I’ve been meaning to write this article for a while, and while we were on our way to meet friends for lunch and playtime, we drove past Little Caesar’s, which was giving away free pizza and sodas today from 11am-1pm. The line was down the sidewalk and around the corner. There were probably 100 people in line.
Like many of you, I subscribe to several money saving magazines, blogs and newsfeeds. Every one of them has at least once every few months an *exciting* article on “Free Stuff” and how you can save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Some of these freebies, well, are not useful, or actually free. Before you say, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, I am of the belief that when writers offer advice, it should be tested, useful and one shouldn’t have to go out of their way to obtain a free item or service. If I have to drive for 2 hours for a free sample or service, it is no longer free (especially with gas at $3.53/gallon in my neighborhood!), or if I have to wait in line for 3 hours for something that’s valued at less than $30, it’s not worth it. Yeah, my time is worth $15/hour, especially if I have to leave the kids with a sitter (which costs about $15/hour most of the time).
Here are a few suggestions that I see time and again that are not really “free”.
- Free WiFi: Awesome. Free internet is great. But if I have to leave home and go to bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants and libraries, any time I want to surf the net, that’s not free. I have to spend money on gas and potentially have to buy something (in the case of coffee shops and restaurants). That also means any time I want to surf the net, I have to leave my house. My suggestion- Shop around for the best deal on internet service and/or plan errands or trips out of the house where your can access free Wi-Fi along the way.
- Unlimited texts from your PC: I love to text. Its great to shoot off a quick reminder or check in with someone when you are on the go. One magazine I read suggested, “Sign up for a free email account with google or AOL and as long as you have access to a computer, you can text any mobile number (and receive texts) through your account for free.” But… When I’m not home (or at a computer), I can’t do that. Most of the time when I text, I’m not at home, and that is the same for many adults. So, this may not be a super freebie for everyone. My suggestion: look into inexpensive cell carriers or an unlimited texting package that you can afford. Or- don’t text!
- Makeup Application: Now at day spas, most do offer complimentary makeup application after a spa service ($$), however, at department stores, the idea behind the makeup application is that you will buy one of the products that are used on you. Not buying anything is.. well, crappy. Also,, VERY IMPORTANT: People stick their dirty fingers in the makeup testers that are used to do those free makeup applications. People also put the lipstick on their mouths, and mascara on their eyelashes with the tester wand instead of using the disposable applicators. People have cooties, and pink eye and herpes. EWW.
- Godiva Chocolate Rewards Club. The local Godiva shop doesn’t participate, so I spent 15 minutes signing up and validating my email for no reason. However, I can just walk into my local See’s candy shop and get a free piece of candy (and my kids each get a free piece too- Godiva only gives candy to grown-ups). No club, no sign ups and the kiddos get a sweet treat too! Now I did include the link in case you want to check it out and see if your local shop participates.
Remember- just because something is free, doesn’t mean that you have to go out of your way to obtain it. There are a lot of freebies that I signed up for, but later wasn’t able to redeem them, so in the end, I could of spent that time with my family or friends, instead of chasing down a freebie. Ya’ll know I love a good birthday freebie (see my posts here, here, and here).
Talk Back: What are your favorite freebies?