The toy box overflows with stuff that is no longer interesting. That busy ballerina/gymnast/soccer star constantly outgrows her uniforms. A new baby is on the way and supplies will be needed! For the frugal mom whose request list never ends, a free networking site called Swap Mamas can be the answer to your problems! Swap Mamas allows you to swap items you no longer need for the things you need most!

 

How it works

Think of Swap Mamas as a mash-up of Craigslist, Facebook and clothing swaps. Members post items they want to swap on Swap Mamas' Facebook page, on one of their Pinterest boards, or the Swap Mamas site. Connect with someone who has an item you want, and swap away!

All items on Swap Mamas are free. The only cost comes in paying to ship your item to its new recipient!

 

How to get started

Sign up by creating an account. You'll be asked whether you want a basic (free) or pro ($22) membership. The biggest difference between the two is photo credits (basic members get 25, pros, 300). All items available for swap must be photographed and posted on the site using photo credits (one credit per photo). Additional credits can be earned by referring friends to Swap Mamas via Facebook, liking Swap Mamas on Facebook, or installing the Swap Mamas app for Facebook.

Tip: Unless you are certain you'll need 300 photo credits in the first year (credits expire in one year), start with a free membership first. Smaller photo credit packages can also be purchased as needed.

After creating an account you'll be sent to the "getting started" page with visual cues and step-by-step instructions on where to find swaps, how to upload photos, and more beginner tips.

 

Navigation tips:

  • Accept friend requests to find more swap opportunities, or send a friend request to another member with common interests.
  • Finding like-minded mamas increases the odds of finding someone interested in your items. Join the subgroups within the Swap Mamas community, which are categorized by similar interests or regions to help women connect, exchange advice, and lend support.

Photo tips:

  • Take photo on a plain background (carpet, a table, blanket or bedspread)
  • Get as close as possible to image
  • Make sure image isn't blurry
  • Consider using a few photo credits to add multiple views of image if there are details worth showing (a designer label, for example)

Tips on adding a swap:

  • Make the swap as visible as possible by adding it to a social group or local swap group in addition to the general swap community.
  • Provide as much detail as possible. Explain how often the item was used, how old it is, how much you paid for it originally, any stains/damage or special care needed, and any features that make it worth having (one of a kind, the most popular Christmas toy of 2010, etc.).
  • List brand name if relevant, because brand names make items more appealing and recognizable.

Search for items to swap

  • Raid your stockpile! Swap Mamas members have wish lists called an ISO (in search of). Search a member's ISO list, then search your stockpile for items you can offer as a swap! Baby wipes, bath products for baby and hair products for moms are frequently sought-after items.
  • Clear out closets and toy boxes. Think about the process used when choosing clothes to consign, and apply the same rules here; select items that are in good condition and stain-free.
  • Don't limit swaps to kids' stuff. Members have swapped for women's clothing and household items (even that unopened pack of batteries!). One recent swap even included some Wii games a family had stopped using. Another featured an American Girl doll!

Ship smart

  • Try to swap items that have comparable shipping costs. Don't pay $20 in shipping if the item you'll receive in exchange will only cost the sender $5 and doesn't have a high value.
  • Swap more than one item at a time whenever possible to avoid multiple shipping charges. Try to find wish lists that contain several items that you have on your "get rid of" list.
  • Ship with PayPal to save money. Print free shipping labels, get delivery confirmation to ensure the package arrives at its destination, and use your PayPal account to pay for shipping and insurance (if needed).
  • Carefully consider shipping options. Communicate with the person on the other end of your swap to learn how quickly they want to receive their items. If there's no rush, use media mail for things like books, videos, DVDs and CDs (especially if those items will weigh more than one pound). Media mail is a huge money-saver but can take two or three weeks for the item to arrive.
How to Score Free Stuff with Swap Mamas