Ten Terrific Ways to Enjoy Simple Pleasures While Saving Money

Sure, the global economy may be falling faster than a soufflé and the news headlines chock full of doom and gloom, however, there’s a lot to be said for enjoying the simple things. Here’s ten guaranteed no-cost / low-cost ways to put a smile on your dial…

1. Fashion Swap
Crave something new to wear but can’t flash the cash?

Get your galpals to all go through your wardrobes and pull out all those items you bought but don’t wear because they are too big / small / wrong colour / style. Then meet up at your home, everyone brings a plate (or a bottle) and you try on each other fashion disasters.

Who knows, that shirt your friend bought when she had PMT or those boots that cripple you every time you pull them on, may really shine when they transfer ownership! It’s sustainable, environmentally friendly and responsible, loads of fun and free!

Australian fashion swaps can be found at www.clothingexchange.com.au. Or if you want to get global, try www.swapstyle.com and get connected with women around the world – you never know what you might find!  There’s also places like www.freemania.net but of course check the fine print.

2. Book’em
Tired of reading the same books and magazines at home? Swap em’ with a friend!

Avoid any ‘who owns what’ tome tussles by writing your name in them or keeping a log. Even better, when was the last time you visited your local library? You may be in for a surprise! (AUS Libraries, USA Libraries, UK Libraries)

Now libraries are dazzling venues for finding good reads dvd's and information from looking after your Airedale puppy to travelling to Zanzibar. Best of all, it’s free!

And if you’re looking to get some book chat in, many book clubs use their local library or café to meet and discuss books, life and the universe. Can’t find one? Start your own with these reading guides www.readinggroupguides.com.  You can also get involved in global book swapping at www.paperbackswap.com for a good cause such as the indigenous literary project at www.worldwithoutbooks.org.

3. Skill Share
Love baking bread but have a black thumb?

Maybe you have a friend who just looks at a plant and it bursts into a flower (www.gardenersnet.com), but her attempts at cooking has everyone ordering in pizza. Or perhaps you’d love to learn how to use a power drill (www.expertvillage.com), juggle (www.videojug.com) or change a tyre (www.openroad.com.au)?


Now more and more savvy gals are swapping skills with family, friends and neighbours. Not only are you learning something useful, you’ll also save heaps of money.

There’s nothing like being able to change your own tap washers, bake a sponge, tune your engine or put up a shelf that won’t crash at the first instance. Other no-cost / low-cost options include free DIY classes at hardware stores, neighbourhood houses and community centres.

Check out www.swapaskill.com or approach your petrol-head neighbour for some advice on changing your oil in exchange for a plate of your deadly chocolate brownies.

4. Green Thumbs
Growing your own food is very satisfying, cheap and the results are delicious!  

No matter if it is a few herbs on your kitchen window sill, a lemon tree in a tub on your balcony, some tomatoes in between your roses or a fully-fledged veggie patch!

Australian EGs can check out www.sgaonline.org.au, UK members click onto www.foodvision.gov.uk, US members can visit www.kitchengardeners.org

Another way to obtain seeds is from those fruit and veggies in the fridge. Just bought a pumpkin, zucchini or tomatoes to make some soup? Save those seeds!

Simply separate them from the flesh, gently wash in a sieve, dry on some brown paper and plant when the appropriate season rolls along. Or take some cuttings. You can also get involved in your local seed savers network (www.seedsavers.net).

5. Volunteer
Volunteering offers loads of benefits to the individual and their community. No matter what your expertise or experience, there’s someone that will benefit.

Many organisations that value their volunteers offer excellent training courses in a wide range of areas. In Australia for instance, 34% of the adult population (5.4 million people), volunteer. Not surprisingly, slightly more women (36%) than men (32%) volunteer. And there are thousands of very worthy causes to choose from, including: animal welfare (www.rspca.org.au), emergency services (www.cfa.vic.gov.au), conservation (www.greenpeace.org) health (www.acf.org.au), human rights / social justice www.redcross.org.au and education (www.worldvolunteerweb.org) to name a few.

You’ll make new friends, get new skills and gain a new perspective.  OK, now you’re all fired up, here’s how to get involved!
Australia (www.volunteeringaustralia.org), International opportunities (www.idealist.org) and (www.oneworld.net), Spanish speaking opportunities  (www.hacesfalta.org), UK (www.do-it.org.uk) and US (www.volunteermatch.org).

