How to Avoid Paying for Things You Can Get for Free

Three Methods:Finding Free Household ItemsFinding Free FoodFinding Free Stuff For the Computer

Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” must have lived before the internet age. As long as you are aware of the trade-offs of getting something for free, there are many ways to avoid paying for everyday items. With practice, you can find household items, computer programs, and even food for free. But stay alert during the entire process, since there are more scams than legitimate free offers out there.

Method 1
Finding Free Household Items

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    Look at classified ads. Many newspapers still feature a classifieds section, but is even easier to search classified websites. There are also websites dedicated solely to advertising free items. If you have ever moved, you know the convenience of someone coming to get that old couch out of your home. Many people don't expect anything in return except for you taking it quickly. Classified ads are better for finding some items than others.
    • Large furniture, tube TVs, obscure collections like bottle caps, pets, boxes, and firewood are regular features of ads for free items
    • Be suspicious of smaller electronics - why is the person getting rid of it? Especially fragile electronics like computer memory are best bought new, since they can be difficult to test before you get home.
    • You should never send a picture of yourself as part of a free classified ad exchange.
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    Use the preferred method of communication. It is easy to either annoy someone or be ignored by emailing when you should have called, and vice versa. A good rule of thumb is if they give a phone number, use it. Otherwise they would have left that line blank. If they don't, send an email. Some people even specify they prefer receiving texts.
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    Check listings for nearby college towns. Around the beginning of each academic semester, there is a flood of used items in local classified ads - and many items are free. College towns are a great place to look because there is regular turnover in rental properties.
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    Look for freebie websites. There are many legitimate websites for free stuff, and many scams. Search internet forums for discussions of each website to determine if it is legitimate. Many online news and entertainment outlets feature regular articles discussing new freebie websites.[1]
    • This is the best way to get free household cleaners, hygienic supplies, and other cleaners that can easily be put in sample-sized packaging
    • Be advised that some websites may be exclusively designed to give you a computer virus, and may not even try to get your information. Be careful about which sites you click on.
    • If you find a freebie offer on social media that wants you to take a survey, they are most likely trying to lure you to their non-secure site and aren't actually giving anything away.[2]
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    Check into relief organizations. If you are in need, there are many nonprofits that give away donated items. Do a web search for charities in your area. As always, check into the legitimacy of an organization before you give it any information.
    • Disaster relief organizations like the American Red Cross respond to families affected by natural disasters.
    • Charity organizations like the Salvation Army focus on the needy as well as those affected by disaster.
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    Write a letter or phone a company directly. Large corporations are often happy to send freebies or coupons. See this guide for a detailed process. There are a general strategies to get freebies.
    • Pay them compliments. Tell them you love their product and want to keep using it.
    • Complain about their product. Tell them you were upset by the quality of the product last time you used it. Sometimes they will respond by sending you coupons or freebies to try to win back your loyalty.
    • Tell them you are throwing a party and want to feature their product. This could be something as simple as napkins or cups. Companies sometimes see this as an opportunity for some free advertising.
    • Whatever your tactic, make sure you bowl them over with kindness when they send you freebies.

Method 2
Finding Free Food

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    Go to info sessions and free events. New organizations often have free food to attract prospective members. Keep in mind that they will try to convince you to join. These events are often advertised on social media websites and in classifieds. New restaurants occasionally have free food at opening celebrations.
    • If you are a student, campus organizations have free food at their events regularly, especially early in the semester. There are websites you can sign up for that even do the leg work for you by finding free food opportunities.
    • Check out the bulletin board at your local community center or online. They will often have events advertised - look for 'free food.'
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    Look in the classifieds. Sometimes people advertise free food in the local classifieds. For example, moving often creates a need to empty out the cabinet. Make sure to read the details so you know why a person is giving away food before you contact them. If they give no reason, stay away from the deal.
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    Social Network sites. Free food events are often advertised on social networking sites. You can even join groups that these opportunities are posted on. Look for groups or sites that serve your area so you aren’t getting updates from across the country.
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    Apply for food stamps. This service takes the burden of having inconsistent or low income preventing proper nutrition. If you are in need, find your state’s social services division to see if you are eligible. Many have a questionnaire you can take online to determine if you qualify.[3]

Method 3
Finding Free Stuff For the Computer

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    Use freeware. There are free versions of most software. Keep in mind they may not be the full version of a program, or have a simple interface. However, are many great computer programs designed by companies that design freeware alongside other programs with a cost. Many download sites have a way for you to narrow your search to free programs only, or at least give you the cost up front.[4]
    • Virtually all web browsers are free. You should never pay for one.
    • Media players are also generally free, except for professional or specialized programs.
    • There are very stripped down photo and video editors that are fine for everyday use.
    • Although they aren't the big names, there are many video games that are free.
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    Use free video sites for music and videos. Video websites are constantly expanded with new content. If you want to check out a song before you buy it, or watch a movie that is public domain, look for it on video websites. Avoid content that was uploaded without legal consent of the owner. However, as long as you are not the uploader and you don’t copy the content, you won’t be punished for viewing it.[5]
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    Use television websites with ads. Some TV websites feature many current shows that you can view without a subscription. The catch is that you have to sit through advertisements. However, for many, this is preferable to paying a subscription to a TV site, or paying for cable.
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    Become a beta tester. This is a little different than simply receiving a free product since you are generally asked to use it in tandem with other programs. Remember, sometimes this is not actually free, but a way for people interested in shaping future user interfaces to get their opinions in. There are a few ways to go about this.
    • Email companies directly to ask about becoming a beta tester. Large companies need testers regularly. They will opt for people with a technical background, and people with high performance machines.
    • Join a beta tester community. These are fairly simple to find online, but be on the lookout for scams!
    • Advertise yourself as a beta tester. Upload your resume to job search engines or social media sites and you may be contacted to test a program.


  • Proceed with caution! Be on the lookout for scams and [[Spot an Email Hoax or Phishing Scam|phishing]. Always search community or internet forums for discussions about anything you are considering to make sure it is a legitimate offer.
  • Be on the lookout for products that are initially free, but eventually cost something. Never give your credit card information to a product that claims to be free unless you are ok with paying for it eventually.
  • For more tips on avoiding scams online and in the real world, check out this guide.

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Categories: Buying Wisely