How to get free stuff

I have a secret. I have super powers. One is that I had twins that were both seven pounds at birth. One is my ability to score free stuff. I have no tips on my first power (% of people that would want those tips?), but I can share some tips on how to score free stuff. But, first, let me share some of my scores.

Here's my latest score (you can read about that adventure here). I got four of these chairs and they're currently all over my house. I'll likely sell 1-2 of them.

Entertainment center I use as an armoire for toy storage.

Room and Board couch free. It was sun faded. But we had a big ol' empty basement, so it filled the space. Upgraded and sold this for $30.

Free leather IKEA couch. Ended up not being too comfortable. Sold for $150. 

Current couch in the basement. I get that the last one looks better, but comfort! Missing two back pillows, but I filled in with other throw pillows. 

Mission style chair. Free. Do I really need to say it's free? Ha, ha. You get the idea.

I get asked all. the. time. how I’m able to find such good stuff for free! It’s my party trick. Come to my house and I’ll impress you with pointing out all the things I got for free (or for very cheap). Maybe that’s not a party trick. Maybe I need to work on my social skills. But, luckily, you didn’t come here for my social skills, you came to learn how to get free stuff.
  1. Obsess. Yeah, that’s a healthy place to start. But really, good stuff listed for free goes quickly, so look often. You’re not going to get every good free thing offered, but if you look frequently you’ll find some. Instead of playing games on my phone I look at listings – it’s a habit. To consistently succeed, you need to be consistent.
  2. Figure out where you want to look. Craigslist used to be my main place, sometimes I still look there, but Facebook Marketplace is my current go-to. Both sites have a free stuff category you can peruse, but sometimes I find good stuff by typing “free” into the search bar – this pulls up listings with the word free, which means a lot will come up with “smoke-free,” or “pet-free.” You have to dig more, but people are doing the listing, so a lot of people don’t know there is a “free” section to list their items.  
  3. Set your perimeter. How far are you willing to drive for something? I have my radius set as 11 miles from my house – that makes any item within 20 minutes of me. Sometimes when I’m really itching for a my next hit (omg, am I an addict?) I’ll expand my perimeter. The bigger the perimeter to more potential to find something, but do you want to go that far? I’ve realized that I don’t. I’ve also realized that I see something good that I’ll want it, so I basically put blinders on my search.
  4. GO! When you find something you want go ASAP! This is really the biggest piece of advice. They’re not holding it for you, don’t even ask*. People who list stuff for free just want it gone, they don’t want to deal with potential no-shows or scheduling, if they wanted to do that they would list their stuff for money. If it’s curbside, you’re competing with everyone that is driving by. If it’s not curbside and you have to communicate with the person, say you can come immediately or offer flexibility for what will work best for them. *Truth here, is that you can ask. But be super accommodating to their schedule. Say that you want it, but you can’t come until x, or that y times would work. Sometimes they will hold it for you.
  5. Patience. Getting something good sometimes feels like winning the lottery. You can play a lot and get nothing, or play once and win big. Unlike the lottery, your chances do go up, just because you’re looking and see things first.
  6. If it's on the curb, you don't have to take it all, even if it's a full set. You can take one dining chair. It's on the curb! If you need to set up a pick up, it's polite to tell them what you'll be interested in.  
  7. My rules of thrifting apply here too – do you want it? do you know how to fix it?
To be successful you should ask yourself why you want free stuff. I know that sounds so silly, who doesn't what free stuff? But, really, why? What's your motivation? That’s going to be a determining factor in your success. People often say they want to find free stuff like me (I hear you, who doesn’t want to be me?!), but don’t actually want to put in the work. If you want to be successful in your “free stuff” ventures, you’ll have to put in the time and effort: finding, picking up, cleaning. My “why” is that I love interior design, but have a tight budget (you can read about the realities of our budget here. Spoiler: I have $83 I can spend a month). To get what I want I have to shop deals and find free stuff. I also really, really enjoy it. The whole process. If you hate the process you’re simply not going to do it.  

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