Swapping Instead of Shopping | Seventh Generation
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Swapping Instead of Shopping

Author: abbybrooks

I know that bringing up a child can be expensive, but I was shocked when I came across a calculator claiming to tell me how much it actually costs. I answered a few simple questions, a number appeared on my computer screen...over $250,000! Ouch! Because I'm a stay at home mom, I monitor finances pretty closely to begin with, but after seeing this figure I went into panic mode. I couldn't stop imagining my retirement slipping away. Later that day I was reading books with my daughter and found that she had grown tired of many of the stories we'd read over and over. My first thought was to head to the bookstore for a new supply. But then I remembered the calculator, and even though the expenditure would be a fraction of the $250,000, my anxiety rose. Then it hit me! I should ask a mommy friend of mine to do a book swap. We could both have "new" books for our girls to read without spending a dime! I went through our bookshelves and selected all the titles I thought we could give away. I wrote our names on the inside covers just in case somewhere down the swap line, our oldies become goodies again. My friend agreed to an initial swap right now and another in a few months, and both daughters have been thrilled with their new libraries. Now I'm really thinking...what else can we swap? Should I pack up a box of toys to trade? Why not? Have you ever swapped? Share your experiences with us! photo: U.S. Army


Naiad35 picture
I swap a TON of children's books on paperbackswap.com and bookmooch.com. I also find really cheap books at garage sales, the library book "for sale" rack, and on the clearance rack at used bookstores. I never pay full price for a book.
bunigrl33 picture
I'd like to add my endorsements to those above for: the local public library (and their annual book sales) neighborhood book swap (my post office has one - take a book, leave a book) Freecycle Yard, garage and estate sales Used books on Amazon.com and local used book stores I'm a book collector, so I do buy the books I expect to read over and over, but for those I'll only read once and pass on or that I'm not sure I'll like enough to add to my collection, I use the library. I attend their annual book sale, stock up on romance novels and donate them back when I'm done reading. Whenever I stop at the post office I check the book table to see if someone left anything good (I once found an entire Stephen King collection) and if I have books to give away I often drop them off. I discovered one of my new favorite authors when I picked up a book at an estate sale. Broaden your horizons!
AnastasiaB picture
We only have a total of about 10 books at home, but we go to the library regularly to get new ones. She loves playing with toy trains there and assembling puzzles while I pick the books (she's 21 months). That figure of $250,000 on average certainly doesn't apply to us. We live on one income and we think less is more not because we can't afford more, but because we don't WANT more. The entire figure is based on wants, not needs, and I think that it is pretty messed up to keep giving kids everything they want. Then they finish college and end up slaving for the rest of their life to fund their own wants because that's what they were taught. Our daughter wears hand me downs, we haven't bought her anything but some tights and hair accessories. We bought her furniture on craigslist, her toys are few but good quality - not cheap plastic China stuff. I think she is happier because of that with a vocabulary her peers can't match because she uses her imagination instead of getting instant, push button entertainment. Alright, getting off my soap box. :) Great idea on the swapping of the home book stash!
abbybrooks picture
Thanks everyone for your responses about going to the Library. Yes! The library is a wonderful resource we take advantage of on a regular basis. But we do have a pile of books to keep at home and swaping them it a great way to keep our at home supply fresh.
beccadog picture
The Girl Who Love the Wind received the 1973 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award (“Reserved for Distinguished books entitled to sit on the shelf with Alice In Wonderland” --the Gold Cheshire Cat Seal) and was a 1973 Children’s Book Showcase Selection. It was my daughter's favorite book, and now at the age of 37, my daughter, Heather still has a copy and will likely read it to her son who will be born in March. Of course, some names may be substituted, for Danina, like Amin, in Farsi, which translates to Honest. If we had not kept this book, it may not have been found, as now it is out of print. A shame, for the wonderful book and illustrations the author created. My daughter's prized positions have always been her books. I don't regret one moment spent searching out keepers. But, in addition, she had read nearly every book in the children's section of the public library. What wonderful memories we had. That early chosen direction, has made her a lifetime reader, which today continues. Both she and her husband are very literary and I know their son will be as well.
Debbie_55 picture
Our transfer station has a building where people can leave useable items. My daughter was visiting with my two grandsons and I found a high chair, a rocking horse, a kitchen table and an entertainment center. Also there is a website called www.freecycle.com. You can donate or find something that you like for free.
christine@cornucopiafoods.net picture
Our city trash/recycling center has a book shed where folks can drop off and take books. Every week my son and I look forward to seeing what Dad has brought home from the book shed for us! And we make sure to drop off any books cluttering our shelves at home.
maravillosa99 picture
Echoing the many comments already made regarding the infinite resources available at your local public library...in addition to the books and materials at your fingertips, you also have a children's librarian there - an expert in the field of early literacy who is passionate about kids and reading. He or she should be one of your closest allies in raising your child!
Jude113 picture
