Monday, 27 September 2010

Money doesn’t grow on trees. How wonderful it might be if it did! In these tougher times, if everyone had a money tree in their own back yard that they could tend to and prune and perhaps everyone would be on a more level playing field. If only…

Unfortunately, life just doesn’t work that way. In tough times, and particularly during this time of year, many of us are cutting back and feeling like we are missing out. This does not have to be the case. Getting to know what to shop for and where to shop for it can be a big help in saving you money.

Many people are looking for ways to barter and cut corners. It Is amazing to me how in this society of social networking that people have no trouble posting about what TV show they’re watching tonight, but they don’t think to share what they are pursuing or what they need. There are a variety of no-cost and low cost options in most communities for a variety of goods and services. Chances are that for whatever you need, there is someone that you already know that knows where you can find one.

I recently posted a wanted ad on our local Freecycle group looking for a few items for a family member who was setting up a new apartment. It has been my experience that people are often happy to donate their items to a new life if they know it will be going to good use. There are a variety of Freecycle, Recycle, and ReUseit Groups across the country as well as such sites as and that have forums for free items, as well as their other classifieds. It costs you nothing to let your fingers do the walking, and you may be surprised at the treasures waiting for someone to come along and give them new purpose.

Similarly, if you find bulk packages of meat on sale knowing that you will not use it all before it spoils, you have some choices. You can divide it and freeze for later use, prepare it all now and freeze it, or you can buddy up with a friend or two and split your purchase so that you all get a great deal but not so much that you can’t handle it. This is particularly useful if you don’t have a freezer of your own. We often do this with larger quantities, such as a bushel of apples, or 50 kgs of potatoes.

Yard sales and thrift stores are also a gold mine of possibilities as you never know what you are going to find sifting through the castoffs of someone else’s life. Sometimes you have to really dig to find something interesting, but often you get an opportunity to haggle a better deal – and for some that pursuit is every bit as much fun as the find itself.

Does your daughter really need that $50 pair of mall sale jeans? Try the second hand shops, yard sales, freecycles, or team up with some of your neighborhood Moms and do a clothing swap. Often kids have grown out of the clothes long before the clothing was badly worn or tattered and not only does lightening your friend’s hand-me-downs save you money, but you’ve helped to keep your friend clutter free. That’s a win win, I’d say.

 When our kids were growing up we were often on the receiving end of bags of hand-me-down clothing from older friends and relatives. As a result our kids always had much more than they needed and we were often able to pay it forward and send them on their way again once we were done. Often cutting corners in this way meant “extra” money left-over for a splurge trip once in a while to get a new belt or accessory or a family trip to the movies for no particular reason.

Make research your friend! If you find that you are constantly throwing away leftovers of a particular kind – get online and start looking for leftover solutions. From websites and blogs to message groups and beyond - there is a wealth of information out there just waiting for you to find it. Suddenly one of your biggest chores has become somewhat of a game and your challenge is to use it up before it expires.

Money doesn’t grow on trees. It’s true, but if you know where to look you just may find a little extra to stash away for a rainy day.

Here are a couple of my favorite budget friendly sites on the web. Hope that you enjoy them.

The Trading Post: A Trading place for Canadian coupons.

Freecycle (Check Site to find a group near you!)

Do you have a favorite site to share? Leave me a comment and I'll check it out!