Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thrifty Tips and finding freebies

I realised I'd not done a gratuitus picture post in a bit, so my next one will be a picture post, I promise!

In the meantime, let me share some great deals I've gotten recently and throw out some tips on your getting similar deals. Just the first 3 days of this week, I've gotten 13 bags of hamburger buns for free, 4 loaves of crusty french bread for free (from my thrift store); a fabulous victorian style lamp (with shade), a kitchen clock, and some yard art (all from the dump), and a beautiful oak hall table for $20.

Number one, and I've said it a million times; never, never refuse anything that's free!  Srsly. Even if the old neighbour lady is trying to give you her maternity clothes from 1955, take them.

"Eww, yuck," you say. "Why should I be responsible for carting her crap to the thrift store or dump?  I know I don't want those nasty old fashions!"

Well, Miss Priss, what if they're worth something on feeBay? Lots of people would kill for those old fashions; yes, even 70s polyester. You might be able to make a mint there (or Craigslist or eCrater.)

But most of all, even if you can't be arsed to resell (I'll confess to having precious little time to do that, myself) or the stuff is so manky that it has to be forwarded directly to the landfill, you would still be paying it forward by the simple RAOK (random act of kindness) of 1) making the old lady happy, and 2) doing a good deed.

I think good deeds come back to you. Also, if you graciously take the stuff (and spirit it off whilst she's not around), the next thing she gifts you with might be seasoned cast iron cookware, or antique furniture, or better.

This has happened to me many times.  I have kitchen stuffs, gardening items, farm equipment, heirloom plant cuttings, and antiques all given to me by lovely older people to whom I was kind.  Plus it just makes you feel wonderful to be sweet to people. Try it.

Tip number two is to keep your eyes open. Free things can be had all over. Both my regular thrift store and the local bread store have free bread on occasion. Restaurants have gallon jars, plastic buckets, etc that they throw away in quantities. Eyeball every single pile of rubbish that's been put out by the side of the road.  If you're too scared to just jump out and grab stuff (be a polite scavenger: never scatter a person's rubbish or leave tyre tracks in someone's lawn, for example), then tap on the door and ask if you may haul off that overstuffed chair before the garbage truck arrives.  Most folks don't care so long as it gets gone.

Cruise yard sales that are wrapping up, especially on hot days or if it's started to rain. Quickly make reasonably small offers for big and/or nice items. Lots of people will give you boxes of small or mixed stuff to keep from having to haul it to the dump. Of course a few nasty sorts will try to skin a few bucks off of you - cutting off their own noses to spite their faces - even though they're about to toss the items in a dumpster.

These people get a smile and my taillights*.

So keep your eyes peeled for freebies. I have gotten leftover food and bags of ice from catered events and school functions (after they are over, just ask the people doing the food. The worst thing they can say is "no".) , gorgeous antiques from the curb, and working electronics from dumpsters. Be observant!

Tip number three is be persistant.

The only thing on my list of aquisitions this week that I paid for was the table. It's a lovely thing, all blonde oak, long turned legs, two drawers side by side with brass pulls and nice dovetailing.

I have been stalking this piece at my regular thrift store for about 6 weeks. See, it was labled "sold" but many people pay for items and never return to pick them up.  Lots of times their check bounces or their card fails to go through and the blokes in the back don't remove the sold stickers. Well, when I saw the piece still there after two weeks I asked to be notified if the 'owner' failed to pick it up. Two more weeks passed.  I did a full court press and left my name and number again. When I went in yesterday, there it sat.  I told the bloke that it had been 6 weeks (they give people 30 days to pick up furniture) and if he would make me a good deal, I'd get it out of his way. He was so ready to clear the space for new items that he gave it to me for $20.

The original asking price was $90.

Observation. Persistance.

Have any of you gotten any good deals this week? Freebies? How'd you manage it? Share!


*I have had flabbergasted skinflints, folks who expect me to pay them $10 for a box of nameless crap that they will have to waste petrol hauling to the dump, chase after me as I walked to my car, offering lower and lower prices.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 9:04 am   4 comments


At 5:36 pm, Blogger coquiverde said...

Glad to look at your site. Great ideas for finding savings. Check my site at
and give me your thoughts. Am also following you on twitter. Would appreciate info on joining twittermommies group....thanks

At 9:13 am, Blogger RobertPlantFan said...

I sign up for newsletters from major companies and often they have something you can get for free. Before signing up for newsletters, get a throwaway email account like gmail or Yahoo so if it gets spam ridden you can ditch it. But I've found the reputable companies don't spam you. In the last month I've gotten six free candy bars from Mars, four free packages of mac and cheese from Kraft, a free pizza from Dominos and a free quart of nice green paint from Glidden! Betty Crocker and Kraft are the best ones for free food things.

Also, writing feedback emails or letters to companies will often net you free stuff. I wrote Pringles telling them their minis were way too salty and they sent me coupons for 10 free packages. Of course if you don't like the product that's not so helpful but someone else might like them. I wrote to the Butler company and told them their plain dental floss was great for crafts and they sent me a HUGE box of dental floss!

Finally, a lot of companies will have free things mentioned in their TV ads. I send away for all those, too. That's where I heard about the paint, and I've gotten free cookies from Kashi, fiber cereal and fiber bars from Fiber one, cereal from Total and rice cakes from Quaker.

At 7:00 am, Blogger MrsEvilGenius said...

Welcome coquiverde! :D

RobertPlantFan I am totally in awe of folks like you who can get those free stuffs. I'm so poorly organised that I end up forgetting I have to send stuff in, or usually, I'll PLAN to respond/email/etc and it'll just get lost in my to-do list and the offer expires.

It rocks that you have gotten so much free stuff!

At 8:11 pm, Blogger RobertPlantFan said...

I'm generally bad about those offers where you have to send in coupons or box tops. But since I'm at the computer all day, I'll jump on an email from an ad or something right away. It's kind of like a hobby now. The best ones are where they send the actual product and not just a coupon. Then I don't even have to use gas to go get the thing.

I also forgot to mention to make sure and fill in your birthday when you sign up for newsletters. Some of them send you free things for your birthday! Dairy Queen has a free small blizzard on your birthday.

And make Amazon wish Lists and publish them. People WILL send you free stuffs for no apparent reason if they like your blog, website, or message board.


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