What's better than finding free stuff online?
Sharing your discoveries with others, of course. At least that's what freebie finder extraordinaire Wendi Caetta thinks.
"I like to think I'm really helping people," the founder of The Freebie Blogger says. "There are always a lot of freebie promotions out there, but they can be difficult to find, and there are a lot of bad offers to weed through. Most people just don't have the time to invest to do it themselves."
Beyond saving people time, she's also heard from readers that they collect the free samples she alerts them about to use in care packages for overseas military, which gives her a good feeling.
Wendi recently checked in with us to share the secret to finding free stuff and offer tips on avoiding scams and pinching pennies. Here's what she had to say:
Tell us about The Freebie Blogger...when and why did you start your site?
I started TheFreebieBlogger.com in April of 2008. I was between jobs and started spending some time looking online to see what I could get for free. Occasionally I would find something so good I just had to share it with my sister and mom. When I saw how excited they were, I decided my new job could be a blog.
How has hunting for free stuff online made your life easier and/or better?
There are a few perks to being a blogger: I can wear my pajamas all day, my office is my couch, and I can spend time with my 3-year-old instead of sending her to pricey daycare.
How do you track down the free offers you post?
So you want the recipe for my secret sauce? The real key is diligence. I post when I first wake up, again in the late morning, after lunch, after dinner and when I'm watching TV in the evening. Offers can disappear within hours of going live, so it's important that I post as often as possible.
What seems to be the most common type of free stuff out there?
Digital downloads are the most common things now: eBooks, apps and indie music are always available for free.
When do you know you've struck a goldmine when it comes to a free offer?
The phrase "full-size free sample" is usually a winner, especially if it's for a national brand. Free food and makeup are always popular on my site, too.
What are red flags that a free offer isn't really free?
If the website making the offer is lacking in content, contains spelling or grammatical errors, is missing key sections like "about," doesn't appear in a Google search for their name or contains few or misleading links, you could be looking at a fake offer. I've found sites that had bogus telephone numbers and counterfeit Better Business Bureau logos.
What are your go-to methods for pinching pennies when you're shopping for...
...Groceries? Printing coupons, of course, and shopping at discount grocers like Aldi, Save-a-lot and Trader Joe's.
...Household goods? I mostly shop online to get free shipping and to avoid sales tax. For cheaper items like kitchen tools and batteries, I go to "dollar" stores.
...Entertainment? Coupons, "kids eat free" specials and email clubs all help me find a few more nights out for less money.
What are some of your favorite couponing tips?
Always check the dates on your coupons, and read them carefully for exclusions. Combine your coupons or coupon codes with sales every chance you get.
What are some reputable/legitimate ways you've found for stay-at-home parents to make money online?
The best way looks like Etsy right now. If you can sew a dress, knit a sweater or solder earrings, you can have an Etsy store. I'd stay away from the offers of "make X amount of dollars in only a few days." As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.