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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.