Are You Getting These 5 Things for Free?

By Tisha Tolar on 19 October 2012 (Updated 24 October 2012) 9 comments
Photo: e_chaya

As people are working harder to cut back on spending and reduce their living costs, they are finding creative ways to put more cash in the bank. Couponing, repurposing products, and growing your own food are certainly excellent ways to cut costs, but there is also legitimately free stuff you can take advantage of too. (See also: Big List of Birthday Freebies)

Here are five often-free things to consider.

1. Free Meals for Kids

There are lots of restaurants that offer a time slot where kids under 12 can eat for free as long as mom or dad is buying a meal too. My family loves going to Friendly’s to celebrate birthdays, and on Tuesdays your child’s meal is free all day. Mr. Free Stuff has a list of 101 restaurants listed by the days kids get free food. Going out to eat is often one of the first things cut from a family’s fun list in the interest of saving, but free meals can put dining out back on the activity list. Find out which restaurants near you offer kid deals, and you may also find many that offer incentives for adults as well.

2. BOGO Deals

OK, so you do have to spend some money with this one, but you really can’t beat a buy one, get one free offer. For back to school shopping, my daughter and I each got a pair of sneakers using a BOGO offer, which was great since I wouldn’t have been able to get any for myself otherwise. Many retailers are capitalizing on the popularity of these get-one deals and sponsor all-day sales. Keep tabs on store fliers or sign up for store information emails so you know when free stuff is available. Grocery stores are also a great place to stock up on necessities for free. Use caution with BOGO deals, though, as you should only buy what you truly need — otherwise you are doing just the opposite of saving money.

3. Books and Movies

The Internet has a plethora of free books, television shows, and movies. If you have been contemplating suspending your cable services in the interest of saving money, you can still access plenty of entertainment online at no cost. You can also get free books and movies at your local library.

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4. Product Samples

There are a lot of ways to get free samples of products you use every day. Manufacturers provide free samples in advertising, when you register through their company website or social media sites, and at in-store kiosks. Check for coupons for free samples of new products just put on the market. It may also help to know people in the right places. Those who sell for a living are likely to have free samples of products sitting in their basement. For instance, my mom is a pediatric nurse, so I have all the free cold medicine my child could ever need. I also have a friend who sells beauty products; I shouldn’t have to buy shampoo for years to come. Free samples are manufactured to be given away to consumers, so don’t be shy about accepting them.

5. Entertainment and Personal Development

Boredom often translates into spending. Many people hit the mall when they need something to do, or they find other ways to spend money. Rather than mourn the loss of fun in your family life, consider making a difference instead. There are many organizations in your own community that would love for you (and your family) to volunteer. No matter what you love, you can find ways to enrich your life by helping others. Volunteer at the local animal shelter, hospital, or in any number of community groups.

Many times over the years I have been a part of some great events at no cost to me. I got to eat free, enjoy the activity, and give back to my community. It is a lot of fun being behind the scenes and using my skills to do the marketing for various events. Volunteering is also a great addition to your resume, and you can make some amazing connections with people you may not otherwise have met. I cannot count the number of opportunities that have come to me through my volunteering connections, including ones that added to my income.

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Guest's picture

We all know the saying that there is nothing free in life but this article reminded me of the great deals we all have the ability to receive. I always like to get the BOGO deals but sometimes the BOGO are not what I like. However, I have to say I went into Payless a month ago and found great deals on two sandals that were BOGO. I was extremely happy with my purchase.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am not afraid to ask a fellow shopper/spectator if they'd care to go in on a purchase with me....who needs 2 of the same knives, cleaning product, etc. You just split the purchase price and both get a deal. I have yet to be turned down with this proposal.

Guest's picture

Love getting free samples of perfume! Not only do they last for a while, they allow you a variety of different scents to choose from without having to buy an incredibly expensive full size bottle. Never knew kids ate for free all day on Tuesdays at Friendly's. Cool!

Kentin Waits's picture

I'm a big fan of using my local library for books and movies -- can't beat free! Thanks for the article.

Guest's picture
Shawn

The only thing better than free is getting cash back for things you already do. You can get cash back at several of the stores you visit without a reward card. Ebates.com will give you cash back for shopping at stores through their site. Most of the stores you wil be shopping at anyway. This is a great to time sign up for it with Black Friday being right around the corner.

Guest's picture

My library has audio books that can be checked out online. Great article. I featured it on the Frugal News Review podcast episode 15.

Guest's picture
David @ Bankruptcy Canada

Other things you can get for free: Wi-fi hotspots and great recipes. :)

Guest's picture

I've been debating getting rid of cable for a few years now. I know I can watch network shows on their websites for free, but my issue is that I love sports and so far, there is no alternative to cable/satellite. That is of course considering that I don't want to sit in a bar all of the time to watch a game!

Guest's picture
Reza Alborz

Great article. The one thing I don't like are the fake BOGO. The one's that are buy one, get one 1/2 off. Well, that just translates to getting 25% off of each product and as great as that is, I'm sure I can find it cheaper elsewhere.