There’s nothing a penny pincher likes better than being given something for nothing. But decent freebies are few and far between – too often that free gift pack is nothing but a pile of advertising and a few useless vouchers.
So to cheer you up, I’ve assembled a few of my favourite freebies, available across the country right now. As always, please do share your favourite freebies with other readers using the comments below.
Do you have a Kindle, iPad or smartphone? You could be enjoying a huge stack of literature for free.
The fantastic Project Gutenberg offers more than 38,000 free ebooks, which have been digitized and proofread by volunteers. These are books that have fallen out of copyright, so it doesn’t make sense to pay money for them.
Amazon also has a number of free books available for download, most of which are out-of-copyright classics.
The pay-as-you-go mobile phone market is a competitive one, so many providers are willing to hand over free SIM cards, calls and texts to encourage you to sign up.
For example, T-Mobile will post a free SIM card for your phone. Then, every month that you top it up with £10 gives you 100 free anytime minutes to UK mobiles and landlines, plus unlimited free UK texts. All that, and you still have £10 of credit.
Vodafone will send you a free SIM card and then has a variety of different freebies to choose from, when you top up by £10. You can pick from 60 free minutes to an overseas number, free weekend calls and texts, or free texts and internet access.
Going to the gym can be very expensive, so it’s worth using a free trial offer before tying yourself into a contract. Loads of gyms offer free trials, so they can entice you into a full-year contract. Be careful not to get carried away and sign up if you don’t think you’ll use it in the future.
Big chain gyms offering free trials include three days at LA Fitness and one-day passes for British Military Fitness classes, Thistle Hotel gyms, Harpers and Hilton hotel gyms.
O2 customers can bag a 10-day Fitness First pass through the mobile provider’s Priority club.
Barburrito is a growing chain of Mexican fast food takeaways, mostly in the north, but spreading fast. If you sign up to its loyalty scheme then you get a voucher for a free burrito, or any main, on your birthday.
This isn’t dependent on using your loyalty card, so it really is a free lunch.
Since 2001, national museums in England, Scotland and Wales are free to visitors and some are simply amazing days out.
If you have kids then a day at a museum or gallery can be a fantastic learning opportunity. Sometimes you’ll need to pay in order to get into a specific exhibition, but the vast majority of displays are free. There’s a good guide to what’s on here.
You may also be able to visit a city farm for free, or for a very low entry price. There are almost 60 city farms and 66 school farms in the UK, where children can learn about animals and where food, milk and wool comes from. Check out the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens to find a project near you.
Free BBC tours
Some of the BBC buildings give free guided tours to adults and children. These tend to last between one and a half and two hours, and they can be good educational days out for families.
You can visit everything from the CBBC sets in Salford to the regional radio station closest to you, although there's a charge for the studio tours. There’s a BBC page that lists the different tours on offer and when they’re available; make sure you book in advance.
I know I go on about Freegle and Freecycle all the time, but they are such good resources.
They allow people to offer unwanted possessions for free, in order to keep them out of landfill. It’s common to see furniture, baby equipment and gardening tools all offered for free.
Each organisation is broken up into small, local community web groups. Once you’ve joined, you can browse what’s on offer, make specific requests or advertise unwanted possessions of your own.
Don’t try to exploit your local group – members soon recognise people who constantly make requests. My local Freegle group is a really friendly community and I’ve met some really interesting people when collecting or handing over items.