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Monday, October 3, 2011

10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do for #Free

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  1. Save a Life Do you know CPR? Just because you've seen it on TV doesn't mean you're ready to go into action when it's time to save a life. Good news: you can take free CPR classes through many local hospitals, fire departments, or even online. It might sound like a boring way to spend your evening, but your efforts could save a life.
  2. Read Used Books -- I love books, but being frugal, I hate paying for them. That's the main reason I haven't bought a Kindle yet--I'd end up spending more on books than I do now. A couple of ways I get books cheap or free: local libraries of course are FREE and a great resource (support your local library as much as you can!) and used bookstores are great, too. I buy books at used bookstores and then trade them in again later. I end up spending a little money, but not as much as new books. Another way to get free to cheap books is through online swap sites like PaperBackSwap or Title Trader. You list books you don’t want and then wait for someone to request it. Once someone’s laid claim to it, you simply mail it out and you’re given credit towards getting a book you really want. You will have to pay for shipping your old books out, but on paperbacks it isn’t much and you'll get books back in return.
  3. Find Needed Household Items What's better than recycling? Reusing! That's the premise behind Freecycle, a nonprofit community group that encourages users to give away old items instead of throwing them away. You can clean out your old stuff and replace it with new stuff for free. If you see a listing you want, simply respond to it. These are usually operated on a first-come-first-served basis and you are responsible for transporting, shipping, or picking up the items you want.
  4. Learn a new Language Being bilingual is an increasingly valuable skill to add to your resume. There are a number of resources available on the web to help you learn languages via Podcasts. A good one to try is the BBC. There, you can brush up on any number of languages. Great idea: load the files onto your MP3 player and take it with you to listen to while you go about your day.
  5. Learn How to Run a Business Most small businesses fail within the first year. It can be difficult to learn how to run a business on your own. That's why you can get a little help and advice for free from the Small Business Administration. Local business centers offer classes that can teach you how to write a business plan or even how to take care of all the tax details associated with business ownership.
  6. Become Tech Savvy Lacking tech experience? There is a solution to at least some of your tech woes. Apple stores nationwide offer workshops on a variety of (Apple) software and hardware techniques as well as some computer basics.
  7. Make Phone Calls If your long distance charges are getting you down, stop using your phone to make calls and start using your computer. Sign up for Skype or Gizmo Project and you can make computer-to-computer calls for free to anywhere in the world. Hook up your Webcam and you’ll have an instant videophone.
  8. Take a trip to a Museum As a teacher, I strongly recommend you take your children to as many museums as you can--they're great places for learning. We recently went to Houston and got to visit their awesome Children's Museum. My kids loved it! Going to a museum can be pretty expensive, however, especially if you’re trying to bring a family along. Many museums offer free days or hours, especially during the summer (like the Art Institute of Chicago summer programs). Why pay $20 to see art when you can examine it for free?
  9. Receive Email Reminders I have a terrible memory and I also tend to lose track of time. Now I can never forget a birthday again when I use free email reminder systems like Memo to Me. Give them the date you want to remember and your email address and the system will send you a note that will gently remind you to remember that important date. If you want to be really proactive, you can also pick out free eCards to be sent at a later date. Hallmark carries a great collection of free cards, but you can also try out Hipster Cards or CardCow.
  10. Download Music (Not illegal) Not all music available for download online is illegal, but you have to be careful about what you choose. Many artists release songs for free download so that they can get more fans. Check out this list of sites that offer free music. You'll be amazed at the variety and maybe even discover your new favorite band! 
Can you think of something you get for free that I haven't listed? Please share in a comment below!

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