5 Freegan-Inspired Ways to Save Money

Want to create a seriously sustainable future where everything is free? Welcome to the wild world of Freeganism.

Freeganism is a movement to cut out consumerism and wastefulness, and although its followers try to live as much off the grid as possible, everyone can still learn some valuable budgeting lessons from the principles they adhere to.

As stated on the freeganism website (freegan.info), freeganists want to:

Create models of living that allow us to limit the control that corporations and money have over our lives, reduce our financial support for the destructive practices of mass producers, and act as a living challenge to waste and over-consumption.

You don’t have to agree with these strong views, but maybe you can already detect that your desire to cut down on spending has some sort of connection to the essence of freeganist thought.

So let’s take a look at how several freeganist practices can be applied to your own money-saving mission.

1. Go Dumpster Diving (No, really!)

Freegan Chair

But let’s call it “waste reclamation” or “urban foraging.” That sounds better.

Ever seen an old chair sitting out on the sidewalk and just grabbed it because you knew it only needed a bit of cleaning up and repainting to become a classy addition to your living room? This is a perfect example of urban foraging, which is a big part of being a freeganist. Why spend money on a new chair when there are plenty of chairs just waiting to be reclaimed and refreshed? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

2. Freecycling, a new way to Recycle

Free Store

This is of a similar idea to waste reclamation, except that the exchange of goods, or even services, is organized and announced. A free store, where people take and leave whatever they want, might be hard to imagine in our money-minded society, but it does exist in cities all across the country, including New Haven, CT; Baltimore, MD; Racine, WI and, of course, San Francisco, CA.

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Free markets are something that you can organize with friends, neighbors or just in your community. It’s simply a get together to swap items instead of throwing them away.

3. Ride a Bike, Leave the Car

Bike Ride Free

Ever thought how much easier—and less expensive—your life would be without a car to maintain? Freegans and hipsters are big fans of bicycling and restoring found bikes, swapping bike parts and forming bike collectives. If biking around is a possibility for some part of your daily routine, like for quick errands, look for a bike sharing program in your city or ask friends and neighbors if they have a spare bike you can borrow.

Why let a good bike go to waste sitting in the garage? If there’s an old bike that needs some fixing up, see if you can find someone with the parts you need instead of putting down cash on a brand new bike.

4. Travel Rent-Free

Couch Surf Free

Freegans are fans of squatting (which involves taking over abandoned buildings to live in), but even if you’re not into that, the main idea is not to let a perfectly fine form of shelter go to waste.

So when you travel, this can be an excellent way to save money on lodging and interact with in-the-know locals who can help enhance your trip. Try websites like CouchSurfing.org which offers a free place to sleep, or use local-owned apartment rental sites like Airbnb.com and HomeAway.com for great deals. You can also use Tripping.com to compare vacation rentals from a variety of sites.

5. Grow a Garden Together

Herb Garden Free

If you aren’t already, now’s a good time to start growing your own food. Even those living in small apartments can keep a fantastic herb garden or window garden.

There are plenty of innovative ways to maximize your indoor garden space. If your city has an urban gardening plan, take advantage of it! And if you are lucky enough to have outdoor space, you can grow vegetables.

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Wild foraging is just what it sounds like—so if you live near a green space of some kind, go take a look and see what hidden herbs or fruits are around. Just be sure to confirm with an expert before eating any unknown plants!

Essentially, the idea is to take advantage of what’s already around you. And that simply requires being aware of your surroundings and getting a little creative from time to time.

When you decide you “need” something, whether it’s a haircut, new shoes or a new computer, always ask yourself how you might be able to get what you want without spending lots of money. And from there, the adventure begins…

This article was written by staff writer Suchi Rudra. Her mission is to help fight your evil debt blob and get your personal finances in tip top shape.
Photo: Dawn15 Minute Lunch, Honolulu Weekly, Flickr