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Saving Money

21 things you can get for free

One of the best ways to become richer is to stop paying for things you could be getting for free. Here are 21, from cars to software. 

By Stacy JohnsonContributor / October 14, 2012

A money changer shows some one-hundred US dollar bills at an exchange booth in Tokyo in this 2010 file photo. Johnson argues that a large part of saving money involves figuring out what you can get for free.

Issei Kato/Reuters/File

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Here are only two ways to become richer – make more or spend less.

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There are a few ways to make more, from getting a raise to finding weird ways to make extra money. And there are tons of ways to spend less. One of the best? Stop paying for things you could get free.

1. Free cars

Many people want their cars moved from place to place, but don’t want to do the driving. Sometimes these cars are delivered by truck, but often they’re driven – by people like you. If you have a clean driving record, a car delivery company like AutoDriveaway might hook you up.

I did car delivery a few times when I was in college – it’s a great way to get where you’re going. It’s best if you’re flexible about when you leave, return, and perhaps even where you go. You still have to pay for gas, and the trip home can be problematic. I used to hitchhike, but smarter choices today would be bus, plane, or waiting at the other end for another drive-away car.

For more, see How to Drive Across the Country Free.

2. Free lodging

Why stay in a hotel when the nonprofit Couchsurfing.org offers tourists a chance to stay at homes for free? Make friends with sponsoring families throughout the United States and countries ranging from Croatia to France. You have to set up a profile on the CouchSurfing website, which provides tips on how to find families willing to open their homes to you. Obviously, the digs won’t be fancy, but they’ll be free.

Another way to get free lodging is to home-swap. Check out Best Price for a Hotel Room? $0.

3. Free audio books

Now you can find out for free the fate of Pip in Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” or Elizabeth in “Pride and Prejudice” as you drive or jog. Download free audio books from the nonprofit LibriVox.org, which has volunteers recording classics in the public domain – including many Shakespeare plays. You can also volunteer to help by reading. LibriVox will even provide you with free recording software.

4. Free food

There’s at least one day every year when you shouldn’t think of paying for a meal. Frugal Living has a list of hundreds of businesses that offer birthday freebies, most of which are food. For a free libation at your favorite pub, do what I do: Loudly proclaim it’s your birthday and demand that everyone within earshot pick up the next round.

5. Free food for kids

Don’t go to another restaurant that doesn’t feed your kids for free. MyKidsEatFree.com offers a roadmap of where you can save on kids’ meals – just type in a state and city. You’ll pay but your kids won’t at more than 5,000 restaurants across the country.

6. Free samples

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