How to Find Really Free Freebies

By Linsey Knerl on 21 January 2010 (Updated 4 February 2011) 15 comments

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This article shares tips from the newest episode of Dealista, our podcast that'll help you get more for less.

Everybody loves free stuff, provided it’s actually at no cost to you. Finding it can be a challenge, however. We hook you up with a few great resources and some trustworthy tips for getting even more of the freebies you love!

What’s a Freebie?

In a nutshell, it’s something you get for nothing — with the exception of your time or energy. Some folks don’t want to take even a minute to try to get something free (their time is just too valuable). For the majority of us, however, as long as the value of the free item is well above what we would get paid to work for our time invested — it’s a great deal!

Freebies can be anything from a small, trial-sized product (like shampoo or medicine) to a full-sized item that you’d buy from a store (software or clothing, for instance). Most often provided as a way to promote a business offering, they can sometimes be adorned with the logos of companies. A true freebie, however, will cost you no money out of pocket and won’t ask for your personal financial information.

Where Can You Find Freebies?

Since I spend hours every week looking for freebies, I’ve come to learn that many websites feature the same offers. They share and they swipe, but a handful of sites is all you really need to find the bulk majority of the good ones. Here are the ones that I use daily for my own personal freebie needs.

Wise Bread’s Daily Deals — Hey! Of course, I love this one. With 3-4 good freebies listed each Monday-Friday, it’s a great stop to make every morning to keep your mailbox flowing with the good stuff. (You can even get a little shopping done, if you’re so inclined.)

Common Sense with Money — Not only is Mercedes (the blogger of the site) a great freebie-finder, but she does an excellent job of providing information that will help you determine if a freebie is right for you. Her daily finds include free stuff after purchase and a good variety of samples that can be gotten just by filling out forms. I check this site every morning.

DealNews — Known for bargains on technology and gadgets, DealNews isn’t the first place people think of for freebies. Scroll down the home page a bit towards the middle, however, and you’ll find a nice assortment of free photo print offers, iphone application downloads, and restaurant freebies. Rated for “hotness,” each offer lets you know if the community at large finds it to be valuable, as well. (DealNews is also pretty diligent about taking down offers as they expire or run out of supply.)

Walmart.com — This mega retailer has more going on than just shopping opportunities. By scanning the left-hand side of the home page, you will see a link to “In Stores Now.” Click it, and it will take you a special promotions page for in-store and free sample offers. The free sample offers require no more than your basic information and are a great way to try new products and stock up your cabinet with goodies. Recent offers include diapers, heartburn medication, and shampoo.

How to Tell the Good from the Bad

Some freebies are legit, and others are just a scam. How can you discern between them? Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years.

Check the privacy policy — Most reputable sites will include privacy or terms of usage agreements on their site (check the bottom of the page or the fine print at the end of the registration form for details). If you don’t see this, you may not be dealing with a trustworthy website. Understand how your information may be used to contact you about future offers, and look to see if there is a way to opt-out of marketing communications before you give out your info.

Stay way from shady subdomains — It’s easy to see that an offer housed at www.tylenol.com is being handled by Tylenol itself, but sometimes other companies will fulfill offers on behalf of larger corporations. Familiarize yourself with how web addresses work, and see if it’s possible to access the home page from any offer you may have clicked on. If a link appears to be unsecured or from a website that doesn’t look reputable, walk away without your freebie.

Avoid additional offers — Many of the freebies that I encounter from even trustworthy sites are no more than money-making or affiliate schemes. If you are required to sign up for offers or start free-trial offers in exchange for your free items, the freebie may not be for you. (Usually, the freebie offerer gets a certain amount of money for each offer you complete. They end up making much more money off of you than you’ll ever get back for the freebie — if they send the freebie to you, at all.) Go ahead and let someone else make them money. You don’t need these kinds of strings-attached offers.

What to do with freebies? Some may think of them as a waste of time or a way to clutter up your medicine cabinet. I’ve known many well-meaning and successful freebie hunters who have helped to supplement their pantry or first aid kit with the fruits of their labor, however. You may also consider using your freebie hobby as a way to contribute much-needed supplies to homeless shelters and pet charities. They’d gladly take your unwanted freebies!

Dealista is a collaboration between Wise Bread and Quick and Dirty Tips, the producer of popular podcasts such as Grammar Girl, Money Girl, Winning Investor, and Mighty Mommy.

If you enjoyed these tips you can find more in our show's archive.

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Guest's picture
Guest

I have to say, that in the past year, I've been checking WiseBread every day, for the daily free offers. Then I promptly click the links and fill out the forms and wait.

........and wait..........
...and wait..........................and wait.........

And honestly, the ONLY thing I've recieved in the past year, from ALL those daily free offers, was:

A free little tin to put almonds in.

That's been it.

I've signed up for tee shirts, hats, totes...you name it...
NOTHING ever comes!

I love WiseBread. Don't get me wrong. I love the articles.
But I'm wondering if anyone else has been getting their free stuff? Cause I sure haven't!!

:(

Guest's picture
Guest

Did you notice your neighbors or your mailman wearing the t-shirts?

