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How to Score Free and Nearly Free Stuff.

Updated on November 17, 2017
Got for Free!!
Got for Free!!

The Best Things In Life Are Free

There's something exciting about scoring stuff for free, don't you think? Personally, I go through 3 emotional levels:

  • First, it makes me feel like a NFL quarterback who scored the winning Super Bowl touchdown. I even do a little fist pump if no one is looking.
  • And then, I feel a bit guilty, like I'm stealing; I get that little tingle of being naughty. Ooh, bad Hecate.
  • Finally, the last level of emotion is smugness. Sorry, that doesn't sound real humble, but it's true. I'm a smarty pants for getting that free stuff. I did something good for myself and my family; I saved us money. In your face, retail! Yeah.


Source

So How Can I Get Free Stuff?

Believe it or not, thousands of companies are begging you, the average person, to take free stuff from them every day. It may be in the form of printable coupons or sample sizes sent to your home. Don't feel guilty! They aren't doing this because they're suckers or like being nice. It's their sneaky way to get you hooked on a product. And hey, if you really like the product, it's a win-win for everyone.

The Internet has a plethora of freebie sites. Here's one I've had luck with:

http://www.samplestuff.com: Sign up for their email newsletter and they will send you notice of free samples everyday!

Cereal I got for really cheap, ranging from 2.00 down to .50 a box!
Cereal I got for really cheap, ranging from 2.00 down to .50 a box!

Couponing

If you have ever watched "Extreme Couponing" show on TLC, you know there are some very dedicated and successful couponers out there. They buy $1000 worth of stuff, then hand a huge wad of sweaty coupons to the wide-eyed cashier. Two hours later, voila, the grand total is $8! However, they make couponing their full time job and go to great lengths to get coupons. Some aren't above dumpster diving or begging their neighbors for their Sunday paper inserts. You don't have to be that extreme to save a little dough; you too can get free or almost free stuff couponing if you do a little research.

First of all, where do you get the coupons?

  • Old school: Sunday paper. The great thing about Sunday paper coupons is the coupons frequently coincide with grocery sales. Buying an item with a coupon is good, but buying an item that's on sale with a coupon is more bang for your buck. This what we call "coupon matchups"
  • High tech: Online. coupons.com is the best site for free online coupons. You will need a printer and a willingness to allow the site to download their software onto your computer. Some people are squeamish about the last part; it's understandable, however,I've never had an issue with their software. Why do they require this? Well, they are trying to keep a limit of how many coupons you can print. (Psst...the way around this annoying feature is to have several different computers to print from).


E-clips and Rebate Apps

On top of buying a item on sale with a coupon, you can maximize your savings even further by using electronic coupons, or "e-clips". Stay with me, because this is really awesome!

Do you have a store rewards card? If you do, you can probably put the coupon savings right on your card! That's right, no clipping required! They scan your card and ca-ching, the savings is automatically taken off your total. (So obviously, e-clips won't work at Walmart or other places that don't have a rewards card.)

Where do you find e-clips?

  • Go to your grocery store's website. (Mine is Giant Eagle) Now, you may have to do some digging, but look for a tab or link like "savings" or "specials" or maybe "e-offers". Once you find the e-clips, you can chose and click the items you want to save money on. Now, you may be thinking the e-clips will be null and void if you try to use a paper coupon with the item, but I've done this before and it took BOTH the paper coupon AND the eclip savings off the final bill. (A word of caution: e-clips can be stubborn and refuse to compute. I"ve had a few times the e-clips offer didn't register; the store usually shrugs their shoulders and say that can't do anything about it.)

AND/OR

  • Savingsstar: Go to https://savingstar.com/ and register your store card on this site. Works the same as above except it's an independent site, not affiliated with any store.

Another way to get electronic savings is rebate apps on your smart phone and the one I recommend is Ibotta. It's absolutely free to download and use. The app lists about dozen different grocery items a week and rebate offers ranging from .50 to 1.50. You pick the item you are interested in buying and complete a few very simple and short tasks; like a survey, or watching a 30 sec video. Then you buy the item listed, take a picture of your receipt, scan the bar code of the product, and you earn your rebate. After you have $5.00 accrued, you can have your money transferred in to a pay pal account, or give it to your school or charity. I've made $13.00 so far, so it's definitely legit. If you piggyback this program with sales and coupons, you could get the item for free or even make money!

Make money shopping?!? Hecate, you are INSANE. Yes, I am a little crazy, but I'm telling you the truth; you can make money on some items if you play your cards (or coupons) right!


