I have learned another huge frugal tool from my friend Eileen - ask. If there is something that you need, ask the people you know if they have that item and no longer are using it. Most people want to help out others and so will do what they can.
I have to admit, this is a harder one for me because I am so independent. Picking up things from the side of the road is easier for me than asking. BUT I am also on this journey and decided I needed to try it out.
This is how it has worked out so far... Remember how I said that my computer died at the same time we had other major crises and expenses? Well, buying a new computer just seemed too much, even with sales and coupons. But I absolutely need one for my business. So I decided to try asking if someone had an old one they didn't need anymore.
Eileen was the first person I asked. She was the one that taught me this tool, so I figured she was a safe place to start. The following is how I fumbled through it.
Me: Okay Eileen I am going to follow your advice about asking before I buy something new, so I need to ask you a question.
Eileen: Okay, what is it?
Me: Our laptop died and so I was wondering if you have one that you may not be using that we could have. I know it is a long shot, but you said to ask first, so I am.
Eileen: Actually, my DH just got a new laptop. Let me ask him.
Come to find out he didn't need his old laptop and wasn't sure what he was going to do with it. So guess what I am writing on right now. That is right, his old laptop. That right there saved us over $400.
Now if you are going to try this, you can phrase it something like this, "Dear Friends and Family, I am following this frugal blog where she suggests asking for an item before you buy it. So I thought I would give it a try. We are looking for ___________. If any of you have an extra kicking around or an old one that you aren't using, would you be willing to let us have it/borrow it?"
I agree with Eileen, if they can, people will usually try to help you. It also goes the other way too. If someone needs your help, try to help them. Before you toss out an item you no longer need, send out an email to see if anyone wants it. You can even post free things on Craigslist.org. In tough times like these it is good to help each other out.