) can reward you.
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