Free to Be Me and Me!

by Katy on November 4, 2011 · 27 comments

How do I love thee, Multnomah County Library? Let me count the ways. One, two, three . . .

Although I pinch my pennies tighter than Scrooge McDuck-Stanley, I still enjoy luxuriating in a well deserved splurge now and again. However, this doesn’t mean that I give up on my tightwaddy ways, as there is ample free stuff out there if I keep my eyes open.

This week has been particularly free-tastic, so I thought I would share a few of my scores:

  • I receive advertsing e-mails from Columbia Sportswear, which is a local company. Usually I just delete the spam, but a recent e-mail included an offer for a $15 gift card code with no minimum purchase. So I clicked on over to the website, found a pair of wicking wool socks for $14 and put them in my cart. I then did a web search for “Columbia Sportswear Free Shipping” and found a code, which actually worked! Amazingly, the socks arrived the very next day and I’ve been wearing my free wool socks ever since.
  • Mentioning that books are free from the library is hardly an ah-ha moment, but my branch of The Multnomah County Library just started a new program called “Lucky Day.” Normally the highly sought after books never hit the shelves, as book-crazy Portlanders put them on hold from the instant of publication. However, this program puts a number of the most popular books on a shelf for anyone and everyone. These books can’t be put on hold, can’t be renewed and each patron can only take two at a time. It’s been a fantastic revelation to go to the library and actually find books I’ve been wanting to read! Oh glory day, free wonderful books!
  • I follow Grand Central Bakery on both Twitter and Facebook. This local business sends out a “Mention this tweet for a free coffee/muffin/baguette/cookie” a couple times per week, and I take advantage of it every few weeks or so. And when they had a drawing for a cookbook and $15 gift card on Facebook, I entered it and won. (Only seven people entered!) So yesterday when I saw that there was a free bread pudding for those who “mentioned the tweet,” I knew I had to stop by. I gathered up some dull paperwork, my fresh library book and worked Grand Central into my errands. I am normally not a hang out in coffee shops kind of gal, (too rich for my blood) so it was a huge treat. And of course I ordered a drip coffee with my gift card . . . after all, I want to make my $15 last as long as possible. 
  • Although The Non-Consumer Advocate generates thousands of daily hits, I’ve been bad about transforming it into a profit-making machine. However, I do need to put aside an extra $5000+ this year for the kids’ Japan trips, so I have started the process of doing a few paid reviews through Blogher, which you’ll start seeing pretty soon. (Worry not, I won’t be reviewing Clorox feminine hygiene spray or Halliburton teddy bears.) But I did get $50 to spend on eco-friendly products at Home Depot, as well as a meditation Wii game for review. Pretty cool free stuff.

Of course my free stuff opportunities will differ from your free stuff, but it’s all out there, ripe for the taking. You just have to position yourself to find it and keep your eyes open.

Have you been finding great free stuff lately? If so, please share your scores in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura November 4, 2011 at 10:02 am

We’ve had the Lucky Day books at our library for over a year now and it’s been great – I almost always can find something I’ve been wanting to read or waiting for, and with the few restrictions I’m more motivated to find time to read so I can finish and get them back on time for someone else.


Darcy November 4, 2011 at 10:08 am

I do several tests every year for a local food company. They pay $45 for 90 minutes of my time. The free part is the food. Sometimes it’s not substantial (like yogurt) but last time was I taste tested four different entree salads. I was STUFFED by the end!


Dogs or Dollars November 4, 2011 at 10:11 am

I pick up donuts from a fancy schmancy place for work every friday. My co-workers take turns buying them. I swing in pick them up, and reap the reward points. The Husband and I will be enjoying free fritters and coffee this weekend.


Katy November 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

Here’s a deal for 25 FREE 4X6″ prints from Walgreens. It’s good until Saturday night.

I’m going to use it to print out photos of all the exchange students and coaches we’ve had through the years.



