Monday, September 14, 2009

How to Get Free Samples

I read several blogs regularly. I subscribe to bloglines so that I don't get distracted and wander around the internet aimlessly for indefinite periods of time while reading blogs. One of the "blogs" I have added to my bloglines is Free Sample Forager.
Free Sample Forager searches the internet for free samples that companies are offering. These samples are sent to consumers in the mail. As someone on a tight budget, this is a pretty good deal. As someone who doesn't like excessive waste, I am often frustrated with free samples. They come with tons of packaging, coupons and informational brochures. I understand that they are sending me a sample so that I will love and buy their product. It is a marketing tool. But I will not buy their product. I will enjoy their sample and if they offer another sample, I will enjoy that one, too, so I don't need or want all of this extra trash.
Some may object that I am taking advantage, but companies that send out free samples do make a profit. Many people will switch if a sample is good enough, so even though the company does lose money on me, they take enough profit out of the program in general to make it worthwhile.
As Amy Dacyczyn said on a similar topic, "If you put a worm on a hook to try to catch a fish, would you think the fish was stealing if it snatched the bait without getting hooked?" (p. 470, The Complete Tightwad Gazette)
It is the waste that bothers me, regardless. It feels like too much waste. It all goes into the recycling bin, but it is still so unnecessary.
So, what samples are still worth getting to me, considering the waste?
Shampoo - I am looking for a frugal natural alternative that will go with my hair type, but samples are holding me over pretty well while I am experimenting.
Feminine products - I have about two months worth. I am looking into the keeper as a more permanent solution, but that is a whole other experiment altogether.
Magazines - There are several free magazine offers a week, usually for something I'm not interested in. But I do love parenting and baby magazines, and my kids get good use out of them when I am done.
Stickers - Anything offering stickers, I get. Often the sticker will come by itself in an envelope, no extra packaging. I put it in my sticker collection and sometimes will give one to each kid, which they love. Even bumper stickers I take and cut up. The kids don't care.
Magnets - My kids love to play with magnets on the fridge. Make sure the magnets are not so small that a baby can swallow it if they are playing with them, as this can cause serious intestinal damage. The easiest way to check is seeing if it fits through a toilet paper tube.
Food - Food is iffy with free samples. It is usually overly processed junk. I've never seen a sample for a free potato from Free Sample Forager. But I have seen some things from Kashi and some coffee samples that I got.
I don't get lotions or perfumes, as I don't use them. Sometimes calendars are listed, but I traditionally get a calendar that I love for a Christmas gift. I also don't get medicine samples, but those could be useful for some, and could make for a more varied medicine cabinet.
Are there any other free sample junkies out there? What do you get?


jazzieange said...

We get lots of free samples (by checking with several different sites on a weekly basis). Yep, there's waste but that's what the recycling bins are for. It's so nice to open the mailbox and receive a gift instead of just bills and junk mail.

LizBeth said...

Curious. What do you use instead of lotion? I should think with cold weather you'd get dry hands. Liz

dev3k said...

I used to send for any and all samples but have stopped most of them. I get deodorant, shampoo and toothpaste for free at CVS anyway so I don't sign up for samples of those. I do sign up for free food samples and laundry detergent. The later I get for my son who uses a laundromat so he doesn't have to contend with a heavy bottle.

Emily said...

LizBeth, we have a real problem with our lips getting chapped in cold weather, but if our hands get chapped, I usually put a little pretroleum jelly on them.

dev3k, excellent suggestion for those using a laundromat.

Talariley said...

I also get free stuff from cvs. Have you condsidered the diva cup for feminine care?

I get mags from for like 5 bucks a subcription.

Treva said...

What about baking soda and apple cider vinegar for your wash and conditioner? I've never tried it and I've heard there's an adjustment period but from what I've read it makes your hair really nice once you get through the transition period. Maybe you could research it.

Emily said...

Treva, I've used vinegar on my dry scalp and love it. Baking soda has not gone so well, but maybe I need to try it longer. It's worth experimenting with, though.

Sarah said...

You can make mommy-pads out of super absorbent cotton & waterproof fleece or PUL. I have a friend who makes them & swears by them. If you dont mind washing baby diapers already, this would be good for you. I bet you could get enough to make a lifetime's worth by recycling some baby diapers if you wanted. I hear they also reduce cramping since there are no chemicals - big plus! You can get patterns & ideas here:

Debtfreemommy said...

I tried the NO-Poo for a while and my hair looked great until i got to the real adjustment phase. It starts getting really oily but everywhere which wouldnt be a problem now that I am at home but at the time I was working. I just wore my hair up for several weeks. I am now using shampoos again but swap out with Apple Vinegar and Baking soda occasionally. The Baking soda dries up the oil if your glands are over producing so it wouldnt work well on dry scalp.

Emily said...

Sarah, thanks for the link. I think I would want to combine the pads with the keeper, but that will make a great back up.

Debtfreemommy, the baking soda didn't seem to work for me, probably because of the dry scalp. I really liked vinegar for my scalp. I'm still looking and experimenting, though. I'll have to do a post when I find something that works for me.

Stacy said...

Well, I realize this is an older post, so maybe I'm too late to comment. I know it's not as frugal as cider and soda, but you said you were looking for natural too. I recently found a natural shampoo that seems to work very well on my thin hair, which from your picture, I think you may have too. It's made by Nature's Gate, and a fairly good sized bottle cost me less than $5, I think. I've probably had it for two months, and I'm not close to finishing up. It is gentle, natural and doesn't leave my hair dry or oily. If you think of it as something you could make last for say, six months or more, it's pretty inexpensive for a natural shampoo. Another thing I've tried but personally didn't like is castile soap. IT's supposed to be good to use on almost anything--people, dishes, house, clothes, etc. I think it's fine for those other things, but didn't like it on my hair.

eccentricterri said...

Check into the diva cup at They are the best price that I could find with menstrual cups. The shipping is quick and the customer service is fantastic. The diva is basically a silicone version of the keeper.

I did the no poo thing for a while. It can take a bit to get used to it. I used 1 TBSP to 1 cup of water but my hair was shorter than yours now. I wouldn't use vinegar to rinse since it left my hair oily feeling but instead used applesauce every other time. It kept my hair clean and soft. Baking soda allow was too harsh so this balanced everything out.

Sorry to keep commenting on all your old posts. It just seems like we share a lot of similiar interests.

Emily said...

terri, I love it when people go through and read my old posts, and you've presented some awesome ideas. I've been doing the no poo for a week now, haven't written on it yet. I had never heard of anyone using applesauce. Most interesting. And I'm about ready to buy a menstrual cup, so thanks for that tip.

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