The best things in life really are often free, and getting into that freebie state of mind can save you money, help the environment and generally be a whole lot of fun.
Get into the habit of regularly checking for free samples, giveaways, swaps and competitions and you’re more likely to snap up the good stuff while it’s available.
General freebie hunting.
Freebies websites are one of the easiest options to try if you’re just dipping your toe into the water, including Magic Freebies UK and Gratisfaction which are updated daily. You can also check for coupons in newspapers and magazines, printable vouchers in brand newsletters, and codes and other information on money-saving and thrift forums.
Follow your favourite brands and influencers on social media for giveaways, and look out for PR teams giving out free samples or tasters to publicise new product launches in shopping centres, at train stations or at events. You could get anything from a soft drink to a tube of toothpaste.
Loyalty schemes are another occasional treat without having to pay out. Sign up for points and vouchers to spend at the supermarket or a high street chemist, or collect Avios air miles points for free travel.
You could also sign up to become a product tester, providing your opinions privately or posting reviews in return for being able to keep the products afterwards. Try Toluna, Clicks Research and SuperSavvyMe’s Savvy Circle to get started, or join consumer panels for individual brands.
Thrifty and green.
There’s also a thriving community of people who give things away for free to declutter their homes, help neighbours and prevent items going into landfill. Check your local Freecycle or Freegle group, look at neighbourhood Facebook pages, or find something in the free section of Gumtree or Preloved.
You might also like swapping or swishing, where you offload what you no longer want or need and come away with something new to you. Find out more about clothes swapping or ‘swishing’ at getswishing.com, or search Eventbrite for a wider range of events to swap books, prints and more.
Your workplace might be another source of freebies, with employers offering free language lessons, skills training, event tickets, or a gym, for example. Check noticeboards in case your colleagues are giving stuff away too.
Reading and learning.
Free courses and training can be found via your local council, at the Open University’s OpenLearn, FutureLearn and Alison.com, and employment websites such as Reed and LinkedIn. Or look for less formal lessons at local colleges and online for all kinds of interests and hobbies.
Eating and drinking.
For completely free food, download the Olio app for food sharing, or join a foraging group. If you can wait for a cashback refund, you’ll also find free food and drink on apps like Shopmium and CheckoutSmart.
Fitness and fun.
As long as you have trainers and other fitness gear you can keep fit without paying out too. Join a local free Parkrun or walking group, get a trial membership at a gym (remember to cancel if you decide not to join), work out for free at outdoor and green gyms, or try free tennis lessons for adults and kids from tennisforfree.com.
Keep yourself entertained for free with books from your local library, free entry and pay-what-you-can pub nights for music and comedy, record store gigs, or have a free day out at local festivals and exhibitions. Enjoy!
Penny Golightly is a journalist and author who set up her site to share bargain-hunting tips and information. After living below the poverty line as a child, she decided to avoid running up unnecessary debts as an adult and now lives happily and creatively within her means, and loves finding all the nicer things in life for less. She has written for titles including the Huff Post, The Times, The Guardian and Independent.