08 October 2010

Living! (On the Cheap)--Two Websites Every Parent Should Know About

            It has been two years since I was pink slipped from a company that I dedicated 15 years and enough blood, sweat and tears to legitimately think of it as my own.  (I’m still a little bitter.)  I’m no longer punching holes in those voodoo dolls anymore more but it still hurts if I think about it too much.  In these past two years my family of five has had to adjust to coming from a six figure combined salary to one that is…well, not even close. 
Around that time period we also lost our dirt cheap childcare.  This meant that in order for me to return to the job market I had to land a job that started at almost $30,000 a year in order to cover the cost of child care for three kids, who at that time were ages 3, 2 and 2.  That 30 was only for childcare, it didn’t even cover commute expenses!  So we had to make some hard decisions.  I was needed at home. 
But this still meant that we had to learn how to live on one income.  It meant getting creative with the family budget and tightening our belts—until we almost couldn’t breathe.   During this “learning period” I’ve done it all from clipping coupons and shopping off brand to taking my garage sale fetish to a whole new level!  I’ve learned that I SUCK at clipping coupons because I hate them and I would rather save the time and shop at Aldi instead and that I’m REALLY good at finding ways to cut the cost of dressing our kids! So I decided that that’s where my mad skills could do the most good!  Let me share with you two of my favs!**
If you are a sucker for kids clothes, like me, or just someone who loves a great deal (like me), you’re going to love this article! 
If you are always in need of kids clothes (and if you have kids you are) than http://www.thredup.com/ is a website that needs to be on your favorites list.  thredUP is a clothing exchange.  The clothes are $5 a box plus the shipping and handling.  Once you sign up, you will automatically be sent a bundle of 10 shipping boxes and you may begin perusing the lots. Once you receive your boxes, get to filling them up and list their contents.  When someone picks and pays (the $5 fee and the S&H) for your box, you print off a packing and mailing slip and set the box out to be picked up.  And then you pick a box and so on, and so on.  Remember this is a swap!  You pick and SHIP stuff.
Basic 411
·         The boxes of clothes are going to cost $15.70 when it’s all said and done.
·         Basic membership is free but I recommend buying the Pro membership which is $29.99 a year.  You get first dibs on newly listed boxes and get access to a personal shopper and a ton of other features that make life easier.   
·         When filling boxes, STUFF THEM!  The more stuff in the box the better!
·         And most importantly:  Only ship what you would want to receive!  If it’s stained, dirty, or ripped it doesn’t belong in the box!
I’ve had really great experiences with this company.  I’ve gotten some really good stuff and cleared a whole shelf in my garage! 
            Now if $15 dollars sounds just a little too high a price to pay for outfitting your kid, how does free sound?  That’s right I said FREE!!!!  The next website is www.freecycle.org and their mission "is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community."   In English that means free stuff!!!!!  Basically freecycle is a message board system where you list items that really just need a new life somewhere else.  Just in the last few weeks I have freecycled two high chairs and a couple of boxes of toys.  I also have received a trash bag full of women’s clothing, a packing box full of boys’ clothes, and a manila envelope full of manufacture’s coupons.  All I had to do was read the board, be the first to reply via email and then pick the items up.  Easy, right? 
            Basic 411
·         You will need to join a freecycle group(s) near you.  It is free to do so but there is an application process and a waiting period, usually no more than 12-24 hours.
·         You have to be quick to respond!  Items have been known to go within minutes of posting.  (My Eddie Bauer high chair went within 6 minutes of hitting the board!)
·         You may also “ask” for items.  Such as “Wanted:  An Eddie Bauer high chair in good condition.” 
·         Each group has its own rules and etiquette, make sure you read the “code” carefully.  The one truth across the groups is that everything must be FREE!

I hope these sites help you out and I hope they help make Living (On the Cheap) easier!

Although I do my best to ensure that the information I report is current and correct, I suggest you always follow up for yourself.  If you would like more information about either site please check them out http://www.thredup.com/ or www.freecycle.org.
**I was in no way compensated for this review this is just a tip I like to pass on to my readers and friends.

Check out my other Living! (On the Cheap) segments here!
Dagg Park                                                              
Powell Gardens
The Kansas City Northern Railroad
Fort Scott, Kansas
Two Websites Every Parent Should Know About
Emporia Kansas Zoo
Powell Pumpkin Patch
Portable North Pole
Deanna Rose Farmstead Pin It
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