There’s a popular saying among the frugal: “Free is my favorite price.” Fortunately, there are countless ways to get free stuff, whether you want free food or are just looking for more fun on a small budget. Not everything in life is free, but there are a lot of things that come at no cost. Check out some of the great things you can do for free all over the U.S.
1. Factory Tours
If you’re looking for some offbeat family fun, there are hundreds of companies across the country that offer free tours of their factories and other facilities. Often, they’ll even throw in some free samples of their goods. From ice cream and candy factories to breweries and guitar factories, you can find a nationwide directory of factory tours online at Factory Tours USA.
2. Ice Cream
Back in 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day. This year, National Ice Cream Day falls on Sunday, July 21. Should history repeat itself, you can likely score ice cream — free of charge — at places like Dippin’ Dots and McDonald’s.
3. Magazine Subscriptions
Get up to three industry magazine subscriptions free online at Mercury Magazines. A short survey pairs you with publications available in your industry. You can receive your first issue in the mail in mere weeks, so don’t leave this free gift behind.
4. Birthday Golf
You can play a round of golf on your birthday for free at more than 1,000 U.S. golf courses, often in exchange for joining their free loyalty clubs. Check out Greenskeeper.org for a directory of participating golf courses.
5. Wooden Pallets
Look for businesses in your area that have spare wooden pallets for free. Once you have some, get started on a fun summertime project such as building a tree house with your kids, creating fun patio furniture or building raised garden beds.
Take a free brewery tour at the Empyrean Brewing Company in Lincoln, Nebraska, and you’ll get five free craft beer samples, plus a peek inside the brewhouse and grain room. The tour takes place on the first nonholiday Monday of every month, excluding December, and starts at 7 p.m.
7. Comic Books
You can download and read over 100 free comic books anytime from top publishers on Comixology.
And, although you’ll have to wait until next year to score this freebie, the first Saturday of every May is Free Comic Book Day, when more than 2,300 comic book shops will give away free comic books. You can find out what the free comics are that day on the Free Comic Book Day website. The next Free Comic Book Day will be May 2, 2020.
When you need firewood for your fireplace or wood stove, try calling local tree service companies. They often have logs and limbs from trees they’ve cut down that they’re willing to drop off at your house for free. Otherwise, they have to pay to dump them somewhere, particularly for companies in urban and suburban areas. Note: Some cutting and splitting might be required on your part once the logs arrive.
10. Hardware (the Old-Fashioned Kind)
If you’re handy around the house — or aspire to be — you can sign up for Ace Hardware’s Ace Rewards program. You’ll earn 10 reward points for nearly every dollar you spend, and 2,500 points will get you a $5 reward credit, which is just like getting free stuff.
11. Tax-Free Shopping Days
Many states have designated tax-free weekends when you can avoid paying sales tax on qualifying purchases. Visit the FreeTaxWeekend website to see the tax-free shopping days nationwide.
12. Event Admission
From county fairs to music and film festivals, most special events rely on a corps of volunteers to get the work done. As a perk, many of these events — such as the Central Washington State Fair — give volunteers free admission to the event in exchange for their service.
13. Designated Drivers
If you’ve had too much to drink after a summer rooftop party and you don’t already have a designated driver, nonprofit organizations in many areas will get you and your vehicle home safely, often for free or a nominal charge. AAA has a nationwide directory of designated driver services.
14. Online Personality Test
There’s a fun little online test at 16Personalities. It takes only 10 to 15 minutes and reveals which of the 16 distinct personality types best captures your true essence as an individual. The site promises to deliver a “‘freakishly accurate’ description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.”
15. Birthday Burger
Sign up for Ruby Tuesday’s “So Connected” emails and get a free appetizer for joining, plus a free burger or garden bar entree on your birthday. You’ll also receive other promotional offers, so you might score more free food throughout the year.
16. Online Jigsaw Puzzles
There’s not much point to buying a jigsaw puzzle if you’re only going to put it together once and then store it for eternity in the closet. That’s especially true when sites like TheJigsawPuzzles let you put together hundreds of online puzzles for free. Better yet, they’ll take up no closet space.
Search for nearby trails in your state with TrailLink. Whether you like to hike, bike, run or horseback ride, you can find a trail perfect for your needs. Plus, the site has informative trail descriptions and user reviews.
