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The World of Free

A lot can be said for the world of freebies. There are all types of freebies, but the underlying truth of each of them is that you are providing your contact information or a review of an item in exchange for free stuff.  So long as you understand that the “price tag” inevitably comes in the form of related spam or your data, you can benefit significantly from freebies. I will add one warning before we begin, scams sometimes come in the form of what appears to be freebies. Remember to do your due diligence before providing information, and never provide information like your credit card number, social security number, etc.

This post was originally published in 2016.  For the holiday season, I wanted to provide some updates to this post. Some aspects of the original post no longer exist.  For example, the original post mentioned the website Fatwallet, which ceased to exist in 2017. There will be no post on Wednesday with regular posts resuming next Monday. Happy Holidays!

Where to Learn About Free Stuff

I find the best starting point for learning about free stuff is a forum dedicated to the topic.  Slickdeals has just such a forum. I generally stop in every few weeks and check out the latest offerings.

Sample Clubs

For those more dedicated to the pursuit of free stuff there are a few clubs that provide semi-regular shipments of free items for review. Sample Source is one option. They send out items once a quarter in a sample box. The only issue is they have a small allotment of boxes. That means when they email you about a new box you only have a few hours to claim them before they are gone. If I get anything from Sample Source it is one thing a quarter. I’m normally too busy to monitor for the box availability.

Amazon also has a sample program called Vine. This program is harder to get into as it is invite only. Heavy reviewers on Amazon are targeted to join this group. When I first wrote this post I mentioned 3rd parties giving away free merchandise on Amazon in exchange for reviews. Amazon outlawed this practice and shifted some of that activity to Vine. I do not currently belong to Vine.

Magazine Freebies

One purchasing area I’ve shifted almost entirely to freebies are magazine subscriptions. In order to keep their subscription counts up, many of the major magazine corporations provide limited free subscriptions periodically. This ensures they meet their ad numbers. So if you like a magazine, keep an eye out for links to these type of offers. I’ve found that Time Warner especially uses this approach, but over the years I’ve picked up subscriptions to at least 10 different publications. These are available for limited times, but if you watch the forum mentioned or sign-up with Mercury magazines above they will come up for a different magazine about once a week.  At the time of this writing, you can sign up for Fortune or Money magazines for a 2-year subscription via these links.

Freebies from Surveys

Another area of freebies comes from answering surveys. Rewards gold and e-Rewards both offer these type of freebies. The general concept is to answer a survey and get points towards a discount card, some limited gift cards, discounts, or a free magazine. Early on before I learned about the above free magazine capabilities I used this path a lot. By the time I wrote the original post I had stopped doing so. I’ve found gift cards are rare and why spend the time to answer a survey for a free magazine when you can just enter your address on a form.

Free Money

So far we’ve covered free samples and free magazines, but what about free money? Apps like Ebates give you cash back when you make an actual purchase. If you’re making a purchase online you should consider using this site or Swagbucks below. Simply login to these sites and navigate into the retailer of your choice. After purchase your cash back will show up on the E-bates site. A simple way to make some extra cash especially if you are doing already necessary shopping.

Another option for free money and gift cards is Swagbucks. This site allows you to trade watching videos,  answering surveys, cash back for purchases, and sign up bonuses for services in exchange for up to over $100 a month.

Free Cash from Test Driving a Car

Another place to get free cash is by test driving a car. Most car companies provide a cash payment as an incentive to test drive their car, you just have to know where to look. Again, you can look through forums or search for this. In general, the going rate is a visa gift card of a denomination of either 25 or 50 dollars. I did this a lot when I was younger and lived on a college budget. As I’ve gotten older I only use this when I’m actually looking for a car given my time is worth more than the denomination. Sometimes you will have success convincing the dealer to sign a form and let you go, but at other times you may spend an hour test driving a car in order to get the cash. Typically each make will do one of these at various times each year.

A Fun Diversion with Minor Impacts

While none of the above will make you rich, they will allow you to explore areas you don’t normally purchase at no cost. It will also allow you to lower some of your costs. For example, the aforementioned magazine subscriptions. I’ve found freebies a good diversion for a few hours a week while decompressing in front of the television.

