Who doesn't love a freebie? I know I do. Given that we're slowly and painfully creeping towards the end of a very loooonnnngggg January, freebies right now are particularly welcome.
Now, I can already hear some muttering at the back along the lines of, "There's no such thing as a free lunch". To a certain extent that is true. Some of the things I'll mention below are most definitely being offered up for nothing in the hope that a) it will gain the company some positive publicity or b) the freebie will encourage you to return in the future as a paying customer.
I will state right now that my snapshot list of freebie favourites is quite diverse and most certainly not exhaustive! As with many of the posts on Average and Proud, I'm simply trying to pinpoint a variety of things in the hope that there's something in here that will appeal to most folk.
So, without further ado...
In terms of indoor entertainment during the winter months, many museums and art galleries can offer a different day out for the family and free entry is something of a bonus. It's not strictly free but the major cinema chains also tend to offer heavily discounted tickets for early viewings on Saturday and Sunday mornings. These can be a low-budget lifesaver during a wet winter weekend.
Check out facebook too and make sure you like any facebook pages that highlight up and coming events in your area. Our nearest city is Aberdeen and I've found out about a number of really great family events via the 'Aberdeen for Kids' page, which is dedicated to highlighting "cheap, free and fun things to do with kids in and around Aberdeen." Parents throughout the north-east of Scotland owe the page manager a huge debt of gratitude.
For the bookworms
If you're lucky enough to own a Kindle, then you've probably realised you can quite easily search the store for the top free books. Within the last day or so, I've downloaded for free the e-book 'Frugal Stuff That Works: 50 Tips To Make the Most of Your Money'. It's now priced at 77p after being free initially, however I consider this a double whammy: A free book in January that tells me how to save more pennies. What's not to like? Many thanks to the good ladies of the Mortgage Free in Three forum, whose tips have been used as the basis of the book.
For the gadget lovers
This is more of a reminder than a revelation. If you own any Apple products, you're probably well aware of free apps. I know I'm guilty of forgetting to have a rummage around to see if there's anything new out there that could help me to get more out of my iphone or ipad. January is the perfect time to go and have a look, particularly if you don't have much cash on your hands but you do have some spare time.
For the foodies
This blog has previously mentioned several wonderful websites such as BBC Good Food, AllRecipes and Pinterest, where you can find a whole host of recipe inspiration, costing you nothing more than some of your monthly internet allowance.
If you fancy perking up your lunchbox in 2014, why not try out a free sample of healthy goodies via Graze? At the time of writing, the Graze website was offering the first box ordered for half price, however this company is well-known for running promotions where your initial order is completely free. Check out popular deals and voucher code sites (more on these below) to see if you can find one, or keep an eye on the main site. Just remember to cancel if you decide that you don't want to continue to order on a regular (and paying) basis.
For the business world
One of the most valuable and stimulating pieces of communication that arrives in my inbox is the free monthly trend briefing that I receive via trendwatching.com. Packed full of inspiring advice and case studies, it's a must-read not only for those who work in marketing or communications but for anyone who has an interest in consumer behaviour, technological advances and "the next big thing".
For the real bargain hunters
Where to start? Websites such as freecycle and freegle have an enormous range of pre-loved items up for grabs so that one person's trash can become another's treasure. It's generally acknowledged that it's good practise to give as well as receive. Having done both in the past via my local freecycle group, I would thoroughly recommend it.
Another source of potential freebies, although more in the "buy one get one free" category, are the many voucher and discount code websites. Popular ones include www.vouchercodes.co.uk and www.hotukdeals.com. The wonderfully useful MoneySavingExpert website also lists all the hottest deals right here. (Or simply sign up for MoneysavingExpert's weekly email and join the eight million people who get all the latest freebies and offers delivered directly to their inbox each week.)
For the spenders
If freebies for spenders seem contradictory, bear with me. If you are about to book your summer holiday at the beginning of the year, this final hint could prove useful. Cash back sites are a great way of getting some 'free' money back on a purchase that you may well be making anyway. My personal favourite is TopCashBack but there are several other biggies. It's not just holidays that you can earn cash back on - many of the major retailers have now signed up to these schemes. The cash back may take a while to come through - and you shouldn't base a purchase purely on what you might get back (cash back websites have been known to fall by the wayside). It is, however, well worth a try, particularly for larger buys. All you need to do is click through from the cash back site to your retailer of choice, then order as normal. One final cautionary note: Once the cash back has come through, move it into your own bank account asap. Don't let it pile up, just in case the cashback site doesn't last the distance...