Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to get everything free: a useful guide (pt. 2)

If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know that I post up a list of freebies each week. These are usually mail-in samples of random things - everything
from shampoo to peanut butter - and, while they absolutely come in handy and can save you money, they're still small samples, take a while to come in the mail, and you don't get much of a choice about what's available. Luckily, there are a myriad of ways to get free stuff outside of mail-in samples. The following is a useful guide about ways to get a large amount of things for free (legally). Enjoy! (Note: if you missed part one, you can find it right here.)

In part 2, you'll learn how to get the following things for free (legally):

Makeup and Beauty Products

First, there are a few sites it would be helpful for you to join before I begin, because I'll be referencing those sites frequently as sources of free stuff. First, you'll need to find your local Freecycle chapter. Freecycling, also known as Free Recycling, is the act of giving away usable unwanted items to others instead of disposing of them in landfills. The Freecycle network connects people locally so that they may give away unwanted items to each other, for free. To find your local Freecycle chapter, you can search the Freecycle site itself, or just google "Freecycle [my location]." You can use Freecycle to ask for absolutely ANYTHING that you want, and there's usually a pretty good chance someone will have some they are willing to give away. Think of it like the last resort for all of the categories below.

The other sites to be familiar with that I will frequently reference are:
1. Craiglist's Free section (find it in For Sale)
2. Swagbucks where you can earn points and redeem them for Amazon gift cards - I get at LEAST $25 in gift cards per MONTH from this site.
3. HauteLook because if you can refer a few people who make a purchase, it's a great place to get high-quality stuff for free using referral credits. Try spreading your link on every social media network you have available - you're bound to get at least one or two referrals!

All signed up? Now, let's begin.

How To Get Free Clothing
First, a disclaimer: most free clothing is not going to be top-quality, unless you're purchasing it and using something other than your own money to pay. That said, here are the best ways to get free clothing.

1. HauteLook referral credits. I know, it takes a while to build up enough credits for anything really good (though, thinking in $10 increments, you really only need about 5 referrals to get something good.) However, this is the best way to get high-quality, brand-name or even designer goods for free. If you don't like HauteLook, Gilt Group offers $25 credits for referrals - but their stuff is much higher-end, and thus, more expensive. If you know some rich people, try referring them to Gilt! The downside of Gilt is that the $25 credits expire after about a year, while HauteLook credits do not. So if you get one, make sure to USE IT! (I'm still kicking myself over not using the ONE $25 credit I managed to get on Gilt before it expired. Clearly, I need to befriend more rich people. Hopefully you have better luck).

2. Use those Amazon gift cards you get from Swagbucks! You can also get Amazon gift cards from MyPoints (post a comment to be referred to MyPoints, it's email-only invitations). Amazon has EVERYTHING EVER, and most brands have stores set up on Amazon. For example, the American Apparel Store. Click here and scroll down to see the brands you can get at Amazon. Kinda makes you wanna go earn some Swagbucks, huh? (Here's an entry on how to earn Swagbucks! Hint: start using their search engine!!) Sidenote: Mypoints also offers gift cards to a TON of clothes retailers, like Kohl's, Target, Gap, TJ Maxx, and even Sak's 5th Avenue! Read more about MyPoints here.

3. Let's say that you don't have time to build up referrals or Swagbucks, or you just don't care enough to try (I don't blame you. At all.) Don't worry, you can STILL get free clothes! Depending on where you live, your local Freecycle might have some awesome gems for you. Make a post on your Freecycle board asking for clothing (ex: WANTED: Women's Jackets/Blazers size 8 petite) and I guarantee you will get responses. We all have clothing hanging in our closets that we just don't want anymore, or don't have the heart to give to a thrift store. Sure, you might end up with some really ugly stuff, but then you can just go donate it to Goodwill and get a couple of extra dollars on your tax return, so everyone's a winner.

4. If asking people individually for their old clothes isn't your thing, why not try to find a local Swap Meet or Free Market? Check if the Really Really Free Market  is coming to your area. If it's not, why not organize one? Even on a small scale - creating a Facebook event, inviting all of your friends to come over with their unwanted clothing and "shop"  - you'll probably end up with some great "new" stuff, and it's tons of fun, too! Who knows what your best friend's neighbor has hanging in her closet that fits you perfectly but is too big/small/not the right color for her? Don't be scared! Show them the link to this post so it's not weird or anything, though. (Kidding, but do tell all of your friends about my blog for realz.)

How To Get Free Makeup and Beauty Products
Unlike clothing, "gently used" makeup is REALLY not as A-OK as "gently worn" clothing. It tends to be super unhygienic, and besides, makeup EXPIRES. So making a post on Freecycle or having a Free Market really won't cut it when it comes to makeup and beauty products. That said, there are ~ways.~ Read on.

