I’ll admit it. I’ve considered doing some scandalous/shady things in an effort to save money. Semi-scandalous stuff I’m usually okay with but I would never rip someone off or do anything illegal to save money ’cause, you know, that’d be stealing. Which is obviously not cool. The key is going right up to the scandalous line but not crossing it.
If you are extremely frugal, you are most likely ALWAYS trying to find new ways to get things completely for free or totally cheap. After all, there’s no point in shelling out your hard-earned money for something you can get for free! While there are a variety of ways to score free goods, some of them may be borderline immoral or perhaps even illegal so use your judgment.
Scandalous (and Semi-Scandalous) Ways to Get Free Stuff…
1. Dumpster Diving
You might be surprised at the perfectly good things businesses will toss straight into the dumpster (food, clothing, furniture, you name it). The only thing you have to ask yourself is, “Am I willing to dive through a receptacle of trash in order to find a potential treasure?” If this is your idea of a good time then dress in clothing you don’t intend to wear again (or just dub them your Dumpster Diving clothes and keep them stored in a garbage sack somewhere), and head out to the dumpsters. If you’re new to Dumpster Diving you may feel more comfortable going after dark but diving during the day is a good idea since you’d obviously be able to see things a lot better. Keep your eyes peeled for electronics, appliances, vintage pieces, and other items that may only be slightly damaged and easily fixed. If someone did a makeover you’ll likely find office chairs or shelving that’s in perfectly useable condition.
On Freegan.info I found out that: “Dumpster Diving is legal in the United States except where prohibited by local regulation. According to a 1988 Supreme Court Ruling (California vs. Greenwood), when a person throws something out, that item is now the public domain. Here is some language from that ruling: “It is common knowledge that plastic garbage bags left on or at the side of a public street are readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public.”
2. Roadside Piles
When you drive around, keep your eyes open for anything placed at the curb. These are items that people are putting out for the trash or are available to anyone who wants to load them in the car. To help you find probable locations for roadside piles, keep watch on Craigslist under the “free” category – people will often list items they’re putting outside. You can also review yard and garage sale listings on Craigslist and the newspaper since many times people will finish their sale by putting items that didn’t sell out by the street for free. I once scored a set of super cute bright yellow, vintage, folding kids chairs this way.
A side note: If it’s unclear if someone is getting rid of something be sure to ask the home owner before hauling your loot away.
3. It’s Your Birthday! (Everyday!)
Many restaurants offer a free dessert to people on their birthday, and generally you don’t even have to prove it is your birthday. Soooooo… if one were so inclined it could potentially be your birthday any and everyday of the year. This one is definitely in the “shady”/cringe-worthy category. If you do decide to try this be smart about it, and don’t do it at the same restaurant because sure enough you’ll get caught!
4. Casino Freebies
Casinos are known for taking their customers money, but if you play the game right you could end up with some freebies the next time you visit the casino. Go to a casino with friends who have money to spend, and sit with them at the slot machines. People who are playing slots can often get free soft drinks or coffee. Bring a few quarters to play , and when you see the beverage waiter is walking by play a quarter then order your drink. So, for $0.25 you could very easily get a drink. (Keep in mind you really should tip the waiter, but if your group of friends are all ordering drinks at the same time, one tip for all is usually acceptable!) If you sign up for a frequent player card or become a member of the casino, you’re likely to get a coupon for free plays on slot machines or table games.
5. Comment or Complain to Companies
When you take the time to call or write to large companies about your experience with their products or services, whether good or bad, you will often be rewarded with a gift card or an item for free. You can do this with restaurants, grocery items, toys, electronics, and pretty much anything else you want to try. The best results come to people who are sincere in their comments or complaints. If you want to be scandalous you could, in theory, have a complaint about everything in an effort to get meals comped or other benefits. We know someone who notoriously complains at restaurants, and believe me, it gets old quick!
6. Bank and Credit Card Rewards
Just the other day when I was at my credit union I saw that they were offering 2 free ski lift tickets to anyone that opened a new account. Banks and credit card companies are constantly competing for new business, and one of their tactics to win you over is to offer rewards and freebies to new customers. If you are good with the money you have, you may be able to take advantage of new-account opening bonuses with banks (they sometimes give away bonus money for your newly opened account but keep an eye on any fine print or rules you have to follow to qualify for the bonus). Signing up for new credit cards can often lead to free flights, points redeemable for merchandise or cash back – but keep in mind using and opening new credit card accounts affects your personal credit score, especially if you start using cards and are unable to pay them off. (Please, do not get a credit card if you are in debt.) So, if you wanted to, you could open an account, get the freebie, then stop using the service. Again, I’m not advocating for this.
7. Go to Grand Openings
When stores or large businesses open in a new town, they generally host a grand opening event. Keep an eye out for grand openings. Go, slip in, and slip out. By doing so you can score free t-shirts, merchandise, food, and coupons.
8. Torrenting Copyrighted Music and Movies
As a photographer myself, I really don’t like this one. People work hard and with a few clicks their work can get swiped. It, unfortunately, happens ALL THE TIME.
9. Tapping into Your Neighbors Wifi
If you clear it with your neighbor first that’s one thing but to do it on the sly… that’s just straight up stealing those glorious internet waves.
Do you do anything scandalous or borderline shady to get things for free?
P.S. If you like this post be sure to read Let’s Talk Morality – How Far Would You Go to Pay Off Your Debt?