Monday, March 29, 2010

100 Free Resources

With the economy in the tank and people needing as much help as possible (or for those of us who are just plain frugal), here are 100 free resources to meet your needs...


HEALTH/MEDICAL
  1. Did you know that hospital ERs must treat you in the US, even if you can't afford to pay?
  2. Free prescription medication can be found at your doctor's office (free samples) and through these sites: PPARX, RXAssist, and the Free Medicine Program.
  3. Free community clinics (usually found in large cities) are a good place to get free basic medical care.
  4. Free health and wellness fairs (check your local newspaper, health department website, and local hospital websites) usually offer basic medical tests and medical information.
  5. Health departments usually offer a range of free services (often depending on income). Our local health district offers free birth control, free mammograms and pap smears for women over 40, and free healthy baby/healthy mother programs.
  6. Check out state medicare and medicaid programs and see if you qualify. Depending on your age and/or income, you may qualify for these state medical insurance programs.
  7. Free health and wellness info can be found online at Web MD, and other medical info websites (Google 'medical information').
  8. Walking--it's free exercise which will keep you healthy and help you lose weight.
  9. Check out your local fire department and community hospital for free stuff: smoke alarms, blood pressure checks, CPR classes, etc.
  10. Free blood pressure check machines are popping up all over--malls, grocery stores, etc--stick your arm in one and see what your numbers are.
SOCIAL SERVICES
  1. Check your local community social service provider for free help with housing, job training, food programs, school supplies for the kids, etc.
  2. The local YWCA often offers free legal assistance for domestic violence victims, sometimes job training classes, and our local YWCA even offers a job interview clothes closet for women who cannot afford to buy a new outfit for job interviews.
  3. Free legal aid can be found at legal aid clinics (usually in large cities). In our area, free specialty lawyers are available at NWJP and NWIRP.
  4. State welfare programs can provide free housing, free money (for expenses), free medical service, food stamps, etc. based on your income (or lack thereof).
  5. If you have served any time in the military at all, check out your local VA Service Center and find out what benefits you are entitled to (everything from free housing to job training programs to widow's benefits to a wide range of other benefits are available to Vets).
  6. Contact your local 211 service (call 211 from your phone or check out http://www.211.org/), explain your need for services, and these wonderful people will connect you with free social services that are available in your community.
  7. Another great link for free social services no matter where you live in the US is http://www.socialwelfareservices.org/.
  8. Many large cities often have social service agencies based on certain qualification such as the Chinese Service Center, Latino/Hispanic Service Center, Jewish Service Center, etc.
  9. Churches are one of the main providers of free community social services; see what services your local churches offer.
  10. Thrift stores are often run by social service organizations (St Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army, Cancer Society) in order to provide free assistance (housing, meals, etc) to those in need--check out your local thrift store and see what other services they offer.
INTERNET/TECH

  1. Free blogging platforms (I like Blogger) let you host your blog for free (throw some Adsense in and you can even make money off of your blog).
  2. Free website hosts (I like Webhero) allow you to host your websites for free (ditto the Adsense comment above).
  3. Free wifi can be found in cities, hotels, libraries, etc. Go here to find free local wifi in your area.
  4. MySpace, Face Book, Multiply, Ning, and other social networking sites give you your own free page so you can set up your own free social network.
  5. Free software is available online at http://www.download.com/.
  6. Free use of computers can be found at libraries, schools, and at social service centers.
  7. Free new tech stuff (info, software, widgets, etc) can be found online at Lifehacker, CNet, and AllTop Tech, among other sites.
  8. Communicate for free online through Skype, Chikka, Twitter, email programs such as Yahoo mail, GMail, or Hotmail, and a wide range of instant messaging programs.
  9. Not only is Adsense free, but this service will actually make you money by allowing you to put ads on your blog/website/social networking site.
  10. Free tech classes (internet, computer, web design) courses are occasionally offered at local senior centers, libraries, and schools.
ENTERTAINMENT
  1. Check out your local newspaper or Craigslist for free community events such as art walks, concerts, outdoor movies, etc.
  2. Bookstores and libraries offer free story times for children, guest lectures by authors, etc.
  3. Many museums, zoos, art galleries, etc. offer free entrance once a month.
  4. Go to your local park or playground for free exercise and entertainment for the whole family.
  5. Colleges and universities sometimes offer free lectures, concert, and other events which are open to the public.
  6. Swim for free at local lakes, rivers, or ocean beaches.
  7. Community parades, festivals, and fairs are usually free and wonderful entertainment.
  8. There are a myriad of free online games to keep you entertained (I like Sudoku).
  9. Volunteering not only lets you give back to your community but you also get the free benefits of helping people, often free snacks, and other free activities.
  10. Stay home and play card games, board games, hide and seek, or other entertaining activities with the family.
FOOD

