We're back with Kiplinger.com's sixth annual list of freebies --
packed with more something-for-nothing deals than ever. We don't
allow any useless junk on our list, only quality goods and services
that you would happily pay good money for (or perhaps you already
are). From free investing and financial services to free technology
and entertainment, there's something here for everyone.
Go ahead. Put away your wallet. We insist!
In an effort to lure you inside, more restaurants and retailers are
offering free Wi-Fi, including Starbucks, McDonald's and Barnes
& Noble. Some public libraries, campgrounds and hotels offer
this freebie too. Go to
to find places to surf when you're away from home. Or download the
Free Wi-Fi Finder app
Free Computer Security
You don't have to pay $70 a year for security software.
Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows
get good reviews from tech experts and offer basic defenses,
including malware protection.
Free Digital Storage Space
With free online backup storage, you can share files and protect
them from computer crashes, theft and natural disaster.
Windows Live SkyDrive
gives you 7 gigabytes of free, secure digital storage space. You
can also use
Amazon Cloud Drive
(5 GB free) or
(2 GB free).
Free Unlimited Texting
Save money on your cell phone plan by using a free texting service
. It assigns you a free phone number through which you can send and
receive texts as much as you want on your Android devices, iPhone,
iPad and iPod Touch. For more information, see
Smart Ways to Save on Smart-Phone Plans
For many basic computing needs, you can get free software rather
than shelling out for the Microsoft Office Home & Student suite
($120), Quicken Deluxe for budgeting ($59.99), Adobe Photoshop
Elements for photo editing ($99.99) and other popular programs.
For word processing, spreadsheets and multimedia presentations,
. To manage finances, we like the free budgeting program at
. And for photo and video editing, try
Aviary, Picasa, Pixlr
or Apple's built-in
Free Tech Support
If you have a problem with your computer, head to
for free help. You can search the forums for your machine's
particular ailment or post a question to receive a timely response
from the sites' squad of geek volunteers.
And if these sites can't help you, visit your device's
manufacturer's own site for more free resources. Many post user
manuals and FAQs to help you solve your dilemma.
Free Computer Classes
Brush up on your computer skills at your
public library, which may offer a variety of free computer
and technology classes
. Some common courses include Internet and email basics,
spreadsheet and word processing, digital photography and image
editing, and family history research. For instance, New Yorkers
looking for even more free tech guidance for their personal
computers can attend the hands-on PC Maintenance workshop at The
New York Public Library -- one of more than 25,000 free programs
offered at the Library's branches across the city.
Free Flight Perks
Domestic airlines are stingy with giveaways. But some airlines
still offer a few freebies for fliers. One of our favorites:
Southwest lets you check two bags for free
-- which can save you up to $120 on a round-trip flight.
JetBlue lets you check one bag free
, plus gives you access to free TV, satellite radio and
If you have to fly, you may as well earn extra credit for it.
Sign up for the airline's frequent flier program
to accumulate points toward free flights and other goodies. See the
"Program Guide" at
for the lowdown on each airline's rules.
Free Passport Photos
You'll pay about $15 at the post office to get your picture taken
for your passport. Instead, take your photo with your own digital
camera, then upload it to
, which will help you size it properly before printing on your home
printer. The best part: You can redo your picture as many times as
you like. After all, who wants to get stuck with a bad photo for
the next ten years?
Free Language Lessons
Prepare for your international getaway with the free foreign
language lessons online at
. Or go to
for a list of lessons around the Web that you can download to your
MP3 player. Your public library may also offer courses or software
to help you prepare for your travels.
Free Stuff on the Road
Traveling is expensive enough. Don't get nickel-and-dimed at every
step of the way. Stay at hotels that offer free breakfast, free
Wi-Fi, free fitness facilities, free parking, and other perks.
Priceline.com maintains a
searchable database of hotel freebies
Traveling with kids? You deserve even more freebies. Children
under age 2 can fly any airline or ride Amtrak free of charge when
they sit on a paying adult's lap. Also, watch for kids-cruise-free
and kids-ski-free promotions, and ask the cruise or resort in
advance about free supervised kid programs so you can have some
much-needed grown-up time.
