Special Report: Freebies

It's taken off on television, and even the average consumer is bragging about their bargains. But we're not just talking about discounts, imagine walking out of the store, and not paying a dime.  It's possible and it's legal.

"I get a lot of stuff," says blogger and couponer Kelly Pressy.  Pressy has mastered the art of finding freebies.

"So, they sent me this entire sample line for free, so that's about $40 right there," explains Pressy about three, full-sized bottles of Aussie hair care products that she got at no charge.

"People love free deals, what I love is that the stores have figured that out," says founder of the website www.couponmom.com Stephanie Nelson.  Nelson says now more than ever, it's become easier to find freebies.

Tip number #1: Scour social media and the web.

Wherever people are talking about free stuff, is where you should be.

There are some websites solely dedicated to listing free samples and products, like heyitsfree.net and shop4freebies.com.

Facebook is great for finding freebies.  "Like their companies, they send you free stuff," adds Pressy.  We found a promotion through Bayer, liked them, and about a week later got a coupon in the mail for a free, bottle of aspirin.

Coupon blogs and websites also post links for freebies.  The Coupon Mom lists free items in red.  "There are usually at least two or three deals at these national stores like Target, Wal Mart, CVS and Rite Aid and Walgreens, every week," explains Nelson.

The products are typically on sale, combine that with a high value coupon and pay zero.

"So now, think about that, if one week toothpaste and razors are free, the following week two different items are gonna be free." Before long, your cabinet's full, but your wallet won't be empty.

We took a Wal-Mart list of about 12 items from a website called Freebies 2 Deals and went shopping.  We got dozens of items, from toothpaste to cleaning products, and even soda for free.  We mainly purchased items that were .98 or less, and used $1.00 off coupons.  We also bought two items that provide money back with a rebate.

Tip number two for finding freebies: Write a review.

Kelly uses a site called bzzagent.  You simply sign up for a campaign, the company sends you free stuff to try and you get to keep it.  However, you have to write a review and share it with others.

"They just want you to tell other people that you like their product," Pressy says.

Another tip for those who're really gung-ho: Become a blogger.

"I did a review for a wireless router, which was a $180 value, I got to try it for free, I got to keep it for free," Pressy says.  Bloggers get free stuff all the time because companies know their readers are listening.  It may seem like a stretch, but it's yet another way to get something for nothing.

And a final tip for getting free stuff: Just ask!

"We emailed polite requests to 80 companies and 60% of the companies actually mailed us coupons," Nelson says. 

WTVM wrote to more than 50 companies and asked for coupons for free products.  Some declined, some sent basic coupons, and others sent coupons for free items.

All in all, the retail value of our freebies was nearly $70, plus another $10 in coupons we didn't use, and some of those will double.

A pretty decent haul, considering the dollars we kept in our pocket.