Save money by taking advantage of free samples. Learn were to get free samples and when sampling goes too far.
Samples are pint-sized containers and packets of popular products that companies offer to let consumers see if they like a product before making a commitment to buy the full size of that item. According to theRewards and Recognition Expo, about 85% of manufacturers offered some form of sample. Perhaps you’ve taken a sample the demonstrators hand out at the store, but you’ve never really thought much about samples. Did you know that you can use samples to save money and stretch your money further than ever before?
Where to Get Free Samples
Places to find free samples are quite numerous. The key to getting a huge number of samples is to be aware of the offerings. Some of the techniques will require a minor time investment. Get the entire family involved in seeking out free samples. For a family of four, this cuts the work by three-fourths.
- At wholesale clubs – Wholesale clubs are an excellent place to pick up free samples. Find everything from laundry detergent to drink mixes to food. Teenagers can circle the perimeter of the store and pick up samples andcoupons while parents finish the shopping. Another idea is to have every person in the family pick up a free sample, unless the demonstrator indicates it is limited to one sample per family. This can double, triple, quadruple the number of samples, or more for larger families.
- At the grocery – Weekends at the grocery store are often a good time to gain samples. Walmart sometimes advertises a themed weekend event, so that customers know the best time to visit and gain free samples. Occasionally, there are stickers on new products that will say “Try me free.” These products are typically free after rebate. Non-food items may require tax and postage will be needed to mail in the offer, so it isn’t technically 100% free, but the item will be extremely inexpensive.
- On the Internet – Frequent sites that list free samples for the best access to freebies. A couple of good, and no-cost, sites to visit are Hip2Save.com and DealSeekingMom.com. Deals recently seen on these sites include everything from free address labels to a full tube of brand-name mascara.
- Facebook freebies – According to Tech Crunch, 175 million people log into Facebook every day of the year. Of course, that number fluctuates, but advertisers are quickly coming to see the advantage of offering contests and freebies on this social networking powerhouse. Every day, freebies and samples are offered. Signing up for just a few every day will get the samples rolling in.
- In magazines – When reading magazines, keep an eye out for everything from free perfume samples to coupons offering other freebies. Most magazines have an area at the back or info about their online mag and where to secure free samples.
- At specialty stores – Specialty stores may offer samples to get customers to try a new product. Take these samples as they are often larger sized than the tiny samples sent through the mail.Recently, we went into PetSmart to pick up cat food. The cashier mentioned they had just received some cat treat samples and would we like a few? Of course! He then proceeded to fill a plastic bag with samples of cat treats. We now have enough free samples to last our cat six months to a year. Not that “fat cat” needs them.
- With coupons – Look at coupons for toothpaste, deodorant and laundry detergent. If there are no size limitations, then these coupons can usually be applied to the travel size. These small tubes may seem tiny, but if they are free, the savings can add up quickly. A travel-size tube of toothpaste lasts one individual about two weeks. Yes, the tube will need replaced more quickly, but if it is free that is a small bit of effort for huge savings.
- With catalinas – Stores like Walgreen’s, Rite Aid and CVS offer printed “bucks” for purchasing a specific, full-size product. There typically will be two or three free items available each week. The trick is to get to the store quickly before they are all gone and also to only purchase the free items. The first week, the customer pays for the items out of pocket and receives the “bucks.” Each store has a different name for their “bucks.” For example, Walgreen’s calls them “Register Rewards.” Also, keep an envelope in the car over the visor, so the bucks don’t get lost. The next week, use those bucks to get more free items.
How to Save Money with Samples
Samples are addictive. Once a few start rolling in, people tend to want more and more samples to add to their collection. There are a few keys that can help save money:
- Set aside 30 minutes every day to request new samples.
- Get the family involved as mentioned above.
- Keep a box for sample types, such as a small plastic box for soap samples, one for toothpaste, one for face creams, etc.
- Recycle the paper and plastic from the sample containers so you are not harming the environment with all the packages.
- Don’t get attached to any one brand. Be flexible with the brands and you’ll always have enough samples to spare.
- Ask for a sample at every store you enter.
- Call companies and ask if you can have each of their samples mailed to you.
- When visiting a hotel, always put the extra condition, shampoo and soap in your bag at the end of each day. The maid will leave more the next day. Now, let me state here that there is a fine line between taking what you’ve paid for and stealing. I do NOT condone taking samples from the maid’s cart, ever. That is stealing. Of course, you could always refer back to point number one and ask her if you’re allowed to take some of the samples home. She may just hand you a few. In that case, you’ve been gifted those samples.
- Ask your friends and family to give you samples they receive that they do not want.
Taking it Too Far
Recently, I’ve been watching a show called Extreme Cheapskates. Just eww. If my husband ever tries to feed me a goat head when you could buy a cheap steak for the same price, I will probably send him to some kind of marriage counseling. Ditto on the tea pot dug out of a garbage bin. I do think that couponing, sampling and saving money can go too far. Here are some of the things I draw the line at…
- I will not intentionally, ever, under any circumstances buy one-ply toilet paper. To the lady on Extreme Cheapskates who uses cloths instead of toilet paper… I don’t even know what to say. Just gross.
- I will not steal. Just because it is a sample, it is not okay to take 30 of them without having permission to do so. The guy at Petsmart who bundled them up commented that they needed to get rid of them and no one was taking them. That was fine. He offered them to me.
- I will not dumpster dive. It is illegal in some states and I am too much of a germaphobe to handle it.
- I will not irritate others unnecessarily with my sampling ways. If I am buying 30 travel size soaps, and have 30 coupons, and there is a person behind me in line with one item, I let them in front of me.
- I will not violate my own morals and standards to obtain a free sample.
I hope you’ve found these sampling tips helpful. Get started on your own sampling journey and then come back here and share your adventures in the comments area.