10 Ways to get free stuff

10 Ways to get free stuff

Free stuff: They say “you can’t get something for nothing”, but if you know where to look and don’t mind being a bit cheeky, you can live a high life on a low budget.

1 – Free hair cuts

I’m forever changing my hairstyle. Although I’m a qualified hairdresser myself, I can’t cut my own hair, so what do I do? Head to my nearest hair and beauty college and get one of the students to do it for me! Doesn’t cost a thing, they get the experience, and as they’re supervised by a tutor, I get a fantabulous new hairdo! And if I’m feeling lazy I also get them to colour it for me, although you do have to pay for the dye and peroxide in that case.

2 – Free cosmetics

Go to Google and type in ‘free makeup sample sites’ and tons of listings come up for sites which offer freebies. Eyeshadows, foundations, mascaras, creams, lotions and potions…you never need to buy makeup again! If your favourite brand doesn’t advertise free samples, it’s still worth emailing them and asking if they would send you some samples. Stargazer is a personal favourite brand of mine, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do once my current supply runs out.

3 – Free fitness videos

Google that term and, again, you’ll end up with a list of sites which have free exercise videos tailored to different parts of the body or muscle groups. My personal fave is ExerciseTV, it’s full of videos by professional trainers which means I don’t have to go anywhere near a gym!

4 – Free meals, days out, etc

Online vouchers are a great way to get discounts on all kinds of things; cinema tickets, meals out, clothes and suchlike. Some are in the form of printable vouchers, others are codes which you enter at the checkout stage when buying from an online store. Either way, it’s worth having a nosey at the latest vouchers before you head out. I always do when I’m planning a trip to Burger King!

5 – Free recipes

On the subject of food, don’t go buying expensive cookery books if you prefer cooking at home. There are literally thousands of sites which have free recipes on, usually filtered by ingredients, so there’s really no need to fork (ooh a pun!) out for a book when you can get the same recipe online for free. If you’re a fan of Dragons Den, you may have seen Carol pleading for an investment into her site mydish.co.uk, which is a great example of a free recipe site, as it’s one you can send your own culinary delights into as well as try other people’s tried and tested family recipes.

6 – Free books

That leads us nicely onto getitng free books. No, I’m going to talk about the delights of a library (although that is a good way to get free books you don’t want to keep). I’m talking about book swapping sites, the likes of bookcrossing.com or titletrader.com. I use the former quite a lot, as it’s a great way to get rid of the books I don’t read anymore, and get new ones in return, for just the price of postage. You can create your own virtual bookshelf and wish list, and people can take a look at these, and if you’ve got something they want, and they’ve got something you might want…voila! A free book!

7 – Free cash

OK, this isn’t a great example of ‘something for nothing’ but it certainly rings true on the ‘spend money to make money’ saying instead. Cashback credit cards are like normal credit cards except they give you back a bit of what you spend on them. If you can get one of these, then every so often you could get a big fat cheque as a reward for spending money! And I’ve now got Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” playing in my head…

8 – Free cash #2

You’ll have seen the ads on TV of a sad, lonely mobile phone, right? Well, mobile phone recycling sites are a great way to get a bit of extra moolah and clear up a bit of clutter in the process. You won’t get rich sending your phones in, but every bit helps! Gold-buying sites are a similar kind of thing, sending you ample cash for your cast-off shinies, although not having any gold (I’m a silver and pewter girl myself) I can’t speak from personal experience.

9 – Free holidays

Although not exactly free, as you will have to fork out a bit, it’s worth mentioning these as it’s substantially less than you’d otherwise pay. There’s two types of ‘free’ holiday which spring to mind; the ‘view to buy’ trip and the Homeswap. I’ve done the former a couple of times; you pick a destination you fancy (in my case, Torrevieja in Southern Spain), find out if there’s any housing developments being built (and there usually is!) and see if the companies are running any viewing holidays (you need to pretend you’re planning on buying property out there).

The Homeswap is a relatively new idea, and not something I’ve done myself yet, but there’s lots of sites running the schemes. You basically swap homes with another couple or family for a week or two – you stay in their house, they stay in yours. You can swap with people in your own country or abroad, wherever you fancy going there’s probably going to be someone there who wants to stay where you live. Try homelink.org.uk to get a better idea of how it works.

10 – Free everything else

No matter what you want, there’ll be someone who’s got it and doesn’t want it. This is where swapshop sites, such as swapshop.co.uk, come in very useful. You register, list the items you don’t want anymore, and the stuff you’d like to get your mitts on. Someone will (hopefully) come toddling along with the very thing you want, and offer to do a swap for such-and-such on your clearout list. Kind of like the book swapping sites, but it can be practically anything – I once managed to swap an exercise bike for a nice big vivarium for my snakes!

11 is a magic number – Freeganism

Yes, I do recall saying I’d give you 10 ways to get free stuff. But the last way, and the most quixotic and ethically sound way, is to look into the proactive concepts behind freeganism. Freeganism is described as being ‘an anti-consumerist lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on limited participation in the conventional economy’. Wiki freeganism and you’ll find the full lowdown on what freeganism’s all about. Google it, and you’ll find any number of useful sites, how-tos and personal experiences to guide you on your freegan path. Dumpster diving, anyone?