Our neighborhood has a loose-nit homeowner's association (it's volunteer and only $30 a month year) which entitles us to a few "special events" (Easter egg hunt, summer party, Christmas party, etc.) as well as a newsletter each year. But better yet, my wife headed an effort to make joining the association a money-saving venture. She called the three major garbage collectors in our area and got group rates to offer to association members. The lowest bid (from Waste Management) saved us about $70 a year. By combining our buying power as a group, we had all saved a good amount of money (and made joining the association a no-brainer.) And no, we all didn't have to ultimately sign up for that garbage service (there were some who chose not to change), but we did get enough participants to get the best rate.
In addition, our neighborhood has a Yahoo group where people post news and comments about our area (it's really good at getting the word out for a special event or some sort of alert like a theft at someone's home). Some of the people there regularly band together to get group rates on services like sprinkler maintenance, lawncare, snow removal, mulch delivery, and so on. Again, they are using the buying power of the group to get a good (better) rate on a service they want performed. It's better for the businesses as well -- they get many customers in one general location, so there's more business for less cost/travel time. Thus they can afford to offer lower prices and still make good money.
Along this same line of thinking, Yahoo recently offered five reasons being nice to neighbors can save you big money. Their list:
1. Internet service. All it takes is a wireless router, and you and your neighbor -- or neighbors -- can bring a $60 Internet bill down to $30 or less a month.
2. Lawn equipment. A friend who has neighbors who live in their house only part-time went in with his neighbor on the cost of a riding mower.
3. Trash pickup. Friends who do this report they cut their bill to $20-something a month from $40-something.
4. Contracting services. I had my septic pumped the same time as my neighbor, and we were offered a discount for only requiring the truck to visit one neighborhood that afternoon.
5. A babysitter. One sitter for multiple kids usually costs less than two sitters for same number of kids.
I'm not so sure about the Internet service -- I like being in control of my own data/info -- but the other suggestions can work.
How about you? Anyone out there working with their neighbors to save money on goods or services?