Why pay if you don’t have to?
… Ok, so most blokes will probably skip the clothes-swap parties but who knew you could get so much for na-da (or next to)?
Plus, by swapping or getting free stuff, you’re often helping the environment by using less. Go you!
Search for free accommodation and advice at www.couchsurfing.org, or rent people’s private properties or rooms for a fee, through sites like stayz or Airbnb, which lets you rent someone’s space (just specify if you want the whole place or just a room, or whatever, and it’ll show you what’s available and for how much).
Get the low-down on local experiences from those in the know, for example at sites like www.locongo.com
If you’re after hotel accommodation, I usually check out a couple of sites like booking.com, wotif.com, tripadvisor and hotelscombined and compare a few deals.
Plus if you use your brains you can usually work out what the secret hotels are too (match the facilities of others with the same star rating) — you can stay at your fave hotels for heaps less…shhhh!
Sites like www.mmmule.com, for example, hook up travellers with people who want something delivered, in return for a negotiated reward that suits both of you, maybe a bottle of vino or a night’s accommodation or even just some local advice.
This is where you and your friends bring along pieces to swap with each other. Just make sure it’s clean and good enough quality for someone else to want it (no trackies!), then work how to sort disputes (like coin-flipping). Ah, shopping for free, who knew?
Check out sites like www.swapstyle.com or you could try an organised event — see www.clothingexchange.com.au for details in Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra, or try web-searching your town or city if you live elsewhere. We’ll keep you posted on useful links if you like us on social media or sign up on the LtN home page.
Or cheap(er) ones…
- Second-hand is cheap and even A-list actors love vintage one-off pieces.
- Chain-stores are good for swimsuits, undies, sleepwear, shoes, sunnies etc. that are better new – get them when they’re on sale.
- Overseas end-of-season sales can net big savings on expensive items, but factor in postage. Use a mail forwarding service to shop overseas-only sites (they post stuff on for a fee plus postage).
- Label-lover? Hire things like handbags instead of buying: It’s a fraction of the price, though it’s still a lot. Take good care of items, though, or you could pay if they’re stolen or damaged (read the site’s terms and conditions carefully). Sites either charge rental per item, or an ongoing monthly rental for a set number of items per month plus postage. If you’re interested you could check out www.lovemeandleaveme.com; www.strawberryhandbags.com.au or www.caniborrowthat.com.au
Ebooks, of course, but if you want the flesh-and-blood pages-and-print versions, Aussies can rent textbooks, with free return postage, at www.zookal.com.au
Of course, second-hand books are often cheaper. Look for textbooks advertised on noticeboards at your place of study, search online or trawl a used bookstore. New books are usually cheaper online – especially sets – and the print versions often have free delivery. I personally like the book depository, booktopia and Abe books, plus Amazon, ebay etc. but which site is best for you will depend whether you’re trawling or you know what you’re after, plus where you live.
Make sure you always put your safety first, for example, meet up with new people in public spaces or take someone along with you.
Also protect your possessions if you plan to rent them out, for example, make sure your car or valuable goods are insured for their replacement value, and/or ask for some kind of bond. There’s a scammer in every crowd, though happily, I reckon most of us are on the same wavelength.
- DON’T use money transfers (e.g. Western Union) as they can’t be traced and so are often used for scams.
- Does it look too good to be true (too cheap, five-star, slick pics)? It probably is – be suspicious and check it out carefully.
- Is the seller based overseas? A lot of scams are based in other countries.
- Don’t be pushed into anything you’re not comfortable with. Be assertive. Ask questions. Otherwise say no.
- Be choosy with online sites. Look for ones which have secure connections, clear safety advice for users, and policies to prosecute scammers.
- Don’t sign anything you don’t fully understand.