Don't we all love to get something for nothing? If you've got a nose for them, freebies are easy to find.
Some of my favourite freebies include cosmetics samples from chemists and beauty counters. And many hairdressing and beauty schools offer free services. In my circle of friends there are a few clothes' swapping circles.
One common freebie at the moment is digital photos. New operators can offer 10, 20 or even 50 free photographs to new customers. But make sure their prices are competitive before continuing to use their service.
Free samples of everything from cat food to cosmetics are fairly easy to come by on the Internet – although whether it's worth the effort is up to how important your time is. All you need to do is type in the words "free sample" in Google and you'll find all sorts of stuff on offer.
Freebie lovers need to keep their eyes and ears open. For example, I found out whilst Googling "salsa lessons" that the Argentine Embassy screens free movies on Saturday nights in Auckland. I've been a couple of times and it sure beats paying Hoyts prices.
If that's not your thing, then it's possible to get seats in TV audiences. You can check out TVNZ or other production companies' websites for details. But prepared to do the hard yards to find out. I called TVNZ and got the complete run around. In the UK the BBC makes this easy with a dedicated website. When I lived there on my OE I would join an audience from time to time.
It's not just companies that want to give things away. Individuals who simply want to offload something for free ranging from horses to Astro Turf away often list the items on Trade Me with a nominal price such as 50c or $1. Although technically not free, they may as well be. I toyed recently with bidding on three 3m olive trees that were free for removal – although in the end I couldn't be bothered digging them out. Trees like these would cost $50 or more each from the local garden centre.
Inorganic collections are a popular source of freebies. In the parts of the country that have them, many people put perfectly good items on the street for collection and others snaffle them before the council can get there to do the collection.
Online and text freebies are increasingly common. Sometimes you need to sign up to a website or fill in a survey to get your freebie. For example, the txt2taste.co.nz website allows you to send texts at 20c a pop. When I checked there weren't any offers available. But it's a great idea anyway.Healthyfood.co.nz also has free samples from time to time. Plenty of other sites exist for free samples. Another site, which I haven't tried personally, is MySavings.com. , which when I checked had more than 40 products available for samples.
Contest.co.nz's "Freebies and Giveaways" forum allows freebie hunters to exchange notes.
If you don't like buying expensive software, Download.com offers free alternatives to expensive products. For example it's possible to get good free anti-virus protection such as Avast or ZoneAlarm's free firewall.
Complaining is another way to get freebies – although I only recommend doing this if it's a genuine complaint. I once bought Bega Stringers from my local supermarket just to find the cheese was mouldy. The company sent around several packets of the stuff by courier when I complained and we've been loyal customers ever since
One way to get regular freebies is to join a market research panel. You may be rewarded for giving your views in goods or possibly Fly Buys or other points For example Valuedopinions.co.nz offers vouchers for shops such as Farmers and Video Ezy and you earn a dollar value each time you fill in a survey. Mainstream market research companies such as AC Nielsen also recruit panels. I have a relative who does this. But I do sometimes wonder whether it's worth her time and effort financially.
What I don't consider to be "free" is freebies that require you to buy something. That is unless you need the item you're paying for and you've shopped around to make sure it's the cheapest of that item on the market. It's also important to beware of scams.
Do you know of any great freebies?