Saying "I'm a student" is often a euphemism for being poor. It should also be a perfectly valid excuse for why you can't pay for food, or shoplift for that matter!
Unfortunately the world doesn't work like that, but you can get plenty of free stuff (legally) by looking in the right places:
Go to websites that offer freebies
Click your way to freedom…
There are websites (like us) that give you free stuff when it's given to us, and then there are websites about stuff that other people are giving away.
The best of the lot for finding entirely free things is FreeCycle. On there you search for items in your local area that people are giving away for free.
These vary from sofas to bikes and some just plain odd things but are generally all of good quality and worth much more than the zero money you paid for it.
What’s the bottom line? The downside is you have to collect the item yourself, making FreeCycle tricky for big items like wardrobes. Other great sites for getting freebies include Freegle and Gumtree.
Meeting people giving away stuff for free generally isn't dangerous, but make sure you're safe and comfortable when collecting your freebies.
Make the most of free trials
Try before you buy…
Companies often get you subscribing by offering you a free trial. Most take up the trial, and don't bother to cancel the subscription (which is what companies want).
The best free trials include:
Netflix - 1 month's free trial then £5.99 per month
Prime Student - 6 month's free trial then 50% off the RRP at £39 a year
Audible - 1 free audiobook then £7.99 per month
Xbox Live Gold trial membership 1 month free then £5.99 per month
Tastecard - free 30 day membership then £79.99 for a year
Now, you may be put off by having to put in your card details up front, but as long as you’re careful you can cancel your subscription before you're ever charged.
The easiest way is to set a reminder on your email calendar, laptop or phone to tell you to cancel a day before your free month/s run out.
Be bad in a good way…
Complaining about bad stuff turns it into free stuff
There are nice ways to complain. You don't have to be like this woman:
There are nice ways to complain. You don't have to be like this woman:
If you're nice about how you complain about poor food you can usually get your food for free, or at least free drinks or a pudding.
It gets better:
You can also complain about poor products. If a product doesn't work, or breaks through "normal use", you can get money back without a warrantee.
Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, products must be of ‘satisfactory quality’, ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘as described’, as well as lasting for a ‘reasonable’ amount of time.
This means that if your product breaks within an "unreasonable amount of time" it's assumed to be faulty to start with, and you can get your money back for it.
If you've had it for a while you will have to prove that the product is faulty and broke through no fault of your own, though this is still possible to do.
Ingrid Stone, a semi-professional moaner, claims to have earned £2000 a year through complaining about faulty products and getting freebies as a result.
Compliment a company
Spread a little happiness…
Being nice to a company can get you just as much free stuff as complaining about their terrible products.
Write an email or letter (if you're from the 1840s) to a company telling them why you love their products and they may send you free stuff.
Make sure it’s personalised and you'll get a better response. No company is giving free stuff to a fan of INSERT PRODUCT NAME HERE.
We've heard tales of people getting a lot of free stuff just by complimenting companies… anything from free burritos at Chipotle to coupons for Ben and Jerry's.
Is it worth it?
It's probably worth doing if you can be bothered, but expect to send off quite a few letters for every freebie you get, and for that freebie to take a while to arrive.
Have a go at haggling…
Go in store to buy - and ask for more
If you're buying something big, you can usually get some smaller things thrown in for free if you negotiate with the salesperson a little. For this you'll need to actually physically go into a shop (incredibly retro, we know).
If you look unsure as to whether you want to buy an expensive product or go elsewhere they'll be more likely to "sweeten the deal" by giving you free accessories to go with your purchase.
When buying a new laptop in most shops it's possible to get a laptop case thrown in, or even software such as Windows for Students. If you're getting a TV you can usually get speakers, and a games console can normally be sold with more games than originally advertised.
It may feel cheeky asking for free stuff, but when you're making a big purchase the freebies you get pale in comparison. You, the salesperson and the shop are all getting a good deal by the time you leave the shop. You'll be amazed what discounts and freebies you can get if you just have the nerve to ask for them.
Go to extra lectures at uni
Fill your belly and your mind…
Most guest lectures provide a large buffet and wine. A lot of them will offer free food and wine, of a calibre you aren't used to.
