While we often focus on ways to save money, there’s no better deal than getting something for free. For some reason, things just taste, feel, and look better when they’re free. From food to entertainment, we’ve compiled a list a 14 things you can get to free if you know where to look.
Before deciding where to eat, look for promotions for free food from local eateries. Some restaurants or cafes celebrate national food days – such as donut day or pancake day – and it might be easy to find a free bite to eat.
There are also hundreds of restaurants across the United States that will feed your kids for free. You may need to purchase an adult entry to receive a free kid’s meal, or the free kids’ meals may only be available at specific times or on select days.
2. Movies and TV Shows
Cutting your cable subscription is a sure fire way to save a lot of money, and there are lots of alternative free ways to get entertainment. Some TV stations let you watch recent shows online for free. You can stream movies for free on Crackle or SnagFilms, although there will be advertisements. You can also opt to get out of the house where you may find free movie screenings at local parks or theaters.
3. Smartphone Apps
There are thousands of free apps available for your smartphone, and many can help you have fun, save money, organize your life, or learn something new. However, watch out for free apps that then charge you for in-app services. In some cases, it may be worth the cost to upgrade or unlock a new feature, but if you’re not careful, you can quickly spend tens or hundreds of dollars.
4. Product Samples
Several services connect companies that want to test or spread the word about new products with consumers looking for a free sample. Products can range from a new type of toilet paper to a snack item or even expensive electronics. Check out BzzAgent, PinchME, and Smiley360 to see examples of free products or sign up to become a tester.
Many people know about streaming music services like Spotify and Pandora, but the ads can be disturbing at times. You may be able to legally download or listen to ad-free music for by finding artists on SoundCloud or looking for giveaways at Starbucks, Amazon, and iTunes.
6. Books and Audio Books
The local library comes to mind when we talk about free books, but there are plenty of other ways to get free books. A good example is Project Gutenberg, a site that offers over 50,000 free ebooks that can be read on your computer or with a Kindle.
If you love physical books, check out Paperback Swap and Bookmooch, where you can list and mail your books to members who want to read them and then request a book be mailed to you.
For free audio books, there is a nonprofit site called LibriVox.org. It has a crew of volunteers (that you can also join) that record readings of classic works that are in the public domain for the community.
7. Magazine Subscriptions
You may be able to get a free magazine subscription in exchange for filling gout surveys. Some may require you spend hours filling out surveys to earn points that can be redeemed for a subscription, but that’s not always the case. RewardsGold often sends out simple two or three question surveys. For trade magazines, check Freebizmag for a listing of free publications.
8. Photo Prints
Stores like Walgreens, CVS and Snapfish regularly offers photo printing deals. Often you can only get one or two prints free, but it’s an easy and cheap way to slowly build your collection. You may also find “free” deals from online photo printers, but often there’s a catch because you’ll need to pay for shipping.
9. Anti-Virus Software
There are two ways to get free anti-virus software. You can either opt for the free version of software from companies like AVG or Avast, or you can buy a free-after-rebate version. The latter route gives you access to an ad-free and full fledge product, but you need to find the deal and follow through with sending in the rebate information.
10. Birthday Treats
Your friends and family may send you a few gifts on your birthday, but many restaurants and stores are also happy to help you celebrate – likely hoping that your friends will come along. Look for treats from restaurants, beauty products at Sephora and Aveda, or coupons from clothing stores.
Most online stores regularly offer free shipping with the use of coupons or when your order total exceeds a particular amount. You can also wait for seasonal promotions, such as Free Shipping Day in December, or get free two-day shipping on eligible products from hundreds of stores with Shoprunner. It’s a paid service, but free for some American Express cardholders.
12. Travel-Sized Toiletries & Other Grooming Products
A lot of health and beauty companies give out free samples to shoppers. You might be able to find free samples in stores, or you can request samples online from the company’s website. These are often new products the company is promoting or testing and you may need to sign up for the company’s email list or share basic demographic data to be eligible.
Travelling can be one of life’s greatest joys, but finding an inexpensive place to sleep at night can be hard. Couchsurfing.org offers travelers the opportunity to stay with individuals or families who are willing to share their homes with you. You might indeed have to sleep on the couch, but some hosts also offer spare rooms to guests. It can be hard to get started because members rate and review each other and some hosts might want to see positive reviews on your profile before they let you into their home. Consider starting by hosting a few Couchsurfers in your house.
14. Everything Else
Want free goods of all sorts? Check out Craigslist’s free section or your local area’s Freecycle list for free stuff. You’ll be shocked to see what you can get for free, or may be tempted to give away some of your own items that are starting to cause clutter.