I would second the suggestion of libraries. Our library participates in interlibrary loan with over 50 other libraries so I'm bound to find most any book I'm looking for. I also use the library's website to look up and reserve books. For instance when my daughter became fascinated with trucks, I immediately spent her next nap time reserving books about trucks. It's also great for when you discover new authors. However, as a former reading teacher, I'm also in favor of having actual books in our permanent collection. For that, I frequent garage sales, the "friends of the library" book sales, and St. Vinnie’s. For those must have titles, try Amazon. Many titles can be bought used (in very good or like new condition). When my girls outgrow a book, I give it back to my local friends of the library group for resale as the money is put right back into the storytime that we attend. Don't forget to save your favorite titles for your future grandchildren, I love reading my childhood favorites to my daughter.
MotherLodeBeth picture
Doesnt anyone go to the library any more? Even in my rural area of the California Sierras, the library has story time during the week and a childrens section with thousands and thousands of books. Also join your local Friends of the Library group if they have one. During the Great Depression and WW2 libraries were one thing that got funded. Sadly, its not always the case these days. Also join or start a toy bank, like they had in Berkeley when we lived near there. Or at least put 75% of a childs toys away and rotate them so there is always something new. And when holidays and Birthday came around, for each new toy we would donate an old one in excellent shape to the Free clinic, welfare office play room, church or another family we knew who were on a limited income.
beccadog picture
But, what I did when my daughter was 2 was read wonderful stories to her from library books and prize winning books and stories collected in the Children's Anthology of Children's Literature, a college text book. When she was three, Sesame Street, the Electric Company and I taught her to read favorite stories herself. We started with simple, repetitive books like "I like Red," which she picked up at the children's library, and move up. By the time she was 4, she had read every book in the children's library and move on too first and second grade books with more interesting stories. Her favorite series was adventures of Flikka, Rikka, and Dikka which were about Dutch children in The Netherlands. She never tired of these books and wanted them read again and again. Teaching her to read them herself when she was three, meant she could constantly enjoy them over and over and over again, and I simply renewed them from the public library. As she grew older, another long time favorite was The Girl Who Love the Wind, by Jane Yolen. Now, 37 years older, this is still her favorite childhood book. http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Loved-Wind/dp/006443088X
bookwormsrus picture
As a children's librarian, I was VERY dismayed to see this article. However, I was encouraged when I read the comments. Please, please, please use your public libraries! Not only does it save resources, but there are places in this country where libraries are being shut down because people don't use them!
mandigirl76 picture
I've been using www.swap.com for a few years now and it is a great way to trade DVD's, books, CD's and video games with people all over the country. All you pay is shipping which is usually about $2 USPS and I reuse the packaging every time. It's free to join. Happy swapping!
geppy picture
When I lived in New Zealand, the library maintained a "toy library" of toys that were available for temporary borrowing. Another good thing to swap or share. Also, check out Freecycle at www.freecycle.org: there are Freecycle groups all over the USA allowing people give away stuff they no longer want to other locals and post requests for stuff they'd like to have. I have seen outgrown kids' stuff on there a lot. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free and you can visit freecycle.org to find your local Freecycle. Finally, I'm also surprised that you didn't mention the public library--my mom used to take my sister and I there often, fond memories! I still use my public library heavily as an adult: free DVDs, CDs, movies shown to the public, art displays, resume & job hunting help, computer skills classes, free internet access (via Wi-Fi even!) Your local branch will no doubt have good stuff for kids and a story reading hour.
wrightsrblessed picture
When my kids were little, we went to the library weekly, they had a storytime for the kids with the librarian, which offered a craft, story, and a few field trips- FREE! I was a stay at home mom, so to my kids this was "preschool", they loved it. I also use ThredUp.com for swapping clothes and Swap.com for swapping books, DVDs, video games,and music CDs. Both of these groups cost the price of shipping, but well worth it! I haven't bought new clothes (minus socks and underwear)for my youngest for about 6 months (my boys are too old for ThredUp)and I haven't bought any media for over 2 years. Swap.com keeps track of your carbon footprint and the money you have saved by swapping. We have saved over $1000 on media!
jenniferannmpalermo picture
I second the idea of using the public library - you can run through the catalog and select the books you want and have them waiting for you if your toddler isnt quite ready for the library ... Personally, we have swapped clothing and toys but never books - thanks for the suggestion.
lepr picture
DVDs are something else that could be swapped. Swapadvd.com is a good place to check out.
shsc82 picture
You should check out paperbackswap! They have books of all sorts and you get, I think, 3 free swaps to start out with and you get one credit every book you send out. It even lets you print out the label for the ones you send and media mail is insanely cheap! They have a few similiar things for toys, but I have no personal experience with any, so can't vouch for any, also thred up for clothing, which I have liked so far, but it is in it's infancy!
karriekorin picture
Swapping is a great idea and all, but have you never thought of going to your local library?! I hear parents complain about the cost of books all the time and when I ask about going to a library they look at me as if I have three heads. The public library is free! There are tons of books and activities there! Your tax dollars support it! Why not make use of it?