18. Swimming Lessons
Summer is the perfect time to learn how to swim, and opportunities to take swimming lessons should be easy to find. Check with the nearest YMCA or public pool in your area to find out about free swimming lessons that might be available.
19. Gym Membership Pass
Anytime Fitness, which has locations nationwide, offers a free seven-day pass to check out their facilities. The offer is for new customers only.
20. Seeds and Plants
Gardening can be a fun hobby and save you a bunch of money on your grocery bill, particularly if you can get the seeds and plants for free. During plant and seed “swaps,” you trade plants and seeds with other gardeners. If you’re a novice gardener without anything to trade, attend a swap and you’ll likely walk away with a lot of freebies. To find upcoming swaps near you, search the hashtag #plantswap on Instagram.
21. Toy Libraries
At the rate kids lose interest in toys, it might make better sense to just borrow toys for free rather than buy them. Toy libraries have long been popular in Europe, and now they’re finally catching on in the U.S. Check your local county’s Department of Social Services website for a listing of Toy Loan Centers near you.
22. Birthday at Benihana
Register for The Chef’s Table loyalty program at Benihana, and you’ll get a $30 gift certificate from the restaurant during the month of your birthday. There are some terms and restrictions — including the need to purchase a full-priced adult entree when redeeming the certificate — but it’s still a tasty deal.
23. Adult Coloring Pages
Coloring books have always been popular with kids, but now adults are using coloring as a way to reduce stress and anxiety while satisfying their creative side. Download free coloring pages for adults online from JustColor.
24. Kids Coloring Pages
Adults don’t have to be the only ones who have fun. Kids can also find free coloring pages on a number of websites, including Crayola.com.
25. Free Samples
Websites offering free samples of everything from health and beauty products to snack foods and ballpoint pens abound on the internet. However, many require you to fill out a survey, send in receipts or clip coupons. Three of the better free sample sites are Women Freebies, FreeStuff and SampleADay, according to The Krazy Coupon Lady couponing website.
26. Birthday Steak Dinner
Get a free steak dinner on your birthday and a free dessert at Black Angus Steakhouse by signing up for its Prime Club. Purchases are required with both free offers.
27. Movie Screenings
Enjoy the movies everyone will be talking about before they’re officially released. Find movie screening opportunities online at AdvanceScreenings.
28. Kids' Meals
Just because you’re taking the family out to eat doesn’t mean you have to break your budget. In fact, many restaurants will let kids eat for free. The MyKidsEatFree website lists more than 5,000 restaurants where your kids can eat for free or at a reduced rate when accompanied by an adult.
29. Free Fishing Days
Most states have a Free Fishing Day when anglers can cast their lines without needing to buy a fishing license. The exact dates vary by state, but in 2019, states with free fishing dates in July and August include California, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and South Carolina — and it’s free to fish year-round in Hawaii. TakeMeFishing.org has a complete list of dates in the U.S. if you want to plan ahead.
30. Pet Treats
Sign up for Petco’s Pals Rewards program — it’s free. You’ll receive special offers and discounts, earn reward dollars to use toward purchases and your pet will even get some special free treats on its birthday. It’s one of the many affordable ways to spoil your pet.
If you have a bunch of things you want to get rid of, here’s one creative option. Listia online lets you give away things you no longer need in exchange for points you can then use to bid on other things on the site.
33. Kids Cards
American Greetings offers a really cool free tablet app — Creatacard. It lets kids design their own greeting cards that the company can then professionally print and mail for them. Note that although the app is free and the cards are free to create, it costs $3.49 plus postage for printing and mailing.
34. Online Foreign Language Courses
There are numerous free language learning websites and apps that can help you master a new language. You can find a pretty thorough list on FluentU. One of the sites mentioned is Duolingo, which gamifies the process of learning a new language and has over 30 courses to choose from.
35. Foreign Language Translation
You don’t need to speak a foreign language in order to communicate in one. Free online translators let you translate your words into dozens of different languages and translate foreign prose back into English. Some of the popular online translators include Google Translate, FreeTranslation and WorldLingo.
36. Birthday Ice Cream
If you can’t get enough free ice cream, sign up for Baskin-Robbins’ Birthday Club. You’ll get a free scoop of ice cream on your birthday. If you join Cold Stone Creamery’s My Cold Stone Club, you’ll receive a coupon for a buy-one-get-one-free creation for your birthday.
