One of the most often repeated sayings that I heard from my parents when I was growing was,”Nothing in life is free.”
So, as I grew up I was shocked to learn that my parents were wrong – you really can get free stuff with no catches! I remember, in college, being offered a free T-shirt just for signing an application for a credit card. A very good college friend of mine who was working as a movie theater manager once handed my girlfriend and I complimentary movie tickets for absolutely free.
Then a few years later, we stayed at a Howard Johnson’s Hotel, had a miserable time, complained and ended up with a free hotel stay. Oh yes, some things in life really are free.
Get a Free Hotel Stay With Very Little Effort
The way the story goes, we asked the hotel for a crib and then upon arriving at the hotel, discovered that there wasn’t one reserved for us. We were furious, of course, and we were awake all night trying to make sure the baby didn’t roll her way right off the edge of the bed. We slept in shifts, trying to keep her between us. The next morning, with bloodshot eyes and a huge coffee in hand, I cornered the hotel manager and yelled at him for ten straight minutes. The next day I hopped online and fired off one of the most carefully crafted letters condemning Howard Johnson’s and vowing not only never to stay there again, but also to inform everyone I knew how horrible the hotel chain was. To my surprise, in less than two weeks after sending my letter, we received an envelope from Howard Johnson’s corporate headquarters with an apology and a voucher for a free hotel stay.
Every major hotel chain has a customer service section where you can submit comments about your recent stay. I would never advise anyone to become a habitual complainer – in fact, I’ve heard of folks getting banned from staying at a hotel chain because they complained dozens of times in a row. However, be aware of every nuance of your stay, and if anything is significantly wrong with your room or your stay, complain to the hotel staff (ask for and note their names), and if it’s not resolved, submit your politely written complaint, and you’re almost guaranteed to receive a free hotel stay for your efforts.
Earlier, James offered some great methods to find the best hotel deals. Of course, another perfect way to get a free hotel stay is by choosing a favorite chain and sticking with them to earn loyalty “points.” These work just like frequent flier miles, and they add up quickly. Every now and then, just for electing to stay at the same hotel chain, you’ll build up enough points to stay a night at the hotel for free. One of my favorite rewards programs is .
If you use the system often enough, you get an “Elite” status, which means more points per stay, and more free rooms more often. It’s true – just stay loyal to a hotel chain, and eventually you get a free hotel room with no catch. Now that’s sweet.
You Can Get Lots of Free Stuff With No Catches – But Free Groceries?
Think about it – what’s the one area where families usually spend the most money every week? That’s right – groceries. Now, what if you could start eating out for free, or getting groceries without paying a dime? Sound too good to be true? While you probably can’t get all your groceries for free, what you can do is cut down significantly on your grocery bill by getting some of the more expensive items for free. A few of the best sites for this includes the constantly updated free sample page at the Kroger store website.
And of course, you can’t talk cheap without talking about Wal-Mart, which also has it’s own free sample section on the Wal-Mart website.
Yes, I know – for some reason the free samples are often of “women’s products,” but hey – women need free stuff too, right? And don’t forget to use all of those awesome grocery coupon websites I wrote about earlier to save even more on the groceries you do have to buy.
Eat out for free
Oh, and remember what I said earlier about eating out for free? Okay, it’s really true – you can get a free entree or appetizer at most restaurants on your birthday if you sign up for either a newsletter or for a free loyalty “club” membership, such as the deal from Red Lobster where you get a free “gift” (it’s a free appetizer) on your birthday for joining the “Seafood Lovers Club.”
Just search the web for your favorite restaurants and sign up for their “club” memberships (almost always free), and on your birthday you could eat breakfast, lunch and supper for absolutely free!
Becoming a Free-aholic – It Really Is An Addiction
One of the worst things about getting started down the “free stuff” road is that once you realize you can get stuff for free, it’s easy to become obsessed with looking for “free stuff” opportunities. Trust me, they are everywhere. Unfortunately, the web is also overrun with “freebie” scams and adware/malware filled websites that offer free stuff. MakeUseOf offers a long list of great options for bargains and coupons, like Aibek’s review of Freshbargains, or the MUO reviews of RetailMeNot and WoW-Coupons. But if you’re looking for not only cheap stuff, but free stuff with no catches, then you’ll need a good selection of valid freebie sites. One of the only directories I check out often is TheFreeSite.
While the site itself isn’t the prettiest design in the world, it really does the trick. There are categories from “Fun Freebies,” to “Family Freebies,” to “Seasonal Freebies,” and everything in between. The offers throughout the site are legitimate and real. Now if you like the idea of getting items for free from folks in your local community who simply don’t want their stuff anymore (there are surprisingly many people like that), then two of the hottest sites you’ll want to check out are GumTree, a popular U.K. based free classifieds site with a huge “freebies” section.
And there’s also the ever-popular FreeCycle.org, where millions of folks across the world are just trading stuff for free every single day.
FreeCycle.org has really developed a worldwide cult following, and if you join up you’ll quickly see why. There’s nothing so cool as being part of a community where folks want to give you something for absolutely free just to keep it out of the world’s landfills. After a while, you’ll find yourself giving stuff that you don’t want away for free too!
Do you have any favorite freebie websites? What are your tricks for getting free stuff? Share your opinions in the comment section below.
Image credit: Adrian Purser