Get What You Need for And Give What You Don’t for Free– Buy Nothing

buy nothing

Today’s big idea is that spending money isn’t the only way to procure the things you want and need. There are online communities and social networks where people are giving and receiving all kinds of things that have value for free. And one of these are the Buy Nothing groups. Buy as in b-u-y, not bye bye–on Facebook. 

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I am completely obsessed with my local Buy Nothing group

A friend of mine told me about it. She put her hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said, “You’ve got to check out the Buy Nothing group on Facebook.” It was like her eyes sent tiny wires with grappling irons on their ends into my mine. With two pre-teens, we had a mountain of supplies that were now too small or too childish to use, but too useful to toss. When the grippy socks, Easter baskets, kangaroo necklace, and set of 100 gel pens I posted photos of were eagerly picked up, I was hooked. Now our home is like a photographic quiz on the back page of a magazine—where the caption says, can you tell what’s missing

Listener, I can tell what’s missing, because our space is feeling a little lighter with everything that I post. 

I love my Buy Nothing group because it:

Helps me declutter, yes, I cannot deny it. 

It of course also helps reduce the amount of money you spend, and the amount of things that are produced, and I know our economy is measured in how many things are made, bought, and sold, but our environment is not loving all the things we’re using resources to make and then throwing away. 

But really, I think the most wonderful benefit of a Buy Nothing group–or similar resource where a community of people give and receive things of value freely– is that it helps shift your idea of what it means to get what you need. Money has gotten involved in a lot of transactions where it doesn’t necessarily need to be. Buy Nothing helps you both give AND receive and money is just not a part of it at all, and it’s really refreshing. Maybe even a little addicting. I mean, I am definitely addicted. There, I said it. 

When I give things away, it feels just great to know that someone needed something and I could provide it. I’ll share some cool stories about stuff I’ve given and received, right after this quick break. 

Some of my more memorable Buy Nothing gives have been for little things

The other day a nursing student posted that she was looking for a clip board that had a spot to store papers, and I had one! I had bought it for the kids when they were little to use on car trips–they could keep coloring stuff in the storage spot and then clip them in so that they wouldn’t fly around. It was just sitting in our drawer, and now it’s helping her become a nurse. 

Another time, I posted a purple cowboy hat that I’d gotten at a conference, and a woman picked it up for her husband who was a drag performer. I mean, that is just golden! I love thinking about our things out there enjoying a new life. 

AND I have also received some truly wonderful things

A wig that I needed for my Halloween costume. 


Matcha tea that I’ve been using to make my own matcha lattes that really helped with those dark mornings. 


A cool rust colored coat that’s got me excited about the cooler temps. 


A cross stitch kit that says “I can’t adult today.”


A pack of metal straws that my daughter uses every day because she’s obsessed with straws. 


And even a necklace with a letter K on it. 

Daily Tiny Assignment

Your tiny assignment is to check out a free resource. Maybe it’s your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook. Or the free section of Craigslist. Or even a local group of parents or community members or even a group text of friends, and ask for something that you need. Maybe you  need a new book and someone has something you’d love sitting on their shelf. 

It’s a great habit to build that when you need something new, you look first at what already exists. And when you have something you no longer need, you seek to get it to someone who will value it, and use it, and keep it out of the landfill. 

And it can help address the “spend less” part of the more money equation that I talked about in episode 578, but in a very generous, joyful way, and that is a beautiful thing. 

Speaking of beautiful things, come back tomorrow, when I’m talking about forgiving your financial mistakes–a powerful practice to free up a lot of energy and create a lot of clarity around money. 


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