My next post is a guest post from Cara Palmer with CaraPalmer.com where she shares smart money tips.
I scoured the web to give you tips on how to get free stuff — no junk – only quality goods and services that you would gladly pay good money to receive.
There are many things we pay for these days that we’d never have dreamed of paying for a few decades ago: Grocery bags? Television channels?
But times have changed. If you’re a savvy shopper, you can still find a way to get freebies. Many services have free alternatives.
Here’s a list of things that you can get for free.
College Level Classes
Learning should be lifelong. But getting an education can be expensive and time-consuming.
If you lack the time or funds to enroll at a nearby college, try online learning. These days, online college courses are all the rage.
Course offering sites such as Coursera, Aylor.org, and Class Central can help you search through hundreds of open course offerings from top universities like Stanford and Yale, and industry leaders like IBM and Google.
Choose from a wide array of courses, from basic HTML coding and Computer Science to Accounting and Business Administration. You can choose to listen to the podcasts, read the lecture notes, or attend virtual classes.
And get this, you can be awarded official credits and certifications for selected programs. YouTube Crash Course series can educate you on different topics if you’re not a big fan of the traditional classroom setup.
Created by YouTubers Hank and John Green (collectively the Green brothers), the series boasts massive learning resources. The CrashCourse channel currently has 10.1 million subscribers.
Like to try new things? Before you go to the store to shell out large sums of money for everyday items, try sampling products.
Brands offer a never-ending stream of free samples. If you can’t find samples in person, request them online.
Manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Pillsbury, and Betty Crocker offer consumers limited supplies of samples and full-sized products. All you have to do to get it free is subscribing to their email lists/newsletters.
The variety and selection of products change regularly, but there are always some available offers. You can score everything from mouthwash and deodorants, bottles of shampoo, magazines, food, and clothing.
Follow your favorite retailers or brands on social media and be the first one to know about giveaways. You can become an Amazon Reviewer and get free stuff while helping other buyers make informed decisions before making purchases.
Once accepted to the Amazon Vine Voice program, you can receive free or discounted products. It takes a bit of effort to become a top reviewer who gets free stuff. Learn how to become an Amazon reviewer.
Checking Account Fees
A checking account is the core of your finances. If you’re like most Americans, your monthly salary and expenses pass through a checking account.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a free checking account. You’re probably paying a monthly maintenance fee for housing your money in a checking account.
Depending on your bank and the associated perks, the fees can run from a few dollars to $20 or more. While you don’t have to pay fees if you maintain a certain balance, there are banks and credit unions that won’t charge you a dime for storing your own money.
There’s only one thing that beats getting a good price on something – getting it for free. Why shell out money when you don’t have to? You won’t even require a minimum balance.
Some of the best free checking accounts include Chime Deposit Account, Ally Bank’s Interest Checking Account, BBVA Online Checking, and Varo Bank Account.
Your local public library is an excellent resource if you prefer the physical feel of a book. If you’re an avid reader, consider switching from buying books from bookstores to reading them for free.
Acquiring a library card in the United States costs less than $5. You can even get a card for free as long as you provide proof of residency.
With a library card, you gain access to thousands of book titles, news publications, journals, and magazines in your local library. Sites like BookMooch and PaperBackSwap will help you swap titles with fellow book worms.
When another user wants one of your books, you’ll earn points that you can exchange for someone else’s book.
If you prefer ebooks and audiobooks, try Gutenberg, Loyal Books, or Digitabook.io. The sites will let you check out titles without leaving your home.
Gazing at the clouds is free – and if you do your homework well, storing files in the cloud can also turn out to be a no-cost pleasure.
We’re living in the golden age of the internet. The days of USB drives and external hard drives are almost gone. Thanks to the proliferation of the cloud, online storage is no longer a difficult task.
With Dropbox or Google Drive’s free online backup storage, you can back up files, sync them across devices, share them securely, and retrieve them whenever you want them.
Upon signing up, Google Drive gives you 15GB of free, secure digital storage space. A Dropbox Basic account gives you 2 GB of storage space and lets you sync your stored items easily between your smartphone and desktop.
New furniture can cost thousands of dollars. But if you’re low on cash, don’t sweat the price tag. Here’s the furniture secret: Some people need furniture for only a short time before they move.
While newspapers still feature a classifieds section, searching for free furniture in your immediate location from classified websites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist is even easier.
At any time of the year, people are looking to get large, heavy furniture out of their homes. Many folks don’t expect anything in return except for you taking it quickly.
