How can you Live for Free (or at Least get Freebies?)
The number of free things available is incredible, especially in a country such as Australia. While we might not have the extreme coupons Americans have, we still have access to numerous freebies.
My daughters and I live a pretty free lifestyle. I don’t work a 9 to 5, we aren’t based in one location, there’s a lot we get for free and life just works. I don’t get heaps of freebies because of my blog (although I used to), rather our free lifestyle is based around things anyone can do.
In my past, I felt pressure to do the work thing, was a multiple international award-winning CEO and felt I was subscribing to a life others expected of me. After serious health issues, including paralysis, a break-up and a few other things, I decided enough was enough. I was living for me. As a result, I took some pretty drastic measures and now we travel, I have a few income streams and we live a frugal lifestyle with a lot for free. Here are 50 ways you can live for free too.
Disclosure – affiliate links are sometimes used for products and services I use and recommend. Read my full disclosure here.
Some freebie tips apply to everything in life. Here are some things you can do for most areas of your budget to get things for free and save more.
There are 3 main sites I use to get cashback or ‘free money’ and all of them are free to join. My favourite is Cash Rewards. Payments tend to be fastest with them, customer service has been excellent to deal with and they often have the highest cashback amounts.
Next is Honey, which you can join here. Honey gets cashback but also focuses on discounts and will scan for any available code to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Last is Shopback. Honestly, others rave about it but they have taken forever to approve transactions to payout. So I tend not to use them as much as the other two.
I used to enter heaps and won a few. One recent score was a Philips Air Fryer, another friend won the car in the Macca’s Monopoly game one year and a few have won holidays as well as loads of smaller prizes. Check out the best Aussie ones and tips for entering here.
3. Online Surveys
Many online surveys have sign up bonuses, prizes, giveaways and cash-back programs as well as the surveys to earn money. Swagbucks offers $10 when you join, do a survey and use them for shopping (as in their cash-back option). Octopus Group is the highest paying online survey site in Australia and PrizeRebel has been good for me too.
4. Mystery Shopping
Get freebies and get paid to shop! I haven’t done mystery shopping for a while but friends still do occasionally. The way it works is you join the company, apply for shops, do the shop, submit whatever they ask then get paid. It can be anything from fast food to clothes, test driving a car to holidays. Read more on how to be a mystery shopper.
5. Product Reviews
Numerous sites and companies will pay you for reviews and some will send you product to trial and review. Products sent are usually minimal e.g. a block of chocolate, loaf of bread, packet of biscuits etc. Payments on the sites take a while to do a few reviews and secure payments. Tell Me Baby and Product Review are 2 sites that do this. Social Soup is a site you can try products with and write about it.
6. VIP/Reward Programs
Birthday freebies, sign up bonuses, VIP days and bonus offers as well as regular discounts are all on offer with reward programs. What they offer will vary from store to store but it is usually free to sign up. We have a huge list of VIP/Reward programs here.
7. Market Research
You can make up to $100 an hour with market research plus get freebies. The Black Box is one example of freebies you can get. When I was signed up I got around 6 boxes with $50 to $75 worth of stuff each time. Learn more about market research in this article.
Provided everyone is happy with the arrangement, bartering can work out great. Swap what you have which someone else needs for something they have and you need. I know many who have swapped produce, worked at each other’s homes, babysat etc. It’s up to you what works for you and what you want to offer with others.
9. Let People Know
Whenever you are looking at something or in need, let people know. Many casual conversations I’ve had over the years resulted in items being given to me. Most recently, a Nikon! At a friends house, I was talking about the one I wanted and why. She had a Nikon which is perfect to learn on plus 2 lenses etc. She was happy for it to go to someone who will love and use it. I was ecstatic to save a few thousand.
10. Freecycle/Facebook Marketplace/Gumtree
Anything you are looking for could be listed by someone else as free simply because they want to get rid of it. Check out Freecycle, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, your local buy sell swap groups and pay it forward groups.
11. Keep Your Eyes Open
You will be amazed at what is our there, from things placed out as hard rubbish (check the laws in your area before picking things up) to items in the gutter. My eldest daughter is incredible at finding things, mainly jewellery, whether she is walking down the street or swimming at the beach. She literally got hit in the face with a pearl ring (fake) while swimming at the beach, only moments after joking she is going to find one.
Look around, there is a lot out there. Of course, if the item is of high value or is a wallet or similar, hand it into the police. We do this all the time and have had the police contact us to pick items up much to my daughters surprise. Honesty first!
12. Grab Discounts
Technically not a full freebie but definitely something that can sometimes lead to a freebie or work out free. Australia has so many discounts and sales happening all the time plus there are heaps of little tricks to help you get discounts on everything. Read our 12 tips to get discounts on everything. A few popular ones we have are $35 off with Marley Spoon, $30 off with Dinnerly ($15 off each of your first two boxes) and $35 off with HelloFresh.
