- Think eBay, but with free goods, and you'll have Listia.com. To bid on items, users earn free credits by signing up, referring friends, and listing stuff. You can also buy 10 credits for $1. Auctions last seven days, and whoever bids the most credits wins.
- Sell new gift cards for cash at PlasticJungle.com for up to 92 percent of the card's value, donate them to a favorite charity, or purchase gift cards for as much as 30 percent off.
- Cheapism.com combines a buying guide with reviews to help customers save on purchases as diverse as air conditioners, cruises, rice cookers, and more. Pick a category (home & garden, electronics, travel, etc.), then search for a product—you'll get the breakdown on quality, tips on finding bargains, and links to retailers.
- Don't let those deals from Groupon and other daily coupon sites go to waste. You can sell prepaid vouchers and buy deals you've missed the first time at Lifesta.com. Posts are free and sellers can set the price.
Save Money on Entertainment
Whether you watch on your iPhone, the tube, or your computer, Netflix streams thousands of movies, television shows and workout videos through over 250 types of devices like a Wii or Roku. Unlimited streaming is free with any Netflix membership, starting at just $10 per month.
- Costco's Trade-In Program has joined forces with Gazelle, a premier recycling service, to swap laptops, cell phones, cameras, MP3 players, Blu-Ray discs, games, and more for a Costco Cash Card.
- Return six packaging containers to a MAC counter or online to receive a free lipstick through the Back to MAC Program.
- Recycle ink and toner cartridges in exchange for $2 in Staples Rewards.
- Starbucks gives a 10-cent discount to customers for using reusable mugs or tumblers. If you stay and drink your beverage in-store, request to have it served in a ceramic mug at no charge.
- Earn prizes like sporting goods, electronics, and travel through RecycleBank.com, a rewards program that encourages people to recycle and engage in earth-friendly actions to rack up points.
- Get Dixon Golf credits by recycling golf balls—Dixon will give 50 cents per ball for any brand and $1 for its own at participating store locations.
- Greenopolis.com pays you for recycling, reusing, or conserving personal resources through discounts and coupons for entertainment, dining, travel, and more.
- Terracycle.com works with many companies to motivate customers to recycle for money, then donates the goods to a nonprofit organization or school of your choice.
- CVS/pharmacy's GreenBag Tag initiative gives a bonus every time customers bring a reusable shopping bag or decline plastic bags; four scans earns $1 in Extra Bucks.
- Receive a Best Buy gift card when you trade in old video games, musical instruments, and select electronics. You can ship items to a trade-in center (print out a prepaid shipping label at bestbuy.com/recycling) or bring them to your local store.
Save Money on Eating Out
Mike Allen, founder of Shopping-Bargains.com, explains how you can save money by eating out more—really!
- Call restaurants before you visit to find out if there are any discounts, weekly specials, or deals like "kids eat free." Arriving between 4 and 6 p.m. may qualify you for an "early-bird discount." Some eateries also offer "happy hour," with reduced prices on certain items.
- Get coupons designed for tourists. Stop by the welcome center or visitors bureau and pick up the local coupon publications. They're often full of restaurant specials, meal coupons, buy-one-get-one-free specials, free menu items, and other savings. Go to restaurant websites and check for printable coupons. While you're there, sign up for promotional e-mail newsletters to get alerts of specials. Follow them on Twitter or become a Facebook fan and you may be offered other benefits as well.
- Buy a Restaurant.com dining certificate. More than 15,000 restaurants participate in Restaurant.com's "$25 Restaurant Gift Certificates for only $10" program. There are often Restaurant.com coupon codes that can bring the $10 certificate cost down to just $2 or $3!
Originally published in the March 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.