But be warned, you’ll need a strategy to get that sofa moved. It probably won’t fit in a Honda Civic.
I know that a pair of shoes is not the cheapest fashion accessory, but what if I told you could get it free? No, really. Hear me out.
While clothing isn’t such a significant expense for most American families, many of us have clothes and shoes in our closets we don’t wear.
You can join together with friends and neighbors for a shoe and clothing swap party. If you’re lucky, you can go home with new-to-you shoes for free.
There are ways you can get name brand shoes (such as Nike and Adidas) for free: earn free shoes by taking online surveys in your spare time or become a product tester by applying on the brand’s website.
You can find a list of brand websites here and learn how to get name brand shoes for free.
Are you still paying money to open and edit documents? Forget about it.
Productivity software/apps like Microsoft Word can be costly.
But thankfully, open-source and freeware software like Google G Suite and Apache OpenOffice give you ‘Freedom To Work From Anywhere.’ You can use them for word processing, visual presentations, image-editing, graphics, databases, spreadsheets, etc.
G Suite, for instance, includes Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, Calendar, Meet, and more. The more tools you have, the more work you can get done.
OpenOffice has a user-friendly interface, just like paid office software and can work offline.
Nowadays, families may pay for premium music streaming services to listen to all their favorite music. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’re in luck as you have access to 2 million+ songs on Amazon Prime Music.
But if the monthly fees are adding up, some apps and websites can help you avoid subscription and download fees so you can listen to music for free.
Of course, the options and selection are less than you would get with a premium account, and you will have to deal with annoying ads, but hey, it’s free!
Ready to bust a move to that pop music? A little bit rock ‘n’ roll, or maybe you’re into jazz vibes? Either way, you can hit the right note with Spotify, Pandora, or YouTube Music.
There are wide-ranging artists and playlists to suit your genre preference. Install their free apps to listen on-the-go.
You already know you can enjoy free texting using apps like the Textfree app. If you prefer voice calling, try apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and Google Voice.
You can use any smartphone to enjoy the free domestic and international calling plans to other users of these services.
The only difference is that Google Voice uses your Google account, WhatsApp uses your phone number while Skype gives you a username.
You can talk all you want without paying a dime. Get it for free to avoid using precious minutes on your mobile phone plan or limit your landline costs (if you still use one).
Don’t add cell service to your monthly expenditures. One caveat: You may need a reliable internet connection.
There’s at least a day every year when you shouldn’t worry about paying for a meal. No matter when your birthday falls on the calendar, you can always get free eats from a restaurant near you.
Eateries do this to celebrate another trip around the sun with their customers.
There are also special days/holidays spread throughout the year when some restaurant chains offer tasty treats, like National Donut Day, National Bagel Day, Veterans Day, Mothers’ Day, Cow Appreciation Day, etc.
Your favorite snack shop or fast-food restaurant may have an annual freebie day.
Restaurants like Red Robin, Dunking Donuts, and Arby’s offer freebies for joining their email list or just signing up for their rewards/perks programs. By signing up for birthday discounts at least ten days before the big day.
Some restaurants offer free or discounted meals for kids. Don’t go to another restaurant that doesn’t feed your kids for free. You may be required to purchase one or two adult entrees.
You can also get a drink or snack in exchange for completing a short survey. Always check your receipt after paying, and if there’s a survey, spend a few minutes to get a redemption code for something free.
New organizations usually offer free food to attract prospective members, the same as new restaurants that have free food at opening celebrations. Check social media sites and classifieds for ads on such events.
File Taxes For Free
Finishing us off on how to get free stuff is filing taxes. While there are sites and software options that allow you to prepare your taxes at no cost, most of them charge you to e-file your taxes.
Depending on where you live, a guided software program can cost $70, while a tax professional can cost over $200.
If you learn how to file taxes on your own, you don’t have to pay a cent. The IRS web page offers a Free File where, if your income is below $69,000, you can prepare and file your individual income federal tax returns for free.
With a little time and research, you can get a lot of things for free that you would otherwise pay for.
Take some time and look for things you can get for free. You can also call companies that you pay for subscriptions and see if you can get it for free or even a discount.
It doesn’t have to take tons of time and effort to save a little money.
Cara Palmer paid off over $20K of debt and then started investing in rental properties. Cara writes about getting out of debt, making money, working from home and Smart Money Tips over at Carapalmer.com You can also find her on Pinterest.