Use FreeCycle - it's free and fun

Have you heard of FreeCycle in your community? It's a great way to interact with others while getting things you need free of charge. It's recycling free stuff that you might find very appealing.

The most appealing part is the cost - it's essentially zero. That means free, and free is almost always the right price.

Here's how it works:

  • Get online
  • Sign up
  • Read the rules
  • Get approved
  • Sign in
  • Make an "offer" post and give something away
  • Create a "wanted" post and see if someone has what you're looking for
  • When someone responds and offers what you want, go pick it up

If it sounds easy, it is. In my first week of using this free service, I gave away two items that were of substantial value to others, but were only taking up space in my house. I have a spacious house, but when I can save another 15 square feet of room by simply getting rid of a couple of items, that can add a significant amount of "swinging room" in my life.

And, it makes me happy.

When my use of FreeCycle provides an item of value to someone else, just for the cost of coming to pick it up, that makes someone else happy too. It sounds like a win-win to me.

FreeCycle Details

I won't go into all the details of the service, but let me hit the highlights. Usually there will be a FreeCycle group already established on the web for your community or region. Look around to see what group(s) match your locale and your tolerance for traveling to pick something up. Participation as a "taker" will cost you time and fuel. Participation as a "giver" will typically only cost you the time necessary to get your item ready for pickup.

To get started, you'll need to read the rules, make an application to participate, and wait for approval. Usually this only takes a matter of a day or so. Once you're approved, you can partake in the giving and taking. The service suggests that you make an "offer" post first. That's what I did because I had a couple items that I wanted to part with.

After two offers to others, I made a "wanted" post with my account. Within a couple of days, someone sent me a note saying that they had what I wanted, so I made arrangements to pick up the item when I was in town on errands.

It's easy to make a post on the service, and you're notified of interest in your offers and wants through Email. The service will set you up for daily updating as to the offers and wanted posts so you can stay current on what is happening on FreeCycle in your locale.

For the items that I've obtained thus far, I try to make it convenient for those who make the offer when it comes to picking something up. For those items I'm giving away, I'm fine with having them come out to the house as a convenience to me.

According to the policy of the service, no fee or bartering is allowed - everything is to be given away and picked up free of any sort of charge. If you comply with the simple and common sense rules that are established, you'll be welcome to continue using the service.

If you make an offer and it's going to be picked up, simply update your posting with "taken." I also make it a point to thank the person giving me the item as a courtesy and as a way of encouraging them to continue using the FreeCycle service, as it benefits everyone.

Caution When Using FreeCycle

Using the service requires that you go to someone's home to pick up items. It also means that strangers will come to your home to pick up the items you're offering. Both have the potential for trouble, so use common sense.

To avoid potential problems, you might want to meet at a mutually convenient location to make the transfer of goods.

For both of my offers, I helped load the items at my house because they were heavy and bulky. When I went to pick up someone else's offer, it was left on the front porch for me, along with another offer that someone else intended to pick up.

If the circumstances of drop off or pick up seem unusual or otherwise suspect, it's best to make other arrangements or simply pass on the whole deal.

A Good Alternative to Garage Sales

I plan to use FreeCycle selectively to get rid of things that I no longer want. Even though I get nothing in return (except a bit more room at the house), it obviates paying to put an ad in the newspaper, organizing my stuff, and sitting around all day hoping that someone wants to travel out into the country to look at what I have.

With FreeCycle, the chance of making a match between what you have and what someone wants is much greater than hoping weekend treasure hunters will come your way. And, when you pick up an item, there is no competition, if your "wanted" post is fulfilled, then it's yours as long as you don't turn out to be a no-show.

Using the FreeCycle service allows me to get rid of things on my terms, and it makes most efficient use of my time because I can arrange for pickup at my convenience. It's true that I won't make any income this way, but that's a tradeoff I'm willing to make. If I have a high value item that I'd like to find a home for, I'll use word of mouth or perhaps an ad in the newspaper to make a sale, but if we're talking about garage sale type items, and I'm doing it piecemeal, then going the FreeCycle route makes a lot of sense.

Done with FreeCycle, take me back to Frugal Living Tips