Furnished For Free
Free is such a great word. It brings images of cool things and cool experiences flying your way for less than the cost of an average cup of coffee or snack at the grocery store. It’s even better when all of that free stuff helps you furnish an entire apartment at no real cost to you, aside from a little bit of time and gas.
That’s exactly what I did a few years ago. I had pared down all of my belongings to just two suitcases and a few boxes before I moved overseas. When I returned, I didn’t even have a sleeping bag to use on the floor of my new place. That problem was easily solved with a little bit of ingenuity and some Internet research.
Start Your Search on Craigslist
One of the best places for free stuff is Craigslist. Craigslist offers a plethora of amazing goodies for nothing or next to nothing. You can check under the For Sale/Wanted section where there’s a free link or you can surf through the furniture and appliance sections. Even a general search in a broader category can pull up some interesting tidbits. Don’t forget: The closer it gets to moving day, the more inclined people are to start giving household goods away for free. Keep an eye out for anything that has a specific date on it.
Join a Freecycling Group
Freecycling is another beauty of a place to find free furnishings. Once you join a Freecycling group in your community, you can start surfing through the postings. If you’re in a hurry to find things, try searching the group postings specifically for what you want. If you have more time and a general interest in collecting things, you can sign up for a daily or weekly email or check the postings out periodically. The summer that I spent decking out my apartment, I found everything from a bookshelf and a table to dishes and utensils for the kitchen. I even came up with a few unexpected niceties like almost new place settings and a set of matching glasses.
With Freecycling, though, it’s a give and take situation. While you can easily find and pick up dozens of furnishings, clothes, and books, you have to be willing to give something back to the community. After I had furnished my apartment and was well on my way to creating a comfortable living space, I started looking around for things I no longer needed. I donated an old laptop to a non-profit that needed one and spent some time showing the woman who picked it up how to work the different programs. I also donated books and hangers the next time I moved.
To get started, sign up for a group in your area. Make sure to read the rules for how to post ads and how to respond to ads. Each group uses its own specific terminology and online rules of etiquette.
Hook into Free Stuff on the Web
Kashless Krew is one of the newest freecycling sites out there and uses all the benefits of Web 2.0 technology to spread their message, which is to “give and get free stuff.” Similar to Freecycling, the idea is to re-use things in a community. You might not need your old iron any more, but it might be exactly what someone else is looking for. Plus, with Kashless Krew, you can hook into Facebook and look for free stuff while you do some social networking.
Take a Stroll Through Your Neighborhood
A final place to look is at your local curbside. No kidding, especially if you’re living in a college town. Students start dumping their belongings on the streets towards the end of every semester and year. I’ve found dressers, books, and even a clean futon mattress just by keeping my eyes peeled while going on a casual walk or bike ride through my neighborhood. Plus, if you tell your friends and family what you’re looking for, they can keep their eyes peeled too.
It’s all about staying connected. Once you’re hooked in, you’re all set to find cool stuff for free. Have fun furnishing your digs!