I have always had the strong belief that nothing in life is ever truly free. There’s always a price to be paid. That was before I did some digging and found a crapload of different things that you can acquire without paying a penny or sacrificing any real time, emotion, or self-respect. There’s no reason to pay for something if you can get it for free, especially if you are on a tight budget and looking to save money anywhere you can. With that being said, here is my guide to getting free stuff in just about every category.
Coffee: Activate a Starbucks card online, and once a year you get a free drink of your choice plus “stars” with every visit that can ad up for free treats. Dunkin’ Donuts also has “Dunkin’ Perks” that you can sign up for on their website that will land you exclusive offers for free drinks and a free one on your birthday (see someone cares about you on your birthday).
Free booze: Sign up for tastings at your local wine shop (you won’t seem creepy) or swing by a gallery opening to schmooze and grab some appetizers and drinks (this will be creepy if it’s invite-only).
At sporting events: Check the schedule online to see if there are any games where the venue is giving away free souvenirs or apparel.
Free attractions: A lot of museums are free, or have sponsored free nights that you can look up on their websites. Eventbrite also allows you to search events in your area by price, so if youre broke, choose free.
Free language class: The BBC offers free 12-week online classes to learn French, Spanish, Italian or German – and they even provide a certificate at the end of the course. Audio and video classes are available in those four languages, and help is also offered for other languages like Russian or Chinese.
Free education: MIT offers free online courses where you can download materials to learn an extremely comprehensive selection of their entire undergrad and graduate curriculum. You can’t take classes on campus or earn a degree, but you’ll be just as smart as those MIT kids (if that means anything to you. Or your boss. Or future employers)
Free books: You can get a ton of books for free online. Google books offers them as text and Books Should Be Free offers audio books. If you have a Kindle you can get public domain books for free from Amazon, and iBook from Apple has a bunch of cool free books as well.
Free Makeup: Sign up for Sephora’s Beauty Insider to get a free gift on your birthday, plus if you’re anything like me you will rack up points pretty quickly that will get you samples from great high-end brands from time to time. They’ll also usually give you a sample of something if you just ask for it.
Free Beauty Products: Free sample site PINCHme.com offers you the chance to try new products from popular brands for free. Their only request? Offer some feedback once you’ve received the items. Kiehl’s also hands out samples of every product it sells by just requesting it at the store, or you can call them (800-543-4572) and request for them to send you samples of what you’d like to try. Oil of Olay’s sample program (www.olay.com; click on “Samples & Offers”) also gives away small sizes of its newest products.
Free phone service: Skype and Viber are two amazing websites and apps that provide free phone calls between users, and the lowest rates on calling long distance. Apps like What’s App also make texting free between users (so you don’t have to worry about buying unlimited texting packages for those who aren’t drinking the iPhone kool-aid yet).
Free pictures: Adorama, Kodak and Snapfish offer free photo sharing and online albums as well as offers for free prints when you sign up.
Free Business cards: Vistaprint offers 250 free cards on their website. You just pay for shipping, and I believe the cards will have the Vistaprint logo on them somewhere. The company also offers a bunch of other free stuff like invitations and signs.
Free Credit Report: This is probably the most valuable thing on this list. Make sure you get your free report once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com — not knowing your credit history can really mess you up, especially if there’s an error you don’t know about.
* The Freecycle Network is a nonprofit community group with an environmental mission that lets users “recycle” unwanted items by posting ads on local online bulletin boards. If you see something you like, simply respond to the ad and schlep it home.
*StartSampling connects manufacturers with consumers who test products. You just fill out your demographic information and you could be chosen to sample anything from novels to cleaning or beauty products.
* Like your favorite brands on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to catch free sample offerings or coupons for trail offers.
* If you’re willing to take the time, often a call or email to the customer service department of one of your favorite products with a compliment and request can get you some free samples being sent out.