Archives for October 2020

How to Use Buy Nothing Groups to Get Free Stuff Online

When someone posted a blood type test kit on a local Buy Nothing Facebook group in Queens, NY, they may have wondered if anybody would want it.

Someone did.

“I think it was leftover from one of those food diet things where you find out what’s best to eat for your blood type,” says Sheri Sayles, who responded to the post and picked up the test kit from her neighbor.

This transaction was part of the gift economy — a way to exchange random items you don’t want with your neighbors who might have a use for them. It’s all free.

Buy Nothing groups on Facebook, the Nextdoor website and app, and other online platforms exist in neighborhoods across the country, helping people get free stuff online — sometimes stuff they never knew they needed.

FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

The Point of Gifting Items

Rethinking consumption, reducing single-use items and materials, and creating a sense of community are the drivers behind behind gifting items.

“People have a whole lot of junk in their house that normally they would probably just throw away, but because of this they’re able to give it away for free,” says Robin Eiseman, a member of the Buy Nothing group in her Philadelphia neighborhood of Fairmount. “I’ve got stuff in my basement that I don’t necessarily want to throw away and I can list it on Buy Nothing, and somebody swings by and picks it up.”

Eiesman has gotten rid of things like a water bottle holder for a kayak that was the wrong size, extras from a monthly subscription box she didn’t care for, a printer that didn’t work (though she told people it didn’t work) and more.

“I’ve picked up from other people some really random stuff like ginger beer, Girl Scout cookies and lots of different things” she says.

After her father died, Sayles gave away some of his things like two nice television sets and some healthcare items.

“I recently posted that I had some sort of adult underwear, and like 10 people wrote to me that they would like it. So here’s something I would think nobody would ever want … and there’s 10 people who need it, so it has been a very good thing.” she says.

The gifting economy also helps neighborhoods in other ways.

“Nextdoor’s purpose is to cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on,” says Rhett Angold, Product Lead for Nextdoor For Sale & Free. “The magic of gifting is that it often leads to long-lasting connections between members of the community.”

Nextdoor says the number of free listings has almost doubled since the beginning of the year, which may be a result of the decluttering spree people are on as they shelter in place and organize.

Both Eiseman and Sayles say getting rid of items this way is often easier for them than donating them because of limited storage space and the fact people come to pick the items up.

“Many organizations receiving item donations are flooded right now and can’t accept more inventory,” Angold says. “[Nextdoor] For Sale & Free allows members gifting items to get the item in front of thousands of nearby neighbors instantly.”

Nextdoor says the most popular categories are usually furniture, garden, and baby and kids items. There has been a change to that list this year.

“Throughout 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve observed an increase in requests for items related to DIY projects as people are sheltering in place and taking care of their household projects to do list,” Angold says.

Many individual communities and neighborhoods have their own platforms for exchanging free items, but there are two main public ones: Buy Nothing and Nextdoor.

Buy Nothing

Two friends in Bainbridge Island, Wash., began the Buy Nothing Project in July 2013, aiming to save people money and reduce waste. Now there are groups in 30 countries and as of January 2020 more than 1.2 million people participating

There is no buying, selling or bartering on Buy Nothing, only gifting.

Everything runs through Facebook and there are posted rules about how to respond and what people can and cannot do in the groups. Available or wanted items come up in your regular Facebook feed.

Nextdoor

There is more to the Nextdoor app and website than just exchanging goods. People exchange news and information about their neighborhoods and area businesses as well as exchanging items.

Nextdoor is in 11 countries with 268,000 neighborhoods participating.

Not everything is a gift on Nextdoor. People can sell items or services, and there’s a partnership with eBay to show items for sale from sellers in the neighborhood.

Keeping it Local

With their hyper-local model, Nextdoor and Buy Nothing aim to build relationships among neighbors.

According to the rules of Buy Nothing, people can only be in one group based on the address where they physically live.

“You put in your address and then [the group administrators] will accept you, and if you’re not in the correct group, then they won’t allow you in,” Eiseman says.

Sometimes, it’s a good way to meet people.

“One woman came by a few weeks ago to pick something up I had offered, and I got to meet somebody new in my neighborhood. We had a great conversation for 10-15 minutes and it just kind of veered off into random stuff. It is nice because now I know one more person in the area.”

There’s also a certain sense of safety associated with these groups.

“Nobody puts their address on the actual Facebook page [for Buy Nothing]. It’s all done through Messenger,” says Sayles. “I feel perfectly safe, and they’re neighbors generally so you know you see them on the neighborhood Facebook group.”

