NEW YORK – Are you a beginning budgeter? Be careful not to be too overzealous. While it's a good idea to trim the fat, you're unlikely to stick to a budget that makes no room for occasional indulgences, like movies, music and books.
If you're looking for ways to curb your spending without sacrificing the small joys, try swapping instead of shopping. Here are three Web sites that allow you to trade your gently-used items for someone else's treasures:
Paperbackswap.com. A site designed for readers both discriminating and frugal, Paperbackswap is the 21st Century answer to a lending library. Registration is free. All you need is a valid email account, a shipping address and a list of books you're willing to part with. Once you've compiled your list, go ahead and browse the available books by author, title or genre. Any book you choose will be shipped to you free of charge. The tradeoff: You're responsible for paying to ship your books to fellow readers.
Swapstyle.com. Saving money doesn't have to mean suppressing your inner-fashionista. Swapstyle members can log on to swap, buy or sell clothing to fellow clotheshorses. The membership will run you $19.95 a year. After that, swappers are only responsible for paying postage.
Eswapnow.com. Gamers, music lovers and movie hounds may find what they're after at Eswapnow.com. Originally launched in the U.K., Eswapnow is a global trading hub that allows users to swap their old and unwanted media. Registration is free and all traders pay for is postage, unless they choose to buy extra credits.
If you can't afford the minimal fees associated with swapping online -- or schlepping back and forth to the post office just seems like too much work -- try setting up a real-time swap in your neighborhood.
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