Little People Wealth recently had a post, 97 Ways to Save Money. And she asked me if I wanted to add any ideas on any of the tips suggested. I chose one of my favorite subjects, Swapping!
Not as in Wife Swapping or other kinky things, LOL, but swapping of actual good. (swapping services is known as Bartering)
Online or in person swapping can be a great way to save money on everyday expenses, namely children's clothing. I also have some shipping tips later on.
If you have a local MOPS group, this can be a great place to begin a children's clothing swap! Look at your group of friends, church members, and other groups you belong to for ideas on what you have others might need, or things what others might have that you need. I am in the process of organizing a "purse swap" for our Ladies Ministry.
I have been swapping online for a little over a year now, and I can tell you, it has been a load of fun, and I can't even tell you how much $$ I have saved! Here is a list where you can get your feet wet in the Swap Pool!
You can also search Yahoo! Groups for lots of specific swap groups (WAHM, Direct selling, baby goods, mom stuff, and just general swapping)
Most of theses sites operate on a feedback system, much like ebay. Good traders have good feedback, not so good traders, no so good feedback. The vast majority of the sites use a credit system as currency. Being able to set your own price, as you do at most of the sites listed above, or in Yahoo! groups, is an advantage to you.This ensures you will get what you want for the item. Or, there are auction formats as well, where you put your item up for a starting amount, and other members bid, and everyone still benefits. Other sites like SwapaDVD or Paperback Swap have set their own currency rate of 1 credit per DVD/book, unless otherwise noted (double sets, collectors edition,etc)
Also, some are private membership which you must "apply" for. All the above sites are FREE to join, most have forums or other message boards to communicate with other members.
Another idea is to Google for swap groups for hobbies, children's wear, women's wear, etc. I think you get the idea!
In most all swapping groups you will in cure shipping costs. Zwaggle, for instance,lets you ship from home using pre-paid Fed Ex labels that you can print, and request a pick up. SwapADVD, SwapaCD and Paperback Swap all will let you print your shipping labels at home using Adobe Reader. (you can choose to pay from your Pay-Pal account or direct from your bank account)This is based on Media Rates, so they are inexpensive to ship (average cost for book/DVD postage is $2)
So now on to shipping! Probably the best way to ship is through USPS. You can use their Click and Ship to print postage for Flat Rate Items with no additional cost besides postage (Delivery Confirmation is FREE) unless you choose insurance. You will need to download some software from their site I believe. You can also get the Flat Rate boxes and envelopes from the same USPS site, all for FREE, and they can even be delivered to your door by your postal carrier! There are other services like Stamps.com that will allow you to weigh and ship any item, using all shipping methods and you can also request carrier pick up. However, there is a monthly charge for their services. One of the large advantages by using stamps.com is you can get a free postal scale with membership that plugs into your computer so you can calculate postage the same way your local post office does. (note: this scale can ONLY be used with the stamps.com service).
Other options are DHL, UPS, and Fed Ex.
Ways to save on shipping.
Did you know you can use everyday items to ship? Posters or other items can be shipped in the cardboard tubes that wrapping paper comes on, or even paper towel cardboard tubes (yes, I verified this with a USPS postmaster). Look around your house for boxes! Cereal boxes, cracker boxes, etc, all can be used for mailing. Use newspaper, recycled styrofoam peanuts for safe shipping, or even plastic grocery sacks! Use these to keep an item stabilized in a box by balling them up and packing them in tightly around the item. They are cheap (free!) and don't add much weight to the box, keeping your shipping costs down.
I recently discovered a cheap alternative to poly mailers. Shopping bags from some retailers, like The Childrens Place, can be turned inside out and used as a poly mailer for clothing or other textiles.
I have even received items in formula canisters!
As a "safety" note, I encourage all swappers and shippers to use Delivery Confirmation. This benefits both parties, and offers some insurance that the items isn't lost in the mail. Insurance is also a good option with a low cost, but doesn't show you where an item was last scanned, etc.
Online swapping can be fun and helpful in these tough economic times, but remember you are doing "double good" when you swap with others!
1. you are recycling! Every time you swap with someone, you are keeping that item out of a landfill. When you print and ship from home, you are not wasting the gas!
2. you are helping yourself and your family!
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