On the Internet, people give stuff away and offer great deals all the time, and there’s virtually no work involved. You just have to know where to look.
Free money, discounts and swaps
Swag Bucks “pays” you in points for using its search engine for your normal Internet searches. The points add up and can be redeemed for prizes, including Amazon gift cards. Take online surveys and hunt for special codes to earn more points and, therefore, more prizes. You have to scroll past the paid advertisers in the search results, but it’s free money for doing what you’d be doing online anyway. I have a friend who purchased most of her two children’s Christmas gifts using gift cards from Swag Bucks.
Restaurant.com doesn’t give you cash or prizes, but it does give you gift certificates for restaurants at seriously reduced rates. You typically only pay $10 for a $25 gift certificate, which is sort of like getting $15 and a dinner out. Score!
Freecycle connects you to the Freecycle Network, people around the world who swap stuff. It’s the virtual equivalent of putting an unwanted item out by the curb and watching someone else pick it up. Free-cycle members join a local chapter, then send and receive e-mail notices about what members are giving away. If you’re interested in an item, you simply reply to the giver, get directions and go pick it up. Membership is free.
Since joining our local Freecycle chapter this past summer I’ve scored a free digital microscope, tons of children’s books and old albums, a fish tank and a piano, all in great condition with no strings attached and not a cent changing hands.
Swap.com brings back the bartering system, allowing you to swap the books, CDs, DVDs and video games you no longer want for ones you do. You fill out a “have” list and a “want” list and the website’s search service matches you up with someone willing to make a trade. You pay only postage to send the item.
Thanks to the Internet, even coupon-clumsy people like me can reap the benefits of savings-savvy researchers. There are tons of blogs, Twitter feeds and websites online that help you find the best deals out there, scoop up free samples and save money on gifts. A few favorites:
Groupon offers you a Daily Deal for your area, usually a service or admission to a local business for 50% to 90% percent off its usual rate. If you get friends to sign up, you get $10 toward a Groupon purchase.
The Free Site is a clearinghouse that lists links for everything from free fonts to free magazine subscriptions.
Savings.com seeks “to offer consumers the straightest, simplest road to the best deals online,” and that’s just what it does. No clutter here, just a daily listing of coupon codes to enter at each retailer’s checkout to get thediscount listed.
Robyn Passante is a Pennsylvania freelance journalist and mother of two