My Favorite Free Things

by Mike

Not only is “FREE” the most powerful word in marketing, it’s also a way to stretch your dollars while saving time and money so that you can focus on the really important things in life.

Here are some of my favorite free things:

Financial Tracking Software.  At www.themint.com – set up your checking, saving, credit card and investment accounts and you can watch your spending, check your budget, and set up financial goals – all FREE!

Credit Card.  Don’t pay for a credit card – make them pay you!  There are several free cash back cards out there, but one that I have is a Costco AmEx card that is not only FREE, but also pays me 1% cash back on all spending (even more on special categories).  And as an Executive Member I also get a 2% rebate on Costco purchases.  You should always pay off your balance in full every month, but by using a card for purchases you can actually help build your credit history, get cash back, and also get 30-60 days of “float” for free!  Costco Amex.

Google Stuff.  Google has all kinds of free stuff, whether it’s free email at Gmail, a free phone number that will ring all your numbers and transcribe voice mail and send you a text or email at Google Voice (that’s right a free permanent phone number), free translation, free web document hosting and sharing – the list goes on and on.  See a full list and poke around – there’s sure to be something interesting for you.  Google even has a free version where they’ll host your email for free at Google Apps – so you can get yourself a spiffy vanity domain, have Google host it free, and have everyone use your fabulous@fabulousme.com email account.  Read about Google Apps here.

Replace Microsoft Office.  If the stripped-down functionality of Google docs isn’t right for you, you still don’t have to shell out hundreds to buy Microsoft Office.  There’s a FREE alternative that can open and save MS Office files for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations at www.openoffice.org.

Remote Computer Access.  If you want to have secure remote access to a computer you can do that by setting up the computer using www.logmein.com.  I use this to access my home computer at work and while I’m traveling.  I also installed it on my mother’s computer so I can be her tech support when she runs into trouble with her computer.  I can pull up her screen, and talk her through the issues while I control her computer remotely.

Travel Agendas.  The good people at www.tripit.com have developed a snazzy little product for anyone who travels.  Just set up your account, and then when you book your airfare, rental car, hotels, etc… just forward the confirmation email to plans@tripit.com from the email you used to sign up, and they pull out the important information and create a full agenda from all the disparate pieces.  It’s a huge time saver and will keep you organized and on time!

Some of these free things are part of “freemium” models, in other words they have a free version, but provide premium services for a fee.  Others are advertising supported, open source projects, or just companies trying out some cool ideas.

OK kiddos, that’s it for now.  I hope from my little black book of freebies you found something useful!  If anyone has their own favorite secret FREE service, post it on this blog or drop me a note.

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