2. With 3 million books (and counting), PaperBackSwap.com lets you trade books with other members—for free. To get started, upload the titles of 10 of your own books that you want to swap; you will receive 2 book swap credits immediately—to be used for the books of your choice. Then, the more books you send, the more credits you get—and you only pay the postage (usually a couple of bucks) for the books you ship. For music or movies,SwapaCD.com and SwapaDVD.com offer similar services.
3. You know the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Freecycle.org takes the notion to a whole new level by allowing you to sort through listings of other people’s castoffs and score gently used goods (including baby gear, sports equipment and furniture) from members in your city. The classifieds section onCraigslist.org is also a great source for secondhand treasures.
4. A call to 411 can cost a dollar or more, so when you don’t have a phonebook handy, go to YELLOWPAGES.com orWhitePages.com instead. If you don’t have access to a computer, text the business name, city and state to G-O-O-G-L-E (466453) and you will receive a text message that includes the phone number and address of the company.
5. Ready for a new pet? Most of the critters on Petfinder.com are listed by shelters, which have expensive adoption fees. But click on the Local/Classifieds link and you’ll find animals—including purebred dogs—being offered for adoption at no charge.
6. Why pay to join an online weight-loss group? SparkPeople.comoffers many of the same benefits as sites with monthly fees—including health and wellness articles, recipes, pages where you can log your meals and goals, and inspiring message boards—at no cost.
7. Do you yearn to learn? Then check out the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare project, which allows you to access materials from 1,885 classes and then learn at your own pace at home. Browse OCW.MIT.edu for course offerings, which include Writing and Reading Poems, Kitchen Chemistry and Spanish 1. You won’t get college credit, but the knowledge you’ll gain is priceless.
Get the Best Price
8. If you’re planning on driving to Boston, New York, D.C. or Philadelphia, research parking options ahead of time. AtBestParking.com, you can search by neighborhood for any of these cities and the site will show you which garages have the lowest rates—plus it lets you lock in a low rate by reserving it online.
9. Before the next time you fill ’er up, pay a visit to GasBuddy.com, which tracks pump prices by zip code and shows you where to get the cheapest fuel. A recent search for Topeka, Kansas, showed prices ranging from $1.56 to $1.89 per gallon. Pull into the least expensive station and you’ll save almost $5 (or more if you have a large gas tank).
10. Lots of sites offer travel discounts, but rather than point-and-click your way through all of them, let Travelzoo.com do the work for you. Just enter your destination city and the dates of your trip, and Travelzoo will tell you where to find the best rates for plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars and more.
Snap Up Coupons, Samples and Discounts
11. A one-stop-spot for savings, CouponMom.com lists weekly national drugstore discounts and updates them according to the Sunday circular. You’ll also find printable coupons, state-by-state listings of grocery store sales and links to online sales, as well as a forum for sharing deals with other members.
12. Fill out a short survey on StartSampling.com, and they’ll automatically mail you samples that suit your profile. Once you’re a member, visit the site for printable coupons and to earn Tryer Miles, which you can cash in for free merchandise, including restaurant gift certificates.
13. To try the latest products from Olay, go to Olay.com and clickSamples & Offers. From that page, you can request free samples, find special offers and even download coupons.
14. The members of the forums at FreeSampleSite.com have a knack for finding freebies—and are especially active in the forums. You’ll find posts for makeup samples, free magazine subscriptions, online sales and much more. Looking for a discount code for a particular store? These are the folks to ask.
15. When you sign up for digital photo–printing websites, they’ll often send you free prints (you pay shipping and handling) as a thank-you. Two of the most popular sites, KodakGallery.com andSnapfish.com, each offer 20 freebies; Adorama.com offers 25.