Finance -
Top Tips to Get Free Stuff
Art Gib
Cash Back Realty ( offers a discount on real estate closing costs. This is done through their commission rebate program, saving clients hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Art Gib is a freelance writer. 
By Art Gib
Published on 11/15/2008
Everyone likes to save money and find a good deal. Here are some opportunities to get food, products, and services for practically nothing.

With the never-ending effort of companies within the same industry to compete for loyal customers, new devices are cropping up to help encourage you to give them your business.

Many companies offer promotions to give you a taste of their products and services. From hot dogs and soda pop at RC Willey to a free night's stay at a ski resort, there are many things you can get without paying a dime.

Companies spend a great deal of effort trying to get potential customers through the door, and advertise freebies to encourage it.

Timeshares try to get your business by giving you a free night's stay at one of their locations, with the only stipulation that you listen to an hour-long presentation or sales pitch. If you don't mind the hour of a little pressure to buy, go ahead and enjoy yourself!

Another idea for you performing arts lovers: if a play or musical is showing and you can't afford tickets, volunteer as an usher. You spend a few minutes before the show helping people to their seats, and then you get to sit back and enjoy the performance for free.

Many stores and restaurants offer punch cards, giving you free or discounted products after you purchase a certain amount. Shoes, music, clothing, ice cream--you name it. They will often have punch cards right at their registers. If you don't see them, ask.

Major credit card companies, gas stations, and retail stores offer credit cards with rewards, often in the form of points, discounts, or cash back. Be careful--racking up too many of these can take a toll on your credit report. But if you get one or two used for purchases you make frequently, the savings can really add up.

CraigsList and other online classified ads are great places to look for low prices on just about anything. A recent development has also been labeled 'freecycling' (websites that allow you to advertise for things you want to get rid of.)

These are things being offered for free that people choose to donate to individual people (like you!) instead of to an organization like Good Will.

A few last things to consider:

Sweepstakes and drawings. It can be time-consuming to enter, and the odds of winning may be slim. Just remember that your odds are zero if you don't enter at all.

Cash up front. When you put more money down when you buy a house, you get a better interest rate. The same principle applies to smaller purchases, such as gym memberships and cars. It's a great negotiating tool, since money now is more appealing to them than money later.

Trade. If you want to take voice lessons but don't have the cash, offer to do yard work for your instructor. Whatever services you may need, offer some of your own in return. This can benefit everyone and save you both time and money.

Buy used. It's better to buy a used bookcase with a few scratches that's made from real wood than a brand new one made cheaply. Furniture can be re-stained and reupholstered to suit your style; don't compromise on the quality of the basic components.

Take advantage of business promotions, punch cards, and other freebies. Combine that with a little saving, trading, and creativity, and watch the savings pile up!