Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Less Than Comprehensive Guide to Getting Free Stuff

In tough economic times, everyone needs a ... boost here and there. Free stuff is a boost both financially (sorta self-explanatory) and mentally (it's pretty fun and satisfying getting stuff for free). This is your unofficial step-by-step guide to obtaining your goods and saving a few bucks in the process.

1. Free Stuff Sites

There are so many of these that it's not even funny. Google "free stuff", "free stuff sites" or "freebies" and millions of pages will flood your screen. One good thing to do is to type in your country so offers are available in your area ("Canadian free stuff" or "Australian free stuff"). As well, you might want to subscribe to these sights through RSS or add them to your favorites.

2. Free Stuff Newsletters

These sites occasionally will have newsletters to subscribe to notifying you of new offers. A few are:

3. "Free ..." Searches

"Free baseballs", "free magazines", "free pencils", whatever. This turns up more direct results and generally the results that these searches retrieve are more trustworthy than free stuff sites.

4. Look for it

If you're at your favorite store's site, keep a keen eye out for any small boxes in the corners that either offer free items if you buy another thing or offer you free things if you sign up for something. Furthermore, when you're actually at the store, there might be free samples or at grocery stores, often they give away free newspapers or magazines.

5. Giveaways/Sweepstakes/Contests/Draws

Don't count on winning too many of these but if ever you win $10,000 or a car, all those hours will be worth it. However, don't pay to enter contests and don't give too much contact information either. Usually, just look at the site's design to see if you can trust them; if it's sleek and professional, then it's good.

6. Free Samples

Believe it or not, free samples are everywhere- you just have to find them. And this isn't as hard as you think. They're not buried that deep and most free stuff sites have a section devoted to free samples while company homepages often have links to free sample promotions. Again, just have to have a keen eye.

7. Coupons

Pretty much every store has their coupons, whether in the form of promotional codes to be used online or printable coupons. So before you make a purchase, always look for ways to get discounts. My favorite coupon sites are RetailMeNot, MommySavesBig, CouponCabin and DealTaker .

8. Reminder

Remember to exercise judgment when looking for these things. First of all, if it's free then why the hell would they need your credit card information; and don't fall for some lame excuse like "we are contractually obligated" or something. Also, there are tons of scam sites that make you think you're getting something for free, but in reality, you'll end up having to pay. A few rules: If it's a pop-up, don't trust it; read the small text; no detailed contact information (address is understandable).

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