I love getting mail. Checking the mail is often the highlight of my day…and not just because I have an online shopping problem. 😉 A good mail day is just like a mini Christmas or birthday!
It’s no wonder, then, that I’ve gotten hooked on finding free samples. There are dedicated blogs and sites that scout out and advertise the best free samples available, and there are marketing companies that partner with big brands to distribute samples on their behalf. I started following some of these freebie blogs and signing up for offers a few months ago, and now I get something fun in the mail almost every day. Yesterday, for example, I got two cans of Gerber baby formula, a hardback children’s picture book (Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses!), and a small sample of body lotion. I plan to donate the baby formula to a food bank, send the book to my little cousin, and use the body lotion myself!
Here’s a quick guide if you’re interested in getting freebies, too:
Where Should I Look?
My favorite freebie sites are FreebieShark.com* and Hunt4Freebies.com*. These sites are updated multiple times a day with reputable sample offers. I haven’t had any trouble with the offers advertised and vetted by these sites (i.e., no email spam, no increased junk snail mail, etc.). I’ve also created an account at PinchMe.com.
What Can I Get for Free?
Here’s a partial list of the things I’ve gotten from these freebie sites…I can’t remember them all!
shampoo, conditioner, body wash, magazine subscriptions, children’s books, skincare product samples, nail polish, snack bars, vitamins, hair treatments (oils, masks), stickers, hand and body lotion, pet food and treats, small stuffed animals, wet wipes (for adults and babies!), feminine hygiene products, makeup, perfume (card samples and an occasional vial!), printed duct tape, chocolate milk mix, tea, coffee, K-cups, baby formula, cabinet safety latches, diapers…
But Is It Good Stuff?
Definitely! Here’s a sampling of the brands (and magazine titles) I’ve received:
Dove, Garnier, Sinful Colors, Skinnygirl, Martha Stewart, Glamour, Meow Mix, Snuggle, Huggies, Kotex, Duck Tape, Atkins, Nestle Quik, YogiTea, Starbucks, Lipton, Bigelow, Keurig, Gevalia, Working Mother, Forbes, OK!, Fancy Feast, Eucerin, American Crew, Mr. Sketch, The New Yorker, Gerber…
What Do You Do With It All?
The bulk of the free samples I receive are beauty-related items. I divide them into three containers–a small bag of items I plan to try/use, a pierced plastic bin (in the shower) of bath-related items I plan to use, and a large bag of items I plan to give as gifts or donate. Most of the beauty-related stuff arrives in foil packets, but a surprising amount comes in small bottles and tubes.
Samples can be used for:
- Charitable donations (food banks, shelters)
- Air travel (most samples arrive in TSA-approved sizes and formats!)
- On-the-go supplies (stash them in your purse, car, gym bag, locker, backpack, desk, etc.)
- “Grab bag” gifts for teens and tweens
- Stocking stuffers
- Supplies for overnight guests
- Little surprises in mailed letters to friends
Tips and Tricks
Here’s a few suggestions for successful freebie-ing!
Check the sites at least once a day. Several sites have social media accounts or text programs, too, that you can follow for real time alerts for high-end or popular samples that will disappear quickly.
Be patient. It usually takes 4-8 weeks for most samples to arrive. That’s why it’s important to visit the freebie sites every day. Once you get the ball rolling, you can receive several free samples each week!
Create a new, free email account to dedicate to your sample requests. You don’t want to clog your main account(s) with request confirmation notices or marketing email.
Don’t sell out your friends. The occasional sample request form will ask you to provide names and email addresses for your friends—don’t do it. I don’t give out anyone’s information besides my own, or I give generic information and placeholders that will be obvious to the company, like firstname.lastname@example.org. If I can’t figure out a way to sidestep the questions without compromising anyone, I don’t request the freebie.
Don’t sell out yourself. Some companies ask for your demographic information in exchange for a sample (like your birthday, salary, family size, etc.). If you don’t feel comfortable sharing certain information, or can’t sidestep the request in a responsible way, stop there and don’t complete the form. It’s not worth it. You could always try emailing the company directly and asking for the sample, too.
Opt out of further communications. Most freebie request forms give you the chance to opt in or out of the company’s newsletters, advertisements, and marketing materials. I always opt out where I can, unless I’m interested in learning more about the company.
Unsubscribe from unwanted email as soon as you get it. It only takes a few seconds and will save you time in the long run! Most emails have an unsubscribe link at the very bottom.
Program your smart phone with text shortcuts. This makes on-the-go form completion faster and easier. I’ve created a text shortcut for my email address, for example, and just that one little trick makes filling out tiny forms on a tiny screen much, much more pleasant.
Have fun! 🙂
* These sites also report on sweepstakes and high-value coupons! I don’t have the patience for either, though. 🙂 Also, I’m not affiliated in any way with any of the sites, companies, or brands mentioned in this post. I just enjoy the freebies!