Free Price Watcher
Don't you hate it when you pay for a flight, and then the price
drops? Enlist the help of
, which tracks your flight's price after you buy your ticket. If
the fare drops, it will notify you and help you collect a refund or
travel vouchers from the airline. (Note: Yapta only kicks in if the
price drop exceeds the ticket-change fee you'd be obligated to
pay.) Yapta does the same for hotels too. For rental cars, try
Free Tour Guides
To get a real feel for a city when you're traveling, team up with a
Global Greeter Network
organizes volunteers in several cities worldwide to show you
around, give you the inside scoop and answer your questions. Tours
can last a couple hours, and there's a strict no-tipping
Prefer to explore at your own pace? Browse the free audio
walking tours available for download at
. You can also search the Web for walking tours of your
destination. In our simple search, we found free audio tour
downloads from Boston and Chicago to Dublin and Jerusalem.
Free Credit-Card Perks
By simply carrying a credit card, you may be entitled to some cool
travel freebies. For example, most credit cards come with
free rental-car insurance
some cards will cover the cost of your vacation if you have
to cancel your trip
. Call your card issuer to find out what perks you qualify for.
International travelers can get slammed with a 3% currency
conversion fee every time they charge their credit cards, or
withdraw money from an ATM overseas. Bypass the fee with a Capital
One or Discover credit card. For more information, see
7 Little-Known Credit Card Perks
Free Healthful Recipes
Not sure what's for dinner? The Web is your oyster.
, which offer thousands of free recipes, are perennial cook
favorites. Both sites have sections dedicated to healthy meals, or
you can search by occasion, ingredients, ethnicity or user ratings.
You can even watch cooking demonstrations and save your favorite
meals in virtual recipe boxes. Why spend money on cookbooks?
Don't sweat enrollment fees and gym memberships. It doesn't cost a
penny to put on your sneakers and go for a walk or jog in your
neighborhood, or to join a pick-up game of basketball at your local
park. To encourage public health, more communities are installing
free outdoor gyms for adults at public parks. Residents of Los
Angeles, New York, Miami, San Antonio and others can use free
equipment for strength training, flexibility and cardio
Prefer to work out at home?
Check out a fitness DVD from your local library
Or with companions and instructors? You may be able to find free
fitness classes taught by experts in your area. For instance,
Lululemon Athletica stores offer free yoga classes
weekly. Many communities host free workouts in public parks or
libraries, too. For instance, we found free yoga classes in Miami,
New York and Los Angeles; free tai chi sessions in San Francisco,
Omaha and Washington, D.C.; free Zumba classes in Chicago; and
Free Diet and Fitness Help
Need help sticking to a diet and exercise plan? At
, you can craft meal plans and count calories, put together a
fitness plan and track your progress, and get support and advice
from other users.
Some employers offer free diet and fitness help to their
employees. These programs may include free gym access, weight-loss
support groups and smoking cessation programs. Some will even pay
you for your progress. Ask if your workplace has a wellness
Free Health Care
Under the new health care law,
many insurance plans now provide preventative-care
screenings without charging deductibles or co-pays
. This rule may apply to blood-pressure, diabetes and cholesterol
tests, mammograms and colonoscopies, flu shots, routine vaccines,
well-baby and well-child visits and
. Medicare also covers certain cancer screenings and preventative
care tests. Get more info at
Free Rx Drugs
Bring in your prescription, and you can get free antibiotics at
some pharmacies, including those at
Giant Eagle, Meijer, Publix, Schnucks, ShopRite and
. You can also get free prenatal vitamins at Meijer and Schnucks.
Publix, Price Chopper and ShopRite stores give out free diabetes
medications and supplies.
Free Brain Games
Keep your mind active and healthy with
free brain games
here at Kiplinger.com
The New York Times
also offer an impressive array of free games, crossword and Sudoku
puzzles on their Web sites.
