Here’s a thrifty tip that’s actually fun. One of the easiest ways to fight that acquisitive temptation is to go for freebies. There are a couple of sites that list free items, like Fatwallet or Slick Deals, and if you think of it as window shopping, the fun comes twice, in occasionally finding and signing up for something worth getting, and then when you receive it in the mail a few weeks later.
I thought it’d be fun to list the top 7 freebies (in order of value) that I’ve gotten over the last 9 months or so:
1. Cubic zirconium necklace: This was a fun little surprise for filling out a survey on a nail product. It was a cute thing, not worth very much, but a nice gift for a young girl if you decide not to use it.
2. Pedometer: The US Dept. of Health and Human services created a 7-week challenge this summer to get women walking and exercising, so anyone who signed up in time got a pedometer as part of the challenge. (As the narrator from Frontline quipped in a recent program, “Americans are highly competitive and gadget-centric, so maybe a pedometer is the best chance to get the nation to exercise.”)
3. Pet pedometer and ball: A pet pharmaceutical company offered a pet pedometer for filling out a survey on the health of your dog. The pet pedometer was actually nicer than the human one I received, and it came with a nice rubber ball, too. Too bad the pedometer was too big for my dog!
4. “Doctor in the House” Black handbag: Consumer Health Education Center (CHEC) was offering this nice freebie to anyone who wanted it, along with useful literature about precautions mixing over-the-counter medications. (The theory was that women and mothers tend to be the “doctors” of the family, so the gift was targeted at women.) A surprisingly nice bag!
5. Omaha Steak Burgers: A rather spammy survey site was offering a $25 gift certificate toward purchases at Omaha Steaks, so I used it to buy some burgers. Looking forward to these!
6. Tumi Accessory Bag: Same as above, but this time a survey offered by Tumi. $25 toward the purchase of anything in their store, so I chose a bag.
7. 1-year print subscription to Barron’s: E*Trade customers were offered a complimentary 1-year subscription to Barrons (worth $149). Despite being E*Trade customers, I found out about this nice deal from Fatwallet. This is the highest-value freebie I’ve received, not to mention a perfect one for my profession and this site.
I’ve also gotten a few free razors, cosmetics, and lotions from manufacturers, which will come in handy after I had to toss most of my cosmetics into the trash when I travelled last Thursday. Argh!
So how do you get these? It’s not too hard, especially if you’re into window-shopping. You just have to check the sites listed above from time to time and see if there’s anything worth getting. In general, freebies come from filling out surveys, educational promotions (like the pedometer or handbag above), and manufacturers promoting new products. If you’re filling out surveys, it’s probably wise to use a throwaway email address, because spam often does come.
Of course, there are some ethics involved. Personally, I don’t fill in any surveys or sign up for medical freebies offering products for those who actually could use them. There are also freebies that aren’t worth having or that don’t come.
It’s always a bit of a roulette game, but hunting for and getting freebies does allay some of that buying urges that we all have from time to time.
So what are some good freebies you’ve gotten?