Linsey Knerl's picture

I'm sorry you haven't been having much luck with our past freebies.  I personally have been putting together Wise Bread's deals and freebies each day for only the past 4 weeks.  When I pick a freebie, I fill out the form myself, personally, just to be sure that the form goes through and that there are no requests for payment information.

In the past 3 weeks, I've received (off the top of my head):

Atkins nutrition bars (3 in a sample pack)

Nature Made TripleFlex Liquid Softgels (from a Walmart offer)

Several printable coupons from free facebook offers

3 Diapers from 3 different diapers samples offers

2 magazine subscriptions

I realize that most offers take 6-8 weeks to fulfill, and many of them may have a limited supply (meaning that if you sign up after everyone else, you may miss out.)

Overall, I've had great luck with the freebies offers that I've shared with Wise Bread readers.  If I find that an offer is repeatedly not being mailed out, I leave it off the list the next time it comes around.

(Another thing to note is that many of the hats, t-shirts, etc may be open only to qualified businesses.  If I see these types of offers, I consider wether they apply to the majority of the readership before I post them.  I typically have not had a lot of luck with these myself, unless I'm really in the market for their service offering.)

Thanks for your feedback, and I encourage you to keep trying!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
mamaC

I think this is where the problem lies. You request your freebies before the rest of the readers flood the website for requests. I have received emails in the past from companies letting me know that they just didn't have enough stock to fulfill all of the freebie requests they received.

I have chat board friends that still curse me over the Snuggies that didn't appear. ;)
I have all but given up on jumping on the freebie band wagon when they are posted on other websites.

Guest's picture
Robert

I think Craigslist's free stuff section is a fantastic place to get free stuff. They have constantly updated freebies and, well, it's 100% free! The only problem is getting something before someone else does!

Guest's picture
Christy

I've also had good luck with the Wise Bread freebies. I would suggest to stick with reputable companies and have some patience.

I would be interested to hear more about peoples success with Craigslist, Freecycle, etc. I'm kind of scared to use those due to some negative press (like some psyco is going to get you :P).

Guest's picture
Guest

You forgot to tell people... If you are going to start signing up for "Freebies" to get a seperate email address just for "freebies" because most freebies will then send you additional advertising and newsletters. This will keep your regular email junk free.

And Yes, I would say that only 50% of the freebies I have requested have arrived.

Linsey Knerl's picture

I've personally used the same email for giveaways and freebies as I do for most everything else, and have had little problem.  BUT I'm also very good about using spam filters and only signing up for stuff I'm sure will come.  Not everyone is comfortable doing that, so that is a really good tip!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
saudade

Props to Robert for mentioning Craigslist. Not only can you get something for free, but you are reusing and recycling.

Guest's picture
Guest

Maybe I'm just being too greedy, then...I usually sign up for only the "good offers", like hats n tee shirts, etc.
I don't bother with little samples, and nutrition bars and stuff.
(I'm the first poster, who isn't getting her free stuff!)

Has anyone mentioned Freecycle.org?

I'm in a hurry, and I don't feel like reading everyone's posts!
But I've gotten a cushion for a folding bed, and my Son's actual twin bed (minus the mattresses) from there. Freecycle rocks...if you are the one chosen to get the stuff!
But I've also gotten rid of a TON of stuff laying around my house, on there, too. From old spices in my cabinet, to a bunch of unneeded blankets and sheets, that someone from an animal shelter came and got.
And you can just leave stuff on your porch or lawn, and wait for the person to pick them up, from the safety of your locked house!

:)

Guest's picture

I'd be careful of hidden shipping costs involved with a lot of freebies. That's where a lot of places make a profit, by the shipping.

For those that use computer software, you can great deals on various applications by checking the bog box retailers like OD, Office Max and Staples. Lots of times they have free after rebate items that rerally come in handy

Guest's picture
Michele

I've had the same problem with free offers from Wisebread sites...I've gotten a trial pack of Cheerios and a free sample of shampoo. That's it for over a year on Wisebread. I must be picking the wrong things- I still haven't gotten the shamwow that I really wanted!!!
On the other hand, I do a lot of online surveys and subscribe to a lot of cooking and recipe sites and get tons of free coupons for stuff I probably wouldn't buy but I try them and then send in the survey results for marketing- like Velveeta Mac N' Cheese cups (gross) and the new Jello Mousse cups (YUM).

Guest's picture
Guest

Steering people to websites that, for the most part, sell things, isn't a great way to find freebies.

Two are.

craigslist has a free section. A really free section.

And freecycle.org has groups that give away things (and let you give away things) based on your neighborhood.

Linsey Knerl's picture

I agree that there are many other ways to get "free stuff". This article was written to highlight the world of "freebies," specifically, in this article.  Freebies (different from ordinary stuff you would get from free on a classifieds site) have a marketing or promotional nature about them.  See Wiki for an example.

Thanks for all the helpful comments!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
Kimber

Thanks for sharing. I'm a moderator at this site: www.freebiesdealsandrewards.com/forum and they have daily prizes, freebies every Friday, weekly and monthly giveaways, quarterly contests and so many more opportunities to get free stuff. The prizes are open to Canadian and American members unless otherwise stated. Check it out! :)