37. Free Family Summer Camp
Head to the nearest Bass Pro Shop to enjoy free family summer camp activities through July 21. Camps start at noon each Thursday and Saturday, and at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Activities include free crafts, games and informative workshops for the whole family.
38. Public Library Programs and Passes
You’re probably familiar with the summer reading programs that libraries sponsor. But, many public libraries now also have a supply of passes to local area attractions, like parks and zoos, that library patrons can borrow to gain free admission. Check with your local library for availability.
39. Stormwater Rebates
Rebates and other incentive programs to reduce stormwater runoff are increasingly common among municipal and county governments. Some locations might even offer rebate checks to cover the cost of a rain barrel.
40. Fly Fishing Lessons
Take a free fly fishing class at most Orvis stores and dealers across the country on select dates throughout the summer. Once you complete the classes, you also receive a complimentary membership to fishing conservation organization Trout Unlimited, as well as special in-store offers on Orvis products — a $35 value.
Own a Kindle or Nook? Then you can download tons of e-books for free through the parent companies behind those e-readers — Amazon and Barnes and Noble, respectively. The nonprofit Project Gutenberg has more than 59,000 e-books available for free downloading. You can also borrow e-books through most public libraries.
42. Audio Books
If you prefer listening to audiobooks rather than reading, you can download thousands of free audiobooks from the nonprofit website LibriVox. These are books that are found in the public domain. The recordings are read by volunteers, but the quality is generally high.
43. Birthday Breakfast
Denny’s makes it super easy to score a free Grand Slam Breakfast on your birthday: you just show up with a valid ID and chow down.
44. Kids Bowling
Register your child on the Kids Bowl Free website, and they can receive two free games of bowling each day — all summer long. Search on the site to see which bowling centers near you are participating. Shoe rental might be included.
45. Online College Courses
You won’t get college credit for participating in these online college courses. But many prestigious institutions of higher education give you free access to their various online courses, including Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California, Berkeley.
46. Movies at Home
Stream full-length movies for free with Sony Crackle. Create a free account using your email address or Facebook profile, and begin streaming movies, TV shows and original programming through your television, phone, video game console or online. Sony Crackle is an ad-supported network, so you do have to watch commercials to access the content.
47. Microsoft Free Summer Course Programs
Microsoft hosts free summer camps for students across the country to teach kids how to code and create games and apps while having fun along the way. You can filter through a variety of programs by age, skill level and time frame.
48. Birthday Desserts
Many restaurants offer a free dessert to customers celebrating their birthdays, including Chili’s. To score your free birthday dessert, sign up for My Chili’s Rewards.
50. Wood Chips
Arborists are always looking for places to dump their wood chips. Thanks to the Chipdrop app, arborists can connect with gardeners who are looking for free wood chips to use as mulch. The app connects the two parties, and you can get wood chips dumped directly at your home. There is no fee to use the service — paying a delivery fee is completely optional.
51. Lodging for Travelers
Couchsurfing online is a worldwide network of more than a half-million folks who will let fellow travelers crash on their couches or in a spare bedroom — for free. The robust website lets hosts and travelers get to know each other in advance.
52. Free Character Building
Go to Volunteer Match to find opportunities in your area that will allow you to volunteer as a family and make a difference. Opportunities will vary by area but can include working with children, animals, technology, arts and culture, education, seniors, and health and medicine.
53. Summer Movie Programs for Kids
When you want to get out of the house, take advantage of a free summer movie program for kids. Chain locations, such as Paragon Theaters and Showcase Cinemas, offer free admission to popular children’s movies, but check with your local movie theater to see if it offers this type of deal.
54. Loaner Tools
Tool libraries are springing up across the country, sometimes as part of an existing public library, where you can borrow tools for free rather than purchase or rent them. You can find a nationwide directory at LocalTools.org.
55. Birthday Pretzel
If you join Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Perks Program, you’ll get a special treat for your birthday. You also get a free pretzel just for signing up after making a purchase of at least $1.
56. Photo Prints
Did you snap the cutest picture of your child or pup? Make a print to hang on your wall or display on your desk. Shutterfly gives you free unlimited prints in select formats just for downloading its app.