6. Get Active
Walking your dog by the beach, cycling down to the shops, rambling through a national park, kicking a soccer ball in the local sports field, doing a yoga class via the internet – it’s all free and you’re enjoying some fresh air, exercise and getting your heart pumping! 

Call up a few friends, grab a Frisbee and head for the nearest park and the fun is guaranteed. Or maybe you can teach a friend to surf and she’ll help you perfect your tennis serve or basketball skills.

7. Sell Your Junk

De-clutter your life by clearing out your garage, shed, attic or wardrobe and have a sale!

Clearing out your unwanted junk for $ is the way to go. Gain space and few bucks while you lose stuff you no longer use or want.

Get some good tips at www.yardsalequeen.com, 'How to Video', www.egaragesales.com.au and www.garagesale.com.au.
Or load up the car and take it all to a second-hand dealer such as www.cash-converters.com.au.

    Promote your sale online and in local free press 
•    Label everything with a price sticker
•    Price to sell – you want to get rid of it lal and very sale is a bonus
•    Have loads of small change
    Keep your float in a waist bag
•    Have a friend to help

8. Give It Away!
Join grassroots organisations such as www.freecycle.org and give away your unwanted items and receive stuff you do want and need. Or head for your local charity or thrift shop and donate it for a good cause.

You’ll help prevent landfill, it’s environmentally sustainable and help build community in today’s crazy time-poor world.

Other organisations who want your unloved stuff include:

9. Inside Job
Maybe you’re snowed in or it’s pouring outside, or simply can’t afford new furniture. So move the couch and transform your perspective on your home!

My mum used to love rearranging the house when she had nothing else to do and I seem to have inherited this gene. Rearranging your furniture (www.femail.com.au, www.ehow.com) is a great way to reinvigorate your living space at no cost.

Often we live with our furniture arranged in a certain way because that’s how it was placed the day we moved in. Think about when was the last time you spent an afternoon shoving chairs, shelves and the coffee table about on the rug?

Maybe your sofa would look better facing the fireplace than under the window or your sideboard could also be a room divider?

    Look for the focal point – is it a great view, a fireplace or a lovely nook?
    What fits where – work out how to balance your furniture so it’s dispersed through the room in an appealing manner
    Avoid the usual suspects – dn;t shove all the furniture against the walls
    Now is a good time think about adding castors to heavy items to make it easier to rearrange next time
    De-clutter as you go. Have three piles – keep, throw out, donate
    More tips at http://www.decordecoratinganddesign.com/articles/rearrangingfurniture.shtm

10. Build a Home Gym
Gym memberships can set you back from much need cash, so why not create your own work-out space and get that happy feeling at home? 

Instead of paying all those joining fees and monthly instalments spend the money on a few dumbbell weights, a fitness ball and some elastic bands.

When you’re finished with your work-out you can simply pack it all up and slide it under the bed or into the closet.  You might even be more inclined to work-out more often if you don’t even have to leave the house.

It might be best to consult with a personal trainer to get you started and help develop an exercise plan to stick with.

Also, see our article on “Fogeting the Gym, Workout around the world for free!”.




www.ExplorerGirls.com / Alison Aprhys

Posted on 12 April 2009 - 12:54am
login or register to post comments

Hi EG,


These are great suggestions! I also know of a couple of other voluntary organisations worth checking out.


Conservation Volunteers Australia (for the Aussie girls) - www.conservationvolunteers.com.au


International Volunteers for Peace (is the Australian branch of Service Civil International). They have short-term & long-term work camps all over the world. I have volunteered with them twice. On the first work camp I helped make apple juice for a community that looked after disadvantaged & disabled youngsters (in Ireland) and the other time I worked at a bear refuge in Croatia. Awesome! An article about my 'bear refuge experience' is in the Sept 08 newsletter, which is currently online: www.ivp.org.au


Service Civil International: www.sciint.org


I'm also in a book group that meets every two months and we welcome new people. So if you live in Melbourne & feel like picking up a book or two, please feel free to make contact.





Posted by Karen Graham on 12 April 2009 - 2:35pm.
login or register to post comments