Love Month – February 13

I love free stuff.

Oh, I know a lot of people say they love free stuff, but yet they seem to me to think that what you have to do to get it is too much bother. I usually don’t. The cost is usually my time, and I come cheap.

I just got a new set of pots and pans from my health insurance carrier. I was eligible for them because I did things like fill out health risk assessments online that only took a few minutes. Oh, many people are eligible for this sort of thing, but statistics say very few take advantage of it. I’m one of the very few who does – I almost always take advantage of it.

I’ve gotten gym bags and water bottles and exercise equipment and an MP3 player and a tent and other such things in years past. I believe my toaster oven came from a program like this.

My old toaster oven came from a deal with Bed, Bath, and Beyond where I combined coupons and rebates and got it for free, too. In fact, I earned a few cents in that deal.

My credit cards all pay rewards and I’ve lost track of the money I have collected from those programs. It is in the thousands of dollars. A few years ago when I went to South Africa, I had $500 in spending money that I received as a credit card reward. And I don’t pay a fee for my card or interest. I put things on my credit card and pay it off at the end of the month. If I paid interest, it wouldn’t exactly be free.

My friend Debbie Swing and I got quite arrogant in the days we were Chamber ambassadors. We’d register for every door prize, and typically one of us would win something good. I lost track of the cool things we won.

My mom and I enjoyed a night at a luxury hotel in Trafalger Square in London, along with a fancy buffet breakfast – completely free because I booked our airfare with Expedia instead of going through the airlines. The cost was the same for the airfare, either way I booked.

And speaking of travel. How many people travel without belonging to loyalty programs? I just received $20 in Outback gift cards because of some Marriott points I had accumulated that I wasn’t even aware were there. I got an email saying the points were set to expire. I haven’t stayed in a hotel in a while, but I investigated. And got my prize.

I’ve received plane tickets for points and even magazine subscriptions when the points were real low.

I received several Amazon gift cards this year for platelet donations. I was doing that to give platelets. I didn’t expect a reward. I also several long sleeve t-shirts, which I got in the biggest size they had available and will donate to a homeless shelter or other charitable program. (Often the largest sizes are in most demand.)

Donating blood for free stuff always reminds me of giving blood in my college years, where the free pizza or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches would get the attention of me and my friends. Free food in college was always a draw.

I could probably write for days on the things that friends and family members and I have gotten for free over the years. It’s a fun hobby, and has saved me so very much money. Of course, not much is really free. There often is a cost to someone – you just have to make sure it is not to you.

I love free stuff, because not only is it a budget stretcher but it is a fun little present you are given for no other reason than you let yourself be available.

“I’ll do anything for free stuff.” – Sandra Bullock

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