10 things you need and can get for free
Some of the best things in life really are free.
As a new mum, I constantly find myself lured into buying stuff that that it turns out I don’t need.
It made me think: what stuff do we actually need that we can get for free?
You can get free cash for making purchases. First, using cashback websites such as Quidco and topcashback.co.uk for your online shopping (I’ve been a member of Quidco for three years, and have earned just over £500) and secondly, using a cashback credit card.
I like the American Express Platinum Cashback card and the Capital One Aspire World Card, both of which offer 5% cashback on purchases for the first three months, and up to 1.25% after. However, the American Express card does come with a £25 annual fee.
Cashback cards are only suitable if you pay off your credit card bill every month in full.
2. A credit card
Most credit cards are free to use and, unlike debit cards, give you extra statutory protection when buying goods over £100, as you are then entitled to a refund from your credit card provider if these goods aren’t up to scratch or the merchant goes bust.
And of course, a credit card will give you the breathing space to spread your payments if you can’t afford to pay for something upfront immediately, which can be extremely useful at times of need. Plus, as long as you use a 0% credit card and pay off your balance before interest starts being levied, you shouldn’t get into debt.
One of the best 0% cards around at the moment for existing credit card debt is the Barclaycard 22 month Platinum Visa card, which offers 22 months at 0% interest on balance transfers. Or you can spend interest-free for 16 months using the Tesco Clubcard Credit Card for Purchases.
3. A decent current account
There has been debate raging about the cost of ‘free’ banking for years now. But most current accounts remain free to use – in fact, some banks will pay you to bank with them!
For example, the Halifax Reward Account will reward you with £5 a month, as long as you pay in £1,000 every month. Similarly, First Direct’s 1st account – a favourite for customer service among lovemoney.com readers - offers £100 cash for switching, although you’ll need to pay in £1,500 each month or hold another First Direct product to avoid the £10 monthly fee..
4. An email address
Everyone needs an email address nowadays. Some are cleverly tied into your contract with your internet service provider, so you have to keep paying for them.
But web-based email addresses such as Yahoo and Gmail are totally free to use and offer a huge amount of space. With Gmail (from Google), you can also easily create ‘new’ email addresses, using the + sign after your username, so you can stop sites from spamming you.
If you don’t want to bring a child into this world and you want to have sex, you need contraception. It’s as simple as that. Luckily, in this country, the pill and many other forms of birth control are free on prescription, and you can get free condoms from community contraceptive clinics and emergency contraception from your GP and pharmacist.
When was the last time you appreciated the fact that sunshine is totally and utterly free? What’s more, your body needs it. It is full of Vitamin D, which helps protect you from rickets, diabetes and osteoporosis.
My baby’s just seven months old, so I can heartily vouch for the benefits of sleep. I don’t get much of it, but when I do, the recuperating effects – on my mood, my sense of humour and most of all, my ability to make decisions – are noticeable. So trust me, you need it.
But while it doesn’t cost you anything, a good night’s sleep certainly isn’t always easy to get. Still, these free tips might help you on your way to the land of Nod...
Obviously we all need food. But where can you get it for free? Start by scouring the freebie sites for free samples of new food products to try – I like freebiesiteuk.co.uk, freestuffjunction.co.uk and bobsfreestuffforum.co.uk.
Then, if you’re up for an adventure, why not take a trip to your local supermarket’s bin bags into your day or try some wild foraging? This practice, known as freeganism, is growing in popularity as a way of combatting wasteful consumerism.
9. Basic sanitation
The other day, as I was changing my baby’s nappy, I started thinking how amazing the flushable toilet is, as an invention, and how much infrastructure and resources must be in place for the waste to just be whisked away, lickety split, the way it is.
And yet access to the UK’s sewage network is free, and we’re always near a toilet we can use for free. According to the charity worldtoilet.org, 2.6 billion people do not have that ‘luxury’. That’s 40% of the world’s population, living without basic sanitation. So don’t take it for granted!
Admittedly, this last one is a bit cheesy. But according to the Beatles, all you need is love, so I’d be wrong not to include it – especially since, as they also say, money can’t buy it.
On a more serious note, the birth of my baby has made me realise how necessary my love is to her survival, because it would be much harder to voluntarily do all the stuff mothers do for their babies without love. So if it’s been a while since you last told your mum you loved her, why not take the time to do it today?
It won’t cost you anything, and she deserves to hear it, if only for all the times years ago that she cleaned up your sick, changed your nappy, fed you in the middle of the night and comforted you when, without warning, you turned from a delightful cherub into a wailing banshee. Trust me!
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