  1. Free meals are often served on a weekly basis by churches and community organizations such as homeless programs.
  2. Check out local food banks for days and hours of service (Google food bank and the name of your community).
  3. Dumpster diving is an art form which can score you some wonderful free food.
  4. Gleaning farmer's fields can be done at the end of harvest season (ask for permission first) .
  5. The Salvation Army (locations in most major cities) provide free meals and free food boxes daily.
  6. Meetings are a good place to score free food (check you local newspaper for community meetings then show up to listen to the speakers and nosh on free snacks which are usually provided).
  7. Costco and other stores offer free food samples (at our local Costco I swear people don't feed their kids the day before then turn them loose at the store to eat as much as they possibly can).
  8. Apply for food stamps. Most states have lowered income requirements so that many more people will qualify to receive this free benefit.
  9. Some restaurants offer free food on your birthday. Check out this list to see what kind of birthday deals are offered by your local restaurants.
  10. Many restaurants have a "kids eat free" promotion which provides free meals for kids who come in with their parents.
SHELTER

  1. Couchsurfing is a great way to find free shelter (meant for travellers, not the homeless).
  2. The other kind of couchsurfing, living temporarily with friends and family, is another option.
  3. Warmshowers is similar to couchsurfing but meant for bicyclists.
  4. Camping is as simple as throwing up a tent in an out of the way place.
  5. Homeless shelters are offered in most cities. Call 211 for local info.
  6. Squatting has been an (illegal) option for putting a roof over your head for decades.
  7. House sitting gigs can be found on Craigslist, through friends, and in areas with significant snowbird/vacation home populations.
  8. Caretaking (similar to house sitting but often for campgrounds, estate, etc) is another free option for shelter (you may need to do a little work though).
  9. Living in foreclosed homes is a new option (however you need to be ready to move at a moment's notice).
  10. People often live in their cars, and one enterprising college student even lived in the library of his university for a semester.
EDUCATION

  1. There are a handful of colleges and universities that offer free tuition. Check out the list here.
  2. Scholarships and/or fellowships can provide everything from a free semester at college to a full four-year scholarship that covers everything; apply for any and all that you qualify for.
  3. There are an increasing number of free online university courses which, while they don't provide a degree, they do provide an education.
  4. For those who didn't graduate from high school, GED courses are often offered free at colleges and literacy organizations.
  5. For those who speak no or limited English, community colleges and literacy organizations often offer free English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.
  6. Libraries are a wonderful place to educate yourself for free on a wide range of topics--everything from how to train your puppy to how to wire or sheet rock a house can be found in books.
  7. The internet offers some wonderful "how to" sites to learn new skills. Check out EHow and Instructables for informative DIY instructions.
  8. Our local Goodwill offers a free comprehensive job training program. Ditto for WorkSource which is attached to the state unemployment office.
  9. Online educational games are a better way for your kids to spend their free time rather than watching cartoons.
  10. Apprenticing with those who are more knowledgeable than yourself is an age-old way of getting a free education.
TRAVEL