Sure you'll have to absorb a few facts about macroeconomics in feudal England, but you'll also absorb free food and drink. There's no reason you can't be educated and drunk.
Want to know the best part?
Lots of students go to these events. They can be a great way to meet new people, as well as getting free food and wine.
Head to your university's website to see upcoming lectures. They are usually announced in the section of the site which is only accessible to students and staff.
Make use of your library
This is a great tip in our book…
This may seem fairly obvious but your uni library has a lot more in it than books. There's normally a huge selection of films there, including recent releases.
If you're the type of person who buys DVDs on a whim, then it's worth taking them out from your library rather than buying them outright.
If it's your birthday, now is your time to get all the free stuff you can
Great returns on Many Happy Returns…
There are lots of outlets giving away free stuff to people celebrating their birthday. Check out our guide to see what free stuff you can get on your birthday.
Our favourites include:
Get free books
Read the signs for great freebies…
There are plenty of places to get free ebooks. Project Gutenburg is especially good and has enough reading material to keep you going for the rest of your lifetime.
Here’s the kicker:
Books over 100 years old are no longer protected by copyright, so there is no need to buy something like Das Kapital, as you can download it for free as an ebook.
Some other great free ebook sites include:
Get free products by reviewing them
Try releasing your inner critic…
A great way to fill your spare time which doesn’t involve getting drunk or watching boxsets is testing and reviewing products for a variety of companies.
How does it work?
Well first you have to do a little bit of work filling out a survey. In exchange for this, you’re rewarded with freebies. The surveys take up to 45 mins.
They will send you goodies to try out before they are released to the public. Other things can land on your doormat too, like beauty products.
The price of these things isn’t getting any cheaper, so a bit of typing will bring you a payload of free stuff, if you set your mind to it.
Free Texts and calls
Communication is key…
Don't pay for phone calls, texts etc
Paying per text is a bit 1990s. As long as you have an internet connection of some kind, you don't have to pay for your phone calls and texts.
Here’s the deal:
You can send WhatsApp messages over wifi (or using data) to other people using the same app. It's extremely popular and already has millions of users adopting it.
In the same way, you won't be charged for any messages sent using iMessenger, or for messaging other people on the Giffgaff network if you have a Giffgaff phone.
It's also possible to turn an iPod touch into a functioning, wifi only phone, by only buying a set of headphones with a built in microphone and using VoIP to make calls.
Protect yourself for peanuts…
Condoms are expensive. When you're having sex upwards of three times (we don't want to brag) a year the cost adds up.
This is crazy:
If you go to the sexual health clinic you can get a massive bag full of assorted condoms for free just by filling out a quick form!
There's usually a sexual health clinic in whichever city you're nearest to, if there isn't one on campus. Use this tool to find the nearest sexual health clinic to you.
You can also pick up free chlamidia tests whilst you're there, just to be sure.
Be in it to win it…
Entering the right competitions can yield a lot of freebies, if you choose the right ones.
Be warned though, if you're going to do it, it might take a bit of effort. The more off-putting something is to enter, the less competition you'll have.
Long surveys that only offer small rewards to entrants (e.g. a £20 voucher) put people off, meaning your odds of winning will go up.
Take our advice:
Try to look for the smaller websites and smaller competitions. The smaller the website and the prize, the greater odds of a win.
Before you sign up for anything, make sure you don't enter any bank details (it could be a scam) and it's best to get yourself a new email, as you could be heavily spammed.
It's a lot of effort, but keep going and you can triumph. Our Editor managed to win, through a month of entering competitions:
Two tickets to the opera
Joe Malone perfume
a Kate Spade watch
£20 phone credit
Wedding show tickets
Read our full guide to winning competitions
Get a free McBurger or McFlurry by flashing your student card
Takeaway some freebies…
Flashing your student card around like you're a policeman can get you discounts, freebies and odd looks in most shops and restaurants.
Here’s the thing:
If you show your student card in McDonalds you can grab yourself a free burger, cheeseburger or McFlurry with your already massively calorific meal deal.
But that isn’t a patch on our next tip…
As a student you need Microsoft Word, Excel and (we pity you) Powerpoint. In reality you just need programs that can create, open and edit .docx .xlsx and .pptx files.
Don’t break the bank. There are plenty of free programs out there that do this, a lot of them free.
