How to Find Thousands of Freebies

It has never been easier to get good stuff for free — from individuals and companies. Here’s how to track it down.

Want something for nothing? Go online. All you have to do is look to find free beauty products, children’s items, restaurant meals, furniture, electronics or even cellphone service.

Sometimes this means a one-time sign-up, but ongoing sources of goodies also exist, letting you browse whenever you have a minute. You might not even have to do the browsing, because reputable freebie bloggers will do the filtering for you.

Following are some great places to snag freebies.

Freecycle Network

Depending on where you live, The Freecycle Network can mean a constant stream of fabulous freebie opportunities or a sluggish trickle of “meh”-ness. After all, people in wealthy areas have more to give than folks in less affluent communities. Another variable: Freecycle groups are not always very well-organized.

But, given that Freecycle is a volunteer organization, it’s hard to complain. Besides, when it works it’s fabulous. A relative has picked up furniture, children’s clothing and other goodies. When I lived in Seattle, I received canning jars and tree fruit.

I also used Freecycle to give away framed prints, a two-CD set of “The Nutcracker,” a paraffin hand spa and an unopened pair of anti-embolism stockings, which saved car-free me from having to lug all this stuff to the thrift store by bus.


Similarly, the “free” section of Craigslist sometimes yields some real keepers, as do trading sites such Listia.comSwapmamas (for kid-related needs), Swapstyle (clothing) and BookMooch.

There are some pitfalls, such as the “flake factor.” Flakes are the folks who offer you a futon or bookcase but aren’t home when they said they’d be, or who gave it to someone else and forgot to tell you. Get a phone number or at least an email address so you can remind them you’re coming over.

And another word of caution: If you’re going to the home of a total stranger or inviting a total stranger into yours, he or she might be sizing up your home for future burglary or intending to do you some sort of harm. Think about meeting in a public place (for smaller items) or bringing the couch or bookcase outdoors when the trader shows up.

Freebie bloggers

Looking for an ongoing source of gratis goodies?

One thing you should not do is conduct a general online search for “free stuff” or “freebies.” You’re likely to find websites with viruses or malware that will infect your computer, or “free” offers that ask you to provide a credit card.

Instead, sign up with freebie bloggers such as Hey! It’s Free!, Hunt4Freebies, The Freebie Blogger and AbsurdlyCool Freebie Finder, all of whom uncover an amazing variety of free stuff, from housewares to snack foods to beauty products.

Social media

You can also go the social media route. Companies anxious to promote products, encourage brand loyalty and woo additional customers have turned social media into a nonstop giveaway. A super-simple method is to follow “freebie tweeters,” such as @freestuffrocks and @heyitsfree. Or follow your favorite brands on Twitter, or click “like” on their Facebook pages.

Social media contests abound, too, and some of them are as easy as clicking “like” or retweeting an offer. Then again, you might actually have to do a little work: write something, post a photograph or even make a video. However, the prizes can be primo, such as trips, jewelry, high-value gift cards and electronics.

A few best practices for social media freebie-finding:

  • Focus on local businesses. The contestant pool is generally smaller.
  • Watch local franchisees. Your local Chick-fil-A may give out freebies independent of the national office.
  • Start a separate email account. Use it for all giveaways/freebies/contests, not just those on social media.

If you’re willing to put some time into this, check out “tweet chats” and “Twitter parties.” The former is a chance to talk about a specific topic (personal finance, parenting, education), and the latter is an online promo party that includes the sharing of ideas. Prizes are awarded randomly to participants.

For a list of chats, check Tweetreports or Tweetchat. Note: You’ll have to spend up to an hour at each event, so be sure you choose a topic that actually interests you.

If you have opinions to share, you might get paid for them by joining Amazon Vine. Writing helpful reviews on Amazon can lead to an invitation to try out new and early release products.

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  • hannah h

    The sites you suggested have helped my family out greatly

  • Carolina Cooper

    Hi, Donna! Five years ago, when I was first laid off, I read about Heyitsfree in one of your articles. SInce then, I have gotten hundred of items from “Goob” who runs the site. I haven’t bought toothpaste, coffee, tea, calendars, shampoo etc. for YEARS. Plus, it is so much fun to find freebies in the mail, along with the inevitable junk mail. Thanks for writing about freebies again.

    • donnafreedman

      Nice to see you in this space, Carolina…! And I’m glad that the freebies are working for you. I love the idea of the mailbox as pinata. 😉

  • Don Lowery

    Another source of free books I have found locally is the local library. The reason is that with all the donations they get…there are many books which the library may have too many copies of or are too old to put on the shelf. For instance…having IT training in the past…I have gotten some almost new older books on programming and IT for free. For instance…found some programming books for BASIC (1979 textbook) and Visual Basic for the taking. They are old (the Visual Basic book still had the CD/DVD with it with a student version of Visual Basic on it)…but if you’re wanting to find a free way to learn programming…what more could you ask for? You learn Visual Basic…the foundation is there…so you could go to Python or C+.

  • Great we are checking out freecycle now!

  • A few more ways to get free stuff:
    Try extreme couponing.
    Visit a community cafe, where you can eat for free by volunteering.
    Have a clothing swap.
    Get free transportation on your morning commute by “slugging.”
    Download free software – with options for everything from productivity software to games.
    Check out your local library for books, movies, music, and live events.
    Get free airline tickets by agreeing to be bumped from another flight.
    Drive across the country for free with an auto driveaway service.
    (You can read about all these ideas in detail in my Money Crashers article on “11 Things You Can Get for Free.”)

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