The Healthy Mummy has a great deal of 30 days for $1. Catch has incredible discounts all the time and of course, Groupon is another discount favourite of ours.
One of the biggest expenses for most Aussie households, the rent or mortgage payments alone can take 30 to 60% of the budget for many. Depending on your lifestyle choices, it doesn’t have to cost so much.
What We Do
Previously, I rented my places on Airbnb or had boarders to offset the cost of a mortgage/rent. Now we travel full time so are often staying free including housesitting, my work travel and at times with friends or family. Since May, I have paid for a few weeks accommodation for us, that’s it. We sold off almost all of our belongings in May then moved out at the end of May.
13. Make Your Home pay for Itself
Surprisingly doable with the right home, whether you’re renting or own. I rented my place out on Airbnb regularly when I travelled. I got from $600 to $1,300 over 5 days depending on the time of year, for my tiny 2 bedroom apartment. Other times I had a boarder or two, rented out the garage and used my front room to run classes sometimes. I shared how to make your home pay for itself here.
14. Housesitting/Pet Sitting
Easier for those who are single, house and pet sitting can even be a paid gig. Get free accommodation and some cash for doing it. With pet sitting, you obviously need to like animals. Sign up to one of the housesitting sites or join housesitting groups on Facebook to find places.
I did this years ago through the site but since then we have done similar but it is more staying with friends and family at times. Since we travel to visit friends and family, we usually have somewhere to stay. However, people are travelling the entire world using couchsurfing. Again, this is easier if you are single.
Willing Workers On Organic Farms is what WWOOF stands for. A worldwide opportunity for working on organic farms. You can travel around, stay on farms and take care of the land.
17. House Swap
Do it through a website or arrange it through friends and family. House swapping for holidays is quite popular and a great way to see somewhere new without the huge accommodation costs.
18. Accommodation With Your Job
Numerous occupations offer accommodation for example caravan park caretakers, au pairs, working on farms etc. Sometimes it means a lower pay because it includes room and board, other times you can still get great pay with perks.
19. Solar Panels
Obviously, they aren’t free to install (unless you win them or are given them or something) but if you are staying in your home, they can pay for themselves. It will depend on where you live, how much electricity you use etc.
20. Water Tanks
Again, they are not free to start with, but they will save you money over time by providing you with free water. Plus, check free sites all the time, I know a few people who have gotten tanks this way.
21. Collect water
If you can’t afford a tank, you can collect water in buckets, old bins and other containers to use in the garden. Be careful though, stagnant water will grow all sorts of things and are a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Being one of the largest expenses for Aussie households, finding ways to save money on groceries can be amazing. I have shared a list of ways to get groceries for free and super cheap already, here are a few tips from it.
The most expensive and exclusive restaurant in Melbourne bases its menu on foraging. Look around your local area, use Google and learn about edible plants then go forage for them. Be sure to check if they are sprayed by the local council though.
If you see any overloaded fruit trees, ask the owners if you may pick some. I know a few people who have done this with apricots, oranges and apples. Take notes when out walking or driving around of places you see fruit trees and other edible plants. Only do it with permission though, don’t steal them!
23. Grow Your Own
It’s not free to set up a vegetable garden and fruit trees plus it costs you money to water and take care of them but it’s pretty close to free once established. Start with herbs, shallots, celery, lettuce and similar vegetables which you can grow from scraps with your groceries. You can buy them from the supermarket, cut off what you will use then place the ends in water to make them sprout and grow then plant them. It turns your scraps into more vegetables!
24. Food banks
Only use this option if you are in need, not just to save money. Food banks are there for a reason, I have volunteered in a few. They’re worth it and many have free meal days associated with them. If you’re on a really tight budget, utilising Centrelink or in a bad situation, they can help a lot.
25. Birthday Freebies
The amount of food you can get for free around your birthday is amazing. Check out this list of Aussie birthday freebies.
You will need a rod, net or speargun and a few other bits and pieces to get started but it is incredibly satisfying catching and cooking your own fish. We don’t do it a lot but have and my girls will be learning to spearfish soon.
Depending on where you live, there can be endless free entertainment from concerts to libraries, trial classes to meetups.
27. Free Activities in Your Area
A simple Google search will tell you what is on in your area or check the events section on Facebook. Various councils have free events at times which can include free pool entry, competitions, fireworks, BBQ’s and more. Where I live there are free festivals and events every weekend.
28. Free Exercise
Utilise outdoor gyms, free trials to gyms and check out meetup or similar for free exercise groups. Many major cities have free yoga, tai chi and similar in the parks on certain days.
29. Use The Library
Borrow books and magazines, use their school holiday activities and most libraries have free wifi too. Or for books alone, check to see if there are swap meets in your area or mini-libraries where you leave one and take one without needing a library card.