Nextdoor works to create a sense of security by requiring transparency.

“Since day one, Nextdoor has required people to use their real name and verified address, so members can trust that their Nextdoor neighborhood is made up of real people at real addresses,” Angold says. “Additionally, proximity is incredibly powerful given the current situation. While neighbors around the world are staying closer to home, it becomes increasingly important to have a trusted community to rely on.”

Pro Tip

There’s always the option of meeting someone in a public place to exchange items.

How Free Exchange Groups Work

The basic idea is simple. Someone posts something they want to give away and another person responds if they want it. You can also post when you’re looking for something specific in hopes a neighbor might have it.

In practice, it isn’t always so simple, especially for high-quality items.

“When you post something, people will then say, ‘I’m interested, I want it, this is why I want it.’ Then you don’t necessarily select the first person who responds. You wait for people to respond in like a 24-hour period and then you select from that list,” Eiseman explains.

She uses a random number generator to pick who receives her items, but not everyone does.

“I wanted to be as fair and impartial as possible,” she says.

Free Exchanging Advice

Veterans of no-sell groups say there are some general rules to follow:

  • No junk: Make sure what you’re giving away is in working order or if it isn’t, let people know that. Giving away junk wastes everyone’s time. “Upload multiple photos with different angles to showcase all the features of your item,” Angold suggests.
  •  Be creative: Your trash might be someone else’s treasure. “The interesting thing is people post and say, ‘I’m sure nobody wants this but’ and then 30 people say ‘I’ll take it,’” Sayles says.
  • Keep it legal: Both platforms have lists of what can and cannot be given away. Anything illegal isn’t allowed.
  • Respond quickly: Like good news, good stuff travels fast. So if it’s something you want, respond as soon as you see it.
  • Pick items up quickly: People are posting items because they want it out of their houses. If you claim something, go get it as soon as you can.
  • Be gracious: “Not everybody’s going to get the item that they want, and that’s okay. It’s not personal when people decide to give it to one person over another. They’re your neighbors. Don’t do stuff that is going to anger your neighbors. You have to live next to them,” Eiseman advises. Be civil and do not discriminate.
  • Respect the administrators and others: These people are volunteers and neighbors.
  • Choose when to post: “Most transactions happen on the weekend, so posting around that time frame is best for visibility,” Angold advises.

The whole idea isn’t just to get things for free.

“[Many people would] rather reuse something instead of going out and buying something new,” Eiseman says. “It’s not a matter of being cheap, but it’s kind of like, well, if you’ve got this and you don’t want it anymore instead of throwing it out, I’m happy to take it.”

Sayles agrees. “I have too much stuff and everyone else has too much stuff and we’re sharing our stuff. It’s great. It’s a very good way to keep it out of the landfill.”

Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with more than 25 years of experience writing about finance, health, travel, real estate, and other topics.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Career Step Online Training: Prepare from Home for a New Career!

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The Best Kids Toothpaste Flavors

Kids brushing their teeth

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Getting your kids to brush their teeth isn't always an easy task. These kid-friendly toothpastes will make brushing fun—and you can feel good knowing they are learning…

Wondering How Much to Invest to Retire a Millionaire? Less Than You Think

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When someone claims “you can become a millionaire!” with just one trick, it might sound just like that — a trick. 

But retiring with a million dollars — which would make you a millionaire — is actually a smart and totally attainable move. And it would keep earning you enough interest to cover your yearly expenses after your retirement party.

A report from Merrill Lynch in 2017 noted that if you were to have $1M saved at age 65, you would earn about $40,000 in income every year just by keeping it there. The more you have saved, the more money you’ll make. 

So, how do you get there? All it takes is a few hundred bucks every month. 

Saving $300 Now Could Mean $1M In Your Account Later

Yep, just putting $300 into a smart investment account (think: an employer 401(k) or IRA) starting in your 20s could get you to $1 million by the time you retire in your late 60’s. 

The investing pros over at Motley Fool ran the numbers: Assuming an average return of 7% when you invest in the stock market, saving $300 every month for 45 years would make you a millionaire. 

You read that right. It’s only $162,000 of your hard earned money ($3,600 a year) that could make you a millionaire by the time you retire. It’s not a trick — it’s the historical return of the stock market. 

And don’t worry if you’re not 22 anymore. Start investing now and consider how aggressive you need to be get you to your goal. It will require saving more than the $300 each month, but becoming a millionaire isn’t off the table. 

