For the past month, I've had to close my eyes every time I passed the window of J. Crew because I was absolutely dying for an oversized, button-down boyfriend sweater—even though it was so not in my budget! But I got one in the end—and I didn’t pay a dime for it!
How did I do it? By swapping.
Swapping is the new shopping—only better! Why shell out your hard-earned cash when you can just swap something of yours for the object of your desire?
Not only do you get cool new stuff, but it doesn't cost you any money.
Work the Web
Sites like BarterQuest.com, SwapTree.com, U-exchange.com and TitleTrader.com let you swap almost anything online. PaperBackSwap.com or BookMooch.com are great for trading books; SwapStyle.com, ClothingSwaps.com, DignSwap.com and RehashClothes.com for trading clothes. Craigslist can also be a goldmine – just check out their barter section.
A word of warning: Proceed with caution when swapping online. Use reputable swap sites. If you can, meet to exchange the items in person (in a public place). If you aren’t able to do that, make sure that the person has a good seller-rating (if the site offers that feature) and that you see photos of the items you're supposed to receive. Finally, go with your gut when dealing with online swappers – if you don’t have a good feeling about a person, swap with someone else.
Host a Swap Party
If all this online swapping isn’t your thing, tap into your network of family and friends and arrange a “swap night.” Have everyone bring over the items they’d like to swap and exchange to your heart’s desire. You can also swap services like dog-walking or babysitting. If you don’t have a large enough network for a swap, try Meetup.com or Craigslist for preexisting groups, or arrange one in your community.
Catey Hill is the money editor for the New York Daily News online and author of Shoo, Jimmy Choo! The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spending Less & Saving More (Sterling, January 2010).
To celebrate the release of Shoo, Jimmy Choo!, we’re giving away a $500 shopping spree at H&M! Enter for your chance to win at ShooJimmyChoo.com.