Some might agree with the notion that anything worth having is worth working for. That may be the case, but fortunately, there are plenty of great things you can get for free if you know where to look. Finding them has never been easier than in the age of the Internet, either, given there’s a host of free products and services that often require little more than a valid email address and a little patience on your part. Below are a few of our favorites, whether you’re searching for a wealth of free ebooks, a way to take academic courses online, or simply a free scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip.
One of the earliest hits of the crowdfunding age, Cards Against Humanity, is a fairly simple card game. Players receive black cards outfitted with a prompt and white cards lined with various words and phrases they can utilize as answers, most of which are bizarre or disgusting. Each turn, a player reveals a black card with a certain prompt, and other players play their white cards to fill in the blank. The funniest response, or simply one the player who played the black card likes best, wins the round.
While an official box set of the game runs $25, the creators also offer a free version of the game online. You just need to download the PDF file from their website and print out the individual cards. It’s a quick and easy way to snag one of the more outrageous party games around, and moreover, the free cards are even better if you have your own card stock.
For many people, a coffee shop is not merely a place to exchange currency for coffee, but a place to stimulate creativity. Amid the whirring of espresso machines and the chattering of the clientele, there is the tapping of keyboards as customers sit on their laptops, grinding out their latest screenplay, legal brief, or a essay. For whatever reason, coffee shops provide an atmosphere conducive to productivity — an idea supported by a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research. With Coffitivity, it’s possible to receive the familiar sounds of a cafe anywhere. Featuring recordings from actual coffee shops, Coffitivity provides warm atmospheres for whenever you need to get some work done, at no cost. Now if only they provided free coffee, too.
The public domain is one of the most intellectually appealing aspects of copyright law, one that allows people to freely tap into a cultural heritage going all the way back to the beginning of history. Project Gutenberg is a website that embraces the free and legal flow of information, providing high quality scans of public domain works in formats compatible with most eBook readers. Whether you’re looking for a canonical work like King Lear or an esoteric German treatise on marine life, one is sure t+o find treasure in Project Gutenberg’s vast halls.
Education is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. That seems to be the ideal driving Khan Academy, an online nonprofit organization entrepreneur Salman Khan founded to provide free courses spanning a variety of subjects. The courses include everything from video lectures and educational exercises, and the site keeps track of users’ progress, letting them know how well they are mastering a subject. For those who find gamification helpful, the site even rewards badges for accomplishing certain things, such as mastering X number of skills or posting an answer that people find helpful.
Everyone has stress in their lives. However, sometimes all it takes to get by is to have somebody to talk to. 7 Cups of Tea provides a platform for people to anonymously connect with trained volunteers who will listen to whatever someone has to say. Users can talk with a random listener or a specific member of the community if they wish to do so. Need to vent about office politics, or simply ponder the meaning of life? The helpful volunteers at 7 Cups of Tea will listen to you, regardless of the circumstances.
Image editing is both a popular pastime and a useful job skill, whether one is simply throwing a filter on a vacation photo or trying to create an image for the front page of a website. Good image editing software such as Photoshop — which comes with an extensive set of features — can be prohibitively expensive, though. Enter Pixlr, a free cloud-based image editing program that provides users with all the tools they need to quickly and easily manipulate images. The Web-based application is easy to navigate, too, and there’s no need to download software.
To see the pervasiveness of consumer culture, one need look no further than the modern concept of the celebrity, in which a person (or more specifically their image) is as much a product as any consumer good. When one buys a pair of LeBrons, are they doing so because the shoe fits or because of their association with basketball’s greatest player? The touch of a celebrity adds a certain aura to an object, as exemplified by signatures. A photo of a celebrity is simply a photo. A photo signed by a celebrity? That’s a piece of history.
Celebrity Merchandise, a website that appears as if it were designed in 1998, promises autographed photos of celebrities such as Willem Dafoe and Vince Vaughn without charging you a cent. How does the site stay running, not to mention produce and ship products, despite charging a fee? Who’s to say? Are the signatures authentic? What value would authenticity impart even if it were true? At the very least, these headshots make a fine decoration and the start of an elaborate, fake story about how you met Ralph Fiennes. We tested the service and received a collection of outdated signed prints, including Samuel L. Jackson, Anna Paquin, and Willem Dafoe — as seen above.
Joining the Godiva Rewards Club will get you a number of benefits from the chocolatier, including free shipping on orders and a monthly newsletter. Most importantly, though, it grants you a free truffle every month of the year. Simply pop into a participating Godiva location every month and pop a ball of decadence into your mouth.
3D printing has become a popular tech hobby in the past few years. As with drones and vaping, two other hobbies en vogue, 3D printing has been a beneficiary of new media, with communities springing up all across the Web to help exchange information and induct new acolytes. That said, 3D printers are highly customizable, and among the many variables is the type of filament used to construct models. Choosing the right filament can be essential to any project, which is what makes MeltInk’s offer of two free filament samples such a great gesture. Samples of both PLA (polylactic acid) and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) are available to sample, and come in a variety of colors. The only catch is that users must cover the shipping cost.
Ice cream is a lovely treat, especially on top of a birthday. If you sign up for Baskin-Robbins’ Birthday Club, you’ll receive a voucher for a free ice cream on your birthday. Simple. Delicious. Free.
Streaming services have become a major vehicle for people to watch movies and television shows, but many of them lock most or all of their content behind a paywall. For fans of documentary filmmaking — or those who simply like to learn new things — there is Documentary Heaven, a site that provides free access to hundreds of documentaries. The films offered are typically independent works, covering a variety of topics including war, religion, body image, and racial politics.