Well, perhaps not everything – but you definitely can get for free, or almost for free, things that people usually pay substantial sums of money to have.
One of the things that I find most thrilling in our journey towards self-sustainability is not doing without (although it has to be done at times, and can be very character-building), but rather, finding out creative ways to obtain some of the things we need without paying, or with paying much less. How?
1. Make it. This can refer to many things: sewing, carpentry, repair works, building, plumbing, and a lot more. Don’t be afraid to mess things up, or to end up with work that looks “unprofessional”. You learn as you go, and the satisfaction in doing something with your hands is great.
2. Find it. People throw away many useful things in very good condition. The computer desk we currently used was obtained this way, as were other items of furniture in our house. They weren’t thrown away because they were only good for the dump, but because someone was moving and had no room for a particular piece of furniture, or because they bought something new instead. We have also found home utensils, excellent books (in very good condition, too), and more. In time you learn to keep an eye open when you drive by, especially in the last couple of weeks before Pesach if you live in Israel or in another place with a substantial Jewish population frantically cleaning out their homes.
* Warning: this can get addictive. While it’s wonderful to save good things from the dump, consider whether you really need it, or your home will soon be overflowing. Ask me how I know.
3. Perhaps someone is giving it away. Look through appropriate websites. There are endless lists of people giving away furniture, clothes, baby equipment, toys, books, and more. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, they say – can’t think of anything truer than that. For example, someone used to have rabbits, and now he has a cage he no longer needs – but we could use just such a cage for our baby chicks.
If you can’t find someone who is giving it away, it is very likely you will find someone from whom you can buy it second-hand, for a fraction of the original price.
4. Barter. If someone has something you need, consider whether you might also have something they need, which you can offer instead of money. It might be something you make at home, or a skill you can trade. For example, one of my neighbours makes really beautiful pottery, and I know she wants chickens. If we have a surplus of chicks this year, I might offer her some, in exchange for a piece or two of her pottery. Perhaps you are a computer ace, know a foreign language, play the piano, have a hand for carpentry, or, in short, have a skill you can use in exchange for getting what you want/need.
Defying the money economy can be fun. It is also a challenge of sorts. Many times, we did one or all of the above (making things ourselves, looking for someone who is giving something away, etc) not because we could not afford to pay, but because we saw no reason why we should. It becomes a way of life. The bonus part of it is bringing people closer. By making contacts through giveaway lists (lately we have been more on the giving side) we met some wonderfully interesting people. Compare this to just walking into a big impersonal store, picking up an overpriced item, and paying for it, perhaps without even saying a word to the cashier.
6 thoughts on “Everything for free”
Scrounging and bartering is the way to go. We’ve got a friend who works at a machine shop, but he wanted a hand forged ring for his upcoming wedding. He brought me enough stainless steel to make 40 + knives for the price of one copper and nickel ring!
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By the way, I’ve heard that the government is trying to control and tax bartering –
in other words, suck some more blood out of people with little means. People must stand up to this.
Great article! I have a drying rack where the top rung is broken so it won’t stand up, but instead of throwing it away and buying a new one I just use a clamp to hold that piece in place. It only takes a few seconds and I’m getting years more wear out of the rack. (Which I bought at a garage sale!) It’s better to use your brains to find a solution instead of throwing money at every problem.
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Absolutely! I’ve seen good clothes thrown out because of a missing button. I have a collection of buttons and can usually find one that matches, or else I replace them all.
Wow! So glad I found your blog..loving the topics here. I got here by Twitter..where Permies posted a mother Earth news article about milk goats..and voila! Another great WordPress blog👩🌾💙😀
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Thank you so much, and welcome!