I once read that if you wait for long enough, whatever it is that you need will come your way.
I read this in a book written by a Dutch couple who made it their life mission to spend less and to aim for financial independence. (*Je geld of je leven, Hanneke Van Veen & Rob Van Eeden, 1996).
They state: “If you can muster the patience to not buy something, and if in the meantime, you spread the word about what you need, chances are you will receive it, or find it.[…] Remember that every item you need, has already been bought by someone else, and is waiting for you somewhere. It comes down to sending signals and being patient.” (p.125)
If you communicate about your needs, people close to you will often help you find the item; either by going through their personal things, or by telling their own friends and family. Soon enough, someone will dig up the item from the depths of their attic.
This approach to life means you virtually could get anything for free.
Are you in desperate need of furniture, but you can’t afford it? Maybe you are a student living on the tiniest budget every month? Or maybe you are a single parent starting afresh? Whatever your situation is, it is not impossible to decorate your home when you don’t have a budget for it.
The internet: source of free stuff!
Thanks to social media, a whole bunch of Freecycle communities are now within reach and available to anyone willing to save money. Never has it been so easy to ask for something, and to get an instance response; never has it been so easy to give away some of your own things and help somebody else.
For instance, in my relatively small city of Antwerp, there are a dozen of freecycle Facebook groups, the largest one counting up to ca. 5000 members. And because we are becoming more and more aware of global warming and the effect of our consumerism, we are trying to waste less by giving away the things we no longer need, for free.
But not only the online community can help you out; if you tell your friends and family about the item(s) that you need, people will automatically think of you the next time someone in their own circle of friend is getting rid of such an item.
Besides the freecycle communities and your circle of family and friends, getting free furniture can also be achieved through online second-hand websites. You’d be surprised how often people actually put things up there for free. Just use the search term ‘free’ and you’ll see an endless list of things appear.
Linking back to the thought that if you wait for long enough, whatever it is that you need will come your way, I’d like to illustrate my point by listing all of the furniture we have gotten for free just by asking for it.
#1: Free wardrobe
My colleague was getting rid of her wardrobe. Being a conscious person, she asked us if anyone wanted to have it. Yup! Free wardrobe – just 1-year-old. Perfect for our guest bedroom!
#2: Free bed
This bed was sitting in the basement of my parents-in-law. When we moved to our current apartment, we needed an extra bed for the guest room. Tadaah! Free bed.
#3: Free mirror
I found this beautiful vintage mirror in the garage. It belonged to the previous tenant, who left it there. It’s a perfect fit for our own bedroom. Other free things in this picture: the scratch-a-map (birthday gift), the wooden tray, the plant on the left (graduation gift).
#4: Free designer table with a marble top
(I’m not kidding). My boyfriend found this beauty in the house he purchased a while ago. When we started dating, he was in the process of selling the house again – but took the table with him 😉 The designer version of this table retails at thousands and thousands of euros.
#5: Free Christmas tree
This one came through the Freecycle group on Facebook. I asked if anyone had an artificial Christmas tree they wanted to get rid off. I actually got two responses. This tree came from a wonderful lady who drove all the way to Antwerp just to hand me over the tree. It is truly amazing how kind people are!
It goes to show that nothing is impossible. It never hurts to ask, be it in a Freecycle group, be it in your circle of friends – often people are happy to dispose of an item they no longer need without having to put it in the trash. We have been brainwashed into buying everything new and shiny, and we have started a global warming in the process. This is completely unnecessary. Everything is available for free, through hand-me-downs.
Be grateful for what you receive
With the help of your friends and family, and the online community, could get many things for free and decorate your house on a tiny budget. It might not be completely to your taste, the size might not be right, the colours might not be pleasing, the furniture maybe looks worn out. But there is a easy solution for this: you can always DIY them a little bit so they will correspond more to what you are looking for. And in the meantime, just enjoy! You have saved yourself a great amount of money.
On my side of the spectrum, I have also given away many of my belongings that I no longer needed. My youngest brother recently started studying and he moved into his own college room. We went trough our stuff and gifted things we no longer used and that could be precious to him: my Dolce Gusto espresso machine, wine glasses, mugs, a decanter. Giving away our stuff was a win-win-win: 1. He got stuff for free; 2. We decluttered; 3. We reduced the amount of trash going into a landfill.
So don’t worry! If you are patient enough, you will get anything you need for free. Just spread the word about it, and don’t be too picky – be thankful for the items you receive and think about the money you have saved yourself!
How about you? Have you received any furniture for free? How do you stay on budget?
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