Saving money and living within a budget is a difficult challenge for most people. One of the main difficulties people routinely encounter when trying to live within a tight budget is unexpected expenses – it’s one thing to do the basic maths of your income versus your outlay and adjust the latter on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis until you come into the black. But often this leaves your margin of error perilously low, and the need to replace something large and expensive can set you back for weeks. A new piece of furniture, a broken appliance – all of these things can come with hefty price tags that won’t fit into your budget.

One solution for these unexpected, non-emergency needs is freecycling. Freecycling is the practice of giving away unneeded objects or appliances, with no strings attached. Believe it or not, it’s become quite popular, with sites such as,, and serving this new freecycling community. All the sites work along similar lines: You create an account and then use a forum to announce free items you’re willing to give away. People respond to your post claiming the item, and then you make arrangements together for the transport or pick up of the item.

At first glance it might seem crazy that people are just giving away items that have use left in them, and thus value, but this is not entirely accurate because it does not take into consideration the cost and trouble of disposing of old things, especially large, heavy items. A couple, for example, had an old upright piano. The piano was still in good shape as far as playing went, but was a bit beat up and unattractive. They decided to replace it with a new piano. They tried to donate the old piano but it was too old for most schools or churches to consider. They got a quote for having the piano hauled away and were shocked to be told it would be £300 or more. Finally, they listed it on a freecycling web site and it was claimed, and that night a group arrived in a hired van and took the piano away. The transaction is thus: Free item in exchange for free labour, because the item is hauled away for free. Plus, the donating party has the satisfaction of knowing the item went to good use instead of ending up in a landfill.

So, for someone trying to live within a budget, freecycling is a real resource. You can search the forums for the items you need – a couch, a washing machine – a piano. Then you make your claim, and then all you need is the ability to transport it, which can often be had for a few favours. The items are usually described in some detail in the postings, so you will know in advance how old it is, whether it is in working condition or not, and any other defects or problems. Still, for no money and some small portion of your time you can solve household difficulties without hitting your budget at all.

Freecycling isn’t for everyone, but if you’re okay with a very obviously pre-owned item, it can be an invaluable resource. If you’re living on a budget it’s worth looking into even if you don’t plan on using it often, as you never know when you might need a free helping hand.