This financial crunch has left me looking for creative outlets to scratch my shopping itch. More specifically, it has made me revert to my previous loves of flea markets, auction houses, yard sales, second-hand stores and free item recycling websites.

Most dangerous of all has been a local yahoo group called Freecycle-Silver Spring.

It’s too late for me, but it’s not too late for you NOT to check out such a group. It’s freaking addicting.

In “Freecycle Silver Spring” people post things they want to give away or list things they want. All I have to do email the supplier before anyone else does and then arrange when I can pick the item up and/or check the item out in person.

Luckily I’ve not been successful so far.

But just today I put in bids in to pick up a kitchen cherry wood table with five (somewhat damaged) chairs, an old-fashioned handmade bird feeder and a set of long cherry wood side tables. So far only one of my emails has beat everyone else to the punch or else I’d be spending tonight driving around Takoma Park, Wheaton and Silver Spring to get things that I could have lived without.

Tonight I’m going to check out the table and chair set.

The truth is I need to get rid of stuff, but it’s all small stuff … ok with exception to the futon wasting precious space in my living room.

I don’t want to remove the futon until after Christmas because my sibling(s) might be visiting and in need of using the futon. I think when I get rid of the futon on freecycle I’ll invest in a good air mattress for guests instead.

I have been successful many times over in trying any of these venues (including friends who no longer wanted the items or who were moving away) I add here that there are some benefits to never moving out of the area.

Now that I think about it, about 25% of the number of things I own I either got from friends, from auction houses or from yard sales. Some of my prize items include a red cushy rocking chair, a futon, gold-rimmed crystal wine glasses, a piano, an old-fashioned song bird umbrella, my clothes drying rack, an everyday small blue flower pattern china set, at least 1/5 of my wardrobe, my bedside stands and a set of pink flamingo earrings (which is the best topper to any 80s costume).

OK so in return, I’ve decided to start filling a garbage bag EVERY WEEKEND with stuff I can either donate or freecycle. I must keep the chain of giving moving or else I’ll be forced to rent another apartment.