Try This ... and This ... and This!

Man, I miss being a teenager - all that disposable income! Aside from gas for my car, I had few necessary expenses ... which meant that every penny from summer jobs, babysitting gigs, and birthdays could be spent on the one thing I cherished most back then: me, me, meeee! I wore acrylic nails, and didn't have to wait until they had practically grown off my fingers to save up the money for a fill. I could eat at restaurants with my friends. If I spotted a shirt I liked at the mall, I snatched it up without feeling guilty.

But by far my most reckless teenage spending habit was beauty products. Like a whore junkie girl obsessed, I went from brand to brand, trend to trend. Lotions and conditioners, scrubs and masks, creams and colors. I had countless half-used containers of various potions that had been tossed to the back of the pile in favor of the next enticing thing.

At this point in my life, I'm lucky if 90% of my makeup isn't outdated - I don't remember the last time I did one of those "drawer sweeps" like you're supposed to and cleared out all the broken/drying/expired stuff. I actually have nail polish that is so old and gooey that it takes a jar opener to pry open. (But here's a tightwad tip: if your nail polish is a little sludgy, add a couple drops of polish remover to the bottle and shake to thin it a little. Works like a charm!)

The bottom line is, now that I have big-girl bills and a family to buy for, my days of beauty splurges are over. No more product-hopping. But I couldn't just give up my habit that easily ... so I found myself a pretty suitable substitute: free samples!

It's silly, but getting stuff for free gives me a thrill. I feel like a little kid when I reach into my mailbox and pull out a sample. Plus I get to try out a variety of things (and if I like them, which I often do, most samples conveniently come with a decent coupon). As far as beauty products go, I've gotten samples of just about every type of goodie, from hair care to skin care to perfumes to body wash to cosmetics - some so sizeable that they've lasted a few weeks, some from expensive brands.

But the fun doesn't stop there, kids. I've sampled cereal and granola bars and trail mix and fruit snacks, dog treats (don't worry, I gave the dog a bite), instant meals, sugar substitutes. Vitamin and fiber and diet supplements. Wildflower seeds. Scented candles. Cleaning supplies. Diapers. Caulk. And the list goes on ... I've even gotten samples of -yes - condoms and Astroglide. (The condom is still in my drawer, hence Baby #3.) Anyway, I *heart* sampling. I get to try out a bunch of stuff, I don't have a lot of half-empty packages lying around, I love getting things in the mail, and it's FREE. What's not to love?

My favorite sites are StartSampling (you need an account for this one, but it doesn't cost anything), Thunderfap, and Wal-Mart's sample and trial page. Or just Google "free samples" and you'll find a whole bunch of them. You may have to weed through a few, because some of them want you to fill out surveys and sign up for magazines and all this crap - but there are definitely some diamonds in the rough. And though all samples are thrilling in their own small way, once in a while there'll be one you're absolutely stoked about ... like the big honkin' sample of Murad Age Diffusing Serum I got (it seriously lasted me almost a month!), retail value $70 an ounce!

So if you're a product-hopper too, give it a try. It's fun. And after all, we've got to find pleasure in the sample - I mean, simple - things!


  1. Okay, I really need to start trying out samples. It sounds like fun, and might actually save me some money! If only I could find a site that gives away sample pairs of shoes......

  2. You would really be amazed at some of the awesome stuff you can get!

  3. I do this same thing, not because I'm a product hopper, but just because I like trying new stuff for free! I don't even mind doing the surveys or giving feedback if they ask. I've gotten some great free magazine subscriptions and one of my favorites, three different types of Chips Ahoy (regular size bags!)

  4. Yes! If you like trying new stuff for free, Google "market research companies" in your area. I was a member of one in Vegas (and actually worked for one for a while) and every couple of months they'd call me to do a product test - and they'd pay me for it too! When Colin was really small, I got paid to test two months worth of baby wipes ... they were really good quality, too! I did a similar test with diapers, which ain't cheap. It was always fun to give my opinion at the end!

  5. Oh my gosh! This post reminds me of two know her well...LOL so you know which part reminds me of her. And my sil, Sheila...She loves those free samples!!
    Do you belong to Vocal Point? Sheila actually told me about samples then great coupons! What about BzzAgent? Like that one too!! There are surveys with both but they aren't bad! I'll have to check out the ones you posted!!

  6. I tried BzzAgent, Cindy ... I can't put my finger on why, but I never really "took to it." I'll have to check out Vocal Point though. I'm a sucker for stuff like that! :)

  7. my mom signed me up for the walmart one so i get stuff in once in a while--nothing good though. but i have a drawer full of diapers & depends--just incase i feel like shatting myself. hehe. i'm definitely gonna have to check out those sites though. i love me some free stuff!

  8. oh i almost forgot, there's a couple sites i do surveys on and once i've accumulated enough points i transfer those over to my frequent flyer mileage. pretty sweet deal if you ask me! and

  9. I am going to have to get on a few sights & try getting free samples b/c I am such a products whore!!! Nice comment Cindy made about me but hey she shouldn't complain.....she gets a lot of the things I don't want after awhile. lol

  10. I wish I had known about those sites when I was still flying frequently, Amy! Now that we only live four hours away from our families, we've got very little reason to get on a plane. Kind of a bummer. :(

    Denni - you'll love it - it's so thrilling to get fun little stuff in the mail! (And if you look in my bathroom, I guarantee there are at least three or four "Denni leftovers" - LOL!)

  11. YAH! mail is my favorite! nice to get something other than bills. love the "tightwad tips" lol, I want more of those and I am left wondering what a free sample of caulk looks like.

  12. Jessica, the caulk came in a little tube, plain white (the caulk, not the tube). I'm pretty sure there's enough of it to go around the perimeter of the top of our shower, too! :)

    And if you like tightwad tips, I've got a million of 'em!


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