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Ways to buy a house without much money

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It can be difficult to buy a house without much money.

I shared this true story last year, and it was one of my most popular blogs ever. If you remember the story from my past post, I’ve added some facts that make it even better.

How do you buy a house without much money?

Kyle McDonald sat at his desk in Montreal, pondering. He wanted a house, but he didn’t have much money or even a job.

Kyle had a flashback, remembering a game he played as a boy. It was called bigger and better. The goal is to start with something small and trade for something bigger and better, then keep doing it over and over.

Kyle had a crazy thought. He wondered if he could start small and trade up to a house. Spotting a red paperclip on his desk, he thought, “why not?”

Start with a paperclip

So, Kyle posted an offer to trade the red paperclip on Craigslist. Two ladies from Vancouver replied, offering a fish-shaped pen.

“As soon as I got the call, I’m like, ‘wow, this is fun,'” Kyle thought. “People actually want to do this.”

Kyle posted the fish-shaped pen and a Seattle woman took it in trade for a funky doorknob. A Massachusetts man who wanted a funky door knob traded his Coleman camping stove. Bigger and better.

Go for bigger and better

Kyle was having so much fun he decided to create his own website,, describing his goal to trade up to a house. He and his girlfriend, Dominique, poured through hundreds of emails and letters offering trades.  

A Marine in California offered to trade a generator for the Coleman stove, which Kyle traded for a beer keg and neon Budweiser sign. After Kyle cleverly marketed the sign and keg as an “instant party,” a local deejay traded his snowmobile. Bigger and better.

Kyle’s quest to trade up to a house snagged him an interview on Canadian TV, where he boldly announced that he would travel anywhere for the right trade, jokingly adding, “except Yahk, British Columbia, population 200.”

The next morning the phone rang, “Hi Kyle, my name’s Jeff. I’ll give you two all-expense paid trips to (you guessed it) Yahk, B.C. for the snowmobile.”

Kyle ate his words and accepted.

Be open to opportunities in disguise

While in Yahk, he traded the extra trip for a small truck.

Kyle then traded the small truck for a recording contract with a Canadian band, Metalworks, which he traded to a singer-songwriter named Jody for a year’s free rent in her Phoenix duplex.

While in Phoenix, Kyle met a woman named Leslie who offered him an afternoon with her boss for the year of free rent. That may not sound like a good trade, but Leslie’s boss was none other than rock legend, Alice Cooper.

When Kyle marketed the opportunity to hang out with Alice Cooper, he was barraged with offers. He finally traded with a concert photographer from Cincinnati who offered a KISS snow globe.

Snow globes can buy a house without much money

Remember the actor, Corbin Bernsen, from the TV show L.A. Law?  Bernsen has the largest collection of snow globes in the world and badly wanted Kyle’s KISS snow globe. So he offered to trade a paid speaking role in the upcoming film “Donna on Demand.”

Turns out, the town of Kipling, Saskatchewan, population about 1,000, owned several unused homes and thought an American Idol-style audition for the speaking part would bring publicity to the town. They knew Kyle’s ultimate goal was a house, so they offered him one in exchange for the town hosting the speaking audition.

So, a little over a year after beginning his trades, Kyle headed to Saskatchewan to claim his new home. 3,500 people showed up for the housewarming party and to audition for the part. Corbin Bernsen, the two girls who traded the fish pen, and many of Kyle’s other traders were among the guests.

At the party someone asked Kyle if he wished he still had that red paperclip. After all, it was historic, maybe even valuable. Kyle explained that in the beginning it was about a paperclip and a house, but in the end it was about a memory and an amazing adventure.

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