The first thought when the word “free” comes to mind is usually, “What’s the catch?”
Unfortunately, the reputation of “free” has been sullied by scams looking to take advantage of people. But, while free may have gotten a bad rap, its definition remains the same. “Provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.”
In addition to meaning zero dollars, “free,” in my opinion, does not include an obligation–where it’s an obligation to try this or purchase that. Free is unhampered, no strings attached.
To help you navigate through the confusing and varying uses of “free,” here’s a list of really, truly FREE STUFF that you can find online. Not free as in sorta free or free as in it’s free now, but you’ll be charged later for something you didn’t want. I’m talking about TOTALLY FREE STUFF:
Free Credit Reports & Free Credit Scores
There are a few web-based businesses that callously take advantage of the word “free,” claiming to offer a “free” credit report and/or “free” credit score, but then require that you sign up for a trial of a fee-based service. Remember: “Free” means $0, no obligation.
While you should be on your guard when it comes to “free” credit report websites, there are spots where you can really get a report for free, no strings attached:
- AnnualCreditReport.com: The official site, as mandated by law, allows you to get one free credit report each year from each of the three main credit bureaus.
- Quizzle.com: The only website that gives you both a free credit report and free credit score, no catches, no trial subscriptions, no credit card required.
Good rule of thumb: If a website requires that you enter you credit card number to get your freebie, think twice! If it’s really free, then a credit card shouldn’t be necessary.
Free Business Cards
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind design that’s sure to turn heads (or water mouths, as the case may be) like the bacon business card, it’ll cost you. But if you’re content with basic business cards that do the job–i.e. allow you to easily give out your digits–then free is the way to go:
- Vistaprint: Get 250 free full-color business cards (just pay shipping costs, starting at $5.67).
Traditional paper cards and snail mail are so 20th century. Opt to send creative–and often knee-slapping hilarious–e-cards for the holidays and special occasions instead:
Free Household Goods
Get the goods on free home-goods in your hometown from these networks of people who seek to keep the good stuff out of landfills:
If you can’t afford to shell out a few hundred bucks for the newest game system and accessories, go the way of free online games:
Free Graphic Design Tools
If you like to doodle in the graphic arts, here are some free resources to help you in your pursuits:
- dafont.com: Free fonts
- Iconspedia: Free icons
- Photoshop: A free online version of Photoshop with some cool extras to organize, edit, or enhance images.
Free Video Conferencing
It’s all the rage with long-distance grannies who don’t want to miss important moments in their grandchildren’s lives and small business owners who need to communicate coast-to-coast on a shoe-string budget. When ear-to-ear isn’t enough, get on your computer and enjoy free video conferencing with these truly free services:
- OoVoo.com: Free video conferencing (ad-supported).
- Skype.com: Free PC-to-PC calls with Skype’s free software.
Free TV and Movie Content
Axe the cable bill and get your favorite TV shows (plus movies too!) with just a click of your mouse:
Listen to the music YOU like when near a computer or even on the go (through your iPhone or BlackBerry). These free music sites use “inspiration music” you’ve entered to find similar tunes that you’re sure to jam to all day long:
Nothing beats free stuff that’s really and truly free. While you should always keep your eye out for the fake free stuff, don’t let that spoil you from enjoying the genuine finds. What are your favorite sites for free stuff?
Ann-Marie Murphy is the Community Builder for Quizzle.com, an online service that provides free and easy ways to manage your home, money, and credit – all in one spot. She pairs her experiences in financial services with her writing skills to help consumers better manage their personal finances.