How to find freebies, trade groups

About 50,000 federal employees in Hampton Roads face the prospect of furloughs, according to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. During the furlough, which could last through September, employees could see a 20 percent drop in pay.

The Department of Defense announced an 11-day furlough for its federal employees, which affects about 39,000 workers in Hampton Roads. During the furlough, workers will lose up to two days of pay in every two-week pay period — a 20 percent cut per paycheck, which will last about three months.

For someone making $75,000 a year, the furlough represents a household budget cut of about $1,000 a month, after taxes.

Finding free offers is not going to make up the difference in income, but it can be a strategic part of your savings plan.

New customers can get a free personalized Father's Day card from using the online coupon code TREATDAD, for example.

And those who sign up for the Betty Crocker email newsletter are eligible for a free sample every month. This month, members were treated to a free sample of Hershey's Cookies 'N' Creme cookie mix.

Considered separately, these free offers are limited in monetary value, but they can become a part of a frugal lifestyle that enjoys treats only when available on the cheap. In other words, cut out the excess and try to find it free, instead.

Digital books and music downloads are easy to find for free. Websites like catalogue free book offers on a daily basis. Readers can subscribe to an email newsletter that is customized for genre preference. The library, of course, always offers access to free books, including best sellers, which are harder to find for free.

Redbox offers free one-night movie rentals on a regular basis. Customers who sign up for text message alerts or the email newsletter will receive a code for a free rental at least once a month. Freebie hunters are reporting that Redbox is offering a free one-night rental on Sunday, May 26 with the coupon code KROGERFREE, but the code could not be confirmed by the Daily Press as of press time.

You can find daily updates on free offers like these at websites like and

To trade household items, Yorktown resident Carol Masser suggests the website After you join a local chapter you can list the items that you are willing to give away and look for items for yourself.

Different from a trading group, two people do not have to agree on an equal swap for the transaction to take place. You do, however, have to offer some of your goods in order to choose from what others in the group have listed.

There are freecycle groups in Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, Suffolk, Yorktown and Williamsburg, among other Hampton Roads localities.

As with any trading or resale group, be sure to meet the seller in a public place. Use the buddy system whenever possible.

As for signing up for online freebies, most offers will require an email and home address. You should never be required to enter your credit card number or other financial information.

nyone starting a freebie hunt should set up a secondary free email address from a hosting website like Doing so will protect your primary email account from excess spam if you mistakenly sign up for an offer that is not legitimate.

About the series

This ninth story in the series provides ideas for finding free offers. You can find the entire Furlough Finances series at

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