30. Free Wifi
Numerous cafes, Maccas, some city centres, libraries and other locations have free wifi. If you’re on a budget or can’t afford the internet at home, these can be great options to help you get started with a business or doing studies. Be careful of cybersecurity when accessing free wifi though.
31. Free SMS
You can send a limited number of free messages online if needed. Alternatively, use social media such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
32. Free eBooks
Amazon regularly has free eBooks and sales where some popular eBooks are free for a day.
I went through a stage where I bought a decent amount of clothing and had a huge wardrobe. While I loved and wore most of the pieces, I’d rather not do that again. Clothing doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Most of mine I buy on sale or it’s given to me but here is how you can get it free.
33. Clothing Swap
Organise a clothing swap with friends and family or look to see if one is happening in your area. This goes for your clothes, your partner and kids clothes. It is amazing what people have grown out of or bought and never worn.
Pull out your sewing machine and refashion some of the clothing you have. It doesn’t have to be refashioned for yourself, you can turn old shirts into a dress for your daughter, capes for the kids to dress up with and more.
My kids get holes in the knees of everything they own, so now when that happens we cut them to turn them into shorts, which they love because they can be longer than most of the shorts available in stores for girls.
35. Free Clothes
If you are in need you can get free clothes from various charities or vouchers for their stores. But if you are just looking for free stuff, consider the local tip shop. Many of them have free clothing. Some of my friends have really nice brand name dresses that came from there and you would never have guessed it.
So those areas are the biggest expenses for most budgets but there are so many other things in life you can get for free.
Walking down the street, I am regularly offered samples. It’s a common marketing tactic for everything from beauty products to food. Some companies offer free samples from their Facebook pages or websites too.
37. Free With Purchase
Technically this isn’t completely free, often there are deals where you get a free item with the purchase of another item, such as mascara or lip gloss on a magazine. The value of the free item is sometimes more than the value of the item you need to buy (as is the case with mascaras and magazines.)
38. Be a Model for Hair, Beauty etc.
Many salons are looking for models for different treatments or services they offer. It can be risky but if you aren’t overly committed to your hair or nails as they are, it can be a great way to save money.
Grab a ride with others to and from work. Either alternate who drives, try bartering for a different service or if you are good with cars you could service their car in exchange for rides.
40. Collect Points
If you have a credit card you can rack up travel points easily. Make sure you know where to shop to get bonus points and accumulate them for something worthwhile.
41. Free Photos
Look for free print offers, often available for your first 50 photos at larger stores. Other places such as Canvas Champ offer amazing deals if you are printing photos or other items.
You can educate yourself on many things for free online, and if you aren’t specifically after qualification, but merely interested in the subject, some universities have their entire degrees online for free Otherwise, there are always scholarships as well.
43. Drive Cars Back
If you want to do a trip, there is the option of driving cars and caravans back to locations they came from or to be delivered by people. I haven’t personally done it but friends have.
Make your car pay for itself by renting it out when you aren’t using it. CarNextDoor have fleet insurance which will save you money, you rent out your car when you choose and you can make a few hundred a month.
45. Blogging/Social Media
Don’t go into this just for the free stuff. It’s obvious, you won’t be able to build a following and is pointless. Should you choose to do this, you need to build a brand, offer value through quality content and work with brands in a way which benefits everyone. Read how to set up a blog and make money for tips on what to do.
Zenni Optical is one of the places I have purchased my glasses from for years. Get a discount here or wait for their buy one get one free sale. Firmoo offers these too. You will need your proper prescription to be able to order prescription glasses so ask for it at your next check-up.
47. Sign-up Bonuses
Already mentioned with the VIP and reward programs but others offer bonus sign-ups too from banks to health clubs. Look at what you might need, do some research and if you find a good deal, jump on it.
I’ve been paid from $50 to $300 to open a bank account, $10 for joining online surveys, $50 for signing up to other things and none of it cost me any money.
48. Swap Meets
Swapping items, similar to bartering, can be a great way to save money. If you are collecting something specific there are usually swap meets which relate to it where you can swap instead of spending a lot of money on your collection.
49. Dumpster Diving
Not something I’ve done but many people do and they get great items. Shops throw away a lot of good food due to strict regulations. If you choose to do this, be careful. Check the laws in your area and rules of the shops where you plan to go through their bins. Not everywhere allows this.
50. Follow The Thrifty Issue
When we come across great freebies and discounts, we share them mainly in our newsletter but also on Facebook and in our group. Join all of them to get even more freebies. And check out our list of Aussie freebies here.
How close to living free do you think you can go? How many of these ideas do you do already, or would you like to implement? What do you do that’s free?
Originally posted 8th Feb, 2014. Republished 4th November, 2019.