57. Mozzarella Sticks
Sign up for Captain D’s VIP Rewards and you’ll automatically get a free dessert or appetizer at participating locations. Appetizer choices include mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers, clam strips and a combo of clam strips and butterfly shrimp.
58. Wilderness Camping
If you’re into no-frills wilderness camping, try camping for free at national forests and on public lands managed by a number of other federal agencies. The only requirement is that you follow guidelines for dispersed camping.
59. RV Camping
If your idea of camping involves an RV with all the luxuries, there are various places where you can park and camp overnight for free, including the parking lots at most Walmart stores. You can find other free options for RV camping and parking online at AllStays.
60. Hot Dogs
This annual celebration of National Hot Dog Day is held on July 17 and inevitably features a lot of free and discounted hot dog deals. Hot dog manufacturers and vendors have yet to announce their promotional plans for National Hot Dog Day 2019, but in 2018, Pilot Flying J offered free hot dogs and Philly Pretzel Factory served up hot dogs for a buck.
61. Outdoor Concerts
Summertime is an excellent season to enjoy outdoor activities, and many cities recognize that by offering outdoor concerts. Pack some blankets, load up the family and enjoy listening to live music outdoors.
62. Prepackaged Produce
You can always identify the highly money-conscious shoppers in the produce section at the grocery store because they’re the folks taking a minute to weigh a few bags of prepackaged produce — like bags of potatoes, apples and onions — before deciding which one to buy. With a little searching, you can almost always find a bag that weighs more than the minimum weight, but costs just the same, which means you essentially get some of your produce for free.
63. Wi-Fi for Travelers
Getting online for free while you’re traveling is now easier than ever. Free apps, including iVanya, help you find free Wi-Fi service wherever you are, including restaurants, stores, hotels and elsewhere.
64. Root Beer Float
If you’re age 13 or up, you’re old enough to join A&W Mug Club. You’ll get a complimentary root beer float on your birthday, as well as other offers.
Karaoke enthusiasts and newbies can download the free KaraFun Player software. That way, you can practice your karaoke mix in the privacy of your own home before your debut at the local karaoke bar.
66. Apple Summer Camp for Kids
Every summer, Apple Stores host a free three-day workshop for kids ages 8 to 12 where they can expand their digital creativity with hands-on learning experiences in one of three different areas. Registration is now open.
67. Birthday Burrito
Join Moe’s Southwest Grill Rockin’ Rewards and get a free burrito on your birthday every year. You’ll also get a free cup of queso when you sign up.
68. DIY Home Improvement Clinics
You can save money on home improvements by learning how to do more jobs yourself. The Home Depot offers free in-store classes to help you master a wide range of DIY projects, plus free workshops for kids.
69. Birthday Cupcake
Sign up for Barnes and Noble’s B&N Kids’ Club and your child will receive a free cupcake at the in-store cafe on their birthday. You’ll also get 30% off a kids book or toy when you join, and a $5 reward for every $100 you spend on kids’ purchases.
71. Senior Freebies
Age does have its privileges. Seniors — usually age 60 or older, but that can vary — can get a wide range of free stuff and discounts at many restaurants, hotels, retail stores and elsewhere. Some of the best sites for staying on top of the ever-changing list of senior offers include Free4Seniors and SeniorDiscounts.
72. Boating Safety Courses
Boating rules and laws vary by state, and the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation offers free online boating safety courses, based on the specific laws in each of the 50 states. You’ll learn a lot about staying safe on the water, and the online courses are pretty fun. You can find more info and take a course on the BoatUS website.
Join Einstein Bros. Bagels’ Shmear Society — perhaps the best name ever for a restaurant e-club — and get a free bagel and shmear for signing up. You’ll also get a free egg sandwich on your birthday. A purchase is required for each offer.
74. Museum Admission
If you have an active Bank of America, Merrill Lynch or U.S. Trust credit or debit card, you can get in free to over 200 participating museums and cultural centers the first full weekend of every month. All you need is your card and a valid photo ID.
75. Just About Everything Else
If you’re still looking for a freebie to meet your needs, be patient and keep your eyes open. Whatever you’re looking for will probably eventually pop up for free on Craigslist or the Freecycle Network online community. Remember: Free things come to those who wait.
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