Friday Loves Free Stuff

Since I announced yesterday that I’m preparing to buy a new house, that means changing the way I do a lot of things, as well as taking advantage of what’s out there.  So today’s Friday Loves all deal with how to live life without spending money on the stuff you can get for free.

1.  Free Music.  For those with an Android phone and Google Play account, take advantage of downloading the free tunes available every week.  They make it very easy to find.  Free tunes are listed on the first page of the Music page.  You can download oldies but goodies, indie music and even brand new music to promote a new album (like this week’s new Motley Crue album). 

I download whatever free tune is listed.  It helps me to explore new music and to re-visit the old stuff.  It’s one of those, “Hey, I didn’t know Steve Miller Band was the original guy to record “Fly Like An Eagle.””  (Made popular by Seal.) 

When I worked in music, I had free music at my disposal all of the time.  My car (aka my office) was where I listened to every CD ever given to me by anyone that offered it to me as I drove from one place to the next to meet with band after band.  These days, a lot of indie artists are behind in getting their music onto Android phones.  But Android phones…they’re not behind in getting you free music. 

Another good place to pick up free music is your local library.  They have plenty of music available to checkout.  From records to CDs…they’ll have them.  One of the best collections of music I’ve found are in both the Bloomington Libraries in Indiana (home of Indiana University) and the local library in downtown Indianapolis.

Summer is also a great time to get out and experience free music in your hometowns.  From music festivals to outdoor campgrounds to your local parks, you’ll find music cropping up all over America FOR FREE as part of many summer activities going on in your hometowns. 

In New York City, symphony orchestras play in Central Park (as well as other parts of the NYC area).  Free music concerts are put on by TV shows (like Today Show, etc.).  Take advantage of these summer concerts.  Who knows, you might catch some of the biggest names in the industry…if you’re willing to wake up at dawn to get in line (in NYC). 

For everyone else, check your local newspapers (especially the free papers) for events in your area or your nearest metropolitan area.  Many free papers will list free events on their websites.  For major metro areas across the world, check your local Time Out (especially online).  They’re a great source to find things to do in your city.

Want to know my trick to getting in to see bands play at clubs?  Become good friends with the band.  They’ll put you on their VIP list every single time you go to see them play.

2.  Free Books.  You don’t always have to have a Kindle or Nook to partake in Free Book Fridays.  Remember the library?  Pay them a visit. 

I’ve been trying to not press ADD TO CART on the latest Carlos Ruiz Zafon novel or on the latest installment in the Discovery of Witches chronicles.  So I went online to my local library’s interlibrary loan system and ordered both books.  The library will email me when they come in.  Cost to me = NOTHING. 

Yes, when all else fails in the Nook department, I still get the book at the library to avoid paying for the book (unless I’m traveling and need books to read).

For the tech elite snobs…I’m sure you are aware of the whole free Fridays at Barnes & Noble.  It should have been the first thing you learned about when you got your Nook. 

You can get plenty of free books on either devices.  At Amazon, just search for “Free Kindle Books.”  A huge list comes up.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a Kindle device, but have an android device.  Guess what?  You can download free Kindle books onto your android by downloading the Kindle app (free) onto your android.  So now you don’t have to feel like you’re shut out from the Kindle world just because you decided to go Nook or iPad.  Even if you don’t have a tablet but have an android phone, you can still get free books on your phone.  You can download the free Kindle application directly from Google Play.

Or if you don’t have the technology…just keep going to the library.

Believe it or not, the library also allows you to download books to your computer and transfer the book to your android device.  Keep in mind though that just like libraries…there is a loaning period for digital books.

Also, for those who want to start a new way of trading books for free, my office always shares books they’ve read by dropping them off in a central location (like the pantry area).  People take whatever they want, bring in whatever they don’t want. 

You can also start this tradition with your friends…start a book swap. This works for the physical books, as well as the ones on devices.  It’s easy to swap and share books with each other.

3. Free Movies.  I usually go to the movies for free.  I don’t normally pay unless it’s at my local theater across the street from me ($5 first showing) and I’m just paying for the air conditioning for a few hours during the summer months. 

Being in New York, I tend to get invitations to movie premieres rather frequently, especially at the start of summer when the biggest blockbusters are due out. 

Other times, I use a site called CINEMIT.  It’s free to join Cinemit.  I’ve seen several different movies thanks to their contests.  They’re not just based in New York City.  You’ll find their listings (even though there are fewer listings outside of major metro areas) in cities all over the US. 

