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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.