Today's guest post comes from David Bakke who is a writer for Money Crashers Finance where he shares tips for smart shopping, getting the best deals, and finding frugal hacks to save more. The opinions contained in this post are the author’s own and are not necessarily those of BradsDeals.
It's always been a goal of mine to never pay full price for anything - and unless I'm faced with an absolute emergency, I've found that it's generally quite doable. Even if you manage to get just 10% off on a product or service, it's well worth it, as long as finding the discount doesn't take too much of an effort.
While discounts are great, what really gets me jazzed is finding something completely free. Sure, I may have to jump through a few hoops to do it, but in the digital age, hoops are pretty easy to jump through - you just have to know where to find them. Here's a not-quite-comprehensive list of things you should never pay money for:
If you sign up for a major office supply retailer's loyalty rewards program, a few times per year you can get a 100% cash back rebate on your battery purchases. The rewards appear on your account the quarter following your purchase, and the statement should detail the process to redeem them as well as any expiration dates that apply. Use your rewards for other office items you actually need, and make sure you do so before they expire.
Along the same lines, those retailers also feature products like printer paper, pens, paper clips, staplers, folders, and other miscellaneous items for free under that same cash-back program. You can literally cut your home office supply costs to zero if you keep your eyes peeled for the deals. Just understand that in some cases your rewards may not be valid for use with future 100% cash-back items.
Software is necessary and it's pricey, but there are several websites that offer a good number of titles for free download. To begin with, try CNET and FreewareFiles. If you're looking for a low-cost alternative to the Microsoft Office suite, try OpenOffice. It's essentially an exact replica of the Microsoft product, but it's 100% free, and, according to many experts, a better program.
Unless your tax situation is particularly complex, there are many ways to file your tax return for free without spending a dime, as long as you meet certain conditions. Start by checking out the IRS website where a wealth of resources detail the various options and any restrictions that may apply – such as your type of income and the amount you earned - for filing a return for free.
Don't think you need to pay for a credit report no matter what all those TV commercials are telling you. Go to the website AnnualCreditReport and get one copy per year of your report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. If you view a different report every four months, you can stay up-to-date on your credit three times per year.
I had a blast on my last birthday collecting all the free food offers I received. After a little research and some online registrations, I spent the day with good friends driving around town picking up free goodies from Subway, Benihana, Moe's Southwest Grill, Firehouse Subs, and plenty others. Certain locations may not participate, but you're never going to know until you try.
Of course, keeping yourself in shape is essential, just understand that you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to do it. You can literally get all the exercise you need by jogging in the neighborhood or at local parks, doing sit-ups and pushups from home, and swimming in public pools or lakes and oceans if you happen to be near any.
Keep in mind that there are several things that are not worth trying to get for free. In hotel rooms, those little soap bars and tiny shampoo bottles are certainly appealing, but just understand that when you load up on them you're simply driving up the price of lodging for all of us. Getting stuff for free it great – just make sure you do it ethically.
What other things can you think of that you can get for free? Share in the comments below.
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