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Freebies

Couponing has been a craze for quite some time, however landing freebies is just as beneficial. To score one, you'll typically be asked to fill out a questionnaire or "like" a brand via social media. In return, the company in question will send you a free sample of their product.

From toothpaste and moisturizer to air freshener and back pain medication, these seemingly small savings on everyday products can add up. Here's everything you need to know about how to make freebies work for you.

The value of free
Using a free sample means you don't have to pay for a full size product, says Terra Kaufman, owner and writer at SaveaLoonie.com.

"My husband and I have not paid for razors in over two years because of free samples," says Kaufman. "That alone is a savings of over $500. I've easily done 10 loads of laundry in the last year that I didn't have to pay for detergent for. It's all the small things that add up."

In addition to the freebie itself, companies will usually include a coupon along with the sample they send, she says. "This way, when you go to purchase the product, you can save money on it, too."

Henrietta Ross, CEO of the Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services, says small savings are both critical and overlooked.

"For instance, purchasing a simple daily coffee can add up over time," says Ross. "Java money can accumulate to become a significant expenditure representing money that could have otherwise been saved."

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Ross says that taking advantage of opportunities such as freebies -- when managed correctly and safely -- can provide for some good saving opportunities. "Being smart about how you spend your money will serve you most in the long run."

How to find freebies
There's a wide range of savings blogs that list daily offers on various samples. Aside from SaveaLoonie.com, popular sites include, CanadianFreeStuff.com and MrsJanuary.com. However, Googling "freebies blog Canada" will yield dozens of results.

Who offers them
Many companies will offer a sample in line with a new promotion or product, says Kaufman.

"It is typically the bigger companies that offer the most samples, but the smaller ones do offer them, too," she says. "For example, big brands may be able to offer 50,000 free samples whereas small brands may be only able to offer 1,000."

Take in the whole picture
While free samples can be advantageous for consumers, understanding what is involved is very important, adds Ross. "Consumers should always read the fine print to understand any terms or restrictions that relate to the samples, such as inadvertently being added to unwanted contact lists for future advertisements," since your mailing address is needed to ship out the product.

Keep in mind that samples are intended to inspire consumers to buy more of the originally free product. "Sometimes, this can create an emotional burden of guilt or a sense of obligation that may drive consumers to needlessly purchase more," Ross warns.

"Staying true to your household budget and focusing on what is necessary will provide the most fundamental value."

Vanessa Santilli is a freelance writer in Toronto

-- Posted February 10, 2014
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