Thursday, June 25, 2009

Finding freebies

A short announcement: our computer died an unexpected and untimely death. I do hope my husband will be able to revive it somehow, or at least to retrieve the data from it - there are hundreds of photos, music and audio files, e-books and more, with no backup elsewhere. Anyway, until then, I won't have a regular internet access so I don't know if, when and how much I will be able to blog and/or answer emails.

Today, I'll answer a reader's question. Someone asked me how we get so much free furniture and other things. We love giving old things a new life in our home: I think we only have two items of furniture in our home that are new - our bed and the closet in our bedroom. A few more items were bought second-hand, and the rest we got for free. The result: we have a happy household that lacks nothing, and for very little money, too! All it takes is just a bit of creativity.

Look at stuff that people are throwing out. Yes, I mean things that are labeled "trash". Sometimes the items that are thrown out are in perfectly good condition. Just one example: a family in our village downsized their household by moving into a smaller home. As a result, they had quite a few bits of furniture they simply had nowhere to put. We got some free bookcases which I love, and a closet very cheaply.

Use your network. Don't be ashamed to let people know you will accept old furniture (or whatever it is that you need). Many will be more than happy to let you have items they no longer use, if you are willing to come and pick them up. Also, let your friends and family know what you are looking for. Who knows, maybe one of them will spot precisely what you need. Our fabulous dining set was noticed and reserved for us by my sister-in-law.

Join a website, forum, or group for swapping and recycling. In Israel, we have, I know similar sites exist for other countries. Give away what you don't need anymore, and take what other people are giving away. During my years in the university, once in a while we had a day on campus when people would bring old clothes, books, jewelry, decorative items and more, and anyone could take what they wanted/needed.

Of course, passing items down and "inheriting" old items is much easier in close-knit communities. If you never say hello to your neighbours, how will you know they have a lovely antique-looking coffee table they want to give away because they bought a new one? Just one more reason why a strong community is good for you!

Be creative; look for stuff people are giving away. Give away what you don't need. Reuse, recycle, and restore. Fight consumerism.

I do hope to visit with you again soon, but I can't know for sure when it will happen. At least, if I disappear for a while, you will know why. Having no computer is a blessing in many ways, such as saving time and getting more done, but internet is a useful tool that allows me to research different topics and connect with friends easily. I will miss it until we have it back. I will certainly be back, though!

Your friend,

Mrs. T


Persuaded said...

A timely post indeed for me... I somewhat unexpectedly have need of a couple of items and I have to brush up on my own freebie-finding-skillz. Thanks for the refresher course;)

Praying for your computer woes.. but also praying that this time without a computer will be you some special thoughts, and *joys!*

Pom Pom said...

Hi Mrs. T!
I hope your computer will revive! What a bummer! You are so right - not having it available pushes us to do so many other creative and intellectual things! I hope you read and ponder when you have quiet moments. I know that is hard with a little one! Mommy needs a nap, too! I love your blog. I'll miss you.

lorelei4mc said...


Depending on what went wrong, you may be able to harvest the hard drive from your old computer and put it into a portable hard drive enclosure. My old laptop was nothing but a paperweight, but I was able to pull out the hard drive (with a screwdriver) and save all of the information/photos/music/etc. on it. The portable hard drive enclosure usually has a USB port so you can use it as external storage with any other computer. I do wish you success!

Lori said...

As yet there are no comments posted online, so I apologize if I'm repeating advice that has yet to go up. (you have to sign up, but that's free too) (don't have to sign up)

Have a swap meet with your friends and aquaintences - make up some coffee/tea and muffins, and have everyone bring over a few items (or lots!) that they don't want, and swap!

Just ask - I've been given things at thrift stores because they got too many donations one day and didn't have the room for them all. If at a garage sale, ask if they'll throw such item in to seal the deal (I don't actually say "seal the deal") - I got a darling set of 1950s glasses that way. Sometimes I was given something just because they didn't want to pack it up again.

Of course, just let people know what you need. I've had friends tip me when one of their freinds or family members was cleaning house.

And yes, I've gotten things off the curb too! Really good stuff!

Joie said...

In America we have Freecycle as an internet tool to help those who want to purge and those who would like to benefit from someone else's purging. Craigslist can be a great vehicle for buying almost new/gently used items on the cheap. Reuse, repurpose, recycle!!

Amanda said...

A great website for freebies in the US is Groups are divided locally, and it is a great place to advertise items needed or to give away.

Aelwyn said...

In the U.S.A. and some other countries, there is a network on Yahoo called Freecycle. This is a great resource because not only do people offer the stuff they want to get rid of, but you can ASK for specific things. You do have to pick the item up.

Craigslist also has a category for free items.

Anonymous said...

I do hope you can get your files saved off your harddrive even tho the computer might not be salvagable. I know we have gone thru a couple of computers at our business where the power supply failed but the hard drive was ok. We just transfered the harddrive to a another computer. One new purchase that might be beneficial is an external harddrive to back up those precious photos and files. I'm like you, I love to give new life to old stuff. I save/collect old stuff.

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention what went wrong with your computer, but if the hard drive is still intact, look for something called a hard drive enclosure. You take out the old hard drive, put it in the enclosure, and then it can function like an external hard drive. I had to do that a couple of years back. :)

Excellent tips by the way. I'm in the U.S., and one of the best ways to score cheap/free stuff is to investigate college kids who are moving/graduating. They'll leave whole bedroom sets behind to save the trouble.

mrvelocity said...

The craigslist free section and the curb on trash day together have furnished my apartment. Tables, shelving units... I even found a macbook pro curbside.

Lady M said...

Here in the U.S.A., we have an organization called Freecycle. It is fabulous. I have given away many things and have gotten many wonderful free items, many of which have been a true blessing to us and our very thin wallets.

Erik said...

This is off topic and need not be posted. I wanted to see if you had seen this article about the Ethiopia church revealing the Ark? We will have to wait and see, but how awesome would that be to have the Ark back in the world?

Erik said...

There is They boast 4770 groups worldwide. Apparently it uses email to communicate with all its members so I would strongly suggest creating an email account just for it so you don't get overwhelmed by constant emails