When Milton Friedman said, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch," he obviously didn't know about all the wonderful things you can get for absolutely free on the Internet. Granted, many of them are sample sized, and you could argue that they really aren't free because the manufacturer will simply increase the price of their product to compensate for the free products they give away. But you know what? The samples have already been made and are just waiting for you to claim them. If you don't grab them, someone else will.
Decide exactly what kind of freebie you are looking for. If you know the brand of the product the easiest way to find a free sample is to locate the website and search for free samples. Many sites offer free samples periodically throughout the year. Even if one is not available at the time you visit, check back often because offers can be made at any time.
Sign up or register for the site. You will have to fill out a simple form and provide your email address. Most will require your phone number as a way to verify who you are. Don't worry--they aren't going to call you. They keep this on record so that it will flag your application should you try to receive more than one sample of the item. You will probably be asked to either fill out a short survey that provides them with demographics for their products or will be asked if you would like to receive a newsletter and/or email notices of new products and promotions. You are free to opt out of any mail, if you wish.
Select the sample you would like to try. There are often two or three choices. Sometimes you can request all of them, but most often you must choose one. Wait for the sample to arrive in the mail. Although they will say the wait will be six to eight weeks, many arrive within a week or two.
Sign up for groups that provide links to a variety of free offers and samples (see Resources below). These sites will list current offers and provide a link that enables you to visit the site. Beware of those that promise huge freebies to get your information. Usually these promotions require participation in other advertiser's sales. An asterisk is a sure sign that there will be requirements to fulfill to earn the freebie.
Visit Wal-Mart's site (see Resources below) on a regular basis to sign up for free samples. These will generally arrive in a few weeks. You can sign up for the same sample through the manufacturer if it is offered through Wal-Mart, and you will receive both.
Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.