Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Circle Of Life… Or Rather, Stuff

Tip Of The Day: How to get rid of your old stuff, to make way for new stuff, which is usually someone else’s old stuff, but is new stuff to you. Got that?

Tip For Tomorrow: It’s Group Therapy Thursday time! Any good therapist will tell you, the first step to overcoming an addiction is by admitting you have one. So, stop by tomorrow and share with the group. Personally, one of my addictions begins with the letter S, and ends in the letter UGAR.

Further Elucidation Of My Cheap Deal: When I examined how my friends and I purchase and consume goods (sure, I do this ALL THE TIME), I was struck by how this cycle looks less like a standard economic model of consumption and more like a Mobius Strip.

We tend to buy our loot at thrift stores, consignment stores, eBay, and garage sales – wherever quality previously-owned goods reside – or get them free from each other or our family. We use the goods for awhile, then either consign them back, donate them to another thrift store, sell them in a garage sale, or pass them on to another friend or family member.

So the goods are in a constant state of motion in an endless loop of use. Wow. That sounds soooo profound. And like I actually know what the heck I’m talking about.

For example, my Burberry (yes, REAL BURBERRY) spring jacket. My buddy, Swimmer, bought it on eBay (previously worn), discovered it was too small, and gave it to me – for free. Because Swimmer rocks. So now I wear a third or fourth generation jacket, which I will probably pass on to one of Larue’s girls. As soon as they get old enough to appreciate REAL BURBERRY.

In an effort to help the rest of the world pass around their goods the way me and my peeps (no, not Peeps) do, here are a few ways to pass along your loot to the next user on that great Mobius Strip of Consumer Goods. God, I’m deep.

WARNING: If you are a math geek, and feel the urge to correct my improper usage of the term Mobius Strip, please resist said urge as I DO NOT CARE. I am taking creative license. Please? Get over it. Thanks!

Anyway, on with the frugal ideas:

1. HaC clued me on this site about two years ago. The idea behind Freecycle is to give your old stuff to someone who wants it, instead of throwing it away, thus cutting down on the crap in landfills, and making Al Gore happy.
In short, it’s online Dumpster-diving. Why go out into the world, get dirty, deal with real people, when you can dive from the comfort of your couch?
You have to join the group to give stuff away (for FREE) or to get stuff (for FREE), so I decided to act as a Freecycle Guinea pig and join. See what I do for you people?
To join the Greater Twin Cities group I had to first join Yahoo!, which kind of pissed me off. I don’t want to join Yahoo! I’m not anti-Yahoo! or anything, I just don’t need YET ANOTHER EMAIL ADDRESS. Why? Finding a unique email address, one that I’ll remember for more than five seconds, takes forever.
Then I had to say WHY I wanted to join Seriously. And now I am waiting to see if they will approve my membership. To which I say… what. ever.
Once I finally pass the acceptance stage, I’ll be able to post my giveaways online and search for stuff to get. The major rule for is this – everything is FREE. You don’t buy anything, and you don’t charge anything.

2. If you are a lazy slacker like me, you’d probably love it if someone would just come to your house and take your stuff away for you.
Well, slackers rejoice! The Greater Twin Cities ARC has these lovely blue trucks, and you can arrange to have one come to your home to collect your donations. Go here for more info and to schedule a pickup:
Another great group who will come to your home and take away your stuff is Bridging. Bridging helps furnish homes for people in need, providing everything from furniture to dishes to linens. To learn more, go here:

3. Sometimes you have really great stuff, and it pains you, PAINS YOU to just give it away.
But where can you sell your household goods? Craigslist or eBay, sure, but what if you don’t want to sell it yourself? What if you are lazy (a reoccurring theme here at Cheap But Not Easy), and want someone to do it for you? Where can you consign household stuff? When will this list of questions end?
You can consign your furniture and home décor items, and get 40% of what you paid retail, at Earth Exchange in Maple Grove. You can also buy new (to you) stuff at Earth Exchange, to replace the stuff you got rid off. For directions, coupons, and store hours, go here:

Well, I’m now fresh out of ideas for you. So now the question remains, how do you get rid of your stuff? What tips do you have for the denizens of the Cheap But Not Easy Empire for getting rid of unwanted, unloved items?


Marketing Mama said...

Great ideas - there's some new things here I didn't know about!

I always give away my clothes and baby clothes to family first, then friends, then Value Village. I love getting the tax deduction, too.

I also really like and for giving and getting free stuff! :)

Anonymous said...

I have recently parted with some furniture (thanks Craig's List!), but have larger and more, um, large pieces to pass on to a new user. I'd like to make a little cash back, so I'm going to check out Earth-whatever. Thanks for the tip, Chick!

Mrs. G. said...

This is a great post. I am currently on thrift store probation.

LaRue said...

Take Some, Give Some is also a Yahoo group based in the TC that allows you to list things for free, or for sale. I have used them and Freecycle. Craigslist is also great.

I am forever donating to Value Village or Savers - they will also unload everything from your car, which is nice. And I sell bulk lots on eBay of the kids clothing that they have grown out of (and is still acceptable for wear) and this has also done quite well.

Maybe it is getting to be time for a clothing swap again. Let me know and I'll round up the wenches.

The Material Girl said...

Our preschool (a non-profit) has an annual spring rummage sale as a fundraiser. Many churches, schools and other non-profits have such events and will be happy to take your goods to sell and line their non-profit pockets. And you get to claim a deduction on your taxes, get stuff out of your house and feel good about helping others. It's a win-win-win!