If you are anything like me, you love a bargain. One of the most basic reasons I love freebies is that by scoring freebies, it helps offset my monthly budget, and the money I save is funneled directly into my families retirement savings account. But as with most things in my savvy saving arsenal, there’s a backstory as well.
For nearly a decade, I lived in the midst of debilitating debt from student loans and medical bills. And it was the sweet little extras of life, the magazine subscriptions, lattes at Starbucks, and pedicures were always just out of reach for me. That was a season of my life, where my husband’s entire teaching salary barely covered our everyday living expenses, and my own paycheck, allocated to paying off this before mentioned debt, often left me with nearly nothing to call my own.
These were the days when splurge day funds, vacations, and black Friday shopping were things I could only read about online. I was a legal clerk, dependent on my newly transitioned to a home office position. This was worsened by the fact that despite graduating from graduate school, my dreams of working towards becoming partner in a law firm, let alone starting my own firm were too far out of my reach. I was depressed. I was constantly angry. My can do attitude of my early twenties was a distant memory.
I lived in the grey area of financial crisis. I earned too much to qualify for any public assistance, including senior daycare, despite being an in-home, unpaid caretaker for my grandmother who at the time suffered from dementia, yet earned too little to be financially secure at night. I vividly remember paychecks were only cents on the dollar were left in my personal checking account, and while my debt was snowballing into completion, my confidence was plummeting to the floor. One paycheck in particular, after paying off one student loan I had a whopping $0.19 left!
These are the times that those are working towards being debt-free try to glaze over, the debilitating feeling of suffocation and depravity. But for me, I reinforce debt-free living in my home, by remembering the days when looking through a magazine in the waiting room of my grandmother’s various medical appointments was the highlight of my week.
My saving grace? My discovery of freebies. The world that only coupon bloggers and freegans dare enter, the land of days upon days of my mailbox being filled to the brim with magazine, samples, cards, coupons, and free high-value store offers. Admittedly, I discovered freebies inadvertently while looking at articles on various debt relief sites, which helped me stay abreast on the latest deals of the day.
At first there was a freebie here and there. And over time as I started to couple freebie deals with blog book review partnerships, hosted parties slots, and product reviews, I began to notice that not only did I find a means to add a few happies to my week, but I was able to help save my family even more our monthly bills than I had simply by could shopping with coupons.
No longer did I have to decide in the grocery store checkout line if I could afford luncheon meat for my family, or the latest issues of Martha Stewart Living and Better Homes and Gardens, I could have it all. Freebies helped my personal budget last longer, and helped me save money on everyday expenses. Freebies gave me something to look forward to. Freebies gave me options. Freebies gave my encouragement in my journey to becoming debt-free.
So, for me freebies literally saved my life.
So, you may be thinking, I’m not in a lean season of life so why should I want freebies? Whether you’re a hardcore coupon collector, a natural bargain hunter, or just looking to save some extra money there are always ways to save more by hunting down freebies online.
So, a decade later I can honestly say that I still love freebies, and in fact still freebie hunt weekly. And a really cool tip I’d like to share is that there are items that I no longer need to pay for as a result of freebie hunting.
So here are a few ideas I’d like to share with you for things you should insist on getting for free:
Free Audio-books: You don’t have to pay for audio books on Amazon. Find a book you like on LibriVox and download it for free. The books are all in the public domain, so there is no worry about piracy. Are there any classic works of literature that you would love to hear on audio-book? Check them out on LibriVox.
Free Music: Spotify.com is a great online service that makes it easy to listen to music by your favorite bands and musicians, and all for free. You can also pay to upgrade to a premium membership that gives you some additional features and abilities to use the site, but for the most part the free version is wonderful enough without having to pay.
Free Meals for Kids: If you’re traveling with your grandchildren or taking them out for dinner, one of the best ways to save money is to find a restaurant where kids eat for free. Check out MyKidsEatFree.com offers a search tool where you can find nearby restaurants where kids eat for free.
Free Anti-Virus: You don’t have to pay big money to protect your home computer from viruses and malware. There are excellent free anti-virus programs online, such as Microsoft Security Essentials (for Windows PCs) will protect your computer from the most common threats at no cost.
Free University Courses: This freebie comes with a caveat. I am an ardent believer that the only things worth going into debt for are your home, health, and your education. By the grace of God, my husband and I have earned five degrees and six certifications. My mother-in-law is a college dean, my sister-in-law earned a masters in nursing education, and my grandmother held a masters in public finance. I do not state this to be braggadocios. Simply to state, we are nerds. We value the time, energy, and cost associated with advanced degrees. Luckily, more and more universities, including some of the most elite private universities in the world, are offering their courses online for free. Although you can’t get course credit, these are a great way to keep your brain sharp and learn some new things while hearing from some of the brightest minds in the world. You can get free courses from Harvard University’s Open Learning Initiative online.
Free Stuff: Are you looking for some new furniture, a new bicycle, exercise equipment, or any other odds and ends for your home? Always look with Freecycle, an online organization that helps people give and receive free stuff first. Part of the mission of Freecycle, is related to environmental sustainability – by recycling and reusing and giving away their old stuff, people can keep things from going to the landfill. Go green!
Free Museums: The next time you’re on vacation, or even while you’re in your own city, check to see if there are any free museums where you can enrich your cultural horizons without emptying your pocketbook. National Geographic has a list of 20 great free museums in the U.S.
What are some other fun “freebies” that you enjoy finding? Let us know in the Comments!
Here’s to saving,