Another great place to check is  Registering for the site is free.  They’ll show you when new movies hit your area that are up for a free pre-screening.  Sometimes they’ll even email you a special code to use for films that hit your area. 

Sometimes doing a little research online you’ll find movie clubs that offer pre-screenings in your neck of the woods.  It also helps if you live close to a city.  When I was in DC, I joined a film club.  Granted, it cost money to do so.  These days, you don’t have to pay to join movie clubs to go to pre-screenings.

As for DVDs…check your local library.  I find it funny that the library usually gets new releases before Netflix does.  I’m not sure why I spend $16.99 a month to use the Netflix service to borrow 1 DVD at a time, stream and use up data on my plan to watch a movie when I can just get the DVD for free at the library.

Oh, and might I add that it’s summer.  All throughout your local cities you’ll find free outdoor movies.  Bring a blanket and a picnic, because your local parks and recreation have a movie night for you.  I remember watching Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on one of these movie nights as well as A Streetcar Named Desire.  Those are two movies I will never forget.  Why?  Because I saw them outside under the stars.  All it takes is a little research on your local parks and recreation websites. 

For those in NYC, you can even watch free movies at Sony Wonder Technology Lab every Saturday (by reservation only).  I will warn you that the senior citizens know about free Saturday movie screenings.  They are hard of hearing and always ask for the sound to be turned up.  It was so loud, I had to put earphones in to block out most of the sound.

4.  FREE STUFF.  For those looking for just about anything and everything under the moon…checking local advertisements (especially online) as well as Craiglist could net you some free stuff.  From firewood to free furniture, you’ll be amazed at what you can find.  I personally like the curb alerts where people post up something they just put out onto the curb…or they spotted on the curb.  Helps if you have a vehicle to pick this stuff up.

For those looking at local ads, it usually helps to know what day a local free paper posts their classifieds online.  Check their ads on that date.  That means you’ll be able to get to the freebie before it hits their papers.

Another great site to find free stuff in your area is The Freecycle Network.  You can join a network of people in your local community that’s giving away stuff.  You usually just have to pick it up (or send someone to pick it up for you…aka movers).  It’s also a great way for you to post up stuff that you want to get rid of…or if you’re looking for something, you can post that up as well.  It’s a great way to recycle STUFF with your local community.

For those who live near universities, when students move out at the end of the spring semester, that’s a great time to take a look around the college rental neighborhoods.  You’ll find everything under the moon left out on the curb…from TVs to furniture to computers…you name it.  If a college student uses it, you’ll find it on the curb. 

5.  Free Things To Do.  There’s always plenty of things to do for free no matter where you live.  When I first moved to NYC, I felt like I was spending way too much money to do stuff.  It took some time and research to discover that there are ways to enjoy this city for free.  It was finding out how to do things for free that helped me map out how I could travel on the cheap. 

For those wanting to visit museums, museums across America are free on certain days (even all over the world, you’ll find designated days when museums are free).  Thanks to Target, they have sponsored free days at the museums, zoos, etc.  Check your local venue to find out what days are free and go.  This works best for families too.  Go when it’s free.

You can find free theatrical productions, usually from a local community group, during the summers.  Churches also host free theatrical productions.  All it takes is a little research and word of mouth.  I’ve seen plenty of Shakespeare and Sophocles thanks to free theatre productions in parks all over NYC.

If you take a look at your local parks and recreations websites, you’ll find a score of things to do for free.  From classes, to cheap gym memberships, to free events, etc.  They are a wealth of information and are available to you thanks to your taxpayer dollars.  Why not use what you paid for already?

There’s so much you can do for free that will help you feel not only more cultured…but happier.  Get outdoors.  Take a walk.  Go fishing (note, you may have to pay for an inexpensive fishing license).  Hang out with the kids in a local park.  Play some ball with friends and family.  Go hiking on one of the thousands of paths throughout America.  Head to the beach.  Volunteer in your community.  Join a book club.  Lay out in your backyard and gaze at the stars (not everyone in the world gets the luxury of seeing stars at night thanks to light pollution).

Just get out and enjoy LIFE.  You don’t have to pay to smell the flowers.   You just have to remember to stop and smell the flowers.  Take advantage of all of the free things in life.   

About Michelle Kenneth

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