Katy November 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm
Samantha November 4, 2011 at 10:59 am

I love how you make being frugal sound like so much fun! Thanks for being such an inspiration!


Katy November 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm

It is fun!



Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares November 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

My freebies are pretty much Dumpster-dived. I found a case of margarine last week, in addition to organic yogurt. My family doesn’t use margarine, but I passed it along to some people who do. And there’s always free pumpkins after Halloween. I’ve found I can spend too much time trying to score free stuff done as business promotions (most of which I don’t need, or won’t miss if I don’t have it) and protect the sanctity of my inbox from ad pitches, but I do keep my eyes peeled when I’m out and about.


Jennifer November 4, 2011 at 11:40 am

I mystery shop in my spare time, and I had a lunch shop today. Free lunch for me and the hubby, plus they paid me $5 to eat it! I also have a shop for an oil change next week (which my car needs) so free for that, plus another $5. I guess it’s not really free when you take into account the time I have to spend writing up the report, but I’ll take a free meal or oil change in exchange for 20-30 minutes of my time spent writing, which I can usually do while I’m watching TV with the hubs anyway 🙂


Megyn @Minimalist Mommi November 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Which company do you work for? How did you find a legit one?


Megyn @Minimalist Mommi November 4, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Our libraries have “culture passes” that allow free admission for two to museums, zoo, botanical gardens, and children’s places. It’s SO much fun when you can score one!


Megg November 5, 2011 at 6:03 am

My library at home has those too! It’s awesome! I haven’t had the chance to see if my local library has the same thing.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl November 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Ooh, your BlogHer reviews sound super awesome…lucky ducky!


pmhaas November 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I was mulching leaves today with my mower when my neighbor dropped off their entire farm share from an Amish CSA nearby. His wife is under the weather, so they can’t use the cabbage, mixed leaf lettuce, green onions, green pepper, white radishes and kale. Score!!! When I called her to thank her, I mentioned I was going to Whole Foods – what might she like – and she let me get her some jasmine rice and tea…the only foods she can eat right now. I got a bag of fancy potato chips for hubby…I love having great neighbors!!!


Bauunny November 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I get J.C. Penney $10 coupons periodically that are essentially $10 for a $10 purchase. I love them but don’t always need something from there so they go unspent ( I can’t justify buying just because it is free). October was my birthday month and I ran myself ragged trying to spend all my birthday coupons from stores that I have loyalty or reward cards with – God forbid I should miss one!


Jackie November 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I get those coupons sometimes too. If I can’t find anything else, I just buy $10 worth of socks.


Cate November 5, 2011 at 3:55 pm

We get those coupons too (Kohl’s often sends them as well) and I LOVE them! I actually don’t think we’ve ever let one go unused. Sometimes I use them on toys or clothes for my niece or my daughter and then hold onto the gift until the next gift-giving holiday. And other times I use them for socks, underwear, and other stuff I hate spending “real” money on. 😉


Lisa Under the Redwoods November 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm

My neighbor was recently cleaning out her cabinets and found three, new with tags on them, night gowns. She offered me all three. I took one, all I really needed. I was in the market to buy one since I have a bad habit of painting in my night clothes. A week later, my daughter was cleaning out her closet and had a new, with tags on it, purse that had been given to her that she wasn’t going to use. I offered it to my neighbor. She was happy to get it and told me that the front of her purse had just split. I love it when things work out that way.


Katy November 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm

That is a great story!



Angela@MyYearWithoutSpending November 5, 2011 at 5:19 am

Those are exciting freebies, indeed!

Glade air freshener and processed food in a box, no thanks!

Columbia wool socks and just-released books? Yes, thank you very much.

Let’s see, this week:
At Vons I bought a half gallon of Neopolitan ice cream for my friend’s birthday dinner (it’s his favorite) that was marked down from 5.99 to 3.50 and included a free pint of any flavor. The sign was so confusing that I actually saw a man take out a half gallon but not get his pint, so I asked the checker if I had it right, and I did. I enjoyed some of that Bananas Flambe ice cream last night.

