Freebies & Free Stuff Resources That Work For This Single Parent
Here's What Works For Me
I get lots of free stuff from lots of free places and I love it all. People say not to give out the location of your proverbial good fishing holes, but I believe sharing is caring so why not?! Here are the Top 8 resources that work for me. Really. Seriously.
- About.com http://freebies.about.com/. I have found this site to be consistently on top of things. Freebies range from open source software, samples galore from big companies and downloadable goodies. All kinds of things abound on this site. Check it out regularly as Lee Seats, the Freebie Guide stays on top of things. He considers himself a top-notch freebie expert and I have to agree.
- Walmart http://instoresnow.walmart.com/In-Stores-Now-Free-Samples-And-Trials.aspx. I first heard of this site from About.com's freebie website, but feel it warrants it's own, separate highlight. I have received so many great usable samples like cereal, snacks, shampoos, conditioners and deodorant to name a few. Click on their newly designed website and see what their offerings are today, it changes often!
- Free Software http://why.openoffice.org/. OpenOffice is a free office software that anyone can download. It includes software for word processing, spreadsheets, graphics and databases. You don't have to be a cool geek to use it, but you should know that while it does cover the basics of it's Microsoft Office counterpart, many times both programs do not communicate with each other and it may not do everything you want it to do, especially if you are used to working with Excel or PowerPoint. Still, it's a pretty damn good program and the community at large keeps things updated. For more information on the various free software tools (including web-building and other non-office type programs), as well as learning more about the free and open source software movement (FOSS), visit http://opensource.org/. It's also worthy to note than many government agencies, businesses and non-profits are leaning toward the open source route, not wanting to be at the mercy of a big giant computer company that wants to control when and what you use.
- Costco http://www.costco.com/Home.aspx. This also came from About.com, but again, feel it's worth mentioning on its own. Costco doesn't have a separate Free Samples area on their web page, but occasionally you will find manufacturers who offer web visitors free stuff. I have received shampoo and trash bags from them in the past. Simply type in "free samples" and see if anything is being offered.
- Skype http://skype.com/. I have phoned my sister in another country through my laptop using Skype for free. If both parties have Skype, then it's free. It's also free to sign-up. Their rates for Skype user to non-Skype user are not too shabby either. You can also use a webcam if you have one, or just a microphone or headset.
- Craigslist http://sfbay.craigslist.org/. Good ol' CL. Click on ‘Free' in the ‘For Sale' section and see what treasures await you! I have gleaned a clothes armoire, bookshelf, working TV, one of those gamer chairs, free glassware for the school carnival's dime toss game and little trinkets I've sold on eBay. At one time a realtor posted a 3-day Free Fest inviting folks to come and help themselves to an assortment of kitchen gadgets, vintage cottage-type furniture, jewelry, clothes, accessories, picture frames, baskets, tools... you name it. Everything was in good-to-great condition and stuff was added daily as they continued to sort through everything. Ya just never know.
- A Good, Crowded Event. I have a friend who constantly looks to the ground when we are in a large crowd of people. Why? She always, always finds money. I used to make fun of her until I started looking to the ground myself (which was much more interesting than the guy's neck in front of me). We were at a concert and I saw this green blob. Several folks stepped on it before I reached down and picked it up. It was a $10 spot. Several months later I was at the mall during the holidays. Immediately at the top of the escalator I found several bills clumped together. After running ahead, asking several folks if they had dropped money, and being looked at like I was trying to scam them, I stopped asking and pocketed the $22. Feeling guilty I went to the lost and found area to make inquiry. You know what she said? "Keep it. Nobody's asked and I can assure you it won't last back here." Sad, but true.
I'm not the type of person to constantly look down when walking as I'm always trying to be conscious of my surroundings, but when you are around lots of people it may help to make that occasional glance down!
- Freecycle http://www.freecycle.org/. One man's trash is another man's treasure. Join your local group and keep stuff out of the landfill. Not all areas have active groups. If your local community does not have an active group, one can be started. Unlike Craigslist this site does not let you post pics. You can request one while communicating before picking up the free item, sometimes you get a pic, sometimes you don't so make sure you are truly interested before getting in your car and spending the gas.
Final Note: There's no such thing as a free lunch. I'm keenly aware that free samples from companies come with a price, usually reflected in the cost of their product. And all those small, individually-packaged samples can't be good for the environment. I do not request samples I would not otherwise use in my own home, and since I am not brand loyal on all but a few things, I see this as an opportunity to test the waters. Also, when giving or receiving on Craigslist or Freecycle, make sure you are safe. Have someone go with you, and/or meet in a public place if the item is not too bulky. Having said that, enjoy the freebie life!