Never Invested Before? Start Small 

If you haven’t started investing and have some money to spare, but maybe not the full $300 yet, you can start small. Investing doesn’t require you throwing thousands of dollars at full shares of stocks. In fact, you can get started with as little as $1.* 

We like Stash, because it lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio. But it makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals. Want to invest conservatively right now? Totally get it! Want to dip in with moderate or aggressive risk? Do what you feel.

Plus, with Stash, you’re able to invest in fractions of shares, which means you can invest in funds you wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

If you sign up now (it takes two minutes), Stash will give you $5 after you add $5 to your investment account. Subscription plans start at $1 a month.**

So even if you don’t have $300 a month to spare right now, something is better than nothing. As you start earning more money, aim to put more and more into your retirement account. Before you know it, you could actually be on your way to becoming a real millionaire! 

*For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

**You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

How COVID is Changing Life Insurance

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Even as researchers race to find a COVID-19 vaccine, coronavirus is already changing our world in a permanent way.

That’s because major historical events always leave a legacy. For example, 9/11 not only led to a 20-year war on terror, it permanently changed the experience of air travel, led to an overall rise in surveillance, and changed the language we use.

Like 9/11, COVID is reshaping society. For instance, a surprising number of locked-down Americans are ready to permanently end their commutes and work from home forever. On the negative side, college enrollment is dropping as people put their educational plans on hold. Basically, they’re putting the future on hold.

Here are four ways COVID is changing how we think about the future, along with strategies for making it work to your advantage:

1. More Young People are Doing this to Protect their Families 

COVID has more people in their 20s, 30s and early 40s thinking about their mortality. They’re starting to wonder, What would happen to my family after I’m gone? 

How would your family manage without your income? Chances are your checking account balance won’t last forever. Now’s a good time to look into a life insurance policy. 

A life-insurance search engine called LeapLife makes it easy. In less than a minute, LeapLife will match you with personalized quotes from many of the big-time insurance companies (including Pacific Life, Lincoln and Prudential).

And don’t worry about forking over a ton of money. We’ve heard people are getting matched with quotes that are less than what they’d pay for a streaming service (depending on health and other factors). 

More of us are seeking the peace of mind of knowing our families are taken care of. COVID has more of us getting life insurance — especially those of us under age 44. That group had a 13% increase in life insurance applications in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the previous year, according to insurance analytics firm MIB. 

If you qualify, you might not even need an in-person exam or medical records. You could complete the process entirely online and get your policy in just minutes. 

Just answer a few questions, choose the quote that works best for your needs and finalize online in minutes. 

2. It’s Changing How We Work 

COVID put half the world’s population in lockdown. An increasing number of Americans, having now proven that they can do their jobs from home, are interested in continuing to work from home.

Now, nobody’s saying that offices are going to disappear. Obviously huge numbers of workers will be returning to their offices once a COVID vaccine becomes widespread and life returns to normal.

However, about two-thirds of remote workers now want to continue to work remotely, according to a new survey from Gallup. That’s a lot. Really, really a lot.

All we’re saying here is, keep your options open. Workplace experts are predicting that, in general, employers will be pushed to show more flexibility when it comes to this.

3. Sacrificing Our Savings

Ouch, this one hurts. Overall, a third of Americans say they’ve turned to savings or retirement accounts to pay the bills since the pandemic started, according to a new Pew survey.

That’s to be expected, since more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs due to COVID. And hey, if you’re out of work and you’ve got to dip into your savings for food and shelter, we totally get it.

If you’re at a point where you’re able to work, though, it’s a good idea to try and build your savings back up. Which brings us to our next point… 

4. People Want a Personal Safety Net

With job losses in the millions, more Americans are becoming keenly aware of the need to have an emergency fund on hand. 

Being out of work is one of the toughest things that can happen to you. That’s why it’s a good idea to build up an emergency fund that equals three to six months of your salary, in case you unexpectedly lose your job.

How can you do that? Try the 50/30/20 method for budgeting. Take your total after-tax income each month, and divide it in half. That’s your essentials budget (50%). Take the rest, and divide it into personal spending (30%) and financial goals (20%).

Let’s break it down: That’s 50% for things like utilities, groceries, medications, minimum debt payments and other essential spending. Then there’s 30% for fun, like Thai takeout or your Netflix subscription.

That leaves 20% for your financial goals, like additional debt-reduction payments (anything above the minimum monthly payment) along with retirement savings and investments — and that’s how you build an emergency fund. 

Try experimenting with the percentages. See what you can cut from your fun spending and put into your emergency fund. 

COVID is changing our lives forever, sometimes in unexpected ways. You may as well get strategic about it.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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