1. HauteLook referral credits. Ok, maybe I'm getting redundant
here, but this site is seriously the best. Every couple of months they have Urban Decay, LORAC, NYX and Stila sales, plus tons of other brands  - 100% Pure, Oscar Blandi, Mirabella, GOSMiLE, Smashbox and Vincent Longo, to name a few. And unlike clothing, it takes a LOT less credits to get these goodies for free. The LORAC and Urban Decay makeup is usually under $10, meaning you only need ONE REFERRAL to get those goodies for free! A good 75% of my current makeup/beauty/hair care collection came from HauteLook. There's a picture of it to the right if you're curious.  HauteLook is my faves.

2. Again with the redundancy, but Amazon Gift cards from Swagbucks are KILLER in this category!! You can get just about ANY beauty product on Amazon. (Remember, you can get Amazon gift cards from MyPoints, too -as well as gift cards to a variety of other beauty-selling retailers, like Macy's, CVS, Target or Kohl's). Did you know that Sephora has an entire store on Amazon? And don't forget - if you buy something from Sephora and don't like it, they'll let you return it even without a receipt, so even if you purchase it on Amazon and have a store near you, you can return it in-store for a merchandise credit.

3. Speaking of Sephora, they are great for free makeup/beauty goodies. Over on the left is an example of one trip to Sephora with a couple of their email printable coupons. This past year, they sent out coupons for several Bare Minerals kits (including primer, cleaner, foundation, mineral veil and a brush!); free kits for your birthday including mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow; Ojon hair-care samples; and Clinique acne-cleaning cream. If you aren't a Beauty Insider, you need to be! It's AMAZING.They are also VERY generous with free samples. Once I went in-store and mentioned that I was looking for some new hair products, and they sent me home with a stack of sample packets! They often have sample bins near the registers if you're making a purchase, but as long as you have a coupon like the ones they email you, you don't need to make a purchase to get free goodies or samples of products. The downside, of course, is that this is all useless if you don't have a Sephora near you, which I currently don't. :(. 

How To Get Free Furniture
Everyone knows that Craiglist is the place to go for CHEAP furniture, but did you know that most people are so desperate to get rid of their unwanted furniture that they are happy to give it away for FREE? It's true! Read on to find out how to furnish your apartment like a boss. (And make sure you have access to a pick-up truck of some sort so you can haul your goodies home!)

1. Craigslist > For Sale > Free.  There is so much stuff to be discovered here. I won't even say much about it, just go discover it for yourself! The downside of Craigslist, of course, is that you are at the mercy of what's being OFFERED. So, moving on:

2. Freecycle!  Freecycle is the bomb dot com for free furniture. Everyone wants to clear out their garage or whatever. (I wouldn't know, I just upgraded from a dorm room, but ~Grown Ups~ always seem to have accumulated lots of unwanted furniture.) Say you're looking for an end table, or a recliner, or a TV stand, etc. Make a post about it on your local Freecycle. Bam - tons of people who want you to come haul away their junk, aka your new furniture, for free! Everyone wins in this situation. (Note: you may want to look up some tutorials on re-upholstering or painting or sanding, if you care very much how your furniture looks/feels.)

3. Picking up stuff on the side of the road. This sounds gross, but it's really not. Sure, on an average day the mattress and couch you see on the curb look like they might be flea infested and date back to the 50s, but the key to a successful curb pick-up is the TIMING. At the end of the school year and at the end of the summer is the KEY to picking up furniture on the curb - that's when the most leases are ending, and people are moving out. And this stuff isn't junk. Imagine for a moment that you go to school out of state, and you have to fly every time you want to go home. Then imagine that you had to buy a brand-new couch or a mini-fridge or a table or something because, you know, you lived here for 8 months, but now you're flying home or wherever and you have this couch/fridge/table that you don't want. And it was probably finals week, and selling it somewhere probably sounded like too much work, but you have a plane ticket for tomorrow you don't know what to do about this damn couch/fridge/table! What do you do? You put it on the curb, hoping someone will pick it up and give it a new home. (This may or may not be the story of my mini-fridge from freshman year.) Anyway, if you can manage to stick around for a week or so after the semester ends, or get there a week or so before the semester begins, you can find the BEST stuff. And if you don't, guess where it ends up? Probably the landfill (what a freaking waste!) or, best-case scenario, your school might do something like IU's Hoosier to Hoosier sale, where they collect all that left over stuff and then sell it for charity or whatever. Which is great, but it doesn't end up as a free couch in your living room, which is the goal. So get your timing right, and you can furnish your apartment/house/dorm for nothing! (Dorm room furnishing? What? Maybe someone left behind a microwave or something, idk. Good luck with that.)

And there you have it: now you, my fellow broke student, can look gorgeous while laying on your brand new couch surfing the interwebz while wearing all your sweet new clothes. Tune in next week (ish, I have homework and stuff) for Part 3, where we'll learn how to get FREE  School Supplies and Entrance to Disney World .... and something else, because I need a 3rd thing. Any suggestions?  Hit me up on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.



    Thats how me and my husband decorated our whole house!!

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