Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cheap is Good, Free is Better

If someone offered you something you wanted free, would you take it? Most of you are probably nodding your head yes. A few cynics will mumble something about nothing being free. Au contraire, I get free stuff all the time. Let me share my secrets with you.

First, many companies give out sample items just to get you hooked on a product. Beware any place that wants your credit card number because they will keep sending you the product and charging your card. A good place to check out these offers is The website posts the information you have to shift through and decide if the offer is genuine. Any offer that seems to be good to be true usually is. Avoid going to see timeshares, most people are unable to resist buying one despite saying they won’t. Also avoid extremely long surveys, you will not get a Target card or a iPod at end, but you will get major spam since they’ll sell your email.

Another way to get free stuff is take other people’s unwanted items home using Freecycle network. Go onto and find the nearest city near you. People list items they don’t want anymore and just want someone to come and get them. When I got ready to move, I listed several things I no longer wanted including an aquarium, a filing cabinet, and a trampoline. The first person who came and picked up the item, got it. That simple. Depending on the item, you may need a truck and some muscle. If you arrive and don’t like the item, then don’t take it.

Listen, be present, and ask are my three mainstays of getting free things. If I hear something is being giving away free, I’m there. A local library took old books off the shelf and offered them to anyone who would take them. No one did, except me, because they were old. I sold the out of print books online for over $3000. Sometimes you need to envision how you can use the product.

Most promotions, you have to be present, remember that disclaimer about your entry is void if you’re not present. I’ve been in various public places received free food, drink, Axe body wash and wrestling posters by being there. I also won free groceries by participating in a shopping cart race at our local store. Mine was a participation prize of $100 since I tore around the store like a madwoman. I won a Calvin Klein wardrobe by attending a fashion show at a local clothing store.

Asking has netted me several large items, usually furniture. We have an annual yard sale in our neighborhood and usually people do price furniture too high. The end result is it doesn’t sell. When walking my dog I may see the unsold item still in the yard or even labeled with a free sign. I’ve snagged a bookcase, bookcase headboards, a dresser, even an aquarium by simply asking for it. I also tell people what I am looking for and often they’ll have it in their attic, barn or basement and let me have it for free just to get rid of it. Currently, I’m on the hunt for a rocking chair.

Sometimes I trade things I have too many of or no longer want for something someone else has that they don’t want. A good example of this is firewood, when I quit using a wood burning fireplace and switched to gas I had a surplus of firewood that served no purpose. Ask for the deal, decide what you want or need, then propose a trade. Now no one has to take the deal, but most will.

Read bulletin boards in the library and the grocery, many people list things they would like picked up besides kitten and puppies. I get free plants all the time from people dividing hostas and irises. Plant groups are usually a good bet for this. Come this fall, I will harvest and bag all my sunflower seeds and give them away free. If your paper has a free section in the classifieds read it because you never know when something might turn up.

When you tell your friends about your free find, they’ll call you lucky. You’ll know better it is about being out there, looking, listening and asking.
Go to Google and put in free items and you’ll be amazed how many sites come up. Use your wits. If traveling to pick up something take a friend and directions. There is no reason to give out your credit card number for anything. Avoid long surveys that ask you to subscribe to different newsletters. Never ever do a timeshare tour even if you don’t buy, you’re still in a bad mood from the experience. If someone offers you something free, ask about any strings attached that’s your right. I’ve used one week free gym passes and never joined. If there is no obligation take advantage of it. Cheap is good, but free is better.

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