10 ways to save by swapping and sharing
Swapping and sharing advice is the sine qua non of Mumsnet. So we're highlighting some of your best swapping-and-sharing-to-save-money tips.
- Set up, or join, a babysitting circle: it's all about reciprocal childcare. It doesn't have to be evening babysitting: you can swap childcare informally during the day or at weekends, too. Trade babysits and holiday care or cover, as in: "I'll have your little Millie on Tuesday if you have my Holly on Wednesday." If you're swapping daytime childcare, it has the added bonus of giving your own child a playmate. But do make sure you talk through all the issues (food, discipline etc) before you go ahead.
- Swap houses: those who do it successfully swear by house swapping as a way of finding affordable holiday accommodation. There's a bit of legwork beforehand to set everything up, but hopefully Mumsnet Home Swap will make that easier. Your house has to be ultra-tidy when you go away - and you'll have to do a huge clean of the house you're vacating when you leave, too. On the upside, you save a fortune - and choose carefully and your kids get an exciting new range of toys and a different garden to play in for a fortnight.
- Swap skills: this is a bit like a promises auction, except that no money changes hands. Simply offer a skill you have, for free, and build up credits to use for another skill you need - for example, you offer to make a cake, and in return you get an evening's babysitting. For more information on skills swapping, see letslinkuk.net.
- Swap books: you can do this informally (organise a coffee morning and ask people to bring along books they've finished with) or via Mumsnet book swap clubs or a book-swapping website.
- Go swishing: or swap clothes online. And why not organise your own swapping party - simply get everyone to bring along clothes they don't want. If you get each friend to make a donation for the clothes they take away, you can also raise funds for your favourite charity.
- Car share: look out of your window and chances are there are loads of cars parked on your street, going nowhere. Car sharing teams up cars with need, so that when you need a car you have one, and when you don't need it, someone else can use it. You can car share informally with another family (they need to live within walking distance and to have car needs that are different from your own) or you can find lifts online to share journeys others are making - eg liftshare.com - although these are best for solo journeys, and not ideal with kids.
- Share with neighbours: Streetbank.com is a website designed to help you share with your neighbours. It's free to join, and you can lend and borrow anything you like. It saves you going to the expense of buying items such as gardening equipment or DIY gear when someone up your street has just what you need in their shed or understair cupboard.
- Share a nanny: finding a like-minded family with whom you can share a nanny is a great way to save money. There are various ways of sharing: you can either employ a nanny jointly so she/he looks after both your child and another family's at the same time, or you can find a family whose nanny-needs dovetail with your own, so the nanny works for you two days and the other family for three, or a similar arrangement. The basic point is, it's cheaper, it may be more sociable for the kids, and perhaps more interesting for the nanny.
- Swap seeds and plants with other gardeners - see gardenswapshop.co.uk, for example.
- Use freecycle.org to see whether the things you need for your house are the very things someone else is chucking out of theirs. It's not, strictly speaking, swapping, since you can get something for nothing, but most people who use freecycle give as well as take, on the grounds that just because something isn't useful to me any more doesn't mean it isn't useful to someone else - and shouldn't be clogging up a landfill site.
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