  1. Use Mapquest for free before you head out instead of buying a GPS.
  2. Exchange student/teacher sabbatical programs are available--some at no charge to the student/teacher if they have stellar qualifications.
  3. Be sure to Google 'free tourist attractions' for your destination city when you travel.
  4. Free bus passes for the local city bus can often be had through community social service organizations, depending on your income.
  5. Air miles add up quickly if you fly often. Be sure to get the air miles you are entitled to and fly for free when you rack up enough miles.
  6. Consider a house swap for your next vacation--get free accommodations by providing the same to another traveler.
  7. See above under "shelter" for links to Couchsurfing and Warmshowers which provide free accommodations to travelers. Servas is another organization that provides free shelter for travelers.
  8. Skip paying airfare and travel under your own power. These people have literally walked across the US.
  9. Hobos have traveled for free for decades, hopping freight trains, panhandling, and enjoying the kindness of strangers.
  10. Free transportation can be had by driving cars from point A to B for people who don't want to transport their car themself when they move or by offering to be a driver in a ride share gig found on Craigslist.
FINANCIAL STUFF

  1. If you are paying a monthly fee to your bank, you are paying too much. Check out your local banks and find one that offers a free checking/savings account.
  2. Everyone should check their credit report at least annually. Go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ to get your free credit report.
  3. Make money with Adsense ads on your blog/website.
  4. One of the best financial educations you can get for free? Check out Dave Ramsey and listen to his free streaming radio show.
  5. Free tax preparation services are often provided in the spring in many communities. VISTA volunteers, the library, and other community social service organizations often have a list of free tax prep providers.
  6. If you have a consumer issues, get Consumerist, the online resource for free consumer advocacy information.
  7. Kelly Blue Book is a free online resource to make sure you are getting a good deal for the car you are buying or selling.
  8. Free financial counseling is often offered by churches and other community social service providers (beware of organizations that will help you for a fee).
  9. If your credit card charges an annual fee, find one that doesn't.
  10. Check out promotions for Orange and ING online savings accounts. Often they will give you a free cash incentive to open a free account where you actually earn a higher interest rate than at a brick and mortar bank.
MISCELLANEOUS

  1. Freecycle is an excellent online resource for a wide range of free stuff.
  2. Craigslist has a listing for free stuff in their "For Sale" section.
  3. The Red Cross offers everything from free disaster training to free CPR classes to free shelter in the event that you are the victim of a disaster.
  4. FEMA offers free disaster recovery assistance if you live in an area that has been declared a disaster area.
  5. There are hundreds and hundreds of free websites that offer free coupons for all manner of consumer goods.
  6. Free samples are often advertised on TV and online for new products.
  7. Simply Googling 'free stuff' will get you lots of...um...free stuff.
  8. Free craft items such as shells, leaves, and rocks can be found by simply walking through your local natural area.
  9. Free lessons (piano, language, etc) can be found online by simply Googling 'free piano lessons' or searching for similar information on YouTube.
  10. Free money can be had by simply writing a sign and standing by the side of freeway off ramps (this is quite common where we live). I wouldn't recommend this, however I have heard that people who do do this can make $40+ per hour!

3 comments:

  1. karen peissinger-venhausApril 11, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    In a spirit of respect, I strongly encourage you to modify item #3 under Health/Medical (Free community clinics (usually found in large cities) are a good place to get free basic medical care.) with "...if you are poor/destitute." If a person has health insurance and can afford the $15 - $35 co-pay, I encourage that person NOT to go to the free clinic because there are people who desperately need medical care but are extremely poor or flat-out destitute, with and without health insurance. If someone receives free medical care who could otherwise afford medical care, then that person takes a spot that would otherwise be filled by a poor/destitute person.

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  2. karen peissinger-venhausApril 11, 2010 at 8:32 PM

    I offer this comment in a spirit of respectful dialog. Please apply my previous comment (on medical/health item #3) to Food items 1, 2, and 5. I strongly believe the need is so great for these strained resources that those that have the means to afford food/meals leave the free food/meals/groceries for those that cannot. My husband regularly volunteers at a local food pantry, and I sometimes help, and we both see the need for, and the scarcity of resources to procure, food.

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  3. I have to agree with Karen on both comments--there is a line between being frugal and taking advantage of a situation so while I like to be frugal, I also try to take care and not take advantage of a situation when I can easily afford not to (ie: food banks, free medical care, etc). Thanks for clarifying this point!

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