En español | You know what the best price is for something? Nothing. Free. No charge. And there are a surprising number of things that will cost you nothing more than the air you breathe. Here's a list of 10 great freebies you can check out right now
1. Free entry to national parks
The National Park Service (NPS) manages 423 parks, from Acadia in Maine to Zion in Utah. Of those parks, more than 100 charge entrance fees. The rest are free. However, the NPS waives entrance fees at all parks six days a year. Here are the free dates for 2021:
- January 18: MLK Day
- April 17: Start of National Park Week
- August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- August 25: NPS birthday
- September 25: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
Speaking of veterans, members of the military, as well as military veterans and Gold Star Family members, can all get a pass for free entry to national parks.
It's not free, but it is a bargain: People 62 and older can purchase a lifetime senior pass to national parks for just $80 (plus a $10 processing fee). Anybody in the car with a person holding a lifetime senior pass also gets in for free.
2. Free trees
You can nearly always find free trees in the spring, when you'll notice tiny seedlings growing in your lawn. If you want bigger trees, however, organize a tree giveaway event and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) will reimburse you for free native trees. You'll need to have a plan for caring for the trees once you get them. Request your trees (and a free tree-planting event tool) during the spring at the NWF website. The 2021 season is past, but visit the website for the 2022 planting season.
You can also get free trees from some state and local governments, which often work in partnership with local tree-planting groups to encourage cultivation of native trees. Tree giveaways are especially common around Arbor Day and Earth Day, both in April. Some electric utilities also give away free trees since shade on a house can reduce energy consumption. On a web browser, search the name of your utility company plus “free trees” to see if a tree program is available locally.
3. Free bluebirds
OK, you can't order free bluebirds online — that would just be wrong — but you can build a home for them. Don't know how to build a bluebird house? The North American Bluebird Society has got your back. You can get free plans for a bluebird house on their website, as well as handy tips on how to attract them. Not sure if you have a bluebird in your area? Download Merlin, the free bird identity app from allaboutbirds.org.
Join today and save 43% off the standard annual rate. Get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life.
4. Free books
Your local library is, of course, your go-to location for free books, and they often provide free e-books, audio books and video as well. If you don't have a library card (and why don't you?), find a Little Free Library near you with this handy locator tool. You'll also get free plans to build your own Little Free Library, a weather-proof box — it typically resembles a large, freestanding mailbox — where friends and strangers alike can borrow and leave books day or night.
5. Free coffee
If you need a java fix, but you'd prefer not to pay for it, you have options. You could join the Peet's Coffee Rewards — called Peetnik's — and get a free beverage after signing up. After every 15 check-ins at Peet's, you get another free beverage. Join the Starbucks reward program and you'll get a free coffee on your birthday as well as free refills on your brewed coffee or tea. There is no charge to sign up for either rewards program.
6. Free glazed doughnut
7. Free movies
If you don't want to pay for sites like Hulu or Netflix, you have plenty of sites where you can watch movies for free — and many of the available movies are quite good. Crackle.com, IMDB and TubiTV are all good places to start. You'll have to watch a few ads in exchange for getting to see the movies for free — but, hey, they are free of charge.
8. Free birthday stuff
Everyone likes to celebrate a birthday, and you can celebrate yours — typically, by joining a rewards program. Join Ruby Tuesday’s So Connected program and get a free birthday burger or Garden Bar entrée (with a value up to $11). And Chili’s rewards will give you free dessert on your birthday. In fact, just about every restaurant chain has a birthday gift for people who join.
But it’s not only restaurants that give out birthday gifts. Sephora promises a free birthday makeup or skin care gift for members of its Beauty Insiders club. The Body Shop will give you a $10 coupon on your birthday if you join the Love Your Body Club. DSW will give you a $5 coupon on your birthday month, provided you join DSW VIP.
9. Free samples
Got allergies? Sanofi will send you a free sample of Xyzal, its allergy relief medicine. Keeping the neighborhood away with your snoring? Get a free sample of Breathe Right Strips. You can also get free samples of Mane ‘N Tail products just by asking.
You can also get free food samples by mail. Truvia, the artificial sweetener, will send you a sample plus a $1 coupon. If you like free samples, you dog probably does, too: Essence is offering free samples of their products by mail.
10. Free music
Did you see the Tedeschi Trucks Band concert on Oct. 3, 2010 at the Bourbon Street Ballroom? You can re-listen to it at the Internet Archive, along with 837 other shows by the band. The site has hundreds of free streaming concerts online. It also has free books, video and software.
Another site, Sugarmegs Audio, has — not surprisingly — hundreds of Grateful Dead concerts. But it also has shows by The Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, The Who, Steely Dan, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, the Wallflowers and more.
John Waggoner covers all things financial for AARP, from budgeting and taxes to retirement planning and Social Security. Previously he was a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance and USA Today and has written books on investing and the 2008 financial crisis. Waggoner's USA Today investing column ran in dozens of newspapers for 25 years.