Do you have any sites you watch for freebies?

Note: This post contains Affiliate Links.  The content was written before learning of these companies Affiliate programs, but that does not change that I will receive some remuneration for some of these if you follow through with creating an account.

13 Comments

  1. Go Finance Yourself!
    Go Finance Yourself! December 9, 2016

    I used to do the magazine freebies a lot. Muscle and Fitness used to have a 36 month sign up for either free or something like a dollar. I’ve never heard of getting paid to test drive a car. That could be a fun way to earn some extra bucks. Although it could be pretty time consuming depending on how long they keep you at the dealership.

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] December 9, 2016

      I did the test drive thing off and on for a while. I found if you leveled with the car sales men when you showed up as to why you were there they often just signed the paper and let you go on your way. After all most of their compensation comes from actually selling a car.

  2. Andrew
    Andrew December 9, 2016

    Freebies are always great haha. I’ll definitely check out the Francisco Mimi offer, thanks!

    Typically I don’t pay attention to freebies because they usually have some kind of catch or they’re very cheap products.

    The only time I really go looking for freebies is on my birthday because a lot of restaurants will give you a free meal. The past year for my birthday I got freebies at Baskin Robins, Which wich (3 sandwiches!), Red Robin, Jersey Mike’s, and probably a few others.

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] December 9, 2016

      Nice add. Yes it is a balancing act on whether its worth your time for freebies. You have to weigh the time you spend against what you gain.

  3. Mustard Seed Money
    Mustard Seed Money December 9, 2016

    I’m a big fan of Slickdeals which is similar to Fatwallet. Just a different interface. My wife turned me on the Ebates and I think the best thing that I did was add an extension to my google chrome so that I could be alerted immediately if something would save me cash 🙂 It’s really nice receiving money for doing nothing!!!

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] December 10, 2016

      I like slick deals as well. I tend to bounce between the two sites. Great add.

  4. FinanciaLibre
    FinanciaLibre December 10, 2016

    Killer stuff here, FTF!

    I had no idea about any of this. (Actually, I’d heard about the test driving incentives, but I figured there were so many catches built in that I’d never qualify!)

    All really cool ideas. Thanks much for putting this together!

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] December 10, 2016

      I’ve never encountered an issue with the test driving. It really depends on how close I am to a dealer and if the return is 50 or 25 dollars as to whether it’s worth it to me.

  5. Physician on FIRE
    Physician on FIRE December 11, 2016

    I have a hard time resisting Free.

    I’ve been known to pick up things that I might not need, but hey, you never know. If it’s Free After Rebate, why not? Lately, I’ve changed that mindset. It’s not free if it takes time to acquire, to properly send away for the rebate, and room to store the thing that I I may never use.

    My favorite freebie lately? Free McD breakfast sandwich the day after a Gophers victory in one of several sports — happens several times per week. Thanks, Ronald!

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] December 11, 2016

      Every so often Dunkin’ Donuts does something like that here with the Eagles. That being said given their record it’s not that often.

  6. Ken Ashe
    Ken Ashe January 12, 2017

    The right price is free!

    Thanks for the Mercury Magazine link.

  7. Xrayvsn
    Xrayvsn December 24, 2018

    It is amazing. But no matter how much money I make or what my net worth climbs to, there is some universal attraction to getting something free 🙂

    I have spent far more time than it is worth searching through the aisles for whatever free thing the grocery store I go to (Kroger) is giving away (they have a Free download Friday). I have walked the aisles multiple times and have spent probably 1/4 hour looking for a $2 or $3 item (which if I translated it to my work hourly rate would have cost me quite a penny, lol).

    I have a Tesla and in the beginning I used to drive to the dealer supercharger for free electricity when I was in the area even though I knew full and well I could make it home and charge there. I would sit at the supercharger for 20 min or so to get this “freebie” and then figured smartly later that it was not worth my time/energy to do so (even driving 5-6 miles each way adds more wear and tear to the car than the minimal savings I could got).

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