Householders are saving a fortune and making life better for the whole family by joining the craze for sharing
“I was not in a position to buy new but I was moving into a cottage and needed furniture. Then a friend told me about this service where I could get items for free.
She drove me around to various addresses in the area to collect everything I needed. I was so happy with everything. I would recommend this service to others.”
Quids in! reader Sandie is one of the latest to save hundreds of pounds by discovering Freecycle, one of the biggest gems on the internet. She was soon the proud owner of over £1,500-worth of furniture*.
Freecycle was set up in 2003 to “keep good stuff out of landfills”. It now stretches round the world and is a registered charity in the UK. Nine million members are involved, either gifting things they no longer need or picking them up for free to use them again. Its ‘pay it forward’ approach has sparked a number of other websites too, including Freegle and Preloved, and inspired pages of freebies on Gumtree and Facebook. You only need to search ‘free stuff’ on the internet to see how much is on offer. There’s everything from beds and sofas, TVs, ovens and fridges, to random stuff that no doubt someone somewhere will want and the occasional jackpot items like cars and boats.
NOT ABOUT CHARITY
“It’s a wonderful service for the community,” Sandie continues,
explaining that it’s not just about doing good for others. It’s a “great way to make a difference to other people’s lives but it’s also about freeing space for yourself.”
Another reader, Michelle agrees:
“My housemate was driving me mad, hoarding a desk he just never used. It was a good one and I can see why he didn’t want to let it go but in the end I said, ‘Why don’t I just stick it on Freecycle so it saves you the heartache of taking it to the dump?’.
“He agreed and we were both chuffed when someone came to pick it up. Especially me, as it was gone the day after I put it on the website.”
As we’re taking things off other people’s hands, it never feels like charity. “I will always be grateful for the help I received,” says Sandie.
1 Get online. A smart phone is great for this as we can keep checking wherever we are.
2 An email address will be needed. A favour is okay but, if it works, we might want to come back time and again. It’s an idea to set up an email just for this purpose as it could get jammed up with (good and bad) offers.
3 Advertise. Most sites have a ‘wanted’ page, although some ask people to give something first. And simply listing all we want would be a bit of a liberty.
4 Not everything will be there right away. Keep the web page open and check it as often as possible, especially if lots of people will be after the same item.
5 Not everything is on our doorstep. If we have the transport, we can cast the net wider than just the local town to improve our chances.
6 Be polite. People don’t have to help each other out this way so in addition to a thank you, it’s important to turn up when we say we will or let the person know.
7 The more flexible we are, the less likely we are to lose out to someone else who is. People want the quickest, simplest result and sometimes this means we will miss out – don’t lose faith. One top tip is to let the giver know how much you need the item and what a difference it will make. Remember, they want to help as well as clear space in their home.
8 We can be givers too. Be part of the circle and list things we don’t need any more.
9 Always count the cost of fuel (or hiring a van) to get there and back. Don’t let free stuff cost a fortune.
10 Make sure someone knows where you’re going and arrange to call them when you’re done or go with someone else. This applies to any time you’re meeting with a stranger.
11 Most sites expect us to be upfront if we plan to sell the goods on. This is not the place to make money this way. Buying and selling is best done on eBay or on a market stall, if that’s the plan!
12 Watch out for scams – and NEVER share bank details this way. Most sites are watched over by local volunteers to reduce this risk – report anything dodgy.