How to Get Things for Free

Whenever you need to buy anything, always work your way up the “shopping hierarchy” from the cheapest to most expensive to find the best deal, urge Steve and Annette Economides, authors of the book America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money.

Here’s how the hierarchy works:

  • First, try to borrow the item from a friend or neighbor. If
    you only need to cut down a few trees, borrowing a chain
    saw makes a lot more sense than buying one.
  • Can’t borrow it? Try to get it free. Websites such as or will identify all sorts of useful
    items that people in your area are giving away free.
    Steve is well on his way to collecting thousands of free
    bricks he wants for building a walkway—instead of paying
    hundreds of dollars for new bricks.
  • If you can’t get things free, buy a slightly damaged version.
    A new washing machine may have a small scratch on the
    side but will still work perfectly fine.
  • If a dinged version isn’t available, then shop around for a
    store offering the item at a discount.
  • Finally, if you can’t get the item free or cheap, only then
    should you pay full price. But odds are very good that
    you’ll find what you’re looking for long before you have to
    settle for the most expensive option.

The Beginner’s Guide to Being Cheap
13 Secrets to Stop Wasting Cash Now
13 Things Your Financial Adviser Won’t Tell You

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