Friday, July 5, 2013

Frugal Retirement: The Best Things In Life Are Often Free-for The Taking

Almost all of us have heard the phrase "There's no such thing as a free lunch". It's one of those oft quoted lines of wisdom that tends to float about.  the truth though, is often different. Not only are there a million free things floating around the universe, one can on occasion actually get a free lunch or dinner.

Almost everywhere you might live, there are free opportunities for entertainment, travel, food-you name it. In truth many people have no idea what they are missing out on. We know about the free advantages of libraries and our local park, and we may know about free cone day at Baskin-Robbins.  However, those are just a few of the examples of access to free opportunities. As a traveler, for example, I know that almost every city has free tours at factories and such-my children have been through the Coors Brewery and the original Dr Pepper bottling factory for free, getting a free gift at the end at both places.  Washington DC alone has fifty free sights and museums, making an expensive tourist attraction extremely affordable. I'll save that master list of freebies for another day though, because today I was working on free lunch-and perfume.

There are free health exams, free entertainment, free home energy audits.  YOu can get free firewood, free last minute tickets to social events. there are free wine tasting tours, free recipe cards, and free ebooks. The list goes on. I'll work on that one for another day, because today I am working on restaurant and retail store freebies.

Today, I put my quilting and my garden patio aside for a few hours, and went to work in another area. I made a list of all the places I shop (for myself or family) and all the restaurants I enjoy, and went online and filled out the forms to be on their customer email list (I have a separate email for this). Most of the forms ask for at least your birthrate and month, and I have no problem sharing this.  In fact, I had one of these lists in Dallas, but I've moved. Even when it comes to chain restaurants some deals are specific to location.  At first blush, you might think this is a lesson in futility or a time waster. My answer is .....nope!

Last year, I received three totally free meals for my birthday (I choose to go to Benihana). All I purchased was my beverage. I received a free coupon for a Dairy Queen sundae, and a Baskin Robbins cone, to be used throughout my birth month,  I also received various coupons for discounted items and add ons ( a free dessert from the olive garden, for example) to be used throughout my birth month.  Obviously I only used a small portion of my freebies-and I'll say here that getting a free dessert is only a deal if you were already planning to go to the Olive Garden.

Still, the free deals are worthwhile, and they are just the tip of the iceberg. By being a valued email subscriber, I receive a free drink at Barnes and Noble at least every month. McDonald's sends me a three cafe drink every other month.  Victoria's secret sends me both free coupons and free with purchase (one year I got free panties every month and my daughter had a filled stocking).  Kohl's and JC Penney both send me ten dollars off ten dollars coupons (which I use for gift, or donate to the food bank to buy socks). My local movie theater (Regal) gives me a coupon each and every week for one free thing.

And freebies of course are not all I get, although my goodies more than make up for the few hours I spend typing in my information and sharing my freebie email.  These companies also send advance notice of sales, special coupons, and lots of hints and tips (especially those places such as Home Depot).  Of course, retail and restaurant free stuff is just the beginning of the journey.........

...................and with that, I'm off to see what kind of entertainment is free for the taking this weekend!


  1. I got a similar list yesterday from a friend. I'll pass this information along to my husband, who does all the shopping. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the good ideas. It seems that most of the freebies I get these days come thru the internet -- free music, free news, free humor. I did recently get a free $10 coupon from Office Max. Now ... if only there was something I needed from Office Max!

  3. A woman after my own heart. I really need to sit down and do some research on this. All our kids used to enjoy the tradition of going for their free 31 flavors ice-cream on their birthdays when they were growing up.
    Here in Hawaii, Todai's, the very popular buffet restaurant in Waikiki, will give a free meal to you on your birthday.

  4. Godiva chocolate stores will give you a free piece of chocolate once a month . Aveda has a birthday club that sends coupons for free products each spring plus a free full size product for your bithday.

  5. Our local movie theater chain used to give free admission on your birthday but eliminated the practice 3 years ago...just 9 days before my birthday!

    Your list gives me a great goal for today...sign up for as many freebies as I can find!

  6. There are loads of free tours where we live. My kids have taken advantage of all of them (at my insistence!) which has the dual benefit of educating them about local history.

  7. You might be eligible for a new government sponsored solar energy rebate program.
    Click here and find out if you qualify now!


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