The New Home Economics - Moms Who Swap, Sell and Save Online

Filed under: Work Life, Resources, Opinions, Expert Advice: Home Base


Our family vacation ended last Friday with a fabulous whitewater rafting trip on the Colorado River, and we didn't spend a dime. How? Our son John, founder of Sticker Universe, created signs and banners for Lakota Guides in exchange for rafting and Jeep trips for our family. Worked for me.

Back when our boys were young, if we wanted to add-on or upgrade vacation activities, we'd hold a garage sale before the trip to make extra cash. Or if the cost of something I wanted to purchase exceeded budget boundaries, I'd sell things we no longer needed at a consignment shop. To keep three fast-growing boys outfitted in school uniforms and Sunday blazers, I'd hunt down moms at school or church who had sons a little larger than mine and were willing to sell gently worn, outgrown items at a discount.

Nowadays, frugal moms don't have to set up shop in the driveway, lug stuff to a consignment store or stalk other moms in the parking lot. Thanks to the Internet, they can sell, consign, shop and swap from the comfort of home. In addition to increasing purchasing power and generating extra income for their families, some moms are even forging marketplace frontiers in their jammies.Take Heather Straka from Dublin, Ohio and Lisa Szymczyk from Mohrsville, PA. When these two mothers started talking about kids' resale at a college reunion, both expressed frustration with resale options which either involved too much time and effort or didn't offer a good price for sellers. After a year of research they launched Kidzola, where you can find brand-name clothing like Gymboree and Janie and Jack, toys, books and baby gear in excellent condition for a fraction of their original price. You can also sell items you longer need.

Fisher Price Rain Forest Jumperoo in perfect condition at www.kidzola.com

Retail price: $80.00; Kidzola price: $35.00

Bekki Bowman, mom of two in the Seattle area, has been making money on eBay for a few years, specializing in children's clothes. She sells gently used items from her daughter's closet, plus items with tags that her daughter never wore and bargains picked up for the purpose of reselling.

Last week she listed 35 items on eBay and has received $400 in sales so far -- all items from her daughter's closet. Bekki keeps a blog chronicling what her daughter wears, and when a reader lets her know that she'd like to purchase the outfit later, Bekki makes a note. When her daughter has outgrown the outfit, Bekki e-mails the interested reader to make a deal. She pockets about $1,000 a month by reselling. Not bad.

Jen Mango, mom of three children in Frisco, Texas, discovered an online community forum's classified section and was instantly hooked -- it's local, includes photos of merchandise and attracts a relatively small base of people bidding on items.

She uses the forum for buying and selling boutique-quality clothes, toys, shoes -- even unopened, unexpired cans of baby formula. When bottle-feeding her youngest, she bought 10 cans for $5 apiece -- down from $13 in the store.

"I find joy in giving another mom a deal, too," Jen says. "When I sold my 3-year-old daughter's Christmas dress to a lady for $5, I thought she was going to cry she was so excited!"

Have you had success swapping, shopping or selling online? We'd love to hear.

Read about more ways to barter and save at the Family Manager Web site.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.