I have been asked a number of times by aspiring freelance writers how I make enough money to get by. I always tell them that the first step to making more money is bleeding less of it. Eliminate all your unnecessary bills and purchases. A person making 4 times as much as you really isn’t any more ahead in the travel money game if they are also spending most of it. Some who tell me “I wish I could do what you do” or “I want your job” are merely daydreaming. Give up cable. Give up or accept a higher risk health insurance. Drive an old car. Learn to cook more at home. Stop buying junk. Fix things yourself. Etc., etc. It may be that this is impossible, that you have student loans that cannot be ignored, you prefer to own a house and the mortgage is what it is. This is all fine, I’m not judging. But there are so many ways to slow down the money bleed. Here is but one:
When I got a place in Madison back in 2006, I was still in the penny-pinching years of my freelancing career (whereas now, of course, I am independently wealthy and bathing in champagne. Ahem.) When it came time to furnish the place, I went to a Yahoo group called Freecycle Madison. There are many such groups on Yahoo or at The Freecycle Network. Everything listed is free for the taking.
Rather than sending unwanted but still useful items to a landfill or having a yard sale for a single item, users post offers and requests. Looking for a breadmaker? Maybe someone has one buried in the back of the closet. Want to get rid of that old coffeemaker now that you gave up caffeine? Someone will likely come take it off your hands. It is an AWESOME resource for the non-consumer. Short of a bed I bought off of a friend, I furnished almost my entire apartment with free “junk.” That included kitchen appliances, a couch, tables, shelves, picture frames, an internet router, a computer keyboard, lamps, an arm chair, and even a piano! (pictured) I got rid of a Zip drive (remember those? didn’t think so) when someone posted a request, I answered, and that completely worthless item was picked up right from my front door and found a purposeful life (until that person transferred that unreadable date from Zip disc to elsewhere, I imagine.)
If you want to get a few coins for your castoffs, then CraigsList is probably your best bet. But this is a quick way to move things out of closets or to get something you need without tapping the bank account.
Some users just list it and leave it. “Offer: a free couch, it’s on the curb at 180 North Something St.” Usually it’s first come, first serve, but there is the occasional “Tell me why you want it” story requests where the donor wants to give the trash-to-treasure item to the person they feel deserves it or needs it most.
If I calculate how much I saved in that first year I can tell you it would have paid for a month’s stay in Thailand for sure or a decent price on a roundtrip ticket to somewhere far away.