Let’s face it: the idea of getting free money sounds too good to be true. And while you can’t will your way to riches like it says in blockbuster book The Secret, there are a few legitimate ways you can get free money. The best part? Most of them don’t require you to do much work (or any work at all!).
However, it’s important to keep in mind that none of these strategies are going to pay the bills or make you rich. And if you’re in a rush for your money, you may want to look at borrowing money as these approaches tend to take some time to work. But if those two things are OK with you then it’s time to learn how to get some money!
Have you ever looked at your paycheck and thought: “wow, Uncle Sam took a big bite out of that!”. We all have.
And while a lot of that money goes towards fixing roads, building schools and running the government, a good chunk of it goes to government programs. And US citizens like you can take advantage of these programs by seeking them out, reading the requirements and signing up.
Your first step is to head to Grants.gov: Grants.gov is a clearinghouse for US Government grants (duh). And unlike many get free money books that claim to have it all, this site really DOES have it all. And the web format guarantees that the information is up to date (there’s nothing worse than spending the time to apply for a grant…only to find out they changed the requirements and you’re no longer eligible.
Once there you’ll want to click on the section of the screen entitled “find grant opportunities”:
Once there you can search for available grants by keyword, category or agencies. Keep in mind that most of these grants are highly competitive, and it’s not simply a matter of signing up and collecting your check. That being said, if you take the time to fulfill the grant’s requirements in full you’ll have a better chance of getting your grants.
Usually the grants are reserved for people starting a business or going to school. However, there are exceptions to this…but you’ll have to do some digging to find them.
Get Free Stuff…And Sell It
You’d be shocked at how much free stuff you can get simply by participating in offers and signing up for newsletters and catalogs. Sometimes, like in the case of free 30-days trials, you can sometimes get paid in cash AND use the product or service. Just be sure to cancel in time or you’ll be charged!
A fantastic resource for finding free stuff (and great deals in general) is Slick Deals. They have a dedicated freebie section where you can snag random stuff without having to pay a dime. Also, they’re a good resource to find bundles (which is where you get something for free when you buy something else).
Most of the free stuff you’ll get will be pretty much worthless and therefore hard to sell. But if you’re creative you can usually turn your free stuff into something valuable.
For example, it’s common for candy companies to give out samples of their new products. While you’d be hard pressed to sell a bag of candy on Ebay or Amazon, you can easily sell a gift basket for Easter or another special event. If you want this to work you need to be creative!
On the other hand, you can just use free stuff instead of buying it. This way you’ll be saving money. This isn’t exactly a strategy to get free money…but a penny saved is a penny earned.
Get Unclaimed Money
According to About.com, US citizens have billions of dollars in unclaimed assets (which can be in the form of stocks, bonds, cars, layaway payments etc.). While it’s a long shot that you’ll discover a forgotten mansion or overflowing savings account, you can sometimes find a few bucks that slipped your mind.
The easiest way to start your hunt is via a very cool site run by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Their site has an interactive US map that makes finding unclaimed property a cinch by linking you up to the appropriate page of your State’s “find unclaimed property” website.
Most states make searching a breeze: just enter your name, look to see if there’s a name in their database matching your address, and make a claim.
Sign Up For Contests and Sweepstakes
These is somewhat of a long shot but it’s often worth signing up for certain online sweepstakes as long as you don’t have to pay or give away any of your personal information.
While there are a few legit sweepstakes sites, many are scams, reports this interesting article from to ABCNews.com. In addition to being cautious about where you sign up, they also recommend checking out the odds to make sure the sweepstakes is worth your time.
If you’re in college — or looking to enroll — you probably want to spend a few hours searching for scholarships that you might qualify for.
Most scholarships require you to do a bit of work to get your money. For example, you usually have to write an essay, send a transcript or work in a certain field. Also keep in mind that many college grants and scholarships have hundreds of applicants per award. So you may need to work your butt off to get some of them.
You can learn more about increasing your odds in this video:
If this is something you’re interested in I highly recommend checking out FastWeb’s scholarship section. They have an awesome program that matches you to scholarships that fit your demographic and professional interests.
…And Be Careful
I want to close with a word of warning: don’t be duped by scammers and scheisters claiming to have a “push button” or “turn key” way to make money. As you’ve probably learned up to this point in your life, all forms if income require some form of work and/or investment. Be smart, don’t be duped and go get free money!