Does it pay to be Internet savvy? Yes. In more ways than many people imagine. Sure, the Internet is a great way to research just about anything you could ever want to know about; and it’s an outstanding communication, marketing, and entertainment tool. But the Internet can also save you money. And we’re not just talking 10 cents off here and there. We’re talking free (and nearly free) stuff.
Want proof? Below, we’re diving into some of the best places you can find free or heavily discounted items. Keep reading for a comprehensive explanation or use the navigation links below to learn more about a specific tip.
- Use Online Community Marketplaces
- Get Free Samples
- Use Coupons
- Try Using Your Library Card
- Enroll in Loyalty Programs
- Pay Attention to Discounts
Use Online Community Marketplaces
Looking for a computer desk? How about a sofa, kids’ toys, electronics, office supplies, landscaping materials, or lumber? These are just a few of the hundreds of items listed in a single day in almost any city’s Craigslist free section. People are generally honest about the condition of the stuff they’re listing, and many have pictures, so you can see for yourself.
If you’re a “Mr./Ms. Fix-It” type, you’ll be in heaven. But even if you aren’t, you’ll be surprised at the kinds of things people are giving away. Look for the FREE listings under the “For Sale” section of your local Craigslist board.
Much like Craigslist, Freecycle is another site powered by the people and rooted in a belief that it is better to give items a second life, rather than filling up landfills and creating more stuff. Folks can list anything they have to give away, and others can browse the goods to find what they want. And, like Craigslist, you’ll find a ton of great free stuff through Freecycle.
Unlike Craigslist, Freecycle is run through local networks. This makes it a little more of a process to find and list items, but the advantage of this process is that it’s moderated, and people can communicate with the community at large. This reduces the likelihood of people listing garbage and describing it as treasure.
Besides those two websites, you can also look at Facebook neighborhood groups, Facebook marketplace, OfferUp, and other apps or websites where people are looking to offload whatever has accumulated in their garage.
Get Free Samples
Companies want you to take samples so that you’ll be incentivized to buy the full-sized product at a later point. Department stores and wholesale clubs offer samples in person. But if you can’t find samples, you can simply request samples from companies online.
Amazon Prime members can even buy sample boxes and get reimbursed with Amazon credit.
Costco and Sam’s Club are, of course, famous for their samples. And Trader Joe’s often opens some of its products for sampling purposes as well.
Coupons are a great way to not only get free stuff but also to get serious deals. They might be “old-fashioned” but you may be surprised by the savings with coupons. Besides coupons from stores or brands, there are also online databases like RetailMeNot, Honey, and Coupons.com. RetailMeNot and Honey even have helpful Chrome extensions that automatically scans potential discount codes when you’re on the checkout page for an online store. In turn, you get the peace of mind that you’re getting the best discount possible.
Try Using Your Library Card
Books are already a wonderful free perk that libraries provide, assuming that you don’t rack up fees from forgetting to turn in your books on time. However, with a valid library card, you can also get access to different entertainment and education options as well. You might be able to see movies, rent games, check out audiobooks, attend community classes, receive free or discounted museum passes, and more. Visit your local library to see what free library services it offers.
Pay Attention to Discounts
If you fall into a certain category like student, healthcare provider, teacher, first responder, senior, military, or senior, there’s a good chance that you’ll get a discount at certain establishments. It never hurts to ask! In addition, it’s also a good idea to ask about any coupons that are available at retail stores. In many cases, retail workers will scan a coupon for you on your behalf — so make sure you’re nice!
Enroll in Loyalty Programs and Newsletters
It’s a lot less expensive for companies to retain old customers than it is to get a new one. For that reason, companies often invite you to join loyalty programs. These programs often give you special perks. For example, many stores will give you a birthday gift that might be a special discount, merchandise, gift cards, or free food.
The same idea can be applied to newsletters. You’ll often get a nice discount when you sign up for a company’s newsletter. And remember, you can always unsubscribe if your inbox is getting too full.
Takeaways: Getting Free Stuff
Does it pay to be a bit of a geek and figure out how to get free stuff? You bet it does. So, get your geek on, and fire up the laptop and get some freebies. And don’t forget, it never hurts to ask if you can get a discount if you’re at a store. The worst that can happen is they say, “No.”
If you have other examples of sites you use to get free or nearly free stuff, we’d love for you to share them in the comments section. Want to make the most of your money? Check out our article on how to become a better saver.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur (Co-founded YoungEntrepreneur.com), mentor, investor and award winning Co-Author of Kidpreneurs (Basic Principles of Entrepreneurship for Kids). He owns Blogtrepreneur.com and writes for Contently.com.