Free stuff. I hear you. You’re thinking, “Yeah right!” While getting something for nothing these days just doesn’t happen very often, it does happen. The best part is there are freebies out there that span the free world! They run the gamut from stocks to diapers. Take a look at these and see which ones you want to pocket.
Since I’m a financial guy, obviously the one I want to start with is stocks. Yep, free stock trading. No need to hire someone, you can absolutely do it yourself (although there are good reasons not to). You can use fee-free trading platforms like Loyal3 or Robinhood. All you do is open an account (both come as apps or you can use a web browser), give some required information and start trading your funds. You can invest as little as $10 on Loyal3, while Robinhood requires no minimum balance. You can also check with more-traditional online brokers to see if they’re running promotions. So get your trading shoes on and go!
Whatever you’re looking for, there’s likely a free sample somewhere. Many blogs and sites offer free samples. You can nab anything from toiletries to clothing to food, and the list goes on and on. Check out Free Stuff or Hey, It’s Free! Note that sometimes you will be asked to pay shipping and handling, especially if you get the freebie from the manufacturer directly. You can follow your favorite brands on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to be notified of the freebies first hand.
Man’s best friend needs some freebie love too! Lighten the load on your wallet by checking out free services for your pooch. You can find everything from free spay and neutering services to free dog treats during happy hour. There are even some hotels that allow Rover to stay for free. Check out Freebies for Your Dog for more treats worth barking about.
Prescriptions aren’t cheap, however, several supermarkets are working to ease the pain in your wallet. Some are offering free prescriptions. For example, you can get a 14-day supply of select antibiotics for free with a doctor’s prescription, insurance or not, at Meijer Pharmacies. You can also access free diabetes meds and supplies through a Diabetes Advantage Plan at Pricechopper. Publix is also another supermarket joining the free prescription bandwagon. See your store for details.
You can also go to RxAssist database to find out which medications are free through some of the Pharmaceutical companies. They offer them to those low-income people without prescription coverage on their insurance through patient assistance programs with them.
Most Americans start a new diet and exercise program at the beginning of the year only to have their determination fizzle out. However, research says hiring a personal trainer helps you reach your goals. Well, now you can employ the extra help FREE! Sites like SparkPeople.com, Fatsecret.com, and MyFitnessPal.com put together fitness plans, help you track your progress, offer free meal plans, and calorie counters. You can even team up with others on the same journey to get support and advice.
If you’re looking for more in-person experience, check with your employer. Many workplaces are now offering wellness plans that include free gym access and weight-loss support groups. Some offer incentives, such as gift cards and money to hit your milestones.
Watch for promotions to get into museums, galleries or even zoos for free. Some offer free admission, like the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., the Getty Center in Los Angeles and Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. Others don’t charge on certain days of the week or month. And if you’re a Bank of America cardholder, you can get in free at more than 175 museums on the first full weekend of every month.
Don’t break the bank to see world-class athletes! Check out your favorite teams in the offseason. You can watch your team in action during spring training for Major League Baseball and summer training camps for the National Football League.
If you’re a gold medal enthusiast, check out Olympians in training in one of the following cities for free: Colorado Springs, Colorado, Park City Utah, or Chula Vista, California.
While you usually need a license to cast a rod, there are select days when you can fish without them. That can save you anywhere from $7 to $30 depending on which state you’re in. So go ahead and check out which days you can hang a “Gone Fishin” sign on your door at TakeMeFishing.org. You can also call your local fish and wildlife agency for details.
Ever dreamed of taking on America’s top chefs? Or working toward being the next Anne Geddes? Go ahead and check around with local retailers. Many offer free workshops to learn your new craft or hobby. REI offers free clinics on backpacking, camp cooking and more. You can also sign up for woodworking classes at Lowes and Home Depot. Perhaps you want to pare down your clothing budget, the check Michaels or Joann for sewing classes. Your local library is a great place to start too! They offer hands-on workshops for you and the kids, as well as books and DVDs to topics that interest you. Whatever you’re looking to learn, there’s likely a free class to help.
Speaking of books, you can legally download thousands of books with expired copyrights at Gutenberg.org or the University of Pennsylvania’s Online Books Page. You’ll find such classics as War and Peace, Moby Dick and Little Women. Also, check out Amazon and iTunes and Barnes and Noble. All offer free e-books for your reading pleasure. And if you’re a Kindle owner (or at least have the app) you can swap e-books with your friends for as long as 14 days per book.
College costs continue to climb, however, there are a few out there making it affordable or better yet free. Tennessee offers free tuition to all community colleges. Berea College in Kentucky gives all students a four-year tuition scholarship. Another Kentucky school offering free tuition is Alice Lloyd College. They don’t require students that are in 108 different counties in Central Appalachia to pay tuition. However, they do have to work 10 hours to offset that cost at Alice Lloyd. College of the Ozarks in Missouri also requires students to participate in a work program rather than pay tuition. This fall City College of San Francisco is set to start offering free tuition to city residents. And in New York, if you live there and make less than $125,000 a year public colleges are free.
Also if you’re looking to advance your degree, you could get help at work. Some employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement, which could be enough to cover all your tuition.
Looking for tax-free investments? Invest in a Roth IRA for tax-free capital gains. The money you save in it is tax-free. That means you won’t owe Uncle Sam a dime when you tap into it.
Everyone knows raising children isn’t cheap. Parents spend an average of $12,600 on food, housing, clothing and health care in the first year alone. However, there are plenty of freebies out there that can cut down the costs. Many companies offer free samples of formula, diapers, wipes, diaper cream as well as many other baby items.
Did you know you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report with no strings attached? Once a year you can go to AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus.
There are also companies out there that allow you to monitor your credit scores for free. Check out Credit.com to see the score you have with Experian. if you want to see your TransUnion score sign up with Credit Sesame. Credit Karma offers weekly updates on your Equifax score. You can also monitor credit through some credit card companies.
You can usually find freebies at your favorite restaurants at various times of the year. Many have annual freebie days and promotions. Some offer them on certain holidays or special days, such as tax day, Mother’s Day and Veterans Day. Here are a few:
Check with your favorite restaurant to see what freebies they may offer throughout the year.
Tired of paying for something and finding it cheaper. Then check out a price watcher. You can save on flights, rental cars, and rooms. Tingo automatically rebooks your room at the lower rate if the hotel drops its price. You’ll get a refund for the difference. Yapta.com will track your flight price after you buy your ticket and if the fare drops it will notify you. You can then try for a refund or travel voucher. AutoSlash.com offers a similar service for rental cars.
It will cost you about $15 to get a passport photo at the post office. Instead, you can save the $15 and take your own picture then upload it to ePassportPhoto.com. It sizes the photo and you can even print from home. Another app that does the same, Passport Booth. That means if you hate your picture, you can delete and redo it instead of being stuck with the photo for the next ten years.
You don’t have to shell out big bucks for computing software needs. You can cover many of your basic essentials like word processing with Google Docs. Or try Mint for budgeting needs (these are my favorite apps). If you need photo or video editing software, you can try Pixlr.
There are plenty of freebies out there to help you make cuts to your budget. So check around to make your life… financially simple.