UPDATE: This article was published in November 2015. Make sure you’re up to...
10 ways to live for free
Jasmine Birtles of Moneymagpie.com knows all about thrifty living and money saving.
Today, in the first of three blogposts, she shares with us ten ways to live for free… We’re all ears!
Just because you’re in debt it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a thrifty treat here and there. In fact it’s important to treat yourself every now and then to keep you going as you work off your debt!
The right treats don’t have to cost you a bean either. If you know where to look there are all sorts of freebies on offer all around you.
Here are just a few of the freebies you could be enjoying today and there are links to more elsewhere. Try them out!
Free food in restaurants, cafes and hotels
One of the things we miss most when money is tight is going out for a nice meal, and certainly the fun of staying in a posh hotel.
Well you can get these and more for free if you become a mystery shopper. Anyone can do it. All you need is some time to spare, access to the internet and a willingness to share your opinions about places.
Mystery shoppers are sent out by agencies to have dinner in restaurants, try out spas, hotels and car showrooms, among other things. They’re given a budget plus a few quid for their time and they’re told to behave like any other person going into these places. Then afterwards they have to answer questions about it online. That’s it!
You have to be a bit careful, though, as there are many rogue agencies out there so to make sure you join with the proper ones and don’t get ripped-off.
Phone calls for free
It’s possible to call anywhere in the world free if you’ve got broadband connection (or use free wifi in a café). Free internet phone calls (VoIP) can slash the cost of calling abroad and also to anyone in the UK so take advantage of it.
Skype is probably the most well known free call service. It can be downloaded for free and once you’ve registered you can use VoIP calls from your laptop, smartphone and tablet so you don’t need to ever pay for phone calls again.
Furniture for free
If you want to furnish your home (including electronics like TVs and washing machines) without spending a single penny, check out freebie websites like Snaffleup, local Gumtree sites and Freecycle.
These websites have new items offered for free in your area every day (every hour in some places) and all you have to do is go pick them up. It might mean you have to pay for transport – unless you can get a friend to help – but if you’re getting a great, nearly-new item for your home, it’s likely to be worth it.
Books for free
If your local library is still operating (some have been forced to close recently) then make the most of it. Libraries are a fantastic resource for free books, free magazines and cheap DVDs and CDs.
Or head to ReadItSwapIt where you can get free books by swapping the ones you’ve already read. This is such a great idea and a brilliant way for people to share costs.
My website also has a range of free eBooks on various helpful subjects.
Entertainment for free
For simply entering your email at ShowFilmFirst you could get the chance to see movies for free, before they’re released. FreeCinemaTickets offer similar preview screenings so it’s worth signing up to both to get as many freebies as you can.
Also, for a great night out how about going to watch your favourite TV shows being recorded live, for free of course. Sites such as ApplauseStore, BBC Tickets and LostinTV allow you to apply to see all your favourite TV shows for free. The BBC tickets site also offers free tickets to radio shows which are often easier to get.
So whether it’s Britain’s Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing or The Jonathan Ross Show, you can see your favourite show on the box being created without paying a penny!
Holiday for free
Want a free holiday? Get one by swapping your home with somebody else, either in the UK or abroad. Essentially it’s a (nearly) free holiday because accommodation is free and all you’ll need to cover is the cost of travel and food. If you swap with someone in the UK you could even get a cheap ride there through lift-sharing. Try Blablacar or Liftshare.com for that.
An even cheaper option is Couchsurfing.com, a network of people around the world that let others sleep on their couch or spare bed for a night or two. It’s a great way to meet locals and get a free bed for the night, although it’s important to check your hosts or guests first to stay safe.
Make-up for free
Get free cosmetics by joining a trial company like Toluna.com. It’s really easy: you just try, review and get to keep brand new hand-creams, moisturisers, lip balms and more. In the past they’ve given away Garnier hand cream, Nivea lipbalm and Dove beauty cream bar. So you can see the kind of things you could get to try for nothing.
Also try Clicksresearch.com for regular cosmetics and household goods sent to you to try and then review online.
Internet for free
Small cafes all around the UK provide free internet access for the price of a drink. Costa, Starbucks and even McDonalds are just a few of the places that provide free Wi-Fi.
To find your nearest free Wi-Fi connection use FreeHotspot which pinpoints free wireless internet hotspots all over the UK. You can search by street, town or country.
Free points and vouchers
Wherever you shop, collect points which can be spent on items or dinners for yourself later.
Boots, Superdrug, The Works, Tesco and Morrisons are just a few of the stores that offer points rewards when you spend but it’s amazing how many of us collect up points and rewards and never get round to using them.
It’s also really useful to swap vouchers and points with friends and family where possible. You might have a money-off voucher for something you don’t buy which you could swap with a friend for a voucher that you will use.
Free clothes, accessories and household bits
Have a swap shop with friends and neighbours once every few months where you bring clothes, accessories, CDs and other bits that you don’t want and swap them with each other. That way you get rid of junk and potentially get a whole new wardrobe at the same time!