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Where to get free stuff : Mega Guide to freebies

Who doesn’t like more stuff in life :) I have a semi-regular series on how to get free stuff either free bowling during summer, free movies, free credit scores… I will continue to write this series but I have a lot of short notes that wouldn’t fit in my series (I don’t write about “today only” type deals or free samples) or wouldn’t warrant a full post -it could be a quick tip on which site to follow to know about daily freebies or it could be something that is seasonal… you get the idea. I thought I will compile them all into one post and if I expand on one of these sections later, I will keep adding links. So this is mostly a post in progress. Who said there is no free lunch?  A free feast is being served, so lets dig in.

Where to go to get free stuff

Most of the seasonal free stuff or limited time offers will be gone in a day, so to get these you have to keep an eye on the sites that announce the free stuff as soon as they become available. There are PLENTY of these deal sites, but I like these 3

As I said there are plenty more – deals2buy $0 deals, totally free stuff, Common Sense with money, Spoofee and many more, but I have found the 3 mentioned above to be the most useful, offering good quality freebies and they are non-spammy. (I have an entire spreadsheet of these sites.  If you want to spreadsheet, email me.  You can knock yourself out with freebies).

Free travel resources

  • Free public bikes : Find the nearest PUB. PUB is a Public Use Bicycles, offered by a lot of cities around the country. They are free and are often available in the shopping districts, near train/bus stations. The idea is you hop on to a bike, ride where you need to go, leave it there for another rider. You can find more information on this and a list of places that offer free bicycles here – List of bicycle sharing systems.
  • Free tour guide : Instead of buying costly tour guides in the book store, most of the time, I have used free tour guides from the State’s tourism department. You can take the pricey guides from the library for any extra information and add it to your free tour guide. To request a tour guide for your next destination, click on the following links for the relevant state. For international destinations Google [destination free tour guide] and click the Government link.
  • Free lodging : If you are tight on your budget and don’t mind crashing on someone’s couch try couch surfing(check this post for more information : Alternative lodging). If you are traveling in an RV or don’t mind camping, try Free Campgrounds. [Please note, a lot of these free campgrounds don’t have any facilities, so it might be well worth the $10-$15 to pay for a campground with toilet and running water facilities]
  • Free bike maps : You can try googling [city] bike maps, but if you want to tour the city on a bike.  If you would like to get a scenic route or famous tour route, try pedaling.com. It is a great resource for recreational bikers.
  • Free showers : If you need more incentive to travel by bike, Warm Showers, a hospitality place offers free showers for touring cyclists.

Free entertainment

  • Free movies : Please check my post on how to get free movie tickets (along with popcorn and a drink).
  • Watch free TV : Again, I wrote a separate post on this as well – How to watch TV for free. Don’t forget YouTube too.
  • Free music : Pandora, Grooveshark, last.fm and Spotify.
  • Free museum tickets : Certain weekends every month, Bank of America pays for your museum tickets (pretty much the only good thing it does I guess) if you have a Bank of America account (credit card, checking, mortgage, any type of account). Check which museums are eligible and for which weekends, here – Museums on us. Even if you don’t want to associate yourself with BoA, most of the museums have free admission on certain days. You can google “Free museum days + your city” or just call your favorite museum and ask when they offer free admission. It will usually be 1 weekend or 1 day a month. Example : Los Angeles free museum days. (Thanks for the tip Amanda, I forgot about the free museum days).

Free samples

[Note: Most of these sites will ask for your email address. Get a separate email address, you can get one for free from gmail and use that address for all the forms. This keeps junk mail out of your personal email address]

Get free stuff on your birthday

A lot of restaurants give free dessert or appetizer or even a free entrée (mostly a free entrée will be a buy one get one free, but offers of full free meals are also out there).  Here are some sample offers –

You can find a big list of all the offers on this site – Free Birthday Treats (it has a searchable directory)

Get free knowledge

Free technology

  • Free wifi : Legally. A lot of cities are providing free wifi and you can find them using sites like Boingo (there are paid hotspots with Boingo, but it also finds free wifi connections where available)
  • Free office/productivity software : Open Office (MS Office substitute, there are quite a few office substitute suites now, but Open office is still the best), Google Docs, GIMP (Photoshop equivalent)
  • Other free software : CNET download (extensive software collection) or tucows
  • Free phone calls : Skype or Google Voice (until the end of this year at least)
  • Free antivirus and spyware : Avast and AVG antivirus are a couple of good ones.
  • Free email, calendar and document sharing : Google apps.

Free financial resources

Get free stuff – just one time

  • Free gym membership trial : LA Fitness, 24 hr fitness, Gold Gym, Bally’s total fitness, all have 1 week – 1 month trail membership for free (be prepared for a heavy sales pitch).
  • Free photos : Snapfish, Kodak, Shutterfly, Adorama and a lot of other online photo printing services all offer 20-50 prints for free. See if there are any coupons to increase the number of free prints. There are enough of these services, I still have not run out of all the free prints.
  • Free DVDs : Netflix free trial. Red Box coupon codes provide one free DVD.
  • Free grooming : Craigslist. You can get a lot of stuff for free. The catch : you get the grooming from amateur hair stylists or an Esthetician. They have to accumulate certain number of hours for their degree, so they are willing to do the job for free. Check you local craigslist and search for free “whatever” – free hair color, free hair styling… You might want to check your local beauty school or local model agency for example – NY Model Project.

Free hobby related stuff

You can find pretty much anything you want on Craigslist as well. And Freecycle, my favorite way to get things. People post all sorts of free things from really cheap to almost-new-costly stuff. Sign up for your local Freecycle group to get the notifications. Finally a shout out to my local library. You can borrow a lot of stuff, the known-to-everyone DVDs, CDs, books, little known museum passes and even surprising things like cake pans and kill-a-watt. Here is a post I wrote for Broke Professionals on what all you can borrow from your library – Now available at a library near you…

This is not a complete guide to all the freebies. I will keep adding stuff to this page as well to my free money Friday series. Please let me know if you have a favorite way to get free stuff, I will add it to this list.

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