Do you use coupons?

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Organize your shopping trip

If you're serious about getting the most for your grocery dollar, you need to plan out your trip ahead of time.

  • Get a binder to organize all your coupons: I have a dedicated binder with tabs so I can locate my coupons quickly and easily. It's no fun digging around for that must have coupon!
  • Look through all the local grocery fliers to find the best deal: "Store A" may have an item on sale for $4.99; oh what a good deal! But hang on, "Store B" might have the same item on sale for a little bit less. Store loyalty won't help you get the most for your money, so check all your all the fliers ahead of time.
  • Know the grocery store's coupon policies: Some stores have double coupons, some have triple coupons, some won't accept Internet coupons, and some don't accept coupons at all (Like Aldi's and Ollie's). Know the rules before you coupon.
  • Write a list of all the items you want with the corresponding e-clips, rebates, and coupons and what the final price should be: This gives you some idea of what you are going to spend and helps you keep track of the items you want.
  • Forget brand loyalty: My motto is: "Choosy mom's may choose Jif, but peanut butter is peanut butter if you can save a buck or two!" In other words, you can't be enormously picky if you want to save money.
  • Find a website that lists coupon matchups for your store: There are some really sweet (I should say "sainted") extreme couponers out there who are saving you a lot of time and effort; they match up the weekly sales and coupons for you! Just type in "(your store) coupon matchups" in Google to find the site you need. I've seen matchup sites for Rite Aid, Walmart, Giant Eagle, CVS, Walgreens, Dollar General and much, much more!

Happy Saving!

I have supplied you with your ultimate savings arsenal, so go out there and score some cheap and free stuff!

Comments

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    • hecate-horus profile imageAUTHOR

      hecate-horus 

      5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks, Millionaire Tips! Eclips are the future, IMO :)

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      Great tips here - I'm still doing things the old fashioned way with coupons and definitely need to get up to speed with the new fangled gadgets.

    • hecate-horus profile imageAUTHOR

      hecate-horus 

      5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Yay! :) Thanks for your comment, Natashalh!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 

      5 years ago from Hawaii

      Ibotta rocks! I recently combined it with a half off cereal sale to get some cereal for about a dollar a box. Way exciting!

    • hecate-horus profile imageAUTHOR

      hecate-horus 

      5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks so much Alecia! I appreciate the pin and sharing!

    • hecate-horus profile imageAUTHOR

      hecate-horus 

      5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks Busillis22, glad I can help!

    • hecate-horus profile imageAUTHOR

      hecate-horus 

      5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Alwaysamber! Every little coupon helps, IMO. I know, it's hard to find time to "extreme coupon". Most of the people who do it make it their full time job.

    • hecate-horus profile imageAUTHOR

      hecate-horus 

      5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks, Boulism, I clip at night while watching TV, that way it's not so tedious. :)

    • hecate-horus profile imageAUTHOR

      hecate-horus 

      5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks, Jeannieinabottle! I know, I also feel like a failure if I go somewhere without my coupons . I'm so frugal it hurts to open my wallet, so using coupons makes me cringe less.

    • hecate-horus profile imageAUTHOR

      hecate-horus 

      5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks for commenting, Aviannovice! I'm hoping it will help people save money in these penny pitching times.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Great tips indeed! I definitely like saving money so I'm going to pin and share this.

    • busillis22 profile image

      busillis22 

      5 years ago

      I'm a grad student working hard to try and save every penny I can, this is extremely helpful!

    • profile image

      alwaysamber 

      5 years ago

      Great hub! I'm always looking for ways and websites to scrore free items. I have a hub on extreme couponing, but have never "mastered" it , myself. I usually just clip coupons for things that I use often, such as my favorite shampoo , toothpaste, etc. I don't have enough time to make a binder, find the sales and do the math. Thanks for sharing !

    • Boulism profile image

      Boulism 

      5 years ago from Short Beach, CT

      My mother is so good at this, but I've never really had the energy....thanks for the motivation!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 

      5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Great information! I feel like a failure if I go grocery shopping and don't use at least a few coupons. I also shop at Target and Walmart quite a bit for groceries and paper products, and that helps a lot, too. They both take coupons, but they don't double them like some grocery stores, so it just depends on the items. Voted up!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Superb ideas. I used to clip coupons when I was in Delaware and did rather well. Now, I generally do to Walmart and do fairly well without coupons. It sure has become a sophisticated business, and I certainly like you way of thinking! Great hub for the saver! Awesome and up to help on the household bills.

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