Monday, August 6, 2012

My Little Free Stuff Monster

I have a new addiction. It was born out of necessity, but has turned into a monster.

I'm addicted to free stuff.

It started with the couponing. We went about a month where money was so tight we couldn't afford to pay attention most days. I couponed because I had to, but I started finding that when you combine an item on sale with a coupon, sometimes the item turned out to be free.

Free? Really? I saw this stuff on TLC's 'Extreme Couponing', but here it was, in real life, right in front of me.

I'll tell y'all now, I was scared the first time I tried to get free stuff at the grocery store. I was doing a normal grocery store run, but the store I shopped at had some individual cups of Greek yogurt on sale for $1 each, and I had a coupon for $.30 off, which my store's coupon policy upgrades to $1. I had 2 coupons, so I put 2 cups of yogurt into my cart, pulled the coupons, and finished my shopping. When it came time to pay, I just knew they were going to call me out on it. I was trying to take 2 cups of yogurt out of the store, without paying a cent for them. They'd catch me, I just knew it. I watched as they scanned the yogurt, then scanned my coupon. $1 charged, $1 taken off.

I had gotten away with it. Free yogurt. Holy crap, let me tell you, it was exhilarating. I decided at that moment that 'free' was awesome, and I would get whatever I could (that would be helpful for my family and I) for free.

Yes, that day, a Free Stuff Monster was born.

At the moment, we have a drawer full of toothpaste, a fridge with a half a shelf full of yogurt, and a medicine cabinet full of body wash and shampoo, because of 'free'. Well, the body wash cost me $.29 each, so I guess that's not technically 'free'.

My first free sample
What started with the couponing began to transform into getting stuff
for free online. Some budgeting blog I was reading one day mentioned free samples, and listed off a number of free sample websites. I ventured to Freefly's and started signing up for free samples from just about everywhere (that pertained to my family- I'm not going to get free diapers or formula just because it's free).

I started signing up for them a few weeks ago, and now my free samples are slowly trickling in. The first one I received was the Nature's Variety Instinct cat food seen to the right. The kitties loved it, and I thought about actually buying a bag of it... until I saw the price online. $50 for an 11 pound bag of cat food. We're more like $4 for a 4 pound bag type-of-people, not $50 for a bag that would last us 2 weeks. Maybe some time in the future, we'll see.
The kitties love my free stuff

It's like Christmas morning everyday when I got to check the mail. I don't know if nothing will be waiting for me, or free laundry detergent, or perfume, or a granola bar. It's fun as hell.

The free samples led to trying to get larger things for free. I had read a fellow mom blogger's post one Friday about Swag Bucks and decided to check them out. Basically, I play around on their site for a little while a day, playing games, watching videos, taking surveys, and I get rewarded with Swag Bucks, which I can trade in for various things. Yes, the bucks they give you don't anywhere close to equal the merchandise you trade them in for (for example, it takes me about an hour to earn 50 Swag Bucks, and a random $5 off gift card is 1100 Swag Bucks), but it's fun, and eventually I'll get to trade my points in for free stuff.

The Swag Bucking has now led to online sweepstakes. A friend of mine sent me a few sites that she's heard of before, and so far, the only one I've tried out is Sweeties Sweeps. I'm still going through her free e-course on how to win sweepstakes (yes, I'm a nerd), but I've entered a few. Still waiting to see how this turns out, but again, it's fun.

Somewhere in the mix, I've entered a few giveaways, too (not the same as sweepstakes, I found out through Sweetie's online course), and while I did not win the grocery gift card or the restaurant gift card, I have one a free dinner kit from Bargain Believer and a book for The Girl over at Dysfunctional Dose (she's awesome, go check her out!). Gotta start out small, before I'm entering to win free cars and ipads.

You know, when I type all of this out, it kinda sorta seems like I have no life... Oh well. My family is fed, my house is clean, the bills are paid, and nothing or no one is being ignored for me to do all of this stuff. I've come to terms with my hermit-like nature right now, and I like it. If this stuff helps me pass the time, I'm all for it, especially when time is being passed and I'm getting free stuff in the process.

If y'all have any sites for free stuff (not really looking for any more like Swag Bucks, unless the payout is greater than Swag Bucks), please by all means, let me know by leaving a comment below. I tend to update when I get my free stuff on Inklings' facebook page, or if I come across a really amazing deal somewhere.

As sad as it sounds, getting my Swag Bucks, signing up for free samples, and entering sweepstakes are all adrenaline rushes for me. My Free Stuff Monster is very happy when it's fed. I spent 10 minutes on a site the other day, to click on it exactly at 10am when they were giving away 1000 tubes of lip balm... lip balm that costs $2 at the store. Yes, sometimes I step outside myself and throw the Pathetic Flag at my own face.

And sometimes, I get to do a victory dance because I was one of the 1000 people to get that free tube of lip balm. I'm going to rock that lip balm when it arrives in the mail, too.

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1 comment:

  1. I love your blog! I too am a coupon clipper, thrifter, hand me downs etc kinda mom! I am also a heavily tattooed hippy mama. for a long time i struggled with it as well, but not anymore, I am who i am, it also helps that I live in Asheville NC and anything goes here!