Sunday, February 6, 2011

But, But, But...It Was Free !

I am retired, have not as yet begun my volunteering job and have taken only one college class in photoshop thus far. Since I recently had some extra frittering time, I became interested in another new challenge. It has the potential of being as time consuming as a job. We'll see how long I last.

A few years ago, I read an article in a local paper about a couple who won 83 prizes in one month. The prizes were worth over two thousand dollars. Their winnings included items that did not interest me in the least, baseball caps, soccer tickets and free downloads. I did however, find the concept fascinating and somewhat compelling.  I couldn't see spending the time and effort to submit thousands of contest ballots a month as this couple had. I did see merit in the idea of getting things free or at least at a reduced cost and thought that this would be a valuable use of some of my time each day.

Besides clipping, collecting and ordering coupons in my eternal effort to save money, I have begun to enter contests and have registered for free samples on several websites. Each day, I check my email, facebook and assorted sites for the samples of the day. As yet, I haven't rejected much and have dutifully filled out the form for almost anything that became available. I have sent for over 30 samples and as of today, have received one, just one, only one.  
Yummy...two cookie packettes and a coupon for a free box.
Interestingly enough, when you register for many of the free samples, they give you a tracking number. Imagine that. As if you were actually so worried about the location of your sample of "scaly foot heel balm", that you'd track it's daily progress on your computer and excitedly watch as made its way across the country.

After a few weeks of waiting, one delicious sample, pictured above, arrived. Perhaps I should have jotted down those tracking numbers after all.

I have two basic rules when I order free samples. I don't order items such as "free books". I have read the fine print and discovered that you are automatically registered in a book club requiring written cancellation. Should you fail to do this you will receive the next copy of your monthly book for the low, low price of $5.99 plus a mere $397 shipping and handling. Secondly, I refuse to give out my accurate birthdate. I see no reason for a company to require this information in order to send me a sample of fake nails or a new truck bed liner. So in this age of identity theft, I lie. I think it's more than enough that they know some form of my name, my home address and my junk email address.

As for coupons, there are many potential gathering grounds for these. I have determined that the ones available in grocery and drugstores are my favourite. They usually have the farthest in advance expiry dates. Newspaper inserts and websites that mail you coupons are also good. I learned that internet coupons that you print off yourself are sometimes a problem and are not taken at all locations. They are accepted at one of my favourite drugstore chains and despite the fact that it wasn't even seniors' day, I was able to amass these items with one of their coupons.
All this from just one coupon
So, I have randomly entered contests, requested coupons and sent for samples. I did not jot down my orders, but am fairly confident that any day my mailbox will be laden with enough cosmetics, perfume samples, paper products and food items to keep us clean, well fed and supplied with stocking stuffers and miscellaneous gifts for the next ten years.

I am now awaiting my contest prize of a trip to the West Indies, an Oscar party in L.A. with Elton John or if worst comes to worst, tickets to see the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Many of the free sample products appear to have something in common. They are definitely geared toward a target group....the females and the moms of the population. There have been some samples I needn't have ordered...but hey, the price was right. It was all free. As my mother used to say while knitting scarves from reclaimed socks and creating braided floor mats from shredded pantyhose, "You never know when you might need it some day." At least, that's the excuse hubby uses for all the hotel soaps and shampoos we've amassed.

Postal delivery usually comes around the same time each day. Since the neighbourhood is full of retirees, there is an afternoon trek to the super mailbox a block away.  Everyone eagerly anticipates their mail. Hubby takes advantage of the opportunity to socialize and walk the dog at this time. I wonder how he'll react the day that he opens the mailbox to find it overflowing with such treasures as a stress ball, hair dye, soaps, perfume, vitamins, stevia, baby food, wrinkle cream, GBG chewables, Dentyne gum, not to mention the feminine hygiene and incontinence products. I hope lots of neighbours are there to share that precious moment.


  1. You may be entering a new lifestyle...frugal living.

    By the way, quite funny as always.

  2. What does "Seniors Day" at the drugstore have to do with it? I thought you lied about your age. Oh, I get it. You told them you were older than you really are! You go girl!!!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.