Thursday, February 16, 2012

Alternatives to Shopping

Our consumer culture is fixated on going to the mall or shopping online. For those with limited funds or a desire for a less financially precarious life, there are many ways to get things that will enrich your life without spending money or stepping foot in a store.

PaperBackSwap. If you love to read, this really should be your go-to source for reading material. I have hundreds of books that I bought years ago and will never read again. I listed them on the site, and now I'm getting more books to read at no cost (besides shipping my books to other readers). A lot of the books that I've requested were impossible to find at used book stores and expensive on Amazon. Add to this the rich community among swappers and this site has my official recommendation.

Dumpster diving. This isn't for everyone; I know that. For those of you who aren't queasy, jump right in. There are all sorts of goodies waiting for you. Of course, you can't expect to find exactly what you're looking for; you are subject to the whims of those cleaning house. However, sometimes you do find exactly what you're looking for. One night after a concert, Trucker and I were taking a walk around the neighborhood. I decided right then and there to godiving and reached in to a dumpster. I pulled out a lovely, working lamp with lampshade. This was just a few days after I had decided to find another lamp for the living room.  Another time I found a copy of a novel that I had loved as a kid, and enjoyed reading it again.

Library. Get your books, movies and magazines for free instead of paying for them. My public library system is so amazing that I cancelled Netflix and rarely rent movies anymore.

Freecycle. Join your local branch of Freecycle. You can clear out stuff that you no longer want or need and ask for things that you do need. Some of the items I've seen offered are quite generous, such as pianos, bikes and office chairs. Added benefits are the environmental impact of less waste and fewer items being produced and that wonderful community feeling.

Crackle offers a rotation of movies that you can watch for free. You don't have unlimited selection, but I often find something that I'd enjoy watching. I don't have to pay for the DVD, rental fees or the outrageous prices for a movie theater ticket.

Project Gutenberg is a great source of free ebooks either to read on your PC or portable reading device. 38,000 free books in the public domain are waiting for you; you're sure to find something you'll enjoy reading.

Free boxes. Anytime I'm at a coffeehouse or a yard sale and I see a free box, I check it out. I've found good magazines and books, silly little kitchen gadgets and even clothes in my size in these free boxes. Once I found a Marc Jacobs jacket that was my size, in a color that looked great on me. It was missing a button, but I had some buttons at home and easily swapped them out.

Swaps. Have similar friends over for a swap meet. If many of your friends are film buffs, bring DVDs. If they are science fiction readers, bring novels. If you have several friends of roughly the same size, bring clothes to try on and trade; if your friends are all different sizes, swap accessories or jewelry. Make sure you each bring some booze or chocolate to really make it a party.

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