Putting the Stereotypical Notion of a Tightwad on its Tush

My Five Favorite Freebies

I am a child of the 90s; I grew up on grunge, and spent most of my teenage years wearing my dad’s old flannel shirts and combat boots, despite the fact that both overpowered my frame. So it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite songs of all time comes from the soundtrack to Empire Records

The best things in life are free
But you can give them to the birds and bees
I want money

(That’s what I want)
That’s what I want
(That’s what I want)
That’s what I want
(That’s what I want)
That’s what I want
(That’s what I want)

You love gives me such a thrill
But your love won’t pay my bills
I want money

(That’s what I want)
That’s what I want
(That’s what I want)
That’s what I want
(That’s what I want)
That’s what I want
(That’s what I want)

Money don’t get everything it’s true
But what it don’t get I can’t use
I want money

In case you’re not familiar with the song, it’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Flying Lizards. Now, I want you to go back and focus on the very first line of the song: the best things in life are free.

The thing is, despite what the rest of the song might argue, you can get something for nothing. Here are my five favorite freebies:

  1. Music in the park. In the town where we live, the chamber of commerce sponsors free concerts every Saturday night from April through October. Sometimes you’ll hear the high school’s jazz band; other times, it’s the senior citizens’ community chorus. No matter what’s on the program, it’s a great way to get out in the community and spend an evening under the stars.
  2. Photo deals. Twice a year, Walgreens offers a week of photo freebies – everything from a free 8×10 print to a custom photo card at no cost. If you opt to have the free stuff printed at your nearest Walgreens, you’ll get it for nothing. Shutterfly and Snapfish also routinely offer free photo deals; just a few weeks ago, I snagged a free 20-page photo book from Shutterfly.
  3. Ship to store. I don’t understand how people can stand to shell out big bucks on shipping costs. So many stores offer free ship-to-store options, including Best Buy and Walmart. Amazon offers free shipping on thousands of products, too. My favorite free shipping deal, though, is the annual “Free Shipping Day” promotion; hundreds of companies participate in the freebie to end all freebies, which guarantees free shipping on Monday, December 17th, 2012.
  4. Loyalty programs. For years, I’ve collected codes and labels from everything from Campbell’s Soups to Pampers diapers. I’ve used Box Tops for Education to single-handedly donate $50 to my daughter’s school last year; I’ve used the codes I’ve collected from Disney movies to amass enough points to buy new movies or movie tickets for free. The best part of this is that you often don’t have to buy the products to get the codes or points – sites like Retail Me Not often list universal codes.
  5. MyPoints/Inbox Dollars/Swagbucks. I start every morning the same way – by going through my email account and clicking through about two dozen promotional emails; then, I head over to Swagbucks, make a few searches, and watch the points roll in. By doing this, I’m able to generate between $200-$300 in cash and gift cards every year, which I use to defray the cost of Christmas presents. I use this free money to buy free stuff for family and friends – without looking cheap.

Reader, what are some of your favorite freebies?

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