Money & Career

Online trading: The new way to upgrade your stuff for free

Getty Images Author: Canadian Living Credits: Getty Images

Money & Career

Online trading: The new way to upgrade your stuff for free

Ever thought of trading your unwanted things in exchange for goods or services you can actually use? Neither did we, till now.

Just the other day, I was staring at a full bottle of face wash that I had tried but didn’t like. I felt resentful, as I’d paid $20 for the bottle and, now, had no use for it.

I turned to Bunz Trading Zone, a Facebook group (and now, an app) with more than 31,000 members, where people trade belongings and services with one another. I posted my face wash, and within seconds, three people reached out to me with offers. Later that week, I met up with a girl in the lobby at work and traded my face wash for two brand-new bottles of body wash that I’ll actually use. Pretty cool, right?

“I started Bunz out of necessity,” says company founder Emily Bitze. “I was living paycheque to paycheque, and sometimes, I didn’t have money for groceries. So I started a group on Facebook of friends in the area. I figured we could benefit by trading things we didn’t want for things we needed.”

After that, the community grew, as members began to add their friends to the invite-only, secret Facebook group. Now, you can download the app on your phone to post, search and trade absolutely anything.

How it works
To make a trade, you simply post a picture or a description of your item and what you’re in search of (ISO, a common Bunz acronym). Alternately, you can post an ISO, such as “ISO coffee beans, willing to trade a bottle of wine.”

People have traded vintage couches, waffle makers, Nintendo games, half-eaten bags of pasta—you name it. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, people trade haircuts, photography and other great services for food items, subway tokens or tall cans of beer.

“Everyone has a different use for Bunz,” says Bitze. “I know a guy who trades things to get his next meal.”

Get what you want
While trading on Bunz may seem simple, there’s still a little strategy involved. David Morton, a Bunz partner, suggests checking in often and being prepared to make your best offer if you see something you really want. “If they want paintings, offer a painting and describe how awesome it is. They’re going to get 10 offers, and they’re going to pick the best one, so make sure yours sounds the most amazing.”

Morton also suggests keeping an eye out while shopping at grocery or mass stores for basic items such as wine, olive oil and soap; buy in bulk when you see them on sale and build a collection of things you can offer to trade. I often offer wine for things I like; I’ve traded a bottle of wine for a beautiful faux-fur scarf!

What to watch out for
While trading can be addictive (and a ton of fun), take caution when exchanging gift cards. “Make sure there’s actually money on it and it isn’t phony,” says Bitze. “Either call the phone number on the gift card or ask the person for proof, like a receipt or something.”

To avoid any disappointment, Morton recommends asking for photos of an item before showing up for a trade. Plus, meet in a public place.

Now, try it!
To get the app, download it from any app store by searching Bunz and entering the invite code: 777777. For help or advice, you can also reach people such as Bitze and Morton at the hotline: 647-ZEN-TROL.

Read more:
15 free apps for budgeting, banking and coupons
Bartering: A new trend that will save you money
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Online trading: The new way to upgrade your stuff for free

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