The Cheapskate’s Guide to Getting Free Stuff
I like all kinds of things, but I don't like paying for them. Thanks to some personal experience, a few experiments, and online resources, I've found quite a few ways around forking over my hard-earned cash for what I want. Of course, free stuff only seems free. If you're not paying with money, you're paying with some other kind of work or sacrifice. That said, in most cases it only takes minimal effort to earn "free" goods and services. In this post, we'll take a look at the process.
Get Free Gadgets
Become a Helpful Product Reviewerwriting helpful reviews. Amazon noted that I was helpful to many people on the site and invited me into a private program called Vine. Through the program, Amazon sends out a newsletter every couple of weeks with new products offered by various companies. Vine members—of which there are many—can claim any still available product and have it sent to them for free. In exchange for keeping the product, Vine members are required to write a review.
While nobody knows the exact criteria for becoming a member of Vine (or any other reviewing program), it's vaguely understood that you just write good reviews that others find useful. In my case, I bought a point and shoot camera at Best Buy before Amazon received their stock. I liked it and wanted to share my thoughts, so I wrote a detailed review. Amazon received stock of the camera a few days later and so many shoppers were interested in a review. Mine was the first up, and so it was the one many people saw and voted up as useful. In the following weeks I was invited to participate in the Vine program. It's important to note, however, that my camera review wasn't my first. I'd written several other reviews in the past that received less attention. Nevertheless, I imagine you do not get invited to a review program if you don't have a few under your belt as well as a good reputation as helpful. If you can manage both, you may have a lot of free goodies coming your way.
Advertise Referral Links on GoogleDollar Shave Club, so he advertised his affiliate links on Google AdWords:
Dollar Shave Club has the free month of blade for each user signed up. I put my reference link on a Google Adwords post, got a years worth of free blades from sign ups for only $12. So I ended up paying $1 a month instead of $9.
Obviously this trick doesn't mean you're getting anything entirely free, but the cost is so minimal it might as well be. If you can get credit for referrals and their program doesn't prohibit the posting of affiliate links, this is a clever way to get various items at a very low cost. It works with more than just gadgets and goods, too. You can also use this trick with services like Dropbox.
Appreciate (and Acquire) the Gadgets of the PastFreecycle andCraigslist. Everything on Freecycle is free, but on Craigslist you just have to do a search for $0 items and the search terms "free" and "curb alert" (which refers to a bunch of free stuff being dumped by the side of the road)or go to the Craigslist main page and click on the "free" section. Also, if you sign up for the great web tool IFTTT (If This Then That), you can use it to provide alerts based on Craigslist searches so you're notified when certain free gadgets show up. (Here's an example for free TVs in Los Angeles.) That way you don't have to waste a bunch of time hunting for the perfect deal in a stream full of mediocre ones.
Acquire Free Books, Movies, and Other Media
Keep on Reviewing
Just like with gadgets, becoming a helpful online reviewer and gaining entrance to a reviewing program like Amazon Vine (described in detail in the previous section) will gain you access to a ton of free movies, music, and books—especially books. According to work-life blog Savvy Sugar, the popular book recommendation site Goodreads offers similar benefits. Try both and see what you can get.
Find Free Books Online
Plenty of books are available freely online. Google Books offers them as text and Books Should Be Free as audio. If you have a Kindle, or a free Kindle app, you can get public domain books for free from Amazon as well. All you have to do is search for and download what you want.
Don't Neglect Your Local Library
Stop Paying for Phone and Internet Service
Internet access and phone service don't have to cost you anything as you can get them both for free with some limitations. For the most part, all it takes is signing up with the right services.
Get Free Broadband Internet Access with FreedomPopFreedomPop it can cost you nothing more than a $100 deposit (that you get back when you cancel your service). All you do is order a mobile hotspot and turn it on when it arrives. From there you'll instantly have a Wi-Fi network that provides a reasonably fast data connection to up to five computers through Sprint's WiMax network. By default you only get 500MB per month for free, but if you complete offers (that mostly involve providing information) you can earn extra data. This takes a bit of work, and won't provide enough data access for heavy internet users, but it's fantastic for casual web browsing or getting an occasional on-the-go connection.
Make Free Calls to the US and Canada with Gmailfree calling to landlines and cellphones between the United States and Canada. All you need is an account and an internet connection and you can talk for free. You can even use an app like Talkatone (iOS and Android) to make those free calls from your mobile. Other VOIP solutions work, too, but most will cost you something. Using Google won't.
Travel for Free
Traveling isn't cheap by default, but a few tricks and taking advantage of frequent flier programs can potentially knock out those costs entirely. You'll need to do a bit of work to travel free of charge, but anyone can earn discounts easily with minimal effort.
Sign Up for Travel Rewards Cards and Programs at the Right Time
We all know you can earn frequent flier miles for free by using a credit card that offers them as a bonus, but you're required to spend thousands of dollars before you can earn a round trip flight through that card alone. By picking the right card at the right time, however, you can get enough miles to earn a free trip by purchasing a pack of gum. Travel writer Matthew Kepnes explains:
Whether you love Delta or fly United and the Star Alliance, all U.S. carriers have a branded travel credit card that gives you 25,000-30,000 points when you sign up and make one purchase. That's a free economy ticket right there. Airline credit cards are the best way to kick start your mileage balance. Often times they offer huge sign up bonuses. For awhile, American Airlines gave you 75,000 miles when you got their branded credit card. Virgin Atlantic has offered 50,000. United has done 40,000. The quickest and best way to gain a lot of free miles is to get one of these travel credit cards.
Numerous special promotions can also net you more free miles. For more information, read Matthew's guide.
Find a Free Place to Stay by Couch Surfing
It doesn't matter if you have a friend or family member with a free couch to sleep on in the city you're visiting. By using Couchsurfing.org, you can find a friendly host who will offer their's up instead. You have to be the type of person who doesn't mind staying with a complete stranger, but if you're willing to rely on their hospitality and don't mind tight quarters you won't have to pay and could meet some new friends. Alternatively, you can check WorkAway.info for host families that will let you work in exchange for accommodations.
Watch the Right Places for Even More Free Stuff
If you want other various free items, you just need to know where to look. Aside from the options already discussed, About.com's Freebies page and the Frugal subreddit will alert you about places offering free (or sometimes just cheap) stuff. Those are just a couple of examples. Free stuff is everywhere, and you're likely to find even more if you just keep watch as you go about your day.
Remember: Free Isn't Truly Free
It's important to remember that free isn't really free. If you're not paying with money, you're paying with effort, information, or something else. Often times these sacrifices are worthwhile, but always know exactly what you're sacrificing. Free becomes a big problem when you give up too much without knowing it. So long as you watch out for the right kind of free deals, however, you'll get plenty of great stuff with hardly any cost at all.
Original post - http://lifehacker.com/5963247/the-cheapskates-guide-to-getting-free-stuff