Every day, I see about a thousand ads for various subscription services, apps, or other products that sometone thinks I absolutely MUST have in order to be happy.
Some of them are very tempting, with their cute packaging and promises of never having to go to the store again, but I haven’t given in to very many of them (Netflix & Spotify are life, though).
If all of these services had been available when I was just starting out, however, I wonder if I’d have been able to resist those temptations. In case any of you are like me, I thought I’d share some fun and useful services I’ve found that are FREE — everyone’s favorite four-letter word!
Spotify & Pandora — Spotify has a free version that allows you to listen a ton of music, but it throws an advertisement in after a few songs. That’s pretty much all you can do, but if you just want to stream some jams, it’s worth checking out.
P.S. : If you’re a student, you might be eligible for Spotify’s student deal. It snags you Spotify Premium and Hulu for $4.99 a month. Five dollars to take care of all your entertainment needs ad-free is pretty good. It’s not free, but pretty close.
Pandora is a bit more like traditional radio than Spotify. It plays songs on stations based on genres, and you can give each song a thumbs up or thumbs down. Pandora will then use your ratings to play more music it thinks you will like. Ads play after every few songs on the free version, just as they do on Spotify.
Podcasts — Podcasts are slowly becoming more mainstream, but so many people still don’t know about them or how to access them. It’s like radio, except everything you listen to is something you like. Cars, languages, horror stories, TV — no matter what you’re into, there’s a podcast for you. You might even find some that will help you with your studies. Not sure how to get started? Here’s what you do:
Step 1: Download a free podcast player from the Apple Store or Google Play — Overcast is popular on iOS and Pocket Casts on Android.
Step 2: Search for podcasts on topics you like.
Step 3: Download or stream them and enjoy!
Netflix — As of this writing, T-Mobile is offering customers who sign up for a family unlimited plan a free Netflix subscription. The subscription is the $9.99/month version, but you can also apply that value to another subscription level and pay the difference through your T-Mobile bill. You have to have more than one line on your plan to qualify, but if it works out for your situation, it sounds like a decent deal. This is absolutely a limited-time-only kind of thing, though.
E-Books — I’m a huge book lover and am a big believer in supporting authors and the industry, but when you’re broke, it’s hard to justify shelling out twenty dollars for a novel. There are a ton of books out there you can grab, legally, for free.
Many out-of-copyright books are free as long as you don’t care about getting the fancy version. (It’s an e-book; it doesn’t need to be fancy!) Project Gutenberg has over 54,000 free e-books. If you’ve been assigned a classic novel or older piece of literature to read, see if you can snag a free online version before shelling out for the paperback.
Jones-ing for something newer? Check out OverDrive. It connects to libraries so you can check out digital or audio versions of books with just your library card number.
Of course, if you have a (FREE) Amazon account, you have a Kindle account, and there are oodles of free e-books in the Kindle store. Just search for free books in the genre you’re interested in. It might take some searching to find the good stuff, though. Because anyone can publish on Amazon, there are some pretty terribly-written books on there, but they are free.
Secret Library Access — Having a library card can open more doors to you than just the library’s. Services such as Lynda.com, which provides access to online software courses, and Ancestry.com, which allows you to research your family history, are free to use through many libraries. Since these sites often charge upwards of $20 a month for access, free use is an amazing deal. Check with your local or school library to see what services might be available to you for $0.
Furniture/Home Goods — Moving into a dorm or new apartment? Don’t go running to buy a bunch of brand new stuff just yet.
Check out the Facebook Marketplace. You’ll see the Marketplace button on the left side of the screen when you open Facebook (in the Menu on mobile). Click that “Free” button with the lightning bolt on it at the top of the page and you’ll see a list of items people are giving away near you. When I checked, I saw coffee tables, beds, and dressers up for grabs, along with wooden pallets, fabric, and other materials just begging to be made into something new.
Good old Craigslist also makes it easy to find free furniture.
Freecycle is a simple forum for people looking to acquire or get rid of all sorts of items. Everything on the site is free. If you’re looking for that special item, try putting up a Wanted post. If you’re just browsing, be prepared to snap up something that looks good!
Of course, whenever you’re getting free stuff from a stranger, be wary of giving out your personal details and never meet him/her alone. The stuff you find may not be the best quality ever, but it will do until you have the money to replace it with something new. I’m still using a dresser I picked up for free years ago, stripped, then repainted. It’s no showpiece, but it holds my clothes just fine.
So there you have it — a bunch of ways to entertain yourself and maybe save some money on the expenses of living on your own. Students are in a particularly good position because many places provide discounts to people going to school full- or part-time. Always ask!
Whenever you think you just have to drop some cash for this or that, do a little searching first to see if there’s any way to snag that thing for FREE.
Got any secret ways to grab free stuff? Let us know!
Disclaimer: Learn, $ave, Grow has no financial relationship with any of the services or sites mentioned in the above post. Any use of the services mentioned is at your own risk.