My friend gave me a bag of clothes in advance of our annual clothing swap and I pulled out a never-worn bra that fits perfectly and is super comfortable, as well as a pair of Lucky jeans and a super-cute top she’d never worn.

At the pharmacy, when I turned in my prescription for some face cream (I have Rosacea, like Bill Clinton and Rembrandt), when combined with my health insurance and a coupon from the doctor, it was free. Yay for union health insurance.

Tuesday night my husband and I went to a free screening at the fancy Arclight cinema of a soon-to-be-released film called “the Lady” with a Q&A with the director and star afterward. We get the free screenings as a perk for being in the editing guild. Again, yay for unions.

Wow, I didn’t even realize I’d gotten so many things for free just in the past week. And I’ll probably think of more today. Thanks for the reminder to be grateful. 🙂

I am definitely going to talk to our library about instituting that policy. What a great idea.


Katy November 5, 2011 at 6:15 am

I am insanely envious of all the free movies you get to see.



Erin November 5, 2011 at 6:17 am

Katy, you are so lucky to live in the Multnomah library district. I used to be a public librarian and on all the listservs and professional group posts, it was always touted as one of the premier public library systems in the country. Enjoy!


Robin November 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Today I got a free flu shot plus 20% off my grocery bill. Not quite sure how my flu shot was free but the pharmacist said it was and who am I to complain? He gave me a 20% off coupon after we chatted for a while when he was giving me my shot (mostly him complaining). I feel like I scored! All told I saved $30 for the shot and $10 on groceries!


Frugal Down Under November 5, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Past 4 weeks: Got a FREE fridge from Freecycle for our community garden.
My garden plot at the Botanical gardens is FREE.
Gardening group did a cake and tea fundraiser so I called a local garden/hardware shop and they donated a wheelbarrow full of garden stuff for a raffle FREE.
Went to a FREE children’s week activity day full of great stuff to do.
FREE books from a bookshelf at work.
FREE borrowing from the library.
FREE movies from a work colleague.

My friends always ask me how I know about all the FREE activities. Once you start opening up to FREE stuff, you then see it everywhere. Keep your eyes open on community noticeboards and local FREE newspapers papers. I’m thinking of enrolling my 4 yr old to FREE (non religious) Hindi School saturday mornings. What a great fun way to learn a new language.


Bellen November 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Love the free stuff:
Naples Zoo (FL) is free to residents of that county once a month –
2 adults & 2 kids ages 3-12 will save about $65 . We don’t live in that
county but as FL residents saved 1/2 on price of admission – $40

Went to a free Home Show and got a free health screening of blood glucose, bone density,cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass done thru Walgreens plus coupons for free A1C, blood glucose, and cholesterol any time in the next 6 months at Walgreens.

Made a comment on PiktSweet web site about stems in the green beans – received 3 FREE coupons good for any of their products.

Free one year subscription to Shape magazine which I donate to local thrift store when I’m done

Free borrowed from the library this week – 6 fiction & 2 non-fiction books, 2 music CDs and 4 magazines


Practical Parsimony November 6, 2011 at 7:27 am

50 lbs of bananas
13 pumpkins
whole wheat bread and bagels
broccoli, cauliflower, oranges
From a food bank–there is and abundance of like items on my blog in the last week. My dehydrator should be running around the clock for bananas and pumpkins.

Free jack o’ lanterns should be out for the hens this week for garbage pickup.


Kate November 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Boppin’ along along on our way to church this morning and there on the side of the road was a screen door – didn’t need that – but what was that flash of red on the ground? An adorable little metal tool box! I love red. I love little metal boxes. One imploring smile to my hubby and he was making a u-turn so I could retrieve it. He said, “That’s something you would buy at a yard sale, isn’t it?” Uh-huh. My fella knows his wife – don’t buy me a new purse or jewelry, but a free cute tool box? Pretty please! 🙂


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