Just like everyone else around us, we are trying to save money. We don't feel broke...but we definitely don't have tons of extra money to throw around. I mean come on, we both just finished school (and had to pay for two quarters of tuition completely out of our bank account...ouch), we bought a house, and we had a baby that came with more hospital bills than we were planning on. None of these have been completely devastating, but considering they all happened within 6 months, we are having to budget pretty carefully.
We've done some of the usual, boring things: cutting out eating out, being careful with our entertainment budget, not making purchases until we determine that they are really necessary, finding coupons for some of our purchases, actually making a plan for how much we get to spend in each area, and planning for future money needs.
We've also been discovering some fun, creative ways to save money. Today's focus, bartering. I first read about bartering on Sustainable Eats, in the context of people bartering home-grown or prepared food. I started looking around a little at what bartering was happening here in Bellingham and found a few different systems. We chose the free option (saving money, remember?) that is hosted on Facebook. Coincidentally, we knew one of the people who run the system, another couple from our birthing class.
How it works is simple. It's a closed Facebook group, called Bellingham Barter. You have have to be added by someone already in the group and you can be deleted if you don't follow the rules. There is no talk of money or gift cards allowed. If you want to trade then you write a post, with a picture if possible, about what you have and what you might be looking for. Maybe like this: We have two garbage bags full of girls 0-6 months clothes. Looking for living room lamps, glass carboys, home cooked dinners, canning jars, or ??? You can also make the focus of your post something you are really looking for. People comment back and forth, making offers, until both parties are pleased with the trade, then they set up a time to meet and swap. Simple. And everybody wins. It's addicting, really.
I've been loving it not only because it helps us get things that we actually can use, without spending any money, but because it has helped us clean out our house. And I have plans for more cleaning out and purging. Andrew & I hate to throw anything away that may still be useful. But we have a small house and a lot of hobbies. So we are trying really hard to evaluate if it is something we will actually use, and if it's not, then find a way to pass it on. Otherwise our house will fill up and someone will need to sign us up for Hoarders.
So far our trades have been pretty awesome:
We gave: Two bags full of 0-6 month girls clothes (passed to us for free and that Scout didn't need) and a batch of lactation cookie dough. We got: Two living rooms lamps.
We shared: The use of our wine making gear in exchange for 90 lbs of grapes. We made wine with the other couple and are splitting the final product.
We gave: The composter that came with the house, that we weren't able to sell on craigslist, and no longer needed since Andrew built our fancy composting system. We got: A juicer!
We gave: Two old duvet covers and 5 old T-shirts of Andrew's that didn't fit anymore. We got: A baby bjorn potty chair for Scout.
We gave: A car seat that was passed on to us and some coupons for formula. We got: Some 18-24 month girls clothes and a few canning jars.
We gave: Some dishes that didn't fit in our cupboards and were boxed away up in the attic...meaning we will never use them. We got: 6 babysitting hours from our friends!
We gave: 5 wine glasses that we never use because I knock wine glasses over. We got: Board books and picture books for Scout and 2 new toys for her (that happen to be her now favorite toys).
Can you see why it's addicting?