Utilise opportunities in your community to help you be frugal

There are some great services and classes available in most communities in Australia that offer opportunities to learn valuable skills and meet new people, or to save you money.

They are often not advertised well and unless you go looking for them, you wouldn’t know that they exist.

Some are run by non-profit organisations who receive government funds to run community groups and classes. Others are run by businesses in order to complement whatever they are selling, or as an opportunity to give back to the community.

The following are a few services that I know of in my own community and you may find something similar in your area. Some of them are free. Some of them have a small membership fee but save you a lot of money so are worth mentioning:

  • DIY classes at a hardware, craft and fabric stores – Bunnings offer free DIY classes  for adults and craft classes for kids. Check the board outside their store. Classes include step by step instructions and demonstrations for fixing things around the house, building things from scratch, design etc. They have kids classes around Easter, Christmas, Mothers Day and Fathers Day where kids can make gifts; and general craft classes during school holidays.
  • Library– my library offers free internet; e-books and e-magazines that can be downloaded to your kindle/ipad/reader; fun reading and activity classes for babies and toddlers during school terms; craft classes and hobby classes for older kids during school holidays; information sessions for older members such as how to prepare for retirement.
  •  Community gardens– grow your own crops, share your pickings, learn new skills and share your knowledge with other members. Your council should have a list of community gardens in your area.
  • Toy library – these are usually run by for non-profit organisations, community centres, neighbourhood centres etc. You pay an annual fee and are entitled to borrow a set number of toys for a set period of time. The toy library that I am a member of is run by my local neighbourhood centre, costs $40 per year and entitles me to borrow 4 toys at a time.
  • Mens sheds– These basically serve the same purpose as a backyard shed but with a social element. Fees range from $5 to $25 and I recently learnt that women are welcome at some sheds.
Check community boards wherever you go. Local community groups often advertise on boards in shopping centres,the library, and obviously at the community centres and neighbourhood centres themselves.
If you know of any others, please feel free to share.
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