Let’s face it, life can be expensive, even if you don’t have expensive tastes. By the time you’ve paid your rent, food and monthly bills, there’s not a lot left for you to spend on yourself. To get more spare cash, you either have to increase your income or cut your spending, neither of which is much fun. Fortunately, there is an alternative that avoids having to work harder or cut back, and that is to find free stuff.
There’s a surprising number of freebies around if you just know where to look. With a bit of careful planning and minimal effort, you can get all kinds of stuff with little or no charge, from furniture to food, transport to entertainment, saving you a fortune. Here’s a quick look at ten great ways to find what you need for free:
1.Community marketplaces – many towns and cities have a local donation site, such as Freecycle.org, where you can find all kinds of stuff from sofas and beds to clothes and CDs. This isn’t going to be new stuff, but it is usually in perfectly good order, and your only cost will be travelling to pick it up. You’ll be surprised how thankful the donors are for you taking their surplus stuff off their hands and saving them the time and trouble of taking it to the local waste tip.
2. Samples – lots of companies offer free samples of their products to try to gain new customers. These are normally smaller, trial-sized versions, but if you have no strong preference or brand loyalty, you can keep yourself in things like toothpaste and hair products all year round.
3. Loyalty cards– most supermarkets and coffee houses have a loyalty card scheme where you collect points every time you shop. These can quickly add up to money off your groceries or a free cup of coffee, especially if you stay loyal to one brand or outlet. Chances are you are buying their stuff anyway, so the free extras is a real bonus. You can also get cash back on purchases and bills with some bank accounts and credit cards.
4. Online surveys– data is king in the commercial world, and so companies are keen to gather as much information about their customer base as they can. Look online for paid surveys, or register with a survey site, such as Swagbucks.com to get surveys sent to your inbox. You can earn some serious cash for just a few minutes of your time, plus you can get vouchers for free products and services connected to the subject of the survey.
5. Product testing– another waythat companies gain insight into customer behaviour is through product testing. If you agree to try out a new product, such as a vacuum cleaner, you can often get to keep it at the end of the trial as a thank you for your input, or alternatively, you may get paid for your time and effort. Even if you don’t get rewarded, you’ll still get to use the product being tested for free during the trial.
6. Free rides– many major cities offer some form of free transport, from the Staten Island Ferry in New York to Dallas M-Line vintage trolley. If you’d rather go by car, look for cities with freeway lanes reserved for cars with multiple occupants. Drivers will often be happy to give you a free ride so that they can use this lane in the busy morning or evening rush hours. There will normally be a local website where you can register your interest. For longer trips, the big car rental companies are always on the lookout for drivers to return one-way rentals back to their city of origin.
7. Casino bonuses – the online casino market is hugely competitive, with everyone scrambling for the same limited pool of new customers. This means there are some very generous welcome bonuses around, giving you the chance to play their casino games for free. Review websites like CasinoSmash are a great place to find the best casino bonus offers. Always remember to read the small print before you play so that you get the best from your bonus and don’t lose out on any winnings.
8. Free trials– almost every service offers some sort of free trial for new customers. You can enjoy several weeks, or even months of TV streaming services, music, magazines and much moreeither completely free or for a significantly reduced cost. You will probably have to give them your bank or card details to start the trial, so put a note on your calendar so you remember to cancel the trial before the paid service kicks in and they start taking your money.
9. Competitions– there are endless free prize draws and competitions out there that cost you no more than a stamp to enter, and if you enter online, they don’t even cost you that. You can find big prizes like luxury holidays and cars, but there are plenty of smaller prizes too. Many competitions, especially smaller, local ones, have a surprisingly low entry, so your chances of winning are much better than you think. Look for competitions that involve skill, such as writing a caption or slogan, as these have the lowest entry rates.
10. Free entertainment – whatever you enjoy doing in your downtime, you can often find it for free. Your local library is normally free to join and offers access to thousands of books, music and even movies to borrow. If you have a Kindle or similar e-reader, you can find over 50,000 free e-books on Amazon and 60,000 more on Project Gutenberg. You can even get free audiobooks from sites such as LibriVox. You could even start your own book exchange at work or in your building, where people put in books they have read and take something new from someone else.