Tuesday, 3 April 2018

How to Get Free Stuff for You, Your Baby, and Your Kids in Korea

Korea is great! You can get free money from the Korean government if you pay into the national health scheme. Here's more info about the GoEun Mom card that gives you 500,000 for free!

Why Get Free Stuff?
I love getting stuff for free! I'm happy to report that I've barely bought any clothes or toys for my kids in the past four years. Nonetheless, their dressers and closets are full of clothes and I'm astounded at how many toys they have. I'm not gifted a lot of things either so don't think that people are buying things for them. I keep telling family to put money into the kids' accounts for holidays and birthdays instead of buying them stuff because we just have so much. Even at my daughters' birthday parties, I ask people not to bring gifts and to bring food to share instead. How do I do this? Through swaps and hand-me-downs. Swaps are especially fun because you never know what you're going to get! There are three main reasons I love going to swaps.
  • I don't buy into consumerism by needing the latest and the greatest.
  • I keep stuff out of landfills.
  • It's free! Can't beat free!
Make a List Far in Advance
Before my first daughter was born, I made a list of what I wanted and hunted around Craigslist and Facebook groups in order to buy what I needed. Before my second daughter was born, I made a list, but this time asked friends if they had any hand-me-downs and also went to swaps. I try to get things that I can use within the next two years. For example, if my daughter is wearing size 5 now, I'll look for sizes 5-7, this way I can afford to be picky and get good items as well as have clothes on hand in case she goes through a growth spurt.

As kids get older, it's harder to find stuff because they wear clothes longer and are harder on them so they wear out. Baby clothes brought to the swap might not be nice either since babies pee, poop, and puke all over themselves for the few first months. On the other hand, since babies grow out of things so quickly, you can also get some nice things that have never been used. Check out this Ultimate Guide to Getting Stuff for Free for ideas.

So what can you find at swaps? There are always clothes at swaps and usually more women's than men's clothing. I've also found warm winter coats, baby carriers, strollers, car seats, high chairs, vases, accessories, hats, gloves, scarves, small appliances, blankets, household items, food, toys, shoes, cosmetics, toiletries, wrapping paper, medicine, you name it, you can find it. If you're looking for something specific, try posting in the event and asking people if they have it or try posting in one of the Facebook groups dedicated to freecycling. Don't expect every swap to have everything. Each swap is different.

If I see something I like but am on the fence about it, I take it. I figure if I don't like it, I can always give it to someone else or bring it to the next swap. I have never regretted taking something but I have regretted not taking something.

In fall 2010, I started the Seoul swap and since then it has grown! There are a few other swaps you can go to in Korea as well. There are a few rules for swaps, so make sure you know them before you go. Every swap I've been to has had a no re-selling rule. It should go without saying that if you get something for free, you shouldn't sell it. If you know of any others swaps or groups, please let me know in the comments below so I can add them!

Face-to-Face Swaps
Organised by Dani Phillips and Katie Mae Klemsen Yee, this swap takes place a few times a year. Here's an example of one of their swaps.

Organised by a handful of people, this swap takes place at SIBC in HBA near Itaewon. Here's an example of one of their swaps as well as the Facebook group.

Organised by Angela Gayle Russell, this swap last took place in 2016 at The Big Chill. Hopefully it'll start again soon! Here's their Facebook group.

Wink in Seoul
Organised by Vivan Doan this swap takes place at Wink Kitchen and Taphouse a few times a year. Here's an example of one of their swaps.

Freecyle and Bartering Groups on Facebook
Bartering Korea 
This used to be super active but things have definitely died down. You post what you have and/or what you want and then ship the things.

Camp Humphreys FREEcycle 
This is a pretty active group. You can only post requests once a week. You'll have to arrange pick up. Items aren't usually mailed.

Gwangju Freecycle
There's a decent expat community in Gwangju and people are happy to pass on items they don't need.

Reuse Korea- Freeycle in the ROK
This is Korea wide. Depending on where you're located you'll have to arrange pick up or mail things.

Songtan and Osan Freecycle 
I started this group and while it's not that active, you can still find some good things! You'll have to arrange pick up. Items aren't usually mailed.

Other Useful Groups
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