Have you ever thought of making it through a day without spending any money? What about a week? Or a month? Eventually, your food and necessities start to run low, and rent comes due. However, we’ve found some pretty cool ways you can save money and get free stuff in this article.
You can get free stuff and live for free every day if you know where to look. Don’t spend any more money than you have to!
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a cash-strapped student or a six-figure earner: the more stuff you get for free, the more money you can save.
The more money you can save, the more investments you can make – and grow your wealth exponentially!
How to Save Money and Get Free Stuff
Here are our top ways of getting the treats that we want without ever parting from a penny. Enjoy!
Transportation eats up an even bigger share of the average budget than food. The BLSreports that in 2014, the average American household spent more than $9,000 getting from place to place. More than a third of that amount goes toward gas, oil changes, and auto insurance.
However, driving isn’t the only way to get around. Here are a few free alternatives:
Free Public Transportation
Clothing isn’t as big an expense for most Americans as food, but it still comes to more than $1,780 per year for the average household, according to the BLS.
Yet at the same time, many of us have clothes in our closets that we don’t even wear – either because they no longer fit, or because they never fit well in the first place, or because we’re simply tired of them.
By joining together with friends for a clothing swap party, you can clear the unwanted items out of your own closet and go home with new-to-you clothes for free.
Food is one of the biggest items in most household budgets. According to the annual Consumer Expenditures Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2014 the average American household spent $6,759 on food – more than 10% of its total income, and more than 12% of its total spending for the year.
Paring that yearly total all the way down to nothing probably isn’t possible, but there are certain tips and tricks you can use to get food for free in some situations.
Extreme couponing is to regular couponingwhat a triple-shot couponing is to a cup of plain coffee.
Instead of just using coupons to shave a few cents off the price of a handful of items each time you go to the grocery store, extreme couponing allows you to combine multiple discounts to dramatically slash the price of each item.
Contrary to popular belief, sometimes there actually is such a thing as a free lunch. If you know the right places and the right times to go, you can enjoy a meal, or at least a light snack, on the house.
In 2012, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), Americans consumed nearly 9.7 billion gallons of bottled water in 2012 – close to 31 gallons per person. At $1 per 16.9-ounce bottle, that works about $240 a year for a drink you could get right out of a faucet for practically nothing.
Housing is the single biggest expense in most people’s budgets. According to the BLS, the average American household spends more than $10,000 each year on “shelter” – more than one-fifth of its total spending.
Eliminating this expense isn’t easy, but there are ways to do it – especially for young, single people. The best-known way of living rent-free is to move in with your parents or other relatives.
Recent college graduates often move back home until they get established financially, and in some places, it’s common for young people to stay at home until they marry and start families of their own.
Another way to get free housing is to work for it. Full-time and part-time jobs that provide housing as a benefit include the following:
The average American household pays $937 a year for cell phone service, according to the BLS.
That’s not so shocking when you realize that plans with the four major carriers – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon – start at $50 per month and range into the hundreds.
For low-income households, there’s SafeLink Wireless Lifeline, a free cell phone plan offered by TracPhone. It provides a limited number of free talk minutes, ranging from 68 minutes per month to 350, to applicants whose income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty level.
If your income doesn’t meet these guidelines, you can still get free cell service through FreedomPop. This service gives you 200 minutes of talk time per month, plus 500 messages and 50MB of data.
Today, we use our computers and smartphones for a huge range of tasks, from writing letters to paying bills. Each one of these tasks requires a different piece of software, and many of those programs are pricey.
However, for nearly any function you can name, there’s a program out there that can do the same job for free. Some examples include the following:
Productivity: Apache OpenOffice is an open-source office software suite intended to do everything Microsoft Office can do for free.
Money Management: Mint is a web-based, all-in-one money-management program. Just like the popular budgeting program Quicken, it can track your spending, sort it into categories, create a budget, remind you about bills, offer investment advice, and give free access to your credit score.
Taxes: For users with simple tax returns, TurboTax offers a free version that includes a federal tax return only – tacking on a state return adds $30.
Antivirus: If your computer runs Windows 7 or Windows Vista, you can protect it from viruses, spyware, and other malware for free with Microsoft Security Essentials.
7. Reading Material
Anyone who loves to read knows that public libraries are great places to find books, magazines, and newspapers you can enjoy for nothing.
However, if you don’t have a convenient library branch, or if it just happens to be closed at the moment, you have some other options:
Project Gutenberg: More than 50,000 free ebooks are available online at Project Gutenberg. They’re all works in the public domain, so while you can’t find the latest bestsellers here, you can enjoy classic works of fiction and nonfiction from all over the world.
Librivox: If you prefer audiobooks, check out Librivox. This site offers a variety of public-domain audiobooks, read aloud by volunteers from all over the world.
Electronic Libraries: If you’re looking for electronic versions of newer books, there’s a good chance you can find them at an electronic library, or e-library.
Newspaper and Magazine Websites: Most newspapers, and some magazines, have a website where you can read at least some of their articles for free. Newspaper sites often require a subscription, and many allow you to read only a limited number of articles each month without paying
8. Music and Video
There are also numerous ways to stream music and video of the Internet with the help of a personal computer or digital media player.
For music, you can choose streaming radio stations like Pandora, Slacker, or Last.FM, or streaming services like Spotify and Songza.
For movies and TV, you can use the free version of Hulu, or you can turn to YouTube for a wide selection of videos, many of which aren’t available on regular TV.
Finally, it’s still perfectly possible to watch TV the old-fashioned way: with an antenna. Even HD signals come through clearly as long as you have an HD tuner, either separate or built into your TV.
The most expensive type of entertainment of all is recreational travel. A 2013 study by American Express shows that the average summertime vacation costs $1,145 per person or $4,580 for a family of four.
However, even a luxury like travel can be enjoyed free of charge if you play your cards right.
With a little ingenuity, it’s possible to get free flights, car rentals, and accommodations, leaving you with nothing to pay for on your vacation except your meals and entertainment.
The best-known way to fly for free is to cash in frequent-flyer miles. You can rack up these miles faster by always traveling with the same one or two airlines, using a travel rewards credit card, and taking advantage of promotions that give you free miles.
You can also maximize your chances of getting bumped by choosing flights that are most likely to be overbooked.
If you’d rather drive to your destination than fly, you can do that for free by volunteering with an auto driveaway service.
These are companies people can hire when they need their cars moved from one location to another and they don’t want to do the driving themselves.
10. Free Accommodations
Once you get to your travel destination, you still need a place to stay. Fortunately, there are ways to get one without having to pay for it: homestaysand house swaps.
Homestays are just what they sound like: staying in someone’s home, free of charge. Sites like Couchsurfing match travelers looking for a place to stay with hosts who want to meet new people and learn about other cultures.
House-swapping is a slightly different arrangement. Instead of being a guest in a family’s home, you stay in their home while they stay in yours.
You can swap houses at the same time, or you can arrange to have the guests stay at your home at one time and you stay in theirs at another time, with each of you staying somewhere else while your home is in use.
This non-simultaneous arrangement is easiest for people who have second homes or vacation homes that they don’t use all the time.
Naturally, almost no one can take advantage of every single freebie on this list at once. You’d have to be unbelievably lucky to find a house-sitting jobthat covers all your housing expenses, is close enough to your work to allow you to walk, and is in a town with a great public library and a community cafe.
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