Freecycle can help you start over simply and cheaply

© Andrea Reynolds 2009-2014; From the archives

Question: I lost everything in a fire and had no insurance. How do I replace appliances I need without expense? I don't want to ever be attached to things again and want to spend as little as possible.

Andrea's Answer: Consider asking your local Freecycle group for what you need. Go to and find your local online group. Once you join you will start receiving postings of items that people want to get rid of that may or may not be working. If there is something you need immediately you can post a request. Some groups allow only one request per person per week, or 4 item requests per month, but most of the time someone has something you can use.

When I left everything behind (again) to return to Canada I was dependent on Freecycle for basic things like a bed, lamps, and small appliances like an iron, coffeemaker and a small vacuum. Many items, like the vacuum, and more recently a countertop toaster-convection oven, just need a thorough cleaning and they will work beautifully. The coffee maker went through about 4 cycles with vinegar and clear water to clear out all the debris including a dead spider. I cleaned the outside with scouring powder and it looked pretty good. It came without a coffee pot, but someone had given me one that fit perfectly. It had a tiny leak but I just place it on a shallow pan and voila! it's back in use.

Freecycle decor
Items in this photo were all received from Freecycle: clock, lamp, phone, shelf, chalk board, fish tank stand, and the basket below the "telephone table."

The vacuum needed some intensive picking apart, but once all the stuff clogging it was removed it had good suction again. The toaster oven was a little gummy from baked on grease, but I sprayed the removal pan with oven cleaner to get off all the baked-on stains and cleaned the outside with one of those "eraser" sponges. It looks new. I was able to find an instruction manual online and download it so I'm now in business and don't have to use my full oven to heat items like fish sticks that don't taste good out of the microwave.

So if you're willing to do a little fixing and cleaning, someone else's throw-aways become useful workhorses again at no monetary cost to you but the gas - or pedal power if you have a bicycle - it takes to go pick up the item. If you're handy you can restore items that others don't have the patience for.


Money blogger Andrea Reynolds also owns a small business,, where she will declutter and organize your home for more harmony and serenity in your environment. Contact her for an appointment.

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