Swap and save a bundle before it’s time to bundle up

10/22/2013 8:00 AM

10/22/2013 10:30 AM

I’m guessing you haven’t even looked at your winter wardrobe or the coat closet since last March—or was it May? Well, so far so good this fall, but you know it won’t be long before you break out the winter coats, gloves and hats, plus those tired heavy sweaters and wool skirts you’ve been wearing for winters on end.

The thing is, all those items are probably still in great shape, we just get tired of wearing them or kids grow out of them. That’s why it makes sense to get rid of what you no longer want, and find what you need from others doing the same.

It’s no wonder that consignment shows have been all the rage lately. http://consignmentmommies.com/Default.aspx?

CCID=5650=32651=True=/SeasonalSales-MapSearch.htm You can find some killer deals buying second hand, and also pocket some cash selling your gently used items. It’s a win/win!

For me, though, the challenge is always time. Selling items usually requires weekend hours to travel and volunteer. The shows usually last only a few days, so it can be a hectic scramble to find and buy what you need. Why not utilize the same concept, only with your friends and without money?

I’m talking about the oldest form of commerce, the barter system. Add a little chocolate and wine to the mix and you can enjoy a night in with the girls and refresh your winter wardrobe without spending a cent!

http://www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/entertaining/everyday-celebrations/host-swap-party-00000000013711/

If you’ve ever been to a swap party, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve never hosted one, here are some helpful hints:

Now is the time. Like you, your friends are about to take closet inventory, if they haven’t already. Get your invite list together and send out the Evites www.evite.com

right away.

Calling all shapes and sizes

. The more the merrier, and the better the odds that all attendees can find something to trade for or add to the mix. Consider inviting friends with similar tastes. This can be tough, but it will boost everybody’s chances of finding a desirable item.

Establish a standard.

Be sure to clearly state which items are game. Is it just winter wear or anything goes? Also, be clear on minimum quality, i.e. “gently used” condition.

Set the rules.

Unless you already have a proven system established, give these a try (and explain it in your Evite or email):

Pick a number. Jot down a number for each guest, toss each number into a bowl and take turns picking. Number one shops first, followed by two, and so on. Limit it to one item per turn to keep it fast and fair. Create currency. Give out a coin or poker chip for every item a guest donates, and “charge” one coin or chip for each item. Or set different values, like a quarter or blue chip for a coat, a dime or red chip for a scarf, etc. Just keep it even. A straight and simple rule: Everybody goes home with the same number of items that they donated.

Donate what’s left

. The purpose of the party is to clean out your closets and rejuvenate where you can. Don’t put anything back. Instead, find a local charity that can take the leftover items. As the host, you get the possible tax deduction. Just one of many perks of a swap party! Give it a try this season.

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.

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