To tie-in with National Student Money Week, Ruth from Save the Student has written this great guest article about easy ways you can find free stuff.
With the right strategy, you can save major money this year, and even make a little extra on the side – and it’s all about freebies.
1. Don’t bother paying for software
From firewalls to photo editors, PC and laptop software can easily cost you £100+ a year, yet free versions are often just as good. Start with the tips below before working your way through the full list of software freebies on Save the Student’s website:
- You don’t have to pay for anti-virus and protective software, but don’t make the mistake of ditching it all together! Avast, AVG, Kapersky and Malwarebytes all have your back
- LibreOffice and Apache Office can do everything Microsoft Office does, but if you’re happy working online you can use Google Docs or MS Office for free on the web
- Need to polish up your photos? Download GIMP or, for online or app access, Pixlr and Snapseed
- Audacity does for audio clips what PhotoShop can do for celebrities’ thighs
- Bits and bobs: CCleaner (keep your computer clean and clutter free), Lastpass (trusty password manager), and Icecream: PDF maker, image resizer and others
2. Get free stuff on your birthday
There are more birthday bonuses out there than you can possibly stuff into a single day, but with the right approach, you can ride the wave for weeks.
The key lies in signing up for your favourite brand’s newsletter, membership scheme or loyalty app well in advance. It won’t cost you anything, and it means vouchers will be sent straight to you on your birthday. Get a separate email address for the purpose if you don’t want year-round dings ‘n’ pings.
Up for grabs:
- A no-spend snack from Millie’s Cookies, Greggs and Krispy Kreme
- Free bubbly when you dine in at Pizza Express, Zizzi and All Bar One, plus on-the-house treats or money off at loads of other chains
- A free fiver to spend in-store at The Body Shop, Hobby Craft and Paperchase, while Debenham’s beauty club will treat you to a brow wax and a facial. Smooth!
3. Ask for samples
You probably already know you can ask for tester pots or trials of expensive products at your local beauty counter. Sniff out samples:
- From social media giveaways and competitions. It’s also worth signing up for newsletters, especially if there’s a freebie incentive to join!
- Sign up as a tester for your favourite (or most unaffordable!) brands and they’ll send you treats to try out. Boots, Tesco, Elemis and Soap and Glory all have user panels
- If you commute through a major station, learn what times the promo people come out: you can snaffle anything from shampoo to sweets
4. Claim goodies from mobile phone companies
A lot of the offers bundled into rewards apps involve spending money in order to save money, but Three’s Wuntu throws in no-spend treats ranging from free coffee and competitions to cinema tix.
You don’t need to switch provider to join the party: request a free sim, pop it in your phone and connect to wifi while you download and activate the relevant app. You should then be able to switch back to your usual sim but still have access to the apps. Worth a try!
5. Take free courses online
More skills could mean a better salary – and there are tons of ways to get qualified for free:
- Coding or computer skills: start with Codecademy, Free Code Camp, Codewars or SoloLearn
- Master marketing basics with a Google qualification
- Learn a language: Duolingo is your friend, freund or amigo
- Advanced and uni-level courses: edX and FutureLearn are good for grey matter
- A bit of everything else: try Khan Academy and alison.com
6. Don’t pay if you can get it for free
‘DPIYCGIFF’ may be unpronounceable, but it’s a sound strategy!
- Need furniture, niche gadgets or an emergency interview suit? Ask friends and family if they can gift or swap you something before buying new – or try freecycle
- If you haven’t yet subscribed to a streaming service, work your way around free trials: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV, BFI Player and Hayu all have ‘em. If you’re in a shared house you may even be able to rotate offers between you, meaning months of free viewing. Just remember to cancel before payment kicks in!
- Don’t forget the everyday stuff: there are free photo prints, Uber codes, eye tests and even lottery entries out there. Get Googling!
- And if you’re lucky enough to still be a student it’s one of the few times you might not need a TV licence – but only if you do it right! Keep an eye out of student-exclusive freebies too, like Slackers Club, which gets you a cinema fix for free
Freebies come in all stripes, but watch out for those that come with hidden costs, such as postage or minimum spends: the ones above needn’t cost you a penny. Work your way through all of them and you could be better off by hundreds this time next year: ‘free’ is the magic number!
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