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Funny Money: Free Stuff you can do That Costs Most People Money

If you really want to make a friend mad, tell him about the great stuff you get for free — that he’s still paying for. Join the freebie club by using these four tricks.

Free stuff that most people pay for.Some sure ways to make someone hate you are to say you’re a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, Duke Blue Devils or New York Yankees. And another way is to brag to someone who  pays for something that you got it for free.

Only the latter, incidentally, allows you to retain your soul. And thus it’s the only one among the group that makes you feel truly good about yourself. That’s because you’re not, as with the sports teams, admitting a personality flaw (and this is coming from an unrepentant Yankees fan) but offering an opportunity to educate so others can share in your smugness.

Allow me to do just that:

1. Audit a college class rather than enroll.

The answer to anyone’s aimless ennui is to pack it in and go back to school. This happens to be an obscenely expensive whim, and often turns out to be something that, unlike a fresh round of student loans, quickly fades away. Have it both ways by showing up at class while skipping that whole “paying tuition” thing.

Here’s how you do it: Choose a class or two that interests you, then spark up a conversation with the professors. Let them know how interested you are in their work — do some recon beforehand by reading up on their publications — then ask if you can sit in on a class for a semester. Flattery will get you everywhere, and once you find out you’re bored with the whole college scene, you’ll have lost nothing but time.

2. Hop from one free trial to another on subscription services.

Netflix, Redbox and Amazon Prime all offer free trials that let you test the waters of their streaming video services without paying up. After the freebie period ends, the companies hope you’re hooked enough to not bother canceling your account before the automatic credit card charges start rolling in.

You can game the system by canceling just before your free trial ends, then hopping to the next service, rotating until all of them refuse to offer you trials anymore. You can work around the blockage by having a significant other, BFF or roomie start up a trial once yours ends.

3. Get invited to promotional movie screenings.

Movie studios love it when you pay full theatrical price to take in their blockbusters, but they love just as much to let you see their flicks for free, before they are released to the general public, at promo screenings. The idea is that you’ll be their guinea pigs, and by giving them your post-screening reactions, who give them a read of how their films will fare once released into the wild.

Register for sites such as Gofobo or Text Movie Club, clear your Tuesday nights — when most promo screenings take place — then wait for the free tickets to roll in.

4. Use text-to-speech apps rather than download classic audio books.

Savvy readers such as myself, as well as pre-schoolers everywhere, know that being read to is way, way more awesome-er than forcing your eyes to do all the work. The problem is that audio books are so expensive. So once you’ve exhausted the library of free Audible classics or one of the thousands in the at are available in the public domain, you may like storytime as you drive and work out so much that you’ll be willing to pay for the experience.

Nonsense. Instead, opt to download free versions of the books, then invest in a text-to-speech app that lets you hear the story for free. Sure, you may have to suffer through a Speak & Spell-style computer voice rather than an actor’s narration, but at least you won’t have to pay for it.

What other freebies have you been able to take advantage of?

Published or updated on November 14, 2013

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About Phil Villarreal

Phil Villarreal writes Funny Money weekly for Money Under 30. He lives in Tucson and works for the Arizona Daily Star. He's also an author, blogger and Twitterer.


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  1. […] love Money Under 30’s Funny Money: Free Stuff You Can Do That Costs Most People Money. (The Hubby and I are all over the movie […]

  2. Kelsey says:

    To add to #4, many public libraries have started offering audio books that you can “check out” on your smartphone or tablet for the cost of a library membership (AKA free). I enjoy listening to audio books instead of music when running or completing mindless tasks, and my library uses the app Overdrive to check out audio books and ebooks. It’s great!

  3. Jon says:

    I disagree with number 2. There’s a difference between being smart with your money and just being plain cheap. My generation needs to stop expecting everything for free. I don’t mind paying for music, TV, and other entertainment that I enjoy! I suspect many who will do anything to avoid paying for Netflix don’t blink at the cost of a $10+ cocktail.

  4. Kostas says:

    There’s nothing like finding ways to beat the system and get things free, even if it’s only a limited time. In truth, it was doing that which helped me determine Netflix was necessary to have.

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