It's kind of like being a super slueth or a survivor in your own little island; its all about finding ways to not spend your money and still have the life that you want. I love sharing my expertise or things I have made in exchange for something that I really want to learn. In the last few months, I have traded some of my skills and help for gardening advice and plants. I have traded help with major home organization and overhaul for cooking lessons. I have scored a free bread maker, dehydrator, washer and dryer, baby food jars, home magazines, garden starts and more all just because I asked. I put the word out that I was looking for certain items and eventually, I found someone looking to get rid of what ever it was I was looking for.
Freecycle is great for these quests. Also Craigslist, your local paper, or even friends and family. These are also great places to get rid of those things that you have been hanging onto for too long. I was able to find great homes for some clothes I never wear, an old living room chair, baby things that we weren't using and some old computer components. Now, instead of taking up room in my basement or garage, they are being put to use in someone else's hands. There are also some great swaps arranged through crafty blogs, flickr and others.
With the current economic situation, there has been some great articles and stories on bartering and being creative to exchange goods and services. For instance, a Brooklyn funeral home director offered free services in exchange for some construction work. A group of artists in Phily created an exhibit around the idea of bartering their art for goods and services.
I think that the hardest part is figuring out what you have that you can trade or offer, but as you start to have conversations or put your desires out into the universe, you realize that one woman's trash is most certainly another woman's treasure.
Images from recent swaps on flickr