They provide whatever you need, such as document, spreadsheet and presentation editors.
You do everything in browser (obviously it's recommended you use Chrome) and can create files that can be downloaded in the file types you need to submit your essays etc.
It constantly saves whilst you are connected to the internet. All files are stored on Google's own servers, meaning it's not taking up precious space on your computer.
They've introduced offline editing too, though browsers tend to be more unstable than Microsoft Word and there’s a slight chance you might lose your work.
It gets better:
Another free alternative is Open Office, which is an open source document editing software, which works almost exactly like the Microsoft Office package.
It looks a bit different (though not much) but you'll pick up where everything is quickly, and can save your work offline just as you would do with Microsoft Office.
Read our full guide to getting Free Office Software here
Free gym passes
Feel the burn, bin the price…
You can avoid hefty gym fees by simply taking advantage of their pass system. It’s a “try before you buy” scheme which could mean you never pay to work out again.
Many passes offer 3 whole days of access to top facilities, so why not fill your boots? (Though try not to strain anything when doing so.)
PureGym give you options from one to seven days, enabling you to feel the burn to your heart’s content. Though don’t give yourself a heart attack or anything.
It’s really that easy. Like with a credit card sign up you can sample the goods, then ditch the full experience before moving on to the next trial session.
Free eye tests
Eyes on the prize…
This may not have occurred to you, but it’s well worth considering. Think of all the time you spend squinting at screens, whether for studies or otherwise.
Great news. If you’re a student then you can be eligible for a free eye test. One of the benefits of this is that it catches any problems you may have with your sight early on.
Not the cheeriest of things to think about of course, but nipping potential medical conditions in the bud is very important. Read on to find out whether you qualify.
Free Photo Prints
We all love a selfie...
Stop storing your photos on your phone (we all do it) and instead get them printed for free!
Most printing sites offer free prints when you sign up as a new customer and you may also receive free photo credits throughout the year.
Here's a few sites to get your photo collection going:
Find out more details here about what each site has to offer and how many free prints you can grab! Note that some codes and offers may change time to time.
Cashback no brainers
Fancy some free money…?
If you don’t know what cashback is, the idea is fairly simple. By signing up with companies like TopCashBack you get free money when making purchases.
Cashback sites give you a list of retailers and other companies they’re connected to which you then buy stuff from, ensuring you click on the cashback links as you go.
Some of the companies are household names like House of Fraser and Virgin Media. They pay cashback sites for directing customers their way, and then the sites give that commission to you.
How can you lose? Money can be made easily, so it’s a no brainer. But what’s even more of a no brainer is a cashback no brainer. That’s a loophole in the cashback system.
Knowing about this loophole means you can receive more in cashback than you spent on your purchase in the first place.
Find out more about the world of cashback by reading our ultimate guide
We reveal the top 5 cashback nobrainers here
What do you think of this…?
Survey sites are a popular way of making spare cash by giving data collectors your opinions on products and services. However you can also score freebies from them.
For example, by signing up to Toluna you can potentially get your hands on a variety of stuff. You just need to take a survey and share your opinions to earn points to redeem free vouchers.
You can apply to become a product tester through their Reward Centre, or receive vouchers in lieu of cash for completing surveys.
We know what you’re thinking:
This latter option isn’t exactly free, as you have to do something to get it. But the effort needed is far from back-breaking, so it’s practically zero charge!
Who, what, why, how...?
Womblers scour supermarket carparks, bins and trolleys for these receipts, and then collect the receipts with money on them to nab the rewards for themselves.
Once you have collected the receipts, all you have to do is use the barcodes on the receipts online or in store at supermarkets like Asda, Tesco etc.
Wombling doesn't just apply supermarkets, you can use the sneaky trick at Costa too! Pick up up a rewards card in store/download the app and collect points every time you buy something from Costa.
Then when someone else buys something from Costa and doesn't use their card you can take their receipt to the cashier and get the points they missed out on loaded onto your card!
It's quite clever really.
Find out more information on wombling and saving money at supermarkets here.
Walk back and forth past a person handing out freebies, wearing a different moustache and wig each time
Risk it for a biscuit…
A lot of people think this is only for cartoons. Not so. Try it and real-life and see what happens.
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