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Monday, February 7, 2011

FREE STUFF for your Apartment or Office!


Ok this post is very simple – Craigslist (http://www.craigslist.com/) is my friend!  If you want free stuff for your apartment, this is the best site to start with.
Go to the Craigslist site and choose the city you live in.  Obviously the bigger the city, the more options you’ll have to get free stuff for your apartment or office.  Go to the “For Sale” section and click on the “FREE” link.  You can find so many items here to fill your apartment/office, and if you’re crafty you can redecorate these items to make them your own.  You can search for a specific item or just browse through the listings.  Most of the items listed here are from folks who are moving out and do not want the hassle of getting their items out of the apartment.  The main thing to keep in mind is that these items go very quickly so you have to be ready to get to the location to pick up the items (most of the items can only be picked up) once the person contacts you with their address.  Also sometimes the people who list free items leave them on the curb so again you have to be quick to grab them first.
Use your common sense and best judgment when surfing the CL ads.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Never go alone to someone’s house to pick up free items; always go with a friend.  With the current bed bug epidemic I would caution against picking up free clothes, mattresses, sofas, and wooden bed frames, among other things.  I also suggest cleaning the items you pick up OUTSIDE, before placing them in your apartment. 
In my experience the best time to pick up free stuff for your apartment/office is in May when college is out!  The college kids have to clean out their dorm rooms to go back home for the summer and boy do they get rid of some quality stuff!  I’ve seen brand new printers getting thrown away, office chairs, bookshelves and so many other quality items.  If you have any friends living on a campus, go visit them when it’s time to move out, and be sure to empty your car for the trip =)   Even if you don’t have any friends living on a college campus, just walk by any off-campus houses where a lot of students live and you’ll see some great items on the curb.  You might also want to browse through the Craigslist "Free" section around this time.
April is also a good time to find some free stuff for your apartment or office.  With Earth Day events happening at the end of April, many not-for-profit agencies and local politicians host “green awareness” initiatives.  Many of these events/initiatives involve refurbishing home/office items and giving them away to be reused.  I had gone to an event two years ago in NYC, hosted by the Manhattan Borough President’s office, where they had a “swap” event of old office supplies.  You would give them your old/broken item, a fax machine for example, and they would trade you for a working, refurbished fax machine. 
Just make sure to be aware of everything happening around your community and city/town, so you can know of what events you can benefit from to get some awesome free stuff for your apartment or office.  Again I recommend joining as many newsletters/newsfeeds, Twitter profiles, Facebook groups as possible to maximize your “free stuff” knowledge.

FREE STUFF - Books

If you love to read like me, then you wouldn’t mind getting some free books!  First off you can always take a book out from your local library for free; only thing is you have to give it back eventually.  Some people (like me) love to keep the books they read, especially if they are phenomenal!  You might also want to keep your book because you may have written some notes in it, highlighted some passages, want to keep it for reference, etc… The first website I recommend to get some free books is www.bookmooch.com. 
Bookmooch is a free book swapping site.  You basically register for free and make an inventory of all of the books you have (and are willing to part with), then you also make a wish list where you list all of the books you want.  Bookmooch will notify you when one of your books is available, and once it is you ‘mooch’ off of the person who has it, but you can only ‘mooch’ if you have points to do so.  You earn points by people mooching off of your list, and you ship the books to them (you pay for shipping).  It’s free and easy.  If you choose to you can also donate some (or all) of your points to charity.  The only downside to this site is that you can only get a book from your wish list if someone else has it listed on their inventory, so you may have to wait a while, but since it’s an easy way to get free books, it’s worth it to try.
Swap.com is another book swapping site, but they also have other categories which can be traded such as CD’s, Games, and DVD’s.  This service used to be free but now they charge a nominal fee per transaction.  The good thing is that this site does all of the work for you and you can get items from your wish list much quicker than on Bookmooch.  You just make a list of all of the items you have to trade and a list of the items you want, and Swap.com performs a search for you then notifies you once the item is available.   In essence you end up saving a lot of money on books, especially the more expensive hardcover ones because you’re only paying the Swap.com service fee and shipping at your own expense, so a book which would cost $20 to buy at a bookstore will only cost you about $5 to get there.
There are also tons of ways to get free books all over NYC and other states.  Many community-based organizations/agencies, and churches have flea markets or book fairs, where they sell everything super cheap or give items away for free.  These events take place year-round but especially in the warmer months.  Visit or call your local organizations for their calendars of events, or check on their websites.  Many organizations which collect books often host free book fairs, so just be on the lookout for those. 
You can also try joining a book club for the types of books you like to read, and host your own swapping event.  You can get a group together on Facebook or Yahoo Groups, or try a website like Meetup.com where you can meet people who share the same interests as you. 
There are so many other options to get free books, but the ones mentioned here have worked for me.  Feel free to add any other suggestions!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

FREE STUFF for the Ladies!

Ladies I don’t know about you but I LOVE getting free stuff!  I love free makeup and beauty samples, free clothes, whatever I can get my hands on! 
First of all, if you’re looking to update your wardrobe the easiest and cheapest way of getting some new clothes is to have a “Clothing Swap”.  Get your friends together, who have similar tastes and are similar to your size, and choose a date and location for the swap (ideally your apartment).  Next make a list of rules for the swap, such as #1 – All items must be in New or Gently Used condition (no stains, tears, or fading), #2 – All “used” items must be CLEAN (washed, dry cleaned, or polished right before the event).  If you want you can limit the swap to a specific type of item or designer, for example a “Shoe” swap or a “Prada” swap.  You can turn the “swap” event into a fun ‘Girls’ Night’ by offering some cocktails and appetizers.  Everyone has items in their closet that they never got to wear, only wore once, or doesn’t fit anymore.  I suggest targeting your shop-a-holic friends who are guaranteed to have some brand new items they never used.  At the end of the swap event you are guaranteed to get some new, free stuff for the season!
Another tip for getting tons of free stuff is going to beauty-specific events in your area.  I suggest subscribing to websites such as www.prettycity.com, www.freebeautyevents.com, www.sheckys.com, www.dailycandy.com, among others, to get alerts on events in your area where they give samples and goodie bags.  Some events may charge a small fee, so I suggest reading the reviews on the events to find out if it’s worth it to pay.  I also suggest following your favorite beauty brands on Twitter, Facebook, or subscribing to their newsletters, for alerts on coupons, contests or free samples.
I also want to mention that many department stores (and small businesses as well) host events to promote a new product or line.  You can learn about these events on any of the aforementioned websites or going to the company’s website directly for events in your area.  They always give away a limited amount of free stuff at these events so you want to make sure to get there early.  And by the way, if you ever shop at a department store or a specialty store like Sephora, you can receive a free sample with your purchase, you just have to ask the cashier for a free sample. 

Finally there are tons of websites with access to free and/or deeply discounted beauty treatments and products such as: www.vitaljuice.com, www.livingsocial.com, www.lifebooker.com, and www.buywithme.com. My motto is to never pay regular price for ANYTHING, and after following these steps I'm sure this will become your motto as well.