Free Investing Apps
Stay up-to-date on the financial markets with free apps on your
iPhone, Blackberry or Android. Some of our favorites:
for up-to-the-minute stock quotes and breaking news,
for mutual fund research at your fingertips, and
for the latest financial headlines, stock news and videos.For more
7 Best Free Investing Apps
Free Capital Gains
Who wouldn't love to let their investments grow 100% tax-free? Take
a pass on paying capital-gains taxes by investing in a
. Any money you put into your Roth grows tax-free, and you won't
owe Uncle Sam a dime when you cash out in retirement. It's all
Free ETF Trades
Here's a great commission rate on exchange-traded funds: $0.
Several big brokerages, including
Charles Schwab, E*Trade, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and
have free commissions on ETFs, meaning you don't have to pay
anything extra when you buy or sell.
Free Savings Bonds
Before you make any purchase online, consider making
your starting line. You click on an affiliated e-tailer (there are
hundreds) to do your shopping as usual, and a percentage of your
purchase is given back to you in your BondRewards account. You then
redeem your rewards for U.S. savings bonds or cash.
Free Portfolio Checkup
Are your investments as diversified as you think they are? You
needn't pay a financial planner to evaluate your holdings. Simply
Morningstar.com's Instant X-Ray tool
to check for balance among stock sectors, investment styles,
geographic regions and more.
Then, check out Kiplinger's
25 favorite funds
Mutual Fund Finder
to establish the mix of investments that's right for you.
Free Financial Guidance
Prosper from the actionable, straightforward guidance found across
Kiplinger.com and our related social-media platforms. Learn how to
cut your tax bill, maximize returns on your investments, save more
for retirement, plug insurance leaks, get the best banking and
credit deals, and so much more.
Get answers to your toughest personal-finance challenges in our
live chats with financial planners and Kiplinger editors
Kiplinger on Twitter
become a fan on Facebook
to keep up with us on social media.
If you love to shop online but hate to pay for shipping, go to
. The site can direct you to retailers who offer free shipping on
every order, big or small. The site also gives you coupon codes to
snag free shipping at other retailers.
Many retailers' sites offer free shipping if you'll pick up the
order at a local store, including
Free Car-Buying Help
Hate to haggle? Let someone else take the wheel. If you're already
a member or customer of
AAA, Costco, Consumer Reports or Geico Insurance
, you may get auto-buying assistance for free. Simply tell them the
make, model and extras you want, and they'll negotiate a price from
local dealerships on your behalf. Some credit unions and alumni
associations offer this freebie, too.
If you'll be handling the negotiations yourself, go to
to see what others in your area are paying for the same car. Plus,
the free site will show you the best local no-haggle price and info
on dealer incentives and fees.
Free Kids Meals
Don't you hate buying a $12 entr�e for a picky
to find restaurants where kids eat free. Better yet, call your
local eateries or connect with them on Facebook to find out if they
offer kids' deals. Some do but don't advertise them, so it's worth
Free Sales Tax
Back to school season brings
tax-free shopping days in several states
. That means residents may be able to avoid paying sales tax on
clothing, shoes and other school and office supplies.
Some states have tax-free shopping days at other times of the
year. For example, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina,
Texas, and Virginia have sales tax holidays for energy-efficient
appliances. Alabama, Louisiana and Virginia have tax-free days set
aside for buying generators and other storm-preparedness supplies.
And on the first weekend of September, Louisiana residents won't
pay sales tax on firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies.
Get more information
Free Shopping Apps
Are your key ring and wallet getting crowded? Use the free
Key Ring app
to store all of your bar-coded loyalty, membership and library
cards on your phone. You simply scan your phone at the point of
service. Online shoppers can stay organized with
, which tracks packages and notifies you of price drops on items
you already bought so you can recoup the difference from the
To help you get the best price, use
, which scans any barcode in the store and instantly compares
prices for the same item online. For in-store coupons, try