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In an age where there never seems to be enough money to make ends meet, I am always looking for things that I can get for free, or very little money. Some things I’ve found have a hidden catch, but there are others that are relatively easy to obtain. Here is a list of a few places you can get items you may want for little or no money and effort.

Hobby Farms – http://www.hobbyfarms.com/

Some of the items are farm related, but a couple of them are more general. In order to receive these free items, you do have to sign up with an account. From there, you earn points by taking quizzes, sending e-cards, set up a personal blog on My Farm or respond to a blog, and comment on a Hobby Farms article on the site. Some points are offered daily, some weekly, but if you visit at least three times a week, your points add up rather quickly. Some of the rewards include calendars, magazines including Homemade Bread, Ducks (and others dedicated to specific farm animals), and others, DIY Projects, books including Cooking with Heirlooms and From Container to Kitchen, as well as a coupon or two from various companies. The best part about it is that the items cost no money and the website if full of information for farmers and non-farmers. I’ve gotten a book and a $25 coupon from a seed company, all for checking the site on a daily basis. Sign up today. You’ll be glad you did!

Write the Company

Yes, this will cost the price of a stamp and envelope, with no guarantee of success. But companies rarely get handwritten letters of commendation any more. If you find a product/restaurant/store you truly like, write them a letter and express your delight with their product. In response, you could get nothing, or you could get from a coupon with cents off, a gift card or free product.

Trash Piles

Don’t laugh. Randy and I have gotten some great building materials, furniture, old windows and planting containers, just by driving down a street on collection day. This isn’t exactly ‘free’, due to the gas you use, but you can cut down that expense by pre-selecting the neighborhoods you want to canvas, and do it while incorporating other errands you have to run. I have also hauled off a truck load of leaves to put in my garden, which to me is like gold. If you can find one or hear of one, home renovation sites are the absolute best! Just be prepared to have a few dry runs, but always keep in mind that just one or two good hauls can well make up for any gas money spent on days you didn’t find anything. Tip: You may want to go to the door and ask the person if it’s okay to take the items. Rarely, but on occasion, there have been people who don’t want you sifting through their trash. And ALWAYS leave the pile as neat, or neater, than you found it!

Newspaper/Craigslist/Thrifty Nickel

It isn’t often, but I have seen ads for items that are free for the taking, if you’ll haul ‘it’ off. Keep your ear to the ground, because some folks will let you have an old building on their property if you are willing to take it down. Truly research this before you agree – there are some buildings that will take more time to disassemble, and by doing so, most of the wood or tin will be destroyed.

Barter/Trade

I don’t know about you, but my house is overflowing with things that I no longer use, need or want. TO begin, make a list of some of the things you’d be willing to get rid of, then talk to your friends and family, post on your Facebook page, in a newsletter or even a flier at a local business that says, “Will Trade For…”.   Safety Tip: Think twice, and then think again before posting at local businesses or on online. By far, most people are honest, but you may want to screen the callers first, and agree to meet at a well populated place, and NOT at your home!

Some things will cost you, but if you shop wisely and take your time to look, you can find some items that are free to inexpensive.

Flea Markets

Ayn and I usually set the first weekend in November aside and head to Main to Main – a flea market that starts in Bienville Parish and ends at the north side of Webster. It’s an all-day affair, and usually well worth the effort. I have found doors, windows and other building supplies for pennies on the dollar (or less). I found an old library table that cost me $15.00. The same table in any antique store would cost no less than a ‘Benjamin’ ($100), and probably much more. I’ve noticed that some flea markets across the area are now commanding higher prices for their wares, but if you dig deep, you can usually find some great deals.

Want some free money?

Have a Garage Sale

Okay. This isn’t really a ‘free’ thing – but you can accumulate quite a bit of money. Clean out your closets, cabinets and attic, and pull all the things you no longer need or want. As you pull the items, stick a price tag on them. Spend a week organizing and place an ad in your local paper or online. Then spend a Saturday selling all those items. At the end of the day, most garage sales net you enough money to make it well worth your while. Although we haven’t done it in a while, one of ours netted us over $700.00. And that was after subtracting the money for the newspaper ad. Don’t want to do it by yourself? See if you can get a few friends and neighbors to join in. Garage sales and Estate sales are extremely popular ways to stretch a dollar. Just be prepared to haggle on the cost. At the end of the day, have Goodwill, Salvation Army or a local church (who is planning on having a Rummage sale) to pick up all the left overs. Ask for a receipt, and you’ll also have a tax-deduction to go along with your ‘free’ money!

These are just a few ways you can get things for free or little to no money and effort. I have done all of these, and with careful planning and firm needs in mind, they have worked out well. Although it won’t be free, recently I spoke with a woman at an Estate Sale and may just end up with another weaving loom for a fraction of the price of a new one. The trick is, don’t be afraid to ask, don’t be reluctant to try, and don’t be too good to pilfer a trash pile. Just always remember to be courteous, and always be safe.

Do you have any other ideas for getting free or low-cost items? Please feel free to share them in a comment. I am always searching for ways to save money!