On any given day, retailers may offer free, random giveaways to drive traffic to their stores. My trick to finding out current and upcoming freebies is to search on Google News. Type in "free coffee" or "free breakfast" or "free massage" and you'll get several results. I just did for "free" and discovered free donuts at Dunkin Donuts on June 4, as part of National Donut Day. (The freebie catch is you have to first buy a beverage first. Go figure.)
Scheduled freebies can be tough to follow. Sometimes we don't get enough advance notice, we forget or we run out of time. I was personally frustrated earlier this year when I didn't make it in time to get a free scoop of ice cream from Ben & Jerry's. I guess there's always next year.
In the meantime, here's a list of year-round freebies. From free facials to yoga there's hopefully something here for everyone.
Before getting ready for a glam night or if you just want to give your face a clean start head to any Clarins store or mall counter and request a free 20-minute facial. You may need to make an appointment if you don't want to wait, but walk-ins are welcome.
Craving some java - and a quick lesson in online banking? ING Cafes across the country would love to treat you. Print and bring in this coupon to receive a free cup of coffee anytime during the day. The coupon says "2009," but the company tells me it's still valid this year.
Stylists-in-training at beauty schools usually offer free haircuts and stylings to the public to test-drive their new skills. On any given week you can usually get a new do at Regency Beauty Institute, which has schools across the country. Students sometimes bring in their friends or advertise that they need haircut volunteers on MySpace, according to Paul Kriloff, Regency's vice president. Another way to discover free haircuts is to look up local beauty schools and institutes at www.beautyschoolsdirectory.com and call to find out when their next free sessions will be.
Free Concerts and Cultural Events
Target sponsors free events, concerts, and art exhibits throughout the year. Last summer Target sponsored free family nights at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the San Diego Museum of Art, and performances at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The free events continue this year. They're broken up by city/zip code so hop on to Target.com/arts to see what's happening for free in your neighborhood.
Lululemon's 100+ stores offer free weekly yoga or pilates classes. No need to call ahead or reserve; just show up. Call up your local Lululemon store to get that their specific class schedule. You can get contact info by visiting Lululemon.com and clicking on "store finder." (By the way, yoga reduces work-related stress by 10 percent.)
Free Dessert on Your Birthday
Okay, these can only be free once a year ... but it's nice to know about them, right?
- Cold Stone Creamery Birthday Club - free ice cream by signing up for their free My Coldstone Account.
- Applebee's - free dessert on your birthday when you sign up to receive their e-mails.
- Quiznos - free cookie on your birthday, also when you sign up at their Web site.
Free Online Classes
Want to learn how to take great photos or build a basic web page? You can download free classes from the Hewlett Packard Learning Center.
Or if you're up for a bigger intellectual challenge, visit the Harvard or MIT Web sites to download free college-level lectures and classes. (MoneyWatch contributor Lynn O'Shaughnessy offers more ways to reduce your education costs.)
Free Odds and Ends
Skip the dumpster diving and search for free neighborhood giveaways at Freecycle.org, where you can search for free household giveaways - from art supplies to furniture, used video games and more. You can also post for things you want.
See what free movie screenings are happening in your town by visiting the Wild About Movies and FilmMetro Web sites. And learn about free summer movie days at your local box office. Regal cinemas run a Free Family Film Festival, screening free G- and PG-rated movies on weekday mornings. Schedule information is online; tickets are only available at select theaters' box office on the day of the show.
Meanwhile, if you'd rather stay at home than go out, you can watch your flicks for free on your laptop by visiting Crackle.com, which has more than 100 titles from which to choose - including oldies-but-goodies Ghostbusters and The Karate Kid.
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