7 Ways You Can Score Free Stuff

Family with free t-shirt and hatsWith cauliflower costing $7 these days, finding ways to save money is a smart strategy. Finding ways to score free stuff is even smarter.

Last night we were at the KROCK Centre watching the Kingston Frontenacs Game beat the Niagara Ice Wolves. It was blue and white night, and after the whistle, they were throwing Maple Leaf t-shirts into the crowds. Home Depot held a drilling competition during one of the intermissions and were giving away free hats. We scored on both fronts at the Fronts!

Then on the way home, we’re in the Tim Hortons drive thru and they made a mistake on our order so we scored an extra two donuts and hot chocolate. It was a banner night in the Swinton household.

Scoring free stuff is great on the pocketbook, but it’s also just pure fun. Here are seven ways you can score free stuff:

  1. Attend a sports event. At the last three or four games we’ve been to, we’ve scored free t-shirts and hats. You don’t have to spend a mint either on the admission ticket. Last year we went to the Queen’s-Ryerson men’s and women’s double header basketball game and scored free t-shirts.
  2. Shop at Costco. Sure, you may wind up a few hundred dollars in the red when you leave the place, but if you try all the samples, you’ve basically scored a free meal.
  3. Sign up for a charity walk or ride. Many charity events, like the Big Bike for Heart and Stroke give you a free gift for different pledge levels—a win-win for everyone.
  4. Look for introductory offers for organizations. As an outdoorsman, Dave takes out an annual membership to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. They have this amazing introductory offer where you get a tackle box full of lures, a reel, fishing line and more.
  5. Watch for 2 for 1 coupons on items, especially if it was something you were going to buy anyway. If you don’t need the second item, tuck it away for a gift.
  6. Attend a trade show or fair. These are goldmines for scoring free stuff!
  7. When travelling, research which local attractions are free or have free days. When I was in Washington last year I was surprised to learn that all of the Smithsonian museums are still free to the public. This may not technically qualify as free stuff, but with the high cost of vacation travel these days, finding free things to do is a fantastic score.

This week’s #HappyAct is to see what you can score for free this week. Just be prepared for the inevitable argument when your nine-year old insists on wearing her new Maple Leafs t-shirt to bed when your Canadiens loving spouse bans all blue and white in the house. What’s your best free stuff score? Leave a comment!

Feel the sand in your toes

man and children playing on beach at sunset
Dave and the girls on beautiful deserted Kure Beach, North Carolina at sunset

Beach season is here. Time to make a beeline out of the city and get bare foot in the sand.

There’s something about a mile-long strip of beach that is irresistible. The sound of the surf thundering onto shore, watching and waiting for the whitecaps to crest the waves, beach combing for the perfect shell, and that wonderful feeling of warm sand between your toes as you walk for miles.

On our final night in Kure Beach, North Carolina in April, the girls and I went for one last walk on the beach. I watched them race along the deserted beach as the moon shimmered on the waves and knew, in that moment, I was completely happy.

This week’s #HappyAct is to feel the sand in your toes and find a stretch of sand to explore. Here is a list of some of our favourite beaches closer to home and further afar and pictures from some of our favourite family beach vacations.

girls standing in water
Grace and Clare at Bruce Peninsula Provincial Park on the famous “moon rock” beach
Girl on beach
Grace at MacGregor Point Provincial Park




Have a double s’cream day

Girl eating ice cream sundaeOne of my favourite weeks of the year is our annual family vacation. Each year we pick a region in the States, set up base renting a home from vrbo.com and then go exploring. This year our home base was Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Here’s the house we rented this year—it was beautiful.

As always, we had a super week. We visited Gettysburg, Hershey’s Chocolate World and amusement park, Longwood Gardens, Herr’s potato chip factory, and spent a day swimming in the ocean in Chesapeake Bay and tubing on Pequea Creek, a beautiful little tributary of the Susquehanna. Everyone had horses, and we felt very privileged to be there just twelve hours after our neighbour’s horse gave birth to a beautiful black foal.

Coming home is always bitter sweet, but we made it extra sweet by having a double ice cream day yesterday. We stopped in Jim Thorpe, PA for a walk about and an ice cream cone, then had sundaes at Friendlys for dessert for our last supper on the road. I can’t think of a better way to end a vacation.

This week’s #HappyAct is to have a double ice cream day. Throw caution and your waistline to the wind just once. Why not today? After all…